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Session #122: The a, b and c of imported beers

The SessionWhat timing, given that it’s National Beer Day, one of those holidays that certainly snuck up on me but I think is designed to celebrate American brewed beer. Yet the topic for The Session this month is “Views on imported beer” and host Christopher Barnes puts forth this question: “What place do imported beers (traditional European) have in a craft beer market?” (Drop by his blog for other answers.)

Barnes has eliminated the best selling imports by process of parenthesis, which simplifies the question of why consumers might choose traditional Europeans beers. The three best reasons that come to mind are: a) cachet, b) quality, and c) education. They are not exclusive.

Otherwise, I recommend reading a very long feature on Shelton Brothers beer importers in the April issue of Beer Advocate magazine. The beers they’ve brought to the United States certainly tick a, b and c.

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Just for fun, a quick quiz. What company first imported Duvel and when?

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Monday beer links: Cultural wars & Stjørdalsøl

MONDAY BEER AND WINE LINKS, MUSING, 03.13.17

Whose Culture?
When I wrote about Cryo hops recently I began with an observation they might not be as big a deal as my Twitter feed would suggest. I was wrong. They are a big deal. Well, based on my Twitter feed the recent heated discussion about Zoiglhaus Zoigl-Kölsch is an even bigger deal. That’s because I follow too many of the folks expressing opinions, so I saw some of the same tweets maybe a dozen times. You can catch up by reading what Jeff Alworth wrote, and get an idea about the vigor of the discussion by continuing to the comments. Nonetheless, I’ll suggest not as many people care about this as will stand in line for the next release at Tree House Brewing.

I do not, however, think it is trivial. To go first to the bottom line, so you can skip the rest and get to the links, I am basically in agreement with John Duffy’s comment. No matter how much we might admire another culture if we think “the correct perspective for an American to have is an American perspective and that’s all that matters” we’ve taken a wrong turn.

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Significant beer digits ii

This is not new. The numbers get tossed into conversations every once in a while, a reminder that when we talk about small breweries we really are discussing small businesses.

@Josh Noel ran this up the flag poll today on Twitter: “We think of craft as having grown so large. It has. But there’s some stat out there: 90% make less than 3k bbls — or something like that.” Then he suggested it would be better if he could quote a number a little more authoratively.

Brewers Association economist Bart Watson replied rather rapidly:

– “Just looked up the 2015 TTB data. 91.8% (of brewers who made at least 1 bbl) made less than 7,500.”
– “They don’t break out between 1K-7.5K, but our figures have 90% around 5K, which makes sense with that TTB data.”
– “The smallest 3,000 breweries in country made less than Sierra Nevada in 2015 & Sierra Nevada makes ~1% of what AB makes in the US.”
– “That’s all 3,000 collectively. So 3,000 breweries together make less than 1% of AB’s US production. Small breweries are small.”

Values, memories, ideals

Flag at Craftsman Brewing, Pasadena, California

This flag appears in black and white on page 22 of Brewing Local. It seems like a good day to think about it in color, or simply to think about it.

It was hanging high on the back wall at Craftsman Brewing in Pasadena when I visited in March of 2014. It used to belong to Craftsman founder Mark Jilg’s grandfather. “He grew up in St. Louis. His father died when he was six years old. Very do-it-yourself kind of guy,” Jilg said. “Like any flag it is a symbol; a placeholder for values, memories, ideals.”

Conversation about authenticity, as elusive as it might be, comes easily when looking up at the flag. “It’s all about being genuine, tied to a place. It can be inspired by the place you live, by the people around here. It can be conceptually about place, not physically about place,” Jilg said. He talked about the symbiotic relationship that develops when beer is consumed locally. Brewers care about what their friends will be drinking, and consumers take pride in consuming beer made by people they know.

“Once you have that genuineness, it fends off the evils of the twentieth century,” Jilg said.

Would you open this bottle of beer?

E&J Burke Guinness Foreign StoutSo if your wife gave you this bottle of Guinness Foreign Stout that obviously is quite old for Christmas would you open it to see what the beer inside it tasted like?

How old might it be?

E&J Burke had the rights to import Guinness going back to 1864, and the “Cat” trademark is almost as old. The Burke family was one of the biggest bottlers of Guinness for export and in the 1930s opened a brewery on Long Island, which they later sold to Guinness.

Martyn Cornell — the first book of his I bought was Beer Memorabilia — was kind enough to compare the label here with those in A Bottle of Guinness Please (a book I don’t have) but couldn’t find an exact match. It is similar to some from more than 100 years ago.

I asked him the same question as at the top. He tactfully pointed out the amount of beer the angels have claimed over the years, but was not altogether discouraging. “If any Brett survived alive you could be lucky.”

So would you?

E&J Burke Guinness Foreign Stout

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