Year-End Craft Beer Review

By Julia Herz

These are historic beer times. When tasked with developing a recap of 2010 for craft beer, it is impossible to ignore the continued success of U.S. craft brewers and the ever-changing beerscape in the U.S.

Recent trends continued to be embraced by craft beer enthusiasts. The canning of full-flavored craft beer continued to gain traction across the country. The phrase “Sour is the new hoppy” was echoed by many, and shows just how popular barrel-aging has become—even among America’s hopheads.

The feature on women in the craft beer industry, Women, Craft Beer, and Centerfolds, turned out to be one of the most viewed articles of 2010. And, we haven’t seen the end of the nano brewery trend; these tiny breweries are hotter than ever.

Craft beer and food pairings have undoubtedly helped beer reclaim its place at the dinner table. From coast to coast, chefs are using beer pairings to enhance the flavors of food. Craft beer has also continued to become a staple ingredient in many dishes. From brines to sauces, beer is working its magic on the dinner table in more ways than one.

In 2010, 491 were reported to be in their planning stages, according to Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. Many craft breweries across the country are unable to keep up with demand, and expansions are happening on many fronts. Yet many of the top-selling beer brands from the large breweries declined in sales in 2010.


As an industry, small breweries have found their voice in government affairs. The hard work of the Small Brewers Caucus and its support of tax legislation H.R. 4278/S. 3339 is a sign of more representation for craft beer in the U.S. legislature than ever before. The grassroots beer activist network, Support Your Local Brewery, has grown to more than 830,000 enthusiasts dedicated to protecting America’s small breweries and our ever-advancing beer culture.

Brewpubs have continued to carve out quite the market for themselves. The estimated 1,000 brewpubs in the country represent well over half of the U.S. breweries. I’m willing to take a gamble and say that the possibility of success for brewpubs is at its highest percentage ever, compared to other types of restaurants. Remember, most Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery. Get out there, support your local economy, and enjoy great craft beer!

Media attention for craft beer was at an all-time high in 2010. The success began when National Public Radio (NPR) produced the January story, Recession-Proof Food Trends for 2010, and proclaimed, “Doughnuts are the new cupcakes and beer is the new wine.”

NPR Weekend Edition Essayist Bonny Wolf said, “A doughnut’s better with coffee, but beer is the it-drink. There’s also homebrewing, barrel-aging, seasonal beers and beer-centric restaurants offering food pairings. As you probably know, Belgian-style wheat beer is perfect with deviled eggs.” Go Bonny!

We have obviously had a very exciting year in craft beer. Below you’ll find two lists highlighting some memorable moments of 2010.

2010 Items to Note

  • April 10, 2010 – The Brewers Association World Beer Cup® Gala Awards Dinner was the largest beer-paired dinner ever served. The 1,800 in attendance enjoyed a four-course meal prepared by The Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton.
  • September 2010 I Am A Craft Beer Drinker viral video was launched and viewed by tens of thousands within weeks of its release.
  • September 16-18, 2010 – Tickets for the Great American Beer Festival sold out faster than ever before, five weeks in advance. Records were set for most beers ever in the competition (3,523), and a record number of beer styles (133).
  • samNovember 5-7, 2010 – The first Beer Bloggers Conference was held in Boulder, Colorado with 108 scrappy, savvy, and dedicated beer writers attending.
  • November 21, 2010 – Discovery Channel aired Brew Masters featuring rock star craft brewer Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
  • December 15, 2010 – The publication Beer Northwest was renamed Beer West. It will soon add California to the mix and expand on its coverage of the Pacific Northwest beer scene.

2010 Brewers Association News

  • April 30, 2010 – The Brewers Association Export Development Program announced growth of 9 percent by volume of exported American craft beer. Some regions even saw export increases of more than 25 percent!
  • May 6, 2010 – The Brewers Association announced the annual Beer Styles Update. American-style Imperial Porter, American-Style India Black Ale, Belgian-Style Quadruple and Fruit Wheat Ale were added as recognized styles.  
  • May 17, 2010 – The state of Oklahoma legalized homebrewing.
  • acbwMay 17-23, 2010American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), known as “The Mother of All Beer Weeks,” supported events in nearly all 50 states. U.S. Congress passed H. Res. 1297 supporting the goals and ideals of ACBW. Find a Beer Week in your area.
  • June 9, 2010SAVOR-An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, heightened the beer and food pairing trend for 2,000 attendees. The Washington Post declared, “SAVOR lives up to its name.”
  • June 25, 2010 – The National Homebrewers Conference, with 1,300 attendees, was the largest-ever gathering of homebrewers. The corresponding National Homebrew Competition was the largest beer competition ever with 6,287 beer, mead and cider entries.
  • August 2010Mid Year Numbers Press Release: Craft beer continued to buck trends. Dollar growth for U.S. craft brewers was up 12 percent in first six mensjournalcbmonths of 2010. The U.S. brewery count climbed by 100 in the last year with more breweries than ever in the last 100 years.
  • October 2010 – was named “Best Beer Website” according to the Men’s Journal October 2010 issue.
  • December 2010 – celebrated its first year on December 1, 2010.

Julia HerzJulia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, is a homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone™. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer. Herz and other guest writers use the Craft Beer Muses area of the site as an outlet to further the craft beer conversation. Consider subscribing to an RSS Feed if you like what you read. Additionally, for interesting articles on small and independent craft brewers check out and follow Craft Beer Muses on Twitter.