Think Local, Drink Local: Do You Support Your Local Breweries?

Don and I are preparing for our next podcast, which is all about the “Localvore” movement, eating only stuff that comes from within 100 miles home.  I love the idea of going local, but don’t always follow this practice, especially when it comes to beer. 

Actually, in preparation for our podcast, I realize that I haven’t tried the beers from the breweries closest to me for over a year.  Not very supportive, right?

This is partially because I didn’t fall in love the first time I tried them, and mostly because I live in New Jersey which isn’t exactly a brewer’s paradise.  I drink stuff from all over, and lots of stuff from Pennsylvania and New York, but almost nothing from the Garden State.

Anyway, I’m going to rectify the situation when we record tonight by having a quartet of New Jersey beers from Boaks, Ramstein, Flying Fish and the NJ Beer Co,  a new brewery that I’ve had good luck with so far.  My hope is that I rediscover my local breweries and start drinking their stuff on a regular basis.

So how about you?  Do you support your local breweries, or do you find yourself drinking stuff that comes from far away?  I know folks seems content to drink local in Washington State, and that Colorado and California make it easy to stay local as well.  But I’m not so sure about the rest of the country.

Please let us know below what you do (or don’t so) to support breweries in your neck of the woods.  Also, to see what hidden gems might be right under your nose, check out the Beer Mapping Project.

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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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35 Comments on “Think Local, Drink Local: Do You Support Your Local Breweries?”

  1. Rob Crozier
    October 1, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I definitely support the local breweries in NJ by purchasing their beer and attending open houses or events that they sponsor or have at their breweries. My friends and I have brought growlers and when we have a party, like the Super Bowl, we all go to different local breweries and get them filled so we can taste the different offerings. There is one NJ brewery that I wrote off a few years ago, River Horse, but have reconnected having tried two of their beers recently and was impressed; you should try their oatmeal milk stout, its pretty good.

    • October 1, 2010 at 11:31 am #

      I enjoyed Riverhorse’s Oatmeal Milk Stout last year, Rob. IT was teh first beer I had from them and it made a good impression. I need to get more rooted in the local NJ beer scene, that’s for sure. I know Ramstein (which is like 15 miles from home) fills growlers with amazing stuff, and Defiant (right over the border in NY) also serves some very serviceable stuff in their tap room.

      I think Local=Taken For Granted for me right now.

      • Andrew
        October 1, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

        I was another that wrote them off, but recently tried them again and I love the Hop Hazard Pale Ale. Worth a taste!

      • October 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

        I was really pleased with Riverhorse’s Oatmeal Milk Stout (unusual and good) and will keep an eye out for their other stuff. I like Pale Ale’s a lot (I typically prefer them over IPA’s) so Hop hazard might be the next one to try. Thanks for the tip!

    • Mark S.
      October 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

      I believe that Riverhorse changed ownership several years ago. The new ownership did not replace the brewmaster, but allowed him to concentrate on improving the consistency and taste of their offerings. I like most of their stuff, but especially the Belgian Freeze (still not as good as the Belgian Frostbite it replaced, though).

      • October 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

        Ownership can make a huge difference. I know of a brewery in the region where the brewmaster is forced to use cheap ingredients in the beer to save on grain costs. You can taste it.

  2. October 1, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    Thought-provoking piece. I do actively support local breweries, and in the Central PA area we are blessed with not only a large selection of breweries but they’re nearly all putting out consistently fantastic brews. While I do enjoy craft beer from everywhere, more often than not we find ourselves getting cases of Troegs, Appalachian Brewing Co, Spring House Brewing Co, Stoudts, or getting growlers filled at Iron Hill Brewery. Good luck in your localvore drinking endeavors!

    • October 1, 2010 at 11:29 am #

      Thanks, Amber. I support your local breweries, too! Pennsylvania is paradise compared to NJ, with Stoudts, Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs, Yards, etc., etc., I’d be quite satisfied if I lived about 30 miles west of Philly.

  3. Mike
    October 1, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Local breweries help the local economy. I live in western PA. and have a variety of local brews to enjoy. I live only 30 minutes away from Southern Tier Brewery (just across the border) My hometown has three great brews (Erie Brewery, Voodoo Brewery and Lavery Brewery). Outside of my home is Church Brew Works, Penn Brewery, Straub Brewery, Troegs and their any reason to search outside of my local radius?

    • October 1, 2010 at 11:39 am #

      No. I envy your radius.

      I think Between Voodoo, Southern Tier and Troegs you’re in fine shape. I haven’t sampled the rest, but those three are some of my current favorites.

      • Mike
        October 1, 2010 at 11:42 am #

        and if you would like samples, I would be happy to send them to you. You know my email to make arrangements.

        • October 1, 2010 at 11:51 am #

          Thanks for the offer, Mike. Good beer fiends share good beer!

          I think I can get most of what you can here in New Jersey. Sometimes I just overlook stuff, like Erie and Penn. I’ll have to keep an eye out is all.

          And I think I’m going to buy a case of Southern Tier Oat if I can get one – I love that stuff and miss it from last year’s batch.

  4. Paulette
    October 1, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    It is easy to support local brewers being from N. CA as you so wisely pointed out. I am however always on the lookout for good brews from anywhere. Here’s to finding something worthy in the Garden State! Looking forward to the podcast.

    • October 1, 2010 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks, Paulette.

      I have heard great stuff about Ramstein, which is super local for me. Charile Papazian has said he’s “astounded” by their beer, and Michael Jackson referred to it as the “Highest rated Dark Wheat Beer in the World.”

      The problem is the word “wheat.” So far I haven’t been a big fan of wheat beers, save for a couple of wheat wines I’ve tried. I’m hoping this will change when I try their stuff this weekend.

      Stay tuned…

      • Mark S.
        October 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

        I’m with on the “wheat” thing. Just doesn’t taste right to me. My brother and my Dad can’t get enough of the stuff, though.

        • October 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

          I gave up on wheaters early, and I’m hoping they’ve grown on me in the meantime somehow. Had a really amazing wheat wine at the GABF, so there’s hope – as long as they’re boozy enough. 🙂

  5. October 1, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I mix it up. I’m not one to repurchase the same stuff over and over no matter where its from, but I think a ‘normal’ NJ beer drinker could easily find some very good beer from Jersey to keep their fridge continuously filled.

    I do like the NJBeer Co “Garden State Stout” right now, and I can’t wait for the Ramstein Winter Wheat to hit the shelves soon!

    • October 1, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      I like to mix it up, too, but there are a few PA breweries that I buy a lot of, and technically a couple fall within 100 miles, but they are far from “local.” I agree that NJ Beer Co might be a contender, and I’m hoping to get past the whole “wheat” thing and start digging Ramstein.

      I hear Winter Wheat is amazing, especially by the growlerful.

  6. October 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    I can walk in our local in Greenville, SC (about 5 miles from my house) and pour myself a cold one from their taps any time I please. They’re pretty small outfit, but made their first international shipment back in the spring. Other than that, we’re getting more and more good beers out of Asheville and the surrounding area. And I still consider Terrapin local…

    • October 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

      That’s quite a hike, Daniel, but probably makes sense to hoof it, depending on how many beers you pull for yourself. I can’t walk anywhere around me, which greatly limits my opportunities for public intoxication.

  7. October 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    I said “walk in” not “walk to.” Five miles is quite the hike, especially on that side of town.

    Find a city – they’re everywhere. I’ve got about 80 different taps within a half mile, and this is a relatively small town.

    • October 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

      I guess thats an important distinction there, Daniel. All the taps by me are pour Miller, Bud and Coors.

  8. October 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    I absolutely support my local breweries, but I do not eschew others… I am fortunate to be within a short drive of Cigar City, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Dunedin Brewing, and Saint Somewhere.

    • October 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

      Those are good ones, Sean!

      I like all beer from all places (well, as long as I “like” the beer), but I’ve really be overlooking the local scene. I certainly support the region (a couple of breweries in PA should name their new fermentation tanks after me), but not the breweries closest to home.

      I’m gonna try to do better – supporting your local brewers is important.

  9. Dan
    October 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I support my local breweries (Atlanta, GA) by buying their seasonal specialty beers. First, a lot of the time the local seasonals are the only specialties I can get (I’m outside Atlanta), especially fresh, but even when other seasonals and specialty brews are there, I always make sure to try my locals. For one thing, they are really good, but for another, they are local, and I like that.

    • October 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

      You’ve got the right spirit, Dan. I think I’m a bit spoiled by all the exotic beers I can get locally. They tend to make me look past the local guys, especially when the “rare” stuff starts rolling out.

      There’s a brewery very near to me that has what’s supposed to be an amazing Winter Wheat beer that should be avaialble soon. I think I’ll have to make it a point to get a growlerful.

  10. October 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I tend towards the local, but not always. In some respects with the smaller breweries, there’s a sort of exclusivity that goes with it. I like to sample local breweries when I’m at home, and when I’m traveling. It lends a bit of additional excitement when I’m visiting a new place.

    • October 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

      Craft beer is still mostly a regional business, which lends itself to supporting breweries that are local or in nearby states. It also makes traveling more fun, as you get access to brews you can’t get at home. I always leave room in the suitcase when I travel now, just in case I find any goodies.

  11. Mark S.
    October 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    I recently had the award-winning American Ale by Cricket Hill brewery, and it was good. Another NJ brewery to keep track of.

    This is a nice site, by the way…

    • October 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

      Thanks for the link, Mark. Just what I need to keep up with NJ beer news!

  12. Mark S.
    October 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    By the way, I’m enjoying a Southern Tier Pumking tonight. While the Saranac Pumpkin that I ahd last weekend was good, this one is better.


    Next up tonight – Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, and then maybe a Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot (love the Lagunitas beers).

    I also picked up the Victory Festbier, Lancaster Oktoberfest, and Weyerbach Pumpkin. Those are for the next couple of weekends.

    By the way, I already saw some winter ales on the shelves.

    Oh, and reading this site before heading out to the liquor store is damaging to my wallet…


    • October 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

      Reading about beer before hitting the beer store is like going grocery shopping hungry.

      BTW, I love Southern Tier, especially their stouts.

      And speaking of stouts, I just had a chocolate oak aged Yeti from Great Divide. It has a touch of chipotle on the back end which is just right. Amazing stuff.

  13. October 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    I just started getting into the craft beer not even a year ago. When starting out it was easy to get either the big nationally known crafts like dogfish or the local stuff which for me is Victory, Lancaster Brewing, Troegs, Weyerbacher, and even the Golden Avalanche in Kutztown. So it was almost easier for me to support those breweries because most of their brews are quite good and easy for me to find at my local distributor. Although now that I’ve found some great pubs and resturaunts that have stuff from all over I have been drawn to alot of different West Coast beers just for something different. And good god some of those have been out of this world. But I’m always coming home to my Weyerbacher, which is probably my fave so far.

    • October 4, 2010 at 10:02 am #

      From all the responses Justin, I think you’re experience is pretty typical. If there’s great local beer, folks drink it and also mix in some other stuff they’ve heard of from friends or the web, or they just like the label.

      I will say it’s easy to support local brewers when you live where you do. PA, CO, CA, OR and WA are all great beer states for sure. NJ, not so much, but it’s getting better.

    • October 4, 2010 at 10:02 am #

      BTW, thanks for the Facebook shout out!!

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