• Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione Squares Off Against Budweiser

    Dogfish Head

    Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione is one of craft beer’s great evangelists. Since launching his initial Rehoboth Beach, Delaware brewpub in 1995, Calagione made waves in the brewing world for innovative hopping techniques, recreating ancient recipes, and pushing the limits of extreme beer. Outside his brewery, he travels tirelessly to spread the good word of craft brewing through food, music, and beer events.

    We spoke with Calagione about one of craft brewing’s biggest newsmakers: A-B InBev’s spate of craft brewery acquisitions, folding the award-winning Elysian and Goose Island breweries into the same company that owns Budweiser and Corona.

    What do you think about A-B InBev buying up craft breweries?
    I get it that a number of the patriarchs of craft brewing are getting to retirement and trying to figure out how to transition out of brewing. So I’d never shit on somebody’s decision to sell out.

    I do think the world’s largest breweries are disingenuous in their intentions moving into the craft beer world. They’ll buy a once-independent brewery — not naming names — and suddenly its IPA’s kegs are on the street for half as much as a true indie craft beer. It really shows they’re using these once-craft brands as pawns in their game to knock the true indie breweries off the board.

    But is a cheaper IPA bad for beer lovers?
    I can see how it’d be good for A-B InBev, but it’s not great for a consumer that loves the choice, diversity, and excitement indie craft breweries have brought back to America.

    After prohibition, the whole beer industry consolidated as a few international conglomerates sought to control market share in America. That’s something to be wary of as these large breweries are buying up small breweries, then brewing their beers in giant quantities and charging very little for them. Their end goal is to dominate every segment of the beer world. If they succeed in that, then beers will get homogenized back down again to a few simple styles again.

    What exactly are big breweries doing with new craft brands?
    It seems like the strategy is to let the original brick and mortar of what once was a craft brewery make their esoteric and super weird beers so it still looks like an independent brewery. Then they take two or three flagship brands and make them in the giant, fully-automatic megabreweries to sell them super cheap. This really disrupts the market, but they’d rather shine a light on esoteric stuff from a once-independent brewer.

    Would you ever sit down to talk business with them?
    We’ve had our run-ins with the world’s largest two breweries, A-B InBev and MillerCoors, so there’s zero chance Dogfish would ever sit down to talk to them about opportunities to work together.

    Finally, how ridiculous was that anti-craft beer Super Bowl commercial from Budweiser?
    It was great for craft beer. It shows how confused and conflicted the world’s biggest brewery is about how to engage an American populous whose beer tastes are changing. The more they spite us for trying beer outside of the light lager juggernaut, the more we’re going to stand for something very separate from what they’re about. Then as they buy out the companies making the beers they’re making fun of, the hypocrisy is very apparent.

    I’m sure there’s a room full of MBAs and all they care about is the Budweiser brand. That’s what they’re paid to care about. They don’t give a shit if promoting Bud means making fun of other brand in the A-B InBev network. It shows that true craft brewers are brewers first, business people second. That company is run by nothing but business people.

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is Tom.  Valentine’s Day is a great day to spend with your significant other, and a beer on that day is great.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/02/14/simply-red-red-lager-from-full-sail-brewing-hvd/

    IMG_1834

  • Bud Ad Sparks Beer Fight in Congress

    No Anheuser-Busch

    When Budweiser ran a snarky ad about craft beer on Super Bowl Sunday they had no idea they had picked a fight in very high places.
    Washington, DC – Budweiser may have to host the next Beer Summit in Washington, because they’ve accidentally pissed off lawmakers in both parties.

    While Budweiser thought it was just sticking a finger in the eye of, shall we say, experimental beer fans nationwide with its Super Bowl commercial mocking local craft brewing artisans and aficionados alike, they seem to have forgotten that the craft beer industry has a lot of allies in Congress.  

    The ad – “Brewed the Hard Way” – disses crafty concoctions, even calling out Pumpkin Peach Ale by name, and declares pride in macro brewing for people who don’t want to “fuss over” silly little details, like the actual taste of their beer.

    But to politicians who are falling over themselves to attract the creative energy, votes and small dollar donations sitting largely untapped at their local breweries – the ad was personal.

    “I think it’s insane,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a co-chair of the House Small Brewers Caucus. “I don’t think it’s the right approach.”

    Beer seems to be taking a note from politics (God, help us all). After Budweiser dropped its multi-million dollar attack ad, craft beer lovers started throwing their own sudsy blows at Big Beer. Lots of them. But politicians seem to be rallying around the little guy, who they say was provoked by Budweiser.

    “It’s like the first political attack ad on this thing, so like the politics of beer,” said McHenry, the craft loving congressman who represents a whopping 25 small breweries in his Asheville, N.C. district.

    Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) missed the feisty Budweiser ad because he watched the Super Bowl in a “chaotic environment,” but that didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to tear it down.

    “They know that the craft beer industry is eating their lunch,” the animated founder of the Small Brewers Caucus yelled. “More and more Americans are developing a taste for beer that isn’t insipid and has real taste, and so they’re now starting to buy them up.”

    Burn.

    DeFazio’s anger is partly due to recently watching 10 Barrel Brewing Co. of Bend, Ore. become another local operation added to the binder full of craft breweries acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev – a Belgium-based company that looks to be picking off the most successful American craft breweries one by one.

    The conglomerate boasts being the largest brewer in the world and claims to now control 25% of global beer sales. They couldn’t have reached a quarter of international beer sales without scooping up craft breweries in the U.S. though, which DeFazio said starkly contrasts with their Super Bowl message.

    “So it kind of contradicts their ad. I mean, they’re trying to say, ‘Oh, come on back and buy the schlock,’ yet on the other hand, they’re out buying up the good beer,” DeFazio said, before he added a warning. “They better not change the formula’s cause people will just stop buying it and someone else will replace them.”

    Less than 72 hours after the Budweiser ad unleashed the anger of craft beer fans, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) reintroduced their legislation aimed at propping up the craft beer industry: The Small BREW Act, which stands for The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act.

    “It’s like the first political attack ad on this thing, so like the politics of beer,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

    The legislation seeks to foster small breweries, i.e. local jobs and votes, through dropping the tax rate per barrel from $7.00 to $3.50 for the first 60,000 barrels a brewery churns out. It would then save small breweries an additional $2.00 on every barrel until they hit the magical 2 million number. The big boys and girls aren’t invited to the dance though; any macro brewery churning out more than 6 million barrels is excluded from the new rates. Sen. Cardin said it’s a simple idea.

    “I don’t think we ever intended for small businesses to be burdened with an excise tax, such as the beer tax,” Cardin said. “When we’re talking about a craft brew industry that is generally supporting small business and encouraging a new generation of people who really appreciate the art of brewing beer.”

    A quarter of the Senate have signed onto the BREW Act, but Big Beer isn’t sitting this fight out. Within 24 hours of the introduction of the BREW Act, a pair of U.S. House members dropped The Fair BEER – Brewers Excise and Economic Relief – Act. It removes taxes for the first 7,143 barrels and then basically extends the Small BREW Act to Big Beer.

    “This comprehensive reform bill supports brewpubs, microbrewers, national craft brewers, major brewers, and importers alike and encourages their entrepreneurial spirit, which is exactly the spirit we need to get America’s economic engine going again,”  Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), an original sponsor of the BEER Act, said in a statement.

    Chris Thorne, a lobbyist for Washington’s Beer Institute, called me to tout the BEER Act.

    His group boasts that it represents Big and Craft beers alike, but it draws a line in the sand on the BEER vs. BREW Acts debate. It won’t take tax relief for small brewers unless Big Beer gets a slice of the pie too.

    “It allows members of Congress to support every part of the industry. They can stand with the microbrewers, the national craft brewers and major brewers and importers,” Thorne said. “They’re not being asked to pick winners or losers in the marketplace.”

    Thorne said it’s not about the breweries themselves – it’s really about blue collar vs. white collar drinkers.

    “You’re really talking about people who pave roads, lay dry wall, wire houses, deliver washing machines, do landscaping; they’re the ones paying for the light beer and the Mexican imports and they’re the ones paying the top of the dollar,” Thorne said before brushing aside craft beer fans as wealthy elitists. “And some chucklehead who’s making $150,000 a year could put down $50 or $45 bucks for a case of beer he’s a paying a much smaller tax.”

    While the BEER Act enjoys 21 cosponsors in the House, in the last Congress the BREW Act was signed onto by 181 House members.

    The math is simple for Senator Cardin.

    “It’s not even a beer issue, it’s a small business issue,” he said while dismissing the BEER Act.

    As for the Budweiser ad itself? Cardin happily leaves his craft beer snobbery aside on that point. “Actually I liked the ad,” Cardin said. “Of all the ads, I thought that one was pretty clever. So I liked it.”

    For other lawmakers the Budweiser ad is more complicated.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) represents Missouri – home to both Budweiser and a burgeoning craft brewing scene (think Schlafly and their Pumpkin Ale…).

    “I heard that there were problems and, you know, I don’t want to take sides,” said McCaskill who doesn’t want to take sides. “I’ve got an awful lot of breweries in my state that I support besides Anheuser-Busch, so I don’t want to get in the middle of that fight.”

    Full disclosure: this was written while sipping craft beer. To be fair to Anheuser-Busch InBev, one of them was a deliciously punchy IPA from Goose Island Beer Company – a Chicago brewery InBev scooped up in 2011. This Goose Island’s for you, Budweiser!

    Matt Laslo is a veteran congressional reporter. In his free time he hosts Bills and Brews; a craft beer and politics show. Find him on Twitter @MattLaslo.

    Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is JD.  Snow topped mountains and beer.  A great way to enjoy the weekend.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/02/08/fresh-beer-and-fresh-snow-alchemist-heady-topper-on-a-vt-mountain-top-jdlikesbeer/

    Heady-Topper-590x590

  • Did Budweiser Misfire with its Anti-Craft Beer Super Bowl Commercial?

    No Anheuser-Busch

    Ad appeared to mock not only craft beer, but also the people who enjoy it — a move that proved to be both tone deaf and embarrassing for the company.

    Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial reuniting a lost puppy with its best friend, a member of the company’s iconic Clydesdale horse squad, might have melted hearts Sunday night, but the company’s other ad choice lit a fire under fans of craft beer.

    The ad — entitled “Brewed the Hard Way” — seemingly mocked not only craft beer, but also the people who enjoy it, a move that proved to be both tone deaf and embarrassing for the company.

    The ad, which began by noting that Budweiser “is not brewed to be fussed over” ended with the tagline: “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds.”

    Except, whoops! Just over a week ago, Budweiser’s parent company bought well-known Seattle craft brewery Elysian . Among the beers that brewery made last year? The Gourdgia on my Mind Pecan Peach Pumpkin Amber.

    “Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together,” said Andy Goeler, CEO of Craft at Anheuser-Busch at the time.

    In fact, Budweiser’s parent company has quietly been buying craft breweries and launching its own craft-style brands for the past few years. Shock Top is a Belgian-style wheat ale produced by the company (which, it’s worth noting, also has a pumpkin seasonal). Organic craft brewery Green Valley Brewing Company doesn’t fly the Anheuser-Busch flag, but it’s owned by the company. So is Goose Island, which was purchased in 2011. And it owns stakes in Seattle’s Red Hook Brewing and Portland’s Widmer Brothers Brewery.

    The apparent attack on craft beer comes as the King of Beers has seen its crown become more tarnished. Young drinkers have been turning away from the brand for more than 25 years. In 2013, the company shipped 16 million barrels of Budweiser, while overall craft beer shipments came in at 16.1 million barrels.

    On social media, craft beer lovers, not surprisingly, took aim at Budweiser – noting the defensive nature of the ad.

    Budweiser, perhaps sensing the tempest in a beer mug it created with the ad, took a slight step back from its mocking messaging in replies on its own Twitter feed:

    That hasn’t done much to stop the anti-Bud backlash on social media — and while that likely won’t directly impact Budweiser sales, there is a larger cause for concern, which was likely the true motivation behind the ad.

    Beer Marketer’s Insights notes that Budweiser’s market share has fallen from 8.4% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013. (Bud Light remains the country’s most consumed beer, with an 18% market share.)

    The only “craft” beer to make the top 20 is Blue Moon — a MillerCoors product.

    But craft breweries are opening at an astonishing pace around the country. Between 2010 and 2013, The Brewers Association estimates 836 new microbreweries opened their doors. All totaled, there are more than 2,800 in operation today.

    “New breweries consistently find ways to produce innovative, differentiated products,” said Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson. “The American beer lover increasingly is demanding fuller-flavored offerings from small, independent, local producers.”

    Source: http://fortune.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is Tom  Getting your TV color perfectly tuned before the Super Bowl is a good thing.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/02/01/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends-scott-and-dale-fine-tuning-the-picture-before-the-big-game/

    IMG_1826

  • A Brewery on a Cruise Ship? That’s the Plan at Carnival

    Carnival-Cruises-Logo

    The brewpub craze that has been sweeping the nation in recent years is now heading to the high seas.

    Industry giant Carnival on Thursday said its next ship, the Carnival Vista, will have a pub with a working brewery — a first for a North American line.

    The 4,000-passenger vessel’s RedFrog Pub will serve up three house-made beers that passengers can watch being made in tanks behind a wall of glass, the line’s vice president for beverage operations, Eddie Allen, tells USA TODAY.

    “Our guests love beer, and they love trying new things,” Allen says, noting that the line also has been rolling out more craft beers across its fleet.

    Allen says the Carnival Vista brewpub will feature holding tanks for the house-made beer located near its entrance that passengers will be able to touch as they walk in. The fermentation tanks where the beer is brewed will be in the back behind the glass, and the line also is building a grist mill on a lower deck to process the grains needed for the brewing process.

    “We’re milling everything on site,” Allen says. “We want to be sure we’re putting our heart into this beer and making the best product we can.”

     Allen wouldn’t say if Carnival is partnering with an existing brewer to operate the brewery. But he said the brewery will have its own dedicated brewmasters, and at least one of the house-made brews is likely to be a wheat beer.

    The freshly-made beer will be available on tap at the pub’s bar and through innovative tabletop taps that allow guests to pour their own beer, he says. The pub also will offer an array of Caribbean-inspired cocktails, beers and rums. It’ll have indoor and outdoor seating and feature live music. Brewery tours and tastings also are in the plans.

    Only Germany-based Aida Cruises, which caters to the German-speaking market, has a working brewery on a ship.

    Carnival’s brewpub announcement comes just seven months after the line announced a partnership with Tampa-based craft brewery Cigar City to serve its beers on 13 ships sailing out of Tampa and four other Florida ports. The move is part of an effort to bring more local craft beers onto ships that also has included the addition of Hawaii-made beer from the Maui Brewing Company to vessels sailing to Hawaii and Louisiana-made beer from the Abita Brewing Company to ships sailing from New Orleans.

     Allen says mass-market brands Corona and Bud Light continue to be the top sellers on Carnival ships. But the craft beer movement that has swept the nation definitely has spilled onto the line’s ships, and cruisers are asking for more variety. Indeed, the trend is for beer drinkers to jump from brand to brand during a single sitting.

    “They’re not necessarily drinking the same beer back to back to back,” he says.

    Scheduled to debut in spring 2016, the Carnival Vista will spend the summer of 2016 in Europe before sailing to New York for a series of cruises.

    Source: http://www.usatoday.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is JD.  Beer always goes well with household chores, like taking down the Christmas lights.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/01/21/taking-down-is-never-as-fun-as-putting-them-up-full-tilt-hop-harbor-ipa/

    ChristmasLights-590x392

  • Beer from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Wastewater

    Activated Sludge Wheat Ale

    Photo: Michael Sears – Theera Ratarasarn shows off his home brew, Activated Sludge Wheat Ale beer — brewed using purified Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wastewater plant effluent.

    There are disturbing aspects to Theera Ratarasarn’s home brew.

    The name: Activated Sludge. The label: That is a radiation symbol. The ingredients: It’s brewed with purified Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wastewater plant effluent.

    But it tastes great.

    To Ratarasarn, making beer with water that hasn’t gone through the final cleaning process was a mission.

    “I wanted to get people talking,” he said “There’s a potential use for what we discharge into lakes and streams.”

    A wastewater engineer with the state Department of Natural Resources by day, Ratarasarn, 39, has been home-brewing beer for nearly two years, usually at night after his two young sons are in bed.

    It’s a simple enough process — mash, boil, add hops, cool, add yeast and ferment. Unless the water is suspect. Then add a half-dozen more steps.

    Ratarasarn chlorinated, dechlorinated, filtered, distilled, tested and added nutrients to the water before beginning to make 5 gallons of Activated Sludge, a wheat ale with 5.15% alcohol by volume.

    After all those steps, Ratarasarn wasn’t worried about the beer’s safety. Neither was a taste panel at Lakefront Brewery, where Activated Sludge went head-to-head with Lakefront Wheat Monkey.

    Panel members smelled their sip of beer. They cracked wise.

    “It looks like a good urine sample,” said John Rinson.

    Then they tasted.

    “No pathogen known to man that can grow in beer,” said brewery president Russ Klisch, who praised Ratarasarn’s Activated Sludge for its golden color. His down note was the beer’s carbonation and lack of body.

    Another taster, Mitchel De Santis, graded the beer a 7 on a 10-point scale, giving Ratarasarn two points for creativity. “It’s one of the better home brews I’ve ever had.”

    Ratarasarn wanted to prove a point by using the water.

    “I wanted to raise awareness of the quality of plant effluent,” he said.

    Think Bill Gates and the steam-powered sewage processor he’s touting. Gates’ processor burns solid waste for water and electricity. The water Ratarasarn worked with was clean water, just not clean enough for drinking, said Bill Graffin, MMSD public information officer.

    Activated Sludge wheat ale is a similar concept but on a smaller scale.

    Arid communities struggle for clean drinking water. Ratarasarn wanted to see what he could do based on the “knowledge that I have.”

    He also has a sense of humor about it. A PowerPoint presentation Ratarasarn made illustrating the steps he took is themed “A little bit of me, a little bit of you.”

    Ratarasarn chose to brew a wheat beer because he likes them and he’s made them before. He said he steered clear of darker beers such as porters or stouts “so people wouldn’t associate the beer with wastewater.”

    The hard part, he said, is getting the water profile correct for each beer he brews. This one, with the substandard water, proved to be the most difficult. Ratarasarn wanted to send the treated MMSD water out for testing and requested the $200 test as a Christmas present.

    “My wife asked me what I wanted, and I said a water test,” Ratarasarn said. “She just rolled her eyes and said ‘yes.'”

    The tests came back nearly perfect, with less than a trace of silica, likely from the final filter in the distillation unit.

    Don’t run to the liquor store just yet. Ratarasarn made Activated Sludge wheat beer for his own consumption. Based on the curiosity factor, Ratarasarn won’t be able to keep his home inventory for long.

    “Everybody I talk to wants one,” he said.

    Source: http://www.jsonline.com/

  • Beerporn: Editor’s Choice

    Tuesday is Editor’s Choice award day on http://hashtagbeerporn.com.  We are giving out an Editor’s Choice Award each week to the picture we think best represents beerporn during that week.  As an ongoing feature on Indy Beers each week I’ll be posting the Editor’s Choice winner from #Beerporn.  Remember, anyone can join and post pictures of beer to http://hashtagbeerporn.com.

    This week’s winner is jchabicht.  Great head with lacing, beer stein with logo, and description of beer.  I’m getting thirsty just looking at the picture.

    http://hashtagbeerporn.com/2015/01/14/at-hollerbachs-willow-tree/

    SavedPicture-2015114175635

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