Blog Entries Tagged as brewing

The Teacher Has Become the Student

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

My wife and I just went on what was quite possibly the best brewery tour we'd ever been on (and believe me, we've been on a lot of them). It was at London's Meantime Brewing Company, a 13-year-old craft operation that takes its name from the fact that it's situated in the chronological capital of the world, Greenwich.

When tour leader Alex (a quite dynamic guide) learned we were from the States he couldn't stop gushing about the U.S. craft beer scene and how the U.K. is about 15 years behind the American movement. Wait a minute. BEHIND? A great deal of American craft brewers took a cue from classic styles from Britain (as well as, of course, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic) when developing their own products. Beer travelers from the U.S. trek across the pond to drink cask-conditioned Real Ale. And a lot of the U.S. craft brewers offer cask versions of their own products, again a nod to the classic British tradition.

But now there are breweries like Meantime whose offerings are heavily influenced by the styles popularized by American craft brewers—those same styles whose ancestors were European and tweaked and reinvented over time. American pale ale is of course a descendant of English pale ale. The same goes, of course for American IPAs, which evolved from British India Pale Ales, which were more aggressively hopped and had a higher ABV to preserve them for the 18,000-mile pre-canal-era voyage from England to thirsty colonial troops in India.

The walls of Meantime's tasting room were filled with bottles from around the world with a disproportionately large section devoted to U.S. craft brews. Others visiting the brewery were eager to tell us how much they loved beers from the likes Brooklyn Brewery or Stone.

And it's not just the U.K. The brewing boomerang has flown back to Belgium as well, with U.S.-influenced styles like Belgian IPA emerging.

It's hard to believe that not too long ago Europeans considered American beers a total joke. But who's laughing now?



BevStar Awards 2012: We Finally Have Our Winners!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

After a lengthy judging process involving a record number of entries this year and a self-imposed media blackout until the official winners' issue started arriving this week, we are very pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Beverage World BevStar Awards. For those just joining us, the BevStars recognize new product innovation across all of the major beverage categories.

We received a particularly robust shower of entries in the Energy & Functional category—so many that we decided to split it into two separate categories this year. It really reflects the level of innovation in those segments. If you recall from our 2012 State of the Industry report, energy drink volume returned to double-digit growth last year, with an increase of more than 17 percent in 2011, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Without further ado, here's the list of this year's winners. For details on all of these brands, read the July 2012 issue of Beverage World. Congratulations to all!

Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Gold: Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Silver: Deviant Dale's IPA, Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
Bronze: Bronx Pale Ale, The Bronx Brewery

Gold: MyCause Water, Panacea Beverage Co.
Silver: Elevate Enhanced Fiber Water, 912 Corp.
Bronze: Karma Wellness Water, Karma Kulture LLC

Gold: Spindrift, Spindrift Soda co.
Silver: Dr Pepper Ten, Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Bronze: HotLips Cranberry Soda, HotLips Soda Co.

Gold: Monster Rehab, Monster Beverage Co.
Silver: Slap Frozen Energy, Brain-Twist
Bronze: Berry Rain, RevHoney

Gold: Neuro Sun, Neuro Beverage
Silver: Ralph & Charlie's Aloe, Ralph & Charlie's Beverage Co.
Bronze: Modjo Hydrate Elite, Cellutions

Gold: Honest (Not Too) Sweet Tea, Honest Tea
Silver: RealBeanz, RealBeanz LLC
Bronze: Tao of Tea, The Tao of Tea

Gold: Purgatory Vodka, Alaska Distillery
Silver: Apple Pie Moonshine, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
Bronze: BuzzBallz, BuzzBallz LLC

Gold: FlasqWines, JT Wines
Silver: Blanc de Bleu, Premium Vintage Cellars
Bronze: Xavier Flouret La Pilar Malbec, Cognac One LLC

For those brands that entered but didn't take a gold, silver or bronze in any of the categories, don't fret. Competition was particularly stiff this year and the decisions were all very difficult for all of us on the judging panel. And there's always next year. We'll be announcing a call for entries some time in December.

Strength in Numbers?

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

“If you are a startup here and quality is not on the top of your list, get out.”

Of all of what was said in private conversations and in public forums, both on- and off-the-record at last month’s Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) in San Diego, it was that one 18-word, Twitter-friendly sentence that seemed to resonate the most. The statement came from Brewers Association (BA) director Paul Gatza during his general session address and struck such a chord that it took several minutes to tweet it because whatever mobile signals existed were eaten up by hundreds of other smartphone-wielding attendees trying to post it simultaneously.

It was particularly pertinent at a time when there is something close to 1,000 breweries in planning, by the BA’s reckoning. And, as I write this, BA just announced that the number of operating craft breweries in the United States has hit the magic 2,000 mark. The number hasn’t been that high since the turn of the 20th century and this time we don’t appear to have an imminent Prohibition looming.

So it was safe to assume there were quite a few startups in the audience of a few thousand (a record-shattering 4,000-plus attended the four-day event).

It seems like a no-brainer that quality should be on the top of everyone’s list. But when so many new players are getting into a red-hot segment, the question in the back of my mind is, how committed are all of those newcomers and soon-to-be-newcomers? Are they serious about handing their lives over to what’s essentially a 24/7 job or do they just like beer and think it might be cool to run a brewery?

I would like to think that most fully understand what they’re getting themselves into and are going to be religiously devoted to ensuring the best product quality. And the mere bandwagoners who aren’t, well, Darwinian dynamics hopefully will play out.

It’s such an exciting time with so many breweries on the scene and so many in the pipeline. Are all going to produce top-quality products? The laws of probability say no. Will every one of them succeed? Again, no. Is there a correlation between quality and success? Of course there is. That’s not to say it’s a foregone conclusion that all quality producers will succeed, but it’s a heck of a good first step. There are plenty of educational tools out there that new brewers should be taking advantage of to keep them on the right side of quality, be they from the Siebel Institute, the Cicerone certification program, the curricula at UC Davis or the Brewers Association itself, just to name a few.    

Sitting in that CBC general session audience could have been the proprietors of the next Sierra Nevada or New Belgium. And those, among the other startups in the audience, are the ones who know that all begins and ends with the quality of what’s in the bottle, keg or can. No one wants another mid-’90s-style shakeout.

And by the way, the answer is no. No one got up and left.

It’s a start.

Last Call for 2012 BevStar Awards Submissions!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

I just wanted to give you a quick heads-up that the submission deadline for the Third Annual Beverage World BevStar Awards is fast approaching.

The awards recognize innovations across the major beverage categories, introduced to the market--US or abroad--during the past 18 months. You can submit as many products as you'd like, as long as they've been released within that time period. We'll award gold, silver and bronze medals in each of those categories, as well as a Best in Show award and special achievement awards for Marketing Innovation, Social Media Initiatives and Environmental Sustainability.

We're happy to announce a new category this year: mead, cider and sake. We felt that these fermented classics got lost within beer, wine and spirits, especially since sake is actually closer to beer than it is wine even though it's frequently lumped in with wine.

Other categories include carbonated soft drinks, water/enhanced water, functional & energy, beer, wine & spirits and ready-to-drink tea.

The first step is to email your submission to That message should include:

• Product Name

• Parent Company

 High-resolution product image

• A brief description of the product and why you believe it should win a BevStar Award — maximum 75 words please

• The names of any packaging design, ingredient and branding companies that played a key role in the development of the product

If your entry passes the initial screening process, expect an email directing you where to mail a product sample.

Good luck to you all!

Malty musings mark my debut on Beer Sessions Radio.

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, I had the privilege of appearing on Beer Sessions Radio on the Heritage Radio Network, hosted by New York City-based pub owner Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy's No. 43 in Manhattan's East Village). The nearly two-year-old show broadcasts out of the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in a small studio in the back of local eatery/gastropub Roberta's (if you find yourself in New York, hop on a Brooklyn-bound L train and visit this hidden gem of a dining establishment).

I was expecting to tie my appearance in to the 2012 Forecast that appears in our January issue, offering some analysis on the year ahead in beer. But given the conversational and often unpredictable nature of a live radio show like Beer Sessions, the discussion—which, in addition to Carbone, included a few guys from Bronx Brewing Co. and Bronx Ale House—took some interesting and unexpected turns. The hourlong broadcast became a bit of a love letter to malted barley.

I had a blast and hope to be back on the air soon, if they'll have me (and assuming I didn't screw up too badly).

Follow this link and have a listen to Beer Sessions Radio, hosted by Jimmy Carbone and produced by Bree O'Connor and Jack Inslee.