American Craft Beer Week

Posted by Wine Gourmet on

Did you know out of over 7,000 breweries in the U.S., 98% of them are small and independent craft brewers? 

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Life’s too short to drink bad beer”. Well… they’re right. In recent years the craft beer industry has exploded, with craft brewers nationwide, even all over our home state of Virginia. Since creativity and passion runs high for these brewers, it deserves to be recognized.

While the Brewer’s Association celebrates American Beer Month in July, in 2006 they decided they wanted to honor these modest brewers before the summer beer rush flooded in. The Association narrowed focus in on toasting to the techniques and traditions that these craft brewers live by and established American Craft Beer Week. Celebrated annually in May, this year’s nationwide festivities take place this week, May 13th - 19th!

But what makes a brewery an “American Craft Brewery”? Breweries that produce 6 million barrels of beer or less are classified as a “Small American craft brewery”. While “Independent American craft breweries” are classified as such when more than 75% of the brewery is owned by craft brewers themselves.

So… how can you tell which beers are actually made by craft brewers? In an effort to promote and protect these small-scale brewers, the Brewer’s Association launched the “independent craft brewer seal” in June of 2017. “At the end of 2018, more than 4,000 craft brewing companies had adopted the seal — representing more than 80 percent of the volume of craft brewed beer.” As a consumer, when you see the seal logo on a beer, it let’s you know exactly who you’re supporting and it’s “independence you’re tasting”.

Join us tomorrow, May 17th, for our beer tasting from 5-8pm to kick off the weekend festivities! Check out below some quick facts on American Craft beer and a Craft Beer and Cheese Style Guide from CraftBeer.com to help you celebrate in style! 

Craft Beer and Cheese Style Guide

"The Craft Beer and Cheese Style Guide are provided by the American Cheese Society (ACS). ACS provides the cheese community with educational resources and networking opportunities, while encouraging the highest standards of cheesemaking focused on safety and sustainability."

Fresh Cheeses | Wheat and Lambic-style Beers

The term “fresh” is used to describe cheeses that have not been aged, or are very slightly cured. These cheeses have a high moisture content, are usually mild, and have a very creamy taste and soft texture.

Examples include Italian-style mascarpone and ricotta, chèvre, feta, cream cheese, quark and cottage cheese. These light cheeses pair excellently with the softer flavors of wheat and lambic beers.


Soft-Ripened Cheese

Semi-Soft Cheeses | Multiple Styles

Semi-Soft Cheeses have little to no rind and exhibit a smooth, generally, creamy interior. These cheeses have a wide range of flavors from mild to rather pungent in taste.

Examples include many blue cheeses, colby, fontina styles, havarti and Monterey Jack. The vast variety of cheeses in this category can be paired with many different craft beers. When pairing, remember to match strength with strength.


Soft Cheese

Firm/Hard Cheeses | Pilsner, Bock, Brown Ale and Imperial Stout

This broad category of cheeses ranges from very mild to sharp and pungent. Hard cheeses generally have a texture profile that ranges from elastic at room temperature, to hard cheeses that can be grated.

Because of their variety, hard cheeses are easily paried with an equally broad range of craft beer styles.


Blue Cheese

Blue Cheeses | IPA, Imperial IPA

The term “blue” is used to describe cheeses that have a distinctive blue/green veining, created when the penicillium roqueforti mold, which is added during the cheesemaking make process, is exposed to air. This mold provides a distinct flavor to the cheese, which ranges from fairly mild to assertive and pungent.

Blue cheeses may be made in many styles, the most common being the French (roquefort), Italian (gorgonzola) and Danish blue styles. These stronger-flavored cheeses are most successfully balanced with stonger-flavored bolder beers like IPAs or imperial IPAs.


Natural Rind Cheese

Natural Rind Cheeses | Golden or Blonde Ales

Unlike soft-ripened cheeses which are sprayed with a solution to encourage mold growth to produce a rind, natural rind cheeses develop rinds naturally during aging.

This category of cheeses include Tomme de Savoie styles which pair well with golden ales or blondes. Traditional British-style ales work well with English-style natural rind cheeses, such as Lancashire and Stilton.


Wash-Rined Cheese

Washed-Rind Cheeses | Belgian-Style Ales

These cheeses are bathed in brine, wine, spirits or even beer which helps it to retain moisture and aids the growth of bacteria.

The cheese itself, while potentially pungent, is often creamy. Try Belgian-styles ales, like triples and golden strong ales with these varieties.

 


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