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Hudson Valley Brewers fill our cups with some of the freshest, tastiest beers in the country — bar none



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ch evans beer hops

Beer 101

Good, fresh beer typically contains just four or five ingredients: water, malt, hops, yeast, and sometimes flavoring agents, which can be any carbohydrate or sugar such as grain (rye, wheat), fruit, honey, chocolate, or even maple syrup.

In step one, ground malt steeps in hot water for about an hour. This converts the malt’s starches into sugars. The sweet liquid is called wort, which is pumped to a boiling tank. The leftover gruel is called mash, which many brewers send to local farms as animal feed.

Next, the wort is boiled for up to two hours to sterilize and purify the liquid. Hops, the flower clusters of the humulus plant, are added during the boil. Hops come in many different varieties, and are used to add flavor, aroma, and bitterness — the hoppier a brew, the stronger the bite.

After boiling, the wort is allowed to settle a while to remove sediment. Then it’s pumped through a heat exchanger (to cool it rapidly) and piped into a fermentation tank. Here, the brewer adds the yeast, which feeds on the wort’s sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Like hops, yeast comes in many varieties and determines what type of beer will result: lager, ale, porter, Belgian-style, German-style, what have you.

After anywhere from three to eight weeks or so, depending on the brew, the yeast has consumed all the sugar and goes dormant. It settles to the bottom of the tank and is removed and reused. The rest is beer.

More to the point, it’s craft beer. Why does craft beer taste better than Bud or Coors or Miller? Like any foodstuff, it’s in the ingredients. Large, industrial brewers typically substitute cheaper grains like corn and rice for the more expensive malt. Some even add corn syrup. That results in lighter-colored, lightly flavored beer. And once you’ve had a craft beer, you will never drink the other stuff again.

Good Beer, Up. Bad Beer, Down

  • Growth of the craft brewing industry in the first half of 2009 was 5% by volume and 9% by dollars.
  • Craft brewers sold an estimated 4.2 million barrels of beer in the first half of 2009, up from 4 million barrels in the first half of 2008.
  • Overall U.S. beer sales are down 1.3% in the first six months of 2009.
  • Imported beer sales are down 9.5% in the first six months.
  • Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2008 was 5.9% by volume and 10.1% by dollars.
  • The craft brewing industry produced nearly 8.6 million barrels of craft beer in the U.S. in 2008.
  • The craft brewing sales share as of December ’08 was 4% by volume and 6.3% by dollars.
  • Total U.S. craft brewing industry annual dollar volume is $6.3 billion.
  • The U.S. brewery count of 1,525 on July 31, 2009 is the highest total in 100 years.

Source: Brewers Association, August 2009

Next: Meet our featured breweries
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