Number Of Breweries In America Reaches 2700

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The Brewers Association released preliminary numbers for how many operating breweries there were in the United States as of the end of last year. That number, the highest since America’s peak in the 1870s, was 2,722. That’s nearly 400 more than at the end of 2012. Those are broken down as follows.

  • Regional breweries: 120
  • Microbreweries: 1376
  • Brewpubs: 1202
  • Large breweries: 24
  • Total: 2,722

From the press release:

98% of these breweries were small and independent craft breweries. It is interesting to note that 2013 marks the first year since 1987 that microbreweries outnumbered brewpubs in the country.

The total of 2,722 brewing facilities is the highest count since the US in around 140 years, more than when the country celebrated her centennial birthday. In 1876, the Register of United States Breweries lists 2,685 breweries. It is not however, the highest number of all-time, as the Register lists 3,286 in 1870.

In addition to the 2,722 brewing facilities, there were an additional 1,744 breweries in planning at the end of December, the highest year-end number in the BA database.

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Swan Song For Anchor Bock

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Anchor Brewing announced today that his year’s season release of Anchor Bock will be the last. From the press release:

Anchor Brewing Company announces the release and final selling season of Anchor Bock® Beer, a seasonal interpretation of the strong German beers that mark the beginning of spring.

Each year, breweries in Germany celebrate the coming of spring with a strong, flavorful beer. Anchor Bock Beer, a dark satiny brew with rich hints of chocolate, caramel and roasted barley, is Anchor’s interpretation of this long-standing tradition.

Bock beers are believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck, Germany and traditionally feature a goat on the labels. The Germanic term “bock” translates to “billy goat”, but has over time come to mean a beer darker and stronger than a brewery’s “regular” brew. One with, you might say, the kick of a goat.

Anchor Brewing Company will be retiring Anchor Bock Beer in 2014 making room for several new seasonals yet to be announced.

“Anchor Bock has been a beloved seasonal not only by craft beer fans, but by the folks here at Anchor,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing Company. “In an effort to expand and innovate, as we have done for decades, Anchor will be retiring Bock after the 2014 season to allow room for several all-new brews, which we will be sharing with the world very soon.”

Anchor Bock Beer is available nationally from January through March in draught, 12 oz. six-packs, and 22 oz. bottles.

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Check out their short video about Anchor Bock Beer, made last year, featuring Hazel the goat.

Original Lite Beer Can Coming Back

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These always give me a chuckle. Whenever sales are flagging, one of the strategies employed by the bigger beer companies to reverse their fortunes is to change the packaging. Earlier this month, Miller sent out a press release, “Celebrate Miller Time with the Light Beer that Started It All.” They’re bringing back the original can design for Miller Lite, their unnatural abomination of a diet beer. My thoughts on low-calorie light beer are very opinionated, and none too positive, for example read Disrespecting Low-Calorie Light Beer and No Defense For Light Beer.

MILLER LITE ORIGINAL LITE CAN

Here’s the press release:

The Original Lite Can features the familiar images of hops, barley and the words “a fine pilsner beer,” which reinforce the high quality ingredients and the unique brewing process that consumers have enjoyed for generations.

“There was a time when all that existed was heavy beer that weighed you down,” said Elina Vives, marketing director for Miller Lite. “The launch of Miller Lite broke this category convention and offered beer drinkers the best of both worlds, great taste at only 96 calories and 3.2 carbs. Miller Lite is the original light beer and this limited-edition can celebrates that innovation and helps inform consumers of the rich history behind our beer.”

In addition to becoming available to consumers in January, the Original Lite Can will appear in the upcoming Paramount Pictures’ release, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The news team can be seen enjoying the Original Lite in the film, which will be released nationwide December 18.

The limited-edition Original Lite Can will be available nationwide January through March in 12-, 16- and 24-ounce sizes.

All well and good, but sheesh, why not just make a beer that people would want to drink, not one you have to market and advertise to death to create demand? Can people really be nostalgic for that can design? But that seems to be used a marketing tactic every few years, to change the package, the label or something along those lines. It’s indicative of a culture that’s long ago abandoned the importance of what’s inside the package and instead has been concentrating on the external. Sure, how the packaging looks is important, but it’s not more important than the beer, and for big beer companies it surely seems like marketing has trumped any other concerns for many, many years.

MILLER LITE ORIGINAL LITE CAN
Calling it a “Pilsner beer,” of course, strains the notion of what a pilsner is.

U.S. Beer Consumption Increases; Rising Demand for Higher-Priced Offerings

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According to a new report by the Beverage Information Group, “the beer industry saw gains in both dollar and volume in 2012 after a three-year downturn.” Their conclusion was that “well-marketed new products and slight improvements in the unemployment rate contributed to the beer industry’s overall growth.” Here’s the group’s press release with additional findings:

Super-premium, Craft, Imported and Flavored Malt Beverages out-performed the industry overall, as there is increasing demand for higher-priced beer. Super-premium and Premium increased 1.6%, and Craft increased 13.7% to reach 185.2 million 2.25-gallon cases. This is the largest increase for Craft beer in more than a decade.

Imported beer also increased for a third year, even though major brands such as Bass, Beck’s and Red Stripe were removed from the category because they are now domestically brewed. This 1% increase is largely due to consumer demand for a wider selection of products.

Innovations in the Light Beer category, such as the launch of Bud Light Platinum, were not enough to turn things around for the category. Light beer declined for the fourth year in a row. Popular and Malt Liquor also lost volume.

Although the beer industry saw positive changes in 2012, challenges still remain. According to the Beer Handbook, the beer industry will still see increases in the higher-priced categories such as Super-premium, Craft and Imported beer. It remains to be seen if these gains will help the beer industry maintain 2012’s positive direction.

“Today’s consumer no longer sees beer as their only drink option,” says Adam Rogers, senior research analyst, Beverage Information Group, Norwalk, Conn. “Spirits and wine marketers have been savvy in targeting consumers with flavored vodkas, rums and whiskies, as well as sweeter wines which have continued to take share away from the beer industry.”

For a mere $790, you can buy a copy of their annual Beer Handbook.

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Whole Foods To Open California Brewery

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For a number of years, Whole Foods Market has carried a decent selection of craft beer and better imports, and has been steadily increasing their commitment to good beer. They have an especially decent selection for a national chain. Last week, they announced that they were taking it one step father, and opening a “6,000-square-foot, two-story craft beer brewery and tap room,” according to a story in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. This will be their first grocery store to include a brewery. The 27,291-square-foot grocery store where the brewery will occupy the rooftop, will be located at 700 The Alameda in San Jose. The company broke ground on Wednesday, and expects to include “a wall for growing hops.” The San Jose Whole Foods & Brewery is expected to open in the summer of 2014.

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American Breweries Top 2,500

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Late last week, the Brewers Association announced that the number of breweries in the United States had eclipsed 2,500. As of May 31, brewery detective Erin Fay Glass put the number of breweries in America at 2,514, which is 767 more than there were on the same date two years ago.

More from the press release:

The list includes 24 breweries we code as “large” in our database for A-B, MillerCoors and breweries named for brands of Goose Island (packaging brewery), Leinenkugel’s and Blue Moon. In addition there are 109 regional breweries, 1214 microbreweries, and 1167 brewpubs.

The number of microbreweries passed the number of brewpubs in February 2013 for the first time since 1987.

Our count of breweries-in-planning is at 1559, up from 1228 a year ago. (But we did purge a couple hundred from the roles last fall and winter.)

At the current pace, the BA expects that the number of breweries should surpass 3,000 sometime in 2014. Sheesh.

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Date Announced For 2013 Brews On The Bay

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The San Francisco Brewers Guild today announced the date for this year’s Brews on the Bay beer festival aboard the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien, docked at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf. This marks the 10th anniversary of the festival, which will take place on Saturday, October 19, from Noon to 5:00 p.m. According to the press release:

Enjoy over 50 different beers made by San Francisco breweries, while soaking up the salty air, sunshine, live music, food, and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and San Francisco.

This year’s event is shaping up to be our biggest and best yet. Although we’re still finalizing some of the details, you can expect our member breweries to serve unlimited eight ounce pours of their latest and greatest IPA, farmhouse ale, session beer, barrel-aged sour, imperial stout, and many other beer styles. The brewers will also be on hand to answer any questions about your favorite beers.

In addition to the local beer, we’re going to serve up local food and music. San Francisco’s best food trucks will line the pier to fill your mouth-watering needs. We’ve also enlisted The Brothers Comatose to play their lively roots music on the ship’s deck.

Brews on the Bay tickets will go on sale August 5th at 10:00am.

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Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2013

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For the 11th 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 eleventh year, over 1,100 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 also printed in the latest issue.
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Top Rated Beers
(T indicates tie)

Seven of the top ten are California beers, with 26 making the list. This is the fifth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the fourth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale
5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
T9. Lagunitas Sucks
T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
T9. Stone Ruination IPA
T12. North Coast Old Rasputin
T12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
T12. Stone Enjoy By IPA
15. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
16. The Alchemist Heady Topper
T17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
T17. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
19. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
20. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
T21. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
T21. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
T23. Firestone Walker Union Jack
T23. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
25. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
26. Surly Furious
T27. Deschutes Black Butte Porter
T27. Green Flash West Coast IPA
T27. Troegs Nugget Nectar
30. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
31. Russian River Consecration
T32. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
T32. New Belgium La Folie
T32. Russian River Supplication
35. Avery the Maharaja
36. Lagunitas IPA
37. Stone IPA
38. Odell IPA
T39. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald
T39. Left Hand Milk Stout
T39. Russian River Pliny the Younger
T42. Odell Myrcenary
T42. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A.
T42. Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
45. Firestone Walker Parabola
T46. Ommegang Hennepin Saison Ale
T46. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
T48. Ommegang Three Philosophers
T48. Deschutes the Abyss
T48. Green Flash Palate Wrecker
T48. Lagunitas Brown Shugga’

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif. Stone placed five beers in the top 50, including its Arrogant Bastard Ale. Best Beer in America producer, Russian River Brewing Company finished second. Seven California breweries made the list, with five from Colorado, and two apiece from Michigan and Pennsylvania.

1. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif.
2. Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Calif.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, Calif.
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
5. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif.
7. Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
8. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif.
9. New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.
10. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
11. Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.
12. Three Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind.
13. Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, Colo.
14. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo.
15. Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif.
16. The Boston Beer Company, Boston, Mass.
17. Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Mo.
18. Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, Ill.
19. New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wis.
T20. Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colo.
T20. Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif.
22. Troegs Brewing Co., Hershey, Pa.
23. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, Ohio
24. Victory Brewing Company, Downington, Pa.
25. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, N.Y.

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.

1. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) (40 beers)
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (38 beers)
3. Avery Brewing Company (35 beers)
4. Cigar City Brewing (30 beers)
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (29 beers)
6. Bell’s Brewery (28 beers)
7. New Belgium Brewing (27 beers)
T8. Stone Brewing Co. (26 beers)
T8. Goose Island Beer Company (26 beers)
9. Boulevard Brewing Company (25 beers)
10. Deschutes Brewery (24 beers)
T11. Foudners Brewing Company (23 beers)
T11. New Glarus Brewing Company (23 beers)
T11. The Bruery (23 beers)
T11. The Saint Louis Brewery (23 beers)
T15. Rogue Ales (21 beers)
T15. Lagunitas Brewing Company (21 beers)
T15. Odell Brewing Company (21 beers)
T15. Great Divide Brewing Company (21 beers)
T19. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (20 beers)
T19. Three Floyds Brewing Company (20 beers)
T19. Manayunk Brewing Company (19 beers)
22. Papago Brewing Company (19 beers)
T23. Great Lakes Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Southern Tier Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Victory Brewing Company (18 beers)
T23. Russian River Brewing Company (18 beers)

Top Imports

With a lot of ties, a few imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. As in years past, there was a decidedly all-American bent to the voting. Of the top 50 beers in the poll, none were produced by a foreign brewery, although Orval claimed the number one spot among imports.

T1. Orval (Belgium)
T1. Saison Dupont (Belgium)
3. Guinness Draught (Ireland)
T4. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)
T4. Unibroue La Fin du Monde (Canada)
6. St. Bernardust Abt 12 (Belgium)
7. Duchesse De Bourgogne (Belgium)
T8. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout (England)
T8. Chimay Grande Reserve/Blue Label (Belgium)
T10. Duvel (Belgium)
T10. Cantillon Gueuze (Belgium)

Anchor Zymaster Series #3 Is Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout

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Anchor Brewing announced today the release of the third beer in their Zymaster Series, a stout to be called Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout.

From the press release:

Named after a San Francisco sailing legend from a time when stouts were first exported to the West Coast, Zymaster® No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout will be released in selected Anchor markets in January 2013.

Our Zymaster® Series No. 3 (7.4% ABV) is a dry, Irish-style export stout akin to those brewed in the 1800s for the long voyage to San Francisco. Black as night, this high-gravity, malty brew offers intense but well-balanced flavors and aroma, with hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

The arrival of a clipper ship in gold-rush San Francisco brought mail and news of “the States,” would-be miners and entrepreneurs, boots, shovels, pickaxes, butter from New York, cigars from Havana, and stout from as far away as London and Dublin.
The stouts that San Franciscans imbibed in those days were no ordinary ales. They were export stouts—dark, intense, high-gravity brews created especially to survive a long voyage like those around Cape Horn.

It took the average clipper three to four months to sail from New York to San Francisco. But not the Flying Cloud, which, in 1851, made the trip in 89 days and 21 hours anchor to anchor. With the exception of its own 89 day and 8 hour voyage three years later, its record remained unbroken until 1989. Thanks to this clipper’s “extreme” design and the savvy of its captain, Josiah Creesy, and his wife and navigator Eleanor, the Flying Cloud quickly became a San Francisco sailing legend. We celebrate it and a legendary brewing tradition with our Zymaster® No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout.

That sounds tasty, I can’t wait to give their new stout a try.

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The beer will be in stores and select bars any minute now. Here’s where it will be available.

Zymaster® Series No. 3: Flying Cloud San Francisco Stout will be available in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia and Florida.

Bagby Signs Lease On New Brewery Location

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This is excellent news. Jeff Bagby, who won a boatload of awards while brewmaster at Pizza Port Carlsbad and Director of Brewery Operations for the entire chain, has been searching for the ideal location to open his own brewery, to be called Bagby Beer Co. He announced earlier today that he and his wife, and business partner, Dande Bagby, have signed a lease for the property at 601 S. Coast Highway in Oceanside, California. The 11,000 square foot space used to be “the historical Continental Motors and BMW Oceanside,” and consists of three separate buildings and a small courtyard, which they hope to turn into an outdoor beer garden. They anticipate starting construction on the brewery and restaurant in early 2013. There’s still a lot of work to do before they’re up and running, and Jeff is brewing beer again, but at least they’re over the first hurdle. Join me in congratulating Jeff and Dande on finding a location for their brewery.

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