March 18, 2008

Mug Shots: Craft brews are up!

"The Brewers Association reports estimated sales by independent craft brewers up 12 percent by volume and 16 percent in dollars for 2007. Craft brewers’ share of the beer category is 3.8 percent of production and 5.9 percent of retail sales.”For those of us espousing the virtues of real beer, another year of double-digit sales growth comes as great news and a welcome measure of vindication.If John Lennon was right, and life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans, then during the past decade, there has occurred a sea change in attitude shifts toward beer — something that has come to pass here in the Louisville area during a time when I’ve been so busy with my own backyard patch of craft brew land that I scarcely noticed the rows of genuinely potable ales and star imports on package store shelves, and an ever--expanding range of good beer in local restaurants.We seem to be inching ever closer to a norm of acceptance and recognition. Earlier this month, I attended a wonderful beer dinner at Corbett’s — An American Place and enjoyed top-rate cuisine in conjunction with Belgian ales from the Wetten Importing portfolio, including Delirium Tremens, Gouden Carolus and St. Louis lambic. Last year, New Albanian Brewing Co. hosted a “Creative Costume” of American-brewed craft beers and appetizers prepared by two rising young chefs. Not that long ago, no one took seriously the notion of beer and food pairings. If you still don’t, you’re way behind the curve.On April 12, we’ll be traveling to St. Louis’ Schlafly Brewing’s annual Repeal of Prohibition party, featuring Indiana microbreweries alongside the hometown product. Schlafly thrives in the considerable shadow of Anheuser-Busch; in fact, a Missouri legislator recently proposed to make Budweiser the state beer.I propose that Schlafly’s future relevance is considerably more enhanced than Bud’s. After all, the sales increases don’t lie.Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.