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Younger audience drawn toward growing options of craft beers

When it comes to craft beer, no ingredient is off limits. Breweries are adding everything from fruit to coriander to add flavor.
"There's so much variety, more within beer than within wine," says Jerry Hauck, owner of Monk's House of Ale Repute, a nationally recognized beer bar at 420 E. Eighth St.
The nuances in beer aren't as subtle as those in wine, he says. "You don't have to be a beer aficionado to be able to taste the different flavors."
Craft beers - the only part of the beer industry that's growing, Hauck says - have expanded the options for quality and taste in beer, those in the industry say.
So what makes these craft beers so much better? It's the complexity of flavors, including the beer's higher alcohol content, that make the difference, Hauck and others say.
Beer's flavor depends on the additives, such as the malt and hops, spices and the yeast variety. Beer is brewed from malted barley, hops, yeast and water. Fruit, wheat and spices sometimes are added for additional flavor. The yeast turns sugars in the malt into alcohol, and the hops provide bitter flavor and aroma.
Most craft beers are ales, while lagers are usually domestic beers with a low alcohol content and a crispy, light golden taste.
The development of craft beer has created a revolution of sorts, allowing breweries to experiment with the brewing process and creating a following of beer fans who savor and taste beer like some people appreciate fine wine.
"Beer has definitely taken a different turn in the industry right now. ... There's a lot more going into the craft beer," says Justin Johnson, beer manager at GoodSpirits Fine Wine & Liquor.
Even the packaging of beer has changed to reflect the popularity of craft beers. Buying one can of beer used to be atypical, Hauck says, but now, "because beers have distinct flavors, people want to buy one beer of each style."
Large-format artisanal craft beers, sold in champagne-like bottles in sizes from 22 ounces to 750 milliliters, also cater to beer drinkers looking to savor the tastes of beer, says Tom Slattery, general manager at JJ's Wine Spirits & Cigars on South Western Avenue. The store's options in the larger formats have expanded within the past two years.
For example, the larger amount works well during a beer and food pairing event. "Because of the evolution of a beer palate, people who like classier, more sophisticated styles have started to do more food pairings and tastings," Slattery says.
These bottles cost $8 to $25.
GoodSpirits Fine Wine & Liquor also sells the large-format styles. At Monk's, Hauck says, some customers will buy a larger bottle, also called a bomber, to share. Usually customers want to sample more than one style, so they prefer drinking two small 12-ounce beers rather than one 22-ounce.
Craft beer production began in the 1970s in the U.S. It's a somewhat loose term that designates whether a brewery produces fewer than a certain number of a particular beer. It has taken 30 years for craft beer to take off, Hauck says.
In the past 10 years, craft beers have gained in popularity, building a large clientele with a younger audience, he says. "Domestic beers still have 95 percent of the business, which is huge. Craft beers are growing at about 12 percent to 15 percent a year. We have more breweries now than anytime since before Prohibition."
Sioux Falls has one craft beer producer, Granite City Food and Brewery, which carries up to eight beers, including two seasonal beers, on tap. Customers like that they can come to the restaurant and get a product that's not sold elsewhere, says manager Liz Paulsen.
Northern Light Lager and Two Pull, a mixture of Northern Light and Brother Benedict's Maibock, are the most popular choices, she says.
24 Jan. 2011

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