Lagunitas Announces Third Brewery

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I’ve been traveling most of this week, so I missed the announcement Wednesday by owner Tony Magee when he unveiled plans for a third brewery on Twitter. When I interviewed him for a profile piece in in Beer Connoisseur magazine in 2012, he was already thinking about a third location after Chicago was up and running, but at that time was leaning toward New Orleans. But it turns out the new brewery will be in Southern California in the town of Azusa, which is in the San Gabriel Valley and is part of Los Angeles County, about 25 miles east of the city of L.A. This third brewery is a whopping 178,000-square feet and will reportedly have “an initial capacity of 420,000 barrels” which can be raised to one million barrels over time. By contrast, Chicago, when completely finished, will be able to brew 1.2 million barrels a year, and when an expansion in Petaluma is done, they’ll go from a capacity of 450,000-bbl to 750,000-bbl.

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Tony teased out the new space on Twitter with this blueprint.

It’s location is also “spittin’ distance” from the Miller facility in Irwindale. Construction has apparently already begun and is expected to open by early 2017. The decision was prompted by nearing capacity in Petaluma, which is expected to be at 85% in about 18 months. Magee said the L.A. space will be “similar in scale and operation to their Chicago brewery,” so that’s pretty promising. If it’s anything like the Chicago brewery, which I just visited Monday, it will be spectacular.

UPDATE: Lagunitas posted some photos of the ongoing construction which has already begun in Azusa.

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Odds & Ends For The Next Session

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For 101st Session, our host will be Jack Perdue, who writes Deep Beer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look beyond what’s in the bottle, and to the bottle itself, along with the crown, the label, the carrier, the mother carton and all of the odds and ends, or detritus, that go into the beer’s packaging, or as he explains what he has in mind for the July Session, the “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus,” which he describes below.

There are many great creative people involved in the beer industry: the brewers designing and creating the stuff of our attention, marketers bringing the product to market, graphic artists making the products attractive and informative and writers who tell the story of beer. The list goes on. And thus, many great products, that may or may not get your attention. The focus is on the liquid inside the bottle, can or keg, and rightly so. What about all the other products necessary to bring that beer to you? What about the things that are necessary but are easily overlooked and discarded. This months theme is, “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus”.

Detritus, according to one definition in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends”. While the number and quality of our beer choices has certainly improved over the recent decade, have you paid any attention to the rest of the package. Those things we normally glance over and throw away when we have poured and finished our beer. These are sometimes works of art in themselves. Bottle caps, labels, six-pack holders, even the curvature of the bottle. For this month’s The Session theme, I’m asking contributors to share their thoughts on these things, the tangential items to our obsession. Do you have any special fetish with bottle caps, know of someone that is doing creative things with packaging, have a beer bottle or coaster collection.

So drink the beer, but then think about what’s left over when it’s gone.

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Let us know about the bits and pieces from your point of view. To participate in the July Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with , on or before Friday, July 3.

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Brussels Beer Challenge To Be Held In Antwerp

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2015 will mark the fourth year for the Brussels Beer Challenge. In its inaugural year it was held in Brussels, in the second year it was in Liege, and last year we were in Leuven. This year’s competition will be in Antwerp, described as a “city on the Scheldt, city of Rubens, of diamonds, of fashion, a port city… The sum of all these different aspects is what makes Antwerp into a real city: a vibrant, welcoming metropolis, which is also great fun and heart-warming, with green areas where you can relax and peaceful corners. Antwerp is a veritable cultural capital, which prides itself on its impressive architecture and splendid art. Moreover, Antwerp is a fashionista’s dream destination thanks to the stores of its world-renowned designers. The cafes only serve the best beers and foodies can enjoy the most delicious traditional and multicultural cuisine in the city’s restaurants. Antwerp: a pocket-sized metropolis which is sure to conquer anyone’s heart in no time at all.” And Antwerp also boasts two of the best frites shops anywhere.

From the press release:

During two days a tasting panel of 60 international renowned beer connoisseurs will taste 850 beers from all over the world. The participating beers are divided into categories based on origin, typicity and style and then evaluated. At the end of the two tasting days, the best beers, in each category, were 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. The Brussels Beer Challenge will take place from November 5-8, 2015.

I’m looking forward to going over and judging again this fall in Antwerp. Should be another great time.

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The 2014 Brussels Beer Challenge judges in Leuven.

Our Centenary Session Searches For Lost Styles

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What a long, strange trip it’s been. The upcoming Session will be our 100th monthly outing, and our host will be Reuben Grey, who writes the Tale of the Ale. For this momentous occasion he’s sending us all on a quest to find the ark of the holy grail filled with lost beer styles, or something like that. Actually, for the June Session, the topic is “Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles,” which he describes below.

There are many [lost or almost lost beer styles] that have started to come back in to fashion in the last 10 years due to the rise of craft beer around the world.

If you have a local beer style that died out and is starting to appear again then please let the world know. Not everyone will so just write about any that you have experienced. Some of the recent style resurrections I have come across in Ireland are Kentucky Common, Grodziskie, Gose and some others. Perhaps it’s a beer you have only come across in homebrew circles and is not even made commercially.

There are no restrictions other than the beer being an obscure style you don’t find in very many places. The format, I leave up to individuals. It could be a historical analysis or just a simple beer review.

So that’s your quest: to find the holy grail of lost beer styles.

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So don your fedora, grab your tasting whip, and get cracking. To participate in the June Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with whatever you’ve uncovered during your adventures, on or before Friday, June 5.

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Anchor To Release Liberty Ale In Cans

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Anchor Brewery announced today that they will be releasing Liberty Ale in 12 oz. cans, at least for a limited time. The cans are “a commemorative offering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the historic beer that started a revolution.” From the press release:

“I remember brewing the first batch of Liberty Ale with Fritz Maytag 40 years ago. We were both young and eager beer lovers and knew we wanted to create a beer unlike anything else at that time,” said Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Mark Carpenter. “We had come across a new hop variety called Cascade that had a distinct piney bitterness that we used in the brew. Through Fritz’s interest in history and travel he’d learned of a process European brewers used called dry-hopping; adding dry hops to beer fermenting in the cellar to boost its hoppy aroma. So we dry-hopped the ale with whole-cone Cascade hops, as well. During an era when light lagers were prevalent, Liberty Ale was a very hoppy ale for most people. Their palates were shocked and delighted by such a unique beer.”

The beer was originally sold to the public beginning in 1975, when the country was seized by bicentennial fever. Liberty Ale commemorated the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. Considered the first American IPA brewed after prohibition,” it was also “the first modern dry-hopped ale in the US and was the beer that popularized the now-iconic Cascade hop.” Beginning this month, Liberty Ale 6-pack cans, as well as bottles and kegs, will be available throughout the U.S.

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Go Mild For The Next Session

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For the 99th Session, our host is Alistair Reece, who writes the Fuggled blog. He’s also the founder of American Mild Month, which will take place for the first time this May. Intended as a companion to May is Mild Month, which is a month-long promotion of mild ale sponsored by CAMRA in Great Britain, there’s also a Facebook page and so far he’s gotten 45 breweries to commit offering a mild ale during the month. So for the May Session, the topic is “Localising Mild,” which he describes below.

Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an ‘American Mild’, which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?

The first Friday of May is also the first day of May. May Day, or International Workers Day, and it is apt that a beer style closely associated with the industrial regions of England should be the theme for the Session. Have at it folks!

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So don’t go crazy, don’t go wild, instead this May go mild. To participate in the May Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, May 1.

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Oskar Blues Buys Perrin Brewing

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Oskar Blues, makers of Dale’s Pale Ale and other canned beers, has announced acquisition of the Perrin Brewing Co. of Comstock Park, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). MLive is reporting the deal, and that as part of it, Keith Klopcic, who formerly worked with nearby West Side Beer Distributing, becomes the new president at Perrin Brewing Co., replacing founder and former brewery head Randy Perrin. According to the article, “financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.” I love this quote: “Other than that, it’s the same company,” said Klopcic. “Nothing changes.” Not to second guess the deal, especially since I don’t personally know the parties involved (apart from Dale Katechis from Oskar Blues), but saying nothing changes when a brewery head and (I presume) a founder leaves a company when it’s sold doesn’t strike me as a particularly honest assessment.

Dan Perrin and Jarred Sper will continue running the brewery alongside production manager and head brewer John Stewart and his team. Sper, who will be vice president of sales and marketing at Oskar Blues-owned Perrin, said the brewery is very excited by the acquisition deal.

According to MLive, here’s what Dale had to say:

In a statement, Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis called the deal “a radical thing.”

“We at Oskar Blues love the Michigan craft beer scene and what the guys at Perrin are doing,” Katechis said. “We feel that Perrin and Oskar Blues have the same mindset toward the craft industry and this partnership will allow us to share information and innovative ideas with one another.”

In December, the breweries teamed up on a lager called “Cornlaboration” that was sold only in Michigan, a state in which Oskar Blues began distributing in 2013.

Until Oskar Blues’ canned beer sales outstripped their original brewpub, they were considered one of the country’s largest brewpubs, so it’s interesting to see them reach a point where they’re acquiring additional brands and another brewery.

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Leffe IPA?

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Here’s an odd bit of news. The Belgian brand Leffe, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, has traditionally made abbey beers (though that’s certainly been changing since being acquired by ABI) and the current lineup from Leffe includes a “Blond, Brown, Ruby, Tripel, Radieuse or Vieille Cuvée,” and a few others, as listed on their website.

But according to an item on Totally Beer, a source in the French-speaking part of Belgium, La Libre, is reporting that ABI is planning on launching a new IPA under the Leffe brand, to be known as “Leffe IPA.” At least one Belgian beer source doesn’t think it’s a good idea, calling it a big mistake. It certainly seems like an odd fit to launch a hoppy beer under a label known for brewing abbey-style beers, not hop forward ones, no matter how popular IPAs might be.

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I made this up, but it doesn’t look right, does it?

UPDATE: It appears that ABI will not be calling the beer Leffe IPA after all. Much like the famous scene in “Pulp Fiction” about McDonald’s “Quarter-Pounder with cheese” being called the “Royale with cheese” in France, the Leffe IPA will also apparently be called the Leffe Royale. And take a look at the graphic below, taken from Beertime (though it appears it originally was printed in a catalog of some type), there will actually be three different Royales.

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The graphic announcement says that the beer will have “subtle aromas” and “3 different varieties of hops” (despite listing four) but I think that’s just the first beer in the series. Curiously, it also appears to say that the Cascade hops are exclusive to Leffe, which unless I’m reading that wrong is an odd statement given that Cascade hops are the most popular hop variety used by smaller brewers. Of course, they could just be saying the beer is using Cascade hops exclusively, simply meaning it’s a single hop beer.

And this is a pretty interesting claim: “New brewing process: dry hopping.” I’m sure Britain’s brewers are howling with laughter at that one. Descriptors mentioned for the beers include “red fruits, peach, apricot, spices,” a “pronounced bitterness” and “very fruity.” So I guess the first beer is using the four listed varieties (Whitbread Golding, Cascade, Challenger and Tomahawk the second is brewed with the “Mapuche” hop variety from Argentina, and the last one Cascades. It’s possible that only the Cascade IPA is the IPA of the three, and that the others aren’t meant to be, just all more hop forward beers under the umbrella of the “Royale” series. H/T to The Beer Nut for sending me the link.

Marzen Madness 2015

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I may not be college basketball’s biggest fan, but I do still enjoy March Madness every year. The tournament is usually a fun diversion for a few weeks each year, so for the fifth straight year, I’ve set up a fantasy game, similar to fantasy football. It’s a bracket game through Yahoo which I call “Märzen Madness.” It doesn’t look like there’s a limit to the number of people who can play, so sign up and make your picks starting tomorrow, but before March 19, which is when the first games take place.

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To join Märzen Madness and play the Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick’em game, just follow this instructions below. You’ll also need a Yahoo ID (which is free if you don’t already have one).

To accept the invitation, just follow this invitation link. For reference, here’s the group information.

Group ID#: 18022
Password: brookston

Good luck everybody.

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The Next Session Asks: Cans Or Bottles?

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For the 98th Session, our host is Nathan Pierce, who writes the blog for Microbrewr. He’s asking us all to weigh in on what’s better, what you prefer, and/or what’s the deal with “Cans or Bottles?” Essentially he wants to know your take on the packaging wars. Alright, maybe not a war, more like a friendly debate. Fingers crossed.

A bottling line or a canning line is a substantial financial investment. So this question is a significant consideration to anyone starting a brewery.

The answers give great insight. However, one thing I see lacking from the discussion is solid data.

Of course aluminum can manufacturers and glass bottle manufacturers each have an interest in showing their packaging is best. I have heard a lot of arguments on both sides, even data and statistics, but I haven’t heard many references from third-party studies. If you can offer this, that would be a great help.

In any case, I’m looking forward to reading the answers not only to see where the consumer trends are going, but also as research for the brewery I dream of opening.

What’s your perspective?

Will you write from the consumer point of view? From which kind of packaging do you prefer to drink beer? Why do you prefer that packaging?

Will you write from a manufacturer perspective? How do you want your brand portrayed? Which packaging suits your beer best?

Will you write from a distributors perspective? Which packaging do you prefer to transport and stock at retail locations?

Some other insight?

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So pop a cap or pull a tab, and decide which one you like better. Then to participate in the April Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, April 3.

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