Hey guess what? Today kicks off the 6th annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW). As if any of us need a reason to enjoy craft beer, this week allows us to celebrate and raise a glass to all the wonderful craft brewers in the world who are filling our fridges and favorite bars with unique and yummy brews. There are so many ways to participate in ACBW, so I encourage you to take a night (or two) to join in on the festivities. Here are a few suggestions for how to celebrate:
Visit a brewery. You’d be surprised at just how many breweries and brew pubs there are hidden across America. With a little Google work, you’re almost guaranteed to find something within driving distance to you. The American Homebrewers Association has a great brewery finder as well. Look one up, drive on over, and order a flight to see what they have to offer. Drink some great beer and support your local brewer! Here are a few of the favorite breweries that I have visited:
Green Flash (San Diego, CA)
Stone (Escondido, CA)
Sweet Water (Atlanta, GA
Brew some beer. If you aren’t a homebrewer, I highly encourage you to give it a try. It’s fun, you gain a new appreciation for the craft beer we all know and love, and you learn A LOT. Plus, your friends will like you that much more. Start off with an extract kit like this one. It doesn’t require too much space, equipment or time. Everyone loves a homebrewer.
Host a beer pairing dinner. This is a fun way to highlight and try new beers. I recently took on this task and made a 3 course meal, each carefully paired with a craft beer and most involving beer in the recipe. I had a great time planning the menu and wandering the aisle of Whole Foods looking for suitable beers to pair with the meal (Random side note: Zach Galifianakis was also wandering the Whole Foods beer aisle at the time. He kept getting in my way). Craftbeer.com has some great resources on beer and food pairings.
You can keep it simple and do a potluck style party with your friends by having each person bring a dish and beer it pairs with. Or, if you’re the classy type, have a beer and cheese party. Nothing says class like fancy cheese. Here is what I did for mine:
Warm Mushroom Salad + Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Introduce someone to craft beer. I’m guessing not all of your friends or family have the same appreciation for good beer like you do. I love my friends, but for some of them, if given a choice between a $5 craft brew or a $1.50 PBR tallboy, will choose the tallboy every time. I think this week is the perfect time to buy a nice 6 pack and gift it to one of your friends or member of your family. Introduce them to something new and share a beer with them. They’ll appreciate the gesture and might even decide against the PBR next time.
Check out one of the many events taking place at your favorite beer bar. One of the easiest ways to show your love for craft beer is to go to a bar and drink some of it. You are probably going to be doing this anyway during the week, so why not hit up a bar that is hosting an ACBW event? A lot of places are tapping limited released beers, having beer pairing dinners, or hosting a brewery night. Call your favorite craft beer bar and see if they have anything going on. For those of you in the LA area like myself, here is a good list I found. You can also find a calendar of ACBW registered events here on craftbeer.com.
No matter what you end up doing this week, if it’s not too much to ask, try to do it with a craft beer in your hand. Support your local brewers and have some fun!