This tough economy has been a challenge on local businesses, with many struggling to compete with the low prices of larger chains. But in the brewing industry, the situation is actually the exact opposite.
You might think that a more expensive, designer beer would be a tough sell in this economy, but the local brewers say that's not the case at all. Business is growing in the micro-brewing community, and that's news that they can all drink to.
"There are a lot of local beer fans and craft beer fans everywhere now," Buckbean Brewing Company Brewmaster Daniel Kahn said.
While other businesses struggle to stay alive, Northern Nevada's local breweries are flourishing. At the Buckbean Brewing Company, they are celebrating their third anniversary this weekend, despite the challenge of opening during the recession.
"It is a tough time to try to start and grow a company," Kahn said.
Despite the timing, business at Buckbean has been as full-bodied as some of their brews. Kahn says the share of the beer market for microbrews has quadrupled over the last 20 years, decreasing the business that goes to the larger corporations. At Buckbean, they are increasing distribution of their brews, going as far as Florida.
The Brewmaster says part of the reason for their success is the outpouring of support from the community.
"Any time you can support a local business, it's always good," Reno beer enthusiast Mickey Lucas said.
"The culture of the area naturally makes its way into the culture of the brewery," Sacramento beer enthusiast Ben Miller said.
The story is similar at the Great Basin Brewery. They have expanded into multiple locations, and now they are bottling and selling one of their most popular brews regionally. The "Ichthyosaur India Pale Ale," affectionately known as the "Icky" will make its debut in California in about a month.
"I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't very confident that it would do very well," Great Basin Brewmaster Tom Young said.
Like the folks at Buckbean, the Great Basin brewers have found this tough economy to be a surprisingly good time to expand.
"We were never able to keep up with the consumption of our beer at our smaller Sparks brewery," Young said, "so we built this bigger brewery, which will allow us to satisfy those thirsty souls."
Both brewers say they're not all that surprised that the beer business is booming. They call it an affordable luxury: when people are downsizing their budgets, designer brews still tend to make the cut for things they can afford.
"It is a little bit of science, a little bit of art," Miller said, "and in the end, we get to have beer. It's win-win-win."
For the Buckbean anniversary celebration they created a new brew, the "Bourbon Barrel Double Duck." That will be available until it runs out, which they say may be pretty fast.
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