Can You Go ‘Home’ Again (to Beer)?

home pic-beer

At an alarming rate, home is now where the heart beer is.

But in an ever-changing landscape of craft beer, can you really ever go “home” again? When we say “things aren’t like they used to be” when it comes to beer, however, that’s a really good thing.

I’m from a small city in upstate New York where growing up, there was only one craft brewery within an hour drive. Now, there are at least a dozen breweries either open or in planning stages. For a region consumed by 100 or so wineries of the Finger Lakes, things are different.

Times, they are a changin’.

new york beer mapI’m reminded of all this thanks to the New Yorker, who recently released this interactive map highlighting the rise of craft beer. While stats pertaining to my home state of New York can be a bit skewed thanks to the Big Apple and its surrounding area, what impressed me was the markers of breweries opened in 2012. Surprise – they’re all over the state.

… and I’m thrilled for that.

Places like Community Beer Works in Buffalo and Fairport Brewing Company and Bacchus Brewing in Dryden show that New York State – even in its wine country – are feeling a little hoppy about beer. Best of all, this trend continues in 2013.

As you’d imagine, what we see from New York can be spotted all over the map where cities and towns who perhaps once gave craft beer an afterthought are now on the bandwagon. Per the New Yorker, the “United States contained three hundred and seventy-seven more craft breweries in 2012 than 2011.”

So what does this mean when we go home to see friends and family? When we return during the holidays? When friends are getting married and having kids?

It means one home is now very much like the next. When I return to New York from my beer haven (and current home) of North Carolina, I no longer have just one brewery to seek out that sits an hour away. I have one in my hometown. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sort of.

Above all else, a map like thisemphasizes how fast and vast the craft beer landscape is changing and how it benefits all us weary travelers who just happen to be beer lovers. (If you’re not both, you’re doing it wrong

Plus, next time you have to go home and deal with family, at least you know there’s a good chance a sudsy solution to any potential headaches is easier to find than ever.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

6 thoughts on “Can You Go ‘Home’ Again (to Beer)?

  1. I love how whenever I go visit people now, there is almost always a new brewery we can go check out, no matter what state they’re in.

    I’ve been compiling a map of each state’s breweries, and New York is quite impressive. Because brewery development these days is very fluid, this may not be complete, but i think it’s definitely an ode to how far beer has come.,-75.651855&spn=6.559026,9.876709

    1. That’s an awesome resource!

      I was actually thinking today – as I read a beer-related book – how quickly printed information is outdated. There seems to be many books being releases on state or regional breweries, but as soon as they’re published the landscape changes.

  2. True, true. The same thing is happening in South and Central NJ as well. New craft breweries like Carton, Cape May & Tuckahoe recently opened and Flying Fish expanded when they moved from Cherry Hill (my home town) to Somerdale. Similar expansion are even happening in already craft beer-centric places like San Diego, Austin & Portland. Hopefully the majority of the new players will be on their brewing game and turn out some great stuff s opposed to simply attempting to seize a business opportunity by riding the crest of the craft beer wave. Waves do crash. Bubbles do burst.

    On a slightly related topic, I was walking from the Upper East Side to Penn Station in Midtown last week and happened to come upon the Ginger Man (well, maybe I knew it was on 36th Street and chose that as my cross-town route. Just maybe). Anyway, I felt it my research obligation to stop in for one on the way to the train and I have to say that I was very surprised at the lack of local tap handles. Just 2 weeks earlier I was at the Ginger man Austin and they had almost 2 dozen local and regional brews on tap. I thought it odd that the 5 Boroughs and NY in general were pretty poorly represented.

    No worries though, I contemplated that seeming anomaly over a Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin…


    1. During my travels back home in recent years, the amount if local breweries has steadily risen, but I continue to run into the problem you have – distribution still seems to be a problem to local businesses. Even though it’s a niche market for sure, it’s odd that locally run restaurants or bars don’t hop on that.

  3. I’m not sure how close you are to Ithaca Brewing. I’m pretty sure it’s in New York. Talk about the Finger Lakes on the bottles of about every beer that’s brewed. Love Flower Power IPA and the Apricot Wheat.

    1. Funny you should mention. I grew up an hour away and went to college in Ithaca.

      Ithaca Beer is a regular stop any time I’m in town and they just opened up a new brewpub expansion that doubled their brewing capacity and added a kitchen. Awesome beer!

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