Long Overdue Beer News

Greetings, March is a pretty rough month for beer sellers in Southwest Florida. Do not get me wrong, it is a great month down here, just time for things like blogging are difficult to come by. Here is beer news people as busy as I am may have missed.

The American Beer Industry’s economic impact is $246.6 billion dollars and the industry provides two million American Jobs. This study came from the Beer Institute (BI) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA).
http://news.yahoo.com/beer-serves-america-literally-140000639.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UbFA09RyUgAlX7QtDMD

Soon Floridians may be able to enjoy the long-awaited 64oz beer growlers!
http://news.yahoo.com/bill-allowing-64-ounce-beer-170258829.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UbFA09RyUgAqn7QtDMD

SABMiller is now producing a cheap beer made with cassava called Eagle in Ghana. This project hopes to curb consumption of “rather toxic home-brews” common in Africa. Cassava has a very short usefulness after harvest, why not turn it into beer?!
http://za.news.yahoo.com/sabmiller-cassava-beer-set-boost-agriculture-ghana-191426032–finance.html

Lakeland Florida is about to be home to the first Brew Hub in Florida. Brew Hub is a business started by ex-Anheuser-Busch executives that provides craft brewers with the space, equipment and expertise to make their recipes come to realization.
http://fox2now.com/2013/03/19/first-anheuser-busch-brew-hub-to-open-in-florida/

Anheuser-Busch has achieved its 3 year environmental goals concerning water, energy, carbon emissions and recycling. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/innovation-sustainable-practices-lead-to-stronger-returns-research-report-on-anheuser-busch-coors-femsa-diageo-and-beam-2013-03-11

In February, NPR commissioned an independent study on the alcohol content of some of Budweiser’s primary beers. White Labs (a very well-respected and large producer of brewing yeast) found the alcohol content in Budweiser, Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra to be spot on or well withing the legal requirements.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/28/173076501/budweiser-may-seem-watery-but-it-tests-at-full-strength-lab-says

I do not think this to be very likely as exponential growth for 37 years is not an easy thing to sustain, however craft beer output could surpass Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors by 2050 if the trend continues.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/craft-beer-output-trends_n_2903596.html?ir=Small+Business

Here are a few interesting (not surprising) trends the beer search engine SaveOnBrew has recently cataloged. http://news.yahoo.com/saveonbrew-identifies-intriguing-trends-among-craft-beer-drinkers-120031741.html;_ylt=A2KJ2UbFA09RyUgAtn7QtDMD

I love the craft beer world, there is a unique and refreshing spirit of community, respect, innovation and fun that I just do not see in any other business. Sadly, it is still business and I fear that as the craft segment grows, so will the intensity of the competition. With an intensified competition, I think many people will see business practices and attitudes commonly associated with big business trickle down. I hope I am wrong, but the following article proves I am certainly not the only one thinking about it. http://business.time.com/2013/03/22/as-craft-beer-gets-bigger-will-it-become-more-like-big-beer-or-perhaps-wine/

The following link is off topic but I found it to be interesting just the same about “hip” neighborhoods and their overall benefit to cities.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/20/richard-florida-concedes-the-limits-of-the-creative-class.html

Chicago Chef Rick Bayless is teaming up with Crown Imports to help make a beer.
title="http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2013/03/04/rick-bayless-to-create-craft-beer-for.html" target="_blank">http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2013/03/04/rick-bayless-to-create-craft-beer-for.html

I found this on Beer Advocate’s forums last night and thought it was interesting (Posted by pheurton)
The top 10 beers on Beer Advocate in the Spring of 2003

“In order, 1-10 (Spring 2003):
Storm King Stout
Westvleteren Abt 12 (yellow Cap)
Celebrator Doppelbock
Two Hearted Ale
Stone Imperial Stout
Shakespeare Stout
Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout
HopDevil Ale
Trappistes Rochefort 10
Double Bastard Ale”
http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/beeradvocate-top-10-beers-10-years-ago.77632/

I would be happy with any of these. The discussion on the changes over that ten years is worth reading ass well.

Superbowl Sippers And Beer News

I hope this fine Superbowl Sunday finds you well. Whether you care in the game or not, this is a great excuse to eat a large amount of delicious food and imbibe (safely of course) some great beer! I do not have too much as far as suggestions go but if you want to drink a beer from Baltimore you should try something from Stillwater Artisanal Ales. I have had a few of their Saisons including the Stateside Saison, Cellar Door and the Autumnal, all were amazing. The beers I have tried are some of the most common examples of Stillwater’s fantastic beers. Stillwater is also famous for some of its barrel aged beers. All around it is an excellent Superbowl sipper. If you want to drink a Baltimore brew but are looking for more sessionable craft options, check out Heavy Seas Beer.

If you are interested in drinking San Francisco beers an obvious choice is Anchor Brewing Company. Anchor Brewing Company is one of the oldest and most famous American Craft Breweries. Particularly famous for their mild, easy drinking, slightly fruity, California Common, “Anchor Steam”. San Francisco is also home to the very patriotically themed 21st Amendement Brewery and Bison Brewing Company. Located fairly close to San Francisco are Russian River Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company and many other excellent drinking options.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has also decided to take advantage of the Superbowl’s marketing potential. The Budweiser Black Crown has been around for about a week and will be making its big début during the Superbowl. The Budweiser Black Crown is now available at many bars/grocery stores and convenience stores. In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I do sell this product. With that said, it is a good beer! It is a bigger, darker and more complex version of Budweiser. If any of you readers are familiar with the Budweiser Project 12, the Black Crown should remind you of batch #91406. If you have not tried it, you should, it is inexpensive, easy to drink and tasty!

A Few More Interesting Reads

Good afternoon, I just found this excellent article describing Schlafly’s evolving presence in St. Louis area with its continued success and Budweiser’s 2008 sale to InBev. The article goes much further than just an expose on Schlafly and touches the expanding St. Louis beer industry and culture. “The goal still has to be 40 breweries, because that was the number before prohibition” now that would be a site to see! The article also looks at social media’s place within the business. http://www.thestreet.com/story/11491765/1/the-beer-dance-how-schlafly-craft-beer-shook-up-st-louis.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN

In March I wrote an article about Hoppy Wheat Beers and White IPA’s here are two more examples of this trend. Green Flash and Founders are teaming up to create a Linchpin White IPA and Springfield’s own Mother’s Brewing Company has recently released their Sandy Wheat which is described as a hopped up wheat beer and I look forward to trying soon.

Thanks in large part to breweries such as Lucky Town Brewing and many other dedicated beer fans, Mississippians can now purchase beer up to 8% alcohol by weight (the previous limit was 5%)! http://news.yahoo.com/miss-gov-bryant-signs-law-allow-stronger-beer-183210964.html

I do not see this method taking off amongst the craft beer world, but here is an interesting new possibility in keeping ones beer cold; beer foam. http://news.yahoo.com/soft-serve-frozen-foam-keep-beer-colder-longer-141500876.html

Beer News

Here is a little bit of beer news for anyone taking it easy this beautiful Friday night.

First off, here is a little bit of business news concerning Budweiser. http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2012/03/drinks_up_budweiser_brewer_say.html  Budweiser’s earnings and profits improved, however sales volume dropped in the past few months. As one can imagine most of Budweiser’s efforts lately have focused on their new product Bud Light Platinum. Expect much more marketing of the product during the World Cup. It also appears that Budweiser will try to gain ground in China where the “Big Four” have less than 60% of the total market.

Lucky Town Brewing Company has surpassed it’s Kickstarter Goal! I look forward to seeing them open up and may have to travel to Mississippi for a short Southern road trip soon! Congrats to them and everyone who helped them bring good beer to Mississippi! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/luckytownbrew/lucky-town-brewing-company-be-bold-rediscover-beer

According to Food & Wine Magazine these are the 50 Best Bars in America I have not been to any of them and the article is in a slide show format, without a good description of the criteria. I have been to many, many great bars (in the United States and abroad) including some very noteworthy ones such as The Raffles Hotel Long Bar in Singapore, Delerium Cafe in Brussels, A La Mort Subite in Brussels, Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, many bars in Las Vegas and countless others. Nothing on this list is particularly impressive to me, still I am sure the places listed here are all very nice (and expensive).

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout will be released at the Founders Taproom at 11am. I imagine the KBS will arrive in stores in very limited quantities at the end of the month, perhaps earlier in some areas. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout is Tomorrow is also Hunahpu’s Day! Cigar City Brewing will host the third annual Hunahpu’s Day at the brewery tomorrow (Saturday March 10, 2012). This will be the only time (without trading or going to the grey market on Ebay) to purchase a bottle of this highly acclaimed beer!

Miller Lite is reviving “Miller Time”.

Last but not least, New York Legislators have introduced a bill encouraging the local hop industry. I was not into good beer during the great hop shortage of 2007 but I do not wish to experience such a thing now that I am a hop head. So any new hop development is welcome. http://www.beerpulse.com/2012/03/new-york-legislators-introduce-farm-brewery-license-bill/ Speaking of hop shortages, Rogue issued a small warning on the subject in January of 2011 http://rogue.com/rogue-wire-service/blog/2011/01/14/not-again-a-new-hop-shortage-in-2011/. I do not recall this becoming a problem but, we must always be vigilant!

Perennial Abraxas (Review)

Perennial Artisan Ales is a new brewery in Saint Louis that started in late 2010 or early 2011. Boy, are they making a splash! I thought 20 dollars for a bottle of beer from a brewery that is less than a year old was pretty audacious. Then, I tried the Abraxas and my feelings instantly reversed. The Abraxas was phenomenal. It pours an thick oily black with a robust mocha head. The nose contained a soft roasty aroma with hints of pepper and anise. On the pallet was where the real magic happened. This beer is delicious, there is a strong anise component that is balanced perfectly by a lot of bitter chocolate. It has a lot of other things going on including some cinnamon sweetness. I did not taste a lot of chilis, but that could be due to the fact that I am constantly eating dangerously spicy foods. The Abraxas is extremely well crafted and finishes really smoothly and creamy. It is an absolute marvel, get it before the rest of the beer community catches on!

On a side note, I am proudly from Kansas City and a little biased. However, the Saint Louis brewing community has a lot going on. I think Schlafly is an excellent brewery. I like O’Fallon’s seasonals (I know that some of these, were and may still be brewed in Wisconsin) and the 5 Day IPA. With, Perennial as well as several other new breweries that are under development, some great beer bars and liquor stores such as The Wine and Cheese Place and Friar Tuck’s, Saint Louis has the makings of becoming an even greater beer city. It does not seem right to talk about St Louis beer and not mention Budweiser. So there, I mentioned it.

Bud Light Platinum, Absolute Absurdity

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/11/anheuser-busch-announces-bud-light-platinum-says-us-sales-slip.html
This is absurd, from the wording of this article, it looks like Budweiser is equating higher alcohol with craft beer. While higher alcohol by volume is often a common trait of craft beer, it is by no means universal, nor is it a rule of any sort. In fact there are many great craft beers that are lower in alcohol such as Bell’s Oarsman (4%abv) and Mikkeller Drink’in the Sun (3.9%abv) and Stone Levitation Ale(4.4%abv). There are also several good styles such as a Kolsh that do not subscribe to the high alcohol is better philosophy. So, just adding alcohol to a product does not make it more “crafty”. To top it off, they still lowered the calories! Basically Budweiser is trying to create a low calorie malt beverage. I am seriously at a loss for words here. I can say that there are few beers that I want to try LESS than Bud Light Platinum. Good luck. On a side note, I acknowledge the fact that, the article I cited, came from the LA Times which have completely misjudged the “spirit” of what Budweiser is trying to do….

On a completely unrelated note, it is Thursday, which is always a good day. In honor of such a day, here is a short video from my younger days (2005 I believe) of a Keystone Light filled stunt my friends and I pulled on a random Sunday. Enjoy and please note, the guy,KH, in the metal cylinder was not harmed, I was the camera man and I do not know who the guy with the screeching voice was.
Drunk, Stairs, Roll Video
Here is a link to the video if you do not want to download it.
http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/829896/

Beer Ratings Debate

http://www.topfermented.com/2011/10/11/why-beer-rating-is-crap/

That is an interesting article that I think makes some good points. I agree with the author in that Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do tend to overrate rare and bigger beers. I also agree with his stance on the big three domestics Budweiser and Miller-Coors, in that they probably do not deserve a D- or F rating. Just because they are not a very imaginative style (American Adjunct Lager), does not mean they are a flawed beer. I would argue that they are decent beers, if an American Adjunct Lager is what one is looking to drink. I think most beers and styles, have their time and place, as well as price considerations. That does not mean I like those beers, in fact my stance is very much the opposite. I think the size and the power exerted by the big three is bad for business all around. I also believe their dominance has, for years, made America look foolish on the world beer scene. I am glad there is a revolution in the beer world going on and love seeing those companies lose market share every year!

I disagree with the “trained professional panel” aspect, in part. I agree that there is a usefulness for panels such as those utilized by the Great American Beer Fest and various publications. I do not believe they should dominate the market, nor do I want to see a bunch of shelf tags with ratings in my beer store. A lot of times I disagree with their findings and in the cases mentioned the reviews are often limited to certain geographical areas. There are many fantastic beers that do not fit nicely in a particular style as well, which would unfairly hurt their rating. I also do not believe that a single person nor a group of people regardless of training are infallible.

Ultimately, I believe there is room for both styles, a professional system as well as a democratic mass based system. I would not mind seeing more ratings come from the so called “experts” but I never want to see the only ratings coming from those people. I think both are important and should be considered when researching beers as aside from examples on the extreme high end or extreme low end, I think Rate Beer and Beer Advocate to be fairly accurate. Luckily most beers are relatively inexpensive (at least compared to wine) and a rating system at all is not as important because a poor investment will not, in most cases “break the bank”. I would like to know others thoughts on this issue, feel free to comment here or bring up the topic in the forums.