“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That’s good. Thanks!” For those of us who enjoy “a cold one” after a long work week, (or taking a break after cutting the grass, or after writing an especially spectacular blog, or as a reward for a run well done or sometimes just because you can) … the list is endless – but we can all agree, there’s not much to compare to that first taste! Given the meteoric rise in craft beer making and specialty breweries in Cleveland, I thought I’d share some beer history, insights into the industry and provide a list of some of my favorite stops. Talk about a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job! – trying to pare the list down, but… that is what I am here for! Enjoy, and thanks to craftbeer.com for the insights.
- Native Americans made a corn beer long before Europeans found their way to America, bringing with them their own version of beer. Although most of that was brewed in the home during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a fledgling industry began to develop from 1612, when the first known New World brewery opened in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan).
- The “modern era” of American beer began in the nineteenth century. In 1810 only 132 breweries operated, and per capita consumption of commercially brewed beer amounted to less than a gallon. By 1873 the country had 4,131 breweries, a high-water mark only surpassed again in 2015. In 1914, per capita consumption had grown to 20 gallons (compared to about 21.5 today). Then came national Prohibition.
- American beer was already changing before Prohibition. When German immigrants began arriving in the middle of the nineteenth century, they brought with them a thirst for all-malt lagers and the knowledge to brew them. But by the end of the century, drinkers showed a preference for lighter-tasting lagers — ones that included corn or rice in the recipe — and consolidation began to eliminate many small, independently operated breweries. In 1918, the country had only one quarter the number of brewers that operated 45 years before.
- National Prohibition (individual states had Prohibition as early as 1848) began January 16, 1920, when the 18th Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act, went into effect. (watch video HERE. It effectively ended in April of 1933 with the return of 3.2% beer (for those of us old enough to remember those days when at 18 you could legally drink 3.2 beer!), and in December the 21st Amendment officially repealed the 18th Amendment.
- Within a year, 756 breweries were making beer, but the biggest companies remained intent on expansion, using production efficiencies and marketing to squeeze out smaller breweries.
- The number of breweries shrunk quickly, to 407 in 1950 and 230 in 1961. By 1983 one source counted only 80 breweries, run by only 51 independent companies, making beer. As British beer writer Michael Jackson observed at the time, most produced the same style: “They are pale lager beers vaguely of the pilsner style but lighter in body, notably lacking hop character, and generally bland in palate. They do not all taste exactly the same but the differences between them are often of minor consequence.”
- As regional breweries closed, small breweries popped up – but people didn’t know what to call them. When Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing in 1965 in San Francisco and Jack McAuliffe opened the short-lived New Albion Brewing Company in 1976, an entrepreneurial spirit began, and was repeated a thousand times over and in every state in the country.
- A democratization of beer began in earnest during the late 1970s by homebrewers. It was then that better beer began its journey, championed by individuals and not corporate strategies. Homebrewers began learning how to make the beer styles they could no longer buy. A few homebrewers started their own small breweries, the first new breweries to open since prohibition began in 1923. A revival had begun. Beer drinkers learned to appreciate these new “microbrews.” The term microbrews has since evolved to “craft beer;” particularly from small and independent brewers.
- Breweries popped up in every state. Soon beer lovers would covet new and different brewed beer. In 1982, the Hilton Harvest House in Boulder, Colorado hosts a modest 20 breweries serving only 35 beers for the first Great American Beer Festival. The annual event now features approximately 8-10,000 beers.
- By the end of the century, more breweries operated in the United States than any country in the world, the number climbing past 7,000 in 2018. Taking inspiration from brewing cultures around the world, Americans also started to brew a wider variety of beer than anywhere.
- The revival of American beer of the past 30 years is a phenomenon attributable to one of the first (if not the first) “open-source” collaborative experiences in modern history. The community of homebrewers, beer enthusiasts and craft brewers made the pioneers of the democratization of process. The fact is, homebrewers were already fashioning their own revolution before a communication technology emerged that would later enhance the means by which revolutionary ideas and the process of democratizing innovation would be accelerated.
- The professional craft brewing, homebrewing and beer enthusiast community continues to be on the unequivocal cutting edge of beer’s creative destiny. If you look back at the last 30-year history of better beer, beer economics, beer enthusiasm and the beer marketplace, it is a mirror image of how the rest of the world has embraced, reacted and adjusted to the pace of all that it is involved in. Choice, diversity, information, education, grassroots activism, quality, personality, passion, flavor (both in the real and metamorphic sense), etc.
- Craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts have been and continue to be pioneers in developing a world that contributes to the pleasure of our everyday life, in more ways than beer. CraftBeer.com is a reflection of those who seek the world of better beer.
- The unique beer history of the Brewers Association combines a large brew-cauldron of activities and heritage. The result is a legacy that has helped change the world of beer both in the United States and abroad.
- The Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independentAmerican craft brewers, released annual growth figures for the U.S. craft brewing industry. In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
- Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018.
- The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017. These brewers are vital small businesses in communities across the country, typically employing 10 to 50 employees.
- As American beer enthusiasts are fond of saying, there may never have been a better time to be a beer drinker, at least until tomorrow.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite breweries in NE Ohio – go exploring and find the new ones, opening up almost monthly here on the north coast.
Platform Beer Co
4125 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH
Butcher and the Brewer
2043 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH
Noble Beast Brewing
1470 Lakeside Ave E (E. 13th St.), Cleveland, OH
Nano Brew Cleveland
1859 W 25th St (at Bridge Ave), Cleveland, OH
Market Garden Brewery & Restaurant
1947 W 25th St (at Market Ave), Cleveland, OH
1909 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH
Masthead Brewing Co
1261 Superior Ave E, Cleveland, OH
The Tremont Tap House
2572 Scranton Rd (at Starkweather Ave), Cleveland, OH
Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH
Terrestrial Brewing Company
7524 Father Frascati Dr, Cleveland, OH
Working Class Brewery
17448 Lorain Ave (Rocky River DR.), Cleveland, OH
Brick & Barrel
1844 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH
AND A LITTLE MUSIC TO END YOUR WEEK ON A HIGH NOTE…
Luke Combs – Beer Never Broke My Heart (Official Video)