Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Nestled amid leafy-green hills cradling the Neckar River, Tübingen is a mere thirty kilometers from Stuttgart but centuries closer to the Black Forest. Timber and stucco houses line the market squares where folks gather in cafes to while away the afternoon. Escher-esque lanes and stairs ascend to churches and descend to the Neckar, where punt-boats float languidly past people strolling along the plane-tree promenade. Over it all rises the turreted Schloss Hohentübingen, an erstwhile fortress with magnificent views over the russet rooftops of the Altstadt.

Tübingen is a venerable old university town steeped in literature and science. Johannes Kepler peered through telescopes to study planetary motions, and the poet Friedrich Hölderlin spent much of his life here. (If you’re into German literature, be sure to visit the Hölderlin Turm on the banks of the Neckar.)

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Lost in a haze: North American craft beer searches for mojo

Craft beer in North America has stalled. That much is plain to see.

From the era of annual double-digit growth, which has lasted for an inordinately long period from craft’s naissance in the early 1980s until the late 2010s, the past few years have seen more-or-less stagnant sales, with the US seeing a 1% drop in production in 2023.

Craft beer’s overall annual market share inched up 0.2% last year but the less-than-buoyant figures have left most industry participants and many observers wondering what the future could hold and how (or even if) it might be possible to restore the sector to growth.

At the core of this quandary is the fact that, for most of craft beer’s existence, brewers, industry watchers, and even many drinkers have struggled to define precisely what makes craft beer ‘craft.’ Size was a good marker, until some breweries grew sufficiently large that it wasn’t, and using ingredients as a yardstick was always going to be a non-starter in an industry segment that from the outset has self-defined as iconoclastic.

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