March 27, 2013

State of the Craft Beer Industry: A Report from CBC13

Happening this week in Washington, DC, is the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, an annual gathering of craft brewers from around the country hosted by the Brewers Association. The BA is the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers in the US. While I didn't attend the event, I listened in this morning to the Brewers Association "State of the Craft Brewing Industry" tele-press conference.

Craft Beer is Surging

Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, opened by talking about general industry trends. Over the past five years, the beer industry as a whole has been contracting, while the craft beer segment has been expanding rapidly at the expense of the large "macro" breweries. We've seen recently that regional craft breweries, such as Green Flash and New Belgium, have decided to build second breweries in other parts of the country to meet high demand and to facilitate the distribution of their products from coast to coast. Gatza speculated that we will see more of these satellite breweries in the months and years to come.

Gatza also mentioned the development of a new Brewers Association website, KegReturn.com, designed to help brewers avoid profit loss through lost kegs. There is an estimated cost of $5-15 million when kegs, owned by the breweries who fill them, go missing. (Read the press release here.)

March 18, 2013

A Hops Industry Grows in North Carolina

The hops yard at the
NC Alternative Crops Research Center
On Saturday, March 16th, the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River held a workshop entitled “Growing Hops in Western NC.” This was a session to discuss the commercial viability of a local hops economy in our region. With 90+ people in attendance, some coming from as far as Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, it seems that interest in the crop is pretty high.

Jeanine Davis of NC State opened the event by talking about the state of the hops industry. There are many reasons why hops are in high demand:
  • Increasing numbers of craft breweries
  • Increasing interest in homebrewing
  • Increasing demand for organic hops
  • Increasing demand for fresh (a.k.a. “wet”) hops
  • Increasing demand for locally-sourced products
But here’s the big question: Is a hops industry commercially viable in Western North Carolina?

March 14, 2013

Green Flash to Build $20m Brewery in Virginia Beach

This is such big news for craft beer in Virginia that I had to throw it up on the blog real quick. San Diego's Green Flash Brewing Company has just announced plans to build a second brewery in Virginia Beach. This will be a state-of-the-art facility with a 100,000 barrel capacity, employing 40 or more local workers. Production is expected to begin in 2015.

“The Mid-Atlantic region provided logistical advantages,” said Lisa Hinkley, co-founder of Green Flash. “Virginia is a great place to do business, has a developing craft beer culture, and Virginia Beach felt like home.”

Additionally, Green Flash is moving in with full intent to help develop Virginia's craft beer culture. They established a $10,000 credit with San Diego's White Labs, a leading producer of brewer's yeast, for members of the Virginia Brewers Guild to use for testing and quality control. Green Flash also plans to develop a Virginia Beach series of locally made beers and to support area charities.

Go #VAbeer!

Read the full press release at BeerPulse.com.

March 11, 2013

Updates from New Belgium Asheville: Open House Recap

New Belgium Asheville
Rampant Imperial IPA
On Thursday night, New Belgium Brewing Company hosted an open house at Isis Restaurant in West Asheville to officially introduce themselves to Asheville residents. In addition to New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan and Asheville General Manager Jay Richardson, a number of New Belgium employees, contractors, and community partners were on hand to answer questions and celebrate the beginning of the brewery's participation in the Asheville community. Two things were clear: 1) New Belgium is making a sure-footed, conscientious entry into Asheville, 2) the Asheville community is, by and large, VERY excited to have them here.

March 8, 2013

Atlanta Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Fest Recap

Chef Christopher Davis of NC's
Little Red Pig Championship BBQ
Cooking Team
While James was enjoying the Panama Micro Brew Fest, my girlfriend and I traveled down to Atlanta for the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival at Atlantic Station. It was unusually cold, so cold that it actually snowed! (in Atlanta? in March? Yup.) As a touring festival with upcoming dates throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, here's a taste of what you can expect from upcoming editions (minus the cold, I hope).

The BEER

We started things off with a new local brewery, Monday Night Brewing from Atlanta, GA, and tried their Draft Kilt Scotch Ale (well-balanced bitterness, hint of smoke) and the Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Wit (light, crisp, with a touch of ginger). Both solid beers.

March 6, 2013

First Ever Micro Brew Fest Rocks Panama

Brewdog in Panama
Scotland's BrewDog was one of the
international craft breweries
served at the festival.
Photo credit: James Bloomfield
This weekend, the Republic of Panama enjoyed its first annual Panama Micro Brew Fest. 

Casa Bruja, one of Panama's newest craft breweries, was instrumental in organizing the craft beer festival. Richo Fernandez, Casa Bruja's Creative Director, reports that 900 tickets were sold for the event.

I asked a friend, James Bloomfield, to share a few words and some photos from the festival.

-----

Panama isn't exactly known for its good beer festivals.

At least, not til now.

So what happened? Well, the first Panama Micro Brew Fest happened, throwing open its taps to serve Panama a decent pinta. With more than twenty different styles of craft beer, the brew fest hosted some of Panama’s best up and coming breweries. Alongside international craft breweries such as Scotland's Brewdog and Oregon's Rogue, local legends Istmo Brew Pub and La Rana Dorada served their best, while craft beer newcomers Casa Bruja and Cervecería Legítima introduced themselves to the Panamanian crowd.

March 1, 2013

Dandelion, Rye, Salt, and Coriander: Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix

Magic Hat Variety Pack
It's March 1st and spring is so close, you can nearly taste it. It's time for the imperial stouts and other high-gravity beers to make way for something lighter, something that can be enjoyed out on the porch as we welcome the warmer weather.

Arriving on my doorstep last week were three such beers from Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix variety pack: Pistil Dandelion Ale, Ticket to Rye IPA, and Saint Saltan Gose.

Using my Rate That Beer tasting sheet as a guide, I lined up all three for a tasting: