Terrapin Co-Founder Buys Asheville Brewery

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After Terrapin Brewing Co. was sold to MillerCoors in July, co-founder John Cochran announced late last week that he’s bought Altamont Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. The name will be changed to UpCountry Brewing, although the staff will remain intact, including brewer Jordan Veale. Apparently, he negotiated a “carve out” in the Terrapin/MillerCoors transaction which allowed the purchase of the brewery in Asheville.

Here’s more information, from the press release:

A new addition to the Asheville brewing scene, UpCountry Brewing, takes over the spot formerly operated by West Asheville favorite Altamont Brewing.

Staff at the brewery includes new owner John Cochran, Brewer Jordan Veale, General Manager James Mayfield, Assistant GM Nicole Flynn and Executive Chef Matt Kovitch.

UpCountry Brewing plans to make beers that are sessionable, thirst-quenching and easy drinking. Mayfield said, “Our customers are active folks who want to come in after a ride and enjoy a beer that cools them down, but doesn’t womp them with high alcohol content.”

Cochran has 21 years experience in the world of craft beer including being co-founder of Terrapin Beer. Cochran says, “I fell in love with the Asheville beer scene and wanted to be a part of it. Altamont is a locals bar and anchor of the West Asheville scene. We look forward to continuing to serve everyone who works, lives and enjoys the scene here.”

As part of the new brewery, UpCountry is refitting the adjacent restaurant space, formerly Nona Mia. A limited menu is available in the bar area until the the restaurant refit is complete. The menu features what Chef Kovitch calls Southern Appalachian Eats.

The brewery is located at 1042 Haywood Road and will also feature a game room with pinball and arcade games.

UpCountry

Patent No. 2291980A: Beer Barrel

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Today in 1942, US Patent 230815 A was issued, an invention of James C. Mullen, assigned to the Verdi Bros Cooperage Company, for his “Beer Barrel.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to barrels, vats and the like and more particularly to the type of barrels employed in the shipment and dispensation of malt-liquors and similar products.

This invention specifically relates to barrels made up of ply Wood laminations.

It is a common practice that barrels, used for the purposes referred to, are preferably built up of barrel staves of which their end portions are made much heavier than their middle portions, whereby to resist the severe handling in shipment.

When employing ply wood laminations in the manufacture of barrel staves, a thickening and thereby strengthening of their end portions introduces however certain mechanical difficulties.

One of the objects of this invention is to provide a practical barrel stave comprising wood ply laminations and of which the physical contour of said stave, approximates or duplicates those of the conventional one-piece, oaken staves.

A further object is to provide a stave adapted for the manufacture of barrels, and of which the wood ply lamination utilized therein are formed and arranged in a manner to give to the barrel all of the desirable characteristics of the conventional oaken barrel, while being cheaper to manufacture, stronger in construction and therefore more enduring.

US2291980-0
US2291980-1

MillerCoors Buys Hop Valley Brewing

miller-coors hop-valley
MillerCoors announced today that they’ve acquired a majority interest in Hop Valley Brewing of Springfield and Eugene, Oregon.

Here’s the press release:

Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors, announced today an agreement to obtain a majority interest in Eugene, Ore.-based Hop Valley Brewing Company. Hop Valley is known as a leader in the IPA space, producing a wide variety of acclaimed beers including Alphadelic, its flagship IPA, Citrus Mistress and Alpha Centauri.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved to date, and even more excited about the future for our company and our employees,” said Charles “Chuck” Hare, Hop Valley Brewing Company co-founder. “From the get-go, it has always been about the beer, and we are looking forward to working with Tenth and Blake to get our beers – made right here – to even more consumers.”

Since opening their original brew pub in Springfield, Ore. in 2009, Hop Valley has stayed true to its name producing award-winning IPAs throughout the Pacific Northwest region. The brewer has since added to its production with a 30,000-square-foot brewery and tap room in Eugene, Ore. and currently distributes in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and Vermont.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with the Hop Valley team, to add an incredible roster of brands that complement our portfolio perfectly,” said Scott Whitley, president and CEO of Tenth and Blake. “I’m looking forward to working with Chuck and his team to support the continued growth and success of their innovative IPAs and award-winning beers.”

“This is a great opportunity for us and our brewery,” said Trevor Howard, Hop Valley co-founder and brewmaster. “We will continue to craft all of our core brands and innovate with seasonal and small-batch brews like we always have – with the same commitment to quality, taste, and creativity.”

Hop Valley Brewing Company joins other leading crafts in the Tenth and Blake portfolio, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Saint Archer Brewing Company and, following an expected closing in August 2016, Terrapin Beer Company. For more information on Hop Valley Brewing Company and its portfolio of brands, visit HopValleyBrewing.com.

Hop Valley Brewing Company will operate as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake. The management team at Hop Valley will continue to lead the business and will retain an ownership interest. The transaction is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2016. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

hop-valley-core-portfolio

This is actually the second acquisition this month for Tenth and Blake, MillerCoors’ craft division. Back in 2011, they bought a minority stake in Georgia’s Terrapin Brewing, but last week they acquired a majority stake.

Lagunitas Announces Several Big Changes & New Ventures

lagunitas-circle moonlight-brewing independence-tx
Damn. Go big or go home, I guess. Tony Magee never does anything small … or halfway. Today Lagunitas Brewing announced a number of big changes and new ventures they’ve undertaken. Here’s the first part of the press release, laying out the general idea.

The Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma CA is excited to announce that we are expanding the way we participate in some of the great communities that have helped us learn and grow as brewers. We believe that beer is the original social media and we know that the best way to connect with beer lovers is face to face, over a beer.

Today we are announcing a set of intense local alliances with very special local brewers whose work we admire and are proud to partner with. They are four completely different partnering situations and in concert we will learn from one another and help build our breweries together culturally and geographically.

We don’t live in a world of either/or, our world is both/and. Drawing from the best of the best to find new possibilities is the most thrilling way forward.

The why and how differs from one cultural region to another but the intention remains the same: Connect with, learn from and support our communities. “We expect to be surprised by the things that we encounter as we grow these relationships. This will be a big learning experience for us” says Tony Magee, Founder of Lagunitas.

And here they are, though I’ve re-ordered them in order of importance to me personally. Not exactly scientific, but hey, this is a personal blog, so there you have it. By far, the most surprising, though exciting one, is a joint venture with Brian Hunt and his Moonlight Brewing Co.

Moonlight Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA)

We’re thrilled to be entering into a joint venture with Moonlight Brewing Company. We will work alongside Brian and his people to expand the reach of a genuine national treasure. Moonlight opened in 1992, (the year before Lagunitas) at a time when the term “craft” didn’t even exist. Over the years, we’ve long enjoyed a great friendship with brewer/owner Brian Hunt and have huge respect for is people, the beers he brews and the reputation he has created. We’re looking forward to learning together and having a blast doing it.

Brian Hunt (Moonlight)
Brian Hunt.

Independence Brewing Company (Austin, TX)

Lagunitas will combine resources with the great Independence Brewing of Austin TX to help them grow their brewing capacity and do more of what it is that they already do so well. Independence Brewing founders Amy and Rob Cartwright, along with their great people, will continue to lead their company and will help us deepen our own connection to Austin and the Lone Star State. We’re looking forward to learning from each other and sharing our local connections.

A Non-Profit Fund Raising Community Room #1 (NE Portland, OR)

On August 1st, Lagunitas will open the doors to our first Community Room, dedicated 100% to supporting non-profits with their fundraising efforts. The beer and the space will be completely donated to any bona fide Non-Profit organization so that they can focus on raising the funds they need to carry out their respective missions. A Lagunitas team and live music will be on-hand to ensure turnkey execution of the event and most importantly that all of their guests have a great time!

A 2nd Non-Profit Fund Raising Community Room (San Diego, CA)

Our 2nd Community Room will open January 2017. This space will also be made available exclusively to Non-Profit groups for fund raising.

A Lagunitas Taproom & Beer Sanctuary (Historic District Charleston, SC)

Lagunitas is under contract with the beautiful Southend Brewery and Smokehouse of Charleston, SC to convert the long time brewpub to a new Lagunitas Taproom and Beer Sanctuary in the heart of Old Charleston on famous East Bay Street. This turn-of-the-century landmark will be a cornerstone location for Lagunitas in the Southeast, offering small batch beers that are exclusive to the Charleston Taproom and brewed in the existing 10-barrel brewhouse. The Taproom also offers two different floors of event space which we will make available to local non-profits for their fundraising efforts. A Grand Opening party and more information to come in the near future.

Here, I’ll pick up with the remainder of the press release, giving more explanation.

This new thing for us represents our way forward into the brave new world of the brave new world of beer’s brave new world. I say brave thrice because it is exactly that; We don’t know exactly how this will unfold over time or what unforeseen paths forward it will reveal.

These new relationships will be learning experiences for all four of us. We all know that we love beer, we all know that we love brewing and the community that gathers around its fire. We all know that we all want to grow and make new connections. We know we all want to be productive and learn. We know we all want to earn a living and make a home for our employees who’ve put their chips down on the table alongside our own.

As we all learn and begin to grow together in this new paradigm I believe that we will find more partners in other parts of the country that we can also share with and cultivate regional relationships through. If we can get this first step right then it is just the beginning for all of us.

Lagunitas is the lead in the relationship because we gained adequate scale to be able to borrow the money it will take to be the lead and to help, but scale is not insight and money is not creativity. Insight and creativity are everything. They are the cornerstones of small brewing. That is the space where our four teams of brewers and marketers and managers are all standing eye to eye, playing together to try to make magic happen, and I for one am very sure it will. What form it will take will be ours to find out.

One thing is for certain, the future will not be like the past! Furthur….

Cheers all….!!

SAM_3102

And, of course, Tony weighed in with his own take on the changes, though this was originally meant to preface the above information, but I wanted to lead with the news first.

Greetings Fellow Travelers,

Over the last 23 years of running-off the mash and filling the kettle we have come to understand that the new world of small brewing is less a ‘thing’ than it is a ‘journey’. A point on a curve. Jack Joyce, founder of Rogue Brewing in Newport, once said that we’re not in the beer business, we are in the ‘change business’. Ask any brewer older than 5 years and they will tell you that in 2010 small brewing was a whole other place. Ask one older than that and they will tell you the same about 2005, and 2000, and especially 1995. And so it is that 2020 will be unrecognizable to the brewers of 2016.

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the personal connection that beer lovers want with the people that make the beer they take into their bodies in the hope it will thrill their tastebuds as it enters their blood enroute to their brains to make it do tricks. This is pretty personal stuff and as brewers our job is to make that connection.

Last September we announced our own way of relating to the world outside of the United States through a joint venture with the last of the largest family-controlled (meet Charlene De Carvalho-Heineken..!) brewer in the world. Most U.S. beer lovers don’t know too much about the family and I really didn’t either until I began to meet them and understand them and their company and grew to love them as people and a company.

There is an old expression friends sometimes use when the go to lunch, ‘Let’s go Dutch’, meaning let’s split the bill. That expression, I’ve learned, comes from a place and a people. You haft’a wonder how it is that a small, mostly flooded, lowland country ever became a global colonial superpower? Most know that New York was once called New Amsterdam but most also don’t know that Brooklyn and Bronx and other local names are actually Dutch names too. The answer to the question is pretty straightforward: The went Dutch. The cooperated, collaborated, shared risk, partnered, co-invested and joint ventured. This is what we built with Heineken, we are pulling on the rope together.

I have seen that one way they achieved their own goals of growing Heineken was and is now to co-invest in local brewers around the globe, not to ‘consolidate’ or dominate or reduce competition, but to expand and nurture the opportunities to the benefit of themselves AND their partners. They do this with big brewers and with brewers far smaller than ourselves in all 24 time zones.

If one were to take a line drawing of a map of the borders of the 50 United States and lay that line drawing over the continent of, say, Europe, it would look a lot like, well, Europe. There’d be spaces the size of France and the UK inside of Nevada and Illinois and there’d be a Rhode Island like there is a Monaco and so on. In Europe nationalism matters and each country has historically meaningful brewers that are important to those individual countries. All over the world, beer is local. It’s gradually becoming more so here too. But Americans still like to think of us all as Americans and we have liked having 50-state nationally distributed brewers.

In the past, before and just after prohibition this wasn’t really so, but it became that way over time. Now it is going back the other way. Small brewing has played a role in re-igniting regional pride the way music and locally-sourced food is doing the same.

Having said all that, it’s no secret that the U.S. is a whole lot of places stitched together by a constitution, right? I mean, good people from Florida are very different from good people from South Dakota and Oregonians would never mistake themselves for Texans. Even Wisconsinites sometimes call Illinoisans ‘Flatlanders’ while some Minnesotans still think that grave-robbing is called date-night in North Dakota (it’s an old Johnny Carson joke….all apologies to North Dakota). There will always be nationally distributed brands and I sincerely hope that Lagunitas can continue to find a place in peoples hearts irrespective of geography by working to be something close to the bone, rooted to a fundamental human experience that actually does cross borders fluidly. But local matters, and will matter even more in the future.

This is very cool actually, because it means that if we can be genuinely local we can be part of the future. When we became genuinely local in Chicago we found lots and lots of new friends that we might not have by just shipping it in from the Left Coast. We’re already feeling the same vibe in Southern California even as we construct our new brewery there. It’s a great thing to be able to do. However we can’t do that everywhere. But….we can go Dutch everywhere, and that’s exactly what we are doing right here right now.

California Reaches 700 Brewery Milestone

CCBA-logo
The California Craft Brewers Association announced today that the number of breweries in the state reached 700, more then at any time in California’s history. The number of breweries has more than doubled in just the last four years. There are more breweries in the Golden State, by a wide margin, then any other state. Eleven of the breweries on the list of the nation’s top fifty craft breweries, as defined by the Brewers Association, are from California.

econFBCBontheRise

California has more breweries than many countries. So it only makes sense that we have our own world class, statewide events. This September, the CCBA will put on the second annual California Craft Beer Summit and Beer Festival in the state capitol of Sacramento.

The three-day Summit includes 24 educational sessions, 60,000 feet of interactive displays, 450 beers, 160 breweries and unlimited tastings. It’s an amazing event, especially the huge beer festival. I’ll be there again this year, and if you work in any part of the beer industry, or want to, you should be there, too. Here’s more information about it from the CCBA’s press release.

“California continues to lead the nation’s craft beer movement and the Summit showcases the wild success of a community united over a common passion: craft beer,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA. “CCBA’s signature event is the ultimate opportunity for craft beer enthusiasts to join the tribe, learn from brewers and experts across the Golden State and taste the creativity and passion that serves as the foundation of the industry.”

Reigning as the largest California-brewed craft beer event of its kind, the 2016 Craft Beer Summit and Festival gives attendees a tasting tour through the state’s craft brewing landscape.

“At the Summit, beer lovers and brewers have the chance to experience wonderful techniques and ideas from the best of the industry,” said McCormick. “David Walker from Firestone Walker, Fritz Maytag, the founder of the American craft beer movement, the brewers and owners from AleSmith, 21st Amendment, Russian River Brewing Company, and many others will share their knowledge, history, expertise and passion with every person connected or passionate about the craft beer industry.”

Educational highlights at the Summit include:

  • How to start a career in craft beer from the hiring managers of Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Russian River Brewing Co. and other growing breweries
  • Advanced homebrew lessons, including how to go “off recipe” and explore yeast management, hosted by the homebrewers now running successful commercial breweries
  • Mock judging at a “Taste Like a Judge” session teaching attendees how rate and taste beers
  • The rise of sour beer as a style, including how to differentiate between sour beers and what you can expect in a wild ale versus a spontaneously fermented sour
  • How to develop a beer list for taproom managers and beer buyers looking to advance their offerings in the craft beer sector

“The Summit has become, in a very short period of time, one of the largest and most significant craft beer events not only in California but across the nation,” said Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company and president of the CCBA Board of Directors. “The unique part about the Summit is the bringing together of brewers, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and consumers all in one location, something I have not experienced to this level at any other event. I’m proud to be a part of this incredible state trade association as well as the second annual Summit.”

Early bird tickets, available online through June 30, 2016, include: 25 percent off the Summit Beer Festival ($45 at early bird, $60 regular price), single-day Summit entry ($99 early bird, $119 regular price) or full weekend packages ($219 early bird, $239 regular price).

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2016

aha-new
For the 14th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s fourteenth year — over 18,000 votes. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same, but boy is there a lot of complaining going on in the comments. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2016.
best-beers-amer
Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

Four of the top ten are California beers (the same number as last year), with again 24 making the list. This is the eighth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the seventh consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder [↔]
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale [↔]
3. The Alchemist Heady Topper (6) [↑3]
4. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (3) [↓1]
5. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (T33) [↑28]
6. Founders Breakfast Stout (5) [↓1]
7. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (8) [↑1]
8. Bell’s Hopslam Ale (7) [↓1]
9. Goose Island Bourbon Country Brand Stout (15) [↑6]
T10. Stone Enjoy By IPA (4) [↓4]
T10. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA [↔]
12. Founders KBS (17) [↑5]
13. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (T12) [↓1]
14. Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine (not on last year’s list)
15. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (9) [↓6]
T16. Founders All Day IPA (27) [↑11]
T16. Sierra Nevada Celebration (T28) [↑12]
18. Cigar City Jai Alai (40) [↑22]
19. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (T33) [↑14]
20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (10) [↓10]
21. Arrogant Bastard Ale (T17) [↓4]
22. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (32) [↑10]
23. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (21) [↓2]
T24. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (T12) [↓12]
T24. Tröegs Nugget Nectar [↔]
26. Firestone Walker Union Jack (T22) [↓4]
T27. Founders Backwoods Bastard (44) [↑17]
T27. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (16) [↓11]
T29. Lagunitas IPA (30) [↑1]
T29. Odell IPA (T24) [↓5]
T29. Russian River Consecration (T19) [↓10]
32. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (T12) [↓20]
33. Tree House Julius (not on last year’s list)
T34. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (T49) [↑15]
T34. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (T28) [↓6]
T34. Fat Head’s Head Hunter (T45) [↑11]
T34. Firestone Walker Double Jack (T24) [↓10]
38. North Coast Old Rasputin (31) [↓7]
T39. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy [↔]
T39. Russian River Supplication (T19) [↓20]
T39. Topping Goliath pesudoSue (not on last year’s list)
T42. Firestone Walker Parabola (T22) [↓20]
T42. Surly Todd the Axe Man (not on last year’s list)
44. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (T41) [↓3]
45. Russian River Pliny the Younger (T49) [↑4]
T46. Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! (not on last year’s list)
T46. Surly Furious (35) [↓11]
T46. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA (T45) [↑1]
49. Maine Beer Lunch (not on last year’s list)
T50. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (not on last year’s list)
T50. New Belgium La Folie (T41) [↓9]

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is the same as last year, Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River again placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Founders Brewing finished second, while Bell’s Brewery came in third. Six California breweries made the list (two less than last year), with five from Colorado, and two each from Michigan and Pennsylvania. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA [↔]
2. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (4) [↑2]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI [↔]
4. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA (2) [↓2]
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA & Mill River, NC (6) [↑1]
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA (5) [↓1]
7. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, CA (9) [↑2]
8. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE (7) [↓1]
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA & Chicago, IL (8) [↓1]
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR [↔]
11. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO (12) [↑1]
12. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN (14) [↑2]
13. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO (11) [↓2]
14. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL (16) [↑2]
15. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN (18) [↑3]
16. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO (15) [↓1]
17. The Alchemist, Waterbury, VT (not on last year’s list)
T18. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO (not on last year’s list)
T18. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO (13) [↓5]
20. New Glarius Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI (17) [↓3]
21. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL (T23) [↑2]
22. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA (T25) [↑3]
23. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO (not on last year’s list)
24. Tree House Brewing, Monson, MA (not on last year’s list)
25. Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA (19) [↓6]

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Stone Brewing Co. [67 Beers] (2) [↑1]
T2. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. [47 Beers] (3) [↑1]
T2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. [47 Beers] (1) [↓1]
4. Avery Brewing Co. [42 Beers] (5) [↑1]
5. New Belgium Brewing [41 Beers] (4) [↓1]
6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [39 Beers] (T6) [↔]
T7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
T7. The Bruery [38 Beers] (T8) [↑1]
9. Boulevard Brewing Co. [37 Beers] (not on last year’s list)
10. Founders Brewing Co. [33 Beers] (not on last year’s list)

Top Imports

With a few ties, several imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. For at least a third year in a row, Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

1. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Canada [↔]
T2. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium (2) [↔]
T2. Guinness Draught, Ireland (4) [↑2]
4. Saison Dupont, Belgium (5) [↑1]
T5. Orval, Belgium (T6) [↑1]
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium (3) [↓2]
7. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label, Belgium (T6) [↓1]
8. Duchess De Bourgogne (not on last year’s list)
9. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier, Germany [↔]
10 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, England (8) [↓2]

Venezuela’s President Gives Brewery Ultimatum: Brew Or Go To Jail

polar
There’s an interesting development going on in Venezuela. Empresas Polar, the country’s largest brewer — with an 80% market share — completely shut down their operations in April, apparently because of “supply problems of its main raw materials.” The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, according to the drinks business, “has now threatened to take over the closed breweries, saying that the business owners risk being ‘put in handcuffs.'”

The country has been hit by a dire economic downturn over the last several years, and the president has not exactly been helping. John Oliver has covered the situation there hilariously at least twice, first in early May 2015 and then again last Sunday. In that report he mentioned that Marcos was threatening to jail owners of closed factories and have the government seize the buildings and take them over. And apparently one of those businesses he’s targeting is Polar. Here’s the rest of the story from the drinks beverage:

He said he was also ordering action “to recover the production apparatus, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie”.

Meanwhile, Polar said it could no longer access the US currency needed to import the malted barley for beer production, and had to close the last of its breweries. Access to foreign exchange is currently under the control of the country’s government.

The beer shortage has had a big impact, as Venezuelans really like their beer. The tropical country has the highest per capita consumption rates of any nation in South America, and ongoing economic woes have to some extent been softened so far by the affordable luxury of a cold beer.

It’s the latest chapter in a long-running set of shortages and supply problems for beer and other food in Venezuela.

Polar’s billionaire owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, has been a vocal opponent of the President, with Maduro accusing him of waging an “economic war” on his government. Over the past year, Polar has been embroiled in a strike by brewery workers, conflict with the trade unions, and has seen its distribution centre occupied by the military.

polar-beer
Apropos of the nothing, it was almost impossible to find an image of Polar Pilsen that didn’t include a model in a bikini. Go ahead, Google it and see how hard it really is.

ABI To Introduce Budweiser Prohibition Brew, Non-Alcoholic Bud

Budweiser-new
Anheuser-Busch InBev is introducing a new non-alcoholic beer, at least in Canada (for now), called Budweiser Prohibition Brew. According to AdAge:

Budweiser is introducing a buzz-free version in Canada. The new non-alcoholic beer is called Budweiser Prohibition Brew. It could enter other countries, including the U.S. “Budweiser Prohibition Brew is only available in Canada for now, but we’re excited by the prospect that it could eventually be offered in the U.S., the birthplace of Budweiser, sometime in the future,” said Ricardo Marques, VP for Bud in the U.S.

The beer “leverages the latest de-alcoholization technology to create a beer that has 0.0% alcohol by volume and yet delivers the great taste of Budweiser,” according to Budweiser Canada. It is “an ideal choice for a work lunch or casual afternoon with friends, as well as designated drivers and people with active lifestyles,” said Kyle Norrington, vice president, marketing for Labatt, which is the Canadian division of Anheuser-Busch InBev. In the U.S., A-B InBev currently markets the non-alcoholic O’Doul’s brand.

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It certainly seems like ABI is beginning to take some radical marketing steps recently. First, there was renaming Budweiser as “America” and now using the Budweiser brand for a non-alcoholic beer, both of which seem like steps the old management would never have taken, because of concerns of harming the core brand perception. But ABI, of course, has no loyalty to the brand, or indeed anything, as long as profit can be squeezed out of it. Their approach seems more like a scorched earth way of thinking.

And we still haven’t seen what they’re planning to do, if anything, with all of the area codes that they tried to trademark. And you know there’s an end game with all of the acquisitions of smaller breweries they’ve been buying up. If history is any judge, the last time there were over 4,000 breweries, consolidation was rampant in the next few decades, and by 1900 — just 25 years after the high point — there were only a little more than 1,800. And by the time Prohibition took effect, there were less than 700, which represents only 17% of the 4,131 in 1873. So there is some precedent to watch out for, consolidation is nothing new. Some is inevitable due to market forces, the fact that not every brewery can compete in their local market for a variety of reasons (quality of their beer, business acumen, etc.), but sometimes its predatory as a way to squash competition. The next decade will certainly be enlightening as everything plays out.

Here’s the reaction from the Canadian press, or at least the Globe and Mail and the Financial Post.

5,000-Year-Old Beer Recipe Found In China

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There was exciting news yesterday about a find in China by a research team from Stanford University. According to one source, “Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the earliest direct evidence of beer brewing in China, a trove of beer-making equipment dating from between 3400 and 2900 BCE, discovered at the Mijiaya site in Shaanxi province. Along with this archaeological find, scientists conducted an analysis of residue on the ancient pottery, jars, and funnels found, revealing a surprising recipe for the beer.” Their findings will be published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

Here’s the abstract:

The pottery vessels from the Mijiaya site reveal, to our knowledge, the first direct evidence of in situ beer making in China, based on the analyses of starch, phytolith, and chemical residues. Our data reveal a surprising beer recipe in which broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), barley (Hordeum vulgare), Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), and tubers were fermented together. The results indicate that people in China established advanced beer-brewing technology by using specialized tools and creating favorable fermentation conditions around 5,000 y ago. Our findings imply that early beer making may have motivated the initial translocation of barley from the Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China before the crop became a part of agricultural subsistence in the region 3,000 y later.

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Significance

This research reveals a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in which broomcorn millet, barley, Job’s tears, and tubers were fermented together. To our knowledge, our data provide the earliest direct evidence of in situ beer production in China, showing that an advanced beer-brewing technique was established around 5,000 y ago. For the first time, to our knowledge, we are able to identify the presence of barley in archaeological materials from China by applying a recently developed method based on phytolith morphometrics, predating macrobotanical remains of barley by 1,000 y. Our method successfully distinguishes the phytoliths of barley from those of its relative species in China.

I’m not sure how that squares with Chateau Jiahu, the beer made by Dogfish Head based on a 9,000-year-old find in China, from Northern China. They also found preserved pottery jars “in the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province.” The difference, as far as I can tell is the ingredients themselves, although in both they do use barley. This beer recipe calls for broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), barley (Hordeum vulgare), Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), and tubers to be fermented, whereas the earlier one from Jiahu used “pre-gelatinized rice flakes, Wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers.” So their claim that this is older seems suspect unless there’s some qualifier I’m missing. As is typical, academic papers are only available online if you’re already an academic or are willing to pay to look at it for a short period of time, so I’ve not been able to look at their full claims or at the recipe itself, except what’s been written about it by more mainstream news outlets.

According to Gizmodo’s coverage:

Step aside with your claims to long legacies, craft breweries! This reconstructed beer recipe is over 5,000 years old. It’s the earliest beer recipe—and the earliest known use of barley—in China.

Archaeologists at Stanford University, while digging along China’s Wei River, made an intriguing discovery: A marvelously complete set of brewing equipment. And at the bottom of that equipment was something even more wonderful: Residue from the drink it once brewed.

After scrapping that gunk from the pots, researchers analyzed it and confirmed that it was, indeed, leftover froth from a 5,000-year-old beer. They were also able to pin down the recipe of that beer to an unlikely, but delicious-sounding, combination of broomcorn millet, barley, Job’s tears, and tubers.

So they claim, or rather Stanford claims, this is “the earliest known use of barley in China.” I didn’t think that the Chateau Jiahu added the barley to the original recipe, which was developed with the Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania, and I have a call into Dogfish Head to find out. But failing that, there’s a 4,000-year difference in the two claims that it seems hard for me to believe the Sanford team wouldn’t have uncovered.

The report from CBS News calls the barley a “secret ingredient,” which seems really odd, but seems to reflect the surprise of the researchers on this project. But McGovern’s find in the Jiahu area of China is more than ten years old, and got considerable media attention when the modern version of the beer was first released in 2007, so again I’m not sure a) how they could have missed it or b) what makes this find different, and if it is why none of the news reports are addressing that difference. Some news outlets, such as IFL Science, do mention that beer is older than 5,000 years, which is fairly well-known. Whether it was known in China at the very beginning, as it was in the fertile crescent seems to be gaining ground as a theory.

Although most of the paper is unavailable, there is supplemental information that is available, and that does give some information about the brewing process:

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Prohibition Party 2016

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My friend Paul Marshall sent me this delightful little story about the state of the Prohibition Party in 2016. And yes, that Prohibition Party. Believe it or not it’s the oldest independent third-party still active, and they field a presidential candidate every four years. The party was founded in 1869, and its single defining platform was that they were, and still are, “opposed [to] the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages.” I knew they were still around, hoping to convince people that Prohibition was really a good idea, and we should try it again, despite all evidence to the contrary. But what I didn’t know was just how small they’ve become.

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In their heyday, before the 18th Amendment passed, they were active in American politics and contributed to the discussion, and even after Prohibition was enacted, continued to agitate for even stricter controls until they faded into obscurity. How obscure? In the 2012 national election for President of the United States, the Prohibition Party candidate, Jack Fellure of West Virginia, received 518 votes. But that’s not even the low point. One of their 2004 candidates, Earl Dodge of Colorado (there were two that election due to a split in the party), got 140 votes. At their peak, in 1892, John Bidwell of California received 270,770, which represented only a little bit less than half a percent of the roughly 63 million people then in the U.S. Seven times they cracked the 200,000 vote line, though not since 1916. The last time they hit over 100,000 votes was 1948, and 1976 was the last time they garnered more than 10,000. In the last three elections, less then 1,000 people voted for the party candidate.

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2008 Prohibition Party presidential candidate Gene Amondson of Washington state, the last year for which they’re selling buttons on the party’s website store. When I say store, it’s actually a Cafe Press store, and the party website itself was created for free using Wix.com. The party coffers are apparently not very full.

According to the Guardian article by Adam Gabbatt, A sobering alternative? Prohibition party back on the ticket this election, revealed that this year’s candidate is Jim Hedges of Pennsylvania, and his running mate is Bill Bayes of Mississippi. Hedges is actually the only known member of the Prohibition Party to have held any elected office — local, state or national — in the 21st Century, when he was the Tax Assessor for Thompson Township, Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2007.

Gabbatt went to Pennsylvania to interview the candidates, and it’s a fascinating read. It’s interesting to hear him talk so matter-of-factly about such an anachronistic idea that most people have moved past, with the obvious exception of the anti-alcohol groups that still exist. But even they seemed to have abandoned trying to get Prohibition going again (even though they’d certainly be in favor of it). Instead, they’ve been slinging mud and trying to disrupt the manufacture and sale (though especially access and advertising) of alcohol pretty much since before the ink was dry on the 21st Amendment.

Not surprisingly, the makeup of the membership skews to an older demographic, and according to Hedges “the current members are over 50, many in their 70s and 80s, and many are ultra-conservative.” But one of the most surprising reveals in the article is just how small the Prohibition Party of today really is. Hedges said that there are “currently about three dozen fee-paying members, who each contribute $10 a year.” So that’s $360 the party receives in dues for the year, plus there was a trust set up in the 1930s that provides additional funds. In most elections recently, that’s allowed them to be on the ballot in just one state, though this year Hedges is hoping to make it onto the ballot in six states, with an ultimate goal of getting 1,000 votes in each. But he’s realistic about his changes of becoming president, which he states are simply. “Zero. None whatsoever.” Still, despite the great divide between his party’s platform, and my own politics, I still think he’d make a better president than Donald Trump. If only there were a button available.

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Jim Hedges and Adam Gabbatt in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, taken by Guardian author Adam Gabbatt.