Silicon Valley Beer Week Celebrates Changing Tastes

Beer on the BarSilicon Valley Beer Week is already underway! Having started on Sunday, July 28th, this festival highlights the best craft beers in the region. Delicious brews and bites can be found through Saturday, August 3rd. Can’t you already hear the contented sighs? Actually, craft beer is becoming quite the hot commodity. In recent years, beer sales have been dropping as craft beer and hard cider sales are steadily growing. This consumer trend suggests that more drinkers are willing to pay a little more for higher better quality booze. The New Yorker published an article and an interactive craft beer map last month about the amazing country-wide boom in the craft beer industry. Although California (particularly Northern Ca) boasts the number one spot for craft beer production, other regions are beginning to jump on board.

What does this mean for the beer drinkers? Time Magazine claims that the dramatic increase in craft brewers is stimulating variety and competition. Hello, better beer. The brews that make big it have to be good because the consumer is now too knowledgeable to accept anything mediocre. New brewers have to explore new tastes and varieties, and we get to be the lucky tasters!

So what about those who don’t like beer — craft or otherwise? Interestingly, the growth in craft beer sales is lumped with cider sales. As if they were the same thing… Ha! It seems like cider may be the next big drink in the US. In 2005, CC Mangers cider debuted in European markets and kick-started the demand for premium alcohol like “craft beer” and ciders. Reuters suggests that the tiny cider industry may soon be a contender for even the wine industry —  world-wide! Although rather small at the moment, the cider industry is having a profound effect with various flavors that range from dry to sweet, clean to peaty. Depending on what you like, there is likely a cider for you. This range makes it a great option when out at a bar with a bunch of beer drinkers. Also, as cider frequently contains no gluten, it is a great alternative to beer for those with a gluten intolerance.

BeerHaving spent the last six months in the British Isles, I can safely say that cider is one of the top drinks of choice. Almost every pub I went into had at least two varieties of cider on tap. Personally, I prefer the Irish Bulmer’s or Swedish Rekorderlig varieties. The crisp dry flavor of a Bulmer’s Original does not hint at the idea of  ‘grown-up’ apple juice. This is a drink for an adult despite its popularity among the younger crowd. It is much harder to find these brands here, though the US has a number of cider brewers carving out their place in the cider market. Food and Wine highlights a number of the top cider crafters in the states.

Also exciting to note is the emergence of cider bars. If you happen to be in Seattle this weekend, check out Capitol Cider, the newest cider bar.  What do you think, are craft beer and cider just fads, or are they here to stay? If craft beer isn’t your thing, go out and try a cider this weekend. Otherwise, bring on Silicon Valley Beer Week!

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