Delta Just Added 7 Craft Beers To Its Inflight Menu, And Sometimes They’re Free

Exciting news for beer-loving travelers: Seven new craft beers are now available on Delta’s domestic flights, and on some flights, you get to drink for free.

Lagunitas and Stone beer is now offered on Delta’s west coast shuttle (Los Angeles to San Francisco), while Blue Point and Newburyport beer is available on its east coast shuttle (New York to Boston, D.C. and Chicago). Ballast Point and Brooklyn Brewery beer is served on transcontinental flights (New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle), and SweetWater beer is available on southeast flights (Atlanta to Florida, New York, D.C. and New Orleans). Samuel Adams is available on all flights.

Craft beers on east coast shuttle flights are complimentary (yes, complimentary) for all passengers, Delta representative Kate Modolo told The Huffington Post, while craft beers on transcontinental, southeast and all other flights cost $7.

“We started our craft beer program earlier this year with SweetWater Brewery based in Atlanta,” Modolo said. “It was stocked on all Delta flights bound for LGA starting April 1. The customer response was great so we expanded SweetWater in July to six other markets. The additional seven craft brews announced all started flying last week.”

Although Delta offers a wide selection of beers, it’s not like you’ll be limited to Budweiser and Miller Lite on other airlines. Southwest, for example, offers New Belgium’s Fat Tire, while United serves Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat Ale and Virgin serves 21st Amendment’s Brew Free! or Die IPA.

South Korea’s craft beer start-ups battle big brewers

Considering that all of South Korea was, at least in beer terms, something of a barren landscape less than a decade ago it’s a remarkable scene.

Then the market was over-run with offerings from South Korea’s two massive industrial brewers; Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewers.

The rise of craft brewing in Seoul is something of a David and Goliath story, with a passionate handful of craft entrepreneurs overturning decades of beer boredom by tapping into pent up consumer demand and thawing South Korean public policy on how beer is regulated.

Beer buddies

Dan Vroon and Chul Park met each other five years ago, when they were both selling craft beer for boat tours and other events.

They bonded over beer.

“Chul initially brought in the first craft beer into Korea from my hometown, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,” Dan Vroon recalls. “That’s what sort of inspired us to create more and better beers.”

Dan Vroon owns and runs Craftworks which opened in 2010 and has three “tap houses” operating in the country.

His own brand of beer is brewed at Chul Park’s Ka-Brew contract brewery which makes different recipes for several of the new craft beer brands.

“We started with a single location and were moving roughly 50 kegs (5,147 pints) a week, ” Dan Vroon tells the BBC.

“We are now probably doing 300 kegs a week, and building a state of the art brewery, the likes of which has not been seen in Asia yet,” he says.

Pub policy

As recently as three years ago, South Korea prohibited beer sales by any player incapable of putting out at least a million litres a year.

However, requirements for entering the beer making and distribution market have been lowered dramatically since.

Daniel Tudor, former Seoul Correspondent for The Economist magazine and co-owner of Kyungridan pub “The Booth,” permits himself a small amount of credit for South Korea’s change of tack on beer legislation.

His 2010 article “Fiery food, boring beer” started what he describes as a “media storm” in favour of loosening brewing controls.

Rising affluence and global awareness among Koreans were also important factors.

“I think there are more Koreans who have spent a significant length of time abroad, so they [are]expecting something better now.” he says.

Craft beer pubs do not survive by good brewing alone, says Troy Zitzelsberger, co-founder of Reilly’s Taphouse in Seoul.

He says success is also a process of teaching customers. “I oversee a homebrew club I started here a couple of years ago, called Seoul Brew Club and as of today we have 1,512 members,” he says.

As one of only two cicerones (internationally certified brewmasters) operating in South Korea, Zitzelsberger says he personally oversees the contract brewing of two of the 30 beers he offers on tap.

Fruity “Jeju IPA” hits lighter notes of sour citrus, while “Seoul Cream Stout” appeals to palates that appreciate darker hints of coffee and black bread.

Even though the beers are taking brewing back to its pre-industrial routes the way the trend has grown is entirely modern.

“Blogging is key here,” he says. “You just get some good blogging with good products and talk to the right people and anything can happen.”

Copy craft

Even with the success of expat craft brewers in Korea, the market remains miniscule, less than 1% of the overall beer market, including imports.

Domestic brewers, aware of the upside potential, are increasingly playing to craft sensibilities, rolling out brands like “Queen’s Ale” and the Germanic-sounding “Kloud”.

Top craft brewers in Seoul predict the market is likely to follow a similar famine-to-glut pattern as upscale coffee; these days, it’s nearly impossible to walk 100 metres without brushing by a cafe franchise.

At that point, brewers agree, the novelty of the craft beer genre will subside and consumers will focus exclusively on the quality of the product.

“A wise man once said, an honest beer makes its own friends,” says Dan Vroon of Craftworks. “We have been getting a lot of friends lately.”

Japan’s Craft Beer Movement Takes Off

The Dutch brought beer to Japan in the 1600’s, but it took a few centuries to catch on; Eventually, light, lager-like brews produced by Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo came to dominate and, for many, define beer. Craft beer, with its variety of flavors and styles, remained rare and expensive.

Then in 1994, a change in tax laws made it much cheaper to produce beer in limited quantities, and as a result, hundreds of small breweries opened. However, according to Mark Meli, author of Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide (2013), most of these 400 new operations fizzled due to poor management and lackluster brews. Especially in rural areas, craft breweries were seen more as an economic Hail Mary than an opportunity for top-notch beers. Some backers hoped the novel beverages could lure visitors away from modern, urban attractions. “Many breweries started in the 1990s with this idea, and a lot of investment — but with no idea how to brew beer properly,” says Meli.

Even once solid recipes were instituted, craft brewers struggled. Take, for example, Bryan and Sayuri Baird. In 2000, the two former office workers struck out for Japan’s craft-beer frontier, and in 2001, received a license to ferment, becoming Japan’s smallest brewery.

“Japan historically reveres the craftsman,” says Baird. “Brewing beer in Japan in a true spirit of craftsmanship always struck me as a reasonable idea.” However, reverence wasn’t part of their initial reception. They opened their Fishmarket Taproom in Numazu (a sleepy port town to the southeast of Tokyo) to, as they put it, “great quiet and much local indifference.”

Over time, however, the small, well-crafted, seasonal batches — each one a labor of love — earned Baird Brewery a reputation as one of Japan’s finest craft breweries. When Baird started selling to Popeye’s in 2003, it opened the door to other taprooms in Tokyo. A bigger brewing system and exports to the United States, New Zealand and Australia soon followed, as did three gold medals at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago. But while Baird Beer is now global, their primary consumers remain Japanese.

Other Japanese brewers have also honed their skills and developed new traditions, using local ingredients to appeal to their Japanese customer base. “From about 2003, the majority of remaining breweries got their quality control on track,” says Bryan Harrell, writer and author of Brews News. In 2010, there were over 200 breweries in operation; between 2003 and 2009, annual beer sales went up by more than 100 percent.

Craft beer appeals to Japanese culinary curiosity, says Meli. “A big part of craft beer’s popularity has been the ‘gourmet’ seekers, particularly young women who are looking for a new food and drink experience. They have the most disposable income of just about any group here, and many are now spending it on craft beer,” says Meli. Craft beer is a bit like wine at the moment, appealing for its novelty, taste and exoticism. Young women, many of whom are putting off marriage and living with their parents, have money to burn and the freedom to burn it as they wish.

The number of festivals, breweries and brewpubs continues to increase, often with the liquid in the glass being made just downstairs or in the back. But to be more than a trend, craft beer will need to find acceptance beyond this rarified group,“I think for craft beer in Japan to really take off,” says Maek Post, founder of Osaka’s Beer Zen Journal, “there needs to be a reduction in price, along with [more] brewpubs in downtown areas.”

Makoto Kachi, head brewer at Y. Market Brewing in Nagoya, has faith in the continuing good fortunes of small brewers. He brings his passion for beer to the brewing process, fervently counting yeast cells and scrutinizing temperatures while crafting brews that have made the city’s newest brewpub a hit. Since opening in March, Y. Market is routinely packed with businessmen and women quaffing pints and nibbling on the kitchen’s fusion of Japanese and Mexican foods.

“Many craft brewers may not exist in 10 years, but companies that brew good beer will, and there will be greater variety. The future is very bright,” says Kachi.

Pairing Craft Beer with Your Favorite Tailgating Grilled Dishes

Whether you prefer cooking in the backyard, at a tailgate party, at a rustic campsite, at the beach or by the pool, chances are you’ll be grabbing a beer and firing up the grill at some point this year. Here are six grilled go-tos and our favorite craft beer style to pair them with.

Hot Dogs with Hefeweizens

Hot dogs are truly a summer staple. These encased meat goodies are usually seasoned with salt, garlic and paprika. Since hot dogs have German roots (frankfurter anyone?), we’ll pay homage with a German-style hefeweizen. These beers are light enough to not overpower a simple dog, but flavorful enough to stand up to whatever toppings you throw at them. The subtle sweetness from these beers can tone down the saltiness of a hot dog.

Ribs with Amber Ales

Since ribs can be a symphony of flavors, a balanced American amber ale is just the beer to cover your bases. The slight sweetness and caramel characteristics compliment the naturally sweet pork and any brown sugar or molasses from a rub or barbecue sauce. Subtle hop bitterness helps cut through the fat of the ribs and emphasize spiciness.

Steak with Wine Barrel-Aged Beers

Wine barrel-aged beers have a boldness that pairs nicely with a meaty steak. These beers can stand up to a steak without taking away from it. The fruit flavors and slight sour characteristics commonly present in these beers can play up flavors from any marinade as well.

Corn on the Cob with Lagers

Although you can do a lot with corn on the cob, nothing beats the classic combo of corn, a bit of butter and salt. A slightly sweet, earthy lager complements the sweetness of the corn, which is amplified by the grill. And since lagers are light-bodied and crisp, they’re not going to wreck your palate for the simple flavors of the corn.

Cheeseburgers with Pale Ales

With Americans eating 50 billion burgers per year, the odds are good you’ll be grilling at least one this summer. An American pale ale’s bitterness contrasts nicely against any char on the burger. Since they’re not overly hoppy, pale ales can work with a variety of cheeses and toppers. A mild citrus flavor cuts through any fattiness of a beef or wild game burger, but won’t overpower a turkey or veggie burger.

Shish Kabob with Brown Ales

Shish kebab usually consists of steak, chicken or shrimp with veggies or fruits, often including pearl onions, tomatoes, button mushrooms, bell peppers and pineapple. An American brown ale can handle whatever creative kebab you throw at it. The nutty flavors of these beers are nice for beef, but are not too overpowering for poultry or seafood. The toasty maltiness of a brown ale pairs nicely with many sweeter marinades. Any natural sweetness from your vegetables will be amplified by the slight sweetness of these beers.

The Expanding Demographics of Craft Beer

The Brewers Association knows what you picture when you hear “craft beer drinker.” White male, 20’s or 30’s. Ubiquitous beard. Upper middle class, professional employment, disposable income to burn on a rare barrel-aged sour. They know, because for many years, that’s what the Brewers Association pictured as well. But according to newly released statistics from the craft beer industry’s advocacy group, those demographics continue to change and diversify.

At the Great American Beer Fest, the organization gathered 465 credentialed journalists, many of whom attended the Friday afternoon media brunch. There, they listened to presentations from brewers and industry analysts, which revealed some intriguing statistics. Dr. Bart Watson, the Chief Economist for the Brewers Association, presented a series of numbers that leap off the page and reveal how much craft beer has truly grown in recent years.

1. 75% of all drinkers now live within 10 miles of a craft brewery

Not only do drinkers everywhere now have access to beer, most people have very easy access to the SOURCES of that beer. As there is no better way to gain an appreciation for craft beer than by seeing it made at its source and talking to the people who make it, this ease of access is fueling new drinkers to join the craft fold every day.

2. Young women ages 21-34 now consume craft beer over index (over the national average), and represent 15% of the total consumption.

Craft beer isn’t just for bros—women continue to join the ranks of the bearded drinkers in a huge way. Female-owned breweries are popping up every day, and the ratio of female brewers is increasing as well. The fact that women 21-34 are now over index means that they are one of craft’s most ardent group of supporters, and the 15% they make up is JUST the 21-34 bracket. That’s a hugely significant number.

3. The bottom 60% of households in income now consume 40% of the country’s craft beer by volume.

Likewise, craft beer isn’t just for the affluent. Although it may be more expensive than macro brews, the Brewers Association continues to push craft beer as “an affordable luxury,” much cheaper in general than many artisan foodstuffs or other indulgences. Beer has always been the alcoholic beverage of “the common man,” and increasingly the common man has developed a taste for craft brews, showing that craft has been increasing the breadth of its universal appeal.

Pro golfers crafting new beer product line

A threesome of pro golfers have teamed up to create some new options for the 19th hole.

With the help of Florida-based brewer The Brew Hub, PGA tour members Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Freddie Jacobson are teeing up a line of new craft beers targeting golfers.

The three beers — G-Mac’s Celtic Style Pale Ale, Keegan Bradley’s New England Style Lager and Freddie Jacobson’s Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale — will initially be available this month on draft at select Florida golf courses and on-site restaurants and country clubs. The beer will be available in cans in December and bottles during the first quarter of 2015. Distribution will expand to grocery stores, bars and other restaurants in Florida and then to other regions.

Golf and alcoholic beverages have gone hand in hand for years. Twenty years ago, David Frost bought his own winery in South Africa, and in 1996 Greg Norman started his own, too. Since then, golfers from Annika Sorenstam to Mike Weir have launched wine labels.

But this is the first swing at beer for golfers. “For some reason, all the golfers previously have always ended up in wine, and we just felt there was a natural gap with the golf-beer connection,” Jacobson says. He hatched the idea after talking with friend and business associate Patrik Waxin, a founder of the National Golf Course Restaurant Association. “We wanted to create a product that was really refreshing and drinkable, a craft beer for the outdoor living we participate in all the time.”

Once the idea was brewing, the Swedish-born Jacobson, who has several start-up companies, asked McDowell and Bradley whether they might want to join in. The plan appealed to Bradley, who says, “I grew up in New England drinking craft beers watching the Celtics, Patriots and Bruins. All my buddies and I loved drinking them, but I had trouble finding one that was drinkable and had a lot of flavor.”

Each of the beers is between 4.5% and 5% alcohol by volume. The Blonde Ale is a light ale made with European hops, while the New England lager uses North American hops. McDowell, a native of Northern Ireland who like the other two has a home in Florida, says his beer — the Celtic Style Pale Ale — is “the punchiest of the three. But it is very approachable and very conducive to drinking a few on the golf course or one in the clubhouse.”

Typically produced locally and more flavorful than mass-produced brews, craft beer is a growing market in the USA. Craft beer’s share of the nearly $100 billion U.S. beer market rose to 14% in 2013, up from 10% two years ago, while overall beer sales have been flat.

Craft beer’s share of the beer market is expected to increase to 20% this year, says Tim Schoen, CEO of The Brew Hub, the Lakeland, Fla., brewery, which helps fledgling brewers and companies with new product launches.

Golf courses have begun offering craft beers in addition to major-label beers such as Miller Lite and Budweiser. But often the alcohol levels of the craft beers offered are higher than golfers might want, Schoen says. “We thought we could do something with a very sessional taste profile that is directly linked to the golf community through these three guys.”

Brew Hub arranged some tastings for the golfers to help them refine the flavor they wanted. When the three golfers converged earlier this month for the final tastings, “It was really a fun moment,” Bradley said. “And it was a proud moment for all of us, to see a beer with my name on it.”

The three have formed a company, GolfBeer Brewing, for the venture. “We feel like the golf market is such a huge beer market and especially young golfers are the next big craft beer market,” McDowell says. “We think if we can make a refreshing, approachable craft beer that is synonymous with PGA Tour players like ourselves that golfers can relate to, we certainly feel there is potential for the market to become so much more educated about craft beer.”