Some years ago, a British man who was the victim of a car accident sued the other driver, claiming he had lost his ability to taste beer as a result of his injuries. The judge agreed that this was a “great loss ” and awarded the man $14,076.
Although the growing popularity of wine, wine bars, and “designer drinks ” have nudged beer drinking statistics a bit lower in recent years, some emerging trends are breathing new life into the beer industry.
Breweries that produce fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, otherwise known as microbreweries, are part of a growing craft industry that includes homemade and specialty beers. The brewpub is also a growing industry; this is an institution that brews its own beer, mainly for consumption on the premises.
Ironically, this is really a return to the earlier days of brewing, when English pubs brewed their own beer, or earlier still when monasteries brewed for nearby villages and towns.
Smaller batches tend to result in tastier, more interesting beers, with more attention paid to detail and to the quality of the ingredients. Also, smaller breweries result in regional specialties, creating a more varied landscape overall.
Cooking with beer is another growing trend. Beer can now be tasted as an ingredient in sauces and batters, while books and Internet sites proclaim that a good beer is the ideal accompaniment to hearty beef dishes, seafood, and fish entrees. But don”t think the traditional beer and pizza dinner is dead. People still treasure their beer and pizzaor in some cases, a bit of pizza with their beer.
Another popular trend in the beer industry is the light beer. When light beers were first introduced in the 1970s, consumers were attracted to the smooth, mild taste. The lower number of calories didn”t hurt either. Now, light beers have become more popular than the original premium beers.
Import beers have also gained popularity. With styles that vary greatly from the domestic beers, imports have begun to take a larger market share. One reason may be due to the increasing number of immigrants in the country. Another may be that people are just looking for the best.
Lately, the “big thing ” has been a malt beverage that isn”t a beer. In this category, you get a wide variety of drinks, from the different varieties of hard lemonade and hard cola, to the more well-known drinks that blend the line between spirits and beers. Brands such as Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver are making a huge impact on the market.