By Jackie Gonzales
Over the last six years the craft brewery industry has seen a renaissance. With breweries sprouting up in every city, there has never been a better time to be a beer lover.
According to industry experts the growth amongst breweries can be attributed to a number of different factors. One major influence to the growth is the consumer base which is now made up of Millenials who hold a higher expectation for the beer they drink. Rather than seeking the best of a traditional beer, a market cornered by the large non-craft brewers such as Anheuser Busch or Millercoors, the modern beer drinker is searching for the next new thing. Smaller microbreweries have benefitted greatly from this shift in taste, allowing their experimental beers to bring them great success, thus fueling their next innovative flavor. The use of specialty hop’s and malt, unique spice blends, and nontraditional brews have become the hallmark of the craft brew industry, allowing hundreds of small establishments to forge their own identity in a growing market.
Additionally, beer drinking has become a much more social event. Most craft breweries house tasting rooms’ onsite, allowing their customers to try seasonal specialties and build relationships with other beer lovers. Not only that, but loyalties are established between the brewery and their customers, allowing the brew masters to get direct feedback from their patrons and tailor their next creation to those they interact with on a regular basis. Finding the next great microbrew has become a sort of trophy or achievement one can laud over their fellow ale enthusiasts. All of these factors have allowed the craft brewery industry to more than double from 2475 breweries in 2012 to 5301 in 2016.
California is often seen as the starting point for this movement towards craft beer, with the state producing a number of highly successful breweries. Stone Brewing began in California and is now made and distributed in Europe. Breweries such as Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada have spread across the country, and the number of choices for Californians only continues to increase. According to the California Craft Brewers Association 91.4% of California residents live within 10 miles of a brewery. For residents of the San Gabriel Valley, that mileage is probably much shorter, as there are 62 breweries listed as part of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild alone. Locally, both Monrovia and Arcadia have had breweries open within the peak years of industry growth. For Monrovia, Pacific Plate Brewing Company broke the barrier in 2013 at the beginning of the boom in microbrews.
Bringing a Latin American twist to traditional American brews, they embody the creativity that has fueled the expansion of the industry. More recently Hop Secret Brewing Company opened its doors, quickly becoming a local favorite whose beers have begun to work their way into local bars and restaurants. Arcadia’s Mt. Lowe opened in late 2016, offering takes on classic beers crafted meticulously with a variety of subtle changes to the expected formulas, as well as a family friendly tasting room that appeals to the maturing end of the Millenial generation.
It seems there is no stopping the craft brew industry in its expansion. As the popularity continues to rise and local markets add the growing options of beers to their shelves, the consumer base grows in turns and opens the door for more and more possibilities.