Beer Birthday: Erin Fay Glass

Today is the 45th birthday of Erin Fay Glass, Membership Coordinator and Brewery Detective at the Brewers Association. Erin is one of my favorite people in the BA, and the whole beer community for that matter. Join me in wishing her a very happy birthday.

Several November 18ths ago, Maya Ryleigh was born to Erin and Gary Glass.

Erin with husband Gary Glass, AHA director.

Gary Glass, Erin and Bradley Lantham, from the BA, at Anchor Brewing for an AHA Rally.

Gary, Maya and Erin. (Photo purloined from Facebook.)

Beer Birthday: Charlie Papazian

Today is the 67th birthday of Charlie Papazian, one of the most influential persons in modern brewing. Charlie founded the AHA, the AOB and the IBS back in 1978 (which today is the Brewers Association) and organized the first Great American Beer Festival. His book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing was one of the seminal works on the subject, and is now in its fourth edition. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne (of Meantime Brewing), Charlie, Mark Dorber (formerly of the White Horse on Parson’s Green but now at the Anchor Pub), Garrett Oliver, and Steve Hindy (both from Brooklyn Brewing), Dave Alexander (from the Brickskeller), and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

Some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie Jurado (with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).

On stage at the Beer Wars Live premiere with Ben Stein and Greg Koch.

Charlie with Pete Slosberg at last year’s Craft Brewers Conference in San francisco.

Of the literally hundreds of GABF and World Beer Cup award-accepting photos I have with Charlie in them, this is one of my favorites.

The BA recently shared this great photo of Charlie from 1977.

Charlie Papazian Stepping Aside As President Of Brewers Association

As far as I know, Charlie Papazian hasn’t worry and has been happy for at least 37 years. That’s the amount of time he’s been president of what’s now called the Brewers Association. When it was first founded, it was known as the Association of Brewers, but has seen its share of changes over the decades. It certainly makes sense, Charlie will turn 67 later this month, so my guess is he’s starting to ease into retirement. Bob Pease, who’s been there almost forever — and is currently the CEO — will assume the duties, and titles, of both president and CEO. The press release goes out of its way to reassure us that Charlie’s not going anywhere, that he’ll still be around. But I suspect he’s also have less day-to-day duties and more time to relax and homebrew.


Here’s the press release from the BA:

After 37 years of service as president at the Brewers Association, Charlie Papazian will put his passion and vision for the world of beer and brewing into a new role at the Brewers Association. In January, his title shifts to founder, past president. Bob Pease, current CEO, will add president to his title. Papazian will remain an integral part of the association and a leading figure for small and independent brewers, professional and amateur alike. He will continue to attend key Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association events. He will also participate in other events in the U.S. and internationally, offering his perspectives on beer, brewing and its impact on social and business culture. Charlie is also compiling an archive from the 37 year collection of Brewers Association’s photographs and videos. He is also staging video interviews with craft brewing pioneers that will help capture and chronicle the emergence and continuing journey of craft beer and brewing.

“I discovered craft homebrewing 45 years ago, and it obviously impacted my life. My 37 year journey as founding president has provided me a lifetime of fulfillment. Being part of an organization that serves to enhance the opportunities for professional and amateur craft brewers is especially rewarding. The hard work, dedication and long hours of past and current association staff and the community of brewers it has served has undoubtedly made the world a better place for every beer drinker,” said Papazian. “The tens of thousands of individual stories chronicling the success and joy that craft beer has brought to our lives inspires me. Ultimately it’s the people and their communities who have been and continue to be involved with beer who make our current beer world so special. I look forward to continued opportunities that will enhance the world of beer.”

Among his many accomplishments, Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association, Institute for Brewing Studies, Brewers Publications, World Beer CupSM and Great American Beer Festival®, which attracts 60,000 attendees annually. He is founding publisher of Zymurgy, the leading magazine for homebrewers and The New Brewer, the flagship journal for small and independent craft brewers. He will continue to serve as a regular contributor for both publications. Papazian has been an inspiration to more than a million homebrewers through his many books, including The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (and its subsequent editions), which many consider the “homebrewer’s bible.”

“Charlie is one of the truly iconic figures in brewing today,” shared Gary Fish, founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery and chair of the Brewers Association Board of Directors. “He took a quirky notion and made it a movement. Homebrewing and small local breweries brought beer diversity back to the U.S. Charlie can take his fair share of credit for that. We are all in his debt. I look forward to seeing his journey from here.”

“The Brewers Association would not exist today without Charlie’s vision, guidance and determination,” said Pease. “What was once a dream is now an association that lifts up homebrewers, brewers, retailers, distributors, suppliers and beer lovers. We are honored and excited to continue building upon his success.”

Beer Birthday: Bob Pease

Today is the 54th birthday of Bob Pease. Bob is the CEO of the Brewers Association and has been integral to their growth. He’s been with the BA since 1993 and was made V.P. in 1999. A few years ago he was promoted to COO, and in August of 2014 was promoted yet again. He’s worked directly on the Export Development Program and also on Government Affairs, especially with respect to Federal Excise Tax legislation. Join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

On the floor at GABF in 2007, with Ray Daniels, Mark Dorber, publican extraordinaire, and John Mallet, from Bell’s Brewery.

With Nancy Johnson at CBC in New Orleans.

Bob with Rick Lyke at a Pints For Prostates event.

The BA Staff
The BA staff at CBC a few years ago in Chicago. That’s Bob second to the right of the tuxedo (which is Charlie Papazian) and next to Julia Herz.

Number Of American Breweries Reaches Historic High

The most breweries open in the United States at any point in our history was 4,131, a milestone reached way back in 1873. Right afterwards, breweries started merging at a furious pace, drastically reducing that number. Then prohibition decimated the industry, closing almost every brewery (except for the few who figured out non-alcoholic products to make). When prohibition ended thirteen years later, fewer than 800 reopened in the year after repeal of the 18th Amendment. But many didn’t last long, and by 1950 the number was down to 407. And the slide continued, with only 230 in 1961 and the nadir of 80 in 1983, with only 51 of them owned by independent companies. For what it’s worth, other accounts say 1978 was the low point. Once the first two California craft breweries got going — Anchor in 1965 and New Albion in 1978 — things moved slowly, it took until 1994 before small brewers made up 1% of the total beer market. In 1996, we returned to pre-prohibition numbers, with 1,000 breweries open. Fifteen years later, in 2011, that number had doubled to 2,000, but in only three more years we’d reached 3,000 breweries. At the end of September, three months ago, we reached 4,000.

Today, the Brewers Association released a new press release:

As of the end of November, there are now 4,144 breweries in the country, topping the historic high of 4,131 breweries in 1873.

I knew it was coming, but it’s still a nice milestone to mark. More breweries are open right now in the U.S. than have ever been open at one time before. That’s pretty cool. Congratulations to all of those breweries.

A few additional tidbits worth noting:

  • Brewery openings now exceed two a day.
  • Fifteen states are now home to more than 100 breweries: California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana.
  • IPA remained the top style sold by independent craft brewers, and continues to grow faster than the overall craft category.


Beer Birthday: Chris Swersey

Today is the 51st birthday of Chris Swersey, who’s on the staff of the Brewers Association as the Competition Manager for both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. He coordinates all the judges, volunteers and the thousands of beers needed for each festival. It’s a big job and Chris seems to do it effortlessly. Plus, last year, Chris and I both judged in Belgium at the Brussels Beer Challenge, which was great fun. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

Chris reading the list of World Beer Cup winners in 2008.

Nancy Johnson, Justin Crossley & Chris Swersey Before the GABF Awards Ceremony
Nancy Johnson, Justin Crossley & Chris right before the GABF Awards Ceremony in 2009.

Eric and Lauren Salazar, both from New Belgium Brewing, sandwiched by Jim Crooks, from Firestone Walker, and Chris Swersey, Competition Manager for GABF judging.

Me, Chris and another BA staff member freshly arriving at CBC in Austin in 2007.

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

GABF Awards With Photographs 2015

On Saturday, September 26, the winners of the 34th Great American Beer Festival were announced. A record 6,647 beers were judged in 92 categories by 242 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. I was on hand at the awards ceremony and thought I’d share the results again, this time along with some of the photographs I took during the awards.

Inside the back of the theater, about an hour before the award ceremony began.

Justin Crossley, from The Brewing Network, on stage getting ready to simulcast the awards.

After the theater filled up.

A partial panorama view of the theater.

[Read more…]

Beer Birthday: Paul Gatza

Today is also Paul Gatza’s 51st birthday. Paul is the Director of the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado. He’s held numerous executive positions with the BA and its previous incarnation, the Association of Brewers. An avid homebrewer, Paul is great face for the BA and a terrific person. Join me in wishing Paul a very happy birthday.

Toasting in New Orleans for CBC.

Working the AHA booth at GABF.

At the podium during the opening of CBC in 2008.

Paul giving his annual state of the industry talk at CBC in 2012.

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2015

For the 13th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s thirteenth year, over 1,900 different breweries were represented in the voting. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2015.
Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

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

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder [↔]
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale [↔]
3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA [↔]
4. Stone Enjoy By IPA (8) [↑4]
5. Founders Breakfast Stout (9) [↑4]
6. The Alchemist Heady Topper (5) [↑1]
7. Bell’s Hopslam Ale (4) [↓3]
8. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (14) [↑6]
9. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (7) [↓2]
10. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (13) [↑3]
11. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA (not on last year’s list)
T12. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (not on last year’s list, though plain Milk Stout was 29)
T12. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale [↔]
T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (20) [↑8]
15. Goose Island Bourbon Country Stout (10) [↓5]
16. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (22) [↑6]
T17. Arrogant Bastard Ale (18) [↑1]
T17. Founders KBS (11) [↓6]
T19. Russian River Consecration (39) [↑20]
T19. Russian River Supplication (30) [↑11]
21. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (23) [↑2]
T22. Firestone Walker Parabola (not on last year’s list)
T22. Firestone Walker Union Jack (18) [↓4]
T24. Firestone Walker Double Jack (15) [↓9]
T24. Odell IPA (49) [↑25]
T24. Tröegs Nugget Nectar (39) [↑15]
27. Founders All Day IPA (34) [↑7]
T28. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (27) [↓1]
T28. Sierra Nevada Celebration (15) [↓13]
30. Lagunitas IPA (38) [↑8]
31. North Coast Old Rasputin (23) [↓8]
32. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (15) [↓17]
T33. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (not on last year’s list)
T33. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (25) [↓8]
35. Surly Furious (32) [↓3]
36. Stone Ruination IPA (26) [↓10]
37. Deschutes The Abyss (41) [↑4]
38. Green Flash West Coast IPA (31) [↓7]
39. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (44) [↓5]
40. Cigar City Jai Alai (42) [↓2]
T41. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (47) [↑6]
T41. New Belgium La Folie (33) [↓8]
43. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (36) [↓7]
44. Founders Backwoods Bastard (49) [↑5]
T45. Victory DirtWolf Double IPA (not on last year’s list)
T45. Fat Head’s Head Hunter (not on last year’s list)
T45. Lagunitas Sucks (6) [↓39]
T45. Stone IPA (37) [↓8]
T49. Odell Myrcenary (not on last year’s list)
T49. Russian River Pliny the Younger (28) [↓21]
T49. Ballast Point Victory at Sea (not on last year’s list)

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is the same as last year, Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Stone Brewing finished second, while Bell’s Brewery came in third, exchanging places from last year.

finished second, while last year’s winner, Stone Brewing Co., came in third this year. Eight California breweries made the list (one more than last year), with five from Colorado, and two each from Michigan and Pennsylvania. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year, while [Arrow indicates their movement over the previous year].

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

Best Portfolio

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

1. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. [60 Beers] (3) [↑2]
2. Stone Brewing Co. [54 Beers] (5) [↑3]
3. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. [52 Beers] (6) [↑3]
4. New Belgium Brewing [47 Beers] (1) [↓3]
5. Avery Brewing Co. [39 Beers] (10) [↑5]
T6. Goose Island Beer Co. [37 Beers] (10) [↑4]
T6. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [37 Beers] (4) [↓2]
T8. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. [35 Beers] (not on last year’s list)
T8. The Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams) [35 Beers] (2) [↓6]
T8. The Bruery [35 Beers] (9) [↓1]

Top Imports

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

1. Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Canada [↔]
2. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium (3) [↓1]
3. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium (5) [↑2]
4. Guinness Draught, Ireland (1) [↓3]
5. Saison Dupont, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
T6. Orval, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
T6. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label, Belgium (not on last year’s list)
8 Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, England (not on last year’s list)
T9. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier, Germany (not on last year’s list)
T9. Cantillon Gueuze, Belgium (not on last year’s list)