(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Beer — it’s not just a single beverage, each the same as the last; instead, it’s a category of a wide variety of beverages, some dark and malty, some fruity and hoppy, and everything in between. It can be a simple beverage to enjoy while watching sporting events, or it can be a complicated drink that complements a meal.

This week in Erie, local craft beer is getting a little more recognition. The Lake Erie Ale Trails event, Erie Craft Beer Week, now is underway through Nov. 19. The week kicks off today, Nov. 14, with an “enthusiast membership.” For $90, nonbrewers can purchase the membership which comes with a special growler. Come Jan. 1, 2023, the growler can be filled at 15 different breweries for a total of 7.5 gallons of locally-brewed beer.

“It’s like a ‘mug club’ on steroids,” said Lake Erie Ale Trail president Jeff McCullor. McCullor also co-owns Erie Ale Works. “In the past, people have purchased the membership as Christmas gifts.”

The week features several events at several breweries each day. There are special deals on growlers and crowlers (a big ol’ can of beer), samplings, and new product unveilings. There are also educational opportunities. The Brewerie at Union Station — 123 W. 14th St. — will host a Haunted History Talk, Tour and Tasting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 (tickets are limited and required). And the Pink Boots Society (a women in brewing advocacy group) will host a meetup and tutorial about mobile service. That will be held at 6 p.m., also on Thursday, at Erie Ale Works, 416 W. 12th St.

“(Pink Boots) is a cool group, too. Beer is often thought of as a male-only sport, but it’s not just for men,” McCullor said. “We fly a diversity flag in our front window. We want to make sure beer is accessible to everyone.”

Meanwhile, beer will be paired with food throughout the week. It’s an opportunity to show off what Erie can do.

“This is beer you can’t get anywhere else. The food and beer pairing situation is unique to our area, and this gives us a chance to drive that home,” McCullor said. “People will be here drinking our beer, eating our food, and staying in our hotels. And then hopefully when they go back home, they’re telling their friends how they had such a good time, and then coming back and bringing their friends with them.”

For a full list of events, go online to the Lake Erie Ale Trail website.

According to feedback McCullor has heard from visitors, the close proximity of breweries in Erie is a selling point. People from Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh find their way into Erie’s breweries often, and they reportedly appreciate that they can Uber between four or five breweries each day. And the products they’re receiving at those breweries are first-class, McCullor said.

“Comparing community to community, like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, we’re on the lower end of population, but we’ve got a pretty good beer and food scene,” he said. “We stack up pretty decently well.”