The Craft Beer Explosion

Like the spray-discharge from a pop-top can of brew after it has been accidentally dropped on the ground, the craft beer market is exploding.

‘Craft beer’ is a term referring to a brewery that emphasises quality rather than quantity. It starts with the wishful brewmaster who mixes a few six-packs in his garage and escalates to the numerous craft brewers that have become so popular, they end up producing prodigious quantities of beer and get the big boys to take notice.

Anheuser-Busch is having a tough time getting millennials to crack open a can of Budweiser. The company is struggling to market Bud to young beer lovers who prefer craft brews with names like Flat Tire, BrewDog Punk and Voodoo Ranger. Along with this mix of brews there are now those additional incentives such as IPA, gluten-free and extra-lite … and let’s not forget organic beers.

Then there are the fruity-veggie beers like Pumpkin Peach Ale. Only 48 bottles of this herbivorous-sounding brew were produced as a response to the millions of dollars spent by Anheuser-Busch on a Super Bowl ad in an attempt to make fun of craft beer drinkers. Text over the video reads – “Budweiser is brewed for drinking …. Not to be fussed over like craft beers”.  The mocking of craft beer lovers fell flat with consumers, who took to Twitter and other social media platforms to slap the mass brewer for its “anti-craft” pitch.

It seems that the craft beer brewers are winning the battle. You can see the evidence in the US-based chain restaurants such as TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday and Chili’s where the tab handles come in designs not recognisable to me, someone who has always considered himself a beer connoisseur.

On a recent visit to Tampa (home of Busch Gardens) I counted 18 different draft beer selections in a popular chicken wing restaurant. I was only familiar with two of them: Stella Artois and Heineken. The bartender did offer some taste samples.

Wheat beer? No, thank you

IPA beer? What’s the big deal?

Gluten-free beer?  Who really cares?

Extra H2O Lite beer? Where’s the restroom? Gotta pee!

Chocolate brewed beer? You can’t be serious?

Yes, serious they are. At the recent Strange Brew Festival in Reno, Nevada, you could find beers brewed with steak, onion, macaroni, pickle and garlic bread flavours. There is even one on the market called Kentucky Sausage Fest Beer – enough extra additives in the hops to make Gerard Heineken (founder of Heineken beer) turn over in his grave.

If that’s not enough, in the world of highbrow micro-breweries they are twirling their beers in crystal wine glasses as if it were some expensive French Bordeaux and spewing out such adjectives as piney, citrusy, grapefruity, earthy, musty, spicy, sharp, bright, fresh, herbal, zippy, lemony, newly-mown lawn, aromatic, brilliant, spruce-like, minty, pungent, elegant, grassy, hoppy… I have personally heard such conversations while sitting in my favourite pub, The Cayman Islands Brewery Tap Room, between tourists discussing our local beers.

“It’s very toasty, with a dash of malt and Bavarian sweetness”.

“Oh, this is nice, much like Guinness, but creamier”.

“I had no idea that they made beer from a white tip shark”.

“Wonder if they have any gluten-free range Caribbean seawater beers…?”

I rolled my eyes through all the catachrestic words and ordered another pint of my favourite help-save-the-sharks lager. After a few pints I couldn’t resist tossing out a bit of sarcasm so everyone could hear:

“Miss, please make sure my beer has a brilliantly clear deep gold colour with a white foam cap and a malt forward sweetness of sweet bread and has a food pairing with the jerk chicken I’m eating at the moment.”

I was rewarded with a few laughs and lots of furrowed brows; still, someone had a sense of humour enough to buy me a beer. So, as I sat there with my drinking partner Andy Martin, under the influence of a bloated bladder, I couldn’t help but wonder why everything has to be so complicated, even in the world of beer?

Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale brewed by Tyranena Brewery ? No, thank you! Yes, that is what it is called – Google it if you don’t believe me. The same brewery has another brew called Dirty Old Man; now that one I might try.

The Cayman Islands Brewery has just opened its newly remodeled tap room and gift shop. Stop by and support local brew.

WACKY CRAFT BEER NAMES

Forget the AllSpark. Hoptimus Prime is what the Decepticons really want.

There are some truly inspired (and cringeworthy) craft beer names in the market. Here are a few to tickle your palate:

  • ’Smooth Hoperator’ from Stoudts Brewing Company
  • ‘Hibernation Ale’ from Great Divide Brewing Co.
  • ‘Hoptimus Prime’ from Ruckus Brewing Company
  • ‘Bad Elf’ from Ridgeway Brewing
  • ‘You’re My Boy, Blue!’ from Brew Bus Brewing
  • ‘Barbarian Streisand’ from Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
  • ‘Audrey Hopburn’ from Great Lakes Brewery
  • ‘Tart Side of the Moon’ from Brewery Vivant