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A Brief History of Craft Beer

Making beer goes all the way back to Mesopotamia with an ancient recipe featured in a poem about the Sumerian brewing goddess, Ninkasi. But craft beer has only been around for a few decades; it all started with an ambitious Stanford graduate. 

Enter Fritz Maytag

Maytag was looking to make his mark – in any industry that he could. So when Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, California was facing closing in 1965 after six decades in business, he bought 51% of its shares. He assumed he would strictly finance the company, but business was slower than expected. Maytag had to quickly shift his focus to finding new ways to sell beer. His solution? Improve the quality of beer by using new brewing techniques! He handcrafted Anchor Porter in 1972, Liberty Ale in 1975, and Christmas Ale in 1975.

The Birth of Microbreweries

After the 1960s, Americans started to experiment with brewing beer at home. While it was mostly for personal consumption, some managed to launch small businesses to turn a profit.

In 1976, Jack McAuliffe established New Albion Brewery in California. McAuliffe served in the U.S Navy and traveled the world, tasting various kinds of beer. It inspired him to start his brewery after leaving the service.

His work at New Albion led to the true craft brewing that we have today. Even though it only lasted for six years, his work motivated others to launch dozens of microbreweries.

The Other Michael Jackson

In 1977, beer writer, Michael Jackson, helped spread the message about craft beer with his seminal book “The World Guide to Beers,” among his other works.

A Win for Homebrewers

Homebrewing was legalized federally in 1978, allowing states to create their own homebrew laws. Homebrewers then worked to legalize the hobby in their home states.

The same year, Charlie Papazian established the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colorado, offering legitimacy to that first wave of homebrewers.

No Signs of Slowing

The 1980s and 1990s brought an incredible boom with craft breweries popping up across the United States.

By 1996, 1,000 craft breweries were open and operating in the USA.

Fast forward to the present, craft beers accounted for nearly one-fourth of the nation’s $111 billion beer market.

The beauty of craft brew is that anyone can try their hand at it and should because for all we know the next cult classic could be hiding in your basement! If you need inspiration, try our most popular brews: All In IPA, Golden Rule Blonde Ale or Uncurious DDH NEIPA.