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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 Meaning of Memorial Day

English: Armored Forces Memorial on the south ...

English: Armored Forces Memorial on the south side of Memorial Drive at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you fir up your barbecue pits and pop open the cold brews this holiday weekend, please talke a moment to reflect on the meaning of the holiday. Memorial Day is a time to think about and thank those who have served our nation so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have. It is also a time to revere the memories of those who have served and died protecting our liberties.

The website www.usmemorialday.com describes the first official observance of the holiday, “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery

Since 1868 th holiday has grown to mean the unofficial start of summer. But, there are those who still understand the true meaning of Memorial Day. There are those who still go to the military cemetaries and plant flags, those who shake the hands of military members, look them in the eye and thank them for thier sacrifices and service.

Will you be one of those people?

As you are relaxing with friends and family this weekend, take a moment to speak aloud your gratitude. Let your children know that the day does not only mean a day at the beach, Let them know the importance of our military’s service and encourage them to ask questions. Be a good example of citizneship to our next generation.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Founders crossing the pond, distributing to UK

foundersMore proof that the American craft beer surge is finding its way across the pond to Europe came this week in the form of a press release April 16 from Founders Brewing Company. The makers of the popular and oh so delicious Founders Breakfast Stout, also announced on their website that their brews are being exported to the United Kingdom in bottles with draft beer to follow.

The text of the press release follows:

(UNITED KINGDOM) – Both year-round and seasonal beers will be available in bottle immediately with draught expected to follow later in the year.

John Green, President of Founders Brewing Co. said of the partnership, “We’ve been looking at export opportunities for a while now, and we’re excited to partner with James Clay in making the United Kingdom one of our first international markets.”

“We are delighted to bring Founders Brewing Co. beers to the UK market” comments Ian Clay Managing Director of James Clay. “Founders is one of the most respected breweries in the world brewing a truly world class portfolio of beers. Introducing beers of Founders’ calibre to the UK is a fantastic addition to an increasingly diverse and vibrant UK beer culture.”

James Clay are particularly excited about the arrival of Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA. American IPA is fast becoming the beer-drinker’s style of choice, but with most coming in at a heady 6 – 9% abv often one can’t enjoy more than a couple. Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA is an award winning American Session IPA that has been expertly brewed to keep all the flavour of its stronger cousins, but at 4.7%abv.

Other beers available at launch include Porter (6.5% abv), Pale Ale (5.4% abv), a more traditional Centennial IPA (7.2% abv) and the remarkably smooth Scotch Ale, Dirty Bastard (8.5% abv).

The full range of Founders Brewing beers will be available through James Clay by early May.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Sour beers a taste worth acquiring

Brettanomyces, also known as "Brett"...

Brettanomyces, also known as “Brett”, is a yeast strain commonly found in red Burgundy wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Want to see a grown brewmaster shake in his boots? Just bring a vial of Brettanomyces into his brewery and toss it up into the air a few times. Brettanomyces is a strain of yeast that, given the opportunity, will absolutely take over a brewery and infect every surface, fermentation tank, and bottle in the place. In most beers, the organism can produce undesirable sour or acidic off-flavors. But, to a brave few brewers, those off-flavors are a source of complex and often delicious artistry.In Belgium, sour beers are nothing new. For centuries brewers have been crafting brews that are sour, acidic and utterly delightful. One such style that has been gaining ground in the United States is Flanders Red, an aged ale that obtains its sour characteristics from Brettanomyces or lactic acid. An excellent example of this style is Rodenbach.

Another Belgian sour style is Lambic, a spontaneously fermented brew that is aged for a minimum of three years before leaving the brewery. Because the yeast that inoculates this brew is only found in Belgium in and around Brussels, the style cannot be made anywhere else. The brew that results from the combination of wild yeast inoculation, aging, and blending is powerfully sour and yet refreshingly bracing. The brew is often fermented with various fruits to produce sweet and sour combinations such as kreik (cherry), framboise (raspberry), and peche (peach).

But, back to Brettanomyces. Brett, as it is called by many in-the-know beer aficionados, competes with brewer’s yeast, and other microorganisms, in fermenting the wort, giving the beer a distinctive sour taste. The yeast is notoriously difficult to clean and can easily get out of control and colonize a brewery spoiling other beers that are not supposed to taste sour. In fact, the yeast strain is considered a spoilage organism in the wine-making industry that can impart “sweaty saddle leather”, “barnyard”, “burnt plastic” or “band-aid” aromas to wine. But, in beer, the yeast can create aromas one might consider musty, and flavors that are often described as funky.

Brett turns beer sour by eating the sugars that are left in beer by normal brewer’s yeasts. The result is a sour-tasting brew that is something of an acquired taste. Other organisms that bring on the funk in beer include lactobacillus (also found in fermenting yoghurt too) and pediococcus, which  provide sour, tart notes and acetobacter, which gives a beer vinegary component.

The best way to decide if you like these unusual, yet rewarding brews is to seek one out and just give it a try. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the labors of the little beasties that some might call an infection while others might call a blessing. Just be careful if you do decide to toss around a vial of Brett, you certainly would not want to cause your local brewmaster to ban you from his brewery.

Keep up to date on all the beer happenings and news going on in town by joining our newsletter mailing list at the ALL NEW www.JaxBeerGuy.com.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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NHL lockout effecting beer sales in Canada

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our neighbors north of the border seem to be having a bit of an issue brewing – the NHL lockout is making a big dent in the beer sales. Canadians are well known for their love of both hockey and beer, but the lack of one is leading to a glut of the other. Molson Coors, based in both Montreal and Denver, says that with hockey off the air in Canada, their strongest cold-weather selling point for beer is leaving them in the cold.

Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn said in an interview with the Canadian Press Wednesday, Nov. 7, “Whether it’s people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sort of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map and you just can’t replicate them.”

Hockey in Canada is as big as, or bigger than football is in the United States. “It’s a national sport; the whole of Canada is glued to it one way or another, so there’s no real regional difference at the moment that we can detect,” Swinburn said.

As the NHL’s labor dispute – already nearly two months long – wears on, the sales at Canada’s biggest beer producer continue to decline. The lockout is an ongoing labor dispute that began September 15 following the expiration of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement less than a month prior to the scheduled beginning of the 2012–13 NHL season. The owners of the league’s franchises declared a lockout of the members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association after a new agreement could not be reached before their deadline.

Swinburn went on to say that Molsen Coors will seek compensation from the NHL due to the losses they are suffering. “There will be some redress for us as a result of this. I can’t quantify that and I don’t know because I don’t know the scale of how long the lockout is going to last.”

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Beer, Beer News

 

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