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Extra beer business news, thoughts and insights from the publishers of Beer Marketer’s Insights, Insights Express, Craft Brew News, Beverage Business Insights and Alcohol Issues Insights.

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Robin Steinman

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Founder of Beer Marketer's Insights, Jerry Steinman, was honored at Beer Insititute's annual meeting with the Jeff Becker Industry Service Award.  Jerry, age 92, traveled from NY to Portland to accept the award and was joined for this momentous occasion by son Benj (prexy of BMI), grandson David (assistant editor at BMI) along with consultant son Glen, who lives in Hong Kong.

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What an honor for Jerry!  Thanks, BI.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_BeerYoga.jpgWhile some yoga purists aren’t too enthused about beer (or any alcohol) drinking, many breweries are hosting yoga classes that bring more men to the events and offer a welcome social component to the yoga practice.

Yoga/beer combinations range from innovator “Happy Hour Yoga with Joe Sixpack” in Philly since 2008 (“a lively one-hour all-levels yoga workshop led by Mrs. Sixpack, followed by a free tutored beer sampling with Joe Sixpack” www.joesixpack.net), to Brew Asanas in CO (www.brewasanas.com) , Bendy Brewski in Charleston, SC, BeerYoga at Port City Brewing Company (http://www.portcitybrewing.com/events/beer-yoga-at-port-city) and Detox to Retox held monthly in DC (www.eventbrite.com ) in the DC area, Hoppy Yoga in San Diego at various local breweries (www.hoppyyoga.com) and Detox Retox in LA (a 2 mile run followed by a 90 minute strong yoga class and beers, with weekend classes at Golden Road and Angel City breweries (http://tigerfood.net/fun-runs/).    And more.  These classes are popping up at breweries and bars near you.

A recent Washington Post article suggests that pairing beer and yoga removes some of the pretense that can surround yoga.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2015/06/16/local-breweries-embrace-the-combination-of-beer-and-yoga/

I enjoy both yoga and beer.  So cheers…and namaste; bringing a new level of mindfulness to beer tasting.

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Forbidden Root Botanic Beers Come to NY

Forbidden Root Brewing Company from Chicago introduced its botanic beers to NY at Red Farm's Decoy farm-to-table restaurant last night.

Founder and "Rootmaster" Robert Finkel, brewmaster BJ Pichman, Director of Sales Lincoln Anderson and Director or Restaurant Operations Terry Kane, along with newest member of the team Henry, formerly with The Pony Bar, presented 4 of their beers:

WPA Wildflower Pale Ale - the most subtle and delicate beer in their "flavor-forward portfolio" made with sweet osmanthus, marigold and elder flower, paired with 3 hops.

Sublime Ginger - a light, refreshing wheat-based beer.  They tested over 40 different varieties of ginger and 40 different varieties of citrus to come up with the formula.  They ended up with a blend of 2 types of ginger that offered flavor and roundness without spicy heat, and a key lime without the oil for acidity, with lemon myrtle and honeybush to add a bit of fruity, tropical taste.

Forbidden Root Beer - their flagship beer that started it all.  BJ described: "I like to think of it as a magic trick.  It really fools the senses.  It tricks you into thinking it's going to be something really sweet and soda-like, and it turns into something you've never had before.  It finishes very dry and clean; a very interesting experience on the palate; very complex, ... fun."

And finally, Divine Mud "Heavy Petal" - a big imperial stout with dark bitter chocolate, magnolia flower and pecans.

Robert was inspired to take herbs, roots and spices and design beers around them.  Forbidden Root  beers are in Chicago, with a botanic pub and restaurant coming soon, in Peoria, Champaign and Rockford last week, and now in NY.

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No doubt about it – Portland is a fantastic city.  So many breweries (58 in the city proper and 83 in the Portland Metro Area per the Oregon Craft Brewer’s Guild), loads of great restaurants and food trucks, and more and more cider, too.  Not to mention all of the nearby wineries for those who prefer their alcohol from grapes instead of hops. 

The weekend before CBC we were able to explore without all 11,000 CBC attendees competing for taxis.  And it seemed that some BA folks had a similar idea, since we kept running into them (see pics).

Within a 5 minute walk we visited Cascade Brewing Company, Buckman Botanical Brewery, the Rogue shop (while we enjoyed sampling a Voodoo Donut, we didin’t get the chance to sample Rogue’s beer version), recently opened Common Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Company.  Lots of folks eating and drinking there.

We also visited Deschutes, Bridgeport and McMenamins pub. So many breweries and brewpubs, so little time….

 

Interestingly, saw a sign in the window saying “Full Sail Research Brewery Coming Soon” next to etched glass saying “Independent Employee Owned Full Sail Brewing Company at River Place,” despite the fact that they sold to Private Equity firm Encore and other investors, ending their ESOP. 

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Tagged in: CBC Portland
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BMI met up with Rodenbach brewmaster Rudi Ghequire and Latis Imports co-founder David van Wees and others at a special tasting at the Belgian Beer Bar in NY last night.  

The tasting featured top-rated Rodenback Grand Cru, Caractére Rouge, along with a session beer and limited edition Foeder Bier.  The Grand Cru is aged in oak for 2 years, whereas the Caractére Rouge is aged an additional 6 months, adding cherries, raspberries and cranberries during that extra period.  Both of these beers are complex and almost wine-like.

The brewery and brewmaster Rudi Ghequire have long histories with sour beer.  Their West Flanders, Belgium brewery houses the largest storage of sour beer in the world – 294 vats.

Rudi's been drinking mostly sour beer since he was 11!  Their sours have 2 year cycles, and are able to take advantage of "positive selection".  The brewery produces 45K hectoliters, and has capacity for 180K hectoliters. Rodenbach is owned by Palm Brewery since 1998.

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Tagged in: Rodenbach Sour Beer
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On our recent visit to Northern Spain, we found a nascent craft beer scene.  While local Rioja, Albarino and Cava wines and are most ubiquitous in San Sebastian, a gastronomic destination (more Michelin rated restaurants per square meter than any other city except Kyoto; more than Paris and New York!), “artisanal” beers are starting to make their presence known.

At Arzak, a 3 star Michelin restaurant, a pintxo (Basque for tapas) starter called “Black Pudding and Beer” is served on top of a crushed Kellerbier can!  Ni Neu in San Sebastian proudly displays brews from local Gar & Gar & Basqueland Brewing.

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At Nerua in the Guggenheim Bilbao, diners can choose between two Baladin Italian craft brews and Altura de Vuela from Fernandez Pon in Valencia.

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One retail shop, which just last week featured a variety of European craft beers, now features one regional product per week with a full craft beer selection available downstairs.  This week the feature is Valencia oranges, and Mikkeller Orange Yuzu Glad I Said Porter is included with the display.

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We also sampled some Dougall’s craft brews, Raquera & their IPA.  The brewery’s tag line is “Piensa Global – Bebe Local” or Think Global – Drink Local.  Sound familiar?

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Early stages, but it appears that the craft beer scene in one of Europe’s gastronomic centers is on the rise. 

Tagged in: Craft Beer
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In Basque country, just outside San Sebastian, Spain, you’ll find traditional Cider Houses (Sagardotegias) between January and April.  Here, the price of admission gets you tastes from many different wooden barrels (kupelas) of apple juice, fermented without added sugar or gas.  We heard the cry “txotx” (pronounced chotch), meaning tap or break out the cider throughout our visit.  After each txotx we were called to a different cask, which we were instructed to fill holding the glass low at an angle to collect the stream as the glass is slowly raised, aerating the cider and collecting about two fingers worth from each sampled barrel.

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We visited Gartziategi, possibly the oldest cider house in operation, since it’s mentioned in 16th century documents. It produces 100,000 liters of cider per year. Our visit coincided with Carnival, a period of parades, costumes marching bands and celebrations. Since children have school vacation for the Carnival celebration, our Monday afternoon visit was packed and included many families, both local Basque and out-of-town visitors.

 

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Along with the cider tastings, family-style large platters of food are presented, without individual plates.  First crusty fresh bread, then a cod omelet, next cod fish with pepper, onions and garlic, a huge grilled salted T-bone steak served rare, and finally walnuts and quince jelly served with local sheep milk cheese.

Txotx!

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Tagged in: Cider
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Jerry Steinman, Founder of Beer Marketer's Insights, celebrates his 91st birthday.  He says that he has "almost no regrets" about his life.  May we all be as fortunate!

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While in San Francisco for the California Beer & Beverage Distributors meeting, Beer Marketer’s Insights visited Mikkeller Bar.  Danish owner and gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso opened the self-proclaimed “greatest beer hall ever” about a year ago in the Tenderloin. (His twin brother Jeppe owns “Evil Twin” in Brooklyn.)

On a Saturday afternoon, Mikkeller Bar filled up with a coed group celebrating a birthday, singles, couples and multi-generational families. 

42 brews are organized on the menu by the temperature at which they’re served (45, 40, or 55°). They tout their “flux capacitor” gas blending system.  We happily sampled:

Mikkeller Winbic  |  Sour Lambic & Saison Blend   |  6% 

Mikkeller Spontancassis  |  Sour Lambic w/ Cassis  |   7.7% 

Amager/Three Floyds Arctic SunStone  |  American Pale Ale  |  6%, and

Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper  |  Imperial Stout  | 10%

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Craft Brew News was only able to visit a fraction of the Asheville breweries when we were there for the Sierra Nevada Sales Conference.  The city has great beer (and food!).  It's designation as a Top Beer Town in America is well deserved.  Home to 14 breweries within city limits, not including New Belgium's east cost locale currently under construction. 

We visited Green Man Brewery, owned by former beer wholesaler Dennis Thies, who is planning an expansion into the 2 adjacent lots.  The expanded facility will include a new rooftop beer garden, bigger fermenters, and a new packaging facility. Dennis will also be partner brewing at Brew Hub in FL next year.

Wedge Brewing in the River Arts District, is around the corner from the New Belgium site.  The site's interesting metal sculptures fit their slogan, "Beer is Art."  A band was warming up outside during our visit.

Both Green Man & Wedge rely on rotating food trucks to complement their brews.

Wicked Weed downtown brewed 2800 bbls last year and is on track to brew 5000 this year.  They have a Sour House, a Barrel House and just opened a Funk House called the Funkatorium a few blocks away.   Wicked Weed self-distributes in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte & Asheville.

In addition to brewery visits, local brews are available in LOTS of bars and restaurants.  We particularly enjoyed the signage outside The Thirsty Monk

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Pics from Green Man Brewery visit:

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from Wicked Weed Brewery visit:

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from Wedge Brewing visit:

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Tagged in: Asheville Breweries
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Sierra Nevada showed off its new brewery on 216 acres in Mills Falls, near Asheville, NC during its 1st national sales meeting this week.  The brewery's attention to quality, detail and sustainability is impressive.  

The brewery site boasts French Broad River frontage, and will eventually include a kyack dock, amphitheater and cabins along with hiking and biking trails.  Sierra Nevada sent trees cleared for construction to local mills, and used that wood to construct the brewery's hand rails, floor boards, casings, etc.  Solar panels and an electric car charging station also demonstrate Sierra's green focus.

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Sierra Nevada is adding an "outside the glass," consumer-facing focus to their "inside the glass" quality focus, per Joe Whitney.

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 The new brewery will add about 250K barrels this year; the goal is 350K.  Its eventual capacity is 800K barrels.

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Well known beer industry consultant Mike Mazzoni and his wife Nancy sold their Tapit filly for $1.15 million at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale last night.  

Congratulations, Mike & Nancy!

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more details at http://www.drf.com/news/fasig-tipton-saratoga-tapit-filly-tops-opening-session

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Tony offered 2014 Beer Insights Spring Conference attendees a tour of their new Chicago brewery on Monday, 6/9. As he put it: "The place is pretty epic and the tour will show what it is that we have been doing there for the last 25 months!" The 300,000 sq ft brewery will include a tasting room, a performance space and room for expansion. Attendees enjoyed a sneak peek and cold Lagunitas brews. Thanks, Tony!

 

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SAVOR in DC - our American Craft Beer & Food Experience

We enjoyed the sold out 17th annual SAVOR event in DC last weekend in the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.  Featuring 76 craft breweries from 29 states, with 4,000 attendees over 2 nights, we had the opportunity to sample lots of good beer & food on Saturday night.

IPAs abounded (we counted 21 IPAs and 10 Imperial IPAs), but Wild/Sour Ales were also prevalent (15 offerings), along with lots of other styles to sample.

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Beer & Wine Hybrids Salon at SAVOR

Eric Biermann & Jon Messier from Lucid Brewing presented their "experiments" in creating a hybrid between beer and wine.  They described themselves as 2 former corporate guys.  Why did they decide to blend beer and wine? "Why not?"  But it's different science.  The blend is challenged by low ph, and by the fact that wine yeast gets more aggressive with age and starts to take over the beer.

Silo Saison (made with traditional French saison yeast) was combined with Frontenac Gris, a Minnesota fruity white wine, to create Halucidation 2013.  The Salon sampling was the 1st time it had ever left Minnesota. 

Their 1st attempt at a beer-wine hybrid, Halucidation 2012, was deemed "a failure" by the Lucid team."  Interesting that they were willing to share that failed experiment with SAVOR Salon attendees!

Lucid is going to keep doing the beer-wine hybrids for 2 reasons -- it's fun, and they engage with a new group, the wine drinking community.  Their recommendations for others: "Make sure the majority of the alcohol is coming from the malt," and "As long as you don't do anything stupid with flavor profiles, you won't mess it up too bad."

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Steve Hindy  at NYPL 4/25 - In Defense of the Revolution

Steve Hindy and friends Kim Jordan & Charlie Papazian were interviewed by Paul Holdengräber in the LIVE from the NYPL series, joining past luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, David Byrne, Don DeLillo, Umberto Eco, Jonathan Franzen and Toni Morrison.  

Interview challenged BA members - is it really a craft revolution?  Or perhaps a revelation (of taste)...

Steve Hindy's reveal last night at the NY Public Library:  "We will be announcing an Asia project within the next few weeks."  We recently opened a brewery in Sweden.  We’ll do something similar in Asia.”

 

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This is excerpted from a Craft Brew News article from April 1st, following a visit to Firestone Walker's facilities in March.

Firestone Walker rose up out of California's Central Coast wine country immortalized in the movie "Sideways." And the Firestone family, which had earlier made its name in the tire business, owned a pioneering Firestone winery in the region for decades. Indeed, the original tiny brewery of 6000 square feet was "very much a hobby," built on the grounds of the family's winery in Los Olivos back in 1996. The wine connection remains strong (including a number of beer/wine collaborations). "The culture that exists in the wine community is a big part of who we are," said co-founder David Walker, which "speaks to the artisanal, experimental and quality" aspects of Firestone's identity. Firestone Walker makes some of the most acclaimed "big beers." Firestone Walker and its brewmaster Matt Brynildson were recently dubbed "the most decorated American brewery" by San Jose Mercury News beer columnist Jay Brooks. He pointed to its repeat wins at GABF as midsized brewery of the yr and also at the World Beer Cup as Brewery of the Year. These aren't major publicity ploys for Firestone (so far), but they are key to the company's culture, which focuses on the brewmaster and his team (Matt is a partner) and gives them a lot of latitude. "My function," said co-founder Adam Firestone, is "to enable beer-making." Adam also ran Firestone winery from 94 to 2006.

Firestone Walker Goes Deeper With 805 At the same time, Firestone Walker is also making its play for the mainstream. "We need to talk to the 85%" of people that haven't noticed craft, as David "optimistically" estimates. Leading the charge in that regard is of course its 805 brand, an easy drinking blonde ale that is so far a runaway success along Calif's central coast. The brand with the area code for a name (like Goose Island's 312) is "more of a lifestyle than an area code," said David, and it's become a source of local pride. This spring 805 has expanded further into Southern Calif and will also sell in cans starting in May. 

Sprawling Campus in Paso Robles Expands Again; Next Expansion Decisions in 2014

A "Cathedral" of Barrels in Buellton; Feral One Firestone Walker has a second facility in Buellton, 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara, that includes a taproom/restaurant, a tasting room and Barrelworks, which opened in Jan 2013 and houses its wild and barrel aged beers, which the co calls a "Cathedral of Barrels."

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Beer Marketer's Insights was founded in 1970 by Jerry Steinman.  Last Sunday, February 9th, he celebrated his 90th birthday at a Rockland County NY restaurant with grandson David, son Benj & daughter-in-law Robin.  Jerry was proud to be wearing a sport jacket that he first wore on his 50th birthday!  

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CBN stumbled into a striking Costco beer set in Ann Arbor, Mich last weekend that a source sez is currently being tested in the state. Under a central sign that sez “Craft Beer,” a tiered display of 25 different big bottles, attractively displayed each in their own boxed areas, priced at anywhere from $5.99 to $15.99.Included everything from staple big bottle brands like Stone Arrogant B*stard to offerings from the Bruery, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma, New Holland's Dragon Milk plus a lot of Belgian accents.Indeed, display had Framboise Lambic, Chimay, Saison Dupont, Delirium Tremens and more.Also the Sierra/Russian River collaboration Brux and Fin Du Monde.One can wonder how well these collectively and individually will turn (although higher ABV beers have longer shelf-life), but it was quite an eye-catching evolution at one of most important beer retailers.

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We also saw a large dual display of Duvel and Ommegang 3-packs of big bottles.  Plus cases of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Sierra Torpedo, a New Holland fall seasonal  along with Kirkland (Costco's private label) craft beer.Bud Light, Miller Lite and Labatt Blue were in less prominent positions. Corona and Heineken 18-packs and a Molson Canadian 28-pack were also offered.Tho the set offered many different price points and a fairly wide variety (also included Guinness, Beers of Mexico, Stella and more), the emphasis is clearly on trading consumers up and expanding their horizons to the wide world of craft and Belgian-style beers. We hear that similar displays have been seen in parts of Calif. Yet another sign of changing times.

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Anti-GMO forces are viewing several upcoming battles at the state level - particularly Wash State - as crucial to generating momentum that might result in federal legislation requiring labeling of foods/bevs that employ genetically modified ingredients. That was key message that came thru at 10/4 panel discussion at Baltimore Convention Center, even as adjoining show floors of Natural Products Expo East displayed increasing signs that natural-products purveyors are responding to issue on their packaging and in their consumer and retailer communications.

"The way to get federal legislation is through the states," declared panel moderator Steve Hoffman, dir of Compass Natural and a key member of Yes on 522 Campaign in Wash State. "We don't want to lose twice on the West Coast," he added, in reference to deflating loss in Calif 2 years ago of Proposition 37 at hands of massive media blitz by big food and bevcos. "We know we're going to be outspent" in Wash State but still believe victory is within reach when 3-week voting cycle begins in coupla weeks, he said. He later noted to partisan crowd that 64 countries have passed GMO legislation by now, including likes of Russia, China and Syria.

All told, 26 states are considering initiatives in coming year, panelists noted, and that's getting attention of FDA and Dept of Health & Human Services, noted Elizabeth Kucinich, Washington lobbyist who's dir of policy at Center for Food Safety and exec producer of much buzzed-about documentary GMO OMG. (She's also wife of former Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich, who was in audience and also addressed some of issues.) On flip side, food/bev and chemical giants like Monsanto recognize threat and are taking steps to preempt the states, with major bill expected to drop in Congress in coming weeks.

 

More info at www.bevinsights.com

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