Jeffrey Cohen, Wine Specialist

Craft Beer in the United States

Trying to define craft beer is a difficult task, as beer can be very subjective and a personal experience. The Brewers Association, the nonprofit trade group that protects and promotes small and independent U.S. brewers, defines an American craft brewer as a small, independent brewer. The craft brewer definition allows the organization to provide statistics on the growing craft brewery segment, which currently makes up 98% of all breweries in the U.S.

Now is the best time in U.S. history to be a craft beer lover. As a nation, the U.S. now has more beer styles and brands to choose from than any other market in the world. As of 2020, more than 8,000 breweries are responsible for the beer brands available in the U.S., with more opening every week. Beer lovers are spoiled with great options — outside of the most popular beer brands. These breweries have had many successes and challenges, but they could not have developed their reputations as producers of the world’s best beer without support from beer lovers.

All this variety can get a little overwhelming. I would like to just give you a little heads up on the craft beers closest to the Club:

FREE ROAM BREWING COMPANY: For most of us, having a three-time world championship baseball career in San Francisco would be the high point of our lives. For Jeremy Affeldt, it was the foundation for his true calling — empowering the youth, feeding the hungry and protecting the vulnerable. It is through his philanthropy that Jeremy would develop a passion for craft beer.

While in San Francisco, he hosted many fundraisers through a local brewpub, and it’s where he met business partners Brandon Phillips and Jaron Shepherd. He followed his dream and landed in Boerne, where he has opened Free Roam Brewing Company, an homage to his team’s spirit animal, the mighty buffalo. Free Roam is determined to strengthen our community through the love of craft beer. 

Some Free Roam Offerings:
Fergie’s Finest ~Bitter – Extra Special
Meta Strata ~ XPA Extra Pale 
Coyle’s Irish Red ~ Red Ale Irish
Butter Cup Stud ~ Stout
Attenuator ~ Bock – Doppelbock

CIBOLO CREEK BREWING CO: Cibolo Creek Brewing Co. is proudly owned and operated by the Mazour and Wolosin families. As residents of Boerne, with great appreciation for our community, their goal is to provide a welcoming environment for family, friends and neighbors.

General manager Josh Mazour strives to provide great food and drinks in an atmosphere that feels like your local “Cheers.” His brother-in-law, Ty Wolosin, is the award-winning head brewer who creates seasonal brews with something to please everyone. Their lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus consist of organic, locally grown food sourced through sister company Windy Hill Foods.

Some Cibolo Creek Offerings:
Boerne Blonde ~ Blonde Ale
Weiss Wit ~ Hefeweisen
Postman’s ~ Pale Ale
Creekside ~ IPA
48er’s ~ Porter

I am not a Cicerone, which is the equivalent to Sommelier for beer, however, part of the sommelier exam has to do with the basics of beer, spirits, cigars and service. I can tell you that when choosing a beer, it normally relates to how much hops you personally like in your beer. The hops give a robust bouquet but quite a bitter flavor. The more malt — that can be toasted to many different levels — will give you sweeter aspects to the beer. The bitter levels are the most talked about and they are measured in IBUs. IBU stands for International Bitter Units. A lot of your IPAs, which tend to brew with higher IBUs, will have them labeled on the beer. 

Whichever style you crave, the Craft Beer craze is steamrolling. I foresee for a good long while as well. There are truly too many nuances to be able to pair beer to food by category, but let’s just say that because you are drinking beer, you don’t have to be eating pizza and nachos. These new style craft beers are very complex and can be paired with many gourmet dishes.

That is all for now … see you at the Club.

Jeffrey M. Cohen, CMS, is the Wine Specialist/Beverage Manager at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at jcohen@cordilleraranch.com and 210.677.9234.

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