A little while back, the Brewers Association came out with some crazy statistic that is still printed all around their site… because that’s what they do.
The majority of Americans live within ten miles of a craft brewer.
Okay, ignore for the moment that “the majority” is a amazingly non-specific term. This means that it should be incredibly easy for you – yes! you – to support your local brewery. Of course, the easiest way to do so is to Drink Local.
Why should we drink local?
Without getting into a huge rant: For the same reason that you should eat local and shop local. Local small businesses are the soul of your community. When you shop at a big box store, eat at a mass-market restaurant chain, or buy consumables that are not manufactured locally, the majority of the money that you’re spending is getting sent away from your community. In today’s world, a measure of that is inevitable, which is why it’s all the more important to buy local, eat local, and drink local whenever we can.
Thanks to the three-tier system (you don’t hear that often!), drinking local can be even easier for you than eating local, since small companies can be distributed over a large area using existing distribution networks. It’s almost like the system is there to help.
Step 1: Find out what’s local. The largest impediment in drinking local is not knowing what is available to you. Luckily, we have references that can help us out with this. You can check BeerAdvocate’s listing by state and city or Beer Mapping’s awesome use of Google Maps. Either one will put you on the right track of finding out what is near you to drink. How you define local is up to you. “In a 50-mile radius” can be local, and so can “in my state” or even “in my tri-state area” if you’re in one of those weird tri-state areas. If Your Local Brewery is a brewpub, your quest ends here.
Step 2: Check your grocery/package store. You may have noticed that most beer in stores is packaged in some sort of cardboard container that generally contains information about the product inside. If you pick up said container and look at the outside you should be able to find a 2-letter abbreviation that refers to the state in which the beer was made. In most states this abbreviation should be very straightforward, though it may be confusing if you live in an “M” state. They’re not always intuitive. If you’re really stuck try this list as a reference.
However, many small craft breweries, especially newer ones, don’t always have the capability of packaging in cans or bottles. You might have to find their stuff on tap.
Step 3: Check the website of Your Local Brewery Many small breweries will feature an active list of all the places that they are on tap in the local area in order to facilitate you drinking their beer. Failing a list, if you contact them they will be more than happy to tell you where you can find their beer.
Step 4: Ask for it in local restaurants. You know where you like to eat locally. Ask them if they have Your Local Brewery on tap. They may say no, but they may also have no idea that there’s a local business to represent, or that people would be happy to drink said local beer in their establishment. Not only does this make it easier for you to Drink Local, it makes it easier for other people to Drink Local, as well.
Step 5: Spread the wealth. Bring local beer to parties; bring friends to local brewpubs. The more you do this, the more local beer you’ll have in your life. Others will go out of their way to emulate you because it’s so cool to drink local. You know how when you bring home some awesome vegetable from the farmer’s market, someone will inevitably taste it and say something like, “You just can’t beat fresh veggies!”? It’s the same way with beer. And if you’ve never run into that previous sentence, then all the more reason for you to get on board with this because you’re missing out.
Go forth, and Drink Local.