• Chain Restaurants Look to Craft Beer

    Big beer is getting the squeeze from big restaurants.   No longer is big beer the dominate tap handle at your local chain restaurant, instead these establishments are increasingly turning to craft beers for their beer selections.

    More signs that American culinary tastes are changing, or perhaps becoming more diverse: 15 Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG +2.24%) restaurants in Chicago have begun to sell locally-made “craft beers” on a trial basis, theChicago Tribune reports.

     

    Earlier this year, the pasta restaurant chain Noodles & Co. announced a similar policy, offering its customers craft beers and upscale wines.

     

    American craft brews are a big growth business. The Brewers Association reports dollar sales for the country’s small and independent craft brewers were up 14% in the first half of 2012, while the volume of craft brewed beer sold rose 12% in that same time period. Oh, and the number of total breweries in the U.S. is currently at a 125-year high.

     

    “Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses,” said Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza in a statement. “Plus, it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”

     

    Industry experts say the trend of national chain restaurants selling local beer brands is hardly shocking news.

     

    “I would say it’s not surprising as all, given the growing popularity and the enthusiasm and the passion that’s being driven by the craft beer segment in the United States,” says Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, which covers the beer industry. “It’s still only 6% of the total volume, but seems to grow under a lot more of that in terms of the passion and media coverage.”

     

    Shepard points towards the so-called “locavore” movement — where consumers prefer food, beverages and produce grown regionally — as a model for the national restaurant chains to consider.

     

    “I think some of the other restaurant chains have already adopted this to a certain extent,” he said, “where they give a certain amount of freedom to their franchisees to choose based on where they are and the local tastes and food as well. That they would do that in beer as well just makes a whole lot of sense.”

     

    But nothing is simple, and that’s certainly true when you talk about defining what exactly is a craft beer.

     

    The big brewers are creating their own craft beers — such as Blue Moon, produced by MillerCoors (TAP +1.23%) or Shock Top from Anheuser Busch (BUD +2.57%). “They see where the growth in the industry is and it’s been fairly explosive in crafts over the last four or five years,” says Shepard. “And they want to play in that space as well. Ultimately the consumer will sort all of this out.”

     

    Source:  http://money.msn.com/

  • [Infographic] The Health Benefits of Moderate Beer Consumption

    We have long reported the benefits of moderate beer consumption, and today we present to you an infographic with the facts.

     

    Source: http://www.belancio.com/

  • Raise A Toast To Building Better Beer Bubbles Through Chemistry

     Want a better, longer lasting head on your beer?  That might now be possible.  It seems that it is a particular gene in yeast that give beer it’s head.

    Scientists may have finally solved a problem that has plagued beer drinkers for ages: Insufficient foam resiliency.

     

    As any beer drinker can tell you, a tall glass of lager without a white, foamy head on top just doesn’t look right. And even if you start out with one, it can dissipate fast. And that’s just sad.

     

    Now, microbiologists have identified the specific gene in yeast responsible for a beer’s head and they say this discovery can lead to stronger, longer lasting, more aesthetically pleasing foam on your favorite brews.

     

    Tom Villa, the chair of microbiology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, says something called the Carlsbergensis foaming gene, or CFG1, is responsible for the white stuff at the top of your mug. As Villa and his colleagues write in theJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the gene resides in the yeasts used to ferment beer and it produces a protein that binds to the drink’s CO2 bubbles, preventing them from escaping from the glass too quickly.

     

    “The bubbles from the CO2 have to stay as long as possible,” Villa says. “The longer they stay, the better the beer, as you know.”

     

    Now that we know exactly which gene is responsible for beer foam, Villa says it’s possible to manipulate that gene to create beer with foam that lasts longer — potentially for hours and hours, as our colleagues at Science Friday reported.

     

    He also says the same gene responsible for creating the head on a beer is present in wine as well. His team experimented with these genes and came up with a wine that looks like a beer. “It creates a different kind of wine with a lot of foam,” Villa says. “You can play around a little bit.”

     

    Since most people probably wouldn’t be into sipping a frothy merlot, Villa’s discovery will mainly impact the world of beer. And even then, he says, this gene has no impact on the flavor of a beer.

     

    How does he know this? Naturally, he called in his students for a little taste-testing experiment.

     

    “It’s only the physical aspect of the beer,” Villa says. “We all want the foam to stay there, the longer the better. You don’t want to drink a beer that when you pour it, the foam collapses the next minute.”

     Source: http://www.npr.org/

  • A Great Beer Site: http://bloggersofbeer.com/

    Looking for a one stop shop for all your beer reading needs?  Look no further than http://bloggersofbeer.com/.  This site is a large collection of beer blogs from around the world that updates several times an hour with new content.  If you need some beer related reading material to get you through the holiday season http://bloggersofbeer.com/ is the site you want to check out. I’m really just amazed at the amount of new, original content that shows up.  The site doesn’t allow comments, as the intent is to feed traffic to the source of the content, but there is plenty of content on http://bloggersofbeer.com/ to keep you busy for a long time.  Have a look at the site and let us know what you think.

  • Is Pot Beer on the Horizon in Light of Colorado Marijuana Legalization?

    So as many of you may already know, hops (Humulus lupulus) and marijuana (Cannabis sativa) are both in the family same family (Cannabaceae).  We even have a shirt stating this fact:

    So with the two plants so closely related, and marijuana now becoming legal in Colorado (and Washington), it surely is only a matter of time before someone creates a commercial “pot” beer.

    A beer that will get you drunk and high sounds like a lethal combination, but it could be bubbling up in your neighbor’s garage.

     

    With the move by voters to legalize adult marijuana possession, cultivation and sales in Colorado as part of Amendment 64 Tuesday, the likelihood of pot beer is out of the question for commercial brewers, but already in the works by homebrewers.

     

    While commercial brewers have no plans to use marijuana in their beers based on the fact that brewers’ recipes are regulated by a federal government that still considers marijuana illegal, homebrewers have been, and are expected to continue, using marijuana in homemade beer.

     

    Boulder-based American Homebrewer Association Director Gary Glass said homebrewers have been using marijuana in homebrews before Amendment 64 passed. He is not sure how pot legalization will impact the homebrewing market. He noted marijuana could be an expensive ingredient to add to a beer.

     

    At a Boulder Dredhop Homebrew competition, Glass said he had the opportunity to sample a beer brewed with marijuana.

     

    Glass said he didn’t particularly like the beer and would not seek it out, but noted that with innovations coming out of the homebrewing community there is room for a whole new style of beer with marijuana.

     

    Zach Weakland, co-owner of High Hops Brewing and Hops Farm and Brew Shop, 6461 Colorado Highway 392, said, despite the name, they have no plans to brew with or grow marijuana. As far as homebrewers go, Weakland has heard of some brewing with marijuana. “I think it has already been going on and I think it will increase now,” he said.

     

    Sean Nook, homebrewer and owner of Black Bottle Brewery, said he has known brewers who have dabbled with incorporating marijuana into their beers, but has never tried it.

     

    “Hops and marijuana are in the same family, but totally different. Hops are meant as a flavoring bitter agent and the marijuana buds, I have been told by people, that it won’t work for some reason,” said Nook who has no plans to brew with the drug. “They (homebrewers) will do anything. I look to homebrewers for inspiration.”

     

    Active homebrewer Josh Grenz is the treasurer for the WeizGuys Loveland homebrew club, member of the Fort Collins Liquid Poets Society homebrew club and co-owner of Verboten Brewery, a new brewery in Loveland that received its federal license Wednesday and is expected to open in December. He is familiar with homebrewers using hemp in the brewing process, and noted there could be an increase in marijuana in brewing.

     

    Since the amendment passed Grenz hasn’t heard any talk among the homebrew community about using cannabis in beer, but noted there hasn’t been a meeting since Tuesday.

     

    The mechanics of making marijuana beer, and whether you can get high from it, are questionable. The Internet is littered with various recipes and tips on how to best incorporate cannabis tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, into a beer.

     

    Commercial brewers who distribute out of state, such as New Belgium Brewing Co., said they have no intentions of using marijuana to brew in light of Amendment 64.

     

    Source:  http://www.coloradoan.com

  • Bears Fans Drink Nashville Bars Dry

    Da Bears…Or rather…Da Bear fans.  It seems the Chicago Bears fans have a penchant for drinking.

    When the Chicago Bears routed the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, they were cheered on by scores of Bears fans at LP Field in Nashville. Orange and navy jerseys filled the stadium, and chants of “Let’s Go Bears!” broke out several times throughout the Bears’ 51-20 win.

     

    Nashville wasn’t quite prepared for the many Bears fans who descended on its town, as bars ran out of the beer. NBC Chicago reports that the Paradise Trailer Park Resort, just across the river from the Titans stadium, was out of bottled beer by Sunday evening. The Whiskey Bent Saloon had just two brands of beer left by the time the Chicago contingent left town.

     

    The Chicago contingent made itself known in more than the bars. Jay Cutler, who went to Vanderbilt in Nashville and still has a home there, said it felt like a home game.

     

    “They’ve travelled well.  Hats off to our fans, it’s been a fun year — Dallas, Jacksonville, here it’s been crazy to watch the Bears fans take over,” Cutler said after the game. “You know you have a ton of fans when you’re in an away stadium in the red zone and I’m trying to get the crowd to hush up and they’re responding.  They got quiet in a hurry, so it makes it fun.”

     

    The Bears are now 7-1. If they keep up their winning, Bears fans will likely drink a few more cities dry.

    Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/

  • 5000 Year Old Beer Found: Oldest Beer in the World

    We’ve talked about recreating an old beer here before, and the recipe from a really old beer, but now it seems a 5,000 year old beer has been found.  It would be really cool if the scientists figured out how to recreate this beer.

    Scientists report evidence in the journal Nature of ancient beer in a 5,000-year-old jug at Godin Tepe in the central Zagros Mountains of Iran. It’s the earliest trace of beer ever discovered.

     

    Researchers just the previous year had confirmed evidence of wine from around the same time at the same site, which became a fortress on the Silk Road. But later texts from the area suggest beer was the more popular beverage in lower Mesopotamia and was drunk by common folk as well as the upper class.

     

    The discovery of residue from beer-brewing in the interior grooves of a jug from the site supported the idea that beer was the preferred fermented beverage among the Sumerians.

     

    The yellowish substance found in the grooves of the jug, which was in the Royal Ontario Collection, proved to be calcium oxalate, also known as beerstone, a common byproduct of brewing with barley.

     

    To confirm that it was beerstone, the scientists compared the chemical composition to residue scraped from the inside of a brew kettle at Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewery, as well as to scrapings from an ancient beer vessel from the museum’s Egyptian New Kingdom collection.

     

    The grooves may have been intended to collect the beerstone, which can be very bitter and even poisonous, and keep it from ruining the beer. And early Sumerian symbols for beer jugs have similar crisscross markings on them.

     

    Further possible evidence of beer: The floor of the supply room where the jug was found had barley on it, likely grown locally and used in the brewing.

     

    It’s unclear what type of beer was in the jug, but it is known that residents of Mesopotamia enjoyed many different varieties including light, dark, amber, sweet and specially filtered beers.

     

    Source: http://www.wired.com/

  • Sam Adams’ Utopias Beer Costs $190 A Bottle

    How much would you spend on a bottle of beer?  How about one that has been aged for 16 years?  From the Same Adams Website:

    Truly the epitome of brewing’s two thousand year evolution, Samuel Adams Utopias® offers a flavor not just unlike any other beer but unlike any other beverage in the world. The 2009 release is a blend of batches, some having been aged up to 16 years in the barrel room of our Boston Brewery, in a variety of woods. We aged a portion of the beer in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery. The latest batch also spent time in Portuguese muscatel finishing casks, as well as sherry, brandy and Cognac casks. This flavorful, slightly fruity brew has a sweet, malty flavor that is reminiscent of a deep, rich vintage port, fine cognac or aged sherry.

     

    The history of Samuel Adams Utopias comes from the extreme beers of Triple Bock and Millenium that came before it. With those brews we began the exploration of aging beer in barrels for a different flavor contribution. With Utopias, we took that process to another level by introducing a variety of casks that the beer was aged in, each offering their own unique flavor. We also experimented with blending different vintages of beer to create its final character. The idea of aging in casks and blending was inspired by the techniques of whiskey makers in how they were able to craft the taste of their liquid from several of these elements. We expanded that notion to include casks of different origins. Applying these techniques to beer not only led to a completely unique beer, but also to a new taste experience.

    The beer comes in at about 27% ABV.  For me, that is just a little too much to spend on beer, but if a friend were to offer me some, how could I say no?

    Source: http://www.samueladams.com/

  • The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer

     

    Anyone who reads this site knows we’re not big fans of Anheuser-Busch, but it seems we’re not alone.  Bloomsberg Businessweek post a scathing article about the state of affairs with AB InBev (BUD) and the man in charge, Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev.  It’s a great article, but it’s pretty long, so check out the source link below.  The article covers the cost cutting efforts of AB:

    For a number-crunching manager like Brito, an old, family-run company like Anheuser-Busch provided plenty of opportunities for cuts. He laid off approximately 1,400 people, about 6 percent of the U.S. workforce. He sold $9.4 billion in assets, including Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. AB InBev also tried to save money on materials. It used smaller labels and thinner glass for its bottles. It tried weaker cardboard for its 12-packs and cases. The old Anheuser-Busch insisted on using whole grains of rice in its beer. AB InBev was fine with the broken kind. “Our purchasing of rice has to do with how fresh the rice is, not whether it is whole or broken,” says Vallis.

    There is also talk of how AB buys what it can’t do itself:

    AB InBev is taking a similar approach to Goose Island, a small but respected Chicago brewery it bought in 2011 to combat the growing craft beer threat. Three months after the deal, AB InBev started brewing Goose Island signature 312 Imperial Pale Ale—named after a Chicago area code—in Baldwinsville, N.Y., where the area code is 315. Graham Haverfield, beer director at the Wine Library in Springfield Township, N.J., says he’s received an IPA made in Portsmouth, N.H.; a harvest ale made in upstate New York; and Belgian-style beers from Goose Island’s Chicago brewery.

     

    This creates problems for Haverfield. “If I’m asked upfront by a customer, ‘Have you had this?’ Well, I don’t know,” he sighs. “The last time I had it, it was brewed in a different place.” He’s still a Goose Island fan, but he doesn’t know what AB InBev is doing with it. “I have a problem with a craft beer like Goose Island being treated like a mass-produced brand,” Haverfield says. “It’s a slippery slope.” Vallis disagrees: “We want Goose Island to grow in a way that’s right for the brewery and the brands.”

    Essentially, AB may be a good business at making money, but they’re horrible at making beer.  Have a look at the full article and decide for yourself.

    Source: http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/78040-the-plot-to-destroy-americas-beer

  • Beer Taps Give Insight into Tigers, Giants Fans

     

    With the World Series ending last night in an extra inning 4-3 win by the Giants, it would be a great time to take a look at the beer drank by fans during the series.  The scene at AT&T Park in San Francisco has very much an upscale feel:

    In a trendy, gourmet food-and-drink obsessed place such as San Francisco, a generic “cold beer” at AT&T Park often doesn’t cut the mustard as a companion to the stadium’s pungent garlic fries or a Caribbean-style concoction called the Cha-Cha Bowl. Revelers can choose between 56 different beers inside the waterfront ballpark.

     

    At Thursday’s Game 2, hundreds of Giants fans waited in a long line to get into an adjoining ballpark bar that sells dozens of craft brews.

     

    The offerings ranged from high-octane Belgian Trappist ales to a full suite of city-brewed Anchor Steam concoctions.

     

    John Callaway, 50, stood crammed elbow-to-elbow at the bar with his friend Trisha Cruse, 53, sipping a hand-pumped, English-style cask bitters made special for the ballpark bar, the Public House, by San Francisco brewery Magnolia.

     

    “I just like English bitters, and they are not easy to find, especially in a ballpark,” Callaway said, grabbing his filled cup and heading toward the ballpark turnstile in the back of the bar.

    In Detroit, however, it’s a much different scene the the upscale variety available in San Francisco.

    At Detroit’s Comerica Park, where only a couple of locally made beers are on tap, die-hard Motor City fans are just fine with the unpretentious, established American beer brands.

     

    Detroit is a “blue-collar, domestic beer town” said Bob Thormeier, who oversees food and drink services at the Tigers ballpark. “The younger segment of people are going toward the (craft beer), but a lot of our fans around here grew up on domestic beers. They grew up on your Miller Lites, your Coors Lights, Bud Lights.”

    With such a large number of beers on tap in San Francisco, it comes as no surprise that there are lots of craft beers.

    San Francisco’s craft beer obsession is on full display at the Public House, a ball yard bar on Willie Mays Plaza just outside the stadium’s main entrance. The bar boasts 24 taps (that’s Mays’ retired number), but pours more than 60 different beers, with a focus on local breweries.

     

    “Because San Francisco is such an eclectic city and so diverse, and with all the different foods, people just like selection and they just support local beers,” said Sandie Filipiak, AT&T Park’s director of concessions. “There’s room for a lot, and not every city is that way.”

     

    Unlike bars outside other ballparks, the Public House allows fans to take their designer brews directly into the ballpark through the turnstile tucked away in the back. Fans can come back and forth during the game, trying a different ale, cider, porter or stout.

     

    While the more adventurous local ales are being consumed in great quantity, the established brands like Coors and Budweiser still lead sales ballpark-wide, Filipiak said.

     

    Detroit’s ball yard has more than 130 spots where fans can buy beer on a typical game day, and about 120 of them serve American beers that are household names.

     

    While a micro-brewed, chocolate stout served by hand-pump may be a tad too “San Francisco” for Detroit fans, the Tigers’ ballpark does not completely leave craft beer aficionados wanting. Those who look can find about 10 places that sell craft beers, including Atwater, which is brewed at a spot across town, and Galesburg, Mich.-made Bell’s.

    Source: http://www.bendbulletin.com/