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Liberty, Diversity, Farms, and Money - Beer Links for Monday

The Story of Anchor Liberty Ale: The Beer that Started the Craft Revolution

"Michael Jackson, the famed beer writer, called Anchor Liberty Ale the first modern American ale".  A great look at craft beer's roots.

What should CAMRA do now to save cask ale – and itself?

The better beer movement in the US is generally may occasionally struggle with the limits of it's David v. Goliath narrative, it's generally much better served than our friend across the pond.  In the UK, the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) started in the early 70's championing quality beer by preserving England's traditional cask serving style from overly cold, blend kegs of macro lager.  The same Goliath as in America.  Or maybe it's Goliath's dutch cousin.  Regardless, the better beer narrative became one of tradition and preservation vs. innovations that sacrifice quality for economy.  In some minds it reduced to old v. new.  The oganization is struggling to coexist with the UK's vibrant Craft beer movement, with stylish cans, skinny jeans, and heaven forbid kegs.  There is no effective analog in the UK for the brewer's association.  Smaller, suqabbling beer groups will have a better time saving the traditional pub if they work together.  I for one delight in pubs with a variety of casks, and craft kegs.  5-10 of each is heaven.

Cambridge Brewing Co.’s latest release is 14 years in the making

CBC's solea style beer is one of America's most charming, barrel aged beer.  Its history is a study in innovation.  Brewer Will Meyers synthesized west coast wine making techniques, traditional lambic brewing to create something truly new, and completely fabulous.  I've long enjoyed the beer on tap, and look forward to buying a few bottles.

8 Farm Breweries to Visit this Year

I love farm breweries.  This list is missing two note worthy locals, Stone Cow and Throwback.  It's a stretch to call one of the New England entries a farm, but it's definitely worth a trip.

There’s Always Money in the Lemonade Stand — How the Own-Premise Model is Rewriting the Beer Industry’s Future

"The second crucial advantage to own premise, and perhaps ultimately the most important, is the control and insight it gives you over your entire cash flow, demand, and place in the market. There is simply no substitute for having this information so within reach. As we watch the declining sales and buyouts/closures of regional craft breweries who have suddenly become the most vulnerable sub-designation, one can’t help but realize the benefit of eschewing complicated distribution networks—in which your product, now far from home, will languish on the shelf, competing with dozens of other brands in the exact same position—in favor of a lemonade-stand-style business model where you can make choices regarding expansion, product development, and other sales questions with much of the guesswork eliminated."  - Peter Bissel in a lengthy, thoughtful, and thorough analysis of his brewery business.

This plastic-gobbling enzyme just got an upgrade

Great news from scientists about a bacterial enzyme that can digest plastic containers.  Including some of those bizarre half gallon plastic growler things I've seen in some tap rooms.


Diversity and inclusion are key words in may conversations in 2018.  It's great to see the brewer's association take clear steps to advance the trade.  Some might say that the move is rent seeking, in an effort to get PR and quibble about small percentages.  However there are real demographic gaps in the US which are detrimental in the near and long term of the industry.

  1. Gender - Misogynistic labels are falling out of fashion.  The stylistic evolution of beer in general is becoming more welcoming.  I love what the Pink Boots Society is doing to highlight women's creative and entrepreneurial contribution to brewing.  
  2. Race - African American communities are under served, and under represented.  My recent efforts to associate a beer with Marvel's Black Panther was eye opening on this front.  I free associated Garret Oliver.  That man is a great ambassador for beer period.  Any additional qualification could be interpreted as diminishing his contributions. I also wanted to save Brooklyn for a character with roots in the borough.   The truth is there are almost no black people brewing craft beer.  A demographic with ~ 11 percent of the US population only consumes 3.2% of it's craft beer.  Economic disparity is a factor for sure, but there are a lot of areas the BA could address to foster development for an under served market. I found a 2016 article about 5 Black Owned Breweries You Should Know About.  That's about it.


Greatest Hits

Holiday Gift Ideas for The Beer Lover

The gift of beer itself may seem obvious, but it is fraught with pitfalls. Especially if the gift giver is not as knowledgeable, experienced, or perhaps as jaded as the intended recipient. Craft beer lovers tend to have promiscuous taste buds. They crave new and exciting, and occasionally hard to find beers. How can anyone hope to keep track of another person's sense of new. You may have an advantage if you live a few states away and distribution agreements give you unique access to a hot new Nano, or even a New Belgium scale microbrewery. That's a great in if you have a little guidance. A beer lover that's a bit of a hoarder may enjoy an annual gift of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for their cellar. However, the safest bet for a beer gift is t he somewhat corny Beer of the Month Club. Has the beer lover on your list has neglected to drop any good hints for gift ideas? Are you looking to surprise? Here are some ideas to consider.

Nostalgia and New Ideas: Craft Beer Luminaries Find Ways To Stay Relevant

I'm not envious of the youngsters starting out in an era when good beer is available on every street corner.   Yes, things have never been more exciting in US Micro brewing but I feel the grip of  nostalgia.  New breweries are opening almost weekly.  New taprooms draw crowds to taste new, photogenic beers.  Novelty, at times, seems to surpass quality in importance to today's promiscuous drinkers.  Which isn't to say that we didn't get around in my day.  It's just that we didn't make such an effort to make an obvious trail, or tally our conquests.  Which were, admittedly, somewhat smaller in number.  Might today's craft drinkers missing some great beers from great breweries, in a quest for the next big thing, and a desire to avoid drinking one of dad's many microbrews?  The good news is that many are doing cool things to stay interesting, and remain in conversation. So many brewing luminaries of my youth are now ancient.  Great Lakes Brewing is 30. 

The Post-Malt Era of American Craft Brewing

Once seen as a key differentiation between better and mass marketed beer, the 2-row barley malt may now be the least important ingredient in a brewery.  Malt has disappeared from our beer conversations.  There are still palettes stacked high with 50 lb bags, and fork lifts. By weight, it's still beer's second largest ingredient, after water of course.  However it's lost our attention, and its contributions intentionally minimized to better showcase on the other players - most typically hops and Yeast (or other microflora). The mighty hop has always been a lead character in American craft beer.  There's something in our soil that makes hops express pungent aromas and aggressive flavors.  European brewers traditionally considered these hops too vulgar to feature prominently in a beer's finish.  They kept quiet about cost savings from the use of american hops to bitter.  American craft brewers found ways to feature these piney, resinous flavors as virtues and birthe