The Benefit of Local Beer

Troegs beer
People often think of eating locally as the ritualistic rounds between the food co-op, the farmer’s market and the weekly CSA pickup, getting local produce, milk and meat. That pastoral vision is delicious, and an important part of eating locally and understanding how your food systems work.

Picking a local draft when you’re out at a bar is also a great way to support the ideas of local food, and a whole lot easier. There are a ton of local breweries in the New York region, including three within New York City itself.

local beer map

Google map of NYC-local breweries

Some of these breweries are tiny, and you’d be lucky to find them futher than 50 miles away. Some, like Magic Hat and Dogfish Head, have national distribution. The re-emergence of local and craft beer in the U.S. spead out from the West Coast in the 80’s, as people tired of the generic and flavorless Amheuseur Busch and MillerSAB offerings. This map is by no means an exhausive list, so drop me a line in the comments if you have other local breweries for me to add.

Other great local beer resources are:

Beertown, which has a craft brewery locater function

The Beer Mapping Project, which has U.S. and international brewery maps and a series of U.S. city maps which the locations of beer bars, breweries, brew pubs, beer stores, and homebrew stores marked on a Google maps base.

There are several reasons to get a pint of a local beer at your favorite bar, or pick up a six-pack on the way home:

1. Local and craft breweries experiment much more with different and unusual styles of beer, and often have special seasonal offerings. Many of these styles aren’t made by the brewing giants. Your beer will be more interesting.

2. Most craft breweries are small to medium-sized businesses. I always feel better about supporting a local business with local employees and a connection to the community over a faceless corporation. Also money spent on small and local businesses is much more likely to circulate in the community.

3. Local beer is more likely to be fresh, and not stored or transported in inappropriate conditions.

4. You’re more likely to find beers from craft and local breweries at your local bar or grocery store than a national or regional chain that relies on large-scale distributors for their supply chain. Also, the bartenders at a bar that carries local and craft beers are more likely to have a love for beer, have interesting beers on tap, and be great resources of beer knowledge.

5. The transportation costs of shipping beer mean that it’s environmetally better to drink local beer. Beer is heavy, and it’s mostly water. If it’s bottled, those bottles add significant weight. Also, bottle packaging is not as efficient as kegs in transporting large volumes of beer, cost a lot of energy to recycle, and aren’t often reused. Drinking local draft beer or buying a growler takes up less environmetal resources for transportation and packaging than local bottled beer, let alone far away bottled beer.

Chris O’Brien talks in much more depth about the economics and environmental impact of beer in his book, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World.

Cheers!

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