Here we go again—it’s time to gear up for Craft Beer week! Craft Beer week will run from May 11th to May 17th, and this year will see the 10th anniversary of the event, which was started to help promote craft breweries across the U.S. There are now more than 3200 craft breweries in the U.S., and more doors are opening every day.
So what makes craft beer craft? According to the Brewer’s Association, the legal definition is any independent brewery that brews 6 million barrels per year or less using traditional or innovative brewing techniques. Under that definition, many large breweries, including Mendocino Brewing, are not considered craft breweries. However, there is more to craft beer than a legal definition.
Craft beer is also a culture. Craft brewers recognize the value of cooperation. They welcome new ideas and innovations, and their beers are examples of their own personal tastes. Craft brewers are supporters of their community, and often their inspiration is drawn from their local area and local taste. That’s why a West Coast IPA tastes different than one from the East Coast, and why many breweries offer seasonals to best suit the changing weather. And here, in flavor, innovation and cooperation, Mendo’s brewers stand proudly among the beer-brewing craftsmen.
So in the interest of celebrating craft beer culture, here are a few ideas to mark this year’s American Craft Beer Week!
Make your own beer!
Back in the day, all beer was homebrew. Most brewers got their start homebrewing, and still brew at home for the sheer love of it. Brewing beer is not that hard, and you don’t need much extra equipment. There are plenty of brew kits to choose from online, though I would stay away from the all-in-one box kit you see in the big chain stores. You can get a decent kit online (and choose from a lot more recipes) for around $200.
Attend an event
Breweries all over the nation will be celebrating Craft Beer week with tastings, pint nights and brewer presentations. Click here to see what events are happening near you, and check with your local breweries to see what they have going on. If they haven’t planned anything, start pestering them about it now. You can even supply a poster for extra motivation.
Host a Tasting!
Of course, the best way to celebrate U.S. craft beer is to drink it. There are many ways to host a tasting, and you can be as organized or as loose as you like. Try different styles by the same brewery, the same style by different breweries, or a random mix of beers you’ve been wanting to try or share with friends. To help put a bit of a focus on the evening, offer some beer tasting sheets as a guide as to what to look (taste) for. I always like to try to look up the beer online and find out what sort of flavors the brewer thinks I should be able to find.
Craftbeer.com has a pile of great resources for tasting parties, as well as plethora of other information on all things beer!
What’s your style?
How will you be celebrating American Craft Beer Week this year? Help get the party started in the comments below!
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