American Beer Month kicks off
By Gary Monterosso
July, 2001 marked the second anniversary of American Beer Month, designed to recognize the achievements of brewers around the country. In New Jersey, Acting Governor, Donald T. DiFrancesco, designated July as Beer Month in the state. Garden State Craft Brewers Guild president Tom Stevenson said, "The purpose of American Beer Month is to promote awareness of America's beers and beer culture. There really is nowhere else on earth with a more dynamic and diversified brewing industry than right here at home and New Jersey is the home of some of the best small breweries in the country."
The reception at the home of Carol and Ed Stoudt (Stoudt's Brewing) in Adamstown, PA. Some recognizable names in the beer world who were present included Bryan Pearson from Church Brew Works (who helped coordinate the party); Sebbie Buhler from Rogue Ales; Stan Hieronymus, noted author; Tony Forder, from Ale Street News; Paul Gatza, new director at the Institute for Brewing Studies; Larry Bell, of Kalamazoo Brewing; Jeannine Marois, of the Mondial de la Bière; Steve Heck of Blue Collar Brewing and Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing. Tom showed me some new "baby pictures," as he called them. Actually, they were shots of his new facility in Philadelphia for Yard's, as the company is scheduled to make its move there in late summer. Tom was beaming like a proud parent, though.
The food and beer were as outstanding as the company. Stan brought with him a dopplebock dry-hopped with red chili (made at Dry Gulch in New Mexico). As the evening went on, a group always seemed to gather around him as guests sampled it for the first time. Needless to say, Stan was pouring very small amounts!
I asked some attendees about the significance of American Beer Month. Below are some quotes:
Sebbie Buhler: "American Beer Month is focusing on the wealth and breadth of brewing in this country in the last 300 years. We've had an amazing history and now we're regaining our passion."
Stan Hieronymus: "There's no better place to drink beer now than in the United States of America."
Larry Bell: "Even though we're out touting our own beers, a lot of American brewers tend to be humble because we know we can do better. We're always striving to do better. So I think it's good for us to take the time to actually pat ourselves on the back and celebrate ourselves, celebrate the beer and not be so humble. I think it's important we take time out to realize all the great things that all the American beers have done."
Paul Gatza: "This is our chance to educate the public that we are at a point in history where American beers have never shown so much diversity and quality. American beers have never been this good and this is the time to let the public know it."
Tony Forder: "The craft beer movement in America really started with people becoming interested in imports because of a lack of choice here. But now, with all the wonderful beers made in the States, American Beer Month is needed to spread the word and make people aware of that."
Carol Stoudt: "People should just look at what they're drinking. They should look at what is local, what is regional, what is national and drink what is American."
Jannine Marois: "American Beer Month for me is a new experience. We had an American pavilion in my festival in Montreal. My purpose was to get those people to notice that American beer is very good. There are a lot of microbreweries making wonderful beer of all different styles. I think people in Montreal are convinced there is good beer in America."
Mark Worona (head brewer from Stoudt's): "American Beer Month is a good month but American Beer Month is every month for me."
Janet Heck (wife of Blue Collar Brewing's Steve Heck) put a somewhat different spin on the reception by saying: "I thought the fashions were quite wonderful."
®Gary Monterosso. All Rights Reserved