Many words are used to describe beer, wine, and distilled spirits, but “new” isn’t one of them, generally speaking. History suggests that both beer and wine may have been produced as early as 8000 BCE. Distillation was first developed around 4000 BCE. Amazingly, in just 6,000 to 10,000 years, the ancient concepts of beer, wine, and distilled spirits have all skyrocketed into multibillion-dollar global industries.
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Explore This IssueJune/July 2020
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Tapping into government and industry data, the National Beer Wholesalers Association notes there were 6,400 reporting brewery facilities/locations in the United States in 2019. Neary 25 percent of these breweries were classified as brewpubs that only brew beer for direct-to-consumer sale on brewery-restaurant premises. In 2019, the U.S. beer industry shipped the equivalent of more than 2.8 billion cases of 24 12-ounce containers. The U.S. beer industry sells more than $119.3 billion in beer and malt-based beverages to U.S. consumers each year. And U.S. consumers 21 years and older consumed 25.9 gallons of beer and cider per person during 2019.
The quality of beer for draft dispensing can be degraded at the retail bar level in a number of ways, according to biochemist Charles Bamforth, PhD, a distinguished professor emeritus of malting and brewing sciences in the department of food science and technology at the University of California at Davis. “A recipe for disaster is the presence of too many different taps,” Dr. Bamforth says. “As a result, all the beers are not necessarily moving with sufficient turnover. Thus, they linger and age, which dramatically diminishes quality.” Even worse, Dr. Bamforth continues, unless the bar staff properly cleans and disinfects the dispensing lines as frequently as daily, there is a tremendous risk of developing bacterial spoilage populations that create terrible off flavors. “To minimize such problems, responsible brewers ensure that bar staff are properly trained,” Dr. Bamforth says.
Most beers deteriorate in their flavor from the time they are packaged, Dr. Bamforth notes. “The enemies of beer are oxygen in the air, light, and heat, and heat speeds up the changes that take place in beer,” he explains. “The problem is particularly acute for those brewers who ship their beer long distances, including internationally. Whilst the beer remains safe to drink, it most decidedly does not taste as it was intended to taste after it has traveled halfway across a nation like the U.S. or across the globe.”
To maximize product stability, brewers need to invest in the most up-to-date packaging equipment that will minimize air ingress during packaging, Dr. Bamforth says. “They should also be looking to distribute and warehouse beer under refrigerated conditions, as relatively few brewers currently do this,” he adds.
Wine Produced in All 50 States
There were more than 10,000 licensed wineries in the United States through 2019, according to Wines Vines Analytics, based on U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) data, and there are wineries in all 50 states. In 2018, U.S. wine sales totaled 406.5 million 9-liter cases with a retail value of $68.1 billion, as per San Francisco, Calif.-based Wine Institute, a public policy advocacy organization representing 1,000-plus California member wineries and affiliated businesses. California produces 80 percent of U.S. wine at 4,000 wineries.
According to TTB, in 2019, the U.S. produced 817,503,758 gallons of still wines. After California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina round out the top 10 wine-producing states.
Focus on Quality and Safety
Product quality and safety is a central focus of the California wine industry, according to Tracy Genesen, JD, vice president and general counsel of the Wine Institute. “We have one of the few standing technical committees in the global alcohol industry,” Genesen says.