The latest numbers from the Brewers Association were recently released, and the craft surge is still outta control. In the first half of ’14, production volume increased 18 percent; 10.6 million barrels were sold, up from 9 million in ’12. More stats: check the brewery count in the last five years: 1625 (2010); 1776 (’11); 2126 (’12); 2538 (’13). There are now 3040 breweries in the US (as of June 30); 99 percent are craft brewers (an almost-even split of brewpubs and breweries). And there are 1929 more dreamers planning to throw their hops in the brew kettle. Craft now represents about 8 percent of the beer market, but accounts for more than 14 percent of sales — quality worth paying for. And you know that craft is catching on when you see an empty bomber of Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale in the gutter, as we did a few blocks away from Feenix HQ. We don’t condone littering, but that’s some classy trash. . . .
After 18 years — and 1867 batches of brew! — Sean Larkin has hung up his mash paddle at Trinity Brewhouse and is turning his full attention to his brewmaster duties at Brutopia in Cranston, where he will also concoct some of his Revival Brewing beers. “I’m very grateful to Trinity and [owner] Josh [Miller] for the time spent there,” Larkin told Yankee Brew News’ Larry Brown. “In no way was I forced out. A bigger facility just allows us to meet our demand.”
On Saturday, there are two beer events in the wilds of Massachusetts. Your first option, from 2-6 pm: Indian Ranch’s annual Summer Brewfest . There’s no better setting for an afternoon of sampling, BBQ, and music than the concert venue on the shore of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster, MA (about 45 minutes from Providence). An impressive list of about two dozen craft brewers will be pouring, including New Englanders (Baxter, Blue Point, Harpoon, Long Trail, Magic Hat, ’Gansett, Notch, Red Hook, Sam Sam Adams, Shipyard, Spencer, Two Roads, Wachusett, and Wormtown) and some national standouts (Boulevard, Crazy Mountain, Goose Island, Ithaca, Kona, Sierra Nevada, Widmer Brothers). Tix are $30 advance, $35 at the door, $5 for designated drivers (508.943.3871, indianranch.com).
Your second option: Brew At the Zoo at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. More than 40 brewers will be there, including Allagash, Clown Shoes, Pretty Thing, Lagunitas, Ommegang, Smuttynose, Rising Tide, and Otter Creek. And the entire zoo will be open, so you can talk hops and yeast while getting up close and personal with gorillas, pygmy hippos, kangaroos, and Aussie budgies. Tix are $50 advance, $60 at the door (zoonewengland.org/engage/brew-at-the-zoo).
And speaking of fests, Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America bash in Portland, ME was a real treat, with about 120 New England brewers (plus nine of the 12 national brewers who worked on the collaborative beer box that flew off the shelves a few weeks ago) pouring their labors of love. And hats off to Dave from Proclamation Ale, whose Keraterra (a saison/farmhouse ale) generated great word of mouth, which prompted Allagash brewmaster Jason Perkins to drop by and raise a sampling glass. (Foolproof, Trinity, and 'Gansett also repped RI.) It was a great getaway in a great beer city, bursting with breweries and funky bars. It’s worth the short trip even when there isn’t a giant pavilion filled with taps and craft beer fans.