The beginning of the craft beer revolution as I remember it started with a Northern California brewery called Sierra Nevada. 1n 1980 Sierra Nevada produced a Pale Ale that was sort of indigenous to the Northern California area with pine and grapefruit aroma from whole-cone American hops. It was an all natural brewed beer and originally had a lot of sediment (unfiltered) at the bottom of the bottles. The Pale Ale was much stronger in flavor than the “typical” beer at that time. Comparing it to the mainstream mass produced beers such as Budweiser.
Sierra Nevada was probably not the first craft beer ever produced. I grew up in Northern California, and my mom, being a bit of a hippie, was an early adopter of this particular craft beer. Therefore it was the first exposure I had to this sort of brew and the beginning of my awareness of craft beers.
Samuel Adams, again in my experience was the next craft beer I took note of in about 1985. The difference was that Sam Adams made and early effort to go national while Sierra Nevada stayed focused on their more regional market.
From there I went to college in the early 1990’s at Humboldt State University where craft brewing was prevalent. I was now of drinking age (well maybe no quite legally) and was introduced to the Humboldt brewery, located not far from campus and their signature beer, Red Nectar a fantastic tasting red ale. For the next several years we would be sure to hit the Humboldt Brewery every Thursday to enjoy $4 pitchers of red nectar.
To this day, Red Nectar, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale will remain my all time favorites and the two beers that started my affair with craft beers.
I assume that most people’s first craft beer experience was with their local brewery or one of the first craft beers that had national distribution. What was your first craft beer and was it a local/regional beer or a nationally distributed one?