• How to Get a New Beer to Market Fast? Be a Celebrity.

    It must be nice to get free media attention to pitch your new beer, a beer, mind you, built on a gimmick.  The new beer is from Churchkey Can Co. and the gimmick is the beer requires a chuch key, like the one pictured above, to open the can (the pointy side, not the bottle cap opener side).  Nothing says hipster like using an antiquated piece of technology that most of us did away with years ago.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I used the pointy side of the church key to open anything.  Maybe a can of Juicy Juice in the late 1970’s or a can of oil for my car in the mid 1980’s.

    So how did this beer come to be?  This is the beer of Adrian Grenier, most known for his role as the character Vincent Chase on Entourage.  I can only image it now, a few Hollywood folks with money sitting around talking about how to make more money and someone says, “What if we made a beer that you couldn’t open? What if we forced you to have a certain type of opener to get at our medicore beverage?  The hipsters are going to love this, and my publicist can get us on the front page of anything.  Heck, Forbes might even do an article on us.”

    Well, to quote Forbes:

    Speaking of inspiration, or rather deinspiration, to how Churchkey wants to sculpt its brand – Grenier cited the all-too-often seen standards of corporate America: “turning their backs on people and pumping out crap which doesn’t provide any value beyond getting an immediate fix.” They wanted “deeper values than just mass marketed consumer products” which have a “spirit beyond the product,” for their microbrewery.

    What kind of BS is that? “…spirit beyond the product…”  A beer that doesn’t have a built-in method to open it…what is the spirit of an un-open-able beer?  Even bottles with caps the don’t twist off can be popped off with just about anything you can find.  Check out this video, for example:
    http://vimeo.com/42674279

    With so many new breweries starting up, and so many beers trying to make their mark, it seems a little ridiculous that this beer would somehow end up in the limelight.  I have read tons of reviews of little known beers, and sampled lots of beers myself, but I find it funny that not one article talks about the taste and flavor of the Churchkey beer.  The best I can find is marketing fluff from Grenier himself:

    The clue is in the motto “It’s worth the effort.” Grenier says: “We weren’t talking about the can being worth it, it’s the beer.” The can creates a point of distinction, but it’s the beer/taste that will continue to drive sales, and that customers will come back for. “It’s a combination of a distinguished product and packaging with a superior beer that people can rely on.”

    I won’t be going out of my way to try this beer, and hopefully this type of contrived beer won’t last long in the market.

    Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/languatica/2012/06/20/its-worth-the-wait-build-a-brand-like-a-superstar/

  • Cold Beer in 3 Minutes – No Ice Required

    Twenty Years ago Mitchell Joseph wanted a cold beer, but didn’t want to use ice to get it cold.  He decided to set out to figure a way how to make a beer can that could chill itself.

    His first can released the coolant HFC-134a, and while it worked, the problem he was up against was that HFC-134a is a well known greenhouse gas 1,300 times more dangerous than CO2.  The amount of gas in one of his cans was doing the same amount of damage to the environment as driving 500 miles.

    This year, however, Joseph got the can right.  Using gases that are legal and don’t harm the environment he can chill a can by about 30°F in 3 minutes.  The self chilling technology known as Microchill™ will be available in the company’s new drink, West Coast Chill, the first self chilling energy drink, later this summer on the west coast.  It will be coming to the rest of us by 2014.

    The ChillCan contains a chamber of high-pressure  CO2 that extends through the can and is sealed by a button on the bottom of the can.  When the button is pressed the CO2 expands quickly, rushing out of the bottom of the can.  As the gas expands, it absorbs heat from the surrounding liquid, which in turn lowers the temperature of the beverage.

    While there is no beer in a ChillCan yet,  I would imagine we’re only a few years out, as it seems that was part of Joseph’s original dream.  Here’s to looking forward to the day when we can leave the cooler full of ice at home.

    Company Info: http://westcoastchill.com/

  • Scientists Discover “Miracle Molecule” in Beer That May Make You Stronger, Skinnier and Healthier

    Want to get stronger, thinner, and healthier?  Drink beer!!!  That is what a new report out is claiming based on a hidden vitamin in beer and milk.

    A new study found that nicotinamide riboside (NR), a molecule found to indirectly influence the activity of cell metabolism, could play an important role in preventing weight gain and diabetes, improving muscular performance and providing other “extraordinary health benefits,” according to a Switzerland-based research team.

    Keep in mind that this has yet to be studied on humans, but in mice the affect was noticeable.

    “Mice on a high-fat diet fed NR gained significantly less weight – 60 per cent – than mice eating the same diet, but without NR supplementation,” they wrote.  “In addition, none of the NR-treated mice had indications that they were developing diabetes, unlike the untreated mice.”

     

    Researchers reported no side effects in mice given the NR supplement.

     

    “It really appears that cells use what they need when they need it, and the rest is set aside without being transformed into any kind of deleterious form,” said study author Carles Canto in a statement.

     

    Researchers believe that the increase in the NR molecule leads to an improvement in mitochondrial function, the “powerhouse” of the cell that supplies energy.

    There is no indication how much of this hidden vitamin may be in beer, but I hope they find a lot.  I’m always looking for a good reason to enjoy a cold glass of my favorite beverage.

    Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20120607/10212/nicotinamide-riboside-miracle-molecule-obesity.htm

  • History Lesson: The Story of Beer

    A great infographic on the history of beer by the folks at www.manolith.com

    the-history-of-beer-1the-history-of-beer-2the-history-of-beer-3the-history-of-beer-4
    History of Beer Infographic by http://600series.net/infoshot/

    Source: http://www.manolith.com/2009/04/15/history-lesson-the-story-of-beer/

  • Clustering: Neighbor Breweries Helping Each Other

    Ever borrow a cup of sugar or milk from a neighbor?  How about a fork lift?  That is the comradery happening between a few breweries in Maine.

    Tom Bull’s got a bunch of hops in his company’s refrigerator – which makes sense, as the company is Bull Jagger Brewing Co.

     

    The thing is, the hops aren’t his.

     

    They belong to Maine Beer Co., a neighbor in the same building that needed some extra space. But when Bull needs a forklift to load something heavy, he just helps himself to Maine Beer’s. And New England Distilling, a relatively new neighborhood denizen, has got Bull’s grain mill — at least on loan.

    I think this is a great method for business trying to get off the ground, especially in the same business sector, to help each other out.  While they may be in competition with each other, big beer is their real competition, so it makes sense for them to form a partnership.  And it’s not just a matter of physical resources, there is the human resource, as well.

    “I think it’s been crucial,” said Bull. “It’s been extremely helpful to have them around, and to be able to pick each other’s brains. If we’re up against a problem, they’re right here.”

    This kinship has been a long time in the making, and proximity to one another has been a driving force.

    First there was the D.L. Geary Brewing Co., incorporated in 1983 by David and Karen Geary as one of the first microbreweries not only in the neighborhood but in Maine and even New England.

     

    “We were it — we were it in New England,” said David Geary. “We didn’t get to borrow from anybody.”

     

    Geary’s, which specializes in English-style beers, started brewing in the neighborhood in 1986 in 5,000 square feet of space. The business has expanded several times and Geary now jokes it’s a 22,000-square-foot brewer in 18,000 square feet of space.

     

    In 1995, Allagash Brewing Co.‘s Rob Tod started making his Belgian ales in the same industrial park.

     

    Maine Beer Co. has been in at 1 Industrial Way for about three years, said co-owner David Kleban, across the street from Allagash and in the same building as Bull Jagger, which moved in about a year ago.

     

    Rising Tide Brewing Co. had been in the same building but moved recently to the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland, an industrial area tucked between the base of Munjoy Hill, Interstate 295 and the Franklin Arterial.

     

    Another brewing/distilling cluster is growing there. Bunker Brewing and Urban Farm Fermentory both are close by and a new distilling company has just signed a lease, said Nathan Sanborn, owner/brewer at Rising Tide.

    Of course, there are reasons why this happened in their location.  Zoning is key and the locations of the breweries is zoned industrial.  The other is the space is fairly cheap.

    “It’s a great incubator space. The rent is cheap, relatively speaking; the community is here, with all of the brewers,” said Bull, “and then our distributor is also right here — Mariner Beverages.”

    But the largest driving factor is a community of like minded business owners who share a common goal.

    Kleban said when he and his brother first started Maine Beer, they were walking across the street to seek advice from Allagash regularly. Kleban and his brother were experienced brewers but were able to learn a lot about selling to the public, production-scale work and other areas of knowledge necessary for a successful business. Kleban said the folks at Allagash would open up their equipment, showing him how a solenoid valve was wired or how other equipment worked.

     

    “If you’re starting a small brewery and you haven’t been in the commercial brewing world for a lot of years, you have a lot to learn,” said Kleban.

     

    Bull tells a story about how he was in the middle of brewing a batch of beer when his pump died. He started asking around about where to buy a new one, and Allagash sent over one of its engineers to fix the pump.

     

    Sanborn, from Rising Tide, said he had brewed a special barrel-aged beer one time and he needed to do a cell count to figure out how much yeast was still in the beer and how much he should add for fermentation. Allagash used its lab to help him out, said Sanborn.

     

    “I would have had to buy a microscope and a hemocytometer and do it myself. That’s something we’re building toward, but this was fairly early on, and it was helpful,” said Sanborn.

    So if you find yourself in Portland, Maine, check out some of the local breweries.  Their great people with great beers, and really what else can you ask for from a brewing company.

    If you go:
    Brewer’s Row, off Riverside Street
    D.L. Geary Brewing Co., 38 Evergreen Drive
    Allagash Brewing Co., 50 Industrial Way
    Maine Beer Co., 1 Industrial Way, No. 3
    Bull Jagger Brewing Co., 1 Industrial Way, No. 8
    New England Distillery, 26 Evergreen Drive

    East Bayside Brewers
    Rising Tide Brewing Co., 103 Fox St.
    Bunker Brewing, 122 Anderson St.
    Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St.

     

    Source: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/08/business/beer-makers-helping-their-neighbors-in-two-portland-brewery-clusters/

  • 5 Things You Should Know About Aging Beer

     

    Dogfish Head put together a great article on how to properly age a beer.  Personally, I rarely age bottles.  I have a few that I’m saving for that special occasion, but the predominate amount of beer I buy is drank within a short time period.  That being said, I was glad to find this article as it gave me some good points on what to do with the few beers I’m currently aging.

    1. A little experimentation goes a long way.

    Taste, of course, is subjective, and the things that happen inside a bottle of beer are more alchemy than exact science. If you’re curious about how a beer ages, buy a few bottles, drink one fresh, and stash the rest. Try another six months down the road.

    This philosophy could be applied to just about any aspect of beer, be it drinking, brewing, or aging.  Finding what works best for you is key.

    2. Don’t underestimate fresh.

    Depending on the beer you age, you’ll notice some flavors fading into the background and others becoming more pronounced. Several things influence those changes, but the main driver is oxygen.

     

    “There’s always very slow oxidation,” says Rebecca. “If you’re a really good brewer and you’ve worked hard to get the oxygen out, then your beer will age very gracefully and slowly. If you haven’t spent the time and the effort to get the oxygen out at the time of packaging, then you lose those beautiful flavors very rapidly.”

     

    Hops – whether bitter, floral or citrusy – fade with time, so IPAs and other hop-forward beers aren’t great candidates for aging. That said, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA only gets better with age. A year or two on the holy grail for hopheads brings out deliciously sweet sherry and marmalade notes. (See – we told you there are no hard-and-fast rules!)

    I have had a few aged beers that are most certainly more pronounced in flavors that weren’t present at the time of purchase.  This is where keeping track of your tastings with notes on how the beer tastes would be key for later reference.

    3. High-alcohol beers tend to age better.

    While there are exceptions, we recommend aging beers that clock in at 10% ABV and up.

     

    “Typically,” says Rebecca, “there’s some protection in high-alcohol beers and in beers that have big, dark malt like Palo Santo and World Wide Stout. Often, those beers are so flavorful and complex that some amount of age starts to take off the sharper edges and you get a real velvety finish.”

     

    Even lower-alcohol beers with a malt-heavy profile will age better. A year-old Indian Brown Ale, for example, will fare better than a year-old 60 Minute IPA.

     

    “They’re very similar in alcohol,” says Dogfish Quality Control Technician Ryan Mazur. “But the darker, roastier beers have a little more defense in terms of shelf life.”

     

    You wouldn’t want to age a cheap beer, like a mass produced light beer.  Aging should be reserved for those beers that truly deserve the wait, which are typically going to be more expensive, higher ABV beers.

    4. Storage matters.

    This one is important. Light and heat speed up oxidation, so store beer in a cool, dark place. Basements or refrigerators set to 50-55 degrees are your best bets. And keep those bottles upright.

     

    “If you’ve been storing beers on their side,” says Rebecca, “roll them, agitate them, and chill them upright for a few hours. You want to get that sediment down into the bottom of the bottle.”

    I have a room in my basement where I store the beer I have been brewing for fermentation.  The temperature stays between 64°F-68°F year round.  I’ll need to check the temperature of my refrigerator/kegerator to see if it falls in this range.  Currently my bottles for aging are in the fridge, but it may be too cold.

    5. Beer won’t spoil.

    You might not prefer what age does to certain beers, but you don’t have to worry about beer going bad.

     

    “If someone grabs a bottle of Black & Blue off the shelf and it says 2009 on it, they shouldn’t be afraid to open it,” Ryan says. “There’s no expiration date. It’s just going to be different.”

     

    Rebecca agrees.

     

    “It’s not milk,” she says. “It doesn’t go bad on the shelf. It’ll never make you sick. It might not be the flavor that you remember, but if might be a flavor that you like even more.”

    This last point is important, because it basically means you can’t screw up again a beer.  The worst thing that may happen is you waited a long period of time to drink a really good beer.

    Start aging some beer today and let us know how it goes.  Also, if you’re already aging some beer, let us know your techniques.

    Source: http://www.dogfish.com/community/news/press-releases/5-things-you-should-know-about-aging-beer.htm

  • Good Beer Starts with Good Water

     Beer, while being comprised of malt and hops (and whatever special ingredients may be added), is mostly made of water.  It should come as no surprise then that the water used in a given beer has an impact on the flavor profile.  It’s for this reason that a local regions water supply has often played a big part in the taste of a beer.

    “People have always thought about the water, because if you went back 100 years ago, when maybe you couldn’t do anything about the water — people put breweries where there were great water supplies,” Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver says. “The flavor of the beer would often be based upon the local water. And they would position the brewery in the right place to take advantage of that.”

    The unique, local water characteristics are can sometimes be a the reason for success or reputation of a small beer.

    For instance, consider the famed “Burton snatch” — a term for the sulfurous quality of certain beers, especially those made in Burton-on-Trent, England. As Oliver wrote in his Oxford Companion to Beer, “high levels of sulfate in Burton waters (up to 800 ppm) bring a hard dry mineral edge… and this makes the water ideal for the production of pale ales.”

    What happens, however, when a small brewery gets bigger to the point that a second brewery is needed.  One located in a separate geographic location as to take advantage of a wider distribution.  For example, east coast and west coast breweries.

    Matching flavors can be a long and painstaking process, even when you use the same water. Michael LaLonde, COO ofDeschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., says his company ran into a flavor challenge when it added a new brewery in 2003.

     

    “We actually took five years to flavor-match our old brewery to this new brewery, before we could actually sell that beer brewed in the new brewery,” LaLonde says.

     

    After a batch of beer has been made, brewers then have specially trained staff taste it, to be sure it matches the flavors the brand is going for. LaLonde explains how the process works.

     

    “The way we do it is, we actually have a triangle test,” he says. “So, we’ll have one beer that’s different than the other two. Our sensory panel tastes them all, and if they can identify the different beer, then we know we have an issue. If they can’t, then we know that we have a flavor match.

    While a good clean water source may literally be located in the aquifers under a brewery, not all breweries are so lucky.  Even so, could it be that with better filtration, and the ability to add minerals and other components back into the water, that local water characteristics are no longer a factor in a beer?

    Craft beer expert Julia Herz, of the Brewers Association, says no.

     

    “No, it’s not history,” she says. In fact, we’ve been drinking taste-manipulated beers a long time. “I think that you have to look at New World brewers making Old World styles… when they’re trying to make a classic Bohemian pilsner, or a U.S. small brewer is trying to make that German-style bock beer, they’re going to mimic the water mineral content from those regions.”

    So why not just completely filter out the water and then build a water profile by adding needed elements back into to make the perfect water for beer?

    But it’s not good to use completely neutral water to make beer, Herz says — the intense filtering “strips everything. And yeast need manganese, zinc, copper and iron to survive and thrive. So a lot of the time, what’s in the water is helpful for the yeast — it ensures a healthful fermentation.”

    In the end, it comes down to consistency in flavor.  Consumers want to know that when buying a certain beer it is going to taste the same as it did the previous time they purchased it.

    Brewers’ manipulation of water might surprise some craft beer fans — especially those who feel a swell of local pride when they sip a brew made just down the road. But to brewers and beer fans alike, the only thing better than a great beer is a consistently great beer — no matter what the hops harvest was like last year, or where the water comes from.

    Source: http://www.npr.org/

  • Why Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol

    This is an older article, but I found it and thought it was a good read.  Firstly, I know that I always FEEL smarter when I drink, and apparently there is some merit to that thought process.  It turns out that smart people drink more.

    …more intelligent children, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, grow up to consume alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children.  Controlling for a large number of demographic variables, such as sex, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, number of children, education, earnings, depression, satisfaction with life, frequency of socialization with friends, number of recent sex partners, childhood social class, mother’s education, and father’s education, more intelligent children grow up to drink more alcohol in the UK and the US.

     

    There is a clear monotonic association between childhood intelligence (measured before the age of 16) and the frequency of alcohol consumption in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.   “Very bright” British children grow up to consume alcohol nearly one full standard deviation more frequently than their “very dull” classmates.

     

    It is important to note that both income and education, as well as childhood social class and parents’ education, are controlled in multiple regression analyses of these data from the US and the UK.  It means that it is not because more intelligent people occupy higher-paying, more important jobs that require them to socialize and drink with their business associates that they drink more alcohol.  It appears to be their intelligence itself, rather than correlates of intelligence, that inclines them to drink more.

    So knowing that smart people drink more, you can bet that next time you’re in a bar the ones with the drinks in there hands are the smart ones.  Hmm, somehow that just doesn’t sound correct, but who am I to argue with science.

    Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/

  • Prohibition: Alabama’s Antiquated Articles

    You can buy a shirt at the department store, but you can’t make your own shirt.  You can buy a hamburger at the local fast food restaurant, but you can’t make your own hamburger.  You can buy beer at the local store, but you can’t make your own.  For those living in Alabama, one of those three statements is true.

    I’m really having trouble understanding the logic of why something that is available for sale would not be permissible to make in the comfort of your own home.  Under the new law homebrewing is punishable as a misdemeanor with significant fines and even jail time.

    Daniel J. Smith, an assistant professor of economics at the Manual H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, makes some great points:

    If Alabama believes that “the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property,” as stated in Article 1, Section 35 of the Alabama Constitution, homebrewing ought to be legal.

     

     

    In fact, since President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing at the national level in 1978, there has been a craft beer revolution with microbreweries and brewpubs popping up around the nation. This renaissance has not reached Alabama due to archaic remnants of the Prohibition era, including the ban on homebrewing.

    Those that have opposed the homebrewing process are under the impression that the ability to make beer and wine for a cheaper price in the home will increase the amount of drunks.  As someone who has been brewing beer for the short period of 6 months, I can tell you, it’s not the place to go to get your quick fix of alcohol.  I’m currently brewing once a week (5 gallons or about 2.2 cases of beer), but leaving the beer to ferment for 4 weeks.  Not the ideal situation for someone looking to get drunk on a daily basis.  Even then, my beers are cheaper in cost than good craft beer, but the crappy watered down beer like Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are still cheaper than what I produce.

    The deeper issue at stake is the tendency of politicians — whether at the local, state or national level — to manage every aspect of their constituents’ economic and personal lives. This trend threatens the development of personal responsibility and undermines the foundations of a free society. French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville long ago warned this type of bureaucratic power turns people into “nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

    Sweet home Alabama?  Not for me, but then, a southern man don’t need me around anyhow.

    Source: http://blog.al.com/

  • Respect the Cans

    This is a great infographic that was put together by Sly Fox to show the benefits of cans. You can check out Sly Fox and their “Respect the Cans” campaign at RespectTheCans.Com.  As we have talked about in previous articles, cans are become in increasingly popular container for beer.  So have a read and let us know where you stand when it comes to beer in a can.