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Craft Beer Cellar store to open in Brandon, Fla.

Craft-Beer-CellarFor years there have been shops dedicated to the sale of fine wines from small producers throughout the world. But, the same does not hold true for craft beer. The reason for this disparity is partly because craft beer is just reaching its day in the sun, but also because craft beer is an intensely regional product. What is available in California is not always available in Florida. Sure you can get beer from breweries like Ballast Point, Anchor and Stone in a wide range of markets, but smaller breweries just do not have the reach sometimes even within their own markets to make it to a beer store. Small, locally owned shops like Beer:30 in the Jacksonville, Florida’s King Street Beer District fill the gap, but there are very few chain or franchise stores that specialize solely in craft beer.

All that is changing with an ambitious new franchised outfit called Craft Beer Cellars.

An enterprising couple, Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow of Belmont, Mass., founded the company in 2010 with the goal of educating consumers on the pleasures of craft beer in much the same way fine wine stores educate their customers. Baker and Schalow, a couple in life as well as business, fell in love with craft beer in the 90’s and, according to their website, .”… began a quest (which they’re still on) for amazing beer, the people behind it, and all that it entails! Their focus is on awesome beer with flavor, not those beers whose ingredients are intended to lighten color or lessen quality.”

The company now has six stores across a two-state region consisting of Massachusetts and Vermont with plans for expansion to several more including a store in Brandon, Fla. outside of Tampa. The Florida store is slated to open in January 2014.

“We are interested in amazing beer from small breweries, and all that entails,” the company’s website states. “Much of what we do, every single day, is work hard to make sure we can keep the beer lines to our stores full, but also researching the latest and greatest brews, how to get them in your hands, what’s available in different markets throughout the US distribution network, who owns what, when certain beers are available, and what’s extremely limited or highly sought after.”

The Brewer’s Association defines craft breweries as small, independent businesses that produce less than six million barrels of beer per year and are less than 25% owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not a craft beer brewer. This means that brewers such as AB-InBev and Miller/Coors and their satellite companies like Shock Top and Blue Moon are not craft beer breweries. Currently the term craft beer refers mostly to beer brewed in the United States, but European breweries are joining the movement and that may necessitate an expansion of the term’s definition down the road.

Employees of Craft Beer Cellars wear hoodies with adorned with the words “Beer Geek” on them and sport titles like Head Beer Geek, Ambassador of Fine Ales and Lagers, and Hoptologist.

“We sell beer for a living and try to keep a fun and laid back spirit,” the company’s website explains of the hoodies and titles. “In other words, we don’t take ourselves too darned serious — it just doesn’t make much sense.”

The stores host beer tastings at random times throughout the week to keep patron’s palates educated and to spark interest in new beers. To Baker and Schalow, education is as the beer on the shelves of its stores and the outstanding customer service provided in them. And by education they mean for both the customer and the employees. All employees of the stores are Cicerone Certified Beer Servers and are required to stay abreast of what is happening in the craft world. In addition, Baker and Schalow have personally researched and studied every beer sold in their stores. The two are acutely aware that in order to grow the craft beer movement, they must constantly bring in beers that aficionados want while as well as educate the craft beer novice and turning them on to new flavor profiles.

The quest is not without risk, though. Even with the stellar rise of the craft beer industry, it is still just a small portion of the overall beer world. The Brewers Association states that, while craft beer consumption continues to rise, it is still accounts for just 10 percent of all beer sales. To add to the difficulty of specializing in just craft beer are the razor thin margins in the segment.

To combat the negatives, Baker and Schalow stock more than 1,000 beers from over 350 breweries in their stores. Carefully selected variety and scrupulous attention to customer service – including listening to what customers want – are the guideposts, the pair believes, to success.

In their year-end blog post, the company sums up their hopes for the future, “We believe that the success of other great brewpubs, bottle shops, and bars is critical to our own growth and the growth of craft beer culture. We are proud of our relationships with breweries and beer industry folk throughout the United States and across the globe.”

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Beer, Beer News

 

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The New Yorker magazine publishes interactive craft beer growth map

newyorkerEveryone who reads this blog is aware of the extraordinary growth of the craft beer industry over the past 10 years. To illustrate the explosive character of this growth, The New Yorker magazine has published an interactive online map that brings this phenomenon into focus.

The map uses data gathered by the Brewers Association in 2012 and was released recently. The map shows that Florida ranks around the middle of the pack for total number of breweries, but in the upper range for total output. It also shows that in 2013 Florida saw 10 new breweries open, adding to the output and variety available to residents of our state.

Another exciting tidbit the map points out is that Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa is considered one of the fastest growing breweries in the country with 77% growth in production in 2012 over 2011. Cigar City is ranked 17th of the 50 fastest growing breweries in the nation. Another notable regional brewery ranked in the top 50 is Highland Brewing Company. The Asheville, NC brewery ranks 33rd on the map with 53% growth in 2012 over 2011.

You can view the entire map and glean your own data by following the link below.

Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Beer News

 

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Great American Beer Festival 2013 tickets on sale this week

gabf13_logo_inside

For the past five years tickets to the Great American beer Festival in Denver, Colo. have sold out. Last year, amid great controversy, the event sold out in a matter of minutes when the tickets went on sale to the general public. Next week tickets for the 2013 event go on sale and the organizers urge you to pre


On Tu
esday, July 30 the ticket windows open to member of the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association. As is the custom, the Saturday afternoon session of the festival (Saturday, October 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) is a members only session and open only to members of these to associations. But, be warned, there are more members of the ABA and BA than there are tickets available so plan on purchasing early. Tickets for members go on sale at 10:00 a.m.  MT.pare yourself.

General public tickets go on sale the following day, Wednesday, July 31 at 10:00 a.m.  MT. Last year these tickets sold out astoundingly fast in just a matter of minutes. By some reckonings all tickets were sold just 15 minutes after the online ticket windows began selling them. That means that the nearly 49,000 tickets to the events sold at a rate of nearly 3,300 a minute.

Last year’s sales were also marred by errors in the way the tickets were to be sold by Ticketmaster, which added to the frustration many beer fans experienced. But, after investigating the issues, things were set straight. The GABF remains contracted with Ticketmaster to handle their ticket sales this year. According to the official GABF website, “We are assured by Ticketmaster that significant operational take-aways from the 2012 ticket sale will be applied to the member and general public purchases in 2013.”

The Great American Beer Festival showcases the largest collection of American brewers of any beer festival in the United States. With over 600 brewers in attendance, there will be over 2,800 different beers to sample.

General public tickets to the event are $75 each, with a $4.50 convenience fee per ticket $3.50 processing fee per order (E.g., $12.50 in total fees for a two-ticket order). For members of the AHA or BA there is a flat $6 per order ticket fee.

Attendees must have a ticket for each session the plan to attend. Session times for 2013 are:

Thursday, October 10 – 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday, October 11 – 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 12 – 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (AHA and BA members only)

Saturday, October 12 – 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Nominations open soon for Beer City USA; Let’s get Jacksonville on the ballot

beercityJacksonville is a beer city. You know this and I know this. But, alas, the world does not know this. Last year for the Beer City USA competition we managed to get our city by the sea on the ballot for the illustrious title. We will have to come together and work to get our budding beer-topia on the ballot again this year.

Every year, for the past four years, the competition for Beer City USA opens up. The competition is less of a scientific poll and more of a popularity contest. Never-the-less, it is a fiercely fought contest that cities across the country covet. Charlie Papazian, the founder of the American Homebrewers Association and the Association of Brewers which later became the Brewers Association, thought up the contest to bring attention to the many communities that host craft breweries.

For the past four years Asheville, NC has reigned as either the sole or co-Beer City USA. And the craft brewing community seems to have taken notice. The mountain community, with its funky, off-beat vibe has become a sort of Eastern United States epicenter of beer. So much so that the big boys of the craft brewing industry have made in-roads to the area by opening or announcing to open several new, East Coast breweries. Oskar Blues, the innovative brewery from Colorado, has already opened a brewery in the area and will soon be joined by Sierra Nevada and New Belgium.

Jacksonville has the potential to be another beer hub for the eastern portion of the country. We already have an astoundingly good collection of breweries. In all the Jacksonville – St. Augustine – Gainesville area hosts 13 breweries and there are several more in the planning stages. That number rivals the number in Asheville and many of the other cities that are perennials on the Beer City USA ballot. Surely, a city with so many breweries and by default beer-lovers should be on the ballot. And, once on the ballot, we have to make a good showing.

In order to get on the ballot for Beer City USA, Jacksonville beer-lovers will have to suggest our city when nominations open April 22-26. As the time gets closer, I will post information on where to make your nomination and, once we get Jacksonville on the ballot, where to vote. Be sure to follow this blog, friend me on Facebook (sprbrewcrew) like the Jax Beer Guy on Facebook and follow both JaxBeerGuy and Sprbrewcrew on Twitter. You can also keep up to date on developments via The Brews News email newsletter that you can subscribe to at http://www.JaxBeerGuy.com.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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American craft beer is big in Europe and the rest of the world

BA_logoThe demand for American craft beers is so high that several breweries are planning to build facilities overseas. Perhaps the most visible of these is Stone Brewing Company. The brewery’s European Brewery Project has been the topic of much discussion. But, as the company’s blog says, “…we believe Europe is in the early stages of a brewing revolution.” Which means that, just like America in the 1990’s, Europe is getting tired of fizzy yellow beer and craving more complex, challenging brews that truly represent the artistry that is possible in brewing beer.
Though Canada is the largest export market with an increase of 140 percent in volume, Western Europe showed amazing increases. Sweden and the United Kingdom saw slight declines, but the increase in the rest of Europe accounted for $14.6 million.

Nowhere is the American influence more evident than at Brew Dog brewery. Brew Dog, located in Edinburgh, started in 2007 and is an ode to American-style brewing. Brewer James Watts proudly proclaims that the pioneering spirit of American brewers was what inspired him to start his brewery. Other British breweries like Meantime and Dark Star are not shy about making similar statements either.

But, European markets are not the only places American beers are rising in popularity. The Asia-Pacific region increased substantially as well. The Japanese alone accounted for a 57 percent jump in volume this with increases in China, Hong Kong and emerging markets such as Thailand prove that American beers are going global in a big way. The increase in popularity of American craft beers is a natural outgrowth of the booming beer market in Asia. Many analysts believe that China will continue to dominate the Asian beer market; they also see India as an emerging powerhouse. With a population base the size of these two countries alone, American brews are bound to keep expanding into the markets.

Bob Pease, chief operating officer, Brewers Association said , “The BA is very pleased with the continued growth in exports of American craft beer to markets around the world. Consumers continue to view American craft brewers as leaders in innovation and among the standard bearers for quality. Maintaining that perception is a priority for the craft brewing community.”

On the Stone Brewing Company blog, Jacob McKean sums up what might be the reason behind the surge in popularity of American craft beer in Europe, “…there are Europeans who are excited about breaking the hegemony of fizzy yellow beer by supporting innovative brewers. And that’s enough for us.”

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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