Pretty Beer To Stop Brewing

Sad news. Dann and Martha Paquette, co-owners of the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project posted on their website today their decision to cease the operations of their company. Explaining their decision in For a Beginning, there must be an End, here’s what’s up:

Seven years ago we sold our first glass of beer at The Publick House in Brookline. We didn’t foresee then that our strange project would become such a part of our lives.

It has been a crazy fun time. We’ve dressed up in more costumes than a Bob Hope special. Amazing employees and friends have conspired with us along the way. Bocky, Anya, and John Funke have channeled our project almost better than we have done ourselves. And we found a rag tag group of like-minded creative brewers out there in the world as well.

Brewing our beers has been a great labor and a great joy. But best of all we shared it with so many great beer drinkers. It really feels like we met you all. We’ve stood in shops, bars, restaurants, on stages, in VFW halls. Sometimes you were already fans. Sometimes you spat out our beer. Sometimes you just fancied a chat. We always felt happy to meet you by the end. It was always fun, or funny, or we sold a beer, or learned something. Many of you became friends. We’ve loved drinking beers with you.

We hope our beers brought you joy and brought you closer together. There’s no greater goal for a batch of beer or a project like ours.

After seven years it’s time to draw the curtains and head off to a new adventure. A poorly drawn grain of barley called Jack D’Or made this whole thing possible. He’ll be coming with us.

Besides making great beer, Dann’s thoughtful approach to everything they do has been great to watch, if only from afar. The few times we’ve spent any time together I’ve loved talking philosophically with him and certainly hope his voice won’t be lost as he transitions to whatever adventure awaits him in the next chapter of his journey. And I wish Dann and Martha the best of best wishes going forward.

Pretty Things beer will be available until it runs out, probably sometime in January of next year. If I were you, I’d stock up while you can.

Their parting shot.

Home For The Holidays Session

For our 106th Session next month our host will be yours truly, who writes this here Brookston Beer Bulletin. For my topic, I’ve chosen Holiday Beers, by which I mean this.

For seasonal beers, the Solstice/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Mithra time of the year is my mostest favorite. This past weekend, we had our fifteenth annual holiday beer tasting for the Celebrator Beer News, and sampled 42 of this year’s Christmas beers. Here’s how I’ve described them in the introduction of the tasting notes for the holiday edition each year:

Holiday beers are by design no one style, but are a chance for individual breweries to let their talent and imagination run wild. At the holidays, when people stop their busy lives and share some precious time with family and friends, the beer they choose should be equally as special as the time they’re sharing. So a holiday beer should be made to impress, to wow its audience, to stand out. That’s the only criteria that should be met by one of these beers. Will it impress? Different breweries, thankfully, do this in many, many different ways. Some use unusual spices or fruits, some use special malts or hops, some use other uncommon ingredients like spruce or rye, and some make a style that itself is unusual. So there’s nothing to tie these beers together apart from their celebration of the season. That makes it both a delight and a challenge to judge. Ultimately, perhaps more than any other tasting, these beers are simply a matter of what you like and our judging is a matter of what we like. So try them and discover for yourself the many flavors of this holiday season.

Beer and hat of Santa Claus

As I said, I really enjoy the variety of holiday and winter seasonals, and they often seem especially well-suited to colder weather. I don’t really care what they’re Celebrating, be it:




Winter Solstice



And despite the fact that the rightwing nutjobs insist there’s a war on Christmas because people use “holidays” to be inclusive instead of “Merry Christmas,” a lot of seasonal beer labels from the first half of the 20th century used “holiday” rather than Christmas. And what do you know, civilization didn’t end. And that’s usually the time that conservatives point to as being what we need to return to, when America was a more innocent place, pre-1960s. But they drank holiday beers, what do you know? And as far as I can tell, nobody freaked the fuck out like they do today. After the brouhaha with Starbucks cups, it actually made me want to go to Starbucks — a place I don’t normally frequent — just because of how ridiculous it all was.

Potsoi-holiday-brewing Armanetti-holiday-beer
Kellers-holiday-beer Peoples-holiday-beer
Chief-Oshkosh-holiday-brew-tree E-and-B-holiday-brew-label-2
Special-Holiday-Beer-Labels-The-Peoples-Brewing Holiday-Special-Beer-Labels-Remmler-Brewing
Walters-Holiday-Beer-Labels-Walter-Brewing Kochs-Holiday-Beer--Labels-Fred-Koch-Brewery
holiday-brew-label Christmas-Brew-Beer-Labels-Auto-City-Brewing

So for this Session, write about whatever makes you happy, so long as it involves holiday beers.

  • Discuss your favorite holiday beer.
  • Review one or more holiday beers.
  • Do you like the idea of seasonal beers, or loathe them?
  • What’s your idea of the perfect holiday beer?
  • Do have a holiday tradition with beer?
  • Are holiday beers released too early, or when should they be released?
  • Do you like holiday beer festivals?

Those are just a few suggestions, celebrate the holiday beers in your own way. Happy Holidays!

So start your holiday celebration early. It’s never too soon. To participate in the December Session, on or around Friday, December 4, write your post, then leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail or copy me (@Brookston) in your Twitter feed with your link.


Next Session Has You Seeing Double

So our recently back-from-the-dead Session next month will be our 105th monthly outing, and our host will be Mark Ciocco, who writes the Kaedrin Beer Blog. For his topic, he’s chosen Double Features, by which he means ” comparative tastings,” meaning “[d]rink two beers (usually of the same style) with a critical eye, compare and contrast.” But I’ll let him give the full explanation of what he’s looking for:

For this installment, I’d like to revisit that glorious time of beer drinking when I was just starting to realize what I was getting into. One of my favorite ways to learn about beer was to do comparative tastings. Drink two beers (usually of the same style) with a critical eye, compare and contrast. Because I’m also a movie nerd, this would often be accompanied by a film pairing. It was fun, and I still enjoy doing such things to this day!

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to drink two beers, compare and contrast. No need for slavish tasting notes, but if you want to, that’s fine too. The important part is to highlight how the two beers interact with one another during your session (pun intended!) For extra credit, pair your beers with two films to make your own Double Feature. Now, I’m a big tent kinda guy, so feel free to stretch this premise to its breaking point. The possibilities are endless!

  • Drink two beers of the same style, pair with a double feature of horror movies (it being October and all – it’s what I’ll be doing!)
  • Drink two vintages of the same beer, pair with a famous double album (The White Album, The Wall, Exile on Main Street, etc…)
  • Throw caution to the wind and do a triple feature!
  • Drink a base beer and its barrel aged variant, pair with two episodes of your favorite TV show.
  • Actually, lots of other types of variants out there too: base beer and it’s Brett-dosed counterpart, base and a fruited variant, base and spiced variant, base and a dry hopped variant, many possibilities here… Pair with video games.
  • Play master blender by taking two beers, tasting both, then blending them together in the perfect proportion for the ultimate whatever. Then say nuts to pairing it with non-beer stuff, because you’re just that cool.
  • Test your endurance by taking down two bottles of Black Tuesday solo, then documenting the resultant trip to the emergency room*.
  • Recount a previous comparative tasting experience that proved formative.
  • Drink a fresh IPA and a six-month old IPA and discuss where you fall on the “Freshness Fetish” scale.
  • Drink a beer and compare with wine or bourbon or coke or whatever strikes your fancy. One should probably be beer though. I said “big tent” not “no tent”…
  • “These two beers are in my fridge, I should probably drink them or something.” (Pair with leftovers.)
  • Drink a beer and a homebrewed clone of that beer (an obscure one that requires you to have both readily available, but this is part of the fun!)
  • Hold a March Madness style beer tournament, pitting beer versus beer in a series of brackets in order to determine the supreme winner.
  • Devise a two course beer dinner, pairing two beers with various foodstuffs.
  • If any of you people live near an Alamo Drafthouse, I think you know what you need to do. Do it for me; I don’t have the awesomeness that is Alamo anywhere near me and wish to live vicariously through your sublime double feature.
  • Collect an insane amount of barleywines and drink them with your friends, making sure to do the appropriate statistical analysis of everyone’s ratings.
  • Go to a bar, have your friends choose two beers for you, but make sure they don’t tell you what the beers are. Compare, contrast, guess what they are, and bask in the glory of blind tasting.
  • Lecture me on the evils of comparative tasting and let me have it with both barrels. We’ll love you for it, but you’re probably wrong.

Truly, there are a plethora of ways to take this, so hop to it!


So start choosing your beers (and your movies, too, for extra credit). To participate in the November Session, on or around Friday, November 6, leave a comment to the original announcement if you’re on WordPress. If not, since he’s had some issues with comments, send an e-mail to mciocco at gmail dot com or notify him via Twitter at @KaedrinBeer.


SABMiller Rejects Buyout Offer From A-B InBev

abib sabmiller
SABMiller released a statement this morning rejecting the latest takeover offer from Anheuser-Busch InBev. You may, or may not, be able to read the statements released by SABMiller on their website, and there are some fairly scary disclaimers including language that, depending on your jurisdiction, claims that the publicly available information may not be legal to read, and in such case advise you to “exit this web page.” Which while I’m sure is required by some law, probably UK law, also feels fairly ridiculous. At any rate, quite a few news outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the New York Times are all reporting on it, so it must be okay for the likes of me.

The gist of it is the SABMiller board unanimously rejected ABI’s latest takeover offer, for the primary reason that they believe ABI’s offer “substantially” undervalues their company (currently the offer values SABMiller at $104 billion), among a few other technical reasons having to do with the timing, regulatory issues and others. The current offer is for roughly £65.14 billion, which is $99.76 billion dollars.

The Wall Street Journal helpfully created a graphic showing the recent history of the potential deal as it’s been unfolding.


There’s little doubt this is not the end of it, but there will continue to be a back and forth as this high-stakes game unfolds. And it really is a game, sad to say. Apparently negotiations have been tense, which really should not come as a shock to anybody, yet you see statements like this. “AB InBev is disappointed that the board of SABMiller has rejected both of these prior approaches without any meaningful engagement.” The absurdity of that reveals the gamesmanship involved, as it plays out in the media. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.

Quick! Hurry Up! The Next Session’s Tomorrow! Write… And Make It Good!!

For the 104th Session, our host will be none other than Alan McLeod, who now holds the title for hosting The Session more times than any other human alive today. Alan, of course, writes A Good Beer Blog. For the topic, he’s extending the discussion I started a few weeks ago in The Monthly Session: Should It Continue Or Should We Let It Go? Fifteen people weighed and cast a vote, and the ayes held the day, 10 to 5. So there you have it, we’re still alive, though on life support. Alan, who magnanimously offered to step in this month, did just that, and donning his cape and wearing his matching knickers on the outside, is here to save the day. And he’s not fooling around, writing in his announcement for the October Session, Session 104: Quick! Write… And Make It Good!!, “I am hosting and you bunch of sookie babies are writing blog posts. Got it?” Got it. Read the full monty here:

The first Friday of the month is tomorrow. And no one signed up to host it. So, they called the undertaker. Me. The voice of beer blogging doom. Gloomy dour Cain to all you cheery half-lit passion-wracked Abels. See, Jay got the shakes mid-September. Got them bad. He struck by a bought of existential angst about where things were going. I understand that’s fairly common after a big batch of beer judging gigs. Bear with me. Jay gets a bit verklempt:

… I fear we may have hit a wall. With just two weeks to go before Session #105 is scheduled to take place, we have no host and no prospects for one, or so it seems. I could start asking previous hosts to step up — and perhaps I should — but that also seems a little contrary to the spirit of it being organic, something that just chugs along all by itself. I could also start begging and cajoling bloggers who have never hosted, but then again I don’t want anyone to feel obligated. It’s supposed to be fun, otherwise it won’t work. Which brings me to the elephant in the ether.

Poor lad. He’s clearly schwazzled. It’s only Session #104 for one thing. I hear Stan’s no better. He’s in a ball in the corner of the rec room now, sobbing… comforted with only the thought of upcoming affordable local post-season baseball and enough freebie liquor samples in the basement to calm the Soviet army after their victory at Stalingrad. These guys have been giving and giving and giving and what the hell do you losers do? You let them down. You heartless bastards.

So, time to suck it up. I am hosting and you bunch of sookie babies are writing blog posts. Got it? I was going to tell you to write anything you feel like whether it makes any sense or not… but then I realized that’s what you do anyway. Especially you. Yes, you!! So you are going to write about this: if we just “take the philosophical approach, that the Session has run its course” aren’t we really admitting that beer blogging is a massive failure? I say no. I say this is a fabulous way to cover up problem drinking with anti-social internet addictions. Maybe you know of another reason we should keep writing and try to make some sense of the beer and brewing world. Well, goodie for you. Write about it. Explain yourself. Because if you can’t you are really admitting (i) you’ve wasted the best part of the last decade or (ii) you live in a fantasy world where think you are a beer writer and not a beer blogger and that’s soooooo much more important… as if your friends don’t share concerned messages about you behind your back:

Linda? It’s Barry. Yes, I saw him. He still pretends he writes about alcohol as a job… she’s the strong one… poor things… where will it end?

Make it good. Leave a link in the comments when you do.


So start listening to your existential angst now. What is it telling you? There’s isn’t much time. Just a few hours. So let us know. To participate in the October Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, on Friday, October 2.


Asahi Buys Mountain Goat

mountain-goat-red asahi
So larger breweries buying smaller ones is not confined to the U.S., or even the Western Hemisphere. Australia’s Mountain Goat Beer announced on “Monday that Asahi Holdings (Australia) had taken a 100 per cent ownership stake in the company.” Co-founders Dave Bonighton and Cam Hines will be staying on although an Asahi employee, Matt Grix, has been “named as the new Mountain Goat general manager,” but they also added that “Mountain Goat will continue to operate as a stand-alone business.”

I first met Dave Bonighton either judging in Japan or in the U.S. at the World Beer Cup, although we also judged together in Australia last year at the AIBA. Dave’s a great guy and his beers are some of the best I’ve had from Australia.

The Australian magazine Beer & Brewer has the full story.

Mountain Goat co-founder and brewmaster Dave Bonighton.

Dogfish Head Sells 15% Stake To Private Equity

dogfish-head-green private-equity
I saw Sam only briefly at GABF last week, not long enough to have a conversation. He was finishing a panel talk on pilsners with Matt Brynildson and Vinnie Cilurzo, and I had the stage next, to announce the North Amercian Guild of Beer Writers awards. We shook hands, and hugged, and he was off to the next event. I wish I’d had more time, because he obviously had some news. Dogfish Head announced this morning that LNK Partners, a private equity firm based in New York, has bought a 15% stake in the craft brewery, and will also hold one of the five voting seats on Dogfish Head’s board.

In the Beer Street Journal, Sam told his employees and co-workers the news.

Today, I am excited to announce that Mariah and I added a new asset as external support to Dogfish Head – LNK Partners. You are likely thinking, who or what is that? Well, they are an incredibly smart and experienced group of people who have worked with companies of all sizes and styles like Levi’s, Performance Bicycle, Gatorade and Calvin Klein to help those guys achieve their goals in their respective industries. LNK is making an investment to own 15% percent of our company…

He also said he plans to eventually repurchase the shares from their private equity partner, but the cash infusion was necessary at this time to allow for Dogfish Head to continue on its growth path. They also recently finished a $50 million expansion, which was almost entirely financed with bank debt.

Brewbound has further details on the announcement.

Sam, Emily Sauter (from Two Roads Brewing) and me at Belmont Station during the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland earlier this year.

Cisco Brewers Partner With The Craft Brew Alliance

cisco-brewers CBA
The Craft Brew Alliance, or CBA — which includes RedHook, Widmer and Kona — announced today that “it has formed a strategic partnership with Cisco Brewers,” Nantucket Island’s only small brewery. The Massachusetts brewery will enter “into a master distribution agreement and alternating proprietorship” with CBA, which according to the press release, will give Cisco “access to CBA’s extensive sales and distribution network and New Hampshire brewery to support Cisco’s growth, and bring more of their coveted island-inspired craft beers to more consumers throughout the Northeast.” The press release is cagey in using “strategic partnership” and not acquisition, merger or a buyout. Money undoubtedly changed hands, but nothing was disclosed about the moneteary arrangements of the deal.


More from the press release:

Through the alternating proprietorship agreement, Cisco will not only leverage CBA’s state-of-the-art brewing facility in Portsmouth, N.H., but the two craft beer companies will also share a master brewer. CBA Lead Innovation Brewer Mark Valeriani will oversee production of Cisco beers at Cisco’s brewery on Nantucket, as well as CBA’s Portsmouth brewery, which is ideally located to support growing demand in the Northeast for distinctive craft beers with local relevance.

“This new partnership is exciting to us for several reasons,” said Andy Thomas, chief executive officer, CBA. “First, the team at Cisco has built an exceptional company with a deep connection to its local community and strong cultural values that mesh really well with CBA. Second, Cisco has already established a strong presence in the Northeast, which is an important market for us as we continue to expand the Alliance and leverage our East Coast footprint. And third, we see some terrific growth opportunities for both companies as we partner to bring more great brands and brews like Whale’s Tale and Grey Lady to more beer drinkers in the East.”

Cisco Brewers is one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in New England and has been featured by People Magazine, TripAdvisor, and the Huffington Post, among others, as a top destination on Nantucket. As demand for the brewery’s innovative beers continues to expand, the master distribution agreement with CBA will enable Cisco to increase distribution of its beers in chain and other retail accounts throughout its core markets in the Northeast. CBA will work with its network of wholesaler partners, as well as Cisco’s existing wholesalers, to bring the beers to market.

“Today, there are a lot of options for breweries that want to grow. Working with the team of people at CBA to craft this partnership has been extremely energizing,” said Cisco Brewers Chief Executive Officer Jay Harman. “Having a partner that knows how to manage a wholesale network and properly bring craft beer to market is just one of the reasons this partnership with CBA is so appealing. Anyone who has been to Cisco falls in love with the beer but also the mismatched handmade bar stools and carefree unbuttoned culture that makes us who we are. When it comes to sharing Cisco off the island, and the steep competition in New England and beyond – with a new brewery opening every 12 hours – our goal is to get good, fresh beer to market in a way that truly represents our brands and culture.”

Harman continued: “We evaluated several options when looking for ways to embark on the next stage in our journey, and after sitting around the kitchen table with Andy and his team, we realized we had found a partner who could not just help us grow, but who could also help us realize the full potential of what we started 20 years ago.”

The partnership with Cisco Brewers expands CBA’s family, which already includes one of the westernmost island breweries, Kona Brewing Company, with one of the easternmost island breweries in the United States. Cisco Brewers was founded 20 years ago on Nantucket Island, 25 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, and is best known for such island-inspired brews as Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, Grey Lady Ale, and Shark Tracker Light Lager, which benefits science and education programs for OCEARCH.

American Brewery Count Reaches 4,000 Milestone

The Brewers Association announced this morning that the American Beer Industry has hit another milestone: there are now over 4,000 active breweries in the U.S. It also appears likely that the previous high of 4,131, which was achieved in 1873, will likely be broken if not by the end of this year, then certainly sometime in 2016.

Here’s the press release from the BA’s economist, Bart Watson:

Much of the beer world’s attention in the past week was focused on the Great American Beer Festival. However, the week also brought another milestone in the resurgence of local American brewing, with the Brewers Association database passing 4,000 active breweries. Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is almost certainly the first time the United States has crossed the 4,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s.

Van 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. Given the strong pace of openings (approximately two openings/day with a net increase of 1.9/day factoring in closings), it is likely that later in 2015, or early in 2016, there will be more active breweries in the United States than at any point in our nation’s history. This is a remarkable achievement that would have been unthinkable in late 1970s, when the number of American breweries dipped below 100.

More recently, it seems only a short while ago that I was writing about passing the 3,000 brewery mark, and many of the same thoughts still apply: the continued return to a localization of beer production and the potential for future growth balanced by ever increasing competition and future challenges for breweries to differentiate themselves. I’ll also repeat what I said then:

“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.”

The past 15+ months have borne out that statement as the map of U.S. brewing has continued to diversify. There are now breweries in more than 2,000 unique cities across all 50 states. At the same time, there are also nearly 1,000 cities with a population of more than 10,000 that don’t have a local brewery yet, and numerous neighborhoods in larger cities without a local brewpub or taproom. As America’s beer culture continues to deepen and spread, there are still ample opportunities for well-differentiated, high-quality entrants. So, to all the hard-working brewers/brewery staff that have made 4,000 breweries a reality, and to the next wave of innovative entrants to follow, cheers!

Bountiful Breweries

Chuck Silva Leaving Green Flash

Brandon Hernández had the news this morning that Chuck Silva Resigns from Green Flash Brewing Co., published on WestCoaster. I first met Chuck at the old, much smaller, Green Flash brewery not too long after he started there in 2004. As Brandon details, Chuck was undoubtedly a big part of the brewery’s subsequent success. According to the press release, Chuck is planning on creating his own new brewery, Silva Brewing Company, along with his wife Mary Jo. He’s looking at the Central Coast of California, near where he grew up and where he has many longtime friends and family. It’s apparently been in the works for some time now, and starting today, he be concentrating on the new project full time.

About his time at Green Flash, Chuck had this to say:

“It’s been so fulfilling to play such a major role in the accomplishment of so many goals at Green Flash. Together, we’ve come further and grown larger than I could have ever foreseen. I couldn’t have done it alone and I thank every member of the craft community that helped me along the way,” says Silva. “But it’s always been my dream and personal long-term goal to brew on my own terms. Now is the time to go for it and I’m looking forward to working on smaller projects.”

Good luck, Chuck, I for one can’t wait to have a beer at your new brewery.

Chuck Silva, from Green Flash Brewing
Chuck Silva at GABF in 2009.