What is it about breweries that makes them a unique drinking/eating, socially fashionable experience? Your local brewery or microbrewery is likely to boast a folksy atmosphere, plus a combination of school spirit, sport team loyalty and beer snobbery.

Those who appreciate the proprietary nature of crafted beer not likely to be walking into a brewery and asking for a Bud Light. No insult is intended to Bud Light. But it’s tantamount to walking into a Lamborghini dealer and asking if they have any used cars that are 10 years or older, with or without body damage.

The breweries have been producing beer for quite a while, dating way back into 2000 BCE. As far as I can tell, however, until the last twenty years or so, visiting breweries wasn’t nearly as popular. Craft beer growth has been consistent and rapid, growing from approximately 8% of the total US beer market in 2013 to over 12% last year.

Growing up in Chicago in the sixties and seventies, I don’t remember seeing any craft breweries anywhere, at any time. We definitely drank beer but I can’t remember names of any other than the standards. Now there are well over 5,000 US breweries, some of which are brew pubs, microbreweries and regional craft breweries.

Without doing additional research, on site or by taste, I can’t pretend to distinguish between types of beer, varieties of breweries or most of the beer-related technology. But I can say with certainty that I am glad for this addition to our culture and taste buds. Craft beers are tasty and unique, the breweries and microbreweries are usually fun, friendly stops and they often provide some extremely savory eats to accompany the beers.

Support your local breweries – they are not difficult to locate. While I would never advocate relinquishing your favorite large-brewing company favorites, I feel strongly about supporting local businesses, one stein at a time. Shalom.

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