Today, May 7th, is the anniversary of the very first National Homebrew Day, which, unlike some food and drink holidays, is officially recognized by Congress. With so much talk about craft breweries, the importance of homebrewing can get lost in the mix. Plain and simple, the only reason we have craft beer today is because of the innovations made by home brewers.
When National Homebrew Day was made official in 1988, there were around 250 breweries in the country. For comparison, today there are over 2,500. In fact, 1988 was the year many household brewery names like Goose Island, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue Ales, Deschutes Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company and North Coast Brewing Company took the jump from home brewers to brick-and-mortar operations.
There’s a special reason why I'm singling the anniversary of the date out this year: 2014 marks the first time that all 50 states can legally homebrew thanks to the last year's homebrewing legislation which passed in Mississippi and Alabama. If you think homebrewers are just a bunch of fat dropouts taking up space in mom's basement, think again – there are more than 38,000 members of the American Homebrew Association and an estimated million homebrewers and home-vintners combined. While the official celebration took place this past weekend (with more than 7,000 homebrewers estimated to have taken part) it’s still as good a time as ever to brew up a batch of great beer. There are three official recipes listed on the Homebrewers Association website, which you can check out here, but if you're new to the game you can order supplies online or take a class at a local shop.
If you’re not the homebrewing type but want to savor the fruits of this awesome labor, Stone Brewing Company and Boston Beer Company’s Sam Adams both have beers on the market now which are the results of their respective homebrewing contests. The Longshot Pack from Sam Adams features three awesome homebrew contest-winning botles including a Grätzer (sour smoked wheat ale), a pineapple IPA and an American Stout. Stone's Spotlight Series winner was Rick and Robbie’s Spröcketbier, a black rye Kölsch-style ale, but it’s not the first time they’ve gone to homebrewers for inspiration. Other Stone brewing contests have produced the R&R Coconut IPA and the Dayman Coffee IPA, which are unconventional ingredients for the styles but work to perfection. Pop one open right now and celebrate these unsung heroes.
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