The Finger Lakes has made a name for itself as the wine mecca of the Northeast, but Western New York is also emerging as a pretty busy market for a different type of beverage. Craft beer is a huge trend in the U.S. these days, and plenty of brewers in the Rochester region are taking advantage of that.
There’s been a boom of craft brewery openings in the Rochester area in the last few months. Two breweries had grand openings in January, there was one in December, and there are two more planned in Brockport, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. Craft beer has become so popular in the region that it led to the creation of the Rochester Craft Beverage Trail.
The craft beer market in the United States is worth about $14.3 billion. For a beer to considered to be a “craft beer,” it must be produced at a craft brewery, which means that the brewery must be small, traditional, and independently owned.
People in the industry says that the rise of the craft beer market and the growth of it in the Rochester area is due to customer demand.
“Consumer demand, that’s what’s driving this. Consumers want craft beer. They want a better beer. Millennials are our largest-growing demographic,” said Webster resident and executive director of the New York State Brewer’s Association Paul Leone. “Gen-Xers are right behind it and they are the driving force behind this craft beer movement in New York and across the country.”
In fact, one of the troubles of opening a craft brewery is keeping up with demand — while still maintaining quality.
“We could make beer faster than we are, but then you start sacrificing quality and as the brewer I don’t want sacrifice quality whatsoever,” craft brewer Dan Western told the Rochester Business Journal. “There (are) some breweries that put a beer out in 10 days—that’s too quick, and you can taste it in the beer.”
According to the New York State Liquor Authority, there are now 88 breweries, wineries and distilleries in Monroe county and the five surrounding counties, which is a number that is sure to grow in the coming years.