You don’t have to travel far these days to find your local craft brewery. At the end of 2013, there were 2,800 operational breweries in the United States. But flash back to 1988, when former Associated Press Middle East correspondent Steve Hindy founded Brooklyn Brewery with his neighbor Tom Potter and the scene was much different. “I knew [the boom] was going to happen in a lot of places in the country,” says Hindy. “I doubt if you had asked me in 1988 I would have put my finger on that number.”
In his book, “The Craft Beer Revolution,” coming out this month, Hindy chronicles the rise of craft beer in this country, beginning with early pioneers like New Albion and Anchor Steam, taking readers through the various business models of today’s crowded brewery scene. Along the way, Hindy shares stories involving the industry’s key players. including Boston Beer’s Jim Koch, who sparred with Hindy over the years but wrote a foreword for the book.
Q. What stands out about craft’s growth in the last 30 years?
A. I think back to when we started with Brooklyn Lager. A lot of people in Brooklyn spit it out. They said, “It’s dark, it’s bitter. Why don’t you make a beer like Heineken?’’ Today craft beer is very well known. No one’s going to spit it out. Distributors 25 years ago who wouldn’t talk to us are angling to get their hands on those brands.
Q. Does anything worry you?
A. I feel like we’re in a real sweet spot right now. The last five years we’ve had double-digit growth every year. We’re kind of riding high, and I get nervous when we’re riding high.
Q. There’s a lot of debate now about the ethics of large brewers getting into the craft beer game and marketing their beer as such without saying where it came from. How do you feel about the big brewers entering craft?
A. I think the large brewers have finally concluded that craft beer is here to stay. There are a lot of ways to do it, whether it’s starting their own brand or buying up other established brands, which is happening a lot now. I think for a long time they thought it was a fad. It’s a compliment to us but it’s also a big challenge. We have to give beer drinkers a reason to buy our beers and not the ones the big guys are making. But it’s also a challenge for the big brewers. The more people they convert to craft-style beers, the more they move away from the lagers that are the big thing for them. It’s a double-edged sword.
Q. As a former journalist, how do you feel about media coverage of craft beer?
A. I feel like the media has been very generous in reporting on craft breweries. The media loves people who take risks. We’re all small businesses. Journalists tend to side with David in the David vs. Goliath argument.
Steve Hindy will be signing books on April 24 at 7 p.m. at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660, www.brooklinebooksmith.com.Interview was edited and condensed. Gary Dzen can be reached at email@example.com.