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Craft Beer Goes Highbrow

No longer the province of frat boys and keg parties, beer is becoming more sophisticated than ever before

Beer, a beverage that has long been considered the redheaded stepchild of the wine-and-spirits world, is officially undergoing an image overhaul. Pop over to the Waldorf Astoria New York and you’ll notice the hotel’s own homegrown beer on the menu. One style is infused with lemon verbena from the rooftop garden; another uses fresh honey produced by on-property beehives. Elsewhere, brewers cater to the wheat-fearing set, with gluten-reduced and gluten-free formats. The shift toward sophisticated suds is due in no small part to a new crop of boundary-pushing brewers who are elevating beer beyond its cheap, watery roots. If you’ve been known to turn your nose up at the thought of cracking open a six-pack, now might be the time to reconsider.

Evil Twin Brewing

Evil Twin Brewing

The Trend: Artwork, Not Labels 
While craft beer has prized packaging ever since design legend Milton Glaser created the look for Brooklyn Brewery, recent growth made standing out an imperative.

Who Does It Best
Martin Justesen masterminds the brilliant, colorful designs behind Brooklyn’s Evil Twin Brewing, giving beers like Fire Water and Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room a distinct look.

Cora Beer

Cora Beer

The Trend: Hotels with Private Labels 
Luxury properties around North America are teaming up with local craft breweries to produce hotel-exclusive beers.

Who Does It Best
Similar to the Waldorf Astoria’s branded brews, the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico, sells its own signature suds. Cora Beer, a mix of lager and ale, is brewed by Guadalajara-based Cervecería Minerva.

Cervejaria Wäls

Cervejaria Wäls

The Trend: The Rise of the International Brewer 
Craft beer isn’t just an American thing anymore. A host of young brewers around the world combine traditional philosophies with a bit of their native flavor.

Who Does It Best
Brazilian brothers José Felipe and Tiago Carneiro’s Wäls Dubbel, from brewery Cervejaria Wäls, beat 34 other entries to take gold in the Belgian-Style Dubbel category at the 2014 World Beer Cup.

New Planet Beer Co.

New Planet Beer Co.

The Trend: Gluten-Free Beer
Thanks to a host of new celiac-friendly breweries, that whole “beer makes me bloat” excuse is now a thing of the past.

Who Does It Best
New Planet Beer Co. founder Pedro Gonzalez launched the gluten-free label after being diagnosed with celiac disease. His award-winning 3R Raspberry Ale—made with brown rice and raspberry puree—has a sweet, citrus aroma and tangy bubbliness.

Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing Company

The Trend: Barrel-Aged Beers 
Aging beers in former bourbon barrels spawned an entire movement. Now brewers are using everything from old wine casks to gin barrels.  

Who Does It Best
Consecration, a dark ale from the California-based Russian River Brewing Company, spends four to eight months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. It emerges full-bodied with notes of currants and chocolate truffles.

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