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Small is the new IPA

Earlier today Brewers Association economist Bart Watson tweeted this:

“Small breweries are small. Looking at CA 2014 data: Breweries < 100 bbls = 144. 100 < breweries < 1,000 = 209. Breweries > 1,000 = only 122.”

If you break down the percentages that’s 30% under 100 barrels, 44% between 100 and 1,000, and 26% at 1,000 or more.

What does this mean? I don’t know. I’m not sure how much context taking a look at numbers from way back adds, but since I totaled them up . . .

In 1879 California had 195 brewers, with 24 selling less than 100 barrels, 118 between 100 and 1,000, and 53 more than 1,000. The percentages: 12%, 61%, 27%.

Of course, brewing was pretty new in California, less than 30 years old. New York breweries went much further back and there were more of them than in any other state.

So New York in 1879: 30 breweries under 100 barrels, 116 between 100 and 1,000, 219 above 1,000. That’s 60% of the breweries selling more than 1,000 barrels and almost 100 more than California today. Only 8% of New York breweries made less than 100 barrels, 32% between 100 and 1,000.

Could food trucks make that much difference?


Have beer links, will read


Does It Matter Where Your Beer Is Brewed?
This is one of several stories that followed the announcement that Anheuser-Busch InBev has struck a deal to compensate the drinkers who thought they were getting German-brewed Becks when the beer was in fact brewed in St. Louis. It illustrates how business-oriented people think about beer. The way I view it: One of the attractive things about (well brewed) beer from a smallish, local brewery making unfiltered, unpasteurized beer is that it becomes something else when it leaves home, something else not as good. Put another way, to understand the power of local taste the beer where it’s not local. [Via the Wall Street Journal]

Lagunitas to build 3rd brewery in Azusa, CA.
Last week Lagunitas founder Tony Magee announced on Twitter (he is @LaguntiasT) plans to open a third brewery, this one in southern California. On Thursday he added details and context with this post at Among (many) other things he writes: “Some serious-minded beer lovers and some brewers have a legitimate idea that growing in a modest way is the ‘correct’ way. But that is pious thinking if it excludes other approaches to salvation. Small is great and big, if done thoughtfully and without compromise, is beautiful too.” He obviously leans toward big, very big. I’ve cited a quote from Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium Brewing more than once, but here you go again. “Brewing is a compromise. You have to take into account so many factors,” he said, in this case talking about the actual brewing process. “It’s an interaction. You need to see any beer you create as a holistic thing.” But to move beyond the brewhouse and to elaborate on the previous musing, brewery owners decide how big they want their brewery to grow and at some point “without compromise” becomes, let’s say, challenging. [Via Beer Advocate]

In Pursuit of Impartiality.
I don’t agree with everything here — as noted above, I don’t think “drink local” is a crock — but credit to Alistair for giving Budweiser an unbiased tasting. Extra credit for not claiming it tastes of corn. [Via Fuggled]

Bavarian Beer Trail Cycle: Gears and beers.
“It’s a ride on which I’ll need to pace myself, not so much on the bike, but in the breweries.” [Via Stuff]

The Story Behind That Photograph.
Part confession and part plea: There are stock photos out there I swear I’ve been looking at for 30 years. I might have gone too far down the rabbit hole. But please publishers, if it appeared in Michael Jackson’s “World Beer Guide” don’t use it. Now to the point, a lovely story. [Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

A visit to Orval brewery.
Ed Wray visits Brasserie Orval, takes lots of photos and collects plenty of information. Much has changed since I wrote “Brew Like A Monk.” That shouldn’t be a shock — one of the points I make over and over is that change if constant, if not dramatic, even at Trappist breweries. It might be the use of a different barley variety or a tweak in the process. At Orval, for instance, they changed the way they add Brettanomyces not long after I wrote BLAM, dosing Brett inline at bottling rather than during the secondary fermentation. These days Orval is dry hopped with French Strisselspalt rather than Styrian Goldings (what I saw when I visited). This must be pretty exciting for French hop farmers, because Strisselspalt acreage has shrunk considerably since Anheuser-Busch began dialing back what it bought in 2008. [Via Ed’s Beer Site]

Duluth blasts St. Paul for billboard’s beer boast.
Who can’t love talking trash in Minnesota? One more reason for me to look forward to visiting Duluth next month for All Pints North. [Via Pioneer Press]

Southern Brewing Co. Takes Local to the Next Level.
Ingredient of the week: beets (in a Kölsch). [Via flagpole, h/T @austinlouisray]

Coriander, soap and science
My friend Yvan De Baets has been known to describe beers brewed with too much coriander (cilantro) as “coriander soup.” This video indicates that maybe he should be saying “coriander soap.”


Tired of hops? Consider featherbowling


Believe in featherbowling.
My favorite read of the week, maybe month. I’ll admit the beer connection is minimal, but the Cadiuex Cafe was an early outpost for flavorful beer in Detroit. Delightful on the cafe side, fascinating on the bowling side. [Via ESPN the Magazine]

Doom Bar and the Question of Origin.
The quick summary: the popular UK beer Doom Bar is brewed outside of Cornwall as well as in Cornwall, which is not what the brand’s owner Molson-Coors would have drinkers believe. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Boak & Bailey write, what does that mean? Among other things they “suspect it will take months for most people to clock this news and, even then, many won’t care — it’s a popular beer which presumably sells to the trade at a competitive price and it’s still Cornish-ish, right?” I wish they weren’t right, but I figure they are. [Via Boak & Baley’s Beer Blog]

June Hop Acreage Report.
If You Drink It, They Will Grow: A Changing Landscape for Hops.
More on Hops: Prices and Future Growth.
Peak hop: Obsession with flavour may be dulling our beer palates.
Hops are giving you man boobs? Poppycock.
As I noted last week on Twitter, a few years ago hardly anybody beyond hop farmers paid attention to the USDA June Hop Report. That’s changed. Bart Watson of the Brewers Association analyzes it in depth (first link), the Bryan Roth goes deeper (next two). The fourth link isn’t about production, but beyond reminding us of the new interest in hops dredges up the notion that an obsession with hops keeps drinkers from exploring other flavors in beer. I disagree. The last link is to something I posted Friday, about the silly statement that hops give men man boobs. You’d be dead from alcoholism long before you could consume enough 8-prenylnaringenin to result in estrogenic effects.

Should I be drinking local or sustainable beer?
“Which is greener: beer brewed on wind energy that is trucked 1,000 miles to the consumer, or beer brewed on coal energy with minimal transport needed?” [Via Grist]

New Chinese Beer Saves Rhinos By Using Fake Rhino Horn.
Ingredient of the Week No. 1. [Via Eater]

Carrot craft beer is being brewed in Australia.
Ingredient of the Week No. 2. The beer is called Wabbit Season. [Via Mashable]

How Solid Are The Breweries In Your State?
“The question was which states have the breweries that have the most above-average beers, and which states have the breweries that make the most superlative beers.” Hop science I get, this I don’t. [Via BeerGraphs]


Honored, flattered, absent. That’s me.

To quote from the American Homebrewers Association website:

“Each year, your American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Governing Committee selects a recipient for the annual AHA Governing Committee Recognition Award. The award honors outstanding service to the community of homebrewers, and is announced during the National Homebrewers Conference.”

The 2015 recipient: Stan Hieronymus.

The award was handed out Saturday in San Diego. I wasn’t there. I agree, that seems somewhat rude. But Daria and I went to Washington, D.C., along with our daughter, Sierra, for “Colonial Inauguration” at George Washington University, where she’ll be a freshman in September.

I think I used the words flabbergasted and humbled in the brief video they asked me to make. I expect to remain in that state for some time.


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