There seems to be quite the explosion of something not just within the valley, but in the whole country. Beer. Let’s say it again…beer! Beer, specifically of the craft variety, is making a big impact in the world of adult beverages.

Already the valley has numerous options for locals to get their taste buds hopping on hops with places like Parkway Brewing in Salem, Big Lick Brewing Company, Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers and Roanoke Railhouse Brewing Company all in Roanoke and Flying Mouse Brewery in Botetourt. Let’s also not forget that Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company is just up the road around Lexington. Further, Deschutes announced this year that it was coming to good ole Roanoke for its east coast plant as well as Ballast Point spreading its wings in Botetourt.

Not only is this a great boost for the local economy in terms of creating jobs and the tourist potential, but for beer lovers, it’s a beer-utopia. Over the recent years, microbreweries have been on the rise steadily. According to USA Today, there were about 12.2 million barrels produced and sold in the first six months of 2015, up from 10.6 million during the first half of 2014.

Part of this boom in microbreweries is due to the fact that people like to try something different that’s not mass produced and is infused with flavors local to them; it gives them a sense of exclusivity and try things that might be considered unusual. It goes farther than just flavor, though! People are also gravitating to craft beer because it’s bringing beer back home to our very backyards rather than seeking out the imported. Mexico is still a hot bed for imported beer, however, with the boom of craft beer, U.S breweries could hit a record high, as in having the highest number of breweries since 1873.

Think about it, for the first time in about 150 years, America will have the largest numbers for microbreweries rather than just leaving beer up to the giant companies. So what does this all mean or have to do with the local breweries? Basically with craft beers on the up rise, the potential to ride on the coattails of being different are great! For instance, capitalize on what brings people together other than a love for beer.

Some businesses are doing things like Paint Night, Bocce Ball, Pints and Poses (yoga), corn hole competitions, and trivia nights. Social events like these with a great atmosphere keep people coming back not only to taste great beers, but also for a good experience. Maybe even host a horde of food trucks and have a foodie night. Or perhaps you could have life sized Jenga or chess. The possibilities are endless, especially if there’s an outdoor space.

Further, the possibilities to think even bigger are endless as well. Organize tours to view the brewing process, get with other local breweries to have small local brews tasting festival, or even create a weekend event where adults and even families can come for great food, music, games and of course, have eligible patrons enjoy some beer if they’d like. Oh, and don’t forget to have some merchandise to sell! People like to represent their own niches.

The name of the game is to create a space where people love to be, give them something different and something that gives them a feel for the exclusivity that comes with craft beer! After all, being different these days is what it’s all about.