Wednesday, January 7, 2009


To many, beer is a required beverage for the watching of sports games and cook-outs and for the majority of people who make such use out of beer, there are only three names that matter: Coors, Budweiser and Miller. Those are great for the people who enjoy them - they are all relatively simple lagers and quite affordable. However, since President Carter made the wise and well thought out decision to legally allow micro-brewing, we the people of the United States of America have had an ever growing variety of beers made available to us. And while some might think this would have hurt the big three (remember, I'm talking beer, not cars), the reality is that these mass-produced beverages continue to sell exceptionally well. While these new choices for slightly (or not so slight sometimes) inebriating beverages are great for the variety of tastes and alcohol content, there is another aspect of these beers I want to push: that of supporting small American businesses.

Now normally I am a globalist and I feel we should not fear globalization but welcome it. After all, I like cheap electronic devices and that pretty much means buying things made in China. However, I also like having things of quality and while a Bud is affordable and for millions of Americans, Sunday afternoon is Miller time, if you're looking for something more, these brands won't do. Looking down the beverage isle at your grocery store often isn't much help either. It's filled with Milwaukee's Best and other such names I can't remember. Then you can look at the higher priced beers and find little comfort. For instance, Budweiser, Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden, Skol, Brahma, Michelob, Harbin, and Jupiler are just a few of the brands all produced by the Belgian InBev company and the vast majority of those are still lagers. Such is true of many beers. Did you know that the Foster's (you know, Australian for beer) we get here in the States is made in Canada? What's most amazing though, of the big three, not a single one of them is owned by an American company. I mentioned Budweiser. Miller is part of SAB Miller, a South African company and Molson Coors is Canadian.

There is however a solution to this problem of nonAmerican beer. If you're worried about cost and don't want to expiriment too far out of the box, did you know Yuengling is America's oldest brewery? To many in my crowd, Yuengling is the only cheap beer to drink. If you still want to go mainstream, there's also Sam Adams though I'd say their beers are a little over-priced. However, these still aren't what I'm getting at. Wikipedia (today) lists eleven breweries operating in my home state of North Carolina and I happen to know of one brewery it's missing (likely many more). In my hometown of Winston Salem, we have Foothills, a restaurant and brewery. They have a standard selection of beers (Pale Ale, IPA, Golden Ale, Pilsner, Stout and ESB) with seasonal specialties happening the year round. Just half an hour down the road is the Guilford brewery which has been putting it's beers in bars around here a bit longer. These are often referred to as craft breweries and there is likely one near you (if not in your town, at least every state in the country has some craft breweries excepting perhaps the deep South). Here we have home-gorwn small businesses working hard to a produce a high-quality product at the lowest price possible for your enjoyment. When you buy from a local brewery, the money stays local and doesn't contribute to our trade deficit. It's also good for the environment. Local beer doesn't have to be shipped. I say, when you buy beer, consider buying good beer, consider buying local beer and consider buying a beer you haven't tried before. I say support your country, buy American beer!