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Millennials and craft beer – a match made in heaven?

A carton of beer from BrewPublik.
A carton of beer from BrewPublik. Courtesy of BrewPublik

A collection of marketing pros and techies gathered at the Research Triangle Park. An informal meet-up at a Raleigh art museum to discuss innovation. A new online start-up expanding to the Triangle.

What do they have in common? They all happened in October, and they all focused on millennials and craft beer.

The millennial generation is mostly people in their 20s, along with some in their late teens and others in their early 30s. Past generations were pounding domestic beers at that age, but now that’s not quite the case. A frat party I went to several years ago even had a keg of New Belgium. We’re drinking as much, but with a more discerning palate.

But don’t just take my word for it.

“A huge part of the growth in the craft beer trend and the demand for it is from millennials,” said Charlie Mulligan, 26, the founder of beer-delivery company BrewPublik.

His Charlotte-based company expanded to the Triangle in early October, after receiving $5 million in venture capital. They plan to expand to more large cities soon, he said.

Like the music streaming service Pandora but for beer, BrewPublik asks users to input a few beers they like. A computer program compares characteristics of those beers with a large database of other beers, and BrewPublik picks some and delivers them to your doorstep.

It fits every stereotype about millennials: We love the Internet, have short attentions spans (so short we can’t even be bothered to shop for beer in person anymore?) and we’re a bunch of hipsters, obsessed with discovering cool products before they go mainstream.

Millennials are also the largest generation in the United States and make up the greatest share of the U.S. workforce, according to Pew Research.

We have out-boomed the baby boomers. There’s no getting rid of us, unless we all end up getting hit by cars while distracted by our phones.

Taking over the workforce means this generation has decent buying power. It could be even better if the Gen-Xers and boomers hadn’t nearly destroyed the global economy in 2008, while I was drinking Fat Tire at that one frat party, but I digress.

The purchasing power and habits of millennials were the focus of the RTP 180 event at the Research Triangle Park earlier this month.

We want something with a message or a purpose, several speakers declared. Something that makes us feel good about the company – even if it’s an unknown brand or the product costs a little extra.

And where is that more obvious than in the rise of craft beer?

Millennials also appreciate the craft industry’s wide range. As the most racially diverse generation ever, that comfort with diversity also shines through in our drinking habits.

“I’m a guy from India running a Texas-themed brewery with a great German hefeweizen,” Sumit Vohra, founder of Lonerider in Raleigh, said at Innovate Raleigh.

And at Raleigh Brewing Co., chief operating officer Patrik Nystedt said it was never a question whether to find young, innovative millennials to lead the brewing process.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to hire some 20-year-olds and make their wildest dreams come true,’ and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Nystedt said, speaking on the same stage as Vohra.

On behalf of jealous millennials everywhere who wish they could be the ones creating beers for a living, good job.

Upcoming beer events

Brewconomy screening: 5:30 p.m. Friday at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. Tickets are free but limited. This hour-long documentary focuses on the North Carolina craft beer scene and its impact on the economy.

Black Friday Cask Festival: 4-8 p.m. Nov. 27 at Triangle Brewing Co. in Durham. Tickets are $35, or $45 at the door. Information and tickets at bit.ly/1XKgFVk

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