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Craft and micro-brewed beverages are consuming the beer market. Brooke Howard, a bartender for the Angry Swede Brewery, located at 513 Francis St. in St. Joseph, gives us her take on tastes, smells and the culture that she hopes will expand some knowledge for ladies out there wanting to know more about craft beers.

Q: Locally, what do most patrons prefer: stout, lager, IPA, ale? And why do you think that is?

A: I have noticed that a lot of our patrons prefer the blonde ale over our other beer options. While we still have a lot of people that prefer our IPA or stouts, the big draw to the blonde is that it’s light and refreshing with a smooth finish. IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale, is very popular in the craft beer world. It is more hoppy and has some citrus notes. A lot of times it will be more hazy than a lager or regular beer. Some people will say it has a bitter taste, but others love it. The “hoppier” the better. Then you have the stouts or porters. These beers are usually darker in color and can sometimes be heavier. The are great as an after-dinner beer and, typically, most people drink these on cold days. Our stouts and ports are very dark in color but not heavy at all and can be enjoyed all year round.

Q: In the world of craft beers, there’s an easy opportunity to become a connoisseur. Why are people so drawn to craft beers? And when people sit around and discuss it, what are they comparing?

A: People are drawn to craft beers because of the different varieties available. The tasty texture and smell play a big role when it comes to what people like. Some prefer our more hops-driven beers like IPAs over the lighter beers such as the blonde or the Heff, which is a German wheat beer. The industry has become so popular that breweries are becoming more common to find in many towns and cities. Our brewery, like many breweries or bars that cater to craft beers, has become a spot where people will meet and hang out. There are social clubs that come in and compare beers and talk about all their favorites. The environment and the crowd in a brewery is usually a more relaxed environment. When people sit around and talk about the beers, they compare flavors and smells and textures. Craft beers are very different in their own way. Each one is completely different from others, whereas a Busch Light or an ultra light beer are going to be the same. There are so many styles and types of craft and micro-brewed beers out there, that is the biggest draw I think that people have, because they can almost always find something that they like.

Q: How is craft beer evolving? What are the newest things happening with craft beer that even the regulars are talking about?{/span}

A: Craft beers are evolving as more breweries come up with different ways to make new beers. For example, we have just released the El Dorado Smash IPA. It is the second in our rotating Smash IPA that we are making, the first was a Nugget. The differences are in the hops. One used the Nugget hops and the other used the El Dorado hop, so both have a very different taste. Every brewery has a signature or unique beer that they specialize in. Some make crazy types using all sorts of combinations of flavors from fruits, vegetables or even chocolates. That is what makes craft beer so fun. There is no limit to what you can do or come up with while traditional beers have maybe one or two kinds. The world of craft beers is full of endless possibilities.

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