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American Craft Beer Week

May 17-23 is American Craft Beer Week.  Organized by the Brewers Association, this annual celebration that started in 2006 gives beer aficionados a chance to recognize the contributions of the American craft brewer.  On April 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the resolution H.R. 1297 (pdf file) to recognize the efforts that independent craft brewers play throughout the country.  Various events that will be held across the U.S. run the gamut from brewery tours and festivals to food and beer pairings.

According to the Brewers Association a craft brewer is defined as “small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”  They consist of brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries, and contract brewing companies

About 90% of the over 1,500 breweries in the United States fit the definition of a “craft brewer”.  They share a small percentage of the beer market in overall sales.  Two years ago only a mere 6.3% of the beer sold in the U.S. was produced by craft brewers.

It’s no secret that many craft brewers today got their start by homebrewing.  Although, the American Homebrewers Association held its Big Brew event on May 1,  homebrewers can celebrate this week by brewing an “American Craft Beer Wheat“.  The recipe is taken from the upcoming book Brewing with Wheat: The ‘Wit’ and ‘Weizen’ of World Wheat Beer Styles by Stan Hieronymus.  Both the All-Grain and Extract recipes are posted.  The American Wheat beer style is ideal for enjoying during the summer months as the weather heats up.

Locally, for those of you in Wisconsin, here are a few events that are happening this week:

  • Sprecher Brewery is celebrating ACBW by hosting additional brewery tours starting at 3 and 4 pm. There will also be beer & cheese pairings and sample food & condiments made with beer. Call 1-414-964-2739 or visit their website for more details. Their guest taps will feature Central Waters Shine On, South Shore
    Brewery Wheat Dopplebock and Capital Brewery Tettanger Dopplebock.
  • Northern Brewer at Lakefront Brewery AHA Rally will be held on Sunday, May 16th from 1-5 pm.  Click here for more details.
  • Capital Brewery in Middleton, WI will be offering additional brewery tours Wednesday & Thursday.  They will also be featuring 3 ‘guest taps’ in the Bier Garten. Sprecher’s Black Bavarian, The Great Dane’s Old Glory Pale Ale, and Lake Louie’s Tommy’s Porter.

So what can you do to celebrate American Craft Beer Week?

  • Support your community and local craft brewers by picking up a 6 pack of their beer or by ordering one on tap while you’re out for dinner this week. The money you spend helps support the jobs created by the brewers in your local community and does not go to some international conglomerate that owns one of the “big breweries”.
  • Sign up for a brewery tour at a local brewery or brewpub. You might learn something about the beer making process while doing so and get the opportunity to sample some great tasting fresh beer.
  • Sign the Declaration of Beer Independence, an official document to support America’s small and independent craft brewers.
  • Get together with your buddies and brew a batch of homebrew.

So what are you doing to celebrate The “Mother of All Beer Weeks”?

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