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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Beer Town: The year in craft beer 2010

As 2010 was coming to an end, the Brewers Association, which represents America’s small and independent craft breweries, took a look back at some of the year’s biggest beer trends.

You’ll find the article by Julia Herz, the Association’s Craft Beer Program director, at craftbeer.com.

To get an Atlanta perspective, I asked the group of beer geeks who regularly post on the local Beer Talk mailing list at atlantabeer.com to offer their opinions on a few of the highlights.

Here’s a smattering of what this well-informed and sometimes ornery bunch had to say.

Q: Is the rise of canned craft beer a good thing?

“Cans are good. Lighter and smaller to ship and store. Quicker to chill. Easier to recycle. But cans don’t have the presentation of a corked and caged 750-ml bottle or a wax-dipped 22-oz. bomber.”

“It’s a big deal for the breweries, but I don’t think most beer drinkers care. I haven’t met anyone who’s excited or put off by craft in cans. I prefer bottles. They’re reusable for homebrew.”
watermelon_beer
Q: Is the oft-quoted buzz phrase, “Sour is the new hoppy,” really true?

“I think hoppy is the new hoppy. It’s amazing to see so many IPAs and other hoppy beers in the market. It doesn’t seem to stop.”

“Hoppy beers are still growing. I think the top .01 percent of the craft beer drinkers are getting into sours. I love them personally but I do not think they are for everybody.”

“I think sour could become the new hoppy. Big hoppy IPAs were at one time a little crazy and niche but now make up a huge part of the craft market.”

Q: What about the so-called “nano” brewery movement?

“Until Georgia shows some love to entrepreneurs, don’t expect many locals, if any.”

“I don’t know anything about nano breweries, but ever since Hop City opened I’ve noticed people buying homebrew equipment every single time I’m in there. I think homebrewing is on a strong swing back into fashion.”

“Nano businesses are a great way for someone to test an idea without giving up their day job. In New York, for $75, you can get a license and set up your own distillery in your garage to make boutique spirits. Some states like Georgia put laws in place that discourage the formation of small businesses.”
Bierfest NDR 33
Q: What about beer and food?

“There are beer pairings all over now, even at little restaurants way out in the ’burbs, but practically no marketing. I don’t think most lay people know beer tastings exist.”

“Is ‘beer and food’ new this year?”

“Beer and food pairings (organized beer dinners, articles, classes, etc.) is not new but has become much more available.”

“Food just gets in the way of a good drinking session.”

What do you think? Were these the important beer trends of 2010? What about in Atlanta?

9 comments Add your comment

Jelly Sandwich Meat

January 4th, 2011
10:02 am

What about the turmoil at 5 Seasons?

Details?

Za Za's left leg

January 4th, 2011
10:09 am

Beer and food pairings are over rated. I know what I like when I like it. I don’t need someone to tell me what is supposed to go with an IPA, or a Belgian Tripel. Just make sure you have the beer and I will figure out what to eat, if I want to eat.

Bob

January 4th, 2011
10:37 am

I don’t know all the details. My understanding is that there was a parting of ways a long time ago, and that included a legal agreement for Dennis to buy the Prado location. When the terms weren’t meant, it was taken over by Dave. Kevin is still brewing. Dave has resumed control of the kitchen. The beer and the food should reflect the the original 5 Seasons concept. Crawford is only involved in 5 North and Westside.

Nathan

January 4th, 2011
3:32 pm

Just one beer lover’s take on the Q and A:

1. I do think the rise of canned beer is a great thing for the reasons stated. That said, I take a bit of umbrage over the recent association of 21st Amendment with that phenomenon. Oskar Blues had been doing this for quite some time, and that brewery really deserves the credit for leading the way in canned craft beer.

2. I think there seems to be an “arms race” to make the hoppiest beers possible in American craft brewing. It’s a fascination that’s been going for years and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. It’s amazing to see the creativity in brewing, but at the same time, I can’t help but be miffed at this obsession with hoppiness. Maybe it’s my fondness for malts over hops in beer, but that’s just my take.

3. As for pairing food and beer, there are a lot of fine ATL restaurants that do this, but I think a huge shout-out must go to Muss and Turner’s for being in the vanguard of this practice. They may not have the largest beer selections a la Brick Store Pub or Porter Beer Bar, and they may not produce their own beer a la 5 Seasons, but they have long had dedicated beer sommeliers who take the pairing of food and beer very seriously. Furthermore, Muss and Turner’s deserves a lot of credit for the beer tastings that have educated many an Atlantan.

That all said, I really wish I could get into it all. I agree with the poster who noted that beer frequently gets in the way of a good session. I know that good pairings are supposed to be possible, but more frequently than not, they just don’t seem to gel for me.

Nathan

January 4th, 2011
3:38 pm

But the biggest beer trend, as far as I’m concerned: The vast increase in the appreciation of craft beer among Atlanta drinkers. Credit the rise of craft beer retailers such as Hop City and the recently opened Ale Yeah, or credit the increase in the number of beer-oriented establishments such as Porter, BSP, and Young Augustines, or credit the growing number of festivals. Really, all of these have played a part.

The only downside is how competitive it has become to fine those highly-sought after beers. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have had to worry at all about locating the latest Dogfish Head or (a bit later) Stone beers. But now, with so many people after these beers, many people have to work a bit harder or be a bit quicker. Sometimes I lose out on getting that beer (really would like to have tried 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat, for example). But hey, the fact is that there are more beers available than there have ever been. So, if you can’t find that one, there’s always another to take it’s place.

david larkworthy

January 4th, 2011
4:20 pm

Thanks for asking about us here at the 5 Seasons. The 5 Seasons was created 10 years ago as a place to get great quality fresh beer and food because we could not find anywhere in Atlanta at the time that had both. Crawford, myself and our staff at all 3 locations dedicate our lives to the love of great beer, fresh real food and the cool people who we get to serve it to. We will continue to provide some of the freshest and tastiest food and beer on the planet. Thanks to all of our employees and customers who have helped us make the 5 such a special place.
Cheers!

Scott

January 5th, 2011
12:35 pm

We are in the process of planning a new craft beer brewery in the Northeast USA called Nor’easter Brewing Company LLC. Blogs such as yours are very helpful, thank you.
http://noreasterbrewing.com

Grant

January 8th, 2011
12:43 am

I have to say, I agree with Nathan on all accounts. Better said than I could say myself.

I did get my hands on some Fireside Chat, and boy, was it delicious (not to rub it in). I missed out on the Infinium, however, which was apparently much more difficult to come by than I thought it would be. If anyone knows where to grab it around town…

By the way, keep up the AJC writings, Bob, I love to read them. Cheers.

Tim

January 8th, 2011
10:51 am

The following posting is now on the 5 Seasons Facebook page:

5 Seasons Brewing – The Sandy Springs location has been added to the website,http://5seasonsbrewing.com/. Be sure to check out the photo gallery, featuring the work of our “resident” photographers, Jeff Kenyon and Grace Adams Moss!

Looks like they have worked things out and the Prado/Sandy Springs location will remain part of the 5 Seasons group.