At first, hasty glance, I read Reuben Gray’s topic for this month’s Session incorrectly, and as a result spent most of the month barking after phantom topical squirrels up the wrong literary tree. I thought he wanted us to tell the history of a local active brewery, so I went looking at my hometown favorites for reverse-chronological inspiration. Admittedly: mea culpa.
First stop, Clipper City Beer (parent company to the Heavy Seas Brand). Hmm, only 19 years old. Close, but Reuben stipulated he wanted something at least 20 years or older, to make sure it had an established pedigree, and some history worth exploring. Fair enough, if a bit of a challenge given the time constrictions.
Maryland might not be the biggest state in the union, but being sandwiched between several large metropolitan areas, my inner Sherlock assured me I’d find plenty of beer to write about if I just kept digging and sipping. I went to neighboring DuClaw Brewing next, only to find that they too have 19 anniversarial notches on their mash paddles. Undeterred but a bit confused, I investigated other Old Line favorites: Evolution Brewing (4 years old), Union Craft Brewing (4 years old), The Brewer’s Art (18 years old), and finally found one that fit the criteria in the Flying Dog Brewing Company, who practically oozes seniority at 24 years old.
As I sharpened my #2 blog pencils, getting ready to write all about Flying Dog, its numerous GABF medals, and its move from 5,690 feet in Denver, Colorado, to basically sea-level in Frederick, Maryland, I went back to Reuben’s original announcement to orient myself. Only then did I realize I’d completely missed the point of his topic.
In a rush, I tried to find the ruins or shell of an old brewery, but realized I didn’t have time to write anything that would be more than a “how I spent my summer vacation” essay, rife with poor research, Wikipedia citations, and other things I may or may not have done in high school and undergrad when paper deadlines loomed. But as I read about the former breweries that lined Jones Falls in Rob Kasper’s Baltimore Beer, and the numerous brewhouses that popped up in L’Enfant’s newly laid out DC in Garret Peck’s Capital Beer, I couldn’t shake the idea that even our oldest breweries, even those Americans have long lost the relentless wash of time, didn’t actually seem very old.
So I asked myself a question: how young is brewing in the US? Our country is a wee-toddler compared to Ireland, England, Germany, and Belgium, so empirically, how nascent is this whole craft beer thing, when numbers are crunched and averages calculated?
And then, like a good IT professional, I started compiling data.
This is where I need your help. I bristled with motivation to finish this spreadsheet for today’s Session post, but my basement flooded in recent storms, and I found my research time severely curtailed by attention-hungry wet-vacs and ever swelling puddles of groundwater. I’ve put a good dent in a few states, but I’m just one man, with one keyboard, and one set of eyes, who has been trying really hard to keep his cats from drinking gross basement water.
I ask, if you have the time and are so inclined, to check out my spreadsheet, add your favorite local brewery, the year it was founded, and if possible, a source for your information. Anyone who clicks this link should be able to leave comment somewhere near their homestate; I’ll go through and add new line items (or make corrections if my data is off) until hopefully, we have a thorough composite of just how old/young American brewing is.
And I promise I’ll write more about it. I just need the data first.
So what do you say? Help a beer-writer-brother out? To pour some fresh honey into the pot, I’ll also give a shout-out and link-back in the follow-up post to anyone who helps.
A preemptive thank you, and an obligatory “you all rule.”