By Chris Maza
A recent Brewers' Association report stated that the number of U.S. craft brewers increased 14 percent in the first six months of this year and the total of 2,126 breweries in the United States was the highest it's been since 1887.
For a bit of context, 1887 for a long time was the peak of brewing in America, but from that time through 1920, the number of breweries decreased dramatically with more than 830 of those companies disappearing.
Obviously, when Prohibition came along, any legitimate brewing stopped. There was a boom in production when Prohibition ended, but then the downward slide continued and by the late 1970s, less than 100 breweries existed.
Since then, however, there has been a sharp increase and in the course of approximately 35 years, we have come to where we are today.
"Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation," Paul Gatz, director of the Brewers' Association, said in a press release. "There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country."
To me, that is a very impressive thing to think about and I think it shows that in a time of economic uncertainty, more and more people are taking a chance on turning their passion into a viable product. It also suggests that more and more people are branching out and expanding their horizons and gaining more of an appreciation for the craft of beer making.
It will be interesting to see where this trend leads us.
As all of these new breweries pop up, however, it is important to remember the places in this area that have helped pioneer this modern trend of beer appreciation.
The Northampton Brewery, which turned 25 on Aug. 10, certainly fits that bill.
While the folks at the Northampton Brewery have been releasing a set of six signature anniversary beers, their big celebration is yet to come.
Tickets went on sale on Aug. 10 for the 25th Anniversary party which will take place Sept. 30 from 3 to 7 p.m. The celebration will include live music by Primate Fiasco, food from local farms, all six of the anniversary beers.
Tickets are available at the restaurant or at www.northamptonbrewery.com/merchandise.php.
I love hops.
Like a lot of people, I was introduced to craft beer first through IPAs and therefore, I have always had a love for the bitter flowers.
So imagine my pleasant surprise when I had the opportunity to try Red God by the Cambridge Brewing Company, brewed right around the corner from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I picked up the Red God, tabbed as an Imperial Red Ale, expecting a beer with a rich, sweet, malty flavor, despite the label's promise of the presence of hops, in a 22 ounce bottle.
Poured into a glass, it is a very attractive beer with deep red coloring and a thick off-white head, looking every bit like a very good, standard red ale.
However, the nose of the beer promised something much different. While there were sweet notes to it, the piney hops were the overriding scent.
The piney hops, as the nose advertised, followed a sweet beginning with hints of caramel, and the sip concluded with a clean, bitter finish. With a medium body, the beer had a tremendously good mouth feel and an alcohol taste that joined the bitterness at the end was noticeable, but enjoyable and not overpowering.
While not at all what I expected, Red God is now officially on my list of favorites.
Any hopheads out there looking for something a little different should definitely give this one a try.