Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Mild Ale wort

This is a photo of a glass of wort: the solution of barley sugar and hops, boiled in a brew-kettle, that will eventually become a beer. Careful. It's hot!

Mild Ale wort

And what a splendid-looking wort sample it is.

A vivid garnet hue; the clarity of a well-produced wort; and the obvious specks of a 'hot break': proteins, carbohydrates, polyphenols, hop acids, fatty acids, and other solids from barley and hops that coagulate during the boil, and that will be left behind in the kettle when the wort is chilled and sent to a fermentation tank.

I didn't take this photo. Kristi Mathews Griner, brewmaster for Capitol City Brewing Company, did ... just after her lead brewer at the Arlington, Virginia, brewpub, Matt Ryan, had finished mashing, and separating the wort, from his recipe (23 April 2015).

In two weeks or so, after yeast has done its magic, this wort will have been transmogrified to a Ruby Red Mild, and Capitol City will serve it, in draught and cask-conditioned fashion.

The occasion will be the first-ever American Mild Month, a month-long celebration in May, when brewers and drinkers across the the United States will "indulge in mild ales," arguably, the quintessential 'session' beer style. *



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015.

Today is the 45th internationally observed Earth Day.

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.
John James Audubon

Virginia state line

Earth Day has been celebrated every 22 April, since 1970. On the day, events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. In the U.S., the occasion was first organized by Republican Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 14/15, 2015.

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A bi-weekly, non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 14/15
29 March- 11 April 2015

  • 2015.04.11
    April 11: the purported birth date of King Gambrinus (1254-1298), considered the unofficial patron saint of brewers.
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 2015.04.11
    Smithsonian Magazine publishes a story on the history of India Pale Ale (IPA). In a review, beer historian Martyn Cornell identifies at least twenty-five errors of fact and interpretation.
    —Via Zythophile.

  • 2015.04.10
    The (U.S.) Brewers Association releases its 2015 Beer Style Guidelines. Adds categories for Session India Pale Ale, Contemporary Gose, Chili Pepper Beer, and Mixed Culture Brett Beer; deleted Indigenous Beer category. One-hundred forty-five in total (double that if all subcategories included.
    —Via Brewers Association.

  • 2015.04.09
    Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant 150 years ago on this day (1865), effectively ending the Civil War. The Associated Press covered it then.
    —Via Associated Press (at Yahoo News).

  • 2015.04.08
    Your beer isn't as innovative as you think it is." Essay on trends in beer: "Trends are not necessarily a result of innovation."
    —Via Craig Gravina (at Drink. Drank.).

  • Session Beer Day 2015
  • 2015.04.07
    Session Beer Day is celebrated today.
    —Via Lew Bryson (at Session Beer Project.)

  • 2015.04.07
    National Beer Day is celebrated today. But Prohibition did NOT end on this day in 1933. Fact check, please!
    —Via YFGF.

  • 2015.04.07
    The 100th anniversary of the birth of the great jazz singer/composer Billie Holiday. 7 April 1915 - 17 July 1959.
    —Via NPR Music.

  • 2015.04.07
    Abita Brewing (of Louisiana), the 21st-largest 'craft' brewery in the U.S., has been purchased by new 'craft' beer investment company, Enjoy Beer LLC, headed by Rich Doyle, co-founder of Harpoon Brewing (of Massachusetts), no longer with the brewery.
    —Via Brewbound.

  • 2015.04.07
    The 122 oldest bars in America, still open and serving!
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • Keynote by Kim Jordan (02)
  • 2015.04.06
    Beer philanthropy. New Belgium Brewery and its CEO, Kim Jordan, give $1 million to Colorado State University for its Fermentation Science Program.
    —Via Craft Beer.

  • 2015.04.05
    How a beer brand can die in two years: start with poorly designed product; finish with bad marketing. How Miller/Coors 'killed' Miller Fortune.
    —Via Hey Beer Dan.

  • 2015.04.02
    Nielsen study shows 'local' rivals flavor as motivating factor for 'craft' beer buyers, especially among 21-34 year-olds.
    —Via Bart Watson (Chief Economist for (U.S.) Brewers Association.

  • 2015.04.01
    In face of historic drought, California governor imposes mandatory water reductions.
    —Via Washington Post.

  • 2015.04.01
    The state of Maryland to legalize hemp production, but it's still illegal under federal law.
    —Via WAMU-FM.

  • 2015.04.01
    Proposed USDA Dietary Guidelines under fire again from alcohol-prohibitionists.
    —Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • Top 50 'craft' breweries (U.S.) 2014
  • 2015.03.31
    By sales, the top 50 breweries and the top 50 'craft' breweries in the U.S.
    —Via YFGF (analyzing statistics from the Brewers Association).

  • 2015.03.29
    'Craft' brewery purchases fellow 'craft' brewery. Colorado's Oskar Blues purchases Michigan's Perrin Brewing.
    —Via Beer Pulse.

  • 2015.04.06
    Between 2009 and 2012, four people have died in 'craft' brewery incidents.
    —Via Washington Beer Blog.

  • 2015.04.05
    Barbara Bergmann, a pioneer in the study of gender in the economy who herself overcame barriers to women in the world of academic economics, died on April 5 at her home in Bethesda, Md. She was 87. "Ms. Bergmann called for the government to do more in the marketplace on behalf of women and single-parent families, including support for increased access to day care and the passage of legislation mandating comparable pay for women and men."
    —Via New York Times.

  • 2015.04.01
    "In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 32(really) to January 1. People who didn’t know that March 32nd was now April 1st and were still celebrating the old New Year looked pretty foolish that day, hence April Fools’ Day."
    —Via Notions Capital.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Craft Brewers Conference: State of the 'Craft' Beer Industry 2015.

The 2015 Craft Brewers Conference is now history.

Boulder, CO • April 17, 2015—The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing America’s small and independent craft brewers—has concluded the 32th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® (CBC) in Portland, Oregon.

As the largest industry gathering, CBC brought together more than 11,500 brewing industry professionals and some 600 exhibitors in one of the biggest beer cities for discussion and dialogue surrounding America’s craft beer culture. Themes included unity, quality and safety.

Craft Brewers Reach Record Volume Share of Marketplace

CBC also saw the BA release a full, extensive analysis of 2014 data on U.S. craft brewing growth. For the first time ever, craft brewers reached double-digit (11 percent) volume share of the marketplace. The state of the industry presentation is available in the CBC Media Kit.

The 2016 CBC will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 3-6, in conjunction with the 2016 World Beer Cup®.
— Full BA press release: here.

Every year at the conference, the (U.S.) Brewers Association presents its annual State of the 'Craft' Industry report.* This year was no exception. And, for the most part, the BA reported a good state of affairs. In May, it will provide more extensive analyses and statistics in the The New Brewer, its trade publication. Much of that, however, will be considered proprietary, and thus accessible only to Association members.

Here are a few of the bullet points, made public.

Total Craft Breweries 2014

There were 3,418 breweries in the U.S. at the close of 2014. Extrapolating from figures on other slides, there was a net total of 1.5 breweries opening every day during 2014, with an additional 2,051 breweries in planning by the end of the year. Considering that, that total of 'craft' breweries, a thispoint in 2015, may be well under-represented.

What's the difference between a brewpub, a microbrewery, and a regional brewery? There's a slide for that.

Definition of Craft Brewery 2015 (Brewers Association)

'Craft' beer volumes grew 18% in 2014 (vs. 0.5% for all U.S. beer), reaching an 11% share of all beer in the U.S.. Here's a slide showing the inherent potential for 'craft' beer growth in 2015, just with the breweries that existed in 2014.

U.S. Craft Brewery Production vs. Capacity 2014

There are a lot of people employed to make, sell, and deliver all that beer. The 'craft' beer industry has become a non-trivial part of national economic vitality.

US Small Brewing Industry Jobs 2014

Quo vadis, 'craft'?

But ... all that new 'craft' beer will have to be sold somewhere to someone. Will demand continue to push supply? And where? In off-premises shops, whose shelves are already bursting with choices, where, on average, prices increased $1.01 per case, a 3% jump? Will consumers continue to open their wallets? Will demand continue in pubs and restaurants, where there are already signs of diminishing growth?

In 2015, will we see a more agitated tug-of-war between big 'craft' —which, although it grew 17% in 2014, saw a drop in its growth rate from 2013— and small 'craft' —brewpubs, which showed 20% growth, and microbreweries, which grew by 33%?

Will non-'craft' mega-breweries continue to purchase 'craft' breweries? Will more 'craft' breweries be themselves purchased other 'craft' breweries? (Here and here.) Interesting times. Stay tuned.

Finally, just a chuckle. Is the U.S. in danger of losing its brewers, allowing them to be exporting them to overseas competitors?

U.S. Craft Beer Exports 2014


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pic(k) of the Week: Pink blossoms, yellow door.

'Tis the season for bloomin' pastels.

Pink blossoms, yellow door (01)

And the pink wasn't limited only to Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin.

Here's a street scene, in suburban...
Fairfax, Virginia.
12 April 2015.