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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.”

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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

Time in a bottle

Joe Stange wrote about Baltic Porter and Poland last week at DRAFT. Which is a good enough excuse to show you a few photos from the Zywiec Brewery in Zywiec and Bracki Browar Zamkowy in nearby Cieszyn, which is owned by the Zywiec group (and therefore Heineken, which owns Zywiec — got it?).

Near the end of a tour at Zywiec visitors may sample Zywiec Porter and see how malt used in the beer is roasted. Zywiec actually buys most of its roasted barley because the old way is not particularly effecient. And its porter is made in the much smaller Cieszyn brewery because production is modest — about 30,000 hectoliters (25,500 barrels) a year.

Malt roaster at Zywiec Brewery in Zywiec, Poland

Roasting malt at Zywiec Brewery in Poland

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645 residents; 2 breweries

It turns out Ava, Illinois, population 645 in 2013, really isn’t big enough for two breweries. Too bad, because when a town has one brewery per 322 and a half residents that pretty well ends the breweries per population discussion (Asheville would need 270 to keep up, Portland, Oregon, 1,890).

Carbondale Craft Beer Makers of Little Egypt

Alas, two bits of truth here. First, neither Scratch Brewing nor Carbondale Craft Beer, Makers of Little Egypt is located in Ava. Second, Little Egypt is moving to West Frankfurt. It was fun while it lasted.

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