Great Divide Announces New Production Brewery

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This is great news. Brian Dunn of Great Divide Brewing in Denver, Colorado, has announced that they will be building a brand new production brewery on a five-acre site in the River North neighborhood. When completed, it will take capacity to around 100,000 barrels, and ultimately to a maximum of 250,000 when all is said and done. Last year, Great Divide made a little bit more than 37,000 barrels of beer. Phase One will start in a couple of months, which is to demolish the abandoned auto parts warehouse that currently sits on the land. Next, they’ll build a 70,000-square-foot warehouse to use for storage of kegs and packaged beer, a priority. That should be finished by the spring of 2015, qnd will also include a new canning line, meaning that Great Divide will begin canning their beers next year.

According to the Denver Post, “A tasting room and beer garden adjacent to the new production brewery – overlooking a planned city park, the South Platte River and the mountains beyond – is at least two and possibly three years down the road.” Once the brewery is operational, they’re repurpose the existing downtown brewery for smaller batch beers and special releases.

Congratulations to Brian and the brewery. I can’t wait to see the new brewery up and running.

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Brian Dunn, on the former car salvage yard that will house the new Great Divide brewery, tap room and beer garden (photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

R.I.P. Jack Joyce: 1942-2014

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He was the original Rogue. I just learned from Lisa Morrison that Rogue Ale & Spirits founder Jack Joyce passed away yesterday. He was 71. My thoughts go out to his family. Jack was a terrific voice in the beer community and he will be missed. I can still picture him sitting at the bar in San Francisco, beer in hand, chatting away. Drink a toast tonight to Jack’s memory, one of the true pioneers of craft beer.

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UPDATE: I just got the following from Rogue president Brett Joyce, and Jack’s son:

Yesterday the Rogue Nation and Family lost our co-founder, leader, friend, and father as Jack Joyce passed away at the age of 71.

Following a career as both a small town attorney and Nike executive, Jack and some friends founded Rogue in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon. From the outset, Jack set Rogue on a path of innovation, creativity, and rebellion. Rogue made hoppy, flavorful beers and was told that no one would drink them. Rogue made a wide range of beers and was told no one wanted variety. Rogue sold 22oz bottles of beer and was told no one would pay a premium for a single serve beer. Rogue opened multiple pubs and breweries and was told that it would be wise to follow a more efficient and logical business plan. Rogue took the road less, or perhaps never, travelled. Rogue was the first U.S. craft brewer to send beer to Japan. Rogue won 1,000 awards for product and packaging excellence. Rogue worried about getting better, not bigger. Rogue began distilling. Rogue began farming. Rogue remained dedicated to its small town roots and made sure to give back to its local communities. Rogue started a Nation. This was all vintage Jack.

He was the true Rogue and will be missed by us all.

Beer Outmaneuvering Wine

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Here’s some interesting news from the wine world, h/t to Jenn Litz from Craft Business Daily. Charles Gill, who runs Wine Metrics, which creates “on-premise wine distribution information in the U.S. market.” According to Litz, Gill has been saying lately that he believes that craft beer is taking market share from wine, which is curious, because “trade show rhetoric has often been the exact opposite.”

On Gill’s blog, Wine List USA, he claims that Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine, and lists ten ways in which he believes that’s happening. Here’s his raw list.

  1. Value
  2. Innovation
  3. Promotion
  4. Community
  5. Venues
  6. Cross-Fertilization
  7. New Traditions
  8. Customer Loyalty
  9. Food Compatibility
  10. Gatekeepers

For a better understanding of that list, read his explanations for each one at the source, 10 Ways Craft Beer is Outmaneuvering Wine. I don’t tend to think about wine and beer as an us versus them proposition, but obviously the pie that is all alcohol consumption is divided into wedges of how much is spent on each type. There’s no getting around it. If more people buy beer, something else isn’t doing as well. It’s theoretically possible that the pie is just growing and people are buying more beer, but are not buying less wine, spirits, cider or what have you, but that’s not exactly realistic. If anything, the pie’s been shrinking, sad to say, as people are drinking less overall than they used to.

As to Gill’s list, I definitely agree with Value, Innovation and some of the Community aspects he mentions. And I also think Food Compatibility and most of what he says about New Traditions ring true, but I’m less convinced by the others. Do you agree? Or Disagree? If, so why, and to which ones?

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More Beer At Starbucks: Let The Whining Begin

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Several times I’ve seen the anti-alcohol wingnuts claim that alcohol is the most addictive substance on the planet, typing that as they sip their morning coffee and dip their doughnut into it. I’m pretty sure worldwide, and certainly in this country, many more people are addicted to caffeine and sugar than alcohol.

A few years ago, Starbucks tested selling beer in the evenings at one of their locations in Seattle. It must have went well, because they quietly expanded the test to 26 Starbucks locations, and then 40. Recently, however, they announced via Bloomberg and the USA Today that Starbucks would expand what they call “Evenings Stores” to many more locations. No exact figure has been released, but there are over 20,000 Starbucks worldwide, with around 11,500 (or 13,000, depending on the source) in the U.S., and so far they’ll only be adding “Evening Stores” in America, selling only beer and wine, not spirits.

You have to figure most sales of caffeine are in the morning or earlier in the day, at least, when people need that pick-me-up. As the sun moves farther west toward its daily sunset, less and less people want caffeine, for the obvious reason that it will keep them up at night. There are, of course, people who work different shifts and who therefore will be exceptions, but by and large caffeine — coffee and tea — is a daytime drink. So it makes sense that when sales inevitably and predictably fall at night that Starbucks, any company really, would be looking for something to keep sales flowing when their core product ebbs. They already have a comfortable infrastructure where people come and sit for hours, so why not extend that at night, with beer or wine instead of coffee or tea?

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But, not surprisingly, delight over the prospect of Starbucks selling beer and wine is not universal. The Sheriff of Notinmyworld, Alcohol Justice, as usual thinks anything they don’t like is a “bad idea.” They tweeted as much, saying “Bad idea Starbucks,” along with a link to an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Greg Williams, “who has been in recovery from alcohol and drug use for more than 12 years.” Williams is also a filmmaker, and is promoting his documentary film The Anonymous People which appears to be at least in part about traditional recovery stories, i.e. ones using the 12-step or AA model. As I’ve written numerous times, that’s the sacrosanct abstinence method that most Americans, and most of the medical community who makes money off of addicts, believe is the only way to treat addiction, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

So what is Williams’ problem with Starbucks selling beer and wine? It’s all in the headline. By serving alcohol, Starbucks risks losing key customers: people in recovery. Yup, you read that right. If a coffee shop sells alcohol, then alcoholics and other addicts won’t be able to go there. Because nothing signals recovery better than the inability to be in the same building as alcohol. Never mind that alcohol is sold, in most of the civilized world, in grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, virtually every restaurant, sports venue, and countless other places. Whew, that’s a long list of places that people in recovery can’t go. I guess they might as well move to an Islamic country or some other place where alcohol is illegal to be really sure.

Every day, people in recovery meet up in Starbucks cafes to support one another, to talk to their 12-step sponsors and, most of all, to be welcomed in one of the few lively, popular, alcohol-free gathering places in their community.

I understand that they might be afraid of backsliding and ordering a beer if it’s offered on the menu, but alcohol is available to adults in countless other places, and yet most AA members have somehow managed to safely navigate the world. I certainly haven’t heard of there not being enough safe places for them to go before now. But even in an alcohol-friendly venue, in a meeting setting, with their support network in place to help them, that really shouldn’t be an issue, should it? Not to mention, in my view, you’re not really anywhere close to a cure if you can’t sit in a coffee shop and not order something you shouldn’t, especially when you’ll face the same issue in every restaurant, grocery store, etc. you set foot in. But with the next sentence it turns weirder.

Starbucks should pay special attention to them.

Huh?!? Why? That reminds me of those annoying “Baby On Board” signs suggesting that I have to drive extra careful when I’m near a car with a baby in it. We all live in the same world. Either figure out how to survive in it, or get the hell out. We all have the same responsibility to one another as a member of society. People who can’t handle themselves should not be entitled to special treatment. The world doesn’t owe you “special attention” because you’re incapable of acting responsibly, usually of your own making.

I know that sounds cold or callous, but it’s not meant to. I’ve known plenty of alcoholics and addicts in my life. But you can’t let them determine how you act, or how society as a whole acts, without making society a different and altogether worse place. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your own demons, but making me act differently whenever you’re around is dragging me, and everybody else, down with you. You have to stand up, on your own terms, and without our having to bend down to meet you. Otherwise, it’s not really a cure, is it?

Williams notes that the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research “found that 88.5 percent of those studied who were in recovery from alcoholism drank coffee. Thirty-three percent of those coffee drinkers drank more than four cups a day.” (I can’t help but see that as a sign that AA members are trading in one addiction for a more socially acceptable one, but that’s another story.) Based on that factoid, he’s extrapolated that to mean that many of Starbucks’ patrons must be alcoholics, too. Maybe some are, but then again, perhaps not. There’s no causation shown by the statistic in the study and the fact that Starbucks sells coffee. Williams, in concluding, suggests that if “executives studied this market demographic, perhaps they would think twice about this move.”

Hmm, let’s see. “Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 20,891 stores in 64 countries, including 13,279 in the United States, 1,324 in Canada, 989 in Japan, 851 in China and 806 in the United Kingdom.” Their revenue was nearly $15 billion, with a “b,” last year, and they had a net income of $8.8 million and assets totally more than $11.5 billion. But he thinks Starbucks didn’t analyze their demographics before making this decision? They tested the concept for four years, in different metropolitan markets, before announcing they were planning on rolling it out to more locations, and would do so slowly over the next several years. But he thinks they acted rashly, without thinking it through?

Industry analysts, such as Mintel and Beverage Daily, seem to think the move will be a good one for Starbucks, especially if they focus on local craft brands, as current rumors suggest they will. Alcohol Justice and Williams’ “people in recovery” may now have to buy their coffee elsewhere, but I’ll be very surprised if enough to make a dent in the coffee giant’s marketshare actually do stop buying at Starbucks.

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Anchor Cans California Lager

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Anchor Brewing announced yesterday that they’ll be releasing their popular California Lager in cans as a part of ” two unique partnerships,” in which “a portion of proceeds from Anchor California Lager sales will support the National Parks Conservation Association and the California State Parks Foundation.” Putting the beer in cans, they believe, will “offer greater convenience and versatility for outdoor activities.”

From the press release:

“Parks are one of our most precious resources that everyone from coast-to-coast can enjoy,” said Keith Greggor, CEO of Anchor Brewing Company. “Anchor California Lager already has tremendous success supporting parks in our home state and we look forward to supporting the National Parks Conversation Association’s work protecting our national parks.”

Anchor-Cal-Lager-Can

Anchor’s history, California’s first genuine lager, and our country’s state parks were born in the second half of the 19th Century. Today, California is home to 280 state parks and 26 of America’s 401 national parks. To celebrate that unique heritage, Anchor Brewing Company has partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association and the California State Parks Foundation to support their efforts to conserve and enrich the natural beauty and history of parks nationwide.

And here’s the background info on the beer:

Anchor Brewing Company’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable option. In 1876—thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State—a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager is a re-creation of this historic beer.

Crisp, clean, and refreshing, its rich golden color, distinctive aroma, lingering creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and incredibly smooth finish are like no other lager today. Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and Anchor’s own lager yeast, Anchor California Lager is kräusened and lagered in the cellars of the brewery. This all-malt brew is a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

That should be a fun beer to take on a hike or camping, not to mention the beer helps what I consider to be a very worthy cause, our state and national parks.

anchor-can-case

Congratulations To Garrett Oliver On James Beard Award Win

james-beard
It’s a beautiful sight to see the coveted James Beard Award hanging around the neck of one of our own. On Monday evening, the 2014 James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” went to Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery.

beard-medal

Garrett posted the above photo on his Facebook page, and asked his followers to forgive him the sin of “posting about something you’ve won.” Under the circumstances, I don’t think his disclaimer was necessary. This is the type of big time award that should be crowed about. Without question, it’s a terrific achievement for Garrett, but it’s also an important accomplishment on beer’s road to respectability and legitimacy as the fine beverage we all know it to be. In his typical erudite fashion, Garrett reflects on the award, and what it means for beer.

Last night I was named “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” by the James Beard Foundation. These awards are often called “the Oscars of the food world” and given the star-studded black tie ceremony at Lincoln Center, the description seems apt. I don’t need to tell you that beer has always taken a back seat in these circles, though by rights beer should have arrived here a very long time ago. My esteemed fellow nominees, especially Sam Calagione and my friend David Wondrich, have preached our bona fides from the rooftops for many years. So this shiny chunk of bling is for my Brooklyn Brewery brewing team and for all the 3,000 American breweries making some of the most amazing beverages the world has ever seen. Stand facing the mash tun, get stuck in, and make some magic today. “This thing of ours” is the very best thing in the world.

Well said, and congratulations on a well-deserved award. Chris Lowder snapped the shot below of much merriment after the award ceremony, with a clearly happy Garrett Oliver.

beard-celebrating

Brussels Beer Challenge To Be Held In Leuven

brussels-beer-challenge
2014 will mark the third year for the Brussels Beer Challenge. In its inaugural year it was held in Brussels, in the second year it was in Liege. This year’s competition will be in Leuven, described as a “beautiful historic city with a rich cultural life, countless moments, excellent hotel and conference facilities, and blessed with a noble and ancient brewing tradition.”

From the press release:

During two days a tasting panel of 60 international renowned beer connoisseurs will taste 750 beers from all over the world. The participating beers are divided into categories based on origin, type and style and then evaluated. At the end of the two tasting days, the best beers, in each category, will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze award. This professional beer competition is a unique opportunity for all beer producers to compete with the best international and Belgian brewers.

Why organize this beer competition in Belgium?

Belgium is without a doubt the most unique beer country. Our country has a great expertise and an international reputation. It is only fitting that Belgium has his own professional beer contest. The mixed presence of both national and international specialists ensures that the awarded beers at the Brussels Beer Challenge can count on a huge media interest and international recognition. Dirk Vansina, alderman of tourism: “In the last weekend of October, when the professional beer tasters are judging the beers, the visitor can also enjoy beer in town. Tourism of Leuven is working on an interesting program in which she confirms her title of beer capital. The program will be confirmed later.”

I’m looking forward to going over and judging this fall in Leuven. Should be a great time.

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Here is a chart showing the gold medals awarded at last year’s Brussels Beer Challenge:
BBC-Golds-2013

And here is a chart showing the medals awarded to Belgian breweries at last year’s Brussels Beer Challenge:
BBC-Belgian-Winners-2013

Beverage Industry’s State Of American Beer Report

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The Atlantic magazine had a good round-up of the State of American Beer, based on a report from the trade publication Beverage Industry. Beverage Industry’s March issue had a series of articles on different segments, including Craft brewers’ sales growth continues, Domestic beer case sales decline, Mexican beers dominate imported beer growth and Hard cider draws in consumers from outside the beer category. In addition, at the same time they released a separate report, the 2014 U.S. Beer Category Report.

You could spend the time to read through all of them (and I’d encourage you to do so) but to get an overview of the reports, The Atlantic’s coverage provides the highlights (and even does a better job with the charts). For example, here’s the top craft brands from 2013.

top-craft-beers-2013

And here’s case sales by brand in a piechart.

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And this last one, the percentage change in case sales, is amazing because is shows just how fast Lagunitas is growing, though Stone’s doing pretty well on the growth front, too.

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Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2014

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For the fourth straight year I missed the Bistro IPA Festival, as I was in Yosemite National Park with my family. Happily, owner Vic Kralj was again kind enough to send me the list of the winners. Citra Extra Pale Ale, from Knee Deep Brewing in Lincoln (and a new brewery and tap room in Auburn), was chosen best in show, out of 75 IPA offerings, at the 17th annual IPA Festival yesterday at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full list of winners is below.

EU Negotiating For Protected Beer Names

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Apparently in Washington, our Congress is hard at work negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU. Not surprisingly, the EU is asking for protective status of European products that are traditionally from Europe. You can’t really blame them. For instance they’re asking for the names “feta” and “parmesan” only for cheese made in Europe. I don’t know the history of those cheeses, but I’m guessing Greece and Italy do, and believe their cheeses to be the true expressions of them. They’re also asking that “‘bratwurst’ be allowed on only European-produced sausages.” Again, I don’t know the history but given that German and other European immigrants came to America and started businesses making bratwursts a hundred years ago, or more, it seems a tough sell. I likewise assume it was Italians in the U.S. who began marketing parmesan cheese here long before Kraft got in the game.

But according to an article in the USA Today, Senators: Back off our brats, beer, they’re not stopping there. I might have expected that Belgian beer might be part of the negotiations, since Belgian brewers aren’t thrilled about American beers labeled as “Belgian” instead of “Belgian-style.” But it’s “Oktoberfest” they object to. According to the story, “[i]f U.S. negotiators agree to European demands, U.S. manufacturers would have to change product names to “Oktoberfest-like ale.”

But since an “Oktoberfest” beer has certain style parameters that just about any brewer worth his salt could replicate, I can’t see how that one makes sense. I’ve never known German brewers to complain about that the way that I’ve heard Belgian brewers, but maybe I’ve missed that. Can a beer style, once created in a geographic area, sometimes because of the locally available ingredients or water source, only be made in that same place to be considered authentic? I think we can say yes for lambics, but others? What do you think?

There’s also countless local American Oktoberfest events throughout September and October each year, some have been taking place for decades or longer. Does Germany object to those, too?

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