Tuesday, May 6, 2008

American Craft Beer Week

The craft brewing industry is currently enjoying its most robust and healthy period since all but disappearing during Prohibition. So healthy are the craft brewers of the US that a couple of years ago, Congress established American Craft Beer Week, May 12th through the 18th. The big event is being called SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, a multi-brewery exposition of food and beer to be held in Washington, DC. Let us examine the current state of the US craft beer industry using the language of the congressional record itself, House Resolution 753 of the 109th Congress.

Whereas American craft brewers are a vibrant affirmation and expression of American entrepreneurial traditions. Craft breweries are models of the values of American small business. Very few are publicly owned, with most owned by individuals who are usually also elbow-deep in the work and sweat themselves.

Whereas the United States has craft brewers in every State and more than 1300 craft breweries nationwide. At the turn of the 20th century, it is estimated that the US had somewhere around 2000 independent breweries nationwide. Prohibition essentially destroyed the industry, with the only brewers surviving being those with the deepest pockets. But the industry has been rebounding ever since, especially in the past few decades.

Whereas American craft brewers support American agriculture by purchasing barley, malt, and hops grown, processed and distributed in the United States. Craft breweries are often a farmer’s best friend. Not only are they constant purchasers of domestic grains and hops, the spent grain — the used byproduct of the brewing process — is often sold or donated for livestock feed.

Whereas American craft brewers promote the Nation’s spirit of independence through a renaissance in hand-crafted beers like those first brought to colonial shores. Craft brewers are often amateur historians, at least with regard to the brewing industry, and microbreweries are miniature museums of local and regional history dotted around the country.

Whereas American craft brewers strive to educate legal drinking-age Americans. Just as they preserve their industry’s heritage with their work, craft brewers are eager ambassadors and teachers of beer’s flavors, qualities, ingredients and alcohol issues.

Whereas American craft brewers champion the message of responsible enjoyment to their customers. Ironically, craft brewers should never face the opposition they do from anti-alcohol groups, as they are among the firmest supporters of responsible consumption, and are quick to police themselves and the behavior of their fans.

Whereas American craft brewers produce more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful beers, the quality and diversity of which have made the United States the envy of every beer-drinking nation in the world. The varied and adventurous tastes of the American consumer has today created the most diverse beer market in the history of the brewing industry. ‘Nuff said.

Whereas American craft brewers are vested in the future, health, and welfare of their communities as employers providing a diverse array of quality local jobs. One aspect of local breweries that is often overlooked is that they are not only good employers and municipal friends, they also support a myriad of associated business and local merchants that depend on their product for their own business.

So, how will you celebrate American Craft Beer Week? Hopefully, the same way you celebrate every week, with a fine American-made craft beer in hand.

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