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Monday beer links: Dark secrets, dive bars (again), styles (again), bubbles (again)


Yesterday Alan McLeod commented, “there is not much out there to read.” I cannot agree. Certainly many of the links that follow lead to topics already discussed at length, but that does not mean there is not new thinking or that there are not new things to think about.

definition of craft (beer)

How The Hipster Somms Could Get Away With Murder And How We Can Stop Them.
[Via Grape Collective]
When it comes to cocktails, is it time to kill the word craft?
[Via Charleston City Paper]
Last Friday I collected a bunch of headlines that use the term craft beer to illustrate people are not going to quit using the word no matter how useless some people find it. As frustrating and repetitive that some of the discussions can be (such as when we dig into various definitions of craft, like the entry from ORIGINS: A short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, shown above) maybe they are good because they have us talking about what is in the glass, and sometime more. Stuart Pigott’s amusing rant in Grape Collective may not seem directly related, but give it some thought.

You Can’t ‘Open’ a Dive Bar.
Yes, it was just a couple of weeks ago that the topic of dive bars came up. But here’s a view from a different angle. There’s this: “What are you going to do, open a brand-new bar with a busted urinal?” And plenty more. Including a question you might want to ask yourself. “(Owner Dave) Meinert describes the clientele of the 5 Point as prostitutes and politicians, drug dealers and Amazon employees: ‘A mix of people you don’t see at most places … a mix most places don’t try to appeal to.” When you are waxing romantic about dive bars consider if they are places you really want to hang out. [Via CityLab]

Death of a Brewery Salesman.
Just in case you’ve been thinking selling beer is a “dream job.” [Via DC Beer]

Craft Beer’s Dark Secrets, According to an Insider.
I abhor stories with anonymous sources, but this one that will get talked about. Many of the points are valid. That some are less valid does not invalidate the story. [Via Thrillist]

All Styles Evolve: The Guinness Example.
[Via All About Beer]
When the Original is the Outlier.
[Via Jeff Alworth]
Talking about styles. A rabbit hole. Take a flashlight.

Let’s Talk Doom, Gloom and Craft Beer Bubbles.
Because you always want to start off your week thinking about gloom and doom. Before you panic, “Just remember, we’ve been sounding this alarm for some time.” [Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

Grapevine Brewery Ceases Distribution of Its Beer, Will No Longer Be Sold in Stores or Bars.
Maybe we should blame all the bubble talk. A Texas beer store announced on Twitter that Grapevine was shutting its doors, although it isn’t. It’s getting weird out there folks. [Via Dallas Observer]

‘Nobody asks for a chalice here.’
Wait, the chalice was not already the standard glass for Stella everywhere? [Via I might have a glass of beer]

A love story and cliffhanger from Ron Pattinson. [Via Shut Up About Barclay Perkins]

Detroit-made Stroh’s returns with throwback brew that rivals craft beer.
Unfortunately it appears this beer will be sold only in Michigan. I gotta hope Pabst brings some to the Great American Beer Festival. I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea it will be an all-malt beer. I don’t think the Stroh’s I drank before I might have been 21 was all malt, but it did have more flavor than most of what we could get in central Illinois. And you could usually find a case of returnables on sale for $1.99 ($13.80, accounting for inflation, but $1.99 has a cooler ring to it). [Via Detroit Free Press]

Why yeast is craft beer’s ‘God particle’
An interview about many things with Dave Logsdon, a man of many things. In which he says, “Actually, home brewers were more experimental and courageous to take leaps of faith and have fun doing it. Commercial brewers, for the most part, were a little more staid, more at-risk, were more educated and took a more pragmatic approach toward their beers and their production process.” [Via MarketWatch]

Highland Park’s bar boom not sitting well with some residents.
The northeast L.A. neighborhood covers less than four square miles, but is home to over 60 of the city’s alcohol licenses, about a third of which were issued in the past three years alone. These are not dive bars, but as the headline indicates not everybody thinks this is a good idea. Do read the comments. [Via 89.3KPCC]

Breckenridge Brewery owner opens up about life under Anheuser-Busch
Several different members of the Business Journal family broadcast this story. AB InBev can’t control the conversations around these breweries, but they aren’t sitting silent. [Via Denver Business Journal]


The Wine Show Is So Bizarre It Almost Can’t Help But Be Charming.
Attention fans of The Americans (the best show on television), Matthew Rhys stars along with Matthew Goode. [Via VOGUE]

Are we overdo for a paradigm shift in wine?
It may have already happened in beer. [Via Steve Heimoff]


You’ll need to click on the date to see what Mike is referring to.


Don’t these people understand the term ‘craft beer’ has no meaning?

And these are just the headlines.

Beer on demand: Craft breweries like Piece, Half Acre start delivery service
Bordeaux wine for craft beer drinkers
What’s it like when your startup craft brewery gets bought by Anheuser-Busch?
Hopsteiner picks its top hops for craft brewing professionals
Hopping mad about craft beer
Illegal Alcohol: Where to Drink Thai Craft Beer in Bangkok
10 California Craft Beers That Cost a Bundle on the Black Market

This is not an argument about the validity of whatever definition of “craft beer” you want to use. I find it generally easy to simply use the word beer myself. When I write a story for one of the Brewers Association publications (Zymurgy or New Brewer) I use the term because it is defined within that context of the magazine. I just wrote a sentence in a story for All About Beer magazine where it would have been easier to use the term than not. But I found a way not to, because that’s the AABM philosophy.

But, and you knew that was coming, as the headlines that took me litttletime to collect indicate the term must mean something to somebody (even though you can easily strike the word craft from most of them).


pH is the new IBU

Wicked Weed Funkatorium

This beer menu board at Wicked Weed Funkatorium in Asheville, N.C., should look familiar, but not quite the same. That number following the alcohol by volume is the pH, not the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) you see elsewhere. A useful bit of information for beer drinkers, one indicator of how sour a beer might taste.

What might the downside be? Brewers pushing pH levels lower just so they can (or maybe because they don’t know any better). Kinda like previous IBU wars. (See New Beer Rule #2.)

American Sour Beers author Michael Tonsmeire made the danger clear Saturday during the Asheville Homebrewers Conference when he made it clear he said brewing a beer with the lowest pH is like making an IPA with the most IBUs.


Monday beer links: Why we shouldn’t be surprised if 500 breweries close


Craft Beer’s Looming Crisis.
[Via The Daily Beast]
Phil Olson of Longman & Eagle — The Gray of Pay-to-Play.
[Via Good Beer Hunting]
The Awkwardness of Middle-Aged Breweries.
[Via Beervana]
Sam Adams’s Secret Weapon For Winning Back The American Craft Drinker.
[Via Fast Company]
Four stories that remind us that brewing is a business. There are a ton of takeaways, but I pick this from Lew Bryson (Link No. 1): “… the change will be a correction, and the surviving brewers will have the opportunity to grow into large national brands. Unfortunately, we could lose as many as 500 breweries in the process, though eventually the industry will emerge even healthier—just like it did the first time around.”

To which Brewers Association economist Bart Watson had this to say on Twitter: “Some interesting points. 500 closings would be 11-12% of 2015 brewery number. Actually pretty typical 3-yr rate.”

Richard Boston on beer – archive.
If all that business talk wore you out here is a welcome respite. It is Richard Boston’s first Boston on Beer column from 1973, and it is just lovely. Consider this: “What was apparent from my rapid survey was the high general level of interest and awareness on the part of beer-drinkers. For many years they have sat on their high stools at the bar in a state of deep lethargy. Doubtless this state was induced by the beer, and perhaps the reason for their new alertness is that the beer isn’t doing its job properly. At any rate, they’re waking up, they’re looking around and drinking their beer, and they’re not uncritical of what they’re seeing and tasting.” You can read more from Boston by tracking down a used copy of Beer & Skittles. [Via The Guardian, h/T Boak & Bailey]

Hop Tourism: It ought to be a thing.
I endorse the idea and suggest you plan on being in Wolnzach for Volkfest (just getting going this year), remembering that the hop queen is always picked the Tuesday of the fest. [Via DRAFT]

Building a Brewery, Chapter 2: The right tools for the job.
I’m not sure how I missed Part 1, but suggest you catch up (like I am). Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery gets a mention in Brewing Local and Caleb Lever, who wrote the story, somewhat more. He understands yeast and fermentation far better than I do and introduced me to Laurens Bass Becking’s tenet that, “Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects.” [Via The Growler]

Fieldwork Changed One Thing and Discovered an NEIPA.
Coincidentally, Mike Karnowski at Zebulon Artisan Ales gave a fascinating presentation on West Coast and Northeast IPAs Saturday at the Asheville Homebrewers Conference. It included a lot of how. But as any hop scientist I’ve talked would say, the why needs a lot more study. Until then it is best to be skeptical about suggesting a relationship between murky and yeast viability. [Via BeerGraphs]


How Do You Make a Wine That Costs $3.50?
“Where does that come from? Think what must be in there! Think how much the people who actually make it must be paid!” [Via Punch]


Because you might have been wordering what Boak & Bailey look like.


IPAs, dive bars, a craft definition & more beery links


We Changed The World … For This?
[Via All About Beer]
An American Story.
IPAs as National Tradition.
[Both via Beervana]
I pointed to all of these Friday during The Session, when the topic was pilsners. But this is also about place. Hops might be an American story, but let’s not forget the Albuquerque story or the Bucyrus story.

What makes a dive bar?
The Real Drinker’s Guide to St. Louis’ Best Dive Bars.
[Via Riverfront Times]
Maybe the Riverfront Times doesn’t answer Joe Stange’s question, but it does provide 63 examples. I particularly recommend the photo from the San Bar Tavern on page 4 of this epic.

Stop the presses: the definition of craft beer.
Before you think “here we go again” scroll down to the comments to find an up-to-date definition: “craft beer n. orig. N. Amer. a beer made in a traditional or non-mechanized way by an individual or a small brewery.” So simple it is elegant. [Via Pete Brown]

The secrets to Cloudwater’s success.
A long, long read, as in north of 9,000 words. “Settle down with a beer,” Martyn Cornell writes. It may take two. And there is this candid thought, “It’s clear why they are so popular: almost all were sharply focused, clear, clean and faultless. Faultless to a fault, almost: ‘beautiful’ is not the same as ‘characterful’. But I need to drink more Cloudwater brews over more evenings to decide if this is a valid criticism.” [Via Zythophile]

The tale of two Stone Go To IPAs
The Haze and the Hops — A Tale of Two Go To IPAs.
Fascinating story and splendid reporting from John Verive. However, if big chain markets are such a bad place to buy beer why do breweries continue to sell their beer there? [Via the Full Pint – Photo by John Verive]

The Beer Museum, Where Brewery Meets History, Opens in Austin.
For now its a pop up museum, but they have plans … [Via]


Stability of olfactory ability over time.
Really interesting questions posed here that are obviously relevant to beer as well. And one more thought (from the first chapter of “For The Love of Hops”): Although olfactory skills begin to deteriorate when most people are in their forties, many perfumers get better as they age. So it is not inevitable. [Via jamie goode’s wine blog]

Scientists Get Closer to Harnessing the Health Benefits of Red Wine.
The key point here is that it will take a pill to make this work. Because the daily dose it takes to be effective against Alzheimer’s is equivalent to about 1,000 bottles of red wine. It’s the same as those stories about how compounds in hops may have health benefits. Yes, but there are obvious side effects when you have to drink 1,000 beers a day to enjoy them. [Via Wall Street Journal]

America’s First Drinks Writer: G. Selmer Fougner.
Frank Prial also wrote about Fougner in Decantations, including that Fougner calculated he replied to 300,000 mail queries in eight years. [Via The Daily Beast]

Donald Trump’s World Atlas of Wine.
Pardon the instrusion of politics, but this is Ron Washam (the HoseMaster) at his funniest. [Via Tim Atkin MW]


So you think you want to be a hop farmer …

And if you somehow missed this …


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