The photo above does not include any products of America's largest and best known craft brewery, the Boston Beer Company that produces Sam Adams. But it's a useful reference for several craft-beer-related points.
1) The middle beer in the shot above, in the tallest bottle, is Last Chance IPA from the excellent Weyerbacher brewery of Easton, Pennsylvania. Along with Bethlehem and some smaller cities, Easton is a Lehigh Valley neighbor of Allentown, whose downtown recovery project and long-term civic hopes (and baseball team, and champion gymnasts, and Boy Scout troops) we've discussed in our American Futures series.
Today John Tierney has a new item on the Beer Economy of Pennsylvania and the role it plays in the identity and economy of the region. I know this seems like a running gag, but quite seriously we've come to think that the locally based, strongly locally branded food-and-beverage outfits we've seen from Maine to Mississippi to South Dakota, are significant business operations and signs of civic health. John Tierney explains more about their role in the historic brewing stronghold of the Lehigh Valley.
2) In the latest issue of the magazine (subscribe!) I have a brief article about Jim Koch, the head of Sam Adams and probably the world's only craft-brewing billionaire. Koch, who comes from a long line of brewers but who originally worked as a Boston Consulting Group advisor to manufacturing firms, very strongly makes the argument that craft beer has been an important business development, apart from its gustatory value. You can read a summary of his case in the article.
3) Because my piece about Koch is a brief, practically haiku-scale "Sketch," there's a lot it necessarily leaves out, including many points that Koch stressed to me when I talked with him in his Boston headquarters. Among those is something he was quite clear about: that the 30-year process that has made America the most interesting beer country in the world was a collaborative process, with many pioneers.
Koch talked to me at length about Jack McAuliffe, whose late-1970s New Albion brewery in Sonoma, California, was inspirational in demonstrating the possibilities of "interesting" beer but was too small-scale to survive as a business. Another of the pioneers was Fritz Maytag, who converted Anchor Brewing of San Francisco into an important microbrewer. In the photo at top that's Anchor's IPA on the right.