A record number of breweries opened across America in 2021. The Brewers Association's Year in Beer reports 710 new breweries and 176 that closed their doors. According to the Brewers Association, that makes around 9,000 beer producers across our country.
Even in a challenging year, small American craft brewers contributed $63 billion to the U.S. economy in 2020. This is encouraging news despite the many issues craft breweries faced in 2021.
Barley, an essential ingredient in almost all brews, dropped production to 118 million tons, down 31% from 2019. The top three barley producers — Idaho, Montana and North Dakota — produced half of what they produced in 2019.
First-year hop plantings and some aroma hop varieties also took a hit from this summer’s usually hot weather. But overall, the hop harvest increased over last year in the top three hop-producing states.
Hops production in tons
Idaho 17,190 18,042
Oregon 12,468 12,459
Washington 74,151 86,288
U.S. 103,810 116,880
Add to the past year’s supply chain struggles bottles, both plastic and glass, became difficult to source. Resourceful craft brewers started to package their own product when their main sales in tasting rooms, bars and restaurants disappeared during the pandemic, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Aluminum cans currently make up around 60% of craft beer packaging.
That’s a lot of cans, with nearly 9,000 breweries operating in the U.S today. Every state and D.C. has at least a dozen or so craft breweries. California tops the list with 958 breweries. The second is New York with 460. Then Pennsylvania (444), Colorado (433), and Washington state (428 soon to be 429, more on that later).
There are several very good reasons to make the switch. Cans are more portable and thus have less shipping costs. For outdoor enthusiasts, whether hiking a mountain or biking some hilly country road, the payload is lighter. For the beer, it’s better in that it reduces oxidation, keeps the beer from being light-struck and is easily recycled.
The oldest breweries
Some of the longest continuously operating breweries nationwide include Yuengling, established in Pennsylvania in 1829. It’s the nation’s oldest brewery. Coors opened its doors in Colorado in 1873. And in 1896, Anchor Brewing fired up its copper kettles in California. Washington’s Redhook popped open in 1981 and in 1984, Oregon’s two Widmer brothers first hopped up a batch of their Altbier.
Kitsap Peninsula’s Breweries
7 Seas Brewing
Bainbridge Brewery and Taproom
Bent Bine Brewing
Breaking Waves Brewing
Chaos Bay Brewing Co.
Crane's Castle Brewing
Deep Draft Brewing
Dog Day Brewing
Fox Island Brewing
Gig Harbor Brewing
Hood Canal Brewery
Rainy Daze Brewing
Silver City Brewing
Slaughter County Brewing
Western Red Brewing
Wet Coast Brewing
Yoked Farmhouse and Brewery
*Moment Brewing is Kitsap Peninsula’s newest brewery. West Sound Brew Club members Brad Maupin and Steve Ferguson are opening soon in the Seattle Lighting Plaza behind the Silverdale Post Office.
Warming winter brews
Many breweries produce special beers for those cold winter days and nights. Winter Warmers, Old Ales, Strong Ales and Barleywines are the different styles made to keep us warm during the cold winter.
These are generally big-bodied ales with a big malt presence usually above 7% ABV. To get that high ABV, brewers use more barley to reach a higher original gravity (OG). OG is the amount of sugar available in the mash. The more sugar that ferments means more ABV.
The combination of massive amounts of malt, hops and alcohol make these beers very complex. These beers can range in color from amber to black and have a smidgen of hops. Traditional Old Ales may include the spices such as nutmeg, cloves and allspice. And traditionally, Old Ales usually have “old” in the name. For example, Old Foghorn, Old Crusty, Old Stock Ale. The tradition of incorporating the word "old" in the name comes from the tradition of old ales, with the practice of long aging in wood casks, much like wine.
Barleywine is an ale that is distinguished by its full body, malty sweetness and usually somewhere above 8% ABV. Traditionally, Barleywines were made from the first run of the mash; the rest would go into “smaller” brews. Carbonation is not part of this package. It’s the port of beers.
There is a specific category of beer called Winter Warmer. It’s a seasonal beer usually made with spices such as nutmeg, allspice, cloves.
Kitsap Peninsula’s Warm Winter Ales
7 Seas Bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine
Bainbridge Brewery 2020 Rare Exports Rum barrel aged Imperial Stout
Crane's Castle Wee Heavy Tipple Scotch Ale
Deep Draft Friendship Lights Winter Warmer
Want to learn more about these big winter beers? The upcoming social meeting of the West Sound Brew Club will feature Barleywines and big beers (8% or more). A designated driver is strongly recommended!
For more info about this homebrew club dedicated to promoting the hobby and advancing the craft of brewing at home, find them on Facebook. New members are always welcome.
Happy New Year!
Mary Earl has been educating Kitsap wine lovers for a couple of decades, is a longtime member of the West Sound Brew Club and can pair a beer or wine dinner in a flash. She volunteers for the Clear Creek Trail, is a member of the Central Kitsap Community Council and a longtime supporter of Silverdale.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Drop into a local brewery for a winter warming beer