It's no secret craft beer is on the rise. We're seeing more microbreweries and brew pubs sprout up around the country. May 13 to 19 is American Craft Beer Week, 7 days dedicated to the craft. But the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the hops. Julia Herz, program director at the Brewers Association, tells us just how much of a rise we have seen, why the weeklong celebration, and her favorite new brewery. 

CL: How much of an increase in craft beer production have we seen this year?Julia Herz: We’ve seen craft beer continue to grow. 2012 craft beer was up 15% by volume. That’s not something you can say for the overall beer category, which was just up a little more than 1%.

CL: So you think we’ll see a brewery in every local neighborhood soon?JHThat’s the kind of movement that beer lovers would applaud. And what we’re talking about here is a localization-of-beer movement that’s going on in the United States and that movement could support breweries in many more nooks and crannies for sure. There is more demand and supply right now.

CL: What are some of your favorite newer breweries right now?JH: Shmaltz Brewing Co., who distributes in many states, is formally opening doors on a multiple-barrel brewhouse that will increase their production exponentially.

I also just came back from Chicago and there’s a great new brewery called Revolution. They started just in the past 3 years and are doing more than they ever expected. They started as a brew pub and now have a packaging facility as well.

CL: When and why was craft beer week started?JH: Every year in the middle of May, tens of thousand of beer lovers, in whatever informal or formal fashion, toast American craft brewers and our advancing beer revolution. And hundreds of craft breweries also celebrate with events in their tasting rooms.

American Craft Beer Week is 8 years old. It’s an annual week organized by, published by the Brewers Association. This is the largest national week for beer lovers and craft brewers. For 3 years in a row, we have had celebrations in all 50 states. I mean, how many events do you know that have celebrations in all 50 states? So this is a really big sign of the craft beer revolution that people keep hearing about.

CL: What is your favorite beer to drink right now?JH: Whatever is handed to me! But if you want to get specific, I love English-style ESB’s and American pale ales and IPAs.

We are also happy to announce the Cooking Light's home state of Alabama has legalized homebrewing just in time for Craft Beer Week, which makes homebrewing legal in all 50 states!