Beer for the Ages

Craft beer: you’ve heard the term, maybe even tried a few brews, but is it just a trend, or is it here to stay? It seems as though smaller breweries have only recently been popping up, however the history of craft beer gives an insight into where craft beer will go next.

Beer shows up in the history books circa 1800 BC, when the first evidence of brewing is inscribed on a tablet, featuring A “Hymn to Ninkasi,” the Sumerian goddess of beer. Later in 580, Saint Arnold of Metz was born. He was considered a saint because he convinced people to drink beer instead of impure water, helping end a plague. The popularity of beer grew through the centuries, until the prohibition hit in 1919. By the time the prohibition ended in 1933, there were only some 300 breweries in the states. Between the time of 1933-1982, the popularity of beer fell, and only about 50 breweries survived. While 1982 was a low point for beer’s popularity, it was also when the renaissance began.

6 micro-breweries opened in 1982, however it was a decade earlier, in the 1970’s, when home-brewing became legal. Home brewing introduced the makers to more complex and interesting flavours as opposed to traditional, large scale brews. Home brewers became accustomed to brews unavailable on the market, and a few home brewers opened micro-breweries. The term micro-brews evolved into the term craft beer which we’re all familiar with today. The popularity of craft beer exploded over a 30 year time frame, and today there’s approximately 1,829 small and independent craft brewers in the USA.

The trend, no doubt, arrived in Canada around the same time the US market boomed with craft beer, and now represents 10.2% of the domestic beer market. Choice, diversity, information, education, grassroots activism, quality, personality, passion, and flavor are all drivers of the popularity of craft beer today.

As to the future of craft beer, here are a few ways you can expect the craft beer market to change in the coming years:

  • Sour beers: a departure from the sweet fruity beers.
  • Locally-Produced Beer in Restaurants: local restaurants are supporting local breweries.
  • Extreme Beer: beers with exponentially higher alcohol content than your run of the mill brew, think in the 30+% range.
  • Hybrid Styles: double IPA’s and new versions of beer being created.
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