We Asked 10 Brewers: What’s the Best Thing That’s Changed Since You Started Working in Beer?

If you’re into beer, chances are you’ve noticed the craft landscape is rapidly shifting. There are currently 7,000-plus breweries in the U.S., more than 6,000 of which opened in the last 10 years.  Another 1,000 breweries are expected to open in 2019. Basically, more people are paying attention to beer than ever before.

We asked 10 breweries across the country what positive changes they’ve seen in the business during this momentous period. From changing leadership, to consumer initiative, here are 10 things brewers are celebrating.

“The amount of women is incredible. Having a huge new demographic of people really changes the market. It’s been really great to see the expansion of the market, and breweries willing to take on those markets as well.” Jane Wiseman, Operations Manager and Brewers Assistant, Clandestine Brewing, San Jose, Calif.

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Resilience [IPA]. [Sierra Nevada] put out a bat call and everybody answered. The vulnerability [of] Sierra Nevada putting out a recipe worldwide and saying, ‘we need help’ — when somebody so big can be so humble – I think that’s amazing.”Christie Merandino, Operations Manager, Transport Brewing, Shawnee, Kan.

“I really appreciate how educated the customer is starting to get … [They] take their own initiatives to educate themselves and really understand the product. That kind of drives quality all the way back to the brewery. You’re going to hear it if something’s off, [and] you’re going to hear it if something’s great, too.”Caroline Parnin, Technical Sales Manager, Siebel Institute of Technology, Milwaukee, Wisc.

“You’re always seeing [breweries] in major metropolitan cities. Mid Cities [between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas] is densely populated, and we have craft beer drinkers there. Watching some of my local cities pass initiatives in demographics that are extremely polar to craft beer, and winning, is really invigorating.”Meryl Wideman, Lab Technician, Deep Ellum Brewing, Dallas

“More women in the beer industry. I feel empowered. There’s more women in management roles, in brewing roles. You get to see everybody have passion and have a say, and see these women rise up and take hold … that is probably the coolest thing that’s happened.” Laurie Bell, Bar Manager, St. Elmo Brewing Company, Austin, Texas

“The variety and ease of obtaining local ingredients. Local Colorado maltiers, such as Root Shoot, are really gaining traction. There are also increasingly many local and regional hop farmers. When my great-great-grandpa brewed in his barn in Nebraska, he used his own barley, wheat, corn, [and] hops. For most of my life the trend has been toward convenience — and certainly there is still a place for that. But I’m hoping to become more like [him].” Jason Abbott, Head Brewer, Seedstock Brewery, Denver

“People wanting to drink craft beer vs. Big Beer is probably the best thing that’s happened. Especially in Austin, everybody is really getting together to promote each other and inspire people to go out and drink craft beer from local places and small breweries instead of going to the grocery store and getting a 24-pack.” Kristie Leims, Co-founder and General Manager, The Brewtorium, Austin, Texas

“Definitely the inclusion of women, and women in leadership positions. [Before] I would go to breweries and men would [say,] ‘no, we don’t need help.’ Then there’s the one woman that was like, ‘yeah, we’ll take you on and give you a chance.’ In my experience — and not all breweries are like this — [women] are more open and willing to give you a try. Also, the inclusion of pets. We had a micro pig once.” — Emily Callaghan, Taproom, Big Alice Brewing, Queens/Brooklyn, N.Y.

“More women craft beer drinkers at the bar that are interested in trying new things.” — Jenn Davis, Taproom, Jester King Brewery, Austin, Texas

“The explosion of craft beer! When I started home brewing in the early ‘90s, little information was available on brewing. Today there’s a wealth of information on brewing, thanks not only to the internet, but the entire craft beer movement among millions of homebrewers and thousands of breweries. Increasingly more schools are offering brewing programs, opening opportunities for those seeking a career in brewing. There has never been a better time for beer enthusiasts.” — Kelly Lynch, Head Brewer, Berthoud Brewing, Berthoud, Colo.