What is it about craft beer?

By Erika Mahoney

May 15, 2014 Updated May 15, 2014 at 10:52 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) There's a worldwide shortage of hops -- a key ingredient in beer -- thanks to a booming craft beer craze.

The high demand means higher cost; the average price of a pound of hops has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

But despite the spike in cost, many are investing in the industry.

May 12-16 is American Craft Beer Week. But what is it about craft beer that is making it so popular?

"I think the best thing about craft beer is the passion and enthusiasm the brewers have for it," Water Street Brewing Co. Manager Simon Huckle said.

The motto at Water Street Brewing, which opened two years ago, is "fresh, local and uncomplicated."

"We bring in local ingredients and local flair and really celebrate what the community, all the wonderful things we have, offers in Binghamton."

There's no shortage of craft beer in the Southern Tier. Around the corner from Water Street Brewing, a newer brewery, just put Binghamton on the craft beer map.

"To win a silver medal in our first year of competition at the World Beer Cup, the largest competition in the world, was just amazing," Galaxy Brewing Company co-owner Michael Weisel said.

The ale that won is called St. Stusan Ale -- named after Weisel's wife Susan. Susan likes Belgian beers, but not high alcohol ones.

"Many of the Belgians (ales) are very high in alcohol. So we brewed what's called a potter. Potter is Latin for father. This is beer that the Belgian monks would brew for themselves because it wasn't as high in alcohol, so they could meditate after drinking a beer."

Weisel says that's what craft brewing is about -- an artistic approach to brewing something unique.

In Johnson City, the new barbecue tap house, Food and Fire, built the bar around the notion of pairing great craft beer with great food.

The owner believes "craft" is in because it's personal.

"I know there's a craft beer for everyone," Food and Fire owner Daniel Polhamus Jr. said. "There are beers that fruity, there are beers that are heavy and mysterious. We have so much fun when someone comes in and says ,I''m not a beer drinker.' We're like, 'Let the games begin.'"

Polhamus says the largest growing sector of craft beer enthusiasts is women, and attributes it to a personal factor.

With 40 beers on tap, including a beer from Galaxy, plus 16 bottles, the BBQ tap house is adding eight beers on tap from Southern Tier Brewing Company on Friday.

While the craze may have recently take off, one place in Vestal has been in the market for more than the past 25 years.

"Every week is craft beer week here at the Ale House," Ale House owner Tim Sansone said. "So, I mean this is a special week, but we're doing what we always do and that's 'good people drinking good beer.'"

Simple.

And simply put, there appears to be more than one reason why craft beer is booming ... much like the product itself.

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