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Crafting a trend

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U.S. craft brewers have much to celebrate this summer, as their ranks swell and they continue to see double-digit sales growth. Craft breweries are expanding faster than at any time since Prohibition, according to The Huffington Post. Sales increased 14% in the first half of the year, and volume rose 12%, according to the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo.

Craft brewers numbered 2,126 in June, 350 more than in June 2011, while 1,252 are in the planning stage, compared with 725 at the same time last year.

Craft brewing is so hot that tickets for this year’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver sold out faster than ever before, The Coloradoan reported. The Brewers Association expects about 49,000 people at the event, to sample beer from about 500 brewers.

Breweries aren’t the only beer-related entity on the rise. Scores of news outlets are blogging about beer, including the Six Pack feature on CNBC’s Consumer Nation blog, The Denver Post’s First Drafts and The Boston Globe’s 99 Bottles, which last week wished readers a happy India Pale Ale Day.

Interestingly, while craft beer is made in small batches and distribution typically is limited to brewpubs and retailers closest to home, U.S. craft brews increasingly can be found in London pubs, according to About 30,000 barrels of craft beer were exported to the U.K. last year, according to the Brewers Association, and demand is outstripping supply.

Canada also is a big importer of U.S. brews. The country is home to Mirella Amato, whose passion for beer led her to become Canada’s first female Certified Cicerone, a designation similar to a sommelier, according to Amato has since branched out with beer-related business ventures, including the Girl’s Guided Beer Tour, and has been working with chefs to create the perfect beer and food pairing.

“Pairing beer with food is fun,” she said. “The great thing about it is that beer is not a huge investment. Especially now in Ontario you can buy single bottles, you can buy single cans, and you can even pick up three or four different beers if you’re with friends and sample each of them with your food to see which one you like best.”

Is your restaurant taking advantage of increased demand for craft beer? Tell us in the comments.

Image credit: flubydust, via iStockphoto