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Georgia’s allows taproom beer sales starting Friday, September 1

IMG_4752Since the end of prohibition, liquor laws have been under the control of each individual state. Most states enacted three-tier system laws that separated alcohol producers from retail outlets via a middle man or distributor. But, many states, even though they passed three-tier system laws, left wiggle room for small producers that allowed them to sell their products in self-run tasting rooms. Georgia was not one of those states. Until today, that is.

As Prohibition came to an end, lawmakers wanted a way to prevent the proliferation of “tied houses” or saloons that served beer from only one brewery. Before Prohibition, saloons were extremely competitive. Most areas had several, each tied to a different brewery. To enhance their beer’s prominence, brewers enticed bar owners to pledge fealty to them by providing loans for furniture and bar equipment under the stipulation that the bar only serve their beer. Breweries ran aggressive marketing campaigns and often applied pressure to their tied barkeeps to sell more and more beer. Often the result was overconsumption and drunkenness leading to deteriorating social situations. Add the specter of mob-controlled distribution and speakeasy networks during Prohibition and it was apparent a change had to be made.

The answer, or so the lawmakers of post-Prohibition America thought, was to put in place a three-tier system in which brewers or distillers could not sell directly to consumers or retailers, they could only sell their products to distributors who could then turn around and sell the product to retailers at a marked-up price. Lawmakers saw this as a way to prevent tied-houses and their overpowering influence. What they accomplished in many instances was to simply shift the corruption from overpowering breweries to distributors who forced breweries into distribution contracts that heavily favored the distributor and prevented producers from breaking the contract even if the distributor failed to market a product effectively.

This inequity is what led to a years-long fight for brewer’s rights in Georgia.

As early as 2001, Georgia’s lawmakers were conducting studies to determine the fairness of the three-tier system. In 2013, the subject was again taken up with brewers appearing before a committee to discuss the issues presented by a strict system that forbids them from selling to consumers directly from their breweries.

“This issue,” Said Rick Tanner of Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative to the commission. “Is more about competitive economic development than it is about alcohol distribution systems.”

In the end, the 2013 study simply made the suggestion that brew pubs be allowed to sell growlers of beer as long as it was purchased with a meal consumed at the brew pub and that it was partially consumed before leaving the premises.

Then, again in 2015, the subject was broached in the Georgia senate. The Republican Senator Hunter Hill from Smyrna introduced Senate Bill 63, that allowed breweries to offer “souvenirs” of their products to customers who took a “tour” of their facilities. While the bill fell short of small brewers’ hopes of being allowed to self-distribute in a limited capacity, it opened the door for future reform.

Finally, in February 2017 Senate Bill 85 was proposed. The Bill would allow the state’s licensed breweries to sell up to 288 ounces of beer — equal to 24 12-ounce bottles — to patrons at their taprooms with a direct sales limit of 3,000 barrels per year or about one million bottles.

Eventually, the Bill passed and Georgia’s governor signed it into law. Starting today Georgia’s breweries can now sell beer to their taproom visitors by the pint, bottle, can or even keg.

Across the state, breweries are hosting celebrations to mark the occasion. In Atlanta, SweetWater Brewing is marking the occasion with new tours and full pours for sale, while Red Brick is offering full pours and case sales. In Cobb County, Burnt Hickory is offering case sales of their brews at a special price, while Macon Beer Company in Macon will mark the day with a ceremonial first full pour.

 

 

 

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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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September brings Oktoberfest to Munich

programma-oktoberfestIn Bavaria, a state of Germany located in the country’s southern region, September brings about the most beloved of all ‘fests; Oktoberfest. The festival has a two-hundred-year history that has seen it grow from a local celebration to the world’s largest fair that lasts 16 days and hosts nearly six million people from around the world.

To give you an idea of the scope of Oktoberfest, let’s take a look at the astounding numbers generated by the event each year. Last year the event was attended by 5.9 million people, who consumed approximately 7.7 million liters of beer, ate more than 500,000 roasted chickens and 330,000 sausages. The festival grounds cover 42 acres – approximately the size of 32 Everbank Fields – and contained 14 massive beer tents with room for up to 10,000 partiers.

To the locals Oktoberfest is known as “die Wies’n,” after the informal name of the fairgrounds. Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations including several here in Jacksonville.

The beginnings of Oktoberfest harken back to 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12. The happy couple wanted to share their joyous occasion with the citizens of their beloved Munich, so they invited all to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”. Nearly 40,000 Bavarians crowded the fields and enjoyed the fanfare and revelry.

The event ended with horse races attended by the Royal Family. The decision to repeat the horse races the following year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. In 1816, carnival booths began appearing at the event with prizes consisting of silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819 and it was decided to make the Oktoberfest an annual event.

Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot – sometimes called the German Purity Law — at a minimum of 13.5% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) may be served at Oktoberfest. To tie the festival to its home town, only beers brewed within the city limits of Munich may be served within the gates. Only beers meeting these criteria may be designated Oktoberfest beer. Other similar beers, brewed outside of Munich, are more correctly called Oktoberfest-style.

There are only six breweries that meet all the above criteria. These breweries include: Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner-Bräu, Spatenbräu, Staatliches Hofbräu-München.

In 1950 the festival adopted a ceremonial opening presided over by the incumbent mayor of Munich. In the new tradition, at high noon on the first day of the festival there is a 12-gun salute followed immediately by the mayor tapping and drawing the first beer of the festival. When the first stein is filled, the mayor faces the crowd and shouts, “O’zapft is!” which translates to, “It is tapped!” The mayor then presents the first mug to Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. After the ceremony the beer begins to flow and the party truly fires up.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Beer

 

Helping brewers for almost 20 years, Florida Brewers Guild holds first conference

For updates and information from the Florida Brewers Conference, keep an eye on the Folio Weekly Pint-Sized Facebook page.

brewers_Guild_conferenceThe art of brewing beer is more than just combining a few ingredients, boiling them at the proper temperature for the appropriate amount of time and allowing the resulting liquid to ferment. Brewing requires knowledge of what is legally allowed to be brewed, of who can supply ingredients and packaging and how beer can be distributed. In addition, brewers must be savvy small businessmen with a handle on how to keep books, how to manage employees and who to turn to for legal assistance.

That is where the Florida Brewers Guild comes in.

“The Guild,” explained Florida Brewers Guild Executive Director, Sean Nordquist. “First and foremost, exists to help support Florida brewery’s rights and interests.”

Formed more than 20 years ago by Tampa area brewers, the Florida Brewers Guild is the trade organization for the state’s breweries. They exist to help brewers by promoting and sponsoring events, educating consumers and insuring the Florida legislature hears craft brewery’s voices over the thunderous din of macro-brewers, distributors and other special interest groups.

In a time when some experts and industry insiders are opining that the breakneck speed of craft beer’s growth is beginning to slow, Nordquist remains optimistic.

Statistics compiled by the Brewers Association, the national trade organizations that represents craft brewers, show that Florida is 10th in the nation for number of breweries, but only 43rd in breweries per 100,000 persons. That gap, Nordquist believes, leaves a lot of room for more breweries to open and thrive in the Sunshine State.

“We are going to continue to see new breweries popping up seemingly every week,” Nordquist enthused. “Some will make it, some will not. It’s going to come down to those that have a combination of a great product, good business practices and local consumer support.”

He also sees a trend for hyper-local nano-breweries like the recently opened Hyperion Brewing Company and the soon-to-open Main & Six Brewing Company, both in the Springfield National Historic District.

“If you are not packaging, your tasting room is your bread and butter,” Nordquist said of the nano trend. “You have to have a great product. And that extends to making community an extension of the brand. It brings in more local consumers who may not ordinarily go to a brewery by making it a local gathering place.”

This year, for the first time, the Guild is hosting a conference August 7-9 to bring the state’s brewers together in Orlando for three days. Activities include panel discussions on topics ranging from brewing with Florida ingredients to trademark law, guest speakers like Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing Company and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams Brewing Company and mingling with industry leaders in an expo hall filled with more than 30 vendors.

“Breweries in the state have grown exponentially,” said Nordquist of the conference. “Just a few years ago Florida only had something like 40 breweries. Now we have over 200. We want brewers to learn from each other, to learn about services that are out there and to have an opportunity to meet with their peers.”

Nordquist expects the Conference to draw as many as 300 attendees drawing brewers and others like distributer representatives, suppliers, legal and other allied brewing services.

“I think you’re going to see more companies wanting to do business with Florida brewing,” he says of what he expects to see after the conference. “I also hope we will see breweries taking the things they learn at the conference and adopt them to make better beer.”

That is a sentiment we can all get behind.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

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GABF brewery participation at record levels

GABF03

Photo: GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com

Every year about this time, beer-lovers around the country begin to start scouring the airline sites for cheap flights to Denver. Why? Because tickets to the epitome of beer festivals, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), generally go on sale around the end of July or beginning of August. This year tickets go up for grabs on August 1 to members of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and August 2 to the general public.

What’s the big deal?

Scale. Think about any other beer festival you have ever attended and multiply it by a factor of about 10. The festival itself is just the beginning. The week of GABF sees dozens of satellite events spring up around Denver. Anything from tap takeovers to beer dinners to rare beer tastings take place. Couple that with the wealth of breweries in the greater Denver area and within an hour’s drive of the Mile-High city and you have the makings of an epic beer adventure.

This year the festival, which is both a beer-tasting festival and beer-judging event, will see the largest number of breweries serving tastes to festival attendees and an even larger number sending beers across the country to be judged in the competition. While exact numbers are not known yet, early sources say that there is room for around 900 tasting booths. With each brewery likely to bring three to four beers, the potential beers to taste could extend to nearly 4,000.

In addition to tasting booths, GABF provides beer-lovers with opportunities to meet brewers from some of their favorite breweries at 150 special “Meet the Brewer” booths. At these booths, attendees can ask questions, get insights and show their support of local brewers.

Other activities at the festival include seminars, beer and cheese pairings, an embedded food and beer pairing festival (separately ticketed), a massive brewery t-shirt sales booth where attendees can by shirts from breweries around the country, book signings and much more.

On the competition side, up to this point more than 2,200 breweries have signed up to enter their brews in the GABF competition. Considering that there are about 5,500 breweries in the country now, that means that nearly half of the breweries in the United States have offered up beers for judging.

It’s no wonder that GABF is considered the premier beer festival in the country.

This year the festival runs from October 5-7 over four sessions. Tickets are $85 for the general public and $80 for AHA members. If you are planning on trying to get tickets to this bucket list event, you might want to take a look at the article I wrote a few months ago. In 6 Tips You Must Know to Score GABF Tickets, I outline how you can increase your chances to attend the festival of a lifetime.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Maggies-3D-Can_TransparentBeer is a many splendor thing, whether it is in the form of an IPA, stout, kolsch or pale ale, there is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of flavors to choose from. And craft beer lovers like it that way. All one has to do is pay attention to the weekly offerings at many of the local breweries to see that mid-week most offer a variation to one of their current brews. Be it an herb-infused saison or an IPA aged on fruit, variety is the name of the game.

One of the hottest emerging trends in the world of craft beer is fruit-infused brew. Sure, the Belgians have had fruit in their beer for more than a century. Breweries such as Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels created Framboise (raspberry) and Kriek (cherry) lambics more than 100 years ago. Lambics are a style of ale that is not inoculated with yeast; instead it is allowed to spontaneously ferment from yeast present in the air that gets to the beer via open air cooling vessels often located on the roof or the top floor of the brewery that is open to the outside.

As a modern phenomenon, fruit beers come in several iterations; fruit additions to typical styles like IPAs and stouts, styles that have traditionally included fruit or fruit syrup additions like Berliner Weisse and hybrid styles that are created specifically to highlight fruit flavors like apple ales.

A trip to your local beer monger will reveal an ever-increasing shift towards fruit-flavors in familiar styles. The highly-rated IPA Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Company of San Diego, Calif. now comes in a wide array of fruit flavors like grapefruit, pineapple and even habanero (yes, peppers are technically fruits). Another style that has had the fruit-infusion treatment is farmhouse ale. This style, akin to saison, has been refreshingly imbued with peach by Terrapin Beer Company of Athens, Ga. in their Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse. Wheat beers are also frequently amped up with fruit flavors. Traditional Belgian wheat beers often include orange peel in the brewing process, but American brewers like 21st Amendment have upped the ante by adding watermelon in their Hell or high Watermelon.

Berliner Weisse, a German sour wheat beer, was traditionally served with raspberry (Himbeersirup) syrup to balance the tartness. Today brewers create their own riffs of the style by adding fruit directly in the beer during fermentation. Locally in Jacksonville, Aardwolf Brewing Company has created several variations of their Lactic Zeppelin Berliner Weisse with guava and passionfruit.

Samuel Smith’s The Old Brewery in Tadcaster, England produces several fruit beers that defy any other style categorization. One of their best is Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry a spontaneously fermented brew with tart and sour flavors similar to a Belgian lambic. The addition of strawberry juice adds some sweetness to balance the flavors. But, perhaps the fastest growing flavor among fruit beers is apple. With the growing popularity of hard cider, companies like Redd’s (part of the Miller Brewing Company) are capitalizing on the fruit beer trend. Available in several flavors, Redd’s is an apple-flavored beverage that is brewed like a beer rather than simply fermented like a cider.

Whether you are a purist and think beer should taste like, well, beer or a progressive and accept the current flood of fruit beers hitting the market, one fact is certain; brewers are going to keep experimenting with new fruits and flavors. You may as well relax, fill a cooler with ice and add some refreshing fruit-infused brews for enjoying on the back porch on the coming hot summer nights.

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Beer, Beer Styles

 

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Brewers Association seeks to differentiate craft beer with Independent Craft seal

Brewers-Association-Independent-Craft-stamp-badge-logo-BeerPulseThe landscape of craft beer has gone from one of unfettered growth to that of a battleground for small, independent brewers fighting to eek out a place in the now crowded marketplace. To make the fight more difficult, the two mega brewers that control 90% of the  United State’s beer production — Anheuser-Bush/InBev and Molson Coors — seem to be on a tear to snatch up as many craft brewers as they can, muddying the field and confusing consumers as to who actually produces the beer they are drinking.

According to a blog post dated July 19 on the Brewers Association’s (BA) website, as the craft beer movement started to reach its crescendo and begin slowing, brewers began speaking out regarding the need for a way to differentiate their products from those produced by the mega brewers or breweries owned by them. An idea that had been kicked around for decades came to the forefront again and, on June 27, 2017, the BA announced the creation of the Independent Craft Brewer seal.

The seal is a logo designed to be displayed on packaging and advertising on products brewed by breweries that conform to the BA’s definition of a craft brewery. To qualify, a brewery must produce less than six million barrels of beer annually and be less than 25% owned by alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. It depicts an upside-down beer bottle that symbolizes how the craft brewing movement turned the beer brewing industry on its head.

During the design of the seal, research showed that almost all beer lovers have some interest in a “certification badge” or seal to identify independently owned craft breweries believing such a seal would support small businesses. Indeed, a Brewbound/Nielsen Harris Poll of 2,000 beer lovers conducted in May 2017 indicated overwhelmingly that beer drinkers want to know who is making the beer they drink.

“People want to know when they are supporting locally owned and operated businesses, in this case breweries, that are independent from the big corporations,” said Sean Nordquist, Executive Director of the Florida Brewers Guild. “People want to know that their money is going towards local businesses rather than multi-national corporations.”

 

With the seal, the BA hopes to clarify who is making the beer consumers are drinking. Especially as the mega brewers continue to purchase craft brewers and introduce “crafty” beers to the market that mimic craft styles.

Since the announcement of the seal, nearly 25-percent of the independent craft brewers in the United States have adopted it in some form.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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American Homebrewers Association releases recipe guide containing instructions to make iconic brews

American-Homebrewers-Association-LogoEveryday I receive emails from around the beer world that keep me informed on what is happening within the industry. From time to time I come across a story that I share with you, my faithful readers. Today, I came across a press release from the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) touting its inaugural 50-State Commercial Beer Clone Recipes Guide.

Now, I know there are a few homebrewers out there that have always wanted to try their hand at cloning some of the countries most iconic craft beers like Pliney the Elder from Russian River Brewing, Two-Hearted from Bells Brewing or Belgian Red Ale from New Glarus. Well, the AHA guide supplies the recipes to these and 47 other brews scaled down to five- to 10-gallon batches.

“With both the craft beer industry and the hobby of homebrewing continuing to expand nationwide,” said Gary Glass, Director, American Homebrewers Association in the press release. “These recipes offer beer lovers the opportunity to make their favorite local brews at home.”

The AHA reached out to breweries across in every state across the country and asked them to contribute a recipe for the guide. The result was a collection of iconic and up-and-coming recipes ready for homebrewers to create on their next brew day. Among the recipes collected is Unholy Trippel for Florida’s own Coppertail Brewing Company.

See the entire guide at the link below.

50-State Commercial Beer Clone Recipes Guide

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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