A hoppy history lesson

By LOU PAPINEAU  |  July 31, 2013

BIG NUMBERS FOR SMALL BREWERS

The latest numbers from the Brewers Association (whose president, Charlie Papazian, is a major character in The Audacity of Hops) were released on Monday, and they indicate that the craft surge is still gaining steam. In the first half of ’13, sales and volume are up 15 and 13 percent, respectively; 7.3 million barrels were sold, up from 6.4 in ’12. The really impressive news? These spurts happened while overall beer sales dropped two percent. More stats: there are now 2538 breweries in the US (the most since the 1870s); 2483 of those are craft brewers (that’s 98 percent, an almost-even split of brewpubs and breweries). And there are 1605 new beerists aiming to throw their fermenters into the ring (and probably 37 more since I opened this parentheses). It must be noted: craft still represents only about 7 percent of the beer market. But it’s a damn tasty 7 percent.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE

We are inordinately fond of Indian Ranch, in Webster, Massachusetts (about 45 minutes from Providence), the concert venue/campground on the shore of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. The idyllic site will host its sixth annual Summer Brewfest this Saturday, August 3 from 2-6 pm. There will be samples from more than 25 craft brewers: nine from MA (including Wormtown and Notch), a few other New Englanders (Long Trail, Sea Dog, ’Gansett), and national heavyweights (Goose Island, Boulevard). Plus: BBQ,, beach games, and music. Tix are $30 ($5 for designated drivers); call 508.943.3871 or hit indianranch.com.

And get your tix for the summer edition of the Rhode Island Brew Fest, at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Their first event, last February at the Armory in Pawtucket, was a smashing success. Forty-plus reps will pour more than 150 brews, with the focus on crafters from the Northeast. You’ll be able to try all the Rhody-made beers, plus goodness from Element (MA), Sebago (ME), City Steam and Two Roads (CT), and many more, plus Lagunitas, Pyramid, Sixpoint, and Sam Adams. Sessions are from 1-4 and 5-8 pm ($50, $80 for VIPs, $15 for DDs). Go to ribrewfest.com for tix and the complete list of breweries.

Send info and recommendations tobottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.

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