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Second ‘Craft Writing’ conference Sept. 30

If you are interested in beer and writing, and maybe a little bourbon on the side, you might want to figure out a way to be in Lexington, Kentucky, the last day of September.

Organizer Jeff Rice has announced the University of Kentucky will host Craft Writing: Beer, the Digital and Craft Culture for a second time, and it is still free. Beyond the list of speakers, the web site is a little short information. However you can reserve a spot.

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso of Evil Twin Brewing is the keynote speaker. Other speakers include Joe Tucker of Rate Beer, freelance writer Heather Vandenengel, All About Beer editor John Holl, Boulevard Brewing ambassador brewer Jeremy Danner, and Julia Herz, Brewers Association craft beer program director.

Craft Writing: Beer, the Digital and Craft Culture I was great fun back in February of 2014. I wrote about it here (links to other coverage included).


What are spruce, dandelions and hibiscus doing in Monday beer links?


The Reinheitsgebot – A Personal Voyage.
“Let the brewing traditions of Germany open and grow, to give the beer-drinking public what they want, and see a rejuvenation of German beer culture at a time when the trend has been away from beer.” [Via The Bitten Bullet]


A short history of spruce beer part one: the Danzig connection.
A short history of spruce beer part two: the North American connection.
[Via Zythophile]
Foraging for Fonta Flora’s Appalachian Wild Ales.
[Via Serious Eats]
9 New Floral Beers That Don’t Remind You of Your Great Aunt Esther.
[Via bon appétit]
Spot a theme?


The True Story Of Milton Glaser’s Best Client
“In the initial consultation, Steve Hindy had a couple ideas of what he wanted the brand to evoke. ‘I said Milton (Glaser), I want the Brooklyn Bridge, I want the Dodgers, I want every guy in Brooklyn to want to get this tattooed on his arm,’ Hindy says. ‘And Milton said, ‘Save something for me to do!”” [Via Fast Company]

Great Story, Shame It’s Not True.
It’s this simple: “Lots of pubs have fascinating stories attached to them but it’s a shame so few of them seem to be true.” [Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

The deal that shook craft beer five years ago is still reverberating.
The deal is the sale of Goose Island Beer Co. to Anhueser-Busch InBev and founder John Hall says, among other things: “That’s one reason why there’s the High End today. That’s really equipped to sell a specific product, tell more stories and connect on-premise rather than in an off-premise way. Also, I think the biggest portion was the PR thing. When we said, ‘Trust us, it’s all about the beer,’ it is all about the beer — and the beer is as good [as], if not better than, it’s ever been. There’s more of it, there’s more creativity, and then, if you look at the employees, they’ve done better professionally and financially, those who have stayed. Those who didn’t? That’s their choice.” [Via MarketWatch]

Blogunitas: When Big Gets BIGGAR.
Greg Nagel has lots of pictures from the newest Lagunitas brewery. Meanwhile the story he posted last week (it got squeezed out of links here because there were so many) about what might be a new brewery in LA or might be fiction kept getting stranger. [Via OCBeerBlog]

Genesee becomes local craft’s big brother.
Genesee Brewery invites local (non-Genesee) brewers to sit in on its sensory panel and also opens its laboratory for outside use. Area brewers have borrowed equipment, been trained to count yeast, for instance, and Genny has provided analysis of beers.[Via Democrat & Chronicle]



America & Germany’s Reinheitsgebot

Shakespeare is commonly believed to have died 400 years ago Saturday, but it seems — and I don’t think this is because I live in an insular beer world — that the official 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot is getting a lot more attention. If you somehow missed the onslaught, read this story, or this story, or this one, or do a search on Twitter.

What else could there be to say? How about a sideways look at the Reinheitsgebot and how it might have affected beer in the United States?

Yesterday evening, Greg Casey pointed out how different beer in America might have been had the U.S., or at least some states, enacted Reinheitsgebot-like laws in the last decades of the nineteenth century or the first of the twentieth. Casey worked in the brewing industry for more than 30 years before retiring from MillerCoors in 2013. He is best known for his expertise in yeast. He invented the application of chromosome fingerprinting to provide the global brewing industry with its first definitive means to fingerprint production strains of yeast.

Greg Casey speaks at MBAA meeting at O'Fallon Brewery in St. Louis

Even before Casey retired he had begun research into the political battles to define “what is beer?” that began in the final decades of the nineteenth century and continued until the beginning of Prohibition. He shared some of the information about the arguments surrounding the use of adjuncts he has accumulated during a presentation at a St. Louis Chapter of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas meeting at the O’Fallon Brewery. He is in the process of writing a book he’ll call Americans Drink Beer With Their Eyes that he hopes to see published in 2017.

Thursday he focused on what happened in Missouri and suggested, as he has in presentations to other MBAA chapters across the country, that brewers today who use ingredients beyond water, malt, hops and yeast owe a certain debt to those who fought for the the right to brew with adjuncts. Not something you think about right off.

Hypotheticals are always, well, hypothetical. So it is hard to imagine the government imposing a Reinheitsgebot-like law. However, consider that after Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 the committee in charge of establishing standards for malt liquors tentatively proposed definitions that created a separate class for malt beers made without adjuncts. The proposal also included a requirement that lager beers be lagered for at least three months. (Good luck enforcing that.) Neither of those became part of the final recommendation, but it is just one of many examples Casey has.

What you might not think about when you are drinking a kumquat gose or pineapple IPA is it was relatively recently that it became acceptable to serve such beers in mixed company. Legal earlier, sure. A good example of a brewer’s craft, not so much. Fritz Maytag at Anchor Brewing and Jack McAuliffe at New Albion made as big a deal about “beer purity” in the 1970s as any anti-adjunct politicians did in the 1890s.

When Frank Prial of The New York Times visited McAuliffe in 1979, he wrote:

Jack McAuliffe boasts that his beer is a completely natural product. “We use malt, hops, water and yeast,” he said. “There are not enzymes, which the big breweries use to speed up the process of mashing and aging; there are no broad spectrum antibiotics, which they use to stop bacteria from growing, and there are no heading agents to create an artificial head. The proteins which are filtered out of most beer are what make the head. We don’t filter.”

And Maytag might as well have used the word Reinheitsgebot last year (and 50 years after he bought Anchor Brewing) in an interview in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mind you, there was no beer in the world more traditional than ours. Pure water, good yeast, malted barley, hops. Period. No additives, no chemicals, no nothing. That was a theme we felt strong about. To make old-fashioned beer in a pure, simple way.

American brewers today are not playing by the same rules.


The last Monday beer links before the big Reinheitsgebot party


There was a lot to read last week. I felt particular pressure assembling these links because Boak & Bailey were out in the field and didn’t post their usual Saturday nuggets and longreads. I didn’t want to leave anything out, so pardon pairings that look strange and please be sure to at least scan to the end.

Recreating Old Beer Styles Conference part 2.
You knew I’d put this first. Beyond the the nitty gritty details about styles you may or may not care about there is this: “After the Beer History Conference we had a preview of CAMRA’s revitalisation project from Tom Stainer. Martyn Cornell asked if this was CAMRA’s version of Tony Blair’s ‘Clause Four moment’. Ron Pattinson saw it as the choice between taking a Stalinist or Trotskyist position. To which I could only reply that when it comes to real ale revisionism I’m positively Maoist.” [Via Ed’s Beer Site]


Wie verändert sich der Biergeschmack?
(What happens to the taste of beer?)
Next Saturday is the Big Day, the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot. If you are still catching up with what that might mean then read Jeff Alworth’s story in All About Beer magazine. This interview (Google will translate it for you, although I sense something is lost in the process) with Ludwig Narcissus is fascinating. He offers first hand experience about the last seventy years of brewing in Germany. There are many takeaways, beyond that Narcissus finds the Reinheitsgebot important. My favorites:

a) He wrote the recipe for a beer called “Hersbrucker” that was brewed at the Weihenstephan pilot brewery. I love Herbrucker hops.

b) At the end he is asked, “If you were young brewers today – what would you wish for and the beer?” He answers, “Dass es so bleibt wie bisher, mit dem erweiterten Feld der Craft-Biere.” In his view, tradition and craft can oo-exist. [Via Frankfurter Allgemeine, h/T @STLBrewer}

Blind German Pils Tasting #3 – In the Land of the Blind.
We can’t get most of these beers in the United States, but there’s a good chance you can’t get a bunch of the beers on any other “drink this” list. [Via Berlin Craft Beer}


Cloudy IPAs: Cloudy with a chance of hops. [Via Joe Sixpack] and What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About North East IPAs. [Via Beer Graphs]

Wooing the Brewery: How Asheville’s big beer deal fell flat. Remember the discussion last week about Roanoke “winning” Deschutes’ east coast brewery? This is the story from the other competitor. A very long read, about 5,000 words worth. [Via Citizen Times]


What Happened to the United Craft Brewers?
[Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]
What Could UCB Ever Do For Us?
[Via Beer Noveau]
Brewdog and craft beer post-The United Craft Brewers.
[Via Brew Geekery]

Much of the discussion here is about defining “craft beer.” Where have we seen that before? Just because there is no definition that satisfies everybody does not mean tha craft beer is not a thing. But, from Brew Geekery, there comes a warning: “Surprisingly, Brewdog’s project is an international one, as James told us he and Martin are in talks with Stone Brewing in the US regarding it. Stone has obviously been a massive influence on Brewdog, but how any definition of UK craft beer can be arrived at between the two perplexes me. It would make sense if Brewdog had applied to the Brewers Association about an international membership, but just what is it and Stone brewing here? A breakaway global movement? Craft brewers of the world unite? Whatever they are up to, they’re no doubt set to throw a metaphorical hand grenade into the already volatile battleground of how to define craft beer.”


Anheuser-Busch buys Devils Backbone, its 8th craft brewery.
Just one story about last week’s big sale, an interview with Devils Backbone co-founder Steve Crandall. “We have a vision, and we’ve had a vision since we started this business. We’re on 100 acres here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we want to develop a very positive experiential facility, including a campground and RV hookups. We’re a destination brewery — people drive to get here and want to stay on the property — but we couldn’t spend any money on it because everything was going to capacity. AB listened to us and believed in us. From the very beginning, we had a great relationship with these guys; prior to meeting them, I wasn’t sure they put they’re pants on one leg at a time, but they do. They’re decent people. So we’re building the campground — plus some other things we’re not ready to announce yet — and a 50,000-square-foot facility at our packaging facility in Lexington.”
[Via Chicago Tribune]


On the Road Again: The Very Real Impact of Beer Tourism.
“In a way, it’s merely one end of a spectrum, where at the other, local rules supreme. Even if you may be a national brand, you can still find a connection to that powerful emotional theme of community.” [Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

Finding Cuban Beer in the Land of Cigars and Rum.
“‘This is the perfect drink for this country,’ our guide, Anna, explained as we drank mugs of helles lager. ‘People think we are sugar cane and rum, but here people are hot all the time. You go to the beach and the baseball game, and people drink beer. Not the mojito, not the Cuba libre. Beer. Every day they are drinking beer.’ [Via All About Beer]

Lithuania and its peculiar, little-known farmhouse ales.
“When we name the world’s great beer-drinking people—the Czechs, Germans, Belgians, Brits, and what the hell, Americans, too—we probably ought to include the Lithuanians. Based on their number of breweries, distinct brewing traditions, sheer quantity consumed and beer’s importance in their social life, they belong in that echelon. But people rarely mention Lithuania in that conversation, because they don’t know much about it.” [Via DRAFT}


Two Atlanta beer pioneers talk local beer history.
[Via Creative Loafing]
Inside the Tank | Off Color Brewing’s John Laffler.
[Via Porch Drinking]
Hear From DC Brau’s Co-Founders About Their Five Year Mark.

Reports from Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Does the metro-centric aspect indicate anything? I’m not sure, but I know you too should love the barrel aged cask story (link No. 1).



Not so pretty Monday beer links: Sexism and cronyism


It seems not all of the stories, or tweets, I found last week were written with rose-colored beer goggles on.

Black Acre Brewery’s Jason Gleason’s viral post on sexism shouldn’t be remarkable.
[Via Time Out]
Gendered Wine Marketing Is Still All Too Real.
[Via Punch]
“It should be totally normal to treat women like people.” Take the time to read the first post, at a minimum.

The Crony Capitalists of Craft Beer.
“It’s easy to understand why politicians like funding breweries. They get to play with other people’s money, and much like when funding a new sports arena, they get to associate themselves with a product that many voters consider fun and pleasant. But the economic benefits are dubious.” And: “Lowering these barriers or making it easier for businesses to navigate them would encourage entrepreneurship across the board, rather than concentrating benefits on big breweries that cultivate political connections.” [Via]

Why one of the nation’s premier beer festivals seems to have lost its luster.
And I thought slow ticket sales were because I am going to be there. [Via Washington Post]

Craft Beer Talk: Escape captures Redlands in a bottle.
“I was in the past. It was my first time home from college. Returning from a meal with my family, my mother took the back roads home through the orange groves and rolled the windows down. She said, ‘Did you miss this?’ It was in that moment that I realized what San Diego was lacking: Orange blossoms at night. This beer brings back that moment. That realization of what home smells like.” [Via Redlands Daily Facts]

Italian Rabbit and Polenta With Danny Smiles.
“According to Rhino, he started Beer Thugs because he “had fallen out of place” from Hop Heads, a larger craft beer club. The group has existed for five years and now has members in central California, the East Coast, and as far away as Tokyo. Most of the members are old punks, potheads, and skinheads. Beer Thugs is just one of the mostly Latino private craft beer groups that exist in Southern California, which are using their passion for craft beer to find their bicultural identity while also extending their personal networks.” [Via Munchies]

Allagash Brewing Company — Chasing Waves and Beer.
Beautiful photos, an excellent introduction to Allagash Brewing for those who have had the beer but know little about the Maine brewery, or a fine way to catch up with what is new there. However I don’t agree with the notion that flagship Allagash White “may be the brain, but it’s their fruited, oaked, and soured ales that are the heart.”

I might be wrong. I understand what Cory Smith is saying about rewarding consumers and that for them beers that come out of Allagash’s coolship are the heart. And, what the heck, one of the Allagash employees showing him around calls those beers “100% of soul.” White accounts for about 80% of the 80,000 barrels Allagash brewed last year. It is a delicate beer, nuanced, balanced. It could fall of the rails easily, but it doesn’t. So I think about what founder Rob Tod said when I visited the (much smaller) brewery in 2008 to talk about White for Brewing With Wheat. “Our focus has been on maintaining the flavor of the beer,” he said. “Six years ago, it might have been precisely like we wanted it after a certain amount of time. Now we have extended that time dramatically.” So I’d say White, and the passion for quality behind it, represents the soul of Allagash. [Via Good Beer Hunting]


… and bringing us back to where we started (click on the time/date).


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