Side note to today’s column: What the heck is next? Locusts??

Back in the idyllic world of 2019, the Brewers Association reported that though overall 2019 beer sales are down, craft beer sales are up as are import sales.  I term this Thoughtful Consumption.  Folks continue to embrace and explore the unique and creative flavors the craft brew industry presents to us. 

So, I was curious about 2020 beer trends given all that’s going on and found that our friends over at NPR were curious as well in the article: “What Beer Sales Tell Us About The Recession.”  

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Beer economics marches to its own drummer…  

Store sales in the beer category called “subpremium” are up 11% from same period last year.  This category includes such early career go-tos as the infamous Natty! And this despite the shutdown of beer pong institutions (colleges) earlier in the year.

This may trigger you economics majors to shout about the “Law of Inferior Goods” (sorry Natty) where, in recession-like times, folks backtrack from buying quality goods to less so items.

Here’s the kicker: despite the increase in sales, subpremiums are actually losing market share to the Isaias-like surge in sale of imports (+15%), craft (+23%) and hard seltzers (+246% since last year - yikes).

This info is backed up by Bart Wilson, chief economist at the Brewers Association who points out that “If anything, the premiumization trends we’ve seen within the beer market have strengthened during recent months.”

And, noteworthy, this magical staying power and continued allure of craft beer was also evident in our prior recession.  I agree with the NPR article when they surmise that the “stickiness” of craft beer drinkers may be at work here, e.g. A “hop head” whose taste buds yearn for IPAs won’t likely switch to a subpremium to save money but perhaps tighten the budget belt a bit by buying fewer premium brews.

Field Trip: River Outpost Brewery

On another recent beautifully sunny day, we headed over to River Outpost Brewery in Peekskill.  And lucky for us, some good friends came all the way from County Roscommon, Ireland to accompany us!

Part of the Factoria complex that also houses the Fin and Brew restaurant, River Outpost is nestled in a marina right on the Hudson River with spectacular views.  

We were seated at an umbrella’d table on a large, inviting and properly spaced patio with masks on while not at table and off otherwise.

While taking in the amazing views, we perused the extensive food and beer menu we had scanned onto our phone at the front desk.

When the nice, masked (in a good way) server came by, Mrs. KBM took charge, ordered 1 of every River Outpost’s beer and cups, deftly divided up our beverages in equal portions for all, and voilà, we had a sampler flight of beer in front of us.

The beers that stood out to our Tasting Team include: 

Cool Hands Lager: coming in at a crisp 4.5% abv, this beer properly homages Paul Newman’s role in my favorite movie, Cool Hand Luke as a cool easy-going quaff. 

Eagle wheat: The team unanimously loved this 5.5% wheat beer with notes of apricot and tangerines, and even inspired me to brew a wheat beer at home.  Should be hitting shelves in late August.

Marina Marzen: I quite enjoy the Marzen style as it’s a nice break from the world of hoppy beers with its malt (semi-sweet) forward profile.  All you non-hopheads should seek this style.  And River Outpost’s light tasting 5.8% abv offering would be a great place to start.  

Skillbilly 6.7% IPA: A well balanced malt and hop combo with hints of Stone fruit and lime. Another note for non-hardcore-hoppy folks: “malt backbone” is a great “tell” that it won’t be overly hoppy, e.g. start hoppy and finish malty.

Smoked Amber Lager: the jury was out at our table on this one with a complete split decision.  The classic Rauchbier represents the smoky style of beers and a little bit of smoke can be almost too much in these beers.  River Outpost got this 5.7% abv smoked amber lager rightly balanced in 2 out of 4 opinions.  Note: when homebrewing, you can impart a smokiness to your creation by drying your malts over a smoky fire or smoking wood chips and dunking them in the homebrew secondary fermenter.

During all this tasting we ate great food focusing on the raw bar with clams, oysters, and ceviche. On the oyster’s side, we had these types: Beau Soleil, Permaquid, Walcar, and the table fave Wellfleet.

There’s also a cool outdoor bar with growlers and crowlers of your favorite drafts to go.
Go for the view, stay for the brew: 5 John Walsh Blvd, Peekskill, NY 10566, riveroutpostbrewing.com.

Reader Reviews 

Welcome to a new section of the article where readers from around the world or around the corner have submitted reviews of beers and related beverages they’ve tried, liked, and would like others to try.

From our Washington, DC correspondent: 

Austin EastCiders Watermelon Cider 5% abv: Sweet with a satisfying hint of watermelon. Refreshing taste of summer.

Reminiscent of a sour beer but not as jarring. If you’re in to sours but don’t want a beer this is your guy.

Shiner Ruby Redbird 4.4% abv, 95 cals: Refreshing mix of a cider and beer. Perfect for a summer night. Low cal but flavorful.

What are you drinking that you can recommend to other thirsty crafties?

Cheers! The Katonah Beer Man: TheKatonahBeerMan@gmail.com; Instagram - thekatonahbeerman, plenty of room for more followers; https://thekatonahbeerman.wordpress.com/; Smithsonian archive of past articles can be found here: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/katonah-slash-lewisboro/sections/food-and-drink/articles.