drink local

This post was written on 2015-10-12 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-12. It’s sort of disjointed even though I already split it up into two separate posts, but I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked publish.

Drinking local beverages, whether that be coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine, or liquors, is an extension of the recently popularized “eat local” movement. To people just a few generations ago, this idea would have been common sense, but capitalism and some wars and insane advertising happened and for several decades Americans have had options limited by just a few major producers with limited offerings and mediocre quality. Many local producers had to close up shop because they couldn’t match the prices of mass producers or meet the crazy regulations placed on them by the government.

The eating and drinking local movement has become popular again recently because, in my opinion, it is a way to support local artisans, businesses, and chefs. Supporting local shops has become a more normal thing to do and people have started to understand that it helps everyone involved and cycles money back into their own families and businesses, encourages diversity, strengthens the community, and is more sustainable (see this Time article or this Huffington Post article to learn more). People enjoy creating something unique and doing it for their own community and sharing it with their friends and neighbors. These products combine local ingredients, history, and names, are often higher quality than mass produced products, and are a reason to be proud of your local community.

Local craft breweries have been opening up all over the area and it’s really exciting to me. Within 10-15 miles there are several establishments that I can drive to for a good meal with delicious food and fresh beer. I can bring home a growler or stay a few hours to see local original music. It’s one of my favorite things. There are also local distilleries and meaderies and wineries and cideries and coffee roasters that are passionate about what they produce and are eager to share what they do with anyone who is interested.

Recently someone in my life asked what I was doing that weekend and I responded that I was attending a craft beer festival (Cheesetoberfest). That person then asked me what craft beer was. I did not know how to respond. It took me by surprise and it’s something that I thought every adult who isn’t living under an actual rock knows about.

One of the hardest things that I have learned about becoming an adult is realizing that not everyone in my life has had the same privileges or experiences. It’s weird to say, but craft beer and purchasing/drinking local is something that I am excited about. Not everyone understands this or understands how to brew beer or taste beer, but everyone can enjoy beer. It just takes time to communicate with people who may have a completely different perception of what beer is. Once someone can understand that and taste a style of beer that they enjoy, I feel like they get it. There is more out there than just American adjunct light lager.

The craft beer industry is complicated. I’ll eventually follow this up with a post about my thoughts on macro beer monopolies and craft beer ownership, but for now I’ll just say that you should know who makes the beer that you drink. Many local breweries make great beer, and we should be proud of that. Here is a map to show you where the closest brewery to your location in the USA.

Also, here is a photo of me and my wife at Cheesetoberfest, an excellent event run by Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, DE:

Mead

The first time that I tasted mead was a few years ago in Maine. Erin and I saw a bottle of Maine Mead Works HoneyMaker Blueberry mead on a shelf in the grocery store and decided to try it out since it was blueberry season and we were on vacation.

I have been listening to a ton of homebrew and beer industry podcasts in the past year. One of the better meaderies mentioned occasionally is Moonlight Meadery. Mead is somewhat hard to find in local liquor stores, but State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD, has everything, so I went to their mead section and found a bottle from Moonlight Meadery that sounded good. “Wicked” is flavored with Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla and ginger. It was subtle and spicy and sweet and delicious.

This year two meaderies are opening in Delaware – Liquid Alchemy Beverages in Wilmington, and Brimming Horn Meadery in Milton. I’m excited about both of these. Craft distilleries, meaderies, & cideries are the next wave of the craft beverage industry and are hopefully going to grow rapidly and expose people to the excellent diversity of delicious libations available to them.

Mead has been on my list of things to try homebrewing for a while now. I have some ideas for flavors, now I just need to make the time to “brew” them. It isn’t as complicated a process as brewing beer, so I really should just do it.

Tried a delicious flight of samples at our newest local meadery this past Saturday for National Mead Day. I loved the “Sweet Nothings” base mead and the “Thai Grrr” (chili peppers + lime) & we picked up a bottle of the “Choco-Cherry-Bon-Bon” (cherries + cacao nibs). Check out Liquid Alchemy Beverages near Newport/Elsmere Delaware if you get the chance.

We also got to taste some of the new Twin Lakes (they moved to a new location) brews that same morning at a 5k fundraiser run. I’m not sure why beer is served after runs, but it happened. That night we were also able to join some friends and check out The Creamery of Kennett Square, a new beer garden. It’s dog friendly, which was so nice, and it had great music and lighting and decorating and seating and weather. Made for a wonderful evening.

The Creamery
The Creamery