Friday, February 29, 2008

2007 Craft Beer Industry thoughts

The Brewers Association released it's 2007 Craft beer industry stats earlier this week. I posted the press release below. After carefully soaking up the stats, I was amazed. 8 million barrels of craft beer is a whole lot of beer....and it only makes up 3% of total us beer sales. But the real amazing thing is that out of the 1,449 breweries in the US, 1,409 are craft brewers. So, 97% of the US brewery's, only produce 3% of the total barrels. I knew that the craft brewery sales made up a small portion of the beer market, but that's amazing. Brewpub closings were down 43% and since the brewpub is a restaurant, and restaurants have such a high failure rate, that is pretty impressive.

I think the greatest thing that I got from this, is that it makes you realize that you have a lot of great choices of beer out there. From coast to coast, there are lots of craft brewers are making lots of great quality beer for consumers like us to choose from. And unlike other industries, brewery's work together to help each other. From guest brewer series, to offering Hops to other brewers to lend a hand, the beer landscape should be called "the Craft Beer family" rather than the Craft Beer industry. I doubt Target would ever reach out and sell some cotton t-shirts to Wallmart if there was a cotton shortage. Hopefully this will help the Craft Beer Family break the misconception they all beer drinkers like watered down beer, watch nascar and eat domino's every night. That's not the case. Craft beer lovers are sophisticated, and have sophisticated palette's, like complex foods and watch other things than nascar.

The other day I heard a radio commercial from a local convenient store about their coffee. The "actor" bought a coffee, and the were asking him if because he drank that coffee if he liked beer instead of wine or trucks instead of sports cars (I'm not quoting it correctly) but when I heard the "beer instead of wine" comment I was taken back a bit. Why does mainstream America think wine is so much more sophisticated than beer. Is it the name? Or have the other 3% of the brewers in this industry tainted the image of beer drinkers? Either way, the Craft Beer Family is growing, and hopefully that will continue, because as a consumer I am very happy to have this many awesome choices when I go to my local beer store!

2008 will be a tough year for small craft brewers with the much talked about hop shortages, but seeing how the members of the Craft brewing family are already coming together to keep themselves strong during this crisis, I am very positive that they will find a way to get through the hard times and make some outstanding beers. Personally, I can't wait to see some of the new beers we get to choose from this year! I'm sure they will re-invent the Craft Beer landscape as we know it....and that is fine with me!


Craft Brewer Sales Continue To Soar Past Other Segments

Brewers Association Announces Retail Sales Up 16 Percent

Boulder, CO – Thursday, February 28, 2008 – In what has become a true American success story, the craft beer market again grew by double digits in 2007, leading all other segments in the beer category. The Brewers Association reports estimated sales by independent craft brewers up 12 percent by volume and 16 percent in dollars for 2007. Craft brewers' share of the beer category is 3.8 percent of production and 5.9 percent of retail sales.

The Brewers Association annually polls the country’s craft brewers to estimate the total volume of beer sold by brewpubs, microbreweries, and regional craft breweries in the United States, and uses scan data to estimate sales. Results show that the U.S. had 1,449 total breweries in operation in the U.S. during 2007, including 1,406 small, independent, and traditional craft brewers¹. Nearly 70 percent of craft breweries are brewpubs that sell most or all of their beer on-premises.

“Since 2004, dollar sales by craft brewers have increased 58 percent,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association. “The strength of this correlates with the American trend of buying local products and a preference for more flavorful foods and beers.”

The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figures from craft brewers at more than $5.74 billion, up from $4.95 billion in 2006. Sales in barrels equaled 8,011,141 (one barrel is 31 U.S. gallons) up from 7,147,050 barrels in 2006². The 2007 increase totals 864,091 barrels, which is the equivalent of 11.9 million cases or 285 million 12-ounce bottles of beer.

For more statistics visit the updated 2007 Craft Beer Industry Statistics Web page. A more extensive analysis will be released April 17 during the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, California. The Association's full 2007 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual brewery, is published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer.

1. The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

2. Note: 2006 adjusted to include Carlos Alvarez/Gambrinus companies (Spoetzl, BridgePort, Pete's, Trumer), Ommegang, Ramapo Valley, adding 411k bbls to 2006 total.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Tasting number 3 from my Julio's Trip. This was poured from a 22 oz bottle into a beer clean glass.

Apearence: Dark black! I held it up to a light and saw nothing but blackness. Great head formed and left a nice lace as I sipped down the beer.
Smell: The first smell was full of malt tones with some slight hints of toffee. My first thought was "wow....they found a way to make a beer that tastes like an ice cream sunday". I'm getting very excited!!
Taste: The frist sip had hints of un-sweatened chocolate. Soon after the toffee flavor fights it's way back to the palate. A slight hop bitterness is present and it finds a great way to mixs with the chocolate/toffee flavors.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth as it rolls across my mouth. The carbonation is definitely noticable, but not too overpowering.
Drinkability: I think it goes without saying that if a beer reminds me of a's very drinkable. I'm a big fan!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Stone Smoked Port

Part two of my Julio's review trip. I'm going through the porters first. 22 oz bottle poured into a glass.

Appearance: It poured a very dark brownish/black color that some reddish tints when held up to the light. A nice dark tan head formed and left a lace of foam on the glass.

Smell: As soon as I poured it into the glass, I could smell the smoked malt. That pretty much drowned everything else out and that was all I could smell. I might have served this beer a little too cold which would mask some of the flavors. I'll have to revisit this one.

Taste: The smoked malt was the most prevelant and obvious flavor given the name of the beer. I though Stone did a good job of still have the "regular" malt flavor come through and mix with the smoked, but the smoked flavor overpowered anything else.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation was the first thing that I noticed. It was very smooth and didn't overpower like i was expecting after the first sip. It was gone as quick as it came in.

Drinkability: Overall, I think this is a good beer. Something I'll probably keep in my fridge, but possibly in small quantities. The smoked flavor started to bother me a little towards the end of the beer. I think I could enjoy one or two of these in a session and then have to move on.
Well, off to shovel some snow. Looking forward to the Rogue Chocolate Stout that up next!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anchor Porter

I'm going to keep these rather short since I'm going to try and write a few a night, but here is the first tasting as a result of my $80 Julios trip!

Appearance: It pours a very dark brown, almost black in color with minimal head. The head that is present is a dark coffee like color hinting to the dark roasted malts

Smell: The first whiff has strong hints of fruityness and your nose fills with a flavor reminiscent of molasses. It took me a while to figure it out, but it was very pleasant.

Taste: Maltiness is the first thing I tasted. But soon after the molasses appeared again and took over. Anchor did a great job of keeping the stongest flavor prevelant in all aspects, while still bringing some of the traditional malt charicteristics to your taste buds. Very well balanced

Mouthfeel: There is hints of carbonation in this beer, as keeping with the style. The beer flows effortlessly to the bakc of the mouth and grabs at your taste buds when appropriate.

Drinkability: I have to admit, this being the first Anchor Porter I've had, I was not expecting this type of flavor from a porter. That being said....I loved it! The balance of the true to character maltiness with the added fruityness and molasses flavors really impressed me. I'm on #1 now....but I can promise you this 6 pack won't last long. I'll be making this a staple in the beer fridge! Overall rating is an A!
Next up, Stone Smoked Porter!



Beer Travels

A great post by the Bier Kaiser on his Noch Eins blog regarding a beer vacation in Germany! I know the Kaiser personally, and if you're thinking of planning a Euro Beer trip, I suggest getting in touch....he's done them all!!!


Stocking the Beer Fridge

This weekend, I took a drive to my local beer store, Julio's Liquor's. This is an impressive beer store with over 900 different beers to choose from. I was about as excited as a little kid is on Christmas morning, but when I got inside, I found myself overwhelmed...(in a good way). So, after I got myself together, I browsed up and down the ailses in search of some beer.

After about 20 minutes of walking up and down the 4 ailses of beers, i realized I had no idea what I was looking for. I was just a,azed at home many different beers they had, and I wanted them all....and now!! But, cooler heads prevailed, and I paused to reflect on what I really wanted to try, and determined I wanted a little of everything.

I started down the cooler ailse and saw Some Harpoon UFO Hefeweisen and though, "hmmm, my wife likes that, so that would get me brownie points and hide the fact that we will need another mortgage to pay for the beer I'm going to buy today". So, I grabbed a six pack. Next, i entered the Belgium/German section. Any beer store that has it's own Belgium/German section rules....plain and simple!! I grabbed three of Ommegangs finest, and two German Weissebeers, 4 Weinheinstephaner Dunkel Weissebier's and 2 Schneider-Weisse.

Next was the mixed 22 oz. ailse. I picked up 2 Rogue Chocolate Stouts, and 2 Stone Smoked Porters. I'm a big fan of the Chocolate Stout, so in keeping with the Porters, I'm looking forward to the Smoked Porter. After I grabbed the Rogue's and Stones, I was in a porter/Stout mood so I stumbled upon Anchor Porter and decided to grab a six pack!

I thought I was done, and I started to walk towards the counter when it hit me. I was about to brew my own version of an American Amber Ale (Style 10B in BJCP) for a competition here in MA. BJCP posts commercial examples of the styles, and one of the examples I saw was Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. So, I turned my cart around....searched the ailse and grabbed one last six pack.

$80 later, I have some serious drinking and reviewing to do. I will try to post a review for each of the beers I purchased, so check back in the coming weeks to check them out. Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these beers as well.



Friday, February 15, 2008

Sam Adams Lends a hand....and some Hops!!

I recently read this on the Appellation Beer Blog, I can't tell you how awesome this is! Jim Koch has to be the most UN-selfish person in the industry. Well, i'm sure there are others like him, but he has the ability to pull this off, all the while being a public company!! very impressive!! Kudos!! This is the email that went out Brewers Associate members yesterday.

From: Jim Koch/Hop Sharing
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 9:22
Subject: Boston Beer Hop Sharing

For a couple of months now, we've all been facing the unprecedented hops shortage and it's affected all craft brewers in various ways. The impact is even worse on the small craft brewers--openings delayed, recipes changed, astronomical hops prices being paid and brewers who couldn't make beer.

So we looked at our own hops supplies at Boston Beer and decided we could share some of our hops with other craft brewers who are struggling to get hops this year. We're offering 20,000 pounds at our cost to brewers who need them.

Specifically, we are able to spare 10,000 pounds of East Kent Goldings from Tony Redsell, a top English grower featured by Michael Jackson in Michael Jackson's Beer Companion (page 75 has a picture) and 10,000 pounds of the German Noble hop Tettnang Tettnanger from small farms in the Tettnang region in Germany. These are both type 90 pellets from the 2007 crop and are the exact same hops we brew our own beers with. We're not looking to make money on this so we're selling them at our cost of $5.72 a pound plus $.75 a pound to cover shipping and handling for the Goldings and $5.42 per pound plus $.75 a pound to cover shipping and handling for the Tetts.

They're packed in 22# foil bags, boxed four bags to a box in 88 lb. boxes and will be shipped from cold storage.The purpose of doing this is to get some hops to the brewers who really need them. So if you don't really need them, please don't order them. And don't order them just because we're making them available at a price way below market. Order them because you need these hops to make your beer. We're not asking questions, so let your conscience be your guide.A few mechanics--until we know how much need there is, we've put a maximum out there of 6 boxes per brewer, which is 528 pounds. You can order less in 88 pound increments. You pay shipping.

If we get more orders than the 20,000 pounds, we'll have a lottery. We will be putting the basic information to order, some faqs and the actual offer on our website in the next day or so, probably no later than Tuesday. Look for "Hop-Sharing Program" on the front page of the site.We hope this will make brewing a little easier for those hardest hit by the hop shortage."

Jim Koch, Boston Beer Company


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BeerAdvocate to Host the East Coast's Largest American Craft Beer Fest

Sorry, I'm a little late with this, but still very excited!! The guys at BeerAdvocate continue to impress. Hope to see you all there. Drop me a email and let me know if you're going to be there.

At the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA

(Boston, MA - January 2008) In keeping with their self-elected duty to bring better beer to the masses, BeerAdvocate founders and brothers Jason and Todd Alström are crafting something big.

Held on June 20 & 21 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, the first annual "American Craft Beer Fest" (ACBF) will feature 3-sessions, invite upwards of 75 breweries, and serve at least 300 craft beers with an expected attendance of 15,000 appreciators of beer.

"It's time," stated Todd Alström, "It's time the East Coast had a large-scale, world-class event that not only celebrates the creativity and growth that's occurring amongst America's craft brewers, but puts the respect back into beer." The latter being a reference to their personal motto "Respect Beer," in which the brothers urge consumers to appreciate the brewer's art respectfully through support, beer education, and responsible enjoyment.

In addition to tasting a wide-variety of beer, ACBF will offer attendees plenty of beer education, including guest speakers, beer & food pairings, one-on-one opportunities to interact with actual brewers, and networking opportunities for beer industry professionals to help them support and bring more awareness to craft beer.

"We're excited to be working with our partner Harpoon Brewery, the Seaport team, and craft brewers in bringing the East Coast a destination event that we hope to grow into one of the largest beer fests in America," added Jason Alström. "Craft beer, its growing number of loyal followers, and the region are ready for an event like this."

Tickets go on-sale in February.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Clipper City releases "Holy Sheet" Uber Abbey Ale

Baltimore, MD – Clipper City Brewing Company, the Maryland-based brewer of the Heavy Seas brand, announced today the seasonal release of “Holy Sheet” Über Abbey Ale.
“We have a great deal of fun experimenting with different beer styles,” said Hugh Sisson, founder and general partner of Clipper City Brewing Company. “This aromatic and very full bodied ale derives from the centuries-old tradition of Belgian Abbey monks. The color is a deep burgundy and features a rich, robust depth of malt character while clocking in at 9% alcohol by volume. Interestingly enough, the beer will drink well now but continue to improve for at least another 12 months in the bottle.”

Holy Sheet is available from February 1st until the end of March, while supplies last.

Clipper City Brewing Company has eight beers in its pirate-themed Heavy Seas brand portfolio, and each is currently available in eighteen states, as well as the District of Columbia. The beers are available in both 12 oz. bottles and draft, and may also be purchased in a variety twelve pack called the Sunken Sampler

“Heavy Seas is our line of big beers,” said Sisson. “The entire line is 7% ABV and up, with a concentration on creative beer styles, rich flavor profiles, and ‘extrAARGHdinary’ complexity.”
Clipper City Brewing Company was founded in 1995 by Baltimore brewing pioneer, Hugh Sisson. The brewery is named for the famous Baltimore Clipper ship, a symbol that embodies Baltimore’s maritime heritage and a commitment to craftsmanship of the highest caliber. In addition to the Heavy Seas line of beers, Clipper City’s portfolio of products includes the Clipper City and Oxford Organic Ales.