With the rediscovery of local food in terms of supporting your neighbors, promoting less pollution/fuel per mile, sustainability, and FRESHNESS, let's tranfer that zietgeist to beer. Drink local, drink local, drink local (and its corollary, buy local) with, of course, the occasional out-of-state spice.
Recently the hop shortage has been driving beer prices up, and other economic factors like higher fuel costs and higher grain costs (barley) will probably compound that price increase. Do you think the economic situation will start to inspire more people to drink even more local beer, similar to the locavore movement in food? And further, do you think local breweries will start brewing more Belgian or German styles to supplant the fact that those imported beers are going to be skyrocketing in price?
What you're going to find, I think, is upward pressure on all beer prices. That's coming from overseas and from, like you said, the hop shortage: hops costing 600-700 percent what they cost this time last year. It's pretty crazy. So I think food miles, as they call it, is definitely an issue as well. However, on the east coast and on the west coast, for more than 100 years, we've gotten our grain from the middle of the country. So it's been a long time since anyone in D.C. was very close to a field of barley. And I don't remember if there were ever hops grown down here, although I doubt it, since it's very humid. So you're going to have some of those issues regardless. I do think that, independently of the economic pressures, people are going to look to eat things and drink things that come from their local breweries. And look at us: we're in 22 states, but I always say 'Support your local brewery first. If you've got a Brooklyn tap on, that's great that you're getting our beer. But if your local brewery is making good beer, get your first pint from them. I'll take the third pint.' [emphasis mine]
But I can only hope that that ugly neologism "locavore" vanishes ignominiously, and soon, from the lexicon.