Welcome to CRAFTED where every month we tap into the latest news, trends and developments in the creation and appreciation of craft beers and ciders. Each month we will be interviewing, industry influentials, brewers, distributors, cicerones, cider makers and kettle stirrers- from pale to stout – to bring you insights and information on brews you can use.
Coming off Oktoberfest, the month-long happy hour that ushers in the season of falling leaves, football and pumpkin pie seemed like the ideal time to debut this column.
And as the temperature cools, competition in the beer world has heated up. News of the impending takeover of SABMiller by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev is perhaps the biggest industry mashup of the decade – and for good reason.
As of September of this year, there were over 4,000 known craft beer companies in the United States. While US beer sales rose a mere 0.5% in 2014, craft beer sales rose by 17.6%, capturing an impressive 11% of the entire beer market. Currently at 15%, the US craft beer market share is expected to rise to 20% by the year 2020. So intense is the battle of the brews that the U.S. Justice Department is probing allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev is seeking to buy distributors, making it harder for craft brewers to get their products on the shelves.
But unlike the Goliath breweries, the Davids of the craft beer world are a different breed – passionate, innovative and fearless. Craft brewers are freer to experiment with interesting, unique and seasonal ingredients and they produce everything from well-crafted classics to unique aromas – apricot, coffee, raspberry, lime, and of course, pumpkin. Which brings me back to the change of seasons.
Fall calls for more complex brews that pair well with heartier fare. Spicy and rich, they are the perfect accompaniment to goose, turkey, hams and yams.
In addition to pumpkin-flavored beers, many breweries are making German-influenced styles for fall. Toasty Vienna and Munich malts as well as darker ales and hop beers – freshly harvested this time of year.
Also benefiting from the brisk air are ciders. Shorter days and cooler nights make for crisp, juicy apples and is the major reason that most American cider is produced in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.
Try a tangy cider spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, or a refreshing pear-based cider known as “perry” for a true taste of the season.
Unlike beer, wine and spirits, hard cider is a new frontier for many Americans. But recent years have shown significant uptick in the number of US-based cider producers as consumers begin to embrace this new category of alcoholic beverages. Opened in March is New York City’s first entirely cider-dedicated restaurant and bar. It’s called Wassail. It’s on Orchard Street (I kid you not!).
So as the days get shorter and the night times longer, there is much to look forward to. We welcome your comments on my journey to introduce you to the most intriguing people and share the exclusive stories that make the Renaissance of crafted beverages so fascinating.