While sharing a bottle of Brooklyn Back Ops (their bourbon barrel aged imperial stout-with Champagne-and unavailable in California!), we got into a discussion about how beer was "back in the day"-ya know, when we were yutes.
I've been working in liquor stores now for about 16 years. Back when I started as a stockboy/cashier in college pretty much all that was available was Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Pete's Wicked Ale, and a handful of imports. All were really pricey, not just for a college student-a 6 pack of Newcastle cost $11, Sam Adams-$9, Sierra Nevada-$12, Pete's-$8... and these prices are from 15 years ago!
A very quick history of the craft brewery movement-before prohibition, American brewers were generally German and did German styles. Pretty much every city had a handful of breweries and everything was local. Prohibition came (along with US involvement in WWI) which put most of the breweries out of business. A handful got along through various ways and they took over the beer market since the 40's. A local brewery in San Francisco that was about to go to under in the late 1970's was bought up by Fritz Maytag (of the Maytag family). The started brewing a weisse and a Porter-two styles that hadn't been done in the US since prohibition. Also in the late 70's Jimmie Carter signed a law legalizing home brewing for beer-and homebrewers started making beer then breweries. Slowly but surely.
My point? Right now I'm drinking a bottle of Bourbon Barreled Quad, this wasn't available 10 years ago. The first time I had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale it damn near bit my tongue off with it's hops. We're living in the golden age of great beer right now-enjoy!