Beer culture is richer than it’s maybe ever been in America. With 5,300+ breweries operating across the United States (and exactly one zillion drinkers), beer is being celebrated as not just a recreation but as a social circle, science, history, art and civilization. Cities and institutions are paying their respects as well, collecting that culture and building education destinations for beer drinkers. Enjoy these examples:
- Last year, the National Beer Museum Development Group LLC announced its idea for Brew: The Museum of Beer in Pittsburgh.
- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is in a three-year initiative to collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry to explore how the beverage and brewing connect to larger themes in American history. They even hired a beer historian.
- The Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at Oregon State University’s Valley Library celebrated its third anniversary with expanded collecting areas, broadening its reach to include the history of homebrewing, cider, mead, barley farming and research and the pre-Prohibition eras.
The latest example we have is the recent announcement from Utica, N.Y. Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. unveiled a comprehensive plan for what’s being called The U District — a vision that both expands the Utica Memorial Auditorium (The AUD is a 3,860-seat multi-purpose arena and home to the Utica Comets hockey team) and develops new land in the area for the Nexus Center for Sports and Recreation, Utica Commons Casino and the “American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center.” From the Utica Comets website:
With the number of breweries in New York State exploding from 95 in 2012 to 320 in 2016, and production increasing by 26% during that time, New York has established itself as a major national player in the industry. In fact, New York was the fifth largest beer producing state behind California, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Oregon in 2016, and its craft beer industry is currently ranked fourth in the country with an economic impact of $4 billion. Included in those breweries are Oneida County’s own F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, Woodland Farm Brewery in Marcy, Copper City Brewing Company in Rome and 16 Stone Brewpub in Holland Patent. This makes it easy to see that brewing has become a large facet of local entrepreneurship that deserves a platform for exposure.
The proposed American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center will span over 100,000 square feet of building and outdoor space and feature an Exhibition Hall, an Innovation Center and Incubator, an Artisan Marketplace, a Beer Garden and more. The space has a projected 500,000 annual visitors and the potential to create over 200 jobs, both of which add to the core goal of increasing foot traffic in downtown Utica while maximizing employment.
And why not Utica? Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Portland, Maine, has the International Cryptozoology Museum. For some reason, Las Vegas is home to the most Titanic artifacts in the world. None of it really makes much sense, so we vote yes on Utica starting the American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center. Even if it sucks, they’ll still have beer, which already makes it way better than most museums we’ve visited. Back to the Comets post:
The museum portion of the facility will feature interchangeable and interactive exhibits on every topic relating to craft brewing; including tastings, demonstrations and nano-brewing on site. The outdoor Beer Garden will be the ideal green space for private events or to enjoy a cold beer after work with your peers. The Innovation Center will be committed to the growth of start-ups in the craft beer, spirits and related industries.
View more pictures and renderings of the museum and the entirety of The U District at this online PDF.