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Monday beer briefing: Last gasp for craft? Then why did ABI buy another brewery?

08.12.19, BEER AND FERMENTATION LINKS, MUSING

1) Why Craft Beer Is Dying.
Simon Nielsen, a brewer in Wisconsin, writes, “To me, that—the loss of originality—is what is killing the heart of our movement. Where have the artists gone? Where have the brewers with something to say gone?” This mirrors the comment from Karl Ockert — “The priority is not to innovate but rather to profiteer. This is not why we started all this.” — that received a lot of attention a couple weeks ago. A tweet pointing to Nielsen’s post seems to have attracted little attention (I’ll admit, sometimes I lose track of threads). But a) sales by breweries the Brewers Association categorizes as craft increased about 4 percent in the first half of 2019; and b) there were plenty of “what is craft?” threads on Twitter. Here is one that went on and on.

2) AB InBev back at it.
Bryan Roth provides analysis of AB InBev’s first American brewery acquisition in, gee, two whole years. I only took a quick look at various social media outlets, but this does not seem to have stirred the emotional pot (and cries about selling out) that previous purchases have. Not sure if that suggests general weariness or lack of love for Platform Brewing. There was a comment on Reddit about how much more painful it would be had Jackie O’s or Urban Artifact been involved.
Related: Breckenridge Brewery Founder Wants to Return Original Pub “to the People”
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Monday beer briefing: Pivotal years, kveik & good or shite?

08.05.19, BEER AND FERMENTATION LINKS

1) Our idea of luxury has changed dramatically over the last 15 years.
It begins: “Look around. We live in the age of gilded minimalism. In the Bay Area in the year 2019, pop-ups in unmarked buildings draw hours-long lines. Our hottest restaurants are spare, open temples to natural light. We want our butter house-cultured, our grains ancient, our wild ales spontaneously fermented — and we’re happy to pay the premium markup.” The premise is that 2004 was a pivotal year for California wine. What would the pivotal year for American beer be?

2) Of Mad Scientists and Liquid Cocaine — Modern Beer Finds a Way in Budapest.
More thinking about authenticity.
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Monday beer briefing: Exit through the comments

07.29.19, BEER AND WINE LINKS

1) Authenticity and automation.
2) We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Pack, Pt. 2 — How 15-Packs Changed the Game for AB InBev’s Craft Segment.
3) The Macro-ization of Craft.
4) Watch the Hands, Not the Cards — The Magic of Megabrew.
Deep into 1), Alan McLeod quotes a clothing blog and provides context for much that was written last week. Here’s where the words took me. McLeod follows Permanent Style’s riff on authenticity, heritage and craft with this thought: ”Interesting. Given most ‘craft’ beer is made on computerized set ups that manage much of the process automatically, the comparison may well be a useful one.

2) is one of four relevant posts at Good Beer Hunting last week (read them all). In 3), Jeff Alworth concludes something of a recap of those by writing, “More and more, customers are going to think of ‘craft beer’ as just beer, and expect to see it priced accordingly. And guess who’s positioned best to take advantage of that?”

When he posted those words on Twitter it led to conversations about price and access that are still going on (and include @agoodbeerblog). I added 4) to the conversation, but the smartest reply, I thought, was from Mike Kallenberger’s: “Or will craft split into quasi-macro and hyper-local (which will carry on some but not all craft values as we’ve known them)? Seven thousand+ breweries can’t all be macro-ized.”
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Monday beer briefing: Toeing the line between bland and sublime

07.22.19, BEER AND WINE LINKS

1) The Breweries Cooling And Heating Up For Summer.
We drove to Louisville this past weekend for GonzoFest and related exhibitions at two museums, but also traveled a bit of the Bourbon Trail along the way. We toured Willett Distillery, plenty impressive with eight barrel warehouses but dwarfed by nearby Heaven Hill Distillery. And then we drove by Jim Beam, which is simply massive, at first glance stunning in a similar way to coming around a bend of Interstate 55 in St. Louis and first seeing the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Size and context matter. That’s clear in the second (but #1 here) of two stories analyzing beer sales during the first six months of 2019. Consider this: Dollar sales of the top 10 craft breweries in grocery, convenience and other chains stores tracked by the research firm IRI did not match Michelob Ultra’s revenue. And then this: there are more than 7,000 other breweries to consider and the off-premise accounts such as those IRI tracks only about 60 percent of craft beer sales. The Brewers Association is in the process of compiling results from a midyear survey of all its members and those numbers will make it easier to understand how they are doing in aggregate.
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Monday beer briefing: NYC homebrewing, finding farmhouse ales & perfect-to-average pubs

07.15.19, BEER AND WINE LINKS, MUSING

John LaPolla, Bitter & Esters1) How Homebrewers Built New York.
I’m not sure I agree with this premise: “The recent explosion of new breweries in New York is totally consistent with what’s happening elsewhere—but homebrewers being at the center of things is not.” It’s pretty easy to find breweries with homebrew connections just about everywhere, clubs are often incubators and that’s not only in the United States. The club house for Cerva Serra in Caxias, Brazil, is downright amazing. There is a nano-size brewing system members can reserve, there are two large fermentation cellars (one for ales, one for lagers) and a roomy classroom area. I don’t mean that this isn’t an interesting story or to denigrate what has happened in New York. I wish I had not already left Homebrew Con a couple of weeks ago when Bitter & Esters was chosen homebrew Shop of the year by the American Homebrewers Association. The Brooklyn shop has certainly been at the center of whatever has happened in the five boroughs. That’s co-owner John LaPolla on the right, looking pretty happy about the award.
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