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Monday beer briefing: Last gasp for craft? Then why did ABI buy another brewery?


1) Why Craft Beer Is Dying.
Simon Nielsen, a brewer in Wisconsin, writes, “To me, that—the loss of originality—is what is killing the heart of our movement. Where have the artists gone? Where have the brewers with something to say gone?” This mirrors the comment from Karl Ockert — “The priority is not to innovate but rather to profiteer. This is not why we started all this.” — that received a lot of attention a couple weeks ago. A tweet pointing to Nielsen’s post seems to have attracted little attention (I’ll admit, sometimes I lose track of threads). But a) sales by breweries the Brewers Association categorizes as craft increased about 4 percent in the first half of 2019; and b) there were plenty of “what is craft?” threads on Twitter. Here is one that went on and on.

2) AB InBev back at it.
Bryan Roth provides analysis of AB InBev’s first American brewery acquisition in, gee, two whole years. I only took a quick look at various social media outlets, but this does not seem to have stirred the emotional pot (and cries about selling out) that previous purchases have. Not sure if that suggests general weariness or lack of love for Platform Brewing. There was a comment on Reddit about how much more painful it would be had Jackie O’s or Urban Artifact been involved.
Related: Breckenridge Brewery Founder Wants to Return Original Pub “to the People”

3) Camra calls time on sexist names at Great British beer festival.
This is what progress looks like. “It’s great that Camra have gone on the record in support of women and against sexism in this way, but sad that it still needs to be done,” said Beer sommelier Sophie Atherton. “I’m sure there’ll be the usual backlash – about women having no sense of humour and how it’s all a bit of fun – but that’s rubbish. This is misogyny and it becomes even more dangerous in an environment where men are likely to be drinking a lot.”

4) This is also what progress looks like. Follow the thread.

5) Are lagers really the hardest beers to make?
Sorry, I didn’t get the memo that the words “pilsner” and “lager” should be used interchangeably. When I talk with brewers about training in Germany they don’t talk about pilsners specifically, but lagers in general. I had terrific helles from Live Oak Brewing Company and Austin Beer Garden Brewing last week, as well as other excellent lagers, and spent a little time talking about spunding (naturally carbonating beer) with Live Oak head brewer Dusan Kwiatkowski. Like Dovetail Brewery in Chicago, Live Oak lagers its beers in horizontal tanks, and most of them are repurposed dairy tanks. They don’t hold pressure well, but at a brewery where lagering in horizontal tanks matters they are an economical option. I guess there could be an endless series of Twitter polls. Is helles harder to make than pilsner, festbier harder than export, baltic porter harder than imperial stout?

Perhaps that is why Jeff Alworth’s question, and accompanying post, left me asking still more questions. Is a particular style harder to make because it takes longer to learn how to make it, because the process is more complicated, because producing a beer takes longer (think of blended spontaneously fermented beers), because different equipment may be involved?

6) The rise of babies in bars, explained.
Sharpen your pitchforks.

7) How American Brewers Employed Fine Art to Sell Beer.
Domesticity and conviviality.

8) On the US-Mexico Border, Craft Beer Diplomacy Is Bringing Brewers Together.

9) 1,100-Year-Old Viking ‘Beer Hall’ Discovered. But It Was Only for the Elites.
Perhaps it is time to put aside the notion that beer historically has been a blue-collar drink.

10) The demise of DeFalco’s in Houston.
The homebrew store is closing after 48 years is business. It was an institution. “To toss aside an integral part of the pipeline says to me that craft beer (locally) is no longer interested in fostering local talent,” writes Bev Blackwood.

11) More dates in Lars’ North American tour.
This is starting to feel like a weekly announcement. There is a second event in Toronto, and then one if Montreal.


12) The Blind Can’t Lead the Blind Tasting.
Why blind tastings aren’t necessarily blind.



ReadBeer, every day.
Alan McLeod, most Thursdays.
Good Beer Hunting’s Read Look Drink, most Fridays.
Boak & Bailey, most Saturdays.

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