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Time for truth in all things beer?

Ripped from today’s beer blog headlines:

Fakery and the Illusion of Variety.
Joe Stange sounds off:

“If you are a trained, experienced brewer who sometimes hires other breweries to make your recipe, you are not a brewer in the context of that beer. Sorry.

“That might sound petty. I prefer accurate. As an ongoing project I’m trying to connect the clearest meaning of those words — “brewer” and “brewery” — with a really simple public interest. Specialty beer is getting more attention these days, but more to the point: People just want to know from whence their food comes. Here is an idea — radical, I know — but why not put the place of manufacture on the label?”
Comment there

Great Story, Shame It’s Not True.
From Boak & Bailey: “Lots of pubs have fascinating stories attached to them but it’s a shame so few of them seem to be true.”
Comment there.


Next week, links about actually drinking beer


Organizing the links this week I figured out what was missing.

Making & selling beer

Inside The Ram Brewery.
Whoa! There’s a nanobrewery inside the Ram Brewery, the place where Young’s and Co, made beer 1831 and 2006. Here’s the tour: “We’re shown a set of cast iron grain hoppers, over a century old. These barley grains have sat in this chamber since the 1970s.” [Via Londonist, h/T Stonch]

Houston’s craft beer king opens up on staying relevant, the Sam Adams controversy and a greedy new wave.
A lengthy interview with Saint Arnold Brewing co-founder Brock Wagner delivers all that’s promised in the headline and more. Right up front, Wagner says, “We also don’t believe that our being here for 20 years is particularly relevant to the craft beer drinker.” I don’t know if it is a left brain/right brain thing, but he’s an MBA/homebrew enthusiast, so properly practical but with an appreciation for a business that makes it something beyond selling more beer than last year. [Via Culture Map]

Making diastatic brown malt.
This is Ed Wray’s contribution to Boak & Bailey’s call for #beerylongreads (the last round, for a while, at least). The others mostly appeal to a wider audience but I point to this one because it is authoritative. After I recommended Randy Mosher’s “Mastering Homebrew” I noticed a review at Amazon that concluded, “The advance brewer is likely to find a few things that s/he did not know but that can be found in web sources as well.” Not to come across as an author defending his turf (“You can’t trust what you read on the internet — buy the dang book”), but when you are following somebody else’s instructions on how to do something you really appreciate it when they are authoritative. Sorry, I don’t have a perfect way to sort out what is and is not. But this is. So there you have it. [Via Ed’s Beer Site]

Why Greene King doesn’t care that the haters hate its IPA.
A) This is how the beer market works. B) “A small rant directed at all those idiots who keep chuntering on about how Greene King IPA is ‘not an India Pale Ale’ and how IPA has to be ‘strong and strongly hopped’, so it would survive the long journey to the Indian sub continent, over 200 years ago. You don’t have a clue what you are talking about.” And C) 97 comments. [Via Zythophile]

Seminary students make beer-making part of daily work.
Brother Albert Marie Curtis, 21, is in charge of the brewing. “He learned from another brother for a year, then took over the operation himself. Since he’s nearing the end of his time at the seminary, he is now training two other brothers to brew.” [Via LaCrosse Tribune]

Growing beer

Michigan’s hops acres to double.
What does it mean when an investment group that typically invests in commercial real estate plan to start 400-acre hop farm? It’s happening in Michigan, which already had more acres of hops under trellis than any other state outside the hop-rich Northwest. “It’s all about economies of scale,” Jason Warren, president of the investment group, said. “If you’re going to do it in a meaningful way you have to set yourself up for this size of a farming operation.” Farmers in the Northwest do operate on a larger scale, but the approach for the revived hop industry elsewhere has been to follow the German model. There the average farm has 34 acres under trellis. [Via Traverse City Record-Eagle]

Brewer’s Choice, SMaSH Beers, and NY Agriculture.
In this case SMaSH stands for State Malt and State Hops. Here’s what the Farm Brewery license does: it that allows breweries to sell beer by the glass at their own facility and elsewhere, including farmers markets. To qualify for the permit at least 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients a brewery uses must be grown or produced in New York State. That percentage increases to 60 percent in 2018 and 90 percent in 2024. Those are going to be tough numbers to reach. [Via BeerGraphs]

R.I.P. Acadian Farms & Brewery has Closed.
But you can own it for $275,000, one-barrel brewing system included. [Via The New School]

Writing about beer

“Click Bait!” Not Really Code For Good Beer Criticism.
And don’t miss the Pete Brown’s comment. Having watched this from a distance for several days I have concluded I have nothing to add. [Via a Good Beer Blog]


The bier-oyster connection seldom spoken

You dont see newspaper leads like this any more. It appeared in the Nashville Union and American in 1871, and was taken from the Cincinnati Gazette (no date given):

It is the custom of the world to honor great inventors and discoverers with a meed of praise proportionate to the importance of that to which they have introduced the human race. We glorify Franklin for bottling up lightning, and sound high the name of Morse because he utilized it for commercial and other purposes. We apotheosize Watt for demonstrating a practical use of steam; Guttenberg, for the invention of movable type; Jacquard, because he gave the world the silk loom, and Friar Bacon for the invention which is said to have blown his student and his laboratory out of existence at one and the same moment. Upon these and other inventors and discoverers all can put we can put our finger, as it were, with a moments reflection; but looking for the man to whom civilization is indebted for its bier, we find this identity wrapped in the mists of uncertainty which which envelop that of the individual who ate the first oyster.”

One hundred and sixty-four words. Whew.


There’s more to lager than American-hopped pilsner


Local Lagers Looming.
Brewers Association economist Bart Watson provides some very real numbers: “Although amber and pale lagers didn’t stand out in scans, pilsners announced themselves in the first month of 2015 with 56% growth versus a year ago.” And he has more reasons to predict a “new era of local lager.” But we need lagers beyond those brewed with pale malt and hopped to appeal to IPA drinkers. [Via Brewers Association]

How to make an ad as effective as Budweiser’s.
I continue to update the links (pro and con) related to Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial (now in regular rotation elsewhere), but it seems more appropriate to post this one here. Dan Fox writes that the commercial “nails four keys to creating solid, effective beer-selling messages.” Number 4 is that it communicates Bud’s uniqueness. That got me thinking about the chart Watson showed at the American Hop convention. In 1970, Bud and beers like it accounted for 99% of sales in the U.S. Today, “various domestic” beers have a 24% share and it is still shrinking. Beers brewed by members of the Brewers Association members have stolen 11% of share, but light beers have taken 52%. Of course AB InBev has benefited, because it has the No. 1 selling light beer. Nonetheless, this makes the advertising conversations tricky, doesn’t it? [Via Hey Beer Dan]

That’s the dollar value of total sales of IPA in the United States in 2014. [Via CNBC]

New Belgium Brewing18 Things I Learned at New Belgium’s “Sour Symposium.” Excellent and interesting. Just one of the many I like: “The first batch of La Folie, Lauren [Salazar] says, was so sour it could rip the enamel from your teeth. Now, she says, she’s more mature and attempts to formulate the brewery’s sours with more balance. ‘I try other breweries’ sours and I go, ‘Oh, I remember when I was like that!'” [Via Phoenix New Times]

Could a Colorado craft brewery sell out to big beer? The headline takes a point of view, don’t you think? Because there is a difference between selling and selling out. [Via The Denver Post]

Trip to Tumalo ~ hop growers in Central Oregon.
Another example of farmers figuring out a way to grow and process hops on a small scale. [Via The Brewstorian]

FOMO Infiltrates Beer Culture.
I would suggest pairing Heather Vandenengel’s post this past week with this post from Jeff Rice I linked to a couple of weeks ago. Followed by these tips for “crushing the fear of missing out” and perhaps Tyler Cowen’s thoughts about “The Upside of Waiting in Line.” [Via All About Beer]

Detroit Metro Times goes full tabloid with smear piece on Arbor Brewing Co. owners Matt & Rene Greff.
Arbor Brewing Co. presents a case study in local business ethics and crowdfunding.
The defense is presented first simply because that was the story I found first. Read ‘em both and read the comments. I’m not sure where the truth lies, but plenty of reality on display. [Via Eclectablog & Metro Times]

How Dogfish Head strives for quality through science. Sam Calagione’s interview with Men’s Journal about the commercial got lots of attention last week, but this story tells you, and shows you, something new. [Via delmarvanow]


Brewery shopping. Not just for the big guys.


Announcing my next beer book: “What are you drinking?” No really, do you know?
Writer Pete Brown announced his next book — called “What Are You Drinking” — will be published by Unbound, which combines crowdfunding and traditional publishing. That’s if enough people step up with pledges, which should be a slam dunk. I already have, even though reading his book might leave readers with the silly idea they know all they need to about hops. He’s a known quantity. Maybe that sounds simple, but that’s the same reason I’ll download Steve Earle’s latest when it is released tomorrow and James McMurtry’s a week from tomorrow. If you need convincing, there’s an excerpt here — or you can just pledge here (they take PayPal). [Via Pete Brown]

December, 1919 – Chapter 3.
I have already mentioned Oliver Gray’s serialized novel once and promise not to do this every week or even every month. However, a year ago he and his wife braved a long, snowy drive to attend the Craft Writing conference in Lexington, Ky. During preparations for my presentation I exchanged emails with several writers about the future of beer writing, specifically narrative in nature. Pete was one of them, in fact. Interesting to have “What Are You Drinking” and “December, 1919″ arrive this quickly. [Via Literature & Libation]

Why We Need More Professional Beer Criticism.
Brewery owner Jesse Friedman, who for obvious reasons would like for beer to get all the attention it can, asks the question “Why don’t major food publications have full time beer critics?” I’m pretty sure “critic” is not actually what he means. [Via Eater]

Advice for young winewriters.
Jamie Goode follows up his amusing takedown on wine writing — which rather easily extrapolates into other drink writing — with some serious advice, which also is relative to all drink writing. [Via jamie goode’s wine blog]

In Which I Apply to be a Beer Writer at Thrillist.
AB InBev didn’t buy another smaller American brewery last week or roll out a new commercial about brewing beer the hard way, so Thrillist filled the void, generating plenty of fussing. To the writer’s credit, he went out of his way to point out how to pronounce gose. [Via This Is Why I Am Drunk]

Finally, actual writing about beer rather than writing about writing:

Oskar Blues looking at purchasing smaller breweries.
This flips takeover talk on its head. It is also related to a Twitter exchange I was part of last week. [Via The Denver Post}


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