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Because the Internet never forgets, including craft beer


Remember this illustration? (You can visit it at the Wayback Machine.) It greeted visitors to the Association of Brewers website in the 1990s, at the time the parent of both the Institute for Brewing Studies and the American Homebrewers Association — and the organization that merged with the Brewers’ Association of America to create the Brewers Assocation.

Yesterday evening, Andy Crouch posted a point of order about defining “craft brewer” and “craft beer.”

Yep. This is the sort of history included in the story I wrote for the current issue of All About Beer Magazine (V. 36, No. 1, date March 2015). Meanwhile, one more from the Wayback Machine, in this case from April 23, 2003:

Craft beer definition


Hop stat of the day: Cascade vs. Saaz

In 1982, 10 years after it was first released, farmers in the American Northwest planted Cascade hops on 6,111 acres. Twenty five years (2007) later they planted 1,303 acres.

I don’t think trendspotters would have predicted that growers would harvest 11,601,500 pounds of Cascade from 6,519 acres in 2014.

To put that in perspective, Czech Republic farmers harvested 11,346,280 pounds of Saaz hops in 2014.

In 2005, farmers in the Northwest produced 2,378,000 pounds of Cascade and Czech farmers harvest 14,995,860 pounds of Saaz.

So, a) Cascade production increased almost five fold since 2005, and b) last Cascade production in its primary area of production surpassed Saaz in its primary area of production (both are grown in other areas as well).


Hop contracts cover homebrewers, too

Before I finish a more complete report from last week’s American Hop Convention and the Hop Growers of America annual statistical report one quick bit of calming news for homebrewers. You will be able to buy hops this year and next and the one after. Really.

It appears there were some shockwaves when I reported the 2015 crop was basically sold out. Even though I wrote That does not mean homebrewers or new breweries or operating breweries that didn’t plan ahead won’t be able to buy hops.

A decent chunk of the hops already spoken for are committed to homebrewers. For instance, those one-ounce and one-pound nitrogen flushed bags from Hopunion account for about 10 percent of its sales. (A quick aside – the American Homebrewers Association estimates that homebrewers make 1% of beer brewed in the country, but they are 10% of Hopunion’s business. And the rest of the world thinks America’s small brewers use hops at a crazy rate.)

It still makes sense to plan ahead and pick up the varieties you want when you see them available – the plus being they’ll be shipped cold this time of year and you can monitor your own storage. Shortages may be surprising. For instance, U.S. Golding is already planted on limited acreage in Washington and the crop was a disaster. And although production of Centennial grew by a healthy amount it was still less than expected. The good news is yield was up for proprietary varieties like Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado.

There’s still an infrastructure problem that will affect everybody using hops, but more about that on Friday.


A-B buys another craft brewery


All About Beer Magazine coverA Single Word: The Case for Beer.
At the outset of 1997, in his regularly appearing column in All About Beer Fred Eckhardt asked the question, “What is ‘craft beer’?” It was a topic discussed often by brewers that seldom showed up in print. In fact, in the first of a lengthy two-part interview with Charlie Papazian and Michael Jackson about the past the future of beer included in the same issue as Eckhardt’s column and the words craft and beer never appeared in tandem.

It was possible then and it is possible now to write about beer without using the term “craft beer.” In his column in the 35th anniversary issue of the magazine landing in mailboxes right now, editor John Holl explains why the magazine is now (and has been for about a year) using a single word — beer or brewery — whenever possible. It doesn’t mean you’ll never see the term “craft beer” in All About Beer. There are times it is useful. When writing here I always ask myself if the adjective “craft” is necessary, and sometimes I include it. I wrote an article for the 35th anniversary issue about the etymology of the term. My brain is still recovering from the research. [Via All About Beer]

A-B To Buy Brand With Tagline: ‘Corporate Beer Still Sucks’.
Elysian and AB/InBev: Greed, Overweening Ambition, and the Whoring-Out of a Culture.
Why AB is Buying Up Craft Breweries … and Why You Shouldn’t Be Too Concerned.
Will this continue all year — a big story every week that lights up social media, discussion boards? [Via Ad Age, Beeronomics, and The Pour Fool]

The PC: Ripped straight from the pages of an Onion satire: “13 white males not really so eager to discuss issues like racism and sexism.”
When Roger Baylor speaks his mind it often is not possible to offer a concise summary. Just go read. [Via the Potable Curmudgeon]

Faith Seidenberg, 91, Dies; Took On McSorley’s, an All-Male Haven.
“One frigid January night in 1969, Faith Seidenberg vividly recalled a few years later, she and another woman, shivering ‘as much from fear as from the cold,’ boldly swung open the double doors of McSorley’s Old Ale House in Manhattan, which ‘had withstood for 115 years the entry of female customers.'” It did that night as well, but not for much longer. [Via New York Times]

Why Beer Experts (Don’t) Matter.
Bryan Roth adds some perspective to last week’s discussion about experts and expertise, in a polite way. “The impetus for this piece, as I point out early on, is simply to provide another viewpoint that still ends at what I consider the same finish line.” [This Is Why I’m Drunk]

Research report: hop picker wages in the 1930s & 1940s.
Labor shortages are becoming an issue for hop farmers in the Northwest. When I visited the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives last summer, Tiah Edmudson-Morton and I talked about it would be great if somebody did an in depth study of hop picking labor practices. Just a suggestion for those of you dying to write something I want to read. [Via the Brewstorian]


On beer experts, plus the value of skipping the comments


1- With 600 bottles of beer on the wall, how can a staff keep up? Taste, talk and learn.
2- Why beer experts matter.
3- “Expertise is key, not the ‘experts’ – personifying a body of knowledge just limits it.”
4- Is It Even Possible To Be A Beer Expert?
As I have mentioned in the past, I save stuff to Pocket through the week, then sometime during the weekend pick what to post here, and occasionally try to add an original thought. So the top story hit my radar Tuesday, and it had me thinking about some of the things Jeff Alworth discussed in No. 2 (spotted Wednesday). The Twitter thread initiated by Alan McLeod (No. 3) quickly followed, resulting in interesting exchanges first between Alan and Lars Garshol, then Alan and Jeff (disregard me popping up along the way). Figuring I would get this post out of the way early Saturday turned out to be a mistake, because no sooner did I think I was done than Alan posted No. 4.

Because I need to clear my head for important matters like trivia tonight (Saturday, as I type), I will be brief. In the midst of making a point, Alan kindly writes, “If I want to know as much as I can know about hops, I ask Stan.” If that’s a good idea, it’s because I understand I am not an expert on hops. I am pretty good at identifying expertise, but I try not to over rate it.

Of course, now we are a long way from No. 1 and the opening paragraphs of No. 2 — helping the person sitting in front of 50 beer taps make a good choice. But consider the seemingly simple questions along with the complex. I once had a math teacher who told us, “If you can’t solve the problem, find one you can solve.” And not to be pushy, think about it the context of what Alan has to say in his conclusion, that “This essay is in no way intended to be a sword of Zorro moment, a triumphal flourish in which the topic is summed up so completely you need not think further.” (My italics.) [Via The Washington Post, All About Beer, Twitter, A Good Beer Blog]

How craft beer has set struggling pubs free from the nachos.
Here’s what Pete Brown wrote on Facebook: “Great article about how independent breweries are helping revive pubs, followed by comments from ignorant twats complaining about beards and arguing the toss about the meaning of craft beer…” And I am reminded that I am sad Don’t Read Comments hung it up. [Via The Guardian and Pete Brown]

“December, 1919.”
Oliver Gray announced two projects this week and I’m not sure which is more ridiculously ambitious, or this: “Instead of following the traditional path of writing a whole manuscript, editing it, and sending it off to collect rejections from publishers, I figured I’d do what I (like to) do best, and blog the story. Or serialize it into 52 parts. One chapter a week, every Wednesday, for a year. Around a thousand words per chapter, give or take a plot point or two.” [Via Literature & Libation]

Q&A With Beer Mile World Champion James Nielsen.
Breaking Down the Winning Beer Mile Strategy.
Lots of numbers in the second post, as you’d expect from BeerGraphs, but somehow not this key consideration: “If you’re drinking four beers, right off the bat you have 48 ounces of liquid in your stomach, so you have to be able to contain that. And generally there are between two-and-a-half and three liters of carbon dioxide in each can, so you multiply that by four, and you have approximately 10 liters of carbon dioxide to contend with. If you warm up the beer, the majority of the carbon dioxide will come up to the top, so when you crack it open you get as much of the carbon dioxide out as possible. And on that last lap, you’re trying to burp out as much of that carbon dioxide as you can while you’re running. You’re just so full.” [Via RootsRated and BeerGraphs]

Lagunitas drops lawsuit against Sierra Nevada after Twitter backlash.
The year is off to a great start for any sociologist out there writing a grant to to study Craft Beer (maybe that should be all caps). First the Jim Koch dustup and now the IPA trademark showdown. As much as I loved the headline “Beer lovers torpedo Lagunitas lawsuit against Sierra Nevada” I’m not going to repeat last week’s mega-links and so refer you only to this interview with Tony Magee. Like his book, proof that he is a business genius. [Via Chicago Tribune]


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