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American Homebrewers Association names Best Beers in America 2017

best_beers_2017The American Homebrewers Association’s (AHA) member magazine, Zymurgy, has released it annual Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America list for 2017 and for the first time since 2008, Russian River’s Pliney the Elder is not at the top of the list. This year, the survey that polls readers of the magazine named Bell’s Two Hearted as the number one beer in the land. Pliney slides to second and Founders Breakfast Stout takes the third place position. Bell’s also took the top spot for best brewery.

“As homebrewers, Zymurgy readers have more refined palates than most for tasting beer,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association in a press release. “The Best Beers in America survey reveals which beers are leaving the biggest impression on the minds—and mouths—of these discerning beer drinkers.”

Bell’s Brewing Company began when Larry Bell brewed his first commercial batch of beer 32 years ago in Kalamazoo, Mich. Using a 15-gallon soup pot, Bell coaxed 135 barrels of beer from his makeshift system by 1986, just one year after beginning his new venture. Just three years later, the brewery was producing 500 barrels of beer per year. In the years since then Bell’s has grown to add additional breweries, a 200-barrel brewhouse, a cafe and an additional brewing company.

“This is an incredible honor for us. We got our start as homebrewers—that’s how my dad got going—so we really identify with the homebrewing community,” said Laura Bell, CEO, Bell’s Brewery, whose father, Larry, started the brewery in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Mich. “We take a lot of that spirit into what we do today.”

Each year, for the past 15 years, Zymurgy has asked its readers to provide a list of their top 20, commercially available beers. The magazine then uses that information to compile rankings for top beer, top brewery, top imports and brewery with best overall portfolio.

The survey results read like a dream shipping list of highly-coveted beers, heavy on IPAs, but with stouts and a few other styles sprinkled in. Notable among the non-IPA and non-stout entries are Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale a fruity, complex saison with a peppery, dry finish and Odell’s 90 Shilling a lighter, smoother version of a traditional Scottish ale. California breweries dominate the top 10 breweries list taking seven spots with breweries like Sierra Nevada, Stone and Firestone Walker. Not surprisingly Belgian or Belgian-style beers controlled the top import list with Canadian brewery Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde. Top portfolio honors went to Stone Brewing Company with 31 highly-regarded brews.

To see all the winners go to the Best Beers in America page on the American Homebrewers Association website at: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/news/2017-best-beers-america-results/.

 

 

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

 

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Craft beer: A catalyst for neighborhood revitalization

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Springfield building under renovation to house the Main & Six Brewing Company. Photo by MetroJacksonville.com

Just a few months ago, I stood before members of the Jacksonville City Council several times to express my support for breweries that wanted to open in the Springfield National Historic District. I used my three minutes of speaking time to hammer some facts about the benefits of breweries to re-emerging neighborhoods like Springfield. My goal was to impress upon the voting members of the Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) committee how breweries across the country have been instrumental in the revitalization of communities.

In its article, “Craft beer’s big impact on small towns and forgotten neighborhoods,” published, June 13, online housing news site Curbed captures the same information I spoke of in an in-depth article.

The article, by Patrick Sisson, weaves a compelling tale of how breweries have brought new life to forgotten towns and neighborhoods across the country. It even holds Jacksonville’s King Street Beer District out as an example of an abandoned commercial district that has seen an amazing turn around due to craft beer and craft beer breweries.

For my research, I dug up numerous stories of down-trodden areas that were brought back to life when a craft beer brewery moved in. Notably — and also mentioned in the Curbed article — is the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. Before Great Lakes Brewing Company set up shop in 1988, the neighborhood situated immediately west of the  Cuyahoga River, was a deteriorating district marred by abandoned buildings and plagued by drugs.

Today the Ohio City neighborhood is thriving with six breweries, shops, restaurants, night clubs and residential buildings. It is a prime example of the power or craft beer to bring people in to a neighborhood they would otherwise ignore. It illustrates how a brewery tap room can become a gathering spot that can serve as a catalyst for conversation about gentrification.

Today, in Jacksonville, we in the midst of a beer-fueled revitalization of multiple forgotten neighborhoods. The neighborhood known as Silvertown adjacent to Riverside and home of the city’s first craft brewery, Bold City Brewing Company, is seeing a rise in property values and an influx of new residents intent on restoring the historic homes and residing close to the bustling beer-centric nightlife hub of King Street.

Other local breweries such as Intuition Ale Works and Engine 15 Brewing Company have opted to utilize existing building stock in crumbling areas. Intuition took up residence in an old warehouse in the city’s Sports District nearly a year ago and has seen astounding success and growth because of the decision. Engine 15 bought a couple of warehouses in the crumbling LaVilla neighborhood. The addition of a small tap room at the brewery has seen an influx of suburbanites curious to visit the location.

In Springfield the addition of Hyperion Brewing Company on long neglected Main Street has already brought visitors from other parts of the city that had long eschewed the area. Soon, a new night club/restaurant, Crispy’s, will open providing another reason for outsiders to travel to the inner city. And, in late September or early October, Main & Six Brewing Company will join the other new-comers and older properties like Wafaa & Mike’s, Uptown Kitchen & Bar and  Tapas Old World.

With more breweries planned for the coming year, Jacksonville is poised to become the next great beer destination in Florida. One can only hope that they decide to settle in one of Jacksonville’s other abandoned districts to breathe life once again in to the Bold New City of the South.

Read the entire Curbed article here.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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RateBeer sells minority stake to AB/InBev subsidiary, reactions mixed

ratebeerIn a climate that can only be described as “highly-volatile,” Anheuser-Busch/InBev has made yet another acquisition. But, this time it is not a craft brewery that the beer giant has purchased. This time a division of AB/InBev known as ZX Ventures has taken a minority interest in one of craft beers most venerable institutions: RateBeer.com. The sale took place in October of 2016 and was announced to the public and RateBeer users Friday, June 2, 2017.

For those unfamiliar with RateBeer.com, it is a website were craft beer lovers can document and rate beers they have tasted. Since the site first went online in May of 2000, millions of beer reviews have been posted on what the owners call the, “premier resource for consumer-driven beer ratings.”

ZX Ventures is a “global disruptive growth group, incubator, and venture capital team,” as described by the company’s website. The goal of the company is to gather consumer data to better anticipate their future needs. This goal is accomplished by mining data from various sources including RateBeer and other sources from all over the world.

The question that is on many people’s minds now is whether RateBeer can fulfill the mission it espouses on its website: “Our mission is to provide unbiased, consumer-driven information about beer and breweries and to enhance the image and worldwide appreciation of beer.” According to RateBeer owner, Joe Tucker, they can.

“ZX Ventures,” Tucker said in an announcement about the sale. “Has the utmost respect for the integrity of the data and the unbiased service we offer to the entire community and industry.”

Tucker goes on to explain that the integrity of RateBeer’s computational methods and reliance on crowd-sourced reviews, “Obviously won’t and cannot change.” He says that RateBeer has a large and loud membership and a data transparency initiative to ensure data will not be manipulated in AB/InBev’s favor.

But, at least one craft beer brewer, Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s Sam Calgione, isn’t buying it and has already spoken out regarding RateBeer’s move.

“We believe,” Calgione said via Dogfish Head’s blog. “This is a direct violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics and a blatant conflict of interest.”

Later in the same blog post, Calgione asks Anheuser-Busch and RateBeer to remove all data relating to Dogfish Head from the website.

“It just doesn’t seem right,” explained Calgione. “For a brewer of any kind to be in a position to potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform. It is our opinion that this initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack of transparency is troubling.”

Calgione fully understands the power that a company like Ab/InBev can wield. In 2011, he had a popular craft beer show called “Brew Masters” that aired on the Discovery Channel. After a short, but successful run of the show that focused on Calgione and his brewery, the series was cancelled. The reason for the cancellation has been widely reported as AB/InBev threatening to pull all advertising on the channel and its affiliated channels if the show continued.

In a Facebook post, the owners of Moonlight Meadery and Hidden Moon Brewing quote ZX spokesperson, Samantha Ross: “It’s really insight. It’s insights into consumer trends. It’s a better understanding of the beer consumer, and the beer markets globally. That’s really going to help us kind of keep our finger on the pulse.”

The Meadery/Brewery’s post then goes on to compare this statement to wartime intelligence gathering.

Among the users of RateBeer, reaction is mixed. Many are condemning the sale, while other congratulate Tucker on working to further the future of the site. Most are conflicted and worry that the site they have loved contributing to for 17 years is now partially owned by a subsidiary of the company they have come to think of as the enemy.

“I do have concerns over impartiality,” RateBeer user The_Osprey posted on RateBeer’s forums. “But, I think the site deserves the recognition and investment and joet (owner Joe Tucker) deserves to put his feet up a bit. I hope the site stays true to what has made it a success so far.”

If, as Tucker has promised, ZX is only interested in the data it can cull from RateBeer, then there is very little for users, brewers and others to be concerned regarding the unbiased nature of reviews on the site. But, as stated in the opening of this article, the craft beer community is in a state of volatility, it feels as if it is under constant attack from market forces exerted by big beer to quash smaller craft producers. The reactions from industry insiders like Dogfish Head and Hidden Moon may be overly harsh, but in this day and age, that is the nature of the game.

Time will tell if RateBeer remains the unbiased source of beer information it has been in the past. This sale inject controversy into an area of craft beer culture that, though accustomed to controversy, should remain pure for the sake of integrity.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Sam Adams invites you to Pour One Forward this Memorial Day

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Source: American Dream U

This Memorial Day weekend take a break from the beach, barbecues and gatherings to reflect on the sacrifices made by our nation’s military and first responders. To make it easier to show your appreciation for these amazing people, Sam Adams and American Dream U are sponsoring a campaign called Pour One Forward to help educate military members and their families as well as help military members find jobs and grow small businesses.

Pout One Forward is a program that allows you to purchase a Sam Adams Boston Lager for a military member this weekend. The concept is simple, the next time you are at a participating bar or restaurant that serves Boston Lager (use this handy map to find one) tell your server that you want to buy a Boston Lager for a military member. You will be given a voucher to fill out in the shape of a pint glass. Then, just leave the voucher with the server and they will give it to an active or veteran military member so they can enjoy a free beer on you.

In addition to providing free pints to service members, Pour One Forward provides a $.50 donation to American Dream U for each 12-pack of Boston Lager sold by participating retail stores. You can also text POURONE to 24587 and make a donation. Sam Adams will match all donations up to $10,000

The Pour One Forward campaign runs through July 5, 2017.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Brewers Association standing up to breweries, beers with offensive names, labels

BA_logoThe Brewers Association, a trade group that serves the craft beer industry, has taken a rather harsh stance on beer names and labels that straddle or cross the line of good taste.

At a press briefing held during the Craft Brewers Conference on Wednesday, the BA it would ban breweries that use offensive or sexist names and labels from using BA intellectual property such as World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Fest awards and medals in advertising.

“We want our members to be responsible corporate citizens,” said Bob Pease, Brewers Association president and CEO. “We want to err on the side of tolerance.”

The policy comes at a time when the United States is at a heightened sense of political correctness. Gender-shaming, racist remarks and innuendo are no longer acceptable in this country.

Pease does allow that there is a vast “grey area” that the move will have to navigate.

“It’s not going to be black and white,” he explained. “There’s a subjective element to that. And the Association… we’re going to find ways to be inclusive. But at the same time, we do think this step is the right thing to do and shows the leadership that is needed. But it’s gonna be sticky. It’s going to be hard.”

Breweries with names or labels that could be found lewd, offensive or demeaning will undergo a review conducted by an independent panel. The alleged name or label will be examined and a decision will be issued in a report that will be published to the BA website.

If a name or label falls outside of the BA’s acceptable policy, the brewer will be banned from using BA intellectual property in advertising of any sort. In addition, should the brewery win a medal at a BA sanctioned event such as the World Beer Cup or Great American Beer Festival, the name of the beer or brewery will not be announced publicly.

 

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Cigar City expanding distribution to North Carolina

jaialai1Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company is a true Florida success story. Coming from humble beginnings and crafty outstanding brews, they have grown to become one of the best-known breweries in Florida. Their annual Hunahpu’s Day Craft Beer Festival and bottle release attracts beer-lovers and brewers from around the country and even the world.

Now, the company is expanding its domestic distribution to North Carolina to grow its U.S. footprint and bring Florida-style brews like flagship Jai Alai IPA to the beer fanatics of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond.

Get all the distribution and launch event details in the official press release below:

TAMPA, FL & ASHEVILLE, NC – Cigar City Brewing Company Announces North Carolina
Distribution

Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing is proud to announce the addition of North Carolina to
the brewery’s distribution network. This is the second new state to receive deliveries of
Cigar City Brewing’s award-winning beer in over four years. CCB will be partnering with
numerous distribution partners to cover the state including Skyland Distributing Co.,
United Beverages of North Carolina, R.H. Barringer Distributing Company, Long Beverage
Inc., Carolina Distributing LLC, Healy Wholesale Co Inc., Atlantic Shores Distributors,
Coastal Beverage Co. and City Beverage Co Inc. Twelve ounce cans of Jai Alai IPA, Maduro
Brown Ale, Florida Cracker Belgian-style White Ale, Invasion Pale Ale and Tampa-style
Lager can currently be found in this new market with draft beer to follow shortly behind.

Market launch events will be taking place across North Carolina from March 21st thru
March 29th with numerous Cigar City Brewing representatives present, including Cigar
City Brewing’s El Lector Neil Callaghan and Brand Manager Lucas Widrick. These events
will be incredible opportunities for North Carolina’s craft beer fans to enjoy some of the
first CCB beer to be shipped to the state and to learn about Cigar City Brewing’s brand and
it’s award winning beer from the people who know it best.

Cigar City Brewing’s official North Carolina Launch Party will be taking place at Oskar
Blues’ Tasty Weasel Taproom in Brevard on Saturday, March 25th beginning at noon. This
event will feature specialty Cigar City Brewing taps, a Jai Alai-infused food special from the Oskar Blues CHUBwagon food truck and live music from South Carolina rockers The
Excons from 6-8pm.

Cigar City Brewing’s beer, including award-winning Jai Alai IPA, is now available in eight
states encompassing Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York,
Tennessee and North Carolina. Cigar City Brewing’s ales and lagers are also exported to
the country of Denmark.

Cigar City Brewing’s North Carolina Launch Events

Week of 3/20 – Raleigh
● 3/21: Tyler’s Durham
● 3/22: Raleigh Times
● 3/23: Raleigh Beer Garden

Week of 3/20 – Brevard
● 3/25: Launch party at Oskar Blues Brewery’s Tasty Weasel Taproom in Brevard

Week of 3/27 – Asheville
● 3/27: Barley’s (Asheville)
● 3/28: Creekside Tavern
● 3/29: Black Rose (Hendersonville)

Week of 3/27 – Charlotte
● 3/28: Brawley’s Beverage
● 3/29: Duckworth’s (Huntersville)
● 3/30: Pub Crawl — Harris Teeter #11, Growler USA, Kit’s Trackside Craft, The

Fillmore Charlotte (for The Flaming Lips show)

Visit Cigar City Brewing’s website [ www.cigarcitybrewing.com ] to find the CCB beer closest to
you.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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World of Beer Drink It Intern returns for second year

wob_intern_01-625x352If you missed your opportunity to become a World of Beer intern last summer, worry not because the beer bar franchise is repeating the program again this summer. Three lucky beer-lovers will be chosen to spend three months on the road drinking beer, meeting the people who make it and reporting back through a variety of media.

If you think you have what it takes — and can take three months off of work — to drink, mingle and report, check out all the details in the official press release below.

Tampa, FL (March 1, 2017) — World of Beer (WOB) is on the hunt for three interns to travel the country this summer and live, drink and share the best of the beer world with brew lovers everywhere. With more than 70 locations, WOB is the perfect place to gather, drink, eat and explore beer, and its mission is to share beer and beer stories with its customers.

For the second year in a row, the Drink It Intern program seeks beer fans to travel and showcase awesome beer communities big and small, while sharing the stories of everything they experience along the way.  Whether you’re a photographer or writer, social media maverick or beer blog surfer, WOB is looking for you. Adventure seekers and storytellers, beer experts or novices, brewery nerds and foodie fans are all open to apply. So if you want to learn about beer, travel, drink and tell your tale to the world, get ready to apply for the chance to share your experience as a Drink It Intern.

Internships run May through August and interns will capture content that gives beer fans a behind-the-scenes look at the fan-favorite brews and share the untold stories of beer communities that make up the country. Free beer isn’t the only perk in this job— each intern will be paid $12,000, plus travel expenses.

“World of Beer was established with the belief that great beer and beer stories have an inordinate ability to connect people, establish community and create lasting memories,” said World of Beer CMO Terry Haley. “Our Drink It Interns embody this belief as they document their journey through craft beer culture, to offer a fresh and highly personal perspective to the craft beer community, while gaining career and life skills along their journey.”

The selected Drink It Interns will be World of Beer narrators, capturing content from around the country and the world and sharing it back via WOB social media channels to fans, bringing fresh stories and new insights in the world of brew traveling. The interns will be reporting on a behind-the-scenes look at the beer industry, covering brewery and WOB events, while gaining real-world experience in a professional field that offers limitless possibilities.

“The 2016 Drink It Interns traveled to some of the most iconic beer communities across the country and around the world. This year, we are again looking forward to our interns highlighting amazing breweries, big and small, that make up the fabric of the beer community,” said World of Beer Director of Brand Marketing, Hannah Davis.

For a taste of the Drink It Intern experience, view the 2016 intern journeys here.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted online March 1 – March 26, 2017. Whether you’re a college student, new graduate or a working professional in need of a sabbatical, all beer lovers of legal drinking age are encouraged to apply.

Application Process:

Round 1: Submit your application online from March 1 – March 26, 2017, and share a one-minute video that shows your passion and interest in the position. The videos should help us get to know you better. Your most epic beer memory, best trip you’ve ever been on or an ode to your favorite beer are all fair game. Pay attention to the entry requirements — all videos must meet the approved criteria to be considered.

Round 2: In-Person Interviews in a WOB Near You
The best applicants will move on to Round 2 and be asked to come to one of the WOB locations below on April 8, 2017, for a live interview with a panel of beer-lebrity judges. Candidates should be ready to show us their true personality, wow us with their social media and creative prowess, impress us with their passion for beer and food, and own the stage in front of our panelists and customers.

Locations:

  • Henderson, NV
  • Ft. Worth, TX
  • Tampa International, FL
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Cambridgeside, MA
  • Columbus – High St., OH
  • University – Gainesville, FL
  • Rockville, MD
  • St. Paul, MN

Customers who didn’t apply are encouraged to come out to watch the live interviews. During this round, WOB guests can participate in the fun — a vote for their favorite candidate in-tavern will result in a free beer (where legal).

Candidates must be 21 years old to apply and will need to be available on a part-time basis from May 2017 – August 2017. Candidates must be open to travel and able to work on deadline. The Drink It Intern program is open to applicants in all 50 states. For more details and to apply, visit www.worldofbeer.com/drinkitintern.

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

 

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