Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend and with that comes food, friends, and beer. A ton of beer, in fact– Americans drink 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. That is roughly four beers for every person in the country. That’s a lot of suds! We delved into present day beers and our history with the brewing what is now America’s favorite adult beverage.
In 1584 brewing beer had a quick and mysterious run in America’s “lost” English colony in Roanoke, North Carolina. The beer must have not satisfied the colonists, as they would continue to request shipments from England. Many of these shipments were unsuccessful as the sailors tended to get thirsty on their trans-Atlantic journey. By 1650, New Amsterdam (the settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island) boasted twenty-six breweries and taverns. Many families even brewed their own beer, including our forefathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that brewing emerged as a profitable industry. The immigrants arriving from beer loving countries like Britain, Ireland, and Germany created a huge boom in the industry. The arrival of artificial refrigeration was becoming widely used during this time allowing brewers to brew during hot summers. Pasteurization was also being used to increase shelf life and portability. Before this time Americans were drinking darker, heavier beers known as British style ales. These beers were made from top fermenting yeasts and yielded a beer that ranged from pale to dark brown in color. Thanks to the growing number of German immigrants, Americans began favoring the German style lager. Lager uses the bottom fermenting yeast, which is much more sensitive to temperature. Americans were finding the lighter German lager more drinkable and by the 1900’s lager outsold ale.
When prohibition was passed many of the large breweries shut down completely and a few of the big names of today (Schlitz, Pabst, and Anheuser-Busch) stayed open, making what they referred to as “near-beer.” This was a malt beverage made with less than one half percent alcohol. In order to not sell or destroy the expensive beer making equipment, the big breweries remained open during prohibition, holding out until the law was lifted. Many of these breweries also made malt syrup, which was marketed for baking and cooking, but it was clear that the main purpose for malt syrup was in home brewing. Americans were desperate during prohibition and it was not uncommon for people of the ‘20’s to go to stronger alcohols, like whiskey and gin, to get them through the era!
In the 1930’s prohibition was lifted. This was great for many of the big name breweries that remained open during prohibition, but many of the smaller breweries were not able to pick up business, as during the pre-prohibition era.
Present Day Craft Breweries
Thanks to American’s new found appreciation for gourmet food, mostly on the west coast in the late 1970’s, we were also looking for more interesting beverages. However, at the time, low-calorie, light, and un-flavorful beer was monopolizing the market. By the 1980’s grassroots movements of craft brew began in cities like Portland, San Francisco, Boulder, and Boston. By the 1990’s craft brewers, many of them here in Colorado, were experiencing growth of up to 35% in the marketplace. The number of craft brewers in the US has gone from 8 in 1980 to 1,989 in 2011.
Colorado and Craft Beer
Many consider Colorado a brewing Mecca, and it is often dubbed the Napa Valley Beer. We have 139 licensed craft breweries (85 brewpubs, 54 manufacturer breweries) with another seventy-five breweries in planning as of May 2011. These breweries employ over 6,000 people and attract beer tourists worldwide. It is not expected that our craft beer market will go flat. We picked a few our local favorites for Super Bowl Sunday and beyond:
Best Local Beers for Super Bowl Sunday –
Best Local Beers for a Steak Dinner –
Best Local Beer with Dessert –
Best Local Beers for Happy Hour-