Food: Roll Out the Barrel

Microbreweries tout flavor and freshness

To judge by many of the offerings on supermarket shelves, dependable mediocrity and the illusion of choice might well be the twin goals of American mass production. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the beer section, where most national brands stack up with dull similarity. Typically, they are bland, with thin sour-sweet aftertastes. One yearns for the winy, copper-etched malt aroma and the complex flavors of the best beers of Germany, Denmark and Holland.

Enter the microbreweries -- small local producers who generally turn out no more than 15,000 bbl. a year (in contrast to Anheuser-Busch's 72.3 million- bbl. ocean...

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