Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes
Staff Reporter 

The happy, halcyon days of beer

Write to the Point


Last updated 1/24/2019 at 5:02pm

It’s a good time to be alive if you’re a craft beer aficionado, at least according to a recent Forbes report, which noted there were 7,082 registered craft breweries spread out across the U.S. in 2018.

Vermont boasted the most craft breweries per capita at 11.9 per 1,000, 21-plus year old adults, and also produced the most beer at an average 151 pints of craft beer per adult. Considering it unlikely that every adult consumed their share, or even drank any beer at all, that’s a pretty impressive number. I tip my hat to Vermonters.

The Upper Left U.S.A., however, was well represented on the list as well. Montana came in second to Vermont in the craft beer production category with 9.6 breweries per 1,000 residents. Oregon came in third with 8.5 breweries, while Idaho came in at number 10 with 4.5.

On the flip side, hardcore craft beer lovers may want to avoid Mississippi, which, at 0.6 breweries per 1,000 residents, has the fewest craft breweries in the U.S. In fact, six of the 10 states at the bottom of the per capita craft breweries list were in the Deep South, where — like so many other things — change for the good is slow at best. So, if you’re traveling to the South anytime soon, brace yourself for a craft beer desert of sorts.

Coming in seventh on the top 10 list, the Evergreen State boasts a respectable 6.7 craft breweries for every 1,000 Washingtonians. Those breweries were, according to the Forbes article, responsible for an economic impact of $334 per person in terms of overall industry output. Not bad.

Good beer that’s good for the economy. Does it get any better than that? Relatively speaking, I’ll argue until the keg runs dry that it doesn’t.

But here’s my point with all the above: I really don’t care about any of those statistics.

To paraphrase the recent infamous comments of then Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, I liked beer, and I still like beer. In fact, I like beer far more now thanks to the craft brewing industry.

(However, I’m willing to bet that Kavanaugh’s beer, whatever he’s tossing back these days while he records his daily escapades on his calendar, tends to leave a bitter aftertaste.)

But Kavanaugh and I likely swilled much the same brands of beer, as back in the day there were few choices. While there were, and still are, regionally produced favorites like Rolling Rock or Rainier, it was the likes of Budweiser and Miller who were among the national domestic powerhouses, and thus ubiquitous in the coolers of the nation’s beer aisles.

For me and my early cohort of beer swillers, a top-shelf beer would have been imported — a Heineken, or Lowenbrau with it’s fancy, over-the-cap foil cover.

The best parties boasted not just Lowenbrau, but — wait for it — Lowenbrau Dark. Very exclusive back then.

One of the pleasures in my present-day life is to wander into my favorite beer aisle — moving past the domestics without a glance — to ponder the vast number of craft beer choices.

Sometimes I’ll find myself next to another shopper, who are themselves eyeing their options: An IPA? A lager? Maybe a porter? But which one? Locally brewed or regional? Bottle or can? There are so many choices today that it can be overwhelming.

And sometimes, if I discern we’re both of the same vintage, I’ll glance over at my fellow beer shopper and comment that it’s a good time to be a beer drinker. Almost always I get a positive comment or a knowing nod and a smile.

These are the halcyon days of the beer drinker. Embrace them, fellow beer lovers, and remember your roots. Life is good.

Lee Hughes can be reached at


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