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The 20 largest breweries, 50 years later

The Brewers Association has released its lists of the nation’s largest brewing companies and the largest companies it classifies as craft breweries. Those are 50 deep, and you can find them many places, including the BA website. There they also list what brands are made by each company, like that Craft Brew Alliance includes includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer Brothers brands.

Two breweries listed were in the top 10 both in 2015 and 50 years ago, but one of them — Pabst — brews none of its own beers today. You might say things have changed. And you might think about what the list will look like in 50 more years.

2Miller CoorsSchlitz
4D.G. Yuengling & SonFalstaff
5Boston BeerCarling
6North American BreweriesSchaefer
7Sierra NevadaBallantine
8New BelgiumRheingold
9Craft Brew AlliancePfeiffer
18Duvel MoortgatLucky Lager
19Dogfish headGenesee

Before you ask, Yuengling was No. 72 in 1965 and Anchor Brewing was No. 121.


Loading up the Beer Ark with this week’s links


Two by two …

Highland Park Brewery brews Yard Beer from backyard ingredients.
On terroir, and the vine’s microbiome.
Foraging for brewing ingredients in southern Illinois or in the middle of North Carolina is relatively easy to imagine. But in Los Angeles? That’s why Bob Kunz at highland Park Brewery offers a lineup of “predictable” and “unpredictable” beers. I think there’s more to the notion of place-based beers than how terroir may affect the flavor of hops, peaches or cucumbers grown in California versus Missouri, but the new study by the American Society for Microbiology (as described by Steve Heimoff) surely has implications for beer. [Via Los Angeles Times and Steve Heimoff]

This New Feminist Beer Is Waging A Battle Against Sexism In Advertising.
Does craft beer have a sexism problem? Binny’s rejects Happy Ending.
The “big picture” story of the week. Still important. Still not going away. [Via Fast Company and Chicago Tribune]

Going Blind with Pliny the Elder.
Pliny The Elder And Blind Pig: Trophy Beers Within Everyone’s Grasp.
Tasting blind — be it beer, wine or smoked meat — tells us something we may not know about what we are tasting and also about ourselves. However, most of the time when I drink beer knowing where it was brewed and who brewed it enhances the experience. That may be true if you are pursuing the rare and exotic or if you are content with the familiar. [Via All About Beer and The Concourse]

How to Beer Blog.
The Secrets of Book Publishing.
Inside baseball, and well done. Your mileage may vary. You don’t really have to be as focused to blog as Boak & Baley suggest — at least I hope not, because I’m not — but it helps. And, thankfully, my experience with book publishing has been less stressful than Jeff Alworth’s.
[Via Boak & Bailey, and Beervana]

How to Make Your First Commercial Batch of Beer in 75 Easy Steps.
“56: Why did it just shut off? Why did it just stop and shut off?”
The second list here could be any of several “best” compilations published last week. I might have come to peace with the fact these lists exist but it doesn’t mean I am inclined to link to one. [Via Beer Flavored Ales]


Working with a living beer community

Tiah Edmunson-Morton, Oregon Hops & Brewing ArchivesThe March/April edition of DRAFT magazine has a lovely little story about Tiah Edmunson-Morton and the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives. (Full disclosure: I wrote it.)

I’ve pointed to her Tumblr blog on several occasions, first because I thought you might be interested, and second, perhaps selfishly, because we need to encourage this sort of activity. In one sense it is easier to collect history as it is happening; in another it is harder because you don’t know necessarily know what is going to be important.

Yesterday Alan McLeod wrote, “The interesting thing about the early bits of anything is how little data there is to work with.” Indeed.

So a couple of quotes from Edmunson-Morton (in case your copy of DRAFT hasn’t arrive in the mail):

“The ultimate irony is you can digitize it all, but how to you make sense out of it?”

“You are no longer dealing with people how have died and left their nice box of stuff. You are working with a living community. The power is not just records, but people’s memories. One person fills in a blank here, another person there.”

As I wrote in the story, OHBA makes too much sense to be one of a kind. But, to repeat myself, we need to encourage this sort of activity. Edmunson-Morton is already practicing what Paul Eisloeffel of the Nebraska State Historical Society calls holistic collecting, “thinking outside of the archives box” and gathering artifacts as well as historical documents. This doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

“Dealing with artifacts has always been a problem for standalone archives,” he said. He’s a proponent of the sort of proactive collecting Edmunson-Morton has begun. “It is important for archivists to be able to look at what’s happening in a culture and start collecting now. I really applaud her.”


The many sides of the Budweiser story


Perhaps I may have missed something that would totally change my life during 8 mostly Internet-free days before Saturday. But it’s one thing to wade through hundreds of Feedly headlines; it would another to consider reaching that far back in Twitter (is “in” even the right preposition?) to feel really caught up. Instead, I found a series of links that somehow seem related.

Lagers Enjoy a Renaissance.
Remember when The New York Times reviewed a ranked a bunch of beers in a particular “style” that a bunch of commentary followed in the online beer space? (“Craft beer in the New York Times! Craft beer in the New York Times! They’ve noticed!”) Perhaps this happened a week-and-plus back and I just missed it because I was packing and then, in fact, gone, but it barely registered in the places I was looking as I was playing catch up. Granted, the premise was a bit confusing; “sunshine, baseball, beer” – lagers, but not pilsners, and not beers made with cereal adjuncts. [Via The New York Times}

Don’t call it a Renaissance; we’ve been here for years.
I might have missed the Times article were it not for email from Anheuser-Busch about Peter Wolfe’s post in what it calls its “newsroom.” This is an A-B blog and Wolfe works for A-B. But once in a while it is refreshing to read the straight up A-B side of the story, not sugar-coated by some pretense of balance. Speaking of balance, consider something Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting said in an interview last week: “I’m also someone who believes that bias exists in every expression, including the most objective pieces of journalism.” Anyway, what follows will make more sense if you take the time to read what Wolfe writes. [Via Anheuser-Busch]

Why Macro Beers Suck So Much.
This is the other side of the story. Quite frankly, not told as well. For instance, these two statements seem to be in conflict:

– “(AB InBev equips) these folks with the most expensive equipment and technology, and they probably have the best quality control of any food manufacturer in the world.”
– “Generally, high gravity brewing makes a weaker tasting and smelling beer with more off-flavors, and has a high potential for quality problems.”

I am not a fan of high gravity brewing, but not because I think the result is more fusel alcohols and excessive ester production (see statement #1). I’m also not a fan of several other blankets statements here, but the 1,400 or so words illustrate how a lot of people who take the time to think about Budweiser think about the beer. [Via KC Beer Blog]

Beer Flavors Are Not That Subtle.
Both the email I received from A-B and Wolfe’s blog post included a link to Budweiser’s Blind Taste Test video. Jeff Alworth has a different view of what was basically a commercial (that part, that it was a commercial, we agree on) than I. He writes, “The ad is structured to suggest that these are sophisticated drinkers who would normally be ordering Dogfish Head, Sixpoint, or Brooklyn Brewery’s beers, and that merely recontectualizing Bud is enough to put it in their camp.” I didn’t get any feel for what these people usually drink. The video pretty obviously was not shot with my senses in mind and I’m simply not prepared to watch it a third time to get to know these people better. I am prepared to believe that if you tell people you are giving them a special beer and don’t tell them the name they might like Budweiser. Particularly if their previous pale lager experience is based on Bud Light or Miller Lite or Coors Light (and it increasingly is — don’t forget, 44 percent of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Bud). It has more flavor. Not as much as anything from Dogfish Head or even as much as Budweiser not long ago. But there are subtle aromas and flavors. Telling a drinker a beer is special provides an invitation to go looking for those. [Via Beervana]

The lager picture.
This map of the world showing each country’s favorite beer does not paint a pretty picture. And it leads in nicely to the question in the next link.[Via The Economist]

What should our national beer be?
Here “our” is Britain. But I think somebody — not me — should organize a poll to determine the U.S. National Beer. [Via The Beer Cast]


More hops, because, maybe, more West Coast IPAs


Procedural note. We are on holiday. This was written last week (so pardon any overlaps with Boak & Bailey) and appears today through the wonders of technology. I have turned comments off because although I trust that everybody would remain civil in my absence maybe I don’t, really.

Heaps more hops.
Hops Products Australia is going to spend about $10 million US to expand production by 50 percent over the next three years. Every hop helps, but some perspective: Australian farmers harvested just north of 1,000 acres last year, so if all of Australian production were to grow 50 percent that would be 500 more acres. Farmers in the American Northwest are adding more than 5,000 acres in 2015, and it will cost a lot more than $10 million. No flag waving here, just noting how fast demand for “aroma” hops has exploded. This is HPA’s “first significant capital investment in land, plant and equipment in 20 years” simply because demand didn’t warrant it before. Australians grow some lovely hops. I’ve only had the newest, Enigma, in a couple of beers, but it seems to have a bright future. [Via The Crafty Pint]

Young and Old – How We’ve Grown: The Darwin Link pt II.
The Pub: Where Grown-Ups Make Friends.
New York: Last Bar Seat, Allen Street Pub, Albany.
Snugs. Taprooms. Dark milds. Sitting among houses on a side street. Friends made. These things all still exist. [Via Beer Compurgation, Boak & Bailey, A Good Beer Blog]

Understanding farmhouse ale.
I was already thinking Lars should write the “Indigenous Beer: Brittany to the lower Volga, from the Alps to the Arctic Circle” book. “Beer in the farmhouse context was a lot more than just an alcoholic drink, in that it played a number of deeply important roles in social and religious life.” Video above a fascinating look at farmhouse brewing in Russia. [Via Larsblog]

You’re drinking your beer too cold – and here’s why.
Long time ago, like before Miller Lite was available nationally, when I worked nights about once a week we’d leave the office for our mid-shift meal. When we went to a place that served beer, which was likely Pabst, one member of our group would immediately order two beers after he was seated. He did not do this so the second beer would be at a proper temperature — an approach suggested in this story — but because in his experience it always took too long for the second beer to arrive. In fact, I’m pretty sure his second never had time to reach the “proper” drinking temperature. [Via Chicago Tribune]

A Disruptive Influence?
Ah, yes. The elephant in the room. Cue Jason Isbell.
[Via Boak & Bailey]

How the West Coast-Style IPA Conquered the World.
Stories like this always make me wonder where Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, first brewed in 1992, fits in the converstation. And reminds me that Bell’s brewed a beer it called Big Head for the 2008 Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego and called it a “San Diego Ale.” [Via First We Feast]

German Craft Beer at the Crossroads? Beer Observations 2015.
If Germany really is at a crossroads, then it all happened much faster than here in the US. My guess is the conversation has just started. Oh, yeah, and I found this thought particularly interesting, “Hamburg is steadily approaching equal footing with Berlin quantitatively, and in qualitative terms may even have already nosed ahead.” [Via Mixology]

Full Sail Sells to Private Equity Firm — What Does it Mean?
A bit of logistics I hadn’t considered: the fact that a private equity firm bought Full Sail meant there was no brewery (as there would be if a large entity like Anheuser-Busch had come knocking) “means that they need all our employees.” There are multiple big pictures to consider, including the future of good size brewing companies (like Full Sail). But one picture should be clear. Local breweries are not in danger. One hundred and fifty-nine brewpubs opened nationwide last year, the most since 1997. Private equity firms are not going to be taking them over. They are often small, and some will go out of business because local businesses do. Kind of like hamburger joints (threw that one in for Joe Stange). But others will open. [Via All About Beer]

How Lagunitas dodged a drug bust to become a craft beer powerhouse.
A lovely long read, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. [Via Mashable]

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