The Growing Popularity of Craft Beer: A Special Report (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw - NBC33

November 14, 2013 Updated Nov 14, 2013 at 8:29 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) - Whether you prefer drinking a cold one on a hot day or trying a new one that your friends have been raving about there is always a time and occasion for a craft beer. And with so many styles and tastes to choose from, it is no wonder its popularity has taken off.

"Craft beer is a beer that's obviously hand-crafted, full of flavor,” says Jeremy Zuber, Head Brewer at Mad Anthony’s Brewery. “Typically it's full of hops. Everything about it is a lot more pleasing to drink than a normal light beer."

"Really, what makes a craft special is that it's natural and it has flavors that individuals enjoy sharing with their customers why this beer has a cider taste where this one has more of a plum taste," describes Tony Henry, the owner of Deer Park Irish Pub.

As Stan Ziherl, President of Five Star Distributing points out, it is all about the variety.

"Seasonal has become big, big a part of the craft beer. Sometimes tastes change with the seasons, so if it's a pumpkin ale around this time of year, or if it's a summer shandy in the summer time. It may be something a little hoppier or cold-style beer in the springtime and something a little bit more towards that warmer bourbon aged stout around Christmas time. There's a beer for every season."

It's been said the key to any good craft beer is innovation, and the good news is you don't have to travel very far to get a good craft beer. In fact, a majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery, which is certainly the case in Indiana.

"Indiana as a whole is making great craft beer and we're starting to get recognized on a national scale for that,” says Zuber.

"Buying local is such a phenomenon now, and we've caught that spirit, and we try to support our local brewers,” Henry said.

Some examples of Indiana brewers include: Mad Anthony's (Fort Wayne), Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster), Cutters (Bloomington), Chapman's (Angola), Sun King (Indianapolis), Bloomington Brewing Company (Bloomington), Upland (Bloomington), and Figure Eight (Valparaiso).

“All the breweries in Indiana are in the Breweries of Indiana Guild and we work together to help each other out. We love beer, and we have a lot in common that way," says Zuber.

As Ziherl points out, supporting those breweries has really picked up steam.

"Craft beer local is relevant, it's important, and people want to support local breweries as they support local businesses.”

Sometimes the best way to support both entities is enjoying a cold craft beer over dinner. It's just a matter of finding the right one.

"If you're sitting down in a bar, restaurant, tavern a good way is to ask your wait staff,” advises Ziherl. “There are different styles and different tastes and once you know what someone likes, you can kind of fit them into a particular brand. And also it's a good way to pair things up with certain foods, make a decision based upon that because beers do go great with food and different beers enhance certain flavors.”

Tony Henry is quick to offer a few examples.

"Food pairings with beer is becoming very, very popular. Often a sausage and cheese goes very well with a porter. Even dessert - some of the fruit beers are wonderful with a cobbler."

Mad Anthony Brewery’s restaurant is no different, offering beer pairing with the various foods on their menu.

"Our menu has ideas to pair up a burger with an IPA, or pasta you know goes great with a stout. It's just that different flavors complement each other when it comes to food and beer."

But for Henry, this trend is a little hard to fathom.

"Who ever thought that we'd actually be pairing food with beers? It's absolutely mind boggling."

Per state law, alcohol sales on Sunday are illegal. The only exceptions to that rule are local breweries. They are the only entity that can legally sell beer on Sundays, so long as it is their product.




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