The Rise of Craft Beer
We’re in the middle of a second wave of craft beer momentum, building on the first one that crested in 1990s. The interactive map and charts below offer a quarter-century window into how America rediscovered its love for great, locally-brewed beer.
The phrase ‘craft beer’ was coined in the mid-1980s by a Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist who observed that small, independently owned breweries were popping up all over the country and challenging giant alcohol conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch for refrigerator space in consumer grocery stores. The term quickly gained traction among brewing enthusiasts, and the Brewers Association (the nominal trade group responsible for various beer events throughout the year) soon formalized it to mean beer brewed by small, independent breweries using traditional ingredients and artisanal production methods.
There’s no definitive definition of what qualifies as a ‘craft’ beer, though a few rules of thumb have emerged over time. The most common is that a brewery is considered to be ‘craft’ if it has an annual production of less than 6 million barrels. Some breweries also distinguish themselves by their approach to innovation, whether it’s playing with a medley of wild yeast strains for sour beers, or creating beer that defies expectations of traditional styles like IPAs through the use of haze.
Many breweries are also embracing the idea of community and making their facilities open to the public for tours and tastings. This is a great way to connect with your local community and try beers that you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to sample. Craft beer is an excellent source of B vitamins, which are crucial to energy metabolism and help support a healthy nervous system. However, as with any alcoholic beverage, consumption should be in moderation.