We’ve all heard the term craft beer, but what is a craft beer?
In the 1970s, due to highly effective marketing campaigns and aggressive merchandising practices, the beer industry was consolidated to only 44 breweries that mostly mass-produced lagers. In response, a grassroots home-brewing culture emerged. The creative spirit of those early home brewers gave birth to what we now call craft beer. These inspired beer enthusiasts would eventually start their own breweries to serve their local communities by making full-flavored beers and reviving European traditions.
Despite a difficult beginning, by the 1990s craft brewers began to catch on. The number of craft brewers went from eight in 1980 to 537 in 1994, to more than 2,300 in 2012. Today, the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery. There is no better time to be a beer drinker!
With the craft beer revolution, came the brew pub revolution. In Bellingham, brew pubs have become local gathering places that contribute to our local economy.
Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham’s oldest brew pub, opened its doors in 1995. It now employs more than 100 people. They partner with local businesses and support many community events.
In 2012, David Vitt opened Kulshan Brewing Company. They now have 25 employees and produced 3,000 barrels in 2013. Like those craft beer pioneers, Vitt was an avid home brewer who turned his passion into a vocation. He worked for six years at Fish Tale organic brewery in Olympia before opening Kulshan to create craft beers styled for our community.
In addition to Kulshan and Boundary Bay, our local craft beer mecca includes Chuckanut Brewery, Wander Brewing, The North Fork Brewery, Menace Brewing, and recently opened Aslan Brewing Company.
Craft beer was, and still is, community inspired. The people wanted something better. They wanted a quality product, not a mass-marketed lager. Craft beer is part of the “local” revolution. Try a local beer and support a craft brewery—I think you’ll like it. After all, it was made for you. Cheers!