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Why drink 'craft' beer from Coors or Anheuser-Busch when we live right here in beer country?

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The other day, I was at the thrift store down the road when the woman at the register noticed my T-shirt.

"HenHouse Brewing Company," she read, with a certain level of interest.

"Yeah!" I exclaimed. "They're in Petaluma. Have you had any of their beer?"

"No, I can't say that I have, but I'm really interested in craft beer. My sons have been turning me on to it. They brought me some Blue Moon a few months ago, and I just can't stop drinking the stuff."

As a lover of craft beer, this is the type of statement that simultaneously warms and breaks my heart. I can't count how many times I've had someone tell me that they love craft beer and at the same time tell me that their drink of choice is a beverage produced by one of the three companies that own 90 percent of the total national beer market.

Blue Moon is a Belgian-style Witbier produced by MillerCoors. It's gained real notoriety over the last decade or so, becoming one of the more standard "craft" options at any tailgate party, or Chevy's. Shock Top, which you've likely seen crowding the shelf space right at eye level at your local Safeway, is Anheuser-Busch's answer to Blue Moon. First produced in 2006 when the beer giant noticed that craft beer was starting to steal a fraction of 1 percent of its total market share, it's another Belgian-style Witbier, produced en masse and marketed as "craft."

I don't mind that people love Blue Moon or Shock Top. But I mind that MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch continue to dupe the public, while those crafting great beers right in our own backyards take the hit. Living in Northern California, we are literally surrounded by world-class breweries. Please do some research. We all demand quality in what we consume and, around here, we have some of the world's best beer practically sitting on our table already.

"You should try out HenHouse's Hefeweizen if you get the chance," I advised the woman at the thrift store. "I think you'll like it."

"Hefe—what?" she asked.

Eliott Whitehurst is a solar-power administrator, musician and beer lover living in Napa. Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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