Steve Hindy is co-founder and chairman of Brooklyn Brewery, New York, USA which he founded in 1984. He was one of the pioneers of the craft brewing revolution which swept across America and has been highly influential in the UK. Many small UK brewers now brew US style beers using American hops. Hindy is a former journalist and has written one of the few business histories of craft brewing in the USA.
The book begins with accounts of the pioneers of US craft brewing such as Fritz Maytag (whose family had owned a domestic appliance company) who bought the flagging Anchor Brewery in San Francisco because he really liked the beer. He was followed by people such as Jack McAuliffe who founded New Albion Brewing in 1976 in California.
Jack had served in the US Navy in Scotland and was influenced by the beers he had sampled when traveling around the UK. He is credited as being the first person to build and operate a microbrewery in the USA in modern times. Ultimately New Albion was not successful and closed in 1982
An important development in the USA was the legalisation of home brewing which occurred as recently as 1979. In the UK home brewing has always been legal but a licence was required up until 1963. In the US as in the UK many microbreweries have been started by people who were enthusiastic home brewers.
It did not take the Americans too long to get moving into craft brewing as there are now 3464 breweries in the USA (2014 Brewers Association) compared with only 89 in 1978.
Hindy credits the British beer writer Michael Jackson (1942 – 2007) and his 1977 book, World Guide to Beer as being very influential on US microbrewers. Jackson showed people that there were a vast number of styles of beer and many US craft brewers went down the road of creating their own versions of classic European beers.
Although American IPA is the most widely brewed beer by US craft brewers many US microbreweries offer a very broad range of styles and strengths of beer.
The real boom in US craft brewing took place from 1984 -1994 when the number of small breweries rose from 18 to 537. Hindy includes some case studies of small brewers and has a very useful chapter on beer and the media.
The role of beer magazines and beer rating websites such as RateBeer and BeerAdvocate in the promotion of small breweries is seen as having been very important in the USA.
Although US breweries brew almost exclusively keg and bottled beers, there are some parallels in the growth of micro-brewing in both countries and some lessons to be learnt.
This is a very detailed business history of craft brewing in the USA over the last 50 years and would be of interest to those working for larger brewers or running their own small brewery.
David Harris | David Harris is a freelance writer/book reviewer and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers.
He writes a beer column for a local paper and has had articles published in What’s Brewing, New Imbiber, All About Beer (USA) and Celebrator Beer News (USA). He also writes about radio and is a presenter for a rock music heritage radio station.