Beer In Film #58: A Chat With Ron Pattinson

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Today’s beer video is a short interview of beer historian Ron Pattinson, the description for which reads. “Ron talks old beers with Bocky whilst sitting next to a very bad gnome. Find out about the latest Once Upon A Time Beers as well as Ron’s pursuit of the truth about porters.”

The Year In Beer On KQED Forum

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Earlier today I was on NPR for an hour-segment of KQED Forum, along with master cicerone Nicole Erny and 21st Amendment brewmaster and co-founder Shaun O’Sullivan. The host was Dave Iverson and although they titled the show The Year in Beer, we really covered a wide range of topics on beer more generally.

We talked for about an hour, and easily could have kept going all day long, especially if we’d had beer to drink. If you missed it live, you can hear the whole thing by pressing the gold triangle above. Enjoy.

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Me, Dave Iverson, Shaun and Nicole at the KQED studios after the show.

Beer Taxes By Lester Jones Of The Beer Institute

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A couple of months ago, the Tax Foundation interviewed Lester Jones, who’s the economist for the Beer Institute in Washington, DC. As I am a great fan of the dismal science, Lester’s become a good friend over the years and is a great asset to the beer industry. Tax Foundation host Richard Morrison describes the podcast interview. “Beer Institute Chief Economist Lester Jones explains the tangled web of federal, state, and local taxes that get applied to the beer we drink.”

If that doesn’t work, try listening to it directly on the web.

Lester Jones, of the Beer Institute & George Reisch, of Anheuser-Busch @ GABF Saturday
Lester Jones, at GABF a few years ago, with George Reisch of ABI.

More on Anchor’s Pier 48 San Francisco Brewery

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With the San Francisco Chronicle breaking the news last night about Anchor Brewery building a second, and much larger, brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, I was immediately keen to find out more. I knew from my earlier discussions with the new owners, and especially Keith Greggor, that they wanted to build the business but were dead set on keeping the business in San Francisco. But since they’re already the largest manufacturer within the city limits, that prospect must have been a daunting — and ultimately very expensive — task.

The new proposed brewery is being built in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. Here’s more information about it from the press release released this morning.

Anchor will continue to operate its facility in Potrero Hill, but will greatly expand its operations with the development of the Pier 48 facility. The two facilities will allow the company to quadruple its annual production capacity from 180,000 barrels to 680,000 barrels.

Pier 48, the southern-most structure of the Port’s Embarcadero Historic District, will be fully rehabilitated and re-established as an industrial hub of the central waterfront. The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse. Anchor will offer tours of the facilities and educational seminars with a focus on the history of craft beer, the art of craft distilling and Anchor’s history in San Francisco. The construction project beginning late 2014 will feature the use of green and sustainable materials, setting the standard for a modern urban brewery.

The Anchor expansion will create approximately 200 new jobs, 75% of which are production-oriented positions that employ a diverse work force.

“We are making things in San Francisco and creating a magnet for jobs for thousands of people from every background in our thriving local manufacturing sector,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Making sure our homegrown companies stay and grow right here in San Francisco remains my top priority and I want to thank Anchor Brewing and the San Francisco Giants for driving the engine of economic growth, bringing jobs and revitalizing our world class waterfront.”

The Anchor Brewery expansion project also represents the first major tenant of the Mission Rock Project — a new, mixed use urban neighborhood currently being developed by the San Francisco Giants. The Anchor Brewing facility will cover 22% of the overall project site.

“As a longtime partner of the Giants, we are delighted to welcome Anchor Brewing to the waterfront and to partner with them on what will become an exciting place for San Franciscans to live, work and play,” said Larry Baer, Giants President and CEO. “Given the rich history of the Giants and Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, it is only fitting that we work together to help transform this historic part of the City’s waterfront.”

In addition to Anchor Brewing’s new facility, the Mission Rock Project will include more than eight acres of parks and open space, 650-1,500 residential units, 1-1.7 million square feet office space, parking structure to serve ballpark and Mission Rock patrons, and up to 250,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and public amenities. In total, Mission Rock is expected to create 4,800 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.

Mission Rock Park will include Seawall Lot 337 (SWL 337) & Pier 48.

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Last April, SocketSite began showing artist drawings of what the proposed site might look like with their post Mission Rock Plans Dusted Off With Giants Swinging For A 2015 Start and last month’s Giants Moving Forward With Massive “Mission Rock” Development.

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Here’s an overview of the 27-acre site, of which approximately 22% will be the Anchor Brewery complex. It will apparently be 212,000 square feet and will ultimately allow total beer production to be increased to an impressive 680,000 barrels annually. “The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse.” As you can see in the drawing below, there will also be a substantial outdoor beer garden.
Anchor & Pier 48 Exterior

The interior of the proposed restaurant portion of the Anchor Brewery project, with the brewhouse visible in the background.

Anchor & Pier 48 Interior

This afternoon, I had a chance to talk with Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, who was kind enough to fill me in on some of the other aspects of the project. Here’s what I learned.

Anchor has been talking to the Giants about the Mission Rock project for at least the last year and a half, and the city and Mayor Ed Lee are especially thrilled that a deal could be done. Apparently, it’s a perfect expression of Mayor Lee’s “keep and grow” concept for keeping businesses from leaving San Francisco as they succeed and grow larger. In fact, the mayor apparently suggested Anchor as a tenant, not realizing at the time that it might actually work. The Port is also very happy to have only one tenant, and it has to be a day and night difference having the city, local politicians and the landlord all very supportive and happy to have a brewery there, which is not the situation that often occurs.

Anchor will eventually take over all of Pier 48, but will begin renovating Shed A, and will later take on Shed B, too. The two sheds are essentially different buildings with what they call a “valley” in between. Most of the design work is done, and the first order of business will be to spruce up the building. They expect to move in during the 3rd Quarter of 2014 and be open by the 4th Quarter of 2015.

Perhaps the most amazing news is that they already have a brewhouse for the new location. About twenty years ago, a nearly exact duplicate of Anchor’s current copper brewhouse came on the market in Germany, and Fritz Maytag bought it, hoping to use it when Anchor expanded. But later Maytag decided against moving the brewery and instead had been storing the equipment ever since. The only difference between the two is that the newer one is over twice as big, and is a 270-barrel brewhouse. In addition to brewing at Pier 48, they will also have a working distillery there, but will also continue to make gin and whisky at the Potrero Hill location, too.

The museum portion of the project will include Anchor’s massive brewing book collection and breweriana, including a recent purchase of another collection from a gentlemen who’d been collecting his entire life and recently decided to sell it all. There will also be an educational component, and will be similar to their original concept of having a “Center of Excellence” that the Griffin Group talked about when they first bought Anchor. Greggor had been talking about the Mission Rock project with Fritz Maytag the entire time during the negotiations, and Maytag is reported to be very happy with the new brewery plan.

Still undecided is the restaurant, which will not be a brewpub. They may yet partner with someone to do the food, but since the restaurant will be one of the later parts of the project to be completed, they’re still weighing their options. The current estimate is that the restaurant won’t open until 2017.

Looking at it from all the angles, it really seems like an elegant solution to the thorny problem of how to grow the business without sacrificing what makes Anchor such a great brand. They’ll have a more public space, perfect for tourists, locals and baseball fans, and will be able to make even more Anchor beer right in San Francisco. It will create jobs, help with the economy and should attract more tenants to the Mission Rock development project. What’s not to like?

And finally, below is ABC 7‘s coverage of the news:

Pandering To Women

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I may not be a woman, but I grew up around them quite a lot as a child, perhaps more than some others (my folks divorced when I was one and I spent most of my formative years among my mother, grandmothers, aunts, etc.) and am fully in touch with my feminine side. Plus, I love quite a few women — one a lot more than others — but count quite a few among my closest friends. So I cringe every time I read about the efforts of big companies to market beer directly to women, believing all it will take to increase market share is more attractive packaging or sweeter flavors. How many of these failed efforts have we endured in just the last decade?

A few days ago, yet another one surfaced, in a Fast Company interview with Carlsberg Group CEO Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen entitled Carlsberg Taps The Next Big Beer Market (Really): Women. This morning, I saw quite a few exasperated tweets and posts from women in the beer industry that I respect, and decided to read the interview. It’s a head-shaker, alright. Riddled with so much wrong, it’s hard to address it all, so I won’t. I’m sure someone will dissect it better than I can.

But, just a few points. First, Rasmussen claims that the “beer category has been suffering in terms of image,” but for just “the last 10 to 15 years.” Um, I can’t actually remember a time when beer wasn’t marketed almost exclusively to men. There are a few post-World War 2 ads that reach out to women — primarily because they were the ones doing the grocery shopping — but by the 1960s it was all men, all the time. And it’s been that way ever since, from the Swedish Bikini Team to Miller’s infamous mud wrestling. But he soldiers on.

Rasmussen and others still think product innovation and marketing brewed drinks toward women is possible. Increasingly, women know about different, palate-friendly beers like Abbey Ales, fruit lambics, ciders, ginger beers, and dark stouts — as well as about the more varied glassware they require and how to pair them with foods. Women want “a less bitter, non-bloating beer that does not give you a malty/hoppy aftertaste and breath,” says Carlsberg spokesman Ben Morton. “Flavor proliferation has become a key feature of beer innovation.”

So what’s the plan? “[H]e wants to come up with new types of drink recipes that can be made in Carlsberg-owned breweries but are lighter in alcohol, refreshing in taste, and perceived as healthy enough to take on wine, champagne, and other drinks vying for women’s dollars.” Rasmussen used to work for Duracell, Gillette Group, Mars, and Unilever, and seems to believe that beer is just the same as marketing razors and candy, but I don’t think that’s true.

Then there’s this bit of wisdom, by Carlsberg’s VP of Marketing, Kirsten Ægidius. “Many young people aren’t keen on the bitter aftertaste of beer.” Uh, huh. That’s why IPA has been the fastest growing category for years.

So I know they can’t help themselves, but I really wish the big beer companies would just stop this insane, asinine belief that reaching women is a matter of finding beer that’s female friendly and is marketed to them like Virginia Slims’ “you’ve come a long way, baby” pandering.

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of female friends who love beer every bit as much as I do. My wife is a beer lover, and probably drinks more beer at home than I do. I know countless female brewers, beer writers and female fans who love craft beer. This is the same craft beer, mind you, that I love, and that every other beer-loving male loves, too. There doesn’t need to be gender-specific beer. That’s a ridiculous notion, but one that keeps resurfacing, even though it fails every single time. I remember an “I Love Toy Trains” video that Porter used to watch when he was younger that showed how in the 1950s Lionel created a toy train set aimed at girls in which all the cars were pastel colors, pink, lavender, etc. It bombed, because the girls who wanted to play with toy trains wanted the same trains that the boys had. It’s hard to imagine why anybody would have thought otherwise.
Young blond woman with glass of beer
So while I hate to speak for women beer lovers, who are quite capable of fending for themselves, I’m just as eager for this nonsense to stop. So here’s a few tips I have for the big beer companies on how to reach women:

  1. Stop pandering to women, just treat them like people.
  2. Stop the obvious sexism in most of your advertising.
  3. Stop ignoring your own involvement in creating the perception that beer is not for women.
  4. Stop assuming women won’t drink anything bitter; coffee is bitter and you don’t see this issue in the coffee industry, do you?
  5. Stop creating packages that you think will appeal to women.
  6. Stop believing that marketing is the answer.

Reuters TV Interview With Jim Koch

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Reuters TV has a lengthy interview with Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch, conducted by Robert Wolf, who is “an outsider advisor to President Obama,” on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The interview, part of the “Impact Players” series, is business-focused, but they also discuss the present state of the beer industry and Koch’s history and background. It runs just under half an hour. Enjoy.

Q&A With Jack McAuliffe

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Last week, you may recall, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Jack McAuliffe, founder of the first modern microbrewery in America; New Albion Brewery. That was the week after the annual Craft Brewers Conference, which was held this year in San Francisco. At CBC, the elusive Jack was in town for his first appearance at a public beer event in a very, very long time. He was going to do a Q&A session along with a short talk by Maureen Ogle, author of Ambitious Brew, and Jack’s daughter, Renee DeLuca, who writes online at the Brewer’s Daughter. As an amateur beer historian, and lover of the subject, seeing the man who built the first microbrewery from scratch back in 1976 was simply something I was not going to miss. I arrived early and got a chance to meet Jack for the first time. Needless to say, it was a great treat.

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Jack and me at CBC.

After a talk by Jack’s daughter Renee on social media, Maureen discussed “The Long View of the Big Picture,” lessons learned from failed breweries and what the ones who survived did to keep going. Then the session was turned over to jack, who answered questions from the audience for a good half hour. I recorded Jack’s Q&A and you can listen to it below. Enjoy.

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The Impact Of Texture On Taste Perception

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On Food Navigator, there was an interesting short interview with Matthew Patrick, VP of R&D for TIC Gums where he suggests that “food and beverage product developers spend a shockingly low amount of time examining how texture may impact a finished product.” In beer, of course, texture is more often referred to as “mouthfeel.” And while when judging beer, mouthfeel is a consideration it’s usually not the primary one. Honestly, I’m really not sure how often brewers tinker with their recipes specifically to get a particular mouthfeel though it’s clear that many beers have great ones and many otherwise solid beers suffer for having a less than pleasant or ideally suited mouthfeel.

He’s talking primarily about texture in food and non-alcoholic beverages, though he singles out what he refers to as “low-viscosity beverages” like “tea” as products who didn’t give much thought to their texture. Beer’s viscosity has quite a range, from thin pilsners and golden ales to thick, rich oatmeal and imperial stouts so I can’t say where beer falls in TIC Gums’ viscosity scale. But there’s no doubt that mouthfeel is at least one of the many factors that add up to a beer’s overall taste profile. What a brewer can, or should, do about it seems like a worthy discussion to have.

The impact of texture on taste perception

There’s also a summary of the interview from the Food Navigator website:

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Research Chefs Association conference and expo in Atlanta, Patrick explained that texture can have wide-ranging influence on consumer perception of a food or beverage product.

For example, texture can influence the way saltiness or sugariness is perceived, meaning that different textures can make a product seem more or less sweet or salty even if the level of sugar or salt remains the same. That effect is something that product developers need to be particularly aware of, as many are cutting sugar or salt in products in response to demand for healthier foods and drinks.

Patrick added that low-viscosity beverages, such as teas, represent one area in which there is particular potential for enhancing consumer experience of a product through subtle textural differences.

Searching For Science In A Glass Of Beer

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NPR’s Science Friday had an interview this week with Charlie Bamforth, talking about beer and his new book, “Beer Is Proof God Loves Us: Reaching for the Soul of Beer and Brewing.” Bamforth, of course, is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California at Davis. In the segment, entitled Searching For Science In A Glass of Beer, Charlie takes questions and discusses the brewing process more generally. There’s also a transcript of the talk on their website. [And a hat tip to Rick Sellers for letting me know about the show.] Enjoy.