Is 2016 the Craft Beer Election?

Courtesy of Miner Brewing Company

By F&W Editors Posted May 09, 2016

This election cycle, politicians are championing locally owned craft breweries on the campaign trail.  

It's an age-old question in American electoral politics: Which presidential candidate would you like to have a beer with? 

In the past, this question—and the way people answer it—has primarily been an indicator of a politician's likability factor: Which person would you most like to hang out with, at the bar, at the end of a long day? (Whether or not that's a good indicator of who would actually make the best political leader is above our pay grade.) Over the years, it's been the subject of much polling and even more hand-wringing—not least because many people believe that this, "the beer question," is one that has determined presidential elections more than once in American history.  

But now, in these food-obsessed times in which we live, the question has taken on new dimensions. It's not just about whether you can imagine a candidate at the bar; according to the Atlantic, it's also about the bar itself. Which bar does the candidate go to, anyway? What kind of beer (it's almost always beer) does he or she drink? Is it an organic, sustainably produced craft beer? Does the candidate, by way of his or her brew preference, support local businesses and all that they stand for? 

According to the Atlantic's Matthew Osgood, it's no longer enough for a candidate to make a pit stop at a local dive bar for a quick pint. Now, the candidates are embracing the craft movement to prove their small business-supporting cred:   

Brewery visits have become a new political trope. Pouring a beer demonstrates an “I-know-how-to-do-this-too” common denominator with voters. It’s a proverbial toast to the economy and to local businesses. Presidential candidates have seemed to distance themselves from international conglomerates and domestic macro-lagers, such as Bud Light, Coors, or Miller, and found themselves fully embracing the craft-beer movement and all that it represents.

It makes sense. Craft beer has been on the rise in America for a while now. Small-batch brewers all over the country are pushing the boundaries of what beer tastes like by experimenting with wild yeasts and locally sourced ingredients. And as the major beer companies are increasingly buying up smaller brands and forming huge conglomerates, it's more politically expedient for politicians to throw their support to small batch craft brewers—many of whom are, more or less, the definition of small business owners—as they tour the U.S. looking for votes.

We have nothing against the major beer brands, but we can't object to presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Donald Trump doesn't drink) throwing some love to the local  in the business. May we suggest they try one of the places on our list of 50 amazing nanobreweries in the U.S.? Don't worry—we have one for every state. 

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