The Digital Journalism Blog

Craft beer in America

Craft beer awareness: Have college students been doing their studying?

By Nate Poths

PEORIA, Ill. ­– A group of students from Bradley University were surveyed this week on their knowledge and interests of craft beer. In this article we’ll examine at the results to see if we can figure out why it is college students won’t drink good beer.

Of 20 Bradley Students that were surveyed online, 90 percent say that they actually like craft beer. As students without a disposable income though, they say they prefer to buy massive amounts of cheap beer. Initial reports show a definite interest in craft beer, and coincidentally, the craft beer business is doing very well according to The Brewers Association.

The trade group said that craft breweries did better than 6 percent of the entire U.S. Market, surpassing record levels in volume and sales in it’s annual list that lists the top 50 overall brewing companies.

With independent breweries on the rise, could it affect the taste of college students?

In the survey, Domestic lagers and wheat beers were among the most tried and liked of all styles. Around 60 percent also said they have tried some of the more esoteric styles of beer such Double IPAs, pilsners and porters… not that they necessarily liked them.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to this.”

“Craft beers are too expensive,” said junior marketing major Kyle Boot. “I can get 30 domestic beers for the same price as 12 craft beers.”

While cost is undeniably one of the reasons college students are less likely to pick up a four pack of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard, it’s not the only one. Advertising is also extremely influential on them.

If you’re not actively searching for craft beer, you’re not going to see a lot aside from the ads on TV.

As the cliché says, “you only know what you see.”

What the students liked the most was wheat beer, with Domestics coming in at a closesecond. Neither of these indicators surprise, as domestics are some of the most heavily advertised beers. Their producers are among the most successful breweries from a business standpoint, according to the Brewers Association.

Anheuser wins it all sitting in first place, selling all kinds of products from Bud Light and Budweiser to Bud Wheat and Budweiser Black Crown. The company spends millions on ads year-round, and possesses a brand name that represents an empire (though the company was absorbed by Inbev over a year ago). That’s why 19/20 said they like it. Corona is the number one import in America, and it also has insane amounts of advertising. That’s why 19/20 said they like it. The same can be said for Blue Moon, Coors, Guiness, Heineken, Leinenkugel, Miller, and Stella. All of which are liked by 80-95 percent of those surveyed for this article.

I have a personal theory that wheat beer has the power to get people interested in other beers. When it happens it’s great; people should be curious, and try as many kinds of beer as they can. But another possible explanation for wheat beer drinking is that people are beginning to catch on and actually care that light beer is awful, but aren’t willing to take the step to more esoteric beers with stronger smells and bites of flavor. What they don’t know is their Blue Moon was mass-produced just like a Miller Light. It even has a twisty top. In this scenario, the only reason they even picked it up is because it has similar advertising. “You only know what you see,” right?

“The average college student isn’t exposed to craft beers,” said junior history major Craig Anderson. “They know of Bud Light, Coors, or Miller because they’ve seen commercials for them an that’s what other college kids drink.”

It’s easy to identify the correlation between the kinds of beer students have tried and liked, and what beers receive major ad space. But of those 20 students surveyed, all thought beer advertisements have little to no effect on their actual taste. Could the issue here be denial? Genuine blindness? What’s for sure is that within the booze market, it’s the buyer who ought to beware.

Around 50 percent of the students surveyed said they actually enjoy drinking India Pale Ales, arguably the most popular style of craft beer. After that, few said they enjoy styles such as double IPAs, pilsners, APAs, brown ales, bocks, porters, and sours.

Three had world famous beer Pliny the Elder from California brewery, Russian River, and only two tasted a Lakefront IPA from Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

These are fine examples of craft brew in America, but not the easiest to come by at the same time. It’s good to see that most have tried some of the more successful microbreweries beers such as New Belgium, New Glarus and Stone. Perhaps the success of the craft industry will continue to grow and make great beer more available to college students. Imagine how happy they would be they would be if they could have a keg of alegitimate summer lager to celebrate the end of classes around this time of year.

A chat with a local expert: Kellehers Irish Pub

By Sam D’Anna

Meet Billy Blasek, general manager at Kellehers Irish Pub here in peoria. Blasek is a bonafied beer nut, and loves his job picking out craft beers to go on tap.

Eight great breweries in scenic Rocky Mountain locations

By Nate Poths

Have a love for sight seeing, long beautiful drives, or great beer? If so then be sure to check out this list highlighting some incredible and scenic breweries from “Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies.”

History of beer in America

By Sam D’Anna

The history of beer stretches all the way back to 1800 BC. Check out this interactive timeline and learn about some of beer’s biggest moments here.


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