The most important brewery of the past year was your local one.
Credit: Jack Andersen/Getty Images

Over 800 breweries poured at this year'sGreat American Beer Festival并且当我从展位到摊位到摊位时,我们开始注意到一个意想不到的趋势:很多啤酒员 - 就​​像大多数啤酒厂一样觉得 - 正在提供奇妙的味道,有时是狂热的,sour beer.

In many ways, that experience feels like a microcosm for craft beer in 2018 in general. The industry continues to grow and set records, though not with theeye-popping numbersof even a few years ago. Instead, breweries are looking for their own way to stand out in the crowd. In a non-literal sense, everyone is looking for their "unique sour beer" in what has become a sea of "unique sour beers."

The craft beer trade group the Brewers Association (BA) seemed to have a similar sentiment in its "2018 year in craft beer" review released today. "The brewing landscape is shifting, yet small and independent breweries continue to find market success," Julia Herz, the BA's craft beer program director, said in the announcement. "Brewers are finding ways to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, become pillars of communities, and embrace new experiences and occasions to connect with beer lovers."

The biggest news of 2018 — for Joe Sixpacks who don't really care for "economic impact" stats — is that, somewhere mid-year, America crossed the 7,000 brewery milestone. Even though production growth has slimmed down to (a still impressive) 5 percent increase in volume year-over-year, the number ofbreweriesin the U.S. appears to be slated for a 20-percent increase at the end of 2018 compared to 2017. That is remarkable: To put it another way, about one in every six breweries in the United States has openedin the last year.

因此,在2018年的所有BA统计数据中藏起来,这可能对饮酒者最实际的影响:美国的饮酒年龄85%,现在住在至少10英里的啤酒厂内。BA指的是“社区集线器”效应。四月,我写了一块叫做,“Are Breweries the Next Bars?" and that concept has continued to hold true: In 2018, the most important breweries are the ones that are closest to you. At a big beer event like the Great American Beer Festival, brewers might feel the need to try to stand out from the crowd, but in your own backyard, breweries have drinkers' attention simply because they are making good beer.

Yes, it might mean that the industry as a whole doesn't have any huge takeaways to flaunt for 2018, but the good news is that if you head to one of those breweries near you, whatever they have on tap will probably be more exciting than a bunch of statistics.