This has been a very patriotic week. Our good neighbors to the north celebrated Canada Day on July 1st. The US played in one heck of an elimination game in the World Cup. And today is July 4th, Independence Day. I love the 4th of July. It’s a time to reflect on the United States, its history and its freedoms. It’s a time to think of those who have served the country, as well as those who simply are and have been good, honest Americans. It’s a summer tradition that brings with it a well-deserved day off, a celebratory atmosphere, fireworks, cookouts, and of course, copious amounts of good beer.
There are so many great ways to celebrate this holiday. And it's a perfect time to look at the craft beer industry as an analogy for the many freedoms we in the US have been granted since the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776. The current booming state of craft beer is not what it has always been. As noted by the Brewers Association, there are close to 3,000 operating breweries in the US, the highest number since the late 1800’s. We’re talking about almost 150 years between those peaks! The craft beer industry is seeing a resurgence that means more choices for all of us. If you want a cold lager for your July 4th bbq, you can find one and it doesn’t have to be from one of the big boys. Maybe you want a session IPA, something hoppy but not overpowering? I’ve seen a few of those around. Perhaps a glass of something smooth as on nitro? Those options are starting to pop up all over. There are so many options that there is most certainly a style for everyone. People often ask us what kind of beer Virginia Beer Co. will specialize in. Our most frequent answer is that we are going to specialize in variety. I don’t want to make too much of that vague response, but I believe it’s the most patriotic answer we can give! We have the freedom to brew anything and everything, and we plan to.
Mind you we have our year-round offerings well thought out, but with the taproom we are designing and the brewing systems we've purchased, we're going to have a lot of tap space for a lot of varieties. That brings up another great point about the current state of the brewing industry. Slowly but surely, legislation is moving in favor of small and craft brewers all over the country. Freedom, baby! Homebrewing is finally being formally legalized in pretty much every state. State laws are changing to allow more flexibility for breweries to get their product to the consumer. A great example is SB 604, which (to put it in beer drinkers’ terms) allows for production breweries in Virginia, like we will be, to serve draft beer on premise directly to the consumer, which we plan to. Historically with non-craft lobbying and pushback to the growing craft beer segment, getting this type of legislation passed was not always a sure thing. But across the country and throughout the States, the winds have shifted and we are realizing the positive impact that new businesses like ours can have on the surrounding areas. New jobs, new revenue streams, new sustainability options, and new craft products for all. Maybe it’s a stretch but these are the types of freedoms our forefathers would have loved. Clearly I’m the resident expert on these things, I live in Williamsburg (ie, Virginia’s colonial capital!).
Freedom is what the 4th of July is all about. And right now we are seeing more and more freedom in the craft beer industry. Whether it’s more options for the homebrewer; more flexibility for craft brewers to operate in a manner that’s good for the business and good for the consumer (eg, fresh beer!); or having the ability to offer beers of all shapes and sizes, it’s a great time to be in beer. And more importantly, it’s a great time to enjoy one! So whatever you do this Independence Day, be safe, be happy, and by all means be proud to be part of today’s celebration! God bless America and cheers to craft beer!