These days, you’re not really drinking unless you’re drinking local. While the big-name beers may always have their place in Super Bowl ads and supermarkets, the craft beer scene has flourished into a $23.5 billion market in recent years, according to the Brewers Association. By nature of their small batches and unique ingredients, craft beers put the attention on the local communities they come from. As a result, the farm-to-glass movement is about much more than craft beers and cocktails.
With each sip, craft beers deliver a taste of the local community. That’s because they’re not just brewed locally – they are also flavored locally. Local ingredients make craft beers unique from brewer to brewer. As ingredients make their way from farm to glass, connections within the local community are forged between growers and brewers.
“Consumers are more and more interested in seeing where the ingredients in their beer are grown,” says Herb Atwell, owner of Mountain Valley Hops in Axton, Virginia. “Knowing that the hops you see were used to produce the beer you are drinking, and that it’s local and unique to the community, makes you feel like you are a part of something very unique and special.”
Put another way, Atwell says, it’s like saying, “This is a beer that can’t be replicated at any other brewery because our hops and our water give a flavor distinct to our land.”
In Virginia, where Atwell brews his beer, the number of craft breweries has more than tripled since 2011. It’s not just Virginia: The Brewers Association’s database of state craft beer stats shows that the number of small breweries has grown in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, over the last several years.
As good as the craft beer trend is for avid beer aficionados, the trend is also good for local farms where hops are grown. In fact, some craft breweries have even developed on local farms. According to a Washington Post report from 2015, many states have allowed farmers to brew beer as long as they use local agricultural products. At these farmland breweries, beer truly does flow from farm to glass.
More than a common weekend outing, the craft beer trend has also become an annual celebration. For 12 years, the Brewers Association has recognized American Craft Beer Week in May. During the weeklong celebration, breweries in all 50 states hold special events, including exclusive tours, special beer releases and more. The occasion legitimizes the farm-to-glass movement and, of course, encourages consumers to continue drinking locally (and responsibly).
For more information on American Craft Beer Week, visit www.craftbeer.com.