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An American Beer Renaissance

In the United States, beer sales have declined over the past three years - about 2 percent in 2011. Makes sense right? A tough economy means people are cutting back on the non-essentials to save money. Wrong.

While overall beer sales are down, craft beer sales are growing. They increased 15 percent during the first half of 2011, according to the Brewers Association. What that says to me is that a growing number of Americans are choosing to spend more money on better beers. But why? As an Account Planner and a craft beer nerd I'm fascinated by the trends that seem to be fueling the craft beer movement and the implications it has for the social, culinary and economic future of this country.

More and more consumers are embracing local. They're starting to give a damn about where the things they buy come from and who's profiting off their hard-earned dollar. They want to eat, shop, and now drink local. One of the reasons I'm so excited about the craft beer movement is that microbreweries and brewpubs tend to unite and support their local communities.

Beers

Another trend I find inspiring is that out of necessity, people are doing more with less and focusing on quality over quantity. Good beers are made to be enjoyed; not chugged out of a funnel. Good beers are appreciated for their aroma, complexity and balance; not for how many you can drink without feeling full. Maybe Americans' palettes are becoming more sophisticated, or maybe we're just rediscovering how to appreciate the little things. Either way, it's a great time to be a beer lover.

At the end of the day, I think the coolest thing about craft beer is how passionate people are about it. Passionate people do interesting things. They make the world a better place. And they create jobs.  In fact, the economic impact of the American beer renaissance is the subject of an upcoming documentary. Crafting a Nation "tells the story of how the American craft brewers are rebuilding the economy… one beer at a time." The filmmakers recently traveled through St. Louis, spending time at Schlafly, The Civil Life, Urban Chestnut, Perennial Artisan Ales and 4 Hands Brewery. Very cool. And very exciting that St. Louis, a city with such a rich history of brewing, is part of this movement. So, do your part. Support your local brewery wherever you live. Try something different. Keep an open mind, and I guarantee you'll find something you like.