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Hyperion opens to huge crowds, outstanding neighborhood support

IMG_8417 (1)Last week something wonderful happened in my neighborhood; with the opening of our first neighborhood craft brewery, hope and pride swelled to overflowing.

For longer than I have lived in the district, Main Street has been a source of frustration in its inability to attract consumers from other areas of the city. Uptown Kitchen made inroads, but it alone was not enough to provide the spark Main Street needed to truly start on the road to recovery.

Then, a few months ago, when Hyperion Brewing Company announced that it would be setting up shop in the Springfield National Historic District, the neighborhood lit up. The combination of Hyperion, the soon-to-open Crispies restaurant and bar and another brewery — Main & Six Brewing Company — seems to have reawakened interest in the long neglected heart of Springfield.

From the beginning, Hyperion’s mission was to open in an emerging neighborhood. The goal was to help in the renaissance of the area and to become a draw to bring more people into the area and bring vibrancy. After a long search, several false starts, and a bit of a rezoning fight with the city of Jacksonville, a location on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District was chosen.

In a press release issued by Hyperion May 22, co-owner and CEO Alexandra McKeown estimated that more than 100 eager patrons attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening Friday, May  19. When I arrived I talked with numerous neighbors and others who were all excited for the new opportunities the brewery would bring to Main Street.

“All of us at Hyperion Brewing Company are overwhelmed by and so thankful for the support we received from the Jacksonville community, and especially our Springfield neighbors, at our Grand Opening and first weekend open for business,” McKeown said. “We look forward to adding more brews to our selection in the coming months and offering our customers a great experience at [our] historic Springfield’s first brewery.”

The new brewery will serve a variety of beer styles, traditional and innovative, on a 32-gallon 1-barrel system, ensuring plenty of variety for patrons to sample. The opening of Hyperion marks the first true nano brewery in Jacksonville with the aim of creating a large variety of beers while avoiding — at least initially — brewing “core beers” that are always on tap. The larger selection of beers provides patrons with a constantly changing selection that is meant to expose them to many different styles of beer.

Over the course of the weekend, Hyperion estimates that they served more than 900 patrons. I personally visited several times to find the taproom full of excited, laughing patrons eager to support the new business. Many expressed their enthusiasm for the direction and tone set by Hyperion.

Based on the response, it is easy to see that Hyperion touched a nerve within the historic district. And, if one can predict the response other new Main Street businesses like Common Grounds coffee shop, Block Skate Shop, Crispies and the forthcoming Main & Six Brewing company can expect from the outpouring of enthusiasm heaped on Hyperion, Springfield is about to become the next great entertainment and shopping district in Jacksonville.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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Danish brewer goes from the pisser to the pint glass

mannekenpisBrewers like to make unique, memorable beers. In the past there have been beers made with yeast from a brewer’s beard, a pizza beer and a beer made from purified waste water. But, a brewer in Denmark may have gone too far by making a beer from human urine.

Nørrebro Bryghus, a Danish microbrewery located in Copenhagen, has gone to the toilet for their new “Pisner” beer.

According to Rueters, the brewery is using 50,000 gallons of urine collected from a music festival to brew the novelty beer. This begs the question, which came first the beer or the piss?

But, in case you just started feeling a bit queasy, the beer is not made from filtered urine. Instead, the urine was used to fertilize the barley used in the brewing process.

“When the news that we had started brewing the Pisner came out,”  said Henrik Vang, Chief Executive of brewer Norrebro Bryghus in the Reuters article. “A lot of people thought we were filtering the urine to put it directly in the beer and we had a good laugh about that.”

About 60,000 bottles of the beer are available to adventurous drinkers.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Beer It Forward this American Craft Beer Week

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Credit: Brewers Association

Monday, May 15 marks the beginning of American Craft Beer Week 2017. The week celebrates the diversity of the American craft beer scene and strives to educate the uninitiated to the many joys of craft beer. In addition, this year the Brewers Association
— the trade organization dedicated to supporting craft beer brewers — have launched a #BeerItForward campaign.

Simply put, Beer It Forward is a way to do something extra with beer. Its a means to make someone’s day, say thank you for a job well done or just an anonymous gesture that shares the craft beer love with someone else. Beering It Forward could be something as simple as buying a pint for a stranger while at a taproom, bringing a six-pack of special brews to a friend or including extra beer in a trade.  Anything that “pays it forward.”

When someone Beers It Forward to you, document their generosity on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and tag it with #BeerItForward.

Get more information about the concept in the infographic produced by the Brewers Association below.

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Credit: Brewers Association

 
 

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Beer taxation here to stay

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Credit: The Beer Institute

Alcohol, and beer in particular, has always had a target of sorts on its back. Historians note that the first records of taxes levied on beer date back all the way to the days of the Egyptians. German brewers in Hamburg were taxed so harshly in the 1600s that the number of breweries dwindled from over 1500 at the beginning of the century to only 120 by 1698. And, whoa be to the brewer who did not pay his taxes in Aix-la-Chapelle, France where the city council of 1271 mandated chopping off the brewer’s right hand should he fail to pay his taxes.

Yes, the taxman has not been kind to the poor brewer throughout history. And, in a startling case of history repeating itself, governments – local, state and national – have once again taken notice of the bustling beer industry and the tax dollars it can generate.

As it stands now, beer is federally taxed at $18 a barrel equating to about 58 cents per gallon according to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association craft beer industry group. Extrapolating that out even further; that 12-ounce bottle of beer you enjoy so very much is taxed about 5 cents by Uncle Sam. But, that rate only applies to the largest of breweries that produce more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year. Smaller breweries that produce less than 60,000 barrels – and the first 60,000 barrels produced by larger brewers – pony up just $7 per barrel or about 2 cents per can or bottle. That may seem like a deal comparatively, but in a competitive market of more than 5,000 breweries, every penny counts. And, that is just the feds. You might be appalled at what brewers have to pay in state excise taxes.

Florida is middle of the road with their tax on beer at 48 cents per gallon, but try to peddle beer in Tennessee and you will have to pony up $1.29 per gallon between state excise taxes and wholesale taxes. That is nearly a whopping $40 per 31-gallon half barrel. Compare that with Wisconsin where beer is taxed at a mere two cents per gallon.

Fortunately, there is a group in Washington that wants to see some of these taxes reduced on the federal side at least. The Beer Institute, an industry lobbying organization, and the Brewers Association rolled out the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA). The goal of the act is to reduce the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels a brewery produces in a year from $7 to $3.50 as long as the brewer produces less than two million barrels annually.

In a statement made after the bill was introduced, president and CEO of the Beer Institute Jim McGreevy said, “Today, the beer industry supports more than 1.75 million U.S. jobs and generates nearly $253 billion in economic activity, which is equal to about 1.5% of the U.S. GDP.”

If passed, the legislation would represent a savings to America’s brewers of $131 million as estimated by the Brewers Association using 2015 figures.

While the federal bill will not affect how states levy taxes, it could provide a welcome respite to brewers besieged with taxes. But, in the end, short of a Boston Tea Party style revolt, beer is going to be taxed. Whether the rate equates to an arm (or hand) and a leg will depend on where you buy the beer you enjoy. And, I for one do not plan to stop enjoying a cold one because of a few pennies in taxes.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

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Miir introduces better, redesigned growler

blacknewgrowler_10c65d85-5517-449f-8d8d-8e3e4a50c908From time to time companies that have beer-centric products reach out to me and offer to send me samples. Whether these items are beer, accessories or books, I sometimes accept their offers when the product is of particular interest to me. That said, a few months ago I received an email from Jam Collective a public relations firm representing Miir Labs. The email introduced me to Miir’s recently updated growler.

Fast forward to this week when a box appeared on my front door step from Miir. Eagerly I opened the box to find that the beautiful matte black growler I had requested arrived.

The first thing I noticed about the growler was the construction. Made of 18/8 medical grade stainless steel, the growler was sturdy yet relatively light-weight – far lighter than a typical glass growler. Next I noticed the sturdy and convenient handle, perfect for easy pouring. Finally, the buckle seal on the mouth impressed me with how securely it held the lid closed. An added surprise was the lid lock that holds the lid open while either pouring or filling the growler. The handle, buckle closure and lid-lock are all new features over Miir’s previous product that they call the Heritage growler.

In comparison to more traditional growlers – of which I own many – the new Miir Growler has several advantages.

Wide Mouth

Anyone who has poured beer from a growler without a handle knows how awkward that can be. The mouth on most growlers is narrow causing beer to “chug” when it pours making it hard to pour beer without spills. The Miir growler has a two-inch opening that minimizes the chugging effect.

Large Handle

The typical glass growler has a tiny loop for a handle that usually can only accommodate a finger or two – that is, if it even has a handle, many do not. The Miir growler has a long, comfortable handle similar to what you would find on a pitcher. The handle makes it much easier to transport the growler and provides greater control when pouring to avoid spillage.

Buckle Closure 

Most growler have either a screw on lid or a swing-top – a looped wire that holds the lid in place – these types of closures can get lost in the case of the lid or bent in the case of the swing-top. In addition, the seal made by either of these types of closures can weaken over time allowing for carbonation to be lost or air to get in to the growler. In either case, the beer in the growler can easily be ruined. The Miir growler has a very solid buckle that hooks on to the lid and snaps in place for a tight air and leak-tight seal.

Lock Back Lid

Filling a growler with an attached lid can be a hassle. Often the lid gets in the way and the bartender has to hold it back. The Miir growler has a lid the swings back and then locks preventing it from swinging forward until intentionally moved.

In addition to these features, the Miir growler employs a double-walled vacuum insulation technology called Thermo 3D. This breakthrough insulation keeps cold liquids cold for more than 24 hours without refrigeration and hot liquids hot for 12 hours.

To test the growler, I filled it with ice water and left it sitting on my kitchen counter for a full 24 hours. When I returned, the growler had not sweat on the counter. As I picked it up I could hear that it still had ice in it. Before I opened it, I gave it a good shaking to see if it would leak. Not a drop came from the seal. When I finally did open the growler, the water inside was still ice cold after 24 hours.

Miir uses a crowd-funding model that helps determine the products to be produced. Prototypes are placed on Miir Labs, the company’s crowd-funding platform where they are discounted 25% for a limited time. If the product meets its pre-determined funding goal, it is manufactured and delivered to investors before going to retail.

Miir also guarantees a portion of every purchase is given to clean water and health initiatives worldwide. Customers can track the impact of their purchase via a “Give Code” included with each purchase. In the case of the growler, 5% of each sale goes to Splash in Kolkata, India. This initiative ensures clean water, clean hands and clean toilets for students in 10 schools.

The Miir growler holds 64 ounces (1/2 gallon) of fluid, is available in four colors (black, white, blue and stainless steel) and retails for $59 and can be purchased at: https://www.miir.com/collections/growlers.

Disclaimer: I received a growler from Miir to evaluate. I was under no obligation to write this review nor will I make a commission off any sales generated by the above link.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Beer, Products

 

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Spencer Trappist to release Belgian-style quad

smrThe first certified Trappist brewery in the United States, Spencer Trappist Brewery, has announced that they will release a Belgian-style quad ale. This announcement brings the brewery into alignment with many of its brethren breweries in Belgium. This is because quads are most closely identified with Trappist breweries like Sint Sixtus brewers of the coveted Westvleteren XII and Trappistes Rochefort 10.

Learn more from the official press release below.

Spencer Trappist Brewery announced today the forthcoming release of its new Spencer Monk’s Reserve Ale, a classic Trappist Quadrupel in the Belgian tradition.

Belgian brewing tradition developed a system of characterizing bottle-conditioned ales based on the quantity of malt and the ale’s original gravity. The resulting categories include the Single, the Dubbel, the Tripel and the Quadrupel (or Quad). Quads are “big”, strong, dark, ales that typically contain 10%+ alcohol by volume and are considered top-of-the-line products.

Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale is fragrant, robust and full bodied, mahogany in color and crowned with a dense, tan, frothy head. Its malt-forward profile yields to a warm finish, with an ABV of 10.2%.

The recipe development phase of this Quad stretched over three years and 13 experimental brews. The Spencer monks sought an alternative to the use of spices for flavor enhancement by pushing the boundaries of traditional Trappist Quad malt profiles, even incorporating some local barley grown in nearby Barre, MA, which was craft malted in Hadley, MA. The outcome is a unique product with a distinct flavor profile well situated within the Trappist family of Quadrupel ales. Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale received the approval of the International Trappist Association in March 2017.

In announcing Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale, Father Isaac Keeley, Spencer Brewery Director, notes, “It is a major event for a Trappist brewery to introduce a new Quad. We took our time developing this one and we are rather happy with the result.” This beer was well received in Brussels by the Board of the International Trappist Association to whom it was presented for sensory evaluation and a vote of approval. The monks of Spencer look forward to serving this new Quad during their Sunday supper, as well as sharing it with their friends in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale will be available for public tasting in the US at the BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on June 2-3, 2017. Spencer Monks’ Reserve Ale will be available to our distributors on June 12th and at retail shortly thereafter. It will be featured at The Spencer Brewery’s Open House on June 24, 2017.

In 2013 St. Joseph’s Abbey became home to The Spencer Brewery, which is one of eleven certified Trappist breweries in the world and the only one located outside of Europe. The monks of Spencer make bottle-conditioned ales in the centuries-old tradition, as well as various American craft beers – all while living the motto “ora et labora” (pray and work). In accordance with the Trappist way of life, all proceeds from their work are used to support the monastery, with any surplus donated to charity – primarily charities that help the poor. The beers crafted by The Spencer Brewery are available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, and throughout Europe. Outside our distribution area Spencer products are available at belgianstyleales.com. The Spencer Brewery plans to start exporting to Asia later this year.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Reaction to the Wicked Weed sale to Anhueser-Busch

PubOutsideThe Internet blew up yesterday on the news of Asheville, NC brewery Wicked Weed’s sale to brewing behemoth Anhueser-Busch. The reactions ran the gamut from utter outrage to disbelief to acceptance. Put simply, it was polarizing news that caused Twitter and other social media outlets to virtually explode with opinions on the matter.

Dumping beers from breweries acquired by A-B was a common theme among craft beer bars, package stores and restaurants. Brew Studs, a Twitter account linked to a popular beer blog of the same name tweeted:

Texas sour and funky beer brewer Jester King regularly collaborated with Wicked Weed and even carried Wicked Weed beers in their taproom. But, with the news that broke yesterday, that all changed.

“This has been a difficult day for us. The news that our great friend Wicked Weed Brewing was acquired by AB In-Bev came as quite a shock,” wrote Jester King founder Jefferey Stuffings on his brewery’s website. “One of our core principles is that we do not sell beer from AB In-Bev or its affiliates…”

“Because of this core principle,” Stuffings continued. “It pains us to say that we won’t be carrying Wicked Weed anymore at Jester King. We think Wicked Weed beer is some of the best in the world. Their talent, techniques, and patience produces some of the most beautiful beer we’ve ever tasted. That, combined with their great friendship, is what makes this decision so tough for us. But like we said, our core values must be paramount at the end of the day.”

Denver, Colo. brewery Black Project also pulled out of a collaboration they were working on with WIcked Weed.

“…We will not be able to lend our name to the unfinished collaboration beer currently aging in Asheville, NC.” Black Project owners James and Sarah Howat said on their website. “Additionally, the beer we brewed with Wicked Weed here at Black Project will be blended with other existing aged beer we have on hand to make something totally different which we will not consider a Wicked Weed collaboration.”

Breweries are also pulling out of the Wicked Weed Funkatorium Invitational, a music and beer festival that benefits an Asheville charity that identifies needs in the community and works to resolve them. Both Jester King and Black Project along with Grimm Artisnal, Jackie O’s, Haw River Farmhouse, OEC, Trillium and Wooden Robot have announced they will not participate as planned.

But the shunning from fellow breweries and beer lovers are not the only consequences Wicked Weed has suffered. The North Carolina Brewer’s Guild stripped the brewery of its voting rights and relegated Wicked Weed to only having the ability to be an affiliate member of the guild.

What are your thoughts on the sale? Is it a business move or is it a sell out?

 

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Beer, Brewery Acquisitions

 

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