Monthly Archives: November 2015

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/16/15

The first cold/flu bout of the season is over. I can actually communicate verbally now.  Anyway, on to the five articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/13/15

It’s Friday.  There is nothing more that needs to be said.  Your job today is to make it to 5:00 and finally get to relax.  Here are some beer links that may or may not help you do it.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/12/15

I woke up this morning thinking it was Friday.  I don’t know why, but for a good hour I kept thinking today was Friday and kept looking for podcasts that I follow updating their Friday feeds and waiting for blog posts I normally read on Friday.  Weird.  Anyway.  Here are the Five Articles. There is some merger news, mostly because people are moving past “the sky is falling” into let’s wait and see what will actually happen.

  • Here is a local look at what the merger will mean for craft brewers. Honestly, if you read this article what you will get is a lot of, “This could happen or this could happen, but we really don’t know.”
  • Here is an article with actual facts. It does a great job of pointing out what the deal actually means and why it actually occurred.  This will affect beer in the United States and Western Europe, however, this was about Africa, South/Central America, and Asia.  The emerging markets in the beer industry.  The effects on the US and European markets is the most unknown.  I think this will give the new company the ability to rebrand some of its brands to a new generation of beer drinkers.  Will it work?
  • The Brewers Association represents craft brewers and the Brewers Institute mostly represents the macro-brewers. However, they have managed to agree on the Craft Beverage Reform and Modernization Act.  They held a joint public briefing with congressional staffers yesterday.
  • This is a nice primer on nitro beer. We have a nitro tap on Craft and I often get the question as to what is it?  I usually explain it as this is the kind of tap you find Guinness on to give it those small bubbles that makes it creamier.  This article is a much better explanation.
  • Naming a beer is hard. There are 4000 brewers in this country now and they all brew multiple beers.  So, you end up with names that either badly non-descriptive or offensive. Let’s make fun of all those stupid names.

Ask The Beer Counselor: What Is The Future?

One thing that happens when I talk to distributor or brewery reps when they come by Craft to either sell me beer or drink beer as patrons, is the future of the American craft beer industry.  I will stipulate that I can barely tell you what my future is over the next 10 months.  So any ideas I have about American craft beer over the next 10 years should be taken with a grain of salt.  I do hope, however, you find this stimulating.

I would like to give a hat tip to The Brew Enthusiast for posting a similar piece a couple of days ago.  His piece got me thinking as I hope mine does for you. Additionally, part of my motivation was to try and find different things that he did not mention in his piece.

Beer will be really big or really small

The primary thing I see happening over the next 10 years is craft brewers will either by really big or really small.  By that I mean, the older established brewers, particularly those that survived the first craft beer boom in the 1990s, will be national breweries.  Think Sierra Nevada or Oskar Blues or a conglomerate like Craft Beer Alliance.  These breweries have large national followings as well as breweries across the country that give them the feel of local breweries.  On the other side, if you look at the Brewer’s Association statistics the explosive growth in the number of craft brewers is fed by the growth of nanobrewing and smaller local breweries serving their surrounding cities and counties.  The group of breweries in the middle, the regional sized brewers who just want to distribute to one or two states are the ones that will be in a dangerous position of trying to be both things: small and large at the same time.

Uniformity in law

The alcohol laws in this country are a messy hodgepodge created out of prohibition, regional mores, and tax burdens.  As the craft beverage industry has grown in economic clout, many of the laws in each state have come under needed attack to make them fairer for producers and easier to navigate for consumers.  Just in the last year you can see the push to make these laws more uniform across the country.  Cities and counties across the country are strapped for tax revenue and the beer business is a way to stimulate growth in failing industrial areas and create tourism.  Changing local and statewide alcohol laws are a way to stimulate the craft beer industry.  One of the things I will say is that even as craft beverage manufacturers get more flexibility with laws distributors and wholesalers will not lose any of their economic clout or political power.  The primary reason for that is many of the most powerful state politicians around the country are also some of the biggest alcohol distributors in their states.  Those with power do not let go easily.

Beer and the environment

Brewers will be forced to take a bigger role in environmental sustainability.  Many already do.  The reason for this is quite simple: At its core brewing is an agricultural business that uses lots of water. Creating brewing processes that use less water or recycle water is something that must be done.  Figuring out ways to repurpose, reuse, or recycle the other ingredients used also must be done.  As I said, many brewers are already doing that.  Many brewers are also using the farm-to-table model of using only local ingredients and other brewers are using the farmhouse brewery model to cut out any of the middlemen.  I love both of those movements and think they will both become more and more important to the craft beer world as the industry progresses.

Beer culture is more than just a fad

This is a culture with a deep vein in all of human history.  The depth of beer culture is more akin to comic books. Both have a deep and strong core of geeks who, while the minority of the people who enjoy it, will never leave and never let the culture go away.   Also, beer culture is growing because the depth and breadth of the ancillary businesses sprouting up around craft beer is amazing.  Not just bars and magazines and those types of things, but businesses that come along and try to enhance (or take advantage of) the experience of craft beer.  This is the reason I don’t think this is a fad that will disappear.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts.  They aren’t quite complete and I reserve the right to change them over the next ten years.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/11/15

Wednesday is here and, if you are in North Carolina, so is the sun.  The week is winding down and your mind is turning to what you plan on doing when Saturday arrives.  Of course, this week you are getting a weird mid-week break with Veterans Day falling on today. So, in honor of you not working today, tip back a beer or two in honor of the veterans you know and all the ones you’ve never met, and read a little before you are too far into the water, malt, hops, and yeast. Beware, this gets a little wonky.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/10/15

The Five Articles, a little late, but always on time today.  A new review went up yesterday of the Wicked Weed Tyranny and Brett Tyranny.  Working on tomorrow’s post, which is more of a “think piece” (I really hate that term).

Beer Review: Wicked Weed Tyranny with Wicked Weed Brett Tyranny

Endless possibilities.  That is why I love life and love beer.  Beer is basically just four ingredients and changing anyone of them can change the taste of the beer.

One of the things that have happened in the last 12 months or so in beer is making a second version of your beer using Brettanomyces and aging the beer to bring out different flavors and characteristics.  Although, it is popularly thought of as only being used in sour beers, brett does not provide sourness necessarily.  Brett does often produce a taste similar to that of balsamic vinegar.  However, as more brewers use it, they are learning to control it better and use all the flavor profiles that it can provide.

One of the breweries really using brett in all of its flavors and attributes is Wicked Weed in Asheville.  Wicked Weed while famous for its sours is a good brewery that makes many different types of beer.  One of which is a good red India pale ale called Tyranny.  It has a nice balanced taste.  Wicked Weed then put out a version with fermented with brett yeast.  First, I’ll look at Tyranny.

20151109_171241Tyranny is a red India pale ale.  It pours a nice light garnet/ruby color in the glass leaving a thin but persistent off-white head.  The first thing you nose catches is the dank, piney, resinous aroma of the hops.  Then you notice the caramel and bready aroma of the malt.  There is also a slight fruity aroma from the hops that works with the sweet caramel to make the aroma more appetizing.

The best way to describe the taste of Tyranny is the oft overused beer review word: balanced.  The piney, resinous hop taste doesn’t overwhelm and interacts really well with the nice caramel, bready taste from the malt.  Tyranny is a good clean tasting, easy drinking IPA.

Now, the Brett Tyranny is similar in many ways to the regular Tyranny.  It has a similar color but is slightly lighter because of the use of cherries during fermentation.  The medium mouthfeel is also very close to the regular Tyranny.

Where they differ is in the aroma and the taste.  The aroma has the horse blanket, barnyard smell that Brett has become famous for in its use in beer.  The Brett also changes the taste in an interesting way.  This combination of Brett with caramel malts and dank, piney hops creates a taste of earthiness. It almost comes out as an old-world noble hop taste.

I can’t say I prefer the Brett version of Tyranny over the regular Tyranny, but I can say that if I had tasted the Brett version first I would still list as a really good easy drinking IPA.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 11/9/15

Here are the first Five Articles of the week.  I’ve been taking time off the last couple of weeks to catch up on sleep and figure out how to get my writing more consistent and better while trying to manage a bar.  The solution I’ve come up with is that Sunday and Monday will be all about writing.  Here we go.

Confessions and Slight Changes

The Five Articles are coming up a little later this morning, but I wanted to make a confession and give an update on a few changes coming.

First off, my writing on this blog and in Gravity (and hopefully other places) and making Craft successful are the most important things in my life.  Those are the things that make me happy.  Over the last couple of months, one of those things has taken precedence over the other.  It has also taken precedence over other things in my life that I started doing over the last year to make my professional life easier and to stay centered and present.

So besides rededicating myself to reading and meditation and sleep (sweet, sweet sleep), I am creating a schedule for writing for the blog.  Starting today, there will be a guaranteed 3 posts besides the Five Articles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  At least one of those posts will be a beer review.  This week’s will post today.  The other two posts will be of the Beer Counselor nature where I answer questions I hear when I’m bartending.

As I said, I want to get back to the core of what I want my life to be.  The first step will be to get the blog back up and humming at full strength.  Again, I will be making other changes to make sure I meditate at least 30 minutes a day and read a lot.  If all goes right, I may also have other writing to put on the blog.

Also as an update, I want to let you know what my resolutions for next year are (I’ve already started working on my New Year’s Resolutions. My year always restarts in September and October.) First, I will complete my Cicerone training and become a certified Cicerone. Second, I am going to the GABF and my goal is to get credentialed as a member of the media.  That is going to be the harder part, but I can do that.

To sum up, stay tuned for the Five Articles and today’s review.  More is coming and it will be awesome.

Five Articles You Should Read And Why, 11/5/15

Another day and another Five Articles has appeared.  I loved Grantland.  It was one of the best websites for someone with my interests.  However, I don’t want to hold yet another internet-based wake for the now much-lamented website.  I want to touch on how Grantland was a small craft brand that could not survive life as part of the behemoth that is Disney of which ESPN is a part.  For craft beer people that is something we will have to watch happen over the next 10 years.

Grantland didn’t fail because it was poor quality.  It didn’t fail because it didn’t make money (no magazine makes money in the first 2 years and certainly not an internet magazine with the ambitions of Grantland).  It failed because ultimately it didn’t fit the overarching corporate structure in which it found itself.

I listened to Bill Simmons new podcast and he talked to Malcolm Gladwell in this episode and Gladwell said something I completely agree with.  A concern like Grantland whose approach is to be smart and interested in many different things without dumbing it down really doesn’t fit the culture of ESPN.

I’m not one of the people who hates the idea of “selling out.” I think, you getting mad at someone for deciding to make more money than they ever could have dreamed by doing the thing they love is stupid.  You don’t get to decide how someone else should find happiness or make money.  However, if you are the person deciding to sell your brewery to the big brewer, you should do it in a way that respects your breweries culture and how it will fit with the new corporate culture you are going to.  Otherwise, this thing you’ve built will cease to exist because it will be assimilated if it doesn’t

Here are some links.