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Coffee, beer, growth, perspective

Twenty years ago the annual “numbers” issue of The New Brewer (“The Journal of the Brewers Association”) weighed 12 ounces. This year it weighs 22 ounces. Perhaps that is another way to measure the growth of craft beer.

The magazine includes all the big picture numbers already reported — craft beer volume up 18% in 2013 — but the real weight comes with the details, lists of breweries that opened and closed, a few words stories surrounding the numbers, and information about production from almost every Brewers Association member (some don’t get around to it, others prefer not to see the numbers in print). Lots of numbers, lots of fun. Sales at Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery in Michigan grew from 754 barrels in 2012 to 797 in 2013, while production at Blue Pants Brewery in Alabama ramped up from 520 barrels to 1,910.

I wrote the story about brewpubs, which are by definition mostly local and mostly relatively small. Although many package some beer and sell it away from their doors — Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland sold more than 10,000 barrels in 2013 and nearby Double Mountain Brewery almost 9,000, for instance — the average brewpub made 800 barrels. Which means the story had to, at least in passing, address the “how many it too many?” question.

Church Brew Works founder Sean Casey had some interesting thoughts. His Pittsburgh brewpub has been around since 1996, sold 2,800 barrels in 2013, and has seen plenty of other small breweries come and go.

“There are going to be more and more and more boutiques, more like coffee shops, more ubiquitous,” he said. “You’ll see more nano-pubs making it. The public is becoming more accepting of these smaller venues.”

He also had another thought related to coffee.

“A cup of coffee at 8 in the morning still sells for more than a glass of beer that takes a lot more energy, a lot more time, and a lot more ingredients.”


The schedule here calls for a post today about a particular beer. Alas, it’s been a while since I had a Church Brew Works beer, but the memory of its Maibock lingers in my memory, bready with a hint of umami. That will have to count for a tasting note today.

4 Responses to Coffee, beer, growth, perspective

  1. Jeff Alworth May 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Well, I had a Double Mountain Kolsch* as I watched the new X-Men flick last night, and I can tell you it was delightful. The weather outside had turned sunny and the mercury crept to the mid-70s. I exited the warmth of the streets for the dark sanctuary of the theater, but DM offered a bit of sunshine in the glass. It kept me tethered to the daylight season and so, when I re-emerged into the still-sunshiny day, I was fortified and ready to carry on.

    *Not remotely a Kolsch, but sort of a German-inflected Oregon pale ale, redolent of soft grainy malts and Perle hops.

  2. Bill June 1, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    A cup of coffee sells for more than a glass of beer? Howlow are his beer prices??? And/or where does he buy his coffee??? The largest milk-and-sweetener-and-flavored espresso drink out here still costs less than a pint of beer at a bar (and the ingredient list messes up his point, if not the time and care), and straight coffee is much less expensive than that. And the priciest coffee you can make at home still costs less than a bottle or can of beer per serving.

    • Stan Hieronymus June 1, 2014 at 7:41 am #

      Bill – Perhaps I should have done a little research, since otherwise I know nothing about the cost of a cup of coffee other than noticing prices in the airport once in a while.

      This chart from the Wall Street Journal would indicate that you can get something as fancy as Starbucks grande latte for less than a pint of beer in the US. Oslo is another matter.

  3. Patrick Ryan June 1, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Also, I think that quote discounts the amount of time it takes coffee to mature and age into what goes into the actual pot. The bean starts out as a cherry-like fruit.

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