Blog Entries Tagged as brewing

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 bevstar@beverageworld.com. 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. 

 

 

Hidden in the New Mexico desert is a beeritual oasis.

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: brewing

After my trip to Brau Beviale in Nuremberg, Germany (watch this space for the video in a few weeks), I decided to spend a few days in one of my all-time favorite countries, Belgium. The greatest allure, of course, is its brewing culture, rooted in centuries-old tradition. Belgians, in large part, have the monks to thank for that tradition and many in the brotherhood are still brewing at Trappist monasteries. 

Soaking in the Belgian beer vibe got me thinking about another recent trip I took and how I've yet to post anything about it. (It was in early July, a month that turned out to be quite dizzyingly surreal for those of us at Beverage World for reasons I needn't expound on in the blogosphere).

On a long holiday weekend in New Mexico, my wife and I decided to check out a Benedictine monastery, on the grounds of which the brothers run a small brewery. The two beers brewed are available commercially (with the help of a contract brewer), mostly in the U.S. Southwest, as, appropriately enough, Monks' Ale and Monks' Wit.

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is quite literally an oasis in the desert. Finding it involves a journey of Indiana Jonesian proportions. Once we found the exit for the brewery/abbey off of a rural highway--driving through thick plumes of smoke from New Mexico's summer wildfires--the destination was still 13 miles away. Doesn't sound like a lot, but I neglected to mention that it's 13 miles on a dirt road on the side of the mountain…with no guard rail! 

As we crawled along at about nine miles per hour we reassured ourselves that it would be fine as long as it didn't rain. Much of the state was an inferno because of the lack of rain, so what chance was there that we'd happen upon a summer shower? Spoke to soon, of course, as the sky quickly turned gray and the first few liquid specks began to dot the windshield of our rental car. (When I picked up the car at the Albuquerque Airport rental office, the rental agent gave me a kind of "Are you sure?" look when I said I wanted a compact car. I thought he was just trying to upsell me to an SUV. Oh well, live and learn.)

Needless to say, we got there in one piece and it was quite a charming compound. Since it's so remote, fuel has to be pumped on site. The monks even grow their own hops. The community is pretty much the picture of self-sufficiency. We were greeted enthusiastically by Brother Bernard and the lay staff, general manager Berkeley Merchant and brew master Brad Kraus, in the brew house, who let us hover over them as they brewed. 

As an added bonus, just as we were about to leave, a bell rang and the brothers quickly assembled in chapel to commence a 10-minute Gregorian chanting session. Did I mention this was in the middle of New Mexico?

The point of my story is that it's a story. That's what the beverage business is about, stories and journeys. The story behind a product is often as appealing as the brand itself and is often what distinguishes one product from another in a cluttered marketplace. And it's critical to lead consumers on that journey to discover the story, which, ultimately, translates to brand loyalty.