Bistro Double IPA Winners 2016

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Today the the 16th annual Double IPA Festival was held at the Bistro in Hayward, California. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year owing to my daughter having a vaulting competition today. But owner Vic Kralj was kind enough to send me a list of this year’s winners. The full list is below. Apparently in this year’s judging, it was very close, so they decided to announce 4th place for both double and triple IPA.

Double IPAs

Triple IPAs

Congratulations to all the winners.

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Steve Sartori from Altamont Beer Works with The Bistro’s Vic Kralj accepting his 2nd place for his Triple IPA last year, though they won again this year, a bronze for their double.

U. Penn Students Win Prize For 9 Times Faster Brewing Process

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I tend to be skeptical of anyone who claims to be able to shorten the brewing process, especially by up to nine times, since brewing is a pretty time-honored process, improved little by little over the centuries. And generally speaking, speeding up fermentation has rarely resulted in better beer. Of course, there was that flourish of decades beginning with the industrial revolution that speeded up that process considerably, but since then things have slowed down to a more manageable pace. But that’s exactly what got the winners of this year’s Y-Prize, from the University of Pennsylvania, the grand prize $10,000, “for developing a process that speeds up the fermentation process in beer production by up to nine times — while maintaining alcohol quality and composition.”

The three winners, Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah, are students in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. They’ll received “$10,000 and the rights to commercialize the technology through their company,” which they’ve named “Fermento.”

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The Fermento Team: Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah

From UPenn:

The Fermento team selected microfluidic fabrication technology developed by Assistant Professor of Bioengineering David Issadore as the basis of their application.

The alcohol in beer is the product of yeast, which metabolically converts sugar found in barley and other grains into ethanol. This fermentation process typically occur in large batch reactors, where a concoction of boiled and strained grain liquid, known as wort, is left mixed with a carefully controlled amount of yeast.

This stage is one of the major bottlenecks of beer production. It can take up to three weeks, as maintaining the correct amount of yeast is a delicate balance.

“There is only a certain amount of yeast cells one can directly add to a batch reactor,” Narain says, “because overpopulation causes physiological stress on the yeast cells, which in turn reduces reaction rate. It takes time for yeast cells to grow and reach a critical mass to produce enough beer. Moreover, the concentration of sugar available to yeast cells is limited because in a large batch solutions, yeast cells don’t consistently interact with sugar molecules.”

Capable of delivering precisely controlled amounts of liquids to exact locations in a conveyer-belt fashion, microfluidics present a possible solution to both of these challenges. Yeast and wort can be introduced to one another in microdroplets, providing the optimal ratio for fermentation each time.

“Microdroplets to speed up fermentation have been tried in labs, but none of the technologies so far are scalable,” Narain says. “This patented technology actually makes the process industrially scalable for the first time, and in a financially feasible manner.”

So who knows. According to another report, “[t]heir advisors include executives from some of the biggest brewers in the world: MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Biocon India and Heineken. And say what you will about them, but those beer companies employ brewers who know how to make beer. So there may be something to it. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the idea.

Brewhog Determines An Early Spring Bock For 2016

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Over in Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the Groundhog — a.k.a. the Brewhog — raised up his head this morning and looked around, and this year did not see his shadow. You know what that means? It means an early spring, and earlier spring bock for us. You can see a video of Punxsutawney Phil here. And there’s more information about Groundhog Day from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

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And surprisingly enough, Phil wasn’t the only one. There’s also Shubenacadie Sam in Canada, who likewise did not see his shadow. And in New York there’s Staten Island Chuck along with General Beau Lee in Georgia, both of whom also predicted an early spring. Fingers crossed. And if you don’t have time to watch all of the deliciously wonderful Groundhog Day film today, here it is in a slightly shorter version just over three minutes.

Announcing Next Typology Tuesday: Bock

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Last month I kicked off Typology Tuesday with American Barleywine. This month, if you want to play along, we’ll be talking about Bock, specifically traditional German bock. Always the last Tuesday of the month, February’s Typology Tuesday will take place on February 23.

So on or before February 23, write a post on Bock. You can essentially write about whatever you like, with the only proviso being it should have something to do with the featured type of beer. After your post is published, please let me know it’s up so I can include it in the subsequent round-up. You can send me the URL to your post either by leaving a comment here, or even by including the hashtag #Typology in a tweet. I’ll be bock.

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Pyramid Closes Walnut Creek Location

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Rumor has it that Pyramid Breweries has closed the last remaining vestige of their foray into California. After closing the Sacramento brewpub a couple of years ago, and the Berkeley brewpub last year, apparently the staff of the Walnut Creek Alehouse learned Sunday that it would be their last day. Yesterday, apparently, the alehouse was locked up and closed up for good.

The website for the Walnut Creek Alehouse simply states the following:

The Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek is now closed.
Thank you so much for your patronage over the years. We also thank our employees for their dedicated service.

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You Think We Have A Lot Of Breweries?

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There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about the number of U.S. breweries hitting a milestone number, and that there are now more breweries in America that at anytime in our history. And that’s great and all, but as Jeff Alworth recently suggested, we should Quit Counting Breweries. And although he meant as the only way to measure growth and improvement in the state of beer, it’s a fair point, although it does, I believe, offer some idea of the bigger picture. Plus, I think we’re all just a little bit fascinated with numbers — things we can quantify — so I doubt anyone will ditch the metric of number of breweries anytime soon.

But if you think we have a lot of breweries, Europe is even more on fire. Sure, they had a head start, and didn’t have that pesky prohibition to slow them down (except in a few places). And while they may have been slower to the movement, or whatever it should be called, of new, usually smaller, breweries opening it’s well and truly now a global phenomenon. As of 2015, according to The Brewers of Europe Beer Statistics, there are over 7,000 breweries in Europe.

The comparison to the U.S. number is helped along by the fact that they’re pretty close in area: 3.931 million square miles for Europe and the U.S. with 3.806 million square miles. Though in terms of people, Europe has more than twice the population of America, 742.5 million vs. 318.9 million in the U.S. But here’s the number of breweries in Europe, broken down by country.

Number of Active Breweries (2009-2014)

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Most of the countries have seen big growth, although a few are close to static, meaning they either stayed exactly the same or have shown only modest growth. Very few have dropped below their 2009 number. Really, it’s only Turkey although Poland was rising steadily, only to dip a little in 2014 over 2013.

Last week, Ron Pattinson at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins looked at this data (h/t to him for bringing it to my attention) and noticed a few other patterns.

The one exception? Germany. The number of breweries hasn’t changed significantly in the last few years. Which has left it lagging far behind. For the first time since the 19th century, it doesn’t have the most breweries in Europe. The UK caught up in 2012 and has since powered ahead. If you’d told me 10 years ago that there would be over 1,500 breweries in the UK, I’d have felt your bumps.

The effect has been to drastically reduce Germany’s share of the breweries in Europe. From over a third in 2009 it fell to less than a quarter in 2014. While the UK’s share has risen for just under 20% to almost 25%.

Paricularly striking is the growth in countries that aren’t traditionally beer drinking. In Italy, France and Greece the number of breweries doubled. While in Portugal the increase is fivefold. In Spain almost sevenfold.

Earlier today, Ron posted a new analysis that he put together, assembling another table that showed the changes in the number of European breweries by nation from 1956-2014. He used a dozen sources, plus his own, to compile it. Here’s what he found:

Only four countries had fewer breweries in 2014 than in 1956: Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Luxemburg. For Denmark it’s a tiny difference – just five breweries – and Luxemburg is an odd case, being so small. Which leaves just Belgium and Germany, both of which have about a third of the breweries they did 60 years ago. I have to admit, it makes the situation in Germany look much worse than the 2009 to 2014 figures.

And here’s that list:

Number_of_breweries_in_Europe_1956_2014

I can’t help but come back to the population vs. brewery number ratio. It’s seems that per capita may have to more to do with how many breweries can be supported by a population after all. I’m sure it’s more complicated, of course, with history, culture and other factors playing a role, as well. Looking at the ratios, there’s a European brewery for every 104,710 people whereas in the U.S. there’s a brewery for every 77,171 people. So currently, we’re slightly more concentrated in these terms. Who’s got numbers on the rest of the world?

Jesse Houck Moving To Maui Brewing

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Maui Brewing has announced that their new Director of Brewery Operations will be Jesse Houck. Houck was most recently at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, and prior to that was in the Bay Area with both Drake’s Brewing and 21st Amendment.

From the press release:

“I am beyond stoked to be working with such a strong leader as Garrett and the talented team he has assembled here on Maui,” stated Jesse Houck.

“I’ve known Jesse for most of my career in craft beer and have always been impressed with his brewing talent, and proud to call him a friend. I’m stoked to have him at the helm of our brewing operations and we’re looking forward to some awesome projects coming down the pipe,” added Founder and CEO Garrett Marrero.

I recently visited the new facility that Maui Brewing built and turned loose in that brewhouse, Jesse’s going to do great things. It also really makes me want to go back to Maui again, not that I needed much incentive. It’s an amazing space that Garrett and Melanie Marrero built closer to the center of the island, and not too far from the airport. With two new planned restaurants in their future, adding Jesse was a prudent move. Congratulations to both.

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Jesse (right) with Shaun O’Sullivan at the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2008.

Charlie Papazian Stepping Aside As President Of Brewers Association

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As far as I know, Charlie Papazian hasn’t worry and has been happy for at least 37 years. That’s the amount of time he’s been president of what’s now called the Brewers Association. When it was first founded, it was known as the Association of Brewers, but has seen its share of changes over the decades. It certainly makes sense, Charlie will turn 67 later this month, so my guess is he’s starting to ease into retirement. Bob Pease, who’s been there almost forever — and is currently the CEO — will assume the duties, and titles, of both president and CEO. The press release goes out of its way to reassure us that Charlie’s not going anywhere, that he’ll still be around. But I suspect he’s also have less day-to-day duties and more time to relax and homebrew.

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Here’s the press release from the BA:

After 37 years of service as president at the Brewers Association, Charlie Papazian will put his passion and vision for the world of beer and brewing into a new role at the Brewers Association. In January, his title shifts to founder, past president. Bob Pease, current CEO, will add president to his title. Papazian will remain an integral part of the association and a leading figure for small and independent brewers, professional and amateur alike. He will continue to attend key Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association events. He will also participate in other events in the U.S. and internationally, offering his perspectives on beer, brewing and its impact on social and business culture. Charlie is also compiling an archive from the 37 year collection of Brewers Association’s photographs and videos. He is also staging video interviews with craft brewing pioneers that will help capture and chronicle the emergence and continuing journey of craft beer and brewing.

“I discovered craft homebrewing 45 years ago, and it obviously impacted my life. My 37 year journey as founding president has provided me a lifetime of fulfillment. Being part of an organization that serves to enhance the opportunities for professional and amateur craft brewers is especially rewarding. The hard work, dedication and long hours of past and current association staff and the community of brewers it has served has undoubtedly made the world a better place for every beer drinker,” said Papazian. “The tens of thousands of individual stories chronicling the success and joy that craft beer has brought to our lives inspires me. Ultimately it’s the people and their communities who have been and continue to be involved with beer who make our current beer world so special. I look forward to continued opportunities that will enhance the world of beer.”

Among his many accomplishments, Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association, Institute for Brewing Studies, Brewers Publications, World Beer CupSM and Great American Beer Festival®, which attracts 60,000 attendees annually. He is founding publisher of Zymurgy, the leading magazine for homebrewers and The New Brewer, the flagship journal for small and independent craft brewers. He will continue to serve as a regular contributor for both publications. Papazian has been an inspiration to more than a million homebrewers through his many books, including The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (and its subsequent editions), which many consider the “homebrewer’s bible.”

“Charlie is one of the truly iconic figures in brewing today,” shared Gary Fish, founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery and chair of the Brewers Association Board of Directors. “He took a quirky notion and made it a movement. Homebrewing and small local breweries brought beer diversity back to the U.S. Charlie can take his fair share of credit for that. We are all in his debt. I look forward to seeing his journey from here.”

“The Brewers Association would not exist today without Charlie’s vision, guidance and determination,” said Pease. “What was once a dream is now an association that lifts up homebrewers, brewers, retailers, distributors, suppliers and beer lovers. We are honored and excited to continue building upon his success.”

ABI Buys Breckenridge Brewery

ABI breckenridge-circle
Sheesh, look what happens when I try to take a day off. For the third workday in a row, Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced yet another acquisition, this time it was Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado. This is becoming almost routine. Again, the price was not disclosed, and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Last year, the brewery ranked No. 50 on the list of the Top 50 Craft Breweries and is expected to produce around 70,000 barrels this year. Here’s the press release from ABI:

Anheuser-Busch today announced it will acquire Colorado-based Breckenridge Brewery. With this agreement, Breckenridge Brewery is the seventh craft brewery to join The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s business unit of craft and import brands.

“We’re excited about the partnership and have been encouraged to continue on our path and become more innovative moving forward,” said Todd Usry, President of Breckenridge Brewery. “I’m a believer in what The High End is focused on accomplishing and we are flattered that our team was chosen to help guide that journey. We’re looking forward to utilizing resources like decades of research and brewing expertise as we continue to create new beers.”

Available in 35 states, Breckenridge Brewery will sell approximately 70,000 barrels of beer in 2015. The new brewery and Farm House restaurant in Littleton have positioned the brewery for future growth. The brewery will continue to make its unique portfolio of beers – ranging from their Vanilla Porter, to Agave Wheat, to their core brands, seasonal specialties and barrel-aged beers.

“Breckenridge Brewery has a long history of innovation and they continue to brew new and exciting beers, from their specialty brews like the Mountain Series that celebrates the brewery’s origin as a ski town brewpub, to their planned nitro can series,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, The High End. “They are innovative and have built an amazing business that’s enabled them to get their great beers to fans across the country. We look forward to even more growth together.”

Breckenridge Brewery will join Goose Island Beer Company, Blue Point Beer Company, 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing and Four Peaks Brewing Company as part of The High End’s craft beer portfolio.

The partnership includes the company’s new production brewery and Farm House restaurant in Littleton, and original brewpub and current innovation center in the mountain town of Breckenridge.

The current management group, Breckenridge-Wynkoop will continue to own and operate its remaining businesses including: Ale House at Amato’s in Denver, Breckenridge Ale House in Grand Junction, Breckenridge Colorado Craft in Denver, The Cherry Cricket in Denver, Mainline in Fort Collins, Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in Colorado Springs and Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver.

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In addition, Breckenridge posted a letter on their website blog entitled A Letter From Your Friends at Breckenridge Brewery:

Today’s announcement of our acquisition by Anheuser-Busch’s craft and import division may come as a surprise to many of you. We want to share with you how we came to this decision, what it means to Breckenridge Brewery and to those who’ve supported us for so long.

We’ve been in this creative and dynamic industry for over 25 years, loving everything about it. That won’t change. The passion for quality and culture that got us where we are today isn’t going anywhere. We’re proud of the fact that you can find our beers in 35 states; we’ve worked hard to get our beers to as many of you as possible throughout the years. The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s craft and import division, shares the same excitement for our category and commitment to quality. We will join a group of established and innovative craft brewers as part of The High End, and we look forward to what opportunities these relationships will bring to us.

Our brewpub in Breckenridge, our Littleton brewery and its Farm House restaurant are all part of this new entity. Other properties under the Breckenridge-Wynkoop umbrella will continue to be owned and operated by B-W and are not part of this arrangement.

Of course, the same great team who helped build Breckenridge Brewery won’t be going anywhere. We are excited about the opportunity this partnership brings to all of us. We’ll continue to own decisions about the beers we create and the ingredients in them. What people relate to in this industry is authenticity. If there were plans to come in and change our employees, our culture, and our recipes, well, that would completely undermine the reason for the partnership at all. What this new partnership does offer us is access to resources that will help us continue to innovate and bring our beer to more people.

We ultimately owe our success to you, our followers and supporters. I hope you will give us the chance to prove to you over time that we will continue to be Breckenridge Brewery.

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At this point, the only question is who will it be tomorrow?

ABI Buys London’s Camden Town Brewery

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Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this morning that they were buying British brewer Camden Town Brewery, located in London. Despite having recently raised over £2.75 million through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube (nearly doubling their £1.5 million target), which was purported to fund a second London brewery, Camden Town is quoted in the Guardian that “the businesses needed a major investor to fund the construction of a second brewery that will create 30 jobs.”

Jasper Cuppaidge, who founded the brewery just five years ago, also posted a short statement on their website:

The ‘craft’ brewing movement has seen incredible growth driven by innovation, quality and daring. Camden Town Brewery has been at the forefront of this revolution. The success and reputation we have built has been nothing short of incredible. That has been thanks to all of you and the great beers we’ve brewed.

To stay at the forefront of this movement and secure our future success, we have to build a bigger brewery, employ more people and gain access to an international distribution network.

We can’t do this on our own. That’s why I’m proud to say I’ve signed a deal with AB InBev.

This partnership is going to help us deliver our plans to grow. With AB InBev’s support we will expand our operations, create more jobs in London and continue to brew our great beer and get it to more drinkers. Read more here.

We are really excited about taking this opportunity to turn Camden, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer, to being a world famous one. We hope you are too.

If you’re one of our shareholders, we’ll be in contact soon with more details about what the news means for you. We’ll also be updating the investor site shortly with answers to questions you may have.

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The terms of the deal, and the price, were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close quickly, by January 7. Camden Town also posted a more traditional press release:

Camden Town Brewery today announced that it is partnering with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) to pave the way for further growth and expansion. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to expand its operations, bringing more of its popular canned, bottled and kegged beer to more people. The deal will see AB InBev acquire Camden Town Brewery.

Founded by Jasper Cuppaidge, the owner of The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead, Camden Town Brewery started full production in 2010. From an original staff of three people, it now employs a team of 95 and has sold 12 million pints in 2015. Their beers are available in over 1000 pubs, bars, restaurants and retailers around the UK, as well as further afield in Sweden, Australia and Japan.

The deal follows a successful bid by Camden Town Brewery to raise capital via crowd funding and will support the company’s plan to build a second brewery in London, employing 30 more people and meeting growing demand for its products. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to brew more of its own distinctive beers and continue to innovate, while maintaining its focus on quality.

Jasper Cuppaidge said: “Our growth has been phenomenal. To keep up with the demand for our distinctive beers we’ve had to look at expanding our brewing capacity and team. AB InBev is going to be our strategic partner, helping us maintain the character and quality of our beers, while giving us access to the investment we need to drive Camden to being ever more successful at home and abroad.

“Opportunities like this come rarely. We believe we must have the ambition to grab this opportunity and turn Camden Town Brewery, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer to being a world famous one.”

Iain Newell, European Director of Specialities & Craft, AB InBev, said: “We have a passion for great beer. Camden Town is a creative business with a great range of brands that will complement our existing portfolio. We will support their ambitious plans for the future, using our expertise and global distribution network to help them get their great beer to more people.”

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