American Craft Beer Week is May 14-20, 2012 and it's being billed as "The Mother of all Beer Weeks."
It's a national celebration taking place at a craft brewery near you. The state of Michigan has more than 80 craft breweries, so odds are good that there's one near you.

Craft beer has gained popularity nationwide as many people wanted brews with more flavor than the generic pilsners that the major breweries were pushing. All of the major brewing companies have bought up at least a few of the smaller craft brewers so that they can get in on this lasting trend.

In the Flint area, we have a couple of brewpubs that make really good beers. The Redwood Lodge and Fenton Winery and Brewery both offer several styles from light to dark, sure to please one's palate.

Some of these craft brewers also bottle and distribute their products in Michigan and to other states. Founder's Brewery (Grand Rapids) and Bell's (Kalamazoo area) have both gone through expansions recently which also added jobs.

Another trend that is gaining traction in the craft brewing industry is using locally grown hops. The western part of Michigan has an ideal climate for growing the beer-making ingredient, and a few risk-taking farmers are devoting land to meeting this demand.

Barley is another crop that Michigan farmers can grow to be used in the brewing process.

Next time you're at the store to pick up some beer, grab something that is made in Michigan. You'll be helping our economy, and you might just find a new favorite brew. Or two. I'm doing my part.

Please enjoy Michigan beers responsibly.