Sonoma State To Offer Beer Course

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So this is great news, and feels even a little bit overdue, though to be fair I may be a little biased, as you’ll soon see. With craft beer persuading people that good beer is every bit as complex and worthy of respect as wine or whiskey, Sonoma State University, in partnership with Lagunitas Brewing, will be offering a certificate course on beer during their spring semester next year. I can say it should be amazing — with my tongue firmly in my cheek — because they’ve hired the best teachers. My little joke there, is the class will be great because Sonoma State has hired me to develop it and be the lead instructor for the course, although I’ll be bringing in a great roster of guest speakers from the beer industry and related fields to teach students everything they want to know about beer, and then some. At least that’s the plan. And right now, we could use your help in figuring out what potential students are most interested in learning about when it comes to beer and brewing.

We’re developing the curriculum now, and the program is being fueled by Lagunitas Brewing, which is where the majority of classes will be held. On Wednesday evenings, beginning next spring, students will spend three hours in the loft at Lagunitas learning about beer and how it’s made, the business of making and selling beer, along with a better appreciation for it.

Officially, the course will be taught through a partnership between the School of Science & Technology and SSU’s continuing education program, the School of Extended & International Education, along with Lagunitas Brewing, and students will receive a transcripted Certificate of Completion in one semester.

SSU-Seawolves
So what do we need your help with? Simple, we’re trying to figure out what potential students are most interested in learning about when it comes to beer. Do you want to know more about how its made, how to taste it analytically and appreciate it better? Or are you interested in possibly joining the beer industry and so are interested in learning more about the business and what opportunities there might be where you could find your dream job? To figure that out, we’ve created a short survey — just rate 22 possible topics, answer two multiple choice questions, then add any other suggestions you might have, that’s all.

So if you’re not in the industry, simply a beer lover, what subjects would most interest you if you took a class about beer? If you are in the industry, what do you think are the most important things to cover?

Please fill out the survey by Sunday, September 7 to help us identify the key topics that you are most interested in. As a token of our gratitude, Lagunitas Brewing Company has graciously offered to give a special deck of playing cards to survey participants that can be picked up at the brewery in Petaluma. You will be notified by email when your cards are ready for pick-up at Lagunitas. Or you could just take the survey for the fun of it and to help out.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

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These are what the cards look like that you can pick up at Lagunitas brewery as a thank you for taking the survey.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Brookston & Porter

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So you’ve probably noticed that one of the latest internet memes is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and money for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The idea involves “dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research.” Also, the “challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same.” I was challenged by my friend and colleague, Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the Celebrator Beer News, who also tapped Stephen Beaumont and Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association. So here’s my video, with my son Porter, who decided he wanted to join me.

You can find out more about how to donate at the ALS Association or the MDA.

THE ALS ASSOCIATION

I also challenged three friends:

  1. Fal Allen, brewmaster, Anderson Valley Brewing
  2. Justin Crossley, founder, The Brewing Network
  3. John Holl, Editor, All About Beer magazine

Now it’s their turn. No thanks necessary.

Ballantine IPA To Return

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This is exciting news. Pabst is bringing back the iconic Ballantine IPA, one of the few ales made by a bigger brewery, and one of the only examples of an India Pale Ale before the 1980s. There were, I believe, maybe a dozen or so American IPAs after prohibition, though by the 1960s Ballantine was the last man standing. I’m not sure when they stopped making it initially, sometime during the 1970s I believe, although they did bring it back briefly in 1995, only to discontinue it again. But beginning next month, it will be back again, brewed at Cold Springs Brewing in Minnesota. That’s actually good news, I think, because they’ve been brewing the canned 21st Amendment beers, so they’re already familiar with making hoppy beers. Also, the Pabst brewmaster, Gregory Deuhs, used to brew for Redhook at their Woodinville, Washington brewery.

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When I first started drinking beer, Ballantine Ale was around, but I never had the IPA, sad to say. I remember talking to Michael Jackson about his memory of how the beer tasted while sharing a cab from an event back to our hotel at GABF one year in the 1990s. He recalled it fondly, though it was probably closer to what today we’d consider an English-style IPA, in his recollection of it, though I believe he thought it was around 45 IBUs. It appears that the new version will be 7.2% a.b.v. and 70 IBUs, which is at the upper end of the BJCP guidelines, making it more like a modern American-style IPA. I may be wrong about this, but I’d be surprised if it was like that in the 1970s, not even Liberty Ale, which was (pun-intended) revolutionary in 1975 when it was released, was that high. Liberty Ale is 5.9% a.b.v. and around 47 IBUs.

Apparently, the new Ballantine version “uses four different malts and eight different hops, as well as hop oil to finish it off. American oak chips are used in the process, harking back to the oak and cypress barrels used for the original beer.” I’m certainly very interested to try it. It seems like a great move, given that IPAs are such a growing category, for Pabst to revive it now when interest in them is at an all-time high.

From the press release:

First brewed in 1878 by P. Ballantine & Sons Brewing Company in Newark, NJ, Ballantine India Pale Ale was the only American-made beer that successfully continued the tradition of the 19th century IPAs once Prohibition ended. This was due in large part to the brewery’s steadfast commitment to ‘Purity, Body, and Flavor” — as exemplified by the three interlocking Borromean rings found on every bottle.

Ballantine’s brewers were meticulous about ensuring that the beer’s gravity, alcohol content, IBUs, and hopping rates remained consistent well into the mid-20th century. Another unique method that characterized Ballantine India Pale Ale was a hopping process in which the distilled oils from a hop-and-water mixture were added to the brew, giving the beer an intense hoppy flavor that was quite distinct from its competition. P. Ballantine & Sons was also rumored to have matured the India Pale Ale in huge wooden vats for up to a year in order to help develop the ale’s original flavor.

In order to replicate the original recipe as closely as possible, Pabst Master Brewer Gregory Deuhs reverse-engineered the beer, ensuring the robust heritage and quality of the 136-year-old brew was properly reflected in the 21st century version.

“I began this project with a simple question: How would Peter Ballantine make his beer today?” said Master Brewer Deuhs, adding, “There wasn’t a ‘secret formula’ in anyone’s basement we could copy, so I conducted extensive research looking for any and all mentions of Ballantine India Pale Ale, from the ale’s processing parameters, aroma and color, alcohol and bitterness specifications. Many brewers and craft beer drinkers would be impressed that the Ballantine India Pale Ale of the 1950s and ‘60s would rival any craft IPA brewed today.”

Over the course of two years and over two dozen iterations of five-gallon batches handmade at his home near Milwaukee, WI, Deuhs finally struck gold.

“Unlike recreating a lost brew from long ago, I had the advantage of actually being able to speak with people who drank Ballantine back in the day,” continued Deuhs. “Their feedback was crucial to ensuring that the hoppy, complex flavor that was revered for over a hundred years was front and center in my recipe.”

It will be sold in six-pack bottles and limited-edition 750 ml bottles beginning in northeast market, and hopefully released in wider distribution after that.

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Here’s some more info about the new Ballantine IPA:

  • Dry hopping and the addition of hop oil has long been credited as the key to the beer’s unique profile. In addition, a proprietary brewing method ensures that every drop of Ballantine India Pale Ale comes in contact with American Oak, effectively capturing the robust flavor and heritage of the brand. With the reintroduction, an entirely new generation of craft beer enthusiasts will experience what made America’s Original IPA so exceptional.
  • In the 1950s, Ballantine was the third largest brewery in the country, going on to become the primary broadcast sponsor for the New York Yankees. Despite stiff competition, the IPA continued to flourish as its dry hopping process gave the beer an intense, distinct hop presence, unlike anything else available in the United States at that time.
  • In the 1970s, taste preferences changed and American lagers edged out the IPA, a trend that was abruptly reversed with the craft beer movement of the past few years. This increased interest in craft beer gave Pabst the perfect opportunity to bring back America’s Original IPA.

Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

Craft Beer Continues To Grow

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Craft brewers enjoyed continued growth through the first half of 2014, according to new mid-year data recently released by the Brewers Association, the trade group representing smaller brewers. Craft beer production increased 18 percent by volume during the first half of the year (though the new numbers are based on the revised definition of who is a craft brewer as per the BA, while last year’s numbers were compiled under the old definition). From the press release:

From January through the end of June, around 10.6 million barrels of beer were sold, up from 9.0 million barrels over the first half of 2013. “The sustained double-digit growth of the craft category shows the solidity of demand for fuller flavored beer in a variety of styles from small and independent American producers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the BA. “Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry.”

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As of June 30, 2014, 3,040 breweries were operating in the U.S., 99 percent of which were small and independent craft breweries. Additionally, there were 1,929 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 110,273 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

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Hops & History 2

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Last year, the San Francisco Brewers Guild put together a fun event at the Old Mint with Flipside and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society called Hops & History, in which I was the moderator of a panel discussion about opening and running a brewery in the city of San Francisco, and also helped with a breweriana display of brewery artifacts from San Francisco and California. I thought it was a great event, and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Apparently, it was “one of the most popular events hosted by FlipSide for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society last year.” That’s according to an Op-Ed on the Digital Journal, Hops History event displays that San Francisco is a beer town.

As a result of last year’s success, they’ve decided to another beer event at the Mint this year. The Hops & History 2 event takes place next Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission in San Francisco. Tickets to the event are $30.

Here’s more information about the event, from the San Francisco Brewers Guild website:

Its time to order another round. This 2nd annual event will feature Bay Area craft beer tasting, historical talks, a panel discussion, home brewing demos, local food vendors, and an expanded exhibit of rarely seen historical West Coast brewing memorabilia. Held in the historic 1874 San Francisco Mint, Hops and History Round 2 continues last year’s sold-out celebration of the unique history of brewing in the Bay Area while looking forward to the future of craft brewing in the City by the Bay and beyond.

Don’t get left out in the cold! Get your tickets early to join us to taste the past and enjoy the present of Bay Area craft brewing.

Event Info

Tastings from all breweries included

  • Presentations on brewing history
  • Home brewing demos by San Francisco Brewcraft
  • Exhibit of historic “breweriana” from the private Collection of Ken Harootunian
  • Bavarian pretzels from Bavarian Brez’n, and other local food for purchase
  • Docent led tours of the historic 1874 Old Mint
  • Souvenir sampling mug included
  • Music by DJ Timestretch

Program Info

  • Dave Burkhart and Jim Stitt: Handmade Labels for Handmade Beers
  • John Freeman: Shock Waves of the San Francisco Beer-Quake
  • Taryn Edwards: Lager, Ale, Porter, and Steam: “Healthful fermented liquors” at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expostions 1857–1899
  • Panel discussion with SF Brewers Guild brewers from Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room, and Cellarmaker Brewing Co.: moderated by Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin

Apparently tickets are selling briskly, so order your tickets quickly if you’re hoping to join us for another great evening of brewing history. There’s also more info at Flipside’s Facebook page. See you there.

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World’s Wealthiest Booze Barons

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Forbes recently released their annual list of the wealthiest people in the world. Thirteen people on the Full List Of The World’s 500 Richest People are involved in the alcohol industry, at least in part. Of those 13, ten are involved in beer companies.

The World’s Richest Booze Barons

  1. Bernard Arnault & family, LVMH (France)
    Founded 2008; The French luxury brands conglomerate LVMH owns a bewildering array of high-ends brands such as Bulgari, Dior, Louis Vuitton, TAGHeuer, but their wine and spirits division includes such brands as Belvedere Vodka, Dom Perignon, Glenmorangie, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot, and several others
    Forbes Richest List: #15; $33.5 billion
  2. Jorge Paulo Lemann, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and also co-founded the Brazilian investment banking firm Banco Garantia, which today is known as Banco de Investimentos Credit Suisse (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #34; $19.7 billion
  3. Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila & family, SABMiller (Colombia)
    Founded 1864; Alejandro Santo Domingo, a Colombian-American financier, owns a 15% stake in SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer responsible for brands such as Fosters, Grolsch, Miller, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell
    Forbes Richest List: #102; $11.1 billion
  4. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, Heineken International (The Netherlands)
    Founded 1864; Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is the daughter of Freddy Heineken, the Dutch industrialist, and Lucille Cummins, an American from a Kentucky family of Bourbon whiskey distillers, and is the controlling owner of the world’s third-largest brewer, Heineken International, which owns a worldwide portfolio of over 170 beer brands in addition to Heineken
    Forbes Richest List: #116; $10.4 billion
  5. Marcel Herrmann Telles, Anheuser-Busch InBev, along with retailer Lojas Americanas and real estate investment firm São Carlos Empreendimentos e Participações SA (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #119; $10.2 billion
  6. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Real Estate Tycoon and owner of ThaiBev, (Thailand)
    Founded 1991; Sirivadhanabhakdi is a drinks entrepreneur who created Chang Beer, teaming up with Carlsberg in 1991 as part of a joint venture to tap into Thailand’s growing beer market, which at the time was dominated by the Boon Rawd Brewery, which brewed Singha beer. Three years later he launched his own beer Chang (Thai for ‘elephant’), which went on to take 60% of the local market share.
    Forbes Richest List: #141; $9 billion
  7. Carlos Alberto Sicupira, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Marcel Herrmann Telles and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #146; $8.9 billion
  8. Pierre Castel & family, Groupe Castel (France)
    Founded 1949; The French drinks company which Pierre founded with his his eight siblings owns or co-owns 22 French vineyards, plus 1,600 acres of vineyards in Africa, primarily in Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia. In 1990, they bought the African Brasseries et Glacières Internationales and has since built 45 breweries in Africa, where they now have 25% of the market there, with their two biggest beer brands, Flag and Castel
    Forbes Richest List: #166; $8 billion
  9. Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala & family, Tresalia Capital / Grupo Modelo (Mexico)
    Founded 1925; Grupo Modelo is the largest brewery in Mexico, with 63% of the Mexican beer market, and brews Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo, Pacífico, Victoria, and others
    Forbes Richest List: #270; $5.2 billion
  10. Walter Faria, Grupo Petropolis (Brazil)
    Founded 1994; Beer and Soft drinks company whose beer brands include Itaipava, Crystal, Lokal, Black Princess, Petra and others
    Forbes Richest List: #396; $3.8 billion
  11. Rosa Anna Magno Garavoglia & family, Gruppo Campari (Italy)
    Founded 1860; Brands include Campari, Cinzano, SKYY vodka, Wild Turkey and two dozen more liquors
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  12. Lorenzo Mendoza & family, Empresas Polar (Venezuela)
    Founded 1941; Conglomerate of 40 different companies with a vast portfolio of food and drinks, including Polar Beer
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  13. Jean Pierre Cayard, La Martiniquaise (France)
    Founded 1936; La Martinique Rum, Porto Cruz and Poliakov Vodka
    Forbes Richest List: #483; $3.3 billion

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In addition, Forbes also created a list of America’s Richest Families, of which eight of the 179 listed are engaged in the alcohol trade, or at least made their fortunes in alcohol.

America’s Richest Booze Families

  1. Busch Family, Anheuser-Busch
    Founded: 1876; Although they recently lost control of their beer empire, the 30 or so members of the Busch family are still worth a cool 13 billion, enough to even buy some more expensive beer with flavor.
    Forbes Families List: #17; $13 billion
  2. Brown Family, Brown-Forman
    Founded 1870; The 25 members of the Brown family of Kentucky control a wine and spirits giant that includes such brands as Early Times, Finlandia vodka, Jack Daniels, Korbel, Southern Comfort and many others.
    Forbes Families List: #20; $13 billion
  3. Gallo Family, E&J Gallo Winery
    Founded 1933; Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo started their wine business in a shed in Modesto, California. Today there are around 14 family members still running the show, which is the largest U.S. wine company, accounting for one-quarter of all American wine. They also produce brandy, cider, gin, vodka, and wine coolers, along with numerous wine labels.
    Forbes Families List: #25; $9.7 billion
  4. Reyes Family, Reyes Holdings, including beer distributors Reyes Beverage Group
    Founded 1976; Christopher and M. Jude Reyes are co-chairs of the company. David “Duke” Reyes is the CEO of Reyes Beverage Group, the largest beer distributor in the U.S., while brothers James and Tom are executives at Reyes Beverage Group and brother William is a director of Reyes Holdings.
    Forbes Families List: #29; $8 billion
  5. Wirtz Family, Wirtz Beverage Group
    Founded 1926; Although they started out in real estate, they made their fortune selling alcohol beginning in 1945, and they’ve also owned the Chicago Blackhawks since 1954
    Forbes Families List: #64; $4.2 billion
  6. Coors Family, Coors Brewing
    Founded 1873; Adolph Coors founded the brewery in Golden, Colorado, and today the Coors family owns over 15% of MolsonCoors. Until 2002, Adolph’s great-grandson Peter Coors was CEO of Coors, but today is the chairman of MillerCoors.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #81; $2.9 billion
  7. John Anderson Family, Topa Equities, Ltd, which includes L.A. Bud distributor Ace Beverage Co.
    Founded 1956; The son of a barber who attended UCLA on a hockey scholarship, Anderson launched Ace Beverage in 1956 with exclusive rights to deliver Budweiser in Los Angeles. Topa Equities still has interests in beer distribution, plus real estate, insurance, and car dealerships.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #94; $2.5 billion
  8. Jackson Family, Jackson Family Wines
    Founded 1956; Jess Stonestreet Jackson and wife Barbara Banke, both lawyers, co-founded Jackson Family Wines in California in the 1980s, perhaps best know for their Kendall Jackson wines. After Jackson died of cancer at age 81 in 2011, Banke became chairman and proprietor. All five of Jackson’s children also hold interests in the company and are active in running it. Don Hartford, husband of daughter Jenny Jackson-Hartford, is CEO. The family owns 35 vineyards, including nearly 30,000 acres in California, that sell more than 6 million cases of wine a year. The flagship winery is Kendall Jackson in Sonoma County.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #100; $2.3 billion

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And finally, on the list of the Forbes 400, the Richest People in America, a couple of family members from the previous family list also made it onto this list with their personal wealth.

America’s Richest Booze Barons

  • 134. J. Christopher Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 134. Jude Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 371. Richard Yuengling, Jr., Yuengling Brewery; $1.4 billion; World Rank: 1156

The cut-off this year for the Forbes 400 was around $1.3 billion. If you’re worth less than that, you don’t quite make the list, but Forbes also created a small list of people they think are the Ones to Watch.

  • 401. Jim Koch, Boston Beer Co.; $1 billion; World Rank: Unknown

Koch was the richest person on the “Ones to Watch” list, so with a little luck he’ll join Dick Yuengling in the Billionaire Beer Boys Club next year.

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Another Milestone: 3,000 Breweries In America

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I know that many people seem tired of celebrating numerical achievements, preferring to concentrate on the beer itself, or the quality of beers, etc., but I think there is something to be said for the continuing rise of the sheer number of breweries in America. It is, I believe, indicative of greater consumer acceptance and a desire for beer drinkers to want to support local producers. It’s true that the growth of the regional, larger breweries are fueling a lot of the marketshare, but with many of the new small breweries catering to a very local customer base, this growth phase we’re in shouldn’t slow down for a least a little while longer.

Yesterday, the Brewers Association announced that the number of breweries in the United States eclipsed 3,000, as of June 2014 stood at 3,040. Here’s more from the BA’s press release:

The American brewing industry reached another milestone at the end of June, with more than 3,000 breweries operating for all or part of the month (3,040 to be precise). Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is likely the first time the United States has crossed the 3,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s. Wieren (1995) notes that the Internal Revenue Department counted 2,830 “ale and lager breweries in operation” in 1880, down from a high point of 4,131 in 1873.

What does 3,000 breweries mean? For one, it represents a return to the localization of beer production, with almost 99% of the 3,040 breweries being small and independent. The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a local brewery, and with almost 2,000 planning breweries in the BA database, that percentage is only going to climb in the coming years.

Secondly, it means that competition continues to increase, and that brewers will need to further differentiate and focus on quality if they are going to succeed in a crowded marketplace. While a national brewery number is fairly irrelevant without understanding local marketplaces, 3,040 breweries could not happen without increased competition in many localities.

What it does not mean is that we’ve reached a saturation point. Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant. How many neighborhoods in the country could still stand to gain from a high-quality brewpub or micro taproom? While a return to the per capita ratio of 1873 seems unlikely (that would mean more than 30,000 breweries), the resurgence of American brewing is far from over.

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Good Hop Grand Opening This Saturday

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I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa Myers’ new beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop, will have its grand opening this Saturday, July 12, with the doors opening at the mercifully not-to-early time of 3:00 PM. The Good Hop is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue in West Oakland, near the intersection of 24th Street, just around the corner from the New Parkway Theater. I won’t even try to be impartial here, Melissa Myers is a longtime friend of mine, and I’m excited for her to finally realize a dream of opening her own place. She’s been a brewer for many years, from Denver to Philadelphia and in the Bay Area brewed at Magnolia, Pyramid and the old Ross Brewery (which is now Iron Springs) but now turns her attention to choosing and serving great beer. Eventually, The Good Hop may serve Melissa’s own beer (fingers crossed), but for now they’ll be featuring a nicely curated tap list of 16 taps, with 2 dedicated sour beer lines, plus 450+ bottled beers. At the grand opening, they plan to have a number of rare and hard-to-find beers available, as well as some special surprises.

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Here’s more information, from the press release:

The Good Hop Bottle Shop and Tasting Room (TGH) is pleased to announce it is opening its doors to the public on July 12, 2014. The 1,900-square-foot shop, at 2421 Telegraph Avenue Suite 102, is a specialty beer bottle shop and tasting room offering 450+ bottled and canned beers that can be purchased for take-away or can be opened and consumed on site in the spacious and comfortable bar. Their ever-rotating 16 taps will serve up California and West Coast craft beers with 2 designated sour beer lines at all times.

TGH will have an enormous beer selection in bottles, cans, and on tap that would please any aficionado; though, Melissa Myers, The Good Hop’s owner and proprietor, wants to draw in the less familiar to beer client as well. “I love beer and I love making people fall in love with beer. Part of my mission in opening this shop is to serve the customer who walks in and says ‘Well, I don’t know that much about beer, so I’m not sure what I should order…’ That’s where it gets fun for us. I love asking them questions and, based on their answers, figuring what they’ll fall in love with!”

TGH will host a number of events for both beginners and experts alike. The shop will host beer style tastings, vertical brewery tastings, meet-the-brewer nights, cheese-and-beer pairing events, chocolate-and-beer pairing events, and a number of other activities that feature beer as the centerpiece. The TGH website, www.thegoodhop.com, will have a calendar of events posted. Its twitter feed will have daily listings of what 16 beers are on tap for the day. TGH’s Facebook page contains additional information.

Myers is excited about the neighborhood: “We chose this spot because it’s right in the heart of what’s happening in Oakland right now,” says Myers. “We love the KONO [Koreatown-Northgate] neighborhood and we’re thrilled to be part of Art Murmur, First Fridays, and the vibrancy of this area. So much is happening here right now, and we’re really excited to be in the middle of it.”

The regular hours of the Good Hop will be from 3-10 PM Wednesday through Monday of each week, closed only on Tuesdays. Bar snacks are currently available while the local menu is being finalized, and then they’ll be serving heartier fare along with the snacks. They’ll be working with “Off the Grid and other pop-up food vendors to offer a variety of beer-friendly food. Food trucks are also being lined up to serve up beer-friendly bites.”

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Beer In Space: Ninkasi’s Space Program

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Space … the Final Frontier … for Beer. These are the voyages of the Starship Ninkasi. Its 8-year old mission: to brew strange new beers, to seek out new life and new civilizations to drink beer, to boldly brew where no man has brewed before.
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Alright, it’s possible I’ve exaggerated a little, but Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon announced their new Ninkasi Space Program, a collaboration with CSXT (Civilian Space eXploration Team), “a team of around 30 civilians interested in private spaceflight.” As a longtime space geek, it’s a pretty cool idea.

Mission One

NSP’s first task is to test the viability of yeast in space. This volatile organism, the living ingredient from which beer is born, requires precise conditions to thrive. Will 16 strains of brewer’s yeast survive Mission One, in which they are jettisoned outside Earth’s atmosphere on a rocket? Once we know, NSP will be one step closer to the ultimate brewery…in space.

Mission one will be launched later this month, around thirteen days from today, according to the countdown clock on the NSP website.

More from the press release:

“NSP is a very serendipitous project,” explains Nikos Ridge, CEO and co-founder of Ninkasi. “I don’t think you could have planned a more perfect pairing of beer and space geekery.”

Introduced through a mutual friend, Ridge met with Bruce Lee, of CSXT, at an amateur rocket launch competition in 2013 where the idea first came about.

“As a result of meeting Nikos, CSXT is pleased to include Ninkasi as a team member for the launch,” says Bruce Lee, principle and range safety officer for CSXT. “Launching brewer’s yeast into space will be an interesting experiment – something we’ve never done before.”

With almost a year of planning, NSP will finally get off the ground this month. Ninkasi’s lab technician, Dana Garves, and RapidMade, a Portland, Ore. company specializing in 3D printing, worked hand-in-hand to design and create a payload container built specifically to safely carry the 16 yeast strains into space and back to Earth for brewing—the first to do so.

“I couldn’t contain my excitement when I first heard of NSP,” says Garves. “We spent hours researching, developing and testing what we think will ensure that the yeast travels safely and returns to us healthy enough to brew with.”

After the launch, CSXT will retrieve the payload and immediately hand off the yeast samples to Garves who will analyze the yeast on-site with a microscope used in conjunction with her smartphone.

“Since we’ll be off-the-grid for the launch, I had to figure out a way to examine the samples remotely,” explains Garves. On-site, Garves will be testing for the viability of the yeast, analyzing the number of dead and live yeast cells.

If successful, the NSP team will return to the brewery with healthy yeast, ready to make its way into a very special beer for craft beer and space aficionados alike.

“Obviously, the fact that we’ve never launched yeast into space presents many challenges in itself even with months of planning,” says Ridge. “While we have confidence in our partners and the process, this is uncharted territory on several fronts and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds on launch day.”