Arizona, along with the rest of America, is experiencing an explosion in the popularity of “craft beers,” and Rob Fullmer, executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, will explain that phenomenon in a talk at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 4) in the Arizona Senior Academy’s Great Room.
What, exactly, is a craft beer? Such beers used to be called “microbrews,” since they were brewed in small breweries. As the most popular—Samuel Adams in the East, Sierra Nevada out West– attracted more customers and expanded their facilities, the micro label no longer fit. Craft beer replaced the old term, and it’s now used to describe independent, locally produced beers.
All offer alternatives to the American Light Lager style sold by Miller, Anheuser-Busch, and other national brands. To many craft beer lovers, craft brewing is just brewing done right.
Fullmer attributes the surging popularity of craft beers to the advent of the Internet and the legalization of brewpubs in various states–Washington and California in 1982, Oregon in 1983, with others following shortly thereafter.
“The craft beer industry and the Internet grew up together,” Fullmer said in an interview. “The Internet was a key factor in the early growth of the industry. The web made it not just possible but easy for small entrepreneurial brewers to exchange ideas and recipes.”
When Fullmer joined the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild five years ago, there were just 25 members. Now there are about 100.
As the industry grows, Fullmer sees several trends:
- Brewers are switching from bottles to cans, since “cans are better at blocking out light, oxygen and heat—all of which can spoil a beer’s original flavor.”
- A surge in popularity for IPA styles.
- More experimentation with different yeasts and hops to create new flavors.
Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer