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Monday beer briefing: NYC homebrewing, finding farmhouse ales & perfect-to-average pubs


John LaPolla, Bitter & Esters1) How Homebrewers Built New York.
I’m not sure I agree with this premise: “The recent explosion of new breweries in New York is totally consistent with what’s happening elsewhere—but homebrewers being at the center of things is not.” It’s pretty easy to find breweries with homebrew connections just about everywhere, clubs are often incubators and that’s not only in the United States. The club house for Cerva Serra in Caxias, Brazil, is downright amazing. There is a nano-size brewing system members can reserve, there are two large fermentation cellars (one for ales, one for lagers) and a roomy classroom area. I don’t mean that this isn’t an interesting story or to denigrate what has happened in New York. I wish I had not already left Homebrew Con a couple of weeks ago when Bitter & Esters was chosen homebrew Shop of the year by the American Homebrewers Association. The Brooklyn shop has certainly been at the center of whatever has happened in the five boroughs. That’s co-owner John LaPolla on the right, looking pretty happy about the award.
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A briefer beer briefing: ‘True Craft’ dead & Celis brewery apparently as well

07.01.19 BEER & WINE LINKS

Alan McLeod found plenty interesting to write about last week, but Boak & Bailey not so much. I am in the latter camp. Brevity today will be followed by silence next week, because beginning Wednesday I’ll be bouncing between cities in Brazil.

1) The $100 million question.
A San Diego Union-Tribune reader asks what happened to the Stone Brewing Company program called “True Craft” and Peter Rowe answers. “True Craft sounded too ambitious to be true, and that proved to be the case. Reached while traveling in Europe this week, Greg Koch confirmed that True Craft is dead. ‘That hasn’t been active for some months,’ Koch said. ‘It was an idea that never came to fruition.’”

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Monday beer briefing: Innovation, innovation, and the Endgame?


Gas station beer, Poland
A one-word tweet from Ron Pattinson broke off into multiple paths last week. The first link takes you to Jeff Alworth’s statement that “Lager was an innovation.” Nobody seemed to dispute this. Would you agree? I’m not so sure, but settling the matter isn’t what interests me. Instead, reading The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players another question comes to mind. The nonconformists in the book are set on disrupting the process of player development, and changing process (say, the way a beer is made) may change what results (say, a particular beer). Is that how we got lager? In which case, how did a brewer come to think, “I was taught to do this, but I am going to do that?”

Anyway, a book that gets you thinking if you are a baseball fan. In reviewing it for The Atlantic, Jack Hamilton asks, “Would democratizing baseball greatness actually be good for baseball? Part of what makes baseball’s greatest players so memorable is how much better they are at playing the game than anyone else on the field. In important ways, the sport’s drama relies on inequality.”

1) Englewood Brews is here to prove craft beer is for Black people, too.
“Everyone says craft beer is for everybody, but you walk into these North Side taprooms and how many Black people do you see, frankly? Continuing to concentrate breweries on the North Side is missing out on a growing population that wants to enjoy good beer, too.” Just in case you think this seems abrupt, Sam Cooke wrote “Change is Gonna Come” in 1964.

2) Gulp // Cask ale comes to Brussels.
“Cask ale is also another way for local brewers to explore and innovate, beyond simply brewing new styles.” There’s that word again.
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Monday beer briefing: Guardian of the Citra, climate change & influencers


1) All shook up: When craft beer goes mainstream.
2) The Economics of ‘Craft-on-Craft’ Acquisitions.
3) Oregon’s craft brewers have a problem: ‘There’s just too much beer out there.’
4) The beer industry is not dying.
5) Wine Consumption Probably Won’t Return to Normal.
In #1, Pete Brown writes, “In one sense, craft is simply the latest stage in the ongoing, permanent state of evolution in beer, of consumer education and rising expectations.” Change is constant in any business, and beer is not immune. Sometimes consumers benefit and other times they do not. And so drinkers may spend a certain amount of time guessing about the future, reading stories intended for those in the business. With that in mind, note that both #4 and #5 cite a survey that states “Americans spend about 1% of income on alcohol, no matter the age.” Don’t expect to find exactly the same conclusions.

6) The Most Delicious Foods Will Fall Victim to Climate Change.
Cutting directly to this scary scenario: “The main way that most people on Planet Earth are going to experience climate change is through its impact on food. . . But it was Jerry Hatfield, who’s a USDA scientist, who said to me that the broadest disruption caused by climate change will be in food systems, because there will be very region-specific impacts: from droughts, from flooding, from intolerable heat. There will be uninhabitable regions of the earth, and the global food system is completely integrated.” Pair this with the following story.
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Monday beer briefing: Workplace culture, buying rounds & hops as grapes

Brauerei Spezial, Bamberg


Ballast Point Dulling.
This was the culture at Ballast Point Brewing: “We built camaraderie among employees and just had a phenomenal culture of showing up to work, kicking serious ass, having a couple of beers with each other, and repeating the next day. We all felt very blessed to be able to do this for a living.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? When a business — any business, not just a brewery — considers what it means to be sustainable, and how that relates to sustain its company culture, things get more complicated.

The unwritten rules of round-buying.
“In practice, of course, all of these rules or customs are understood without being spoken, and possibly completely unconsciously. We moderate our behaviour based on the group we’re with, our knowledge of people’s financial situations, or their capacity for alcohol.” I thought about how this bit of culture is different than elsewhere when I read David Berg’s comment on Twitter that “It’s probably too much to ask, but maybe someday beer will once again be about this” with this being, “I honestly don’t care what beer you drink. It’s just good to be around friends.” In traveling recently from Munich to Poznan and back I was reminded how different all things related to beer look in the wild than the do on Beer Twitter. The picture at the top was taken on a Sunday at Brauerei Spezial in Bamberg. A few moments later the man on the left turned his empty ceramic mug on the side and rather quickly a server appeared with another round. No words were needed.
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