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Food for Thought - Rapids' Blog
American Beer Day is Oct 27thThe history of American beer dates back to colonial times when it was made with corn. American beer is produced in a variety of styles, but the most well-known is pale lager. Other American beers include IPA, brown ale, porter, and stout.
The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of American BeerThe first American beer was brewed in 1587 by the Virginia colonists. As the United States was established and began to expand, so did the beer industry, making it an important part of U.S. history. Many of our famous historical figures were involved with the beer-making process in some way or another. George Washington was a home brewer with his own recipe, and he started the first “Buy American” campaign way back in 1775, pressuring colonists to only drink American-made porter.
By 1873, the beer industry in the U.S. had grown to include even more breweries than we have today, with the consumption per population being very similar. Today, we consume 21.5 gallons per capita; in 1914 it was 20 gallons per capita.
The 18th amendment went into effect on Jan. 16, 1920, and was known as the Volstead Act or National Prohibition. Nobody could make or sell any type of alcohol, which of course included beer. Legitimate breweries went out of business. The amendment reversing this decision became effective in April 1933 and ended 13 years of being a dry nation. It was after this reversal that Rapids Wholesale's history became intertwined with American beer and brewery industry. Rapids founder, Harry Ribble, was a former Pabst Brewery employee who actually designed and patented the first direct draw beer dispenser the world has ever seen. Henry left Pabst and started Rapids Wholesale way back in 1936. Rapids has built on that tradition of consistently ensuring full pint glasses for thirsty folks ever since. They work with brewers, distributors, bar owners, parts machinists, and manufacturers nationwide, and they are actually celebrating their 80th year of business this year.
Although prohibition had ended, this wasn't the end of the troubles for small local breweries. The large macro breweries had better transportation, more effective refrigeration, and with deep pockets for marketing, making it hard for the smaller breweries to compete. This led to a decline in the number of independent brewers, a trend that continued for the next 50 years (from 1933 to 1983). At one point, only 51 independent companies were making beer in the United States!
The resurgence of local craft breweries actually came about in California in the early 1980's. The main cause of this resurgence was the marketing of California cuisine and the worldwide recognition of California wines. A few craft breweries were opened in Northern California among the fine wineries, and other parts of the country soon began to emulate California’s “local cuisine” scene. Regional cuisine started to be celebrated all over the U.S., and local craft breweries were a significant part of this celebration, allowing smaller companies to start flourishing again.
While craft breweries and beer are quickly expanding, they still only account for 20% of the beer sold in America. Premium pricing for craft beer, combined with the convenience store availability of macro brewery beer, is most likely the reason for this.
It is estimated that there are over 3000 breweries in the United States that manufacture a combined total of 196 million barrels of beer every year. That is enough to fill one in 25 residential pools in the U.S. It is also estimated that there is a craft brewery within 10 miles of all homes in the U.S. While the number of craft breweries makes it more convenient to find a local craft beer, the macro breweries still provide more than 75% of the beer consumed in the United States. Imported beers account for 5% of beer consumption.
Based on these statistics, it seems most of America is drinking light beer produced by the macro brewers, Bud Light being the most popular.
The Top 5 Best Selling Brands of Beer in the U.S. ( stats for 2015 )
|Brand of Beer||U.S. Sales||Cases Sold|
(Anheuser-busch in BEV)
(Coors Brewing Company)
(Anheuser-Busch InBev )
(Miller Brewing Company)
(Anheuser-Busch InBev )
|While the above is what we purchase at the convenience store on the way home from work, the local craft beer breweries are fast becoming the beloved meeting place in town. Because of this difference, ranking and rating these beers is a bit more involved than just sales volume. It is a little difficult for a craft brewery from a tiny town in Iowa compete for sales volume with a craft brewery in Los Angeles. The solution to this ranking problem? The Internet. Many sites now provide a ranked list of craft beers, the most notable of which is The Beer Advocate. This site was founded in 1996 by brothers Todd and Jason Alstrom. Craft beer is rated on a 1-5 point scale, with .25 increments on five different attributes: 1) Appearance 2) Smell 3) Taste 4) Mouthfeel 5) Overall Impression. For a detailed explanation of the rating system, or to rate your favorite beer, visit the Beer Advocate online.
Over 100 thousand regional craft beers are listed and rated within the Beer Advocate’s Database.
Below are the current top 10 rated craft beers on Beer Advocate:
|Craft Beer Brands||Raitng||Reviews/ Ratings|
|1||American Double / Imperial Stout||4.72203||203 | 999|
|2||American Double / Imperial Stout||4.7||91 | 526|
|3||American Double / Imperial Stout||4.67||172 | 990|
|4||American Double / Imperial IPA||4.66||930 | 2,973|
|5||American Double / Imperial Stout||4.66||57 | 168|
|6||American Double / Imperial IPA||4.66||2,273 | 12,783|
|7||American Double / Imperial IPA||4.66||80 | 456|
|8||American Double / Imperial IPA||4.65||119 | 676|
|9||American Double / Imperial Stout||4.64||118 | 1,300|
|10||American Double / Imperial IPA||4.63||71 | 336|
|With such a long and varied history, it's no wonder we have an American Beer Day and that some many people want to celebrate it. Join in on Oct. 27th by grabbing your growler and heading to your favorite brew pub!|