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Archive | February, 2012

Once again, allusions to beer’s dank side

Budweiser has a new “Track Your Bud” campaign that allows beer drinkers to find out, among other things, in which of Anheuser-Busch’s 12 breweries their beer was made.

By scanning the QR code on Budweiser packaging, downloading the free “Track Your Bud” app or visiting, Budweiser fans can enter the Born On Date found on bottles and cans and watch as the brewmaster responsible for brewing their batch of beer takes them on a guided tour of their beer’s production, from the ingredients used, through the Cartersville brewery where it was crafted, and into its drinkers’ hand. (HT

Telling people just where their beer is brewed is a good thing. A-B InBev seems to be all in on this, building apps, using Facebook, all that good stuff.

But have they considereded all the implications? I’m pretty sure that when some people type and hit return they aren’t looking for beer.

What does ‘too much in the glass’ mean?

The always interesting Matt Kramer uses the news that Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Starbucks and other coffee vendors are embracing lighter roasts to point out America’s tastes are changing. Not a shocking conclusion, but it goes directly to a wine bottom line.

As the marketing mavens of Starbucks have discovered, the American palate is seeking an alternative to heavy flavors. Are we becoming—dare I say it?–more nuanced? By golly, I think we are.

For whatever reason, this reminded me of something Italian winemaker Antonio Terni said in The Accidental Connoisseur: “I will only say that Americans like too much in the glass. There’s always too much going on. Other than that, if we’re living on Planet America, that’s not necessarily the fault of Americans.”

If you check out the comments after Kramer’s post you’ll see not everybody agrees with him and this seems to piss off the ones who do. (And you thought pettiness was confined to beer blogs.) I’m enough of a fan of Kramer’s writing and way of looking at things to own a couple of his books, but I ended agreeing with some of those commenting. He seems to be saying that outsized is obvious, lighter is nuanced. The implications are, well, obvious to even those of us who are simple.

I’m guessing that Kramer wouldn’t find nuance in a glass of Bell’s Hopslam. In which case I’d refer him to Malcolm Gladwell. Drink 1,000 glasses and get back to me.

Thank you, KC Bier Meisters

We ventured across Missouri this past weekend, where I spent most of my time in the company of the Kansas City Bier Meisters, judging beer, talking about beer, drinking beer, talking excessively about beer, speaking at the awards banquet for their 29th Annual Homebrew Competition (making it older than all but a few American breweries), and talking obsessively about beer.

I didn’t take pictures (other than one of Twitter star Jeremy Danner, a.k.a. “Cookie Bottom”). I didn’t take notes. I did have a great time, and, of course, I learned more about beer. New Beer Rule #9 remains in force.

More practically, I discovered a few things I need to state more clearly when speaking, or writing, about hops. The manuscript it nearly done, but some parts will read different at the end of today than they did Friday. So readers of “For the Love of Hops” will also owe a thanks to the Kansas City Bier Meisters.

Brewery closings: no trend here folks

Nine hundred and five breweries closed between 2000 and 2010, an average of a little over 82 a year. The numbers for 2011 aren’t in yet, so I couldn’t include them. Closings ran higher in the front half of those years, but in even the best of them, other than 2010, a brewery closed at least once a week.

So I’m bumfuzzled why my feed reader is full of stories, actually the same story modified here and there, implying that six breweries closing so far this year could be the start of a trend. Hey, maybe 2012 is going to turn out to be a terrible year for small breweries, but it won’t be because these six breweries closed. (To be clear, I feel bad for the owners, investors and the poor souls who worked at these places. Mostly the people who worked there.)

I can’t tell you how much beer the breweries that closed sold last year. Those numbers are not available yet, but take a look at the 2010 sales listed below. Except for Buckbean, which did not report its production to the Brewers Association (and that might tell us something), so I had to go with 2009.

Bavarian Barbarian Brewing          350
Buckbean Brewing 1,050 (2009)
Airdale Brewing 450 (under contract)
Kelley Brothers Brewing 77
Bee Creek Brewing 250
The Local Pub & Brewery Opened in 2011

So let’s say that 80 breweries end up closing during 2012 and that they previously produced an average of 750 barrels a year — a number pretty much made up, I admit. So that’s what? 60,000 barrels out of the system. I’m pretty sure that Deschutes Brewery alone will grow that much in 2012.

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