The craft brewing industry in the U.S. has been growing steadily over the last several years. In 2011 it grew 13% by volume and 15% by dollars compared to 2010. Now the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance is hoping to bring the city on board with other larger cities in the region, such as Philadelphia and Cleveland, which designate blocks of time to celebrate beer.
April 20-28 has been set aside as Pittsburgh's inaugural Craft Beer Week. The goal is to highlight smaller breweries with products that are different from mass-produced beers.
"Usually something like a Budweiser would be made millions of gallons at a time. Craft beer is really kind of a small, intricate, intimate process that allows the brewers and the drinkers to enjoy a more custom feel to it. It's more of an artisan process rather than a production process," said Chris Momberger, executive councilmember of the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Alliance.
Local breweries, distributors, bars and restaurants and others will be teaming up for more than 360 events during Craft Beer Week. Those include, among other things, beer tastings, beer pairing dinners at local restaurants, "meet the brewers" sessions, and a "beer for women" event aimed at getting more women interested in craft beer. Overall, brewers and beer fans hope to raise awareness about this now-smallish industry.
"Craft beer and craft breweries in Pittsburgh are growing at a tremendous rate, not just in terms of the amount produced by each brewery, but in terms of number of breweries in the city and metropolitan area. There are three or four that have popped up in the last year or so. It's growing and it looks like it will continue to grow," said Momberger.
The National Brewer's Association points out several concepts that define craft beer and craft brewers:
- Craft brewers are small brewers.
- The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
- Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.
Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 103,585 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs. Craft breweries in Pittsburgh include Penn Brewery, Church Brew Works, East End Brewing, and Rock Bottom.