Warming Those Hands

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Support the home team by drinking Michigan beer

on September 20 | in Columns | by | No Comments

Editor’s note: This is part of an educational series from the Craft Beer Curmudgeon, who aims to teach whippersnappers the best way to enjoy Michigan beer.

Hey! You with the muffler-less motorcycle! We’re truly sorry about your tiny man parts, but could you take that thundering piece of overcompensation to someone else’s neighborhood? I’m trying to educate these young’uns! Hmph.

Seems you can’t leave your house these days without seeing a few “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign!” bumper stickers. I don’t want to stray too far from my chosen topic (beer, fool!), but it raises a question about what the consumer can do to support our home state, without complications or doubts.

With cars, it’s complicated; there’s a lot to the subject that just doesn’t reduce cleanly to a bumper sticker slogan. Do I buy a Chevy HHR assembled in Mexico? A Honda assembled in Ohio? What if 50% of the HHR components come from the U.S.? What if 80% of the Honda parts come from the U.S.? As Pooh would say, “Oh, bother!” It’s nigh impossible to sort out.

But how to support the home team and know for sure? How about home-grown Michigan beer? Here are a couple of facts: Nationally, craft beer makes up about 6% of the market, but only 3.8% of the market here in Michigan is craft. An even better contrast might be between us and Oregon, where they have roughly the same number of craft breweries, but craft beer makes up almost 20% of the market. Every single one of the over 100 breweries and counting in Michigan is a craft brewery. All beer made in Michigan is craft beer. That means that less than 3.8% of the beer sold here is made here, as some of that 3.8% comes from craft breweries outside Michigan.

And here’s an idea of what the market is worth: That tiny local chunk contributed an estimated $24 million in wages and an overall $133 million to the Michigan economy. So what is the cost of supporting the home team? Better, fresher beer! Downside? Uh, I’m thinking… hmm… “Spuds MacKenzie” will starve? Fewer misogynistic Miller Lite ads? Wrap yourself in the flag all you like, put angry slogans on your bumper, but your Budweiser is made by a foreign-owned conglomerate. So smarten up! And turn down that stereo!

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