The Dark Side of the Craft Beer Craze (Part 2)

By KBJR News 1

May 22, 2013 Updated May 22, 2013 at 7:00 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The craft beer craze is sweeping the Northland. With some 20 new microbreweries or brew pubs opening up, the market for specialty beers has never been brighter.

But the brightness can be dulled if drinkers don't take into account the alcohol content of many craft brews.

"It's very much a flavor thing," says Jesse Hoheisel. "It's all about how the beer tastes."

With names like Lawn Chair Cream and Danger Ale, craft beers have a major following.

"You're able to actually interact with the brewer," says Jonathon Lee. "So if you have a question you're likely to run into the person who made it."

Despite its relative infancy the craft craze is already having a significant impact on the regional economy.

"We're an economy based off of tourism and its yet another addition to the local economy," says Amanda Price.

Yet along with the good things, craft beer has a dark side. The alcohol content of most of the craft beers is three to four, sometimes even five, times that of more typical domestic beers.

"Its something you've got to be aware of and math doesn't care what you're normally used to drinking," says Lee.

With the help of the Minnesota State Patrol we ran a comparison of the effect the alcohol content in beer makes on the drinker.

Two of our control group drank a light beer with a listed alcohol content of 3.8 percent. Two others drank a craft beer called "Rampant" with an alcohol content of 9.9 percent.

"We're showing the difference between what a lot of people might not be aware of, the difference in the alcohol by volume levels of beer," says Lt. Charles Lemon of the Minnesota State Patrol.

After each pair consumed two of their assigned beers Lt. Lemon ran a breathalyzer test.

"After two each we even saw the higher levels, I mean, almost double, more than double with one," says Lt. Lemon.

After three both our craft beer drinkers were over the legal limit to drive while our domestic beer drinkers were both still well within the legal limit.

"So you definitely see that higher volume makes a big difference."

Lt. Lemon stressed there's nothing wrong with drinking craft beer...

"I think this just brings a real heads up to people to really be aware of what they're doing."

Most brew pubs have the alcohol content of each of their craft beers posted either on their wall or on their menu.

If you're unsure it's always a good idea to ask for that information as you order a beer.