Julia Herz, Director of the Craft Beer Program for the Brewers Association and Publisher of CraftBeer.com, has kicked off every Beer Bloggers Conference since the first one in 2010. Her goal with CraftBeer.com is to
“further the conversation on craft beer and small and independent craft brewers”, who are represented by the Brewers Association. A homebrewer, BJCP beer judge, and certified Cicerone, Julia is back to kick off this year’s Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference on Friday, July 17. Her handle on the current state of beer in the U.S is exceptional and we look forward to her BBC15 involvement.
Beer and It’s History in the United States – We’ve Been Drinking It for Years!
The love for beer has been around for thousands of years. Author and CraftBeer.com contributor, Stan Hieronymus, references the “Hymn to Ninkasi”, inscribed on a tablet circa 1800 BC and extolling the virtues of the Sumerian goddess of beer. Fast forward to the U.S. – Hieronymus cites that Native Americans made beer out of corn long before Europeans came to America. The current state of beer affairs is significant: there are over 3,000 independent breweries in the U.S. today and one hundred U.S. beer styles, from American IPAs to barrel aged sours. Beer contributes 1.6 percent to our gross domestic product and Julia references that the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery!
The modern era of brewing in the U.S., which was quite robust in the early 1900’s, took a nosedive during Prohibition. Per capita consumption was up to a whopping 20 gallons in 1914 (compared to about 21.5 today, according to Hieronymus). But the outlaw of the sale of alcohol in the form of the 18th Amendment brought the vibrant beer industry to a halt. The 21st Amendment, passed in 1933, repealed the 18th Amendment but only about 300 breweries emerged to continue their craft. Brewers Association President, Charlie Papazian, attributes the beer revival of the last 30 years in the U.S. to the “open-source” attitude taken by homebrewers, beer enthusiasts, and craft brewers in the late 1970’s. With more than 1,900 new U.S. breweries in development today, Julia states that:
…it’s clear that craft brewers and craft beer lovers are participants in a beer revolution
The Brewers Association represents the smaller brewers in the U.S. and is a not-for-profit organization of brewers, for brewers and by brewers. More than 2,000 U.S. breweries are members. The organization is also joined by 43,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association and other members of the allied trade including beer distributors, individuals and associate members. The purpose of the Brewers Association is:
To promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts
So how does one define a “craft brewer”? Many brewers have a unique interpretation of what it means to be “craft”. In order to be able to provide statistics and valuable information on the exponentially growing craft brewery segment, the Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as small (annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less) and independent – visit the Brewers Association for more information about the craft brewer definition and details on the craft beer market segments: brewpubs, microbreweries and regional craft breweries.
Julia was kind enough to answer a couple of questions for us before she packed her bags for Asheville:
Q: Why does the Brewers Association attend the BBC every year?
A: I very much like the BBC. The eclectic, varied support that it brings encourages, intrigues, and energizes me. The gathering every year is important: bringing beer bloggers, beer consumers, and beer media together is instrumental to the success of craft brewers in the US.
Q: What do you most like about this yearly convergence of beer bloggers?
A: Live Beer Blogging! (Good response, Julia! We love LBB, too!)
The 2015 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Asheville celebrates the craft of brewing and writing about beer. The conference represents the unique chance to get to know the teams, concepts, and mechanics behind America’s number one beverage.
The beer revolution is happening and it’s happening now. Julia’s BBC15 kick-off presentation on Friday will be packed full of information, data, and stories about the current state of craft beer in America – we welcome her and the Brewers Association and CraftBeer.com to the 2015 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference!