Friday, April 23, 2010

Get to Know Your Local Brewery

I like a good beer (and only a good beer, as I’m kind of a beer snob). In the past few years I’ve gone from strictly drinking one or two standbys to exploring the gamut of the beer cornucopia, trying brews of all kinds from all places. If you get into this type of alcoholic exploration- and you should, the variety of tastes, the science behind the process, etc. is fascinating- you’ll most likely come across the push for drinking local beer, and it’s a thing worth pushing.

As environmentalism gets posh and a slight push-back against globalization calls for closer local communities, eating local has had a large upsurge, with more farmers’ markets springing up all over and some restaurants even growing their own produce. An obvious extension of this is drinking local brews and it’s definitely worth your while.

The most obvious reason for drinking local beer is that it’s usually a little bit cheaper (in comparison to other craft or special brews, not mass market beer) if you get it at your local store or go to the brewery. In today’s economic climate, small breweries are having a hard time and supporting them helps both sides out. Which brings me to the next reason to drink local: bolstering the local economy. Sure, you could have a Safeway or a Target move in where that brewery is; and sure, it’ll be a convenient store to have nearby. But, isn’t there something nice about knowing that the people who live in your community are the people servicing your community and are keeping the profits themselves? This extends beyond just local brewers and also encompasses local stores and pubs that carry the local beer and also need your support.

Because local brewers appreciate your support and because they’re generally really excited about beer, if you go to the brewery you’ll be amazed how much info you’ll learn about beer that you didn’t know even existed. Like any small business, if you show an interest a local brewer will be happy to show you around, take their time with you and teach you about their craft. And it is a craft! Getting into craft brews will open your palate to the huge variety of beers out there, and you’ll probably find a lot more than the limited selection you get at the grocery store. Since the brewer was passionate enough to start his own business, he’ll probably do some different and delicious stuff, too. And going to the source also ensures that you’ll get the freshest and newest brews you can purchase.

Finally, of course, is the environmental impact: local beer hasn’t had to travel as far to get to you, which means it wasn’t driven across the country in a gas-guzzling truck. And, while I’m skeptical about beer in cans, a new trend is bringing them back (there are numerous reasons why they’re claimed to be better than bottles) and some local brewers are using them to further cut down on environmental impact, citing not only the lighter weight for shipping but also the ease of crushing them to cut down on area and recycling them.

I’m not saying to stop drinking whatever it is you drink (although if you tell me what, specifically, you drink, I might). I’m just saying you should think about making local breweries a part of what you consume. Beyond the support of the local community, the education you’ll get, the environmentalism and the freshness, you’ll also find that the beer community is generally a pretty friendly one (of course, they’re all drinking)! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.


jd chicago said...

Thought I'd share:
75th Street Brewery - Kansas City, MO
Boulevard Brewery - Kansas City, MO
Schlafly #15 - St. Louis, MO is also a favorite of mine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list. For those in the Chicago area, besides the obvious (Goose Island), also try Metropolitan, Two Brothers, Revolution and Half Acre.