If you’ve been perusing the grocery beer shelves much this season, you’ve probably noticed a lot of fruit flavored beer. Fruit beer isn’t a new concept– macro producers, a few US craft breweries and of course Belgian ales have made some flavor combinations common, but there’s been an exponential increase in selection recently. Why all the fruit these days, and what does the trend mean for the market?
Like any craft beer drinker, you’re probably accustomed to seeing International Bitterness Units (IBU) posted on chalkboard menus and printed on cans and labels. American brewers love their hops, and American consumers love their amped-up IBUs, especially here on the West Coast. In fact, the craft beer market share of IPAs increased nearly tenfold since 2008, diversifying into subcategories like Session IPAs, Belgian IPAs, Imperial IPAs, and Black IPAs. Novice or cocksure drinkers often make the mistake of assuming that the higher the IBU, the better the beer or the more “intense” or bragworthy their choice will be considered. But there’s a lot more that goes into how bitterness and hoppy flavors are perceived, achieved, and explained.
For most states in the nation, 64 oz. reusable glass containers have become a normal option for packaged beer sales. Although conceived of in its current form in the late 1980’s, the growler concept is not new. Before the widespread availability of glass and well before canned beer, consumers were bringing lidded metal pails to saloons and brewpubs for lunchtime worker consumption or evening family drinking. To-go beer fresh from the taps has undoubtedly been a customer desire basically since breweries existed. In recent years, growler sales have flourished in the US, leading to growler sections in some supermarket coolers and entire businesses based solely upon filling growlers.
Kölsch is a light-bodied, pale malt beer hailing from Köln, Germany, the nation’s fourth-largest city with just over a million inhabitants. Many American breweries produce contemporary versions of the style, especially come summer when drinkers tend to seek out crisp, refreshing sessionable beers. But hardly anyone knows the real background of the style, a beer inseparable from Koln’s history and cultural identity.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you probably like beer. You may even have a healthy or perhaps unhealthy obsession with beer. It’s also probably likely that you know someone who doesn’t enjoy beer. I hear it frequently: “Beer is too ________ for me.” I’m not here to proselytize my personal tastes and I don’t recommend you try either, but I’ve boiled down a few healthy ways to encourage a reluctant beer taster or introduce a newbie to craft beer. Many of us spent our first few imbibing years consuming macro beer or low-quality liquors, so it’s no wonder advancing beyond is often a challenge. It doesn’t have to be that way, especially with all the craft options available today and more understanding about taste.
Cluster hops are one of the oldest varieties grown and used commercially in the US. Originally bred from a European hop brought by early settlers and a native North American hop, Cluster has mostly fallen out of favor in the brewing industry, partially due to the increased demand for high-alpha types typically used for bittering IPAs and other hop-forward bitter ales. Until the late 1970s however, most of the hop acreage in the US was dedicated to growing Cluster, initially in New York state, and eventually in dry central Washington state. Cluster is fairly resistant to disease, but is susceptible to mildew and does not produce in as high of volume as many hops currently selected for market.
Hi! I’m Fawn, writer, photographer, editor, content developer, marketer, and general creative human. This is where I share stories and features centered around three of my favorite topics: food, fermentation, and foraging.
I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where we have no shortage of farms, hops, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and mountains and waters brimming with wild plants and animals. I hope to share my experience of this amazing place with you!