CraftBeer.com’s Hottest Topics of 2012

With more than 2,100 operating breweries in the U.S. and over 1,000 in the planning stages, the look ahead to 2013 is filled with more new brands and styles of craft beer than ever before.

To celebrate the end of 2012, we’re looking back at the top 10 CraftBeer.com posts of the past year to see what trending topics were the talk of the craft beer nation.

10. ‘€˜Tis the Season for Winter Craft Beers by Meghan Storey

Seasonal releases from small and independent craft brewers were a hot topic throughout 2012, especially the winter versions. The flavors and smells indicative of the colder months—cinnamon, spruce, allspice, gingerbread and smoke—that find their way into these beers perfectly compliment heartier foods and get-togethers with friends and family.

9. Sustainable Uses of Spent Grain by Kay Witkiewicz

Spent grain, the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins and nutrients, can constitute as much as 85 percent of a brewery’s total by-product. Craft breweries all over the country have devised innovative ways to prevent their spent grain from going to waste.

8. So You Want to Open the Next Great Craft Beer Bar? by Chris Black

Chris Black, owner of the renowned Falling Rock Tap House in Denver, Colo., offers some stern advice for the next wave of craft beer bar owners.

7. Beer Bread Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Honest Fare

Gabrielle of Honest Fare shares her recipe for beer bread which she uses to create a decadent grilled sandwich made with caramelized onions and Fontina and sharp cheddar cheeses.

6. I Scream, You Scream: It’s Craft Beer Ice Cream! by Lisa Morrison

Lisa Morrison catches up with three professionals in the ice cream business who are turing to their local craft brewers to create incredible new flavors using craft beer as an ingredient.

5. The Lighter Side of Dark: Debunking the Myths Surrounding Dark Beer by Ashley Routson

Most people have the misconception that the color of beer is directly related to its weight. In the mind of most consumers, dark beers are rich, heavy and full of calories. And conversely, they think that the paler in color a beer is, the lighter it is in body, alcohol and calories. Ashley Routson has made it her mission to debunk the myths surrounding dark beers.

4. 10 Chocolate Beers to Love on Valentine’s Day by Anne-Fitten Glenn

Chocolate has long been a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but let’s admit it, those paper boxes of chocolate-covered nougats are not a particularly creative gift. For a “crafty” alternative, Anne-Fitten Glenn shares a few delicious and unique chocolate beers being crafted by U.S. breweries.

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3. When Craft Beer Goes Bad: A Guide to Refusing a Beer by Andy Sparhawk

Craft beer has a power to create community, spark friendships and perhaps new ideas, but drinking old or contaminated beer is something we should not accept simply on the grounds that it’s beer, or worse, that it’s just beer. Andy Sparhawk helps you determine exactly what might be wrong with your beer and the best way to go about informing your server.

2. Should the Shaker Pint Glass Go Away? by Julia Herz

Julia Herz explores the popularity of one of the most fundamental (and apparently controversial) beer vessels—the classic shaker pint.

1. CraftBeer.com Readers Select the Country’s Favorite Beer Bars

CraftBeer.com readers voted to recognize the top three overall most popular craft beer bars in the country and the top three from each of five U.S. geographical regions.