On the latest episode of The Drinkable Week: The American brewery count approaches 4K, some whiskey for the Christmas Eve drunk tank and a day celebrating the world’s biggest spirit.
• The Brewers Association this week released its mid-year figures for the craft beer segment…and it was pretty much more of the same. For the first six months of 2015, craft beer volume was up 16 percent. That means craft brewers sold 12.2 million barrels of beer, up from 10.6 million for the comparable period in 2014. Also of note is the updated brewery count. As of June 30, there are 3,739 operating breweries in the United States. Of course that was a month ago and since nearly two breweries are opening every day, that number is likely over 4,000 now. For a little perspective, that number’s only about half the number of wineries, so ignore all of that talk of a supposed bubble. Still, the number is colossal.
• Irish whiskey has been one of the spirits segments that’s been on fire over the past few years, with imports into the U.S. growing being 10 and 20 percent annually. And now another famous Irish export is getting in on the action. That would be legendary Celtic punk pioneers the Pogues. That’s right, the Shane McGowan-fronted icons are releasing their own brand of whiskey, called, what else, The Pogues Irish whiskey. West Cork Distillers, best known for West Cork single malt and the Kennedy line of whiskey fusions, is the producer doing the heavy lifting.
• Next Saturday, Aug. 8 is World Baiju Day, which celebrates the native spirit of China. It actually happens to be the most consumed spirit in the world, given the size of the Chinese population, but it’s still mostly unknown in these parts outside of the Chinese-American community. It’s a strong, aromatic and robustly flavored spirit, usually clocking in anywhere between 100 and 110 proof. There are something like 10,000 baijiu producers across China, but most of it is pretty hard to drink. However the good stuff is really good and it’s been making its way to the U.S. Look out for brands like Maitou or Shui Jing Fang because those are simply amazing.