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.

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MillerCoors Buys Hop Valley Brewing

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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.

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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.

Taking The Pils: Drinking Pils For The Next Session

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For our 114th Session, our host will be Alistair Reece, who is Fuggled. For his topic, he’s opening up a bottle or bottles of pilsners, and states his goals quite simply in his announcement, all about Pilsners:

What I want folks to do is put down their IPAs, their Belgians, their sours, their barrel aged stuff, and hunt out a few pilsners to compare and contrast, whether they be Czech, German, Belgian, American, etc, etc. Try to get examples of Czech and German in particular to see the differences. Most of all though I just want people to re-discover what I consider the pinnacle of the brewing craft, so off hunting you go!

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So before next Friday, pick up a couple of pilsners, or more, and get with the drinking and the tasting and the note-taking. Then come back by Friday, August 5, and report on the results of pilsner fact-finding mission. Post your findings, and then post a comment with a link to your post at the original Fuggled announcement.

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Observe & Report The Next Session

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For our 113th Session, our host will again be Boak & Bailey. For their topic, they’re asking everyone to Observe and Report, a very specific Session mission, which they more fully explain in their announcement, Mass Observation: The Pub and The People.

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In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

We’re hosting the 113th edition of The Session in July and we’re asking you to go to the pub, observe, and report.

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

This is an extract from a typical entry from the original observation logs, probably from 1938, describing the Vault of a pub in Bolton:

13 men standing, 8 sitting. 4 playing dominoes. 2 of the sitters are postmen.

2 men, about fifty, short, sturdy, caps and scarves, shiny worn blue shirts quarrelling about politics. One keeps saying, ‘If ee don’t like the country why don’t ee go away? No one stops me getting a living.’ Then he suddenly shouts ‘Why shouldn’t the king and queen be there. I’m for them! They should be there.’ … Barman comes round with a small canvas bag, jangling it, asks me if I want a penny draw for a pie. So I put my hand into the bag and get out a worn brass disc about size of a half penny, which says Riggs Pies and has a number in the middle. The draw takes place somewhere else. Number 9 wins… and he gets a small hot pie, the sort you can get for fourpence.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

Over the years, people have fretted about Mass Observation’s attitudes to privacy and so, in line with original Mass Observation practice, you might want to anonymise the pub — city centre sports bar, suburban dining pub, industrial estate brewery tap, and so on. And it’s bad form to give names and details which might allow individuals to be identified from your descriptions.

And an Optional Extra

As a chaser, after your observations, write whatever you like spurred by the idea of ‘The Pub and The People’. Really, whatever you like, as vaguely related to theme as it might be. Or instead of making any observations, even. The main thing is that you feel inspired to write something.

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This is what my copy looks like.

If you’re curious about the book, The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (Mass Observation Social Surveys), used copies of two versions are available on Amazon, the original and Cresset Library reprint, or you can read excerpts on Google Books.

So anytime in the next couple weeks, get yourself to a pub or bar with your checklist, and start observing and reporting. Then post the results on or around Friday, July 1. Let the hosts know about your participatory Session post by either posting a comment to the original announcement or by tweeting the link to @boakandbailey. They’re playing fast and loose with the deadline for submission, so as soon as you get around to it in early July is probably fine.

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ABI To Introduce Budweiser Prohibition Brew, Non-Alcoholic Bud

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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.

Next Session Uncovers The Other Beer Economy

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For our 112th Session, our host will again be Carla Jean Lauter, a.k.a. The Beer Babe. For her topic, she’s chosen The Other Beer Economy, and I”ll let her explain what that means.

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Last year, the total economic impact of the beer brewing industry in the state of Maine was approaching the same scale as the lobster industry. Let that sink in for a second. Maine – which is arguably *best* known for lobsters – is shifting to an economy strongly supported by brewing.

Growing alongside of the boom of breweries are many small businesses that are supporting, or supported by the craft beer industry. Maine is now home to a malt processing facility, and several hop farms. There are multiple beer tourism-focused businesses that help connect visitors to the state’s best beer offerings. There are companies that create beer-related apparel for beer fans, some that have designed unique bottle openers and manufacture them in-state. Maine is also home to a company that manufactures and installs brewing equipment, and another whose sole mission is to clean the lines that serve up that beer to thirsty beer fans.

Yet, we rarely give these businesses a second thought. They are the second beer economy, often operating behind-the-scenes. I think we could give them a bit more credit for keeping things growing, sharing the products of our local breweries with more people, and sometimes even literally keeping the beer flowing.

For this month’s session, let’s talk about those businesses in the beer world that aren’t breweries. What are the roles that they can play? What opportunities still exist for new niche roles to be developed? What can local/state/regional governments do to encourage this kind of diversity of businesses around an industry?

I’m excited to hear your thoughts and stories.

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So this June 3, start thinking like a dismal scientist and look at the economic indicators, the market forces and the new economic models. To participate in the June Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement or tweet your link to her at the @beerbabe on or before Friday, June 3.

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Stone Brewing To Open Taproom & Pilot Brewery In Napa

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Stone Brewing announced today that they were renovating the historic 10,000 square foot Borreo building in downtown Napa. Once completed, it will be a tap room and pilot brewery, which will do growler fills, as well as create exclusive beers for that location. The restaurant will use locally sourced food available “on premise or to take away picnic style.” The new Stone taproom is expected to open sometime next year.

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Here’s the press release from Stone Brewing:

Stone Brewing will begin renovations to a 10,000 square-foot iconic building in downtown Napa, bringing its bold and flavorful craft beer to the region well-known for its amazing wine. Stone’s newest outpost, located on 3rd Street and Soscol Avenue, will include a pilot brewing system, a dining experience, growler fills and Stone merchandise.

“The historic Borreo building is the perfect space for us to put down our roots in Napa,” said Greg Koch, Stone Brewing CEO & co-founder. “Not only is it literally made of stone, it’s one of downtown’s most iconic links to the 19th century and a landmark that’s been vacant for the past 15 years. We recognize the high quality of wine that comes from the region and the appreciation that Napa Valley locals and visitors have for fresh, well-crafted drink. We are elated to become a contributing part of such an artisanal town.”

The 10-barrel pilot brew system will enable brewers to produce Stone’s iconic bold and innovative beer using core recipes as well as indigenous ingredients from the local geography. The Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa will fill growlers and serve Stone’s year-round beers as well as special releases brewed onsite.

Stone’s food philosophy will carry over to its newest Tap Room with a dining experience that incorporates the local Napa flavors for enjoyment on premise or to take away picnic style. Stone proudly specializes in locally grown, small-farm ingredients and features an eclectic menu of world-inspired cuisine and a unique take on comfort food. As strong advocates for environmental responsibility and high-quality food, Stone will purchase local and small-farm organic produce from the Napa region. Making the most of outstanding weather is something the San Diego-based company is quite familiar with. Locals and tourists visiting Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa will enjoy an outdoor seating area complete with communal tables, fire pits and views overlooking downtown Napa.

The historic Borreo building, named for the family that formerly owned the historic stone structure, is an Italianate Renaissance design made from native-cut stone. It was completed in 1877 and has been vacant since 2001. While keeping historic elements in place, Stone plans to transform the building’s western wall, adding expansive doors to a stunning garden facing the Napa River.

“I’m a huge Napa fan,” said Koch. “I’ve been visiting for more than 20 years and I first toured through the Borreo Building nearly five years ago. We’ve tried a few times to make something happen there, and are thrilled to finally see it come to fruition!”

With an anticipated opening in 2017, Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa joins two expansion projects already underway for the growing company. Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin will open its doors in Germany this summer. Stone Brewing — Richmond will begin supplying fresh Stone beer from its 250-barrel brewhouse in July.

Corks & Suds Benefit For Autism Friday Night In Novato

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Tomorrow night in Novato, at the Unity In Marin church, located at 600 Palm Drive, a benefit for Autism — a cause near and dear to me — will be held. Corks & Suds will take place from 7:00-10:00 PM, and will feature music by “The Decades” and special guest piano performance by young man with autism.

Lagunitas, Anchor Brewing, Iron Springs and many more special guest beers from San Francisco Brewing Collective, Food from Alta Cuisine and Sonoma wines plus much more will be there! An evening of fun for a great cause.

Tickets are available at both Eventbrite and Global Offerings and there’s more information at the event’s Facebook page. I’m not sure how long this coupon will work, but put in Coupon code “CAS-SPECIAL” and get your ticket for $45 instead of $70!

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Jackson Family Wines To Build Sonoma County Brewery

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You know the brewing industry must be doing something right if one of America’s largest producers of wine has decided to jump in with a new brewery. Brewbound has the scoop, with Jackson Family Wines Proprietor Launching Sonoma County Craft Brewery.

It’s certainly not the first time. Does anybody else remember Sonoma Mountain Brewing? And more recently, Carneros Brewing built a brewery on the grounds of their Ceja Vineyards. And don’t forget that Korbel Winery once launched their own small brewery, hiring a young brewer to make the beer. After a short time, they decided to get out of the beer business, and brewer Vinnie Cilurzo obtained the name and moved Russian River Brewing to downtown Santa Rosa, and with his wife Natalie Cilurzo, built it into a destination brewery that’s undoubtedly helped put Sonoma County on the map for beer, as well as wine. So some have worked great, others not so much.

This one at least seems off to a big start. It’s not officially a project of the Jackson Family Wines, but Christopher Jackson, who is the son of winery founder Jess Jackson. Of course, most start-ups don’t have the resources to start by “constructing a 25,000-barrel craft brewery” with “an initial brewing capacity of 8,000 barrels.” Most start-ups don’t have $8 million as their initial capital, even though Jackson states that “[i]t is a passion play” and I “am the sole proprietor and it is my project going forth, but we are employing a lot of similar philosophies from my wine background.”

The new brewery will apparently be called Seismic Brewing Company, which name Jackson bought from San Diego’s Rough Draft Brewing. The new brewery will be located at 2870 Duke Court, Santa Rosa and plans to open in late summer.

It sure seems like Sonoma County is indeed becoming a “craft beer Mecca,” as Jackson called Santa Rosa. I think that’s truer of the whole county, but certainly between Santa Rosa and Petaluma the county’s doing pretty well. Sonoma County currently has 31 licensed breweries, at least according to the latest number from the CCBA, which means we’re nowhere near the 100+ that are now open in San Diego County. Still, I think Sonoma probably has more than most counties.

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FredFest Coming May 15

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If you’re not familiar with FredFest, it was created to mark the 80th birthday of legendary Portland beer writer Fred Eckhardt. That first festival took place in 2006 and the festival became an annual event put on by Hair of the Dog Brewing. Last year’s event celebrated Fred’s 89th birthday. Unfortunately, in August of last year, Fred passed away, which means this will be the first FredFest that he will be unable to attend. Hair of the Dog brewmaster and owner, Alan Sprints, wants to make this year a special one and make the festival a celebration of Fred’s life and his contributions to craft beer, especially in Portland. So it certainly sounds like this is the one to be at, and I’m planning on flying up for it, as well. It’s a short hop of a flight from the Bay Area, and there will be some great beers, and people, there.

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Alan Springs and Fred Eckhardt during OBF Week at the Hair of the Dog Brewery in 2008.

If you want to join me and celebrate Fred’s life, tickets are available at the Events page at Hair of the Dog. The events itself is from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday, May 15 at the Hair of the Dog Brewery located at 61 SE Yamhill Street, in Portland. A ticket gets you “a commemorative glass, endless beer food buffet, and over 25 Beers from a special selection of Brewers.” Also, since “100% of FredFest ticket sales go to charity” — Hair of the Dog covers all expenses for the event — they “encourage you to pay more than the suggested ticket price,” to help support the charities, which are the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (where Fred was once an instructor) and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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Fred and me after the OBF Parade in 2011.

The breweries expected to pour their beer at the fest include 10 Barrel, Avery, Barley Brown’s, Beachwood, Bear Republic, Berryessa, Big Island, Block 15, Breakside, Crooked Stave, Chuckanut, Commons, Ecliptic, Firestone Walker, Golden Valley, Hill Farmstead, Hair of the Dog, Holy Mountain, Jester King, Shelton Brothers (importers), Sixpoint, Stone Brewing, and Upright, with a few more to be announced as we get closer to the event.

The only remaining questions are how can I get there, and “What Would Fred Drink?” (WWFD?). Figure out the first, and we’ll help with the second. See you in Portland.

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