2017-04-08 / Front Page

National Beer Day bubbles up in Biddeford

Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — "I think this would be a good time for a beer,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said as he took steps to end Prohibition, signing the Cullen-Harrison Act into effect, allowing the manufacture and sale of beer in the United States.

On that day, March 23, 1933, Roosevelt's order allowed breweries to manufacture beers at 3.2 percent alcohol by volume and, according to NationalToday.com — an online resource commemorating the nation’s quirkiest holidays — 1.5 million barrels of beer were consumed across the country.

Times have changed, and that number is almost certainly higher today — at least they probably were Friday, as the nation celebrated National Beer Day to commemorate Roosevelt’s declaration.

According to NationalToday, the average American consumes about 104 beers each year.

According to a National Beer Day survey conducted by the website, 69 percent of Americans drink two or more bottles of the brewed stuff each week — averaging out to 104 per person — per year.

Forty-five percent of Americans report drinking beer, 1 in 3 of whom report preferring imported beers, like the Belgian witbiers and Scottish ales, among others. The rest, 67 percent, prefer domestic beers, like a classic Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon.

And 84 years later, beer still remains the top order at most bars across the country. Out of 1,100 people surveyed ages 21 and up, 47 percent said that beer reigns supreme in a ranking of the most popular bar drinks.

Following were the margarita; at 22 percent; wine, 17 percent; everyone’s favorite pink drink, the sleek and sexy cosmopolitan at 6 percent; and the tried-and-true gin and tonic at 5 percent.

At least 1 in 3 Americans said they indulge in a bottle of beer a week, while 34 percent will drink two to four bottles in seven days’ time. One in every 4 Americans likes to cut loose: 18 percent drink five to nine bottles a week, and those 8 percent living on the edge indulge in 10 to 15.

To local brewer Ian McConnell, of Banded Horn Brewing Co., it comes as no surprise that beer is the nation’s favorite bar beverage — and he gave credit to the millennial generation for bolstering the craft beer movement.

“I think a lot of it has to do with people my age and younger, millennials,” he said Friday. “They make a lot of interesting choices and they make a lot of choices for good reasons. They support a lot of beer, but they also drink a lot of different stuff.”

Among that “stuff” is the classic India Pale Ale, or IPA, which has proliferated tasting menus at the nation’s more than 5,000 craft breweries.

What’s popular right now, McConnell said, is the New England-style IPA. Although Banded Horn doesn’t make one, he said the hoppier beers continue to sell out at the Biddeford brewery’s tasting room.

“If it was only local people coming in that might not be the case,” he said, commenting on what he notices the locals drink, “but breweries are well-visited by anyone who’s traveling.”

And people want more variety, he said.

To keep people coming in and coming back, McConnell said the brewery is now aggressively putting out one new beer each month in addition to its usual lineup, including the signature Pepperell Pilsner and Veridian IPA.

“We’re trying to do more one-off brews and collaborative brews. ... We’re trying to stay more true to our theme of ‘banding together,’” McConnell said. “That should be really exciting for the people who already come here, and it should drive a lot of traffic to the brewery as well.”

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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