May 17 to 23 is American Craft Beer week. At events across the nation, the art of the Craft beer will be celebrated by beer lovers, independent breweries, retailers and homebrewers alike. The annual festival has been the largest of its kind since 2006 and shows no signs of going flat (pun intended). To mark the occasion, I have assembled a small sampling of clever, handmade items that make use of everything that remains when the beer is gone, such as the bracelet by Michelle at Art Again (above). Cheers!
San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co was founded in 1996 and is considered one of the fastest growing breweries over the past 10 years. In addition to the seven beers that they brew year-round, they offer five “Stone Special Releases” annually and have seen an impressive increase in production over their 14 years in business; from 400 barrels in their opening year, to 98,500 in 2009. With numbers like that, it would seem that the gang at BottleHood have their work cut out for them. Created out of a desire to do something positive for the environment and the local economy, BottleHood opened up shop with their recycled glass creations. This set of tumblers, pictured above, was made from four Stone Brewing Co bottles, collected from restaurants and pubs in the San Diego area.
The story behind the Flying Dog Brewing Company involves a couple of adventurous ranchers, Sherpas, a runaway donkey, Hunter S Thompson and, perhaps least surprisingly, a flying dog. Since its auspicious (or suspicious) beginnings in 1990, the company has grown to a relative giant in the craft beer world; shipping over 500,000 cases per year world-wide. Success hasn’t tempered their gonzo spirit, though, and that is evident by their slogan “Good beer, no shit” and the unmistakable label artwork. Tracy of Squigglechick Designs, previously featured here, has taken one of my favourite labels from the Flying Dog pack and fashioned it into this one of a kind luggage tag. No one would dare try to snag your suitcase with this on the handle!
While researching the craft breweries of the West Coast, two words kept coming up – “Gold Rush”. Prospecting must’ve been thirsty work because from California to Alaska, there was a lot of beer consumed between 1864 and 1867. Lucky for us, the tradition of excellent, locally-brewed beer in that region has continued to this day. The Alaskan Brewing Company, founded in 1986, is keeping that rich history alive with their Alaskan Amber. Brewed from a Gold Rush-era recipe, the beer is just one of the reasons why the independently owned and operated company has the distinction of being the most award-winning craft brewery in the Great American Beer Festival’s history. The notebook pictured above was created by Fairbanks’ Princess Paige from an Alaskan Amber 6 pack bottle carrier. It would make an ideal beer-taster’s journal or prospector’s notebook.
While handcrafted beers can be enjoyed year-round, this is a great time to get out and learn more about the fine, independent breweries in your area. Many have special events, including tastings and tours; to find out what is happening in your area, visit the American Craft Beer Week events page.