Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elevation Beer Co. starts brewing in February

(Poncha Springs, CO) – Elevation Beer Company, an artesian microbrewery focusing on seasonal barrel-aged beers, plans to start brewing the second week of February. Elevation will start brewing in its brand new 15-barrel system 7,400 square foot facility located just outside of Salida, Colorado in nearby Poncha Springs.

“We are focusing on brewing the type of beers we love to drink,” says Head Brewer Christian Koch, “Our first Black Diamond Series release, will be Apis IV, a Belgian Quadrupel made with caramelized honey, and our first Double Black Diamond Series release, will be Signal De Botrange, a farmhouse ale brewed with brettanomyces and aged in Napa Valley Chardonnay barrels. 

We are brewing beers for beer geeks just like us.”

Elevation was started by four friends, Carlin Walsh, Christian Koch, Sheila Bustamante and Xandy Bustamante, who had a dream of producing some of the world’s best artesian ales and lagers while living in the heart of the Rockies.

Elevation Beer Company will focus on producing three distinct lines of beers, based on the ski slope rating system, with it’s easy drinking Blue Square Series, it’s bold Black Diamond Series, and it’s adventurous Double Black Diamond Series of barrel-aged beers.

Both the Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond Series’ will be available on draft and 750ml cork and caged Champagne style bottles across Colorado, while its Blue Square Series will only be available on draft in the high country of Colorado.

“We are getting excited to finally start brewing and join the great craft beer community that exists in Colorado,” says Marketing Director Sheila Bustamante. “Look for us at beer festivals or at your favorite beer bar or liquor store starting this spring.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA slated for spring release

(Bend, OR) – Why not? That’s a favorite question around the Deschutes Brewery brewhouse. This mindset spawned the creation of Chainbreaker White IPA a hop-forward, citrus-packed beer with an unmistakably smooth character. The new beer is slated to be released at the end of March to the Pacific Northwest, with distribution expanded to the remainder of Deschutes’ 19 state network over the next few months.

“We’re always experimenting with new ingredients and new styles at the brewery,” said Cam O’Connor, brewmaster for Deschutes. “In the case of Chainbreaker our experimentation really paid off: the marriage of wheat, spices, yeast and hops have all come together to make a very drinkable, complex White IPA.”

The name Chainbreaker White I.P.A. was inspired in part by a legendary mountain bike race in Central Oregon called the Cascade Chainbreaker. The challenging race features a demanding course with multiple terrains, just as this beer challenges the palate to expand with a fusion of wheat and spice low notes alongside significant hop highs. Sweet orange peel and coriander round out the flavor profile for a refreshing ride.

First introduced at the Deschutes Brewery Bend and Portland pubs, as well as appearing at various special events, Chainbreaker White IPA was so well-received that the team decided to take it to the next level and make it part of the brewery’s year-round line up.

Vital stats: 5.6 % ABV; 60 IBUs

Chainbreaker White I.P.A. will be available in six-packs and twelve-packs in Oregon, Washington, Idaho starting in late March 2012. The beer will continue to roll out to additional states in the brewery’s distribution network later in 2012.

About Deschutes Brewery

Located in beautiful Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery is in the business of daring people to expect more from their beer. That’s why we started off in 1988, on the banks of the Deschutes River here in Bend, Oregon, by selling Black Butte Porter at a time when others were sure a dark beer would never catch on. Our brewers love to push the envelope, especially if it makes someone nervous. But for us, the highest praise is a raised glass and a toast of “Bravely Done!” For more information about Deschutes Brewery and its courageously crafted beers, please visit www.DeschutesBrewery.com or www.Facebook.com/Deschutes.Brewery.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beer Company Comes To Carolinas


ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Sierra Nevada brewing company is setting up shop in the Carolinas.

North Carolina State Rep. Chuck McGrady told News 4 the Sierra Nevada brewing company would move next to the Asheville Airport in Mills River along Old Fanning Bridge Road.

McGrady said the plant would bring 200 to 300 jobs.

He said the plant will also be a tourist attraction offering tours, a tasting room, a restaurant, the possibility for concerts and the ability to serve it's own products on the property.

McGrady says the General Assembly changed state law in late November to make this possible. Under the old law, the brewery could open, but there would be no possibility of the other attractions.

Lawmakers also changed the law to accommodate another potential brewery that may open in Buncombe County.

More information is expected to be released at 2 p.m. when Gov. Bev Perdue holds a news conference.

WYFF News 4 first reported about the possibility of the company moving to Asheville in December.

At that time, the project was being talked about under the name Project 300 and WYFF News 4 was told Henderson County was working on an incentive package for the company.

REPRINTED from http://www.wyff4.com/news/30295328/detail.html

New Hampshire Craft Beer Week set to begin June 24th

(Portsmouth, NH) – On Thursday, January 11, Governor John Lynch designated June 24-30, 2012 as New Hampshire Craft Beer Week, featuring tastings and tours at breweries across the state, beer pairing dinners, brewing workshops and many other special events, including one of the states biggest beer festivals, the New England Brewfest, on Saturday June 30.

Following suit from many other cities and states, New Hampshire’s Craft Beer Week will celebrate the dozens of breweries in the Granite State and hundreds of homebrewers that create ambers, stouts, porters and many other varieties of craft beer for the rest of us to enjoy.

“What’s cool about this proclamation is that New Hampshire will now acknowledge what we homebrewers have been practicing all along….the art of making great beer and the celebration of handcrafted beverages,” said Steve Ainsworth of the Winnipesaukee Area Brew Crew.

Tony Lubold, head brewer at Seven Barrel Brewery, sees New Hampshire Craft Beer Week as a great opportunity, “not just for us as brewers but for consumers as well, who can benefit from a more concise source of beer info, not only on beer events but also on their choices for enjoying beer across the state of New Hampshire. After all, beer was made for having fun with friends, even those who we have yet to meet!”

A new website, http://www.nhbeerweek.com, was put together to act as a clearing house for all activities and events, listings of the breweries and clubs, a map of the NH Beer Industry, and general information on the New Hampshire craft beer culture. The website is free and open to the public to list their events and promotions for beer week and all year long.

Bull and Bush Pub and Brewery unveils tableside dry-hopping program

(Denver, CO) – The Bull & Bush Pub and Brewery, Colorado’s favorite watering hole, today announced Whole Hop Infusion, a process that brings the art and science of dry hopping tableside for the uninitiated to the geekiest of beer geeks. Currently available at the Bull & Bush in Denver, guests can now get a pour of beer, infused in real-time with their hop variety of choice. The Hop Inciter 3000, equivalent to a French press used for steeping coffee, allows drinkers to experiment with how beer’s most popular ingredient affects the characteristics of the beer.

Guests of the Bull & Bush can pick any house beer then choose from various hop varieties offered on the infusion menu. The ingredients are combined in the Hop Inciter 3000 and the customer decides how long to wait before pouring the beer and tasting the custom infusion.

“Brewer’s have been dry hopping beers for ages to achieve various desired affects, but the process is time consuming and can be very expensive. We thought Whole Hop Infusion would be a great way to allow beer fans to do some of their own experimenting,” says Erik Peterson, Minister of Progress at the Bull & Bush. “It has also turned out to be a great educational experience for people who want to learn more about the beer making process. They get to see, feel, smell and taste actual hop cones, possibly for the first time.”

Allowing the beers to hop steep for just a few minutes will add a significant shift to the original flavor of the beer. Hard core hop fans can wait longer and dial it up to a palate crushing punch, especially if they start with a beer that already has a high hop quotient, such as the Bull & Bush Man Beer, an award-winning English style IPA.

The Whole Hop Infusion experience is currently only available at the Bull & Bush, but the hop heads at the brewery plan to eventually roll it out to other locations carrying Bull & Bush beers. In February, Denver’s Table 6 will begin offering Whole Hop Infusions to customers. Bull & Bush is the exclusive beer on tap at the local favorite American bistro.

“We’ve had a long standing partnership with the beer artists from the Bull & Bush, as we have a similar passion for bringing unique experiences to our customers,” said Aaron Forman, Head Dishwasher and co-owner of Table 6. “Whole Hop Infusion is another innovative and interactive offering for our guests.”

Bull & Bush is currently offering five hop varieties including Cascade, Chinook, Crystal, Nugget and Northern Brewer, soon. The hops are grown locally in Colorado by the hop wranglers at Jack Rabbit Hill farm, a Demeter-certified biodynamic farm that is also home to the Jack Rabbit Hill Estate Winery and Peak Spirits farm distillery.

About the Bull & Bush Brewery The Bull & Bush Brewery is a small brewpub, located in the Cherry Creek Neighborhood of Denver that has, since 1971, been ‘The Granddaddy of Denver Watering Holes.’ On New Year’s Day 1997, the brewery started producing traditional hand crafted English-Style ales, as well as other global styles, to pair perfectly with the well-known pub food and friendly atmosphere. The Bull & Bush beers have won multiple accolades including Best Brewpub award in Westword’s Best of Denver and multiple awards at both the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and the World Beer Cup — the world’s largest commercial beer competition.

Asheville Beer Week

The first ever Asheville Beer Week will take place May 24 through June 3, 2012. The ten days celebrating beer and Beer City, USA, will culminate at Asheville’s third Beer City Festival on June 2.

Our mission is to celebrate that nectar known as beer—to taste many different styles of beer and variations on those styles; to pair beer with a smorgasbord of delicious foods; to learn about and explore beer in all its delectable complexity; and, most of all, to have fun drinking beer in the brewery-centric mountains of Asheville, NC.

The “week” will include seminars, tastings, dinners, and special events with “beer celebrities” from around the country and the world. More than 40 breweries are slated to appear at Beer City Festival already.

Organized by a beer-loving bunch of regional beer industry folks, Asheville Beer Week will offer a variety of events and include as many bars, restaurants and breweries as possible.

If you’re interested in holding an event, please contact us at avlbeerweek@gmail.com, and we’ll send you a sign-up sheet. Event sign-ups are due by February 17, after which time, we’ll produce an official Asheville Beer Week calendar.

Whether or not you’d like to participate or attend, please spread the word about Asheville Beer Week.

We’re also holding a logo contest. Submissions for the Asheville Beer Week logo also are due by February 17. The winner will receive two tickets to Beer City Fest, two tickets to Brewgrass (Sept. 15), and two tickets to an Iron Man Chef Competition to be held during Asheville Beer Week.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Anheuser-Busch president David Peacock resigns

Anheuser-Busch President David Peacock, who has led the brewery's U.S. operations since 2008, has resigned from the company. 

Employees were notified today of Peacock's resignation, which is effective today. He's leaving to spend more time with his family and pursue other business interests, according to the company.

Peacock was named president of the brewery's U.S. operations in 2008 after Belgium-based InBev acquired the company. Peacock was formerly vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch.

Peacock will continue to serve in an advisory role, according to an email Luiz Edmond sent to employees today, which was supplied to the Post-Dispatch by the company.

Edmond, who is a member of the company's board of directors, will continue in his role as Zone President North America for the brewery and is assuming leadership of the brewery's U.S. operations based in St. Louis.

In the email, Edmond noted Peacock's contributions to Anheuser-Busch. "In his leadership roles over the past three years, Dave has been instrumental in helping us transform our business," Edmond's email states. "His strategic insights, his expertise in the U.S. market and his role representing our company with many constituents helped us successfully complete one of the largest combinations in American business, emerging as a new, stronger company while preserving Anheuser-Busch's enduring legacy and earning the highest U.S. corporate reputation scores in the company's history."

Paul Chibe, A-B's vice president of marketing, and David Almeida, vice president of finance, will report to Edmond and join the zone management committee.  

REPRINTED from http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/anheuser-busch-president-david-peacock-resigns/article_6107904e-45ef-11e1-a255-0019bb30f31a.html

Starbucks to Extend Evening Day-Part Concept Select stores in Atlanta and Southern California will join Chicago in offering wine, beer and premium food by the end of 2012

SEATTLE, Jan 23, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Responding to customer feedback for more options to relax in its stores in the evenings, Starbucks Coffee Company today announced plans to bring wine, beer and premium food offerings to a handful of locations in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year. These stores, along with several others recently announced for the Chicago area, will be the first extensions of the evening day-part concept outside of the Pacific Northwest.

"Building an evening day-part is a natural progression for us as we are always looking for ways to evolve and enhance the Starbucks Experience based on what our customers are telling us," said Clarice Turner, senior vice president, U.S. Operations. "We're pleased with the response of our customers to the introduction of wine, beer and premium food at several of our stores in the Pacific Northwest, and we're excited to see how the idea translates to other markets."

Since first introducing the evening day-part concept at its Olive Way location in Seattle in October 2010, Starbucks has seen success creating a new occasion for customers later in the day through an expanded food and beverage menu. Five stores in the Seattle area and one in Portland, Oregon currently serve wine, beer and premium food. Late last year, Starbucks announced plans to bring the concept to five to seven locations in the Chicago area by the end of 2012. Atlanta and Southern California will each see four to six stores, also by the end of the year.

As part of an enhanced menu, these stores will serve new premium food (including savory snacks, small plates, and hot flatbreads) as well as wine and beer. The wine and beer list will be hand-selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, and will be refined over time. In addition to providing a product assortment not traditionally found at Starbucks, these stores will incorporate flexible seating to accommodate individuals and small groups as well as larger parties that want to host community meetings or other events such as book clubs.

"As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about," said Turner. "At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine."

At this time, the evening day-part concept is only focused on Atlanta, the Chicago area, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest.

About Starbucks Corporation

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest-quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at www.starbucks.com .

SOURCE: Starbucks Coffee Company

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beer: A new aroma in Hershey

For more than a century, visitors to Hershey have been able smell the sweet aroma of chocolate as The Hershey Co. made its world-famous candy.

Now, a new smell is wafting through the air in Chocolatetown: beer.

The new Troegs brewery at 200 E. Hersheypark Drive has been up and running since October, and those visiting its tasting room can smell the aromas of grains and hops as the ingredients go through the brewing process and become beer.

Although the tasting room is open and production is under way, construction at the brewery is not fully completed. According to co-owner Chris Trogner, who founded the company along with his brother, John Trogner, in 1997, moving to the new brewery from the old site in Harrisburg is a two-phase project.

"We built a lot of the new brewery first, and then we had to relocate our existing brewery over from Harrisburg," he said. "So phase one pretty much ended in November, and phase two just started."

There could be up to five months of construction remaining as workers hook up all the tanks that were brought over from the old brewery. Much of the new equipment was shipped from the German company BrauKon, which specializes in brewing equipment. Workers from BrauKon were on site to assist with the installation last year.

"The new stuff is up and running," Trogner said. "The original equipment is being phased in, and we're not using any of it yet, so we're running a brewery right now at 50-percent capacity, which means we're not putting out as much beer as we normally put out."

Once construction is completed, the brewery's capacity will be about 60,000 barrels a year. By comparison, Yeungling and Samuel Adams make about 2 million barrels a year, while Budweiser makes more than 100 million barrels a year.

"We're an extremely small brewery compared to Yeungling, and Yeungling is still a very small brewery compared to Bud, Miller and Coors," Trogner said.

The Trogner brothers, natives of Mechanicsburg, began brewing beer in 1996 and sold their first keg in 1997. Their goal has never been to compete with larger beermakers or to replicate any other beer, Trogner said.

"Our goal has always been to be a regional craft brewer," he said. "We're not necessarily doing things to a specific style. We're doing things that we enjoy in beer. We're not trying to replicate anyone else."

The new brewery is housed in a building that was once home to The Hershey Co.'s commissary and later the company's mail-order division. The tasting room has seats for about 200 people and also has a long bar where people can stand to sample the beers.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour during which they are separated from the brewery's machinery by glass partitions. Once construction is complete, the brewery will offer guided tours behind the partitions that will be more in-depth and will include stops in different areas of the brewery and beer tasting in the barrel-aging room.

The brewery also has a general store where visitors can purchase six-packs and cases of beer as well as Troegs paraphernalia, such as shirts and hats.

In all, the new brewery is about three times larger than the old brewery. However, Trogner said, there are no definite plans to increase production.

"A lot of people assume we did this brewery to become much bigger, but that's really not necessarily the case," he said. "We did this brewery to make it much more efficient and more friendly, so this way you can come in and see the whole process."

Troegs makes five year-round beers and six seasonal beers. It also makes what it calls scratch beers - small batches made from experimental recipes. The scratch beers are made in small quantities - just a couple kegs - and they come and go quickly, Trogner said.

"We'll just sit around the table and talk about what we would like to try to drink, and also is there an ingredient that we haven't brewed with before that we want to learn from? And that's the whole concept of the scratch beers: to try to make us more knowledgeable and better brewers," he said.

The goal of the scratch beer is not to come up with new permanent beers, Trogner said.

"You can learn different techniques and maybe apply it to an existing beer if it does well," he said. "But when we're brewing a beer on the smaller system we're not necessarily thinking, 'Hey, this is gonna be the next bottled beer.' The idea is just to learn a little bit from it."

In addition to beer, the new tasting room recently began offering sandwiches using breads, meats and cheeses from local businesses.

"We designed this room to hold 200 people, and we've always thought that if you have 200 people drinking pints of beer, you should probably offer something for them to eat," Trogner said.

Troegs currently has 65 employees, nearly double the 34 employees it had two years ago. About 20 employees were added during the move to Hershey, and the company recently posted ads for about 10 more positions. Trogner expects to hire about 20 more employees by the summer.

"We should have 100-plus people working here by the year end," he said.

One of those employees is brewer Jeff Jerman. The 28-year-old Mt. Joy, Lancaster County, native has been working at Troegs for three years and has been a brewer for six years.

"It's a fun job," he said. "You can't be that upset when you're at work when you're making beer. It's a great way to finish your day also - sit down, have a pint and enjoy what you make."

Although brewing beer is fun, Jerman said, the beer-making process is somewhat complex.

"It's a lot more than people think," he said. "It's a fairly difficult process, very precise. A lot can go wrong brewing if you don't know what you're doing and you don't have proper equipment."

As for the future, Trogner said it is difficult for him and his brother to look beyond six months. The main goal right now is to get the brewery up and operational, he said.

Once that happens, he said, they will assess whether sales call for an increase in capacity.

One thing that likely will not be seen in the near future is a Hershey chocolate-flavored beer. While Troegs and the Hershey chocolate factory might be neighbors, they remain two separate entities, Trogner said.

"We have played around with chocolate, and there is lot of interest in some of their (research and development) departments for fun, nothing formal," he said. "We're two separate entities, but we like chocolate, and some of them like beer."

Troegs does plan to brew a chocolate-cherry scratch beer that should be out in time for Valentine's Day, he added.

REPRINTED from http://www.ldnews.com/valleylife/ci_19784467

Thomas Hooker Brewery, Munson's Produce New Chocolate Truffle Stout

What happens when a prominent brewery and a third-generation chocolatier join forces? Three sweet words: Chocolate. Truffle. Stout.

The "sweet Connecticut collaboration" will be the newest release from Thomas Hooker Brewery, in partnership with Bolton candymakers Munson's Chocolates. The stout (5.9% ABV) is produced with Munson's proprietary cocoa and chocolate nibs, added during the boil process.

Thomas Hooker president Curt Cameron says the stout should be ready for sampling and growler purchase at the Bloomfield brewery's next Open House, on Jan. 20. The goal is to have bottles available in stores by Valentine's Day, he said.

After the brewery announced the news Friday night, its official Facebook page lit up with delighted fan posts. Cameron says he's just as excited as they are about the new release.

"Munson's chocolate gives it a nice, smooth, milky sort of [flavor,]" he said of the stout. "We're really happy with the way this one is tasting."

And over at Munson's, they're also selling another offspring of the beer-and-candy marriage, a beer brittle made with Hooker's Liberator Dopplebock lager.

Thomas Hooker Brewery is at 16 Tobey Road in Bloomfield. The Jan. 20 open house, held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., is $10 for tastings, a guided tour and a souvenir pint glass. 860-242-3111, hookerbeer.com.

REPRINTED from http://www.courant.com/entertainment/restaurants/a-la-carte/ctn-thomas-hooker-brewery-munsons-produce-new-chocolate-truffle-stout-20120109,0,2337060.column

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Central City Brewing, Bear Republic settle over Red Racer dispute

(Healdsburg, CA) – A legal battle spanning two years between Central City Brewing and Bear Republic has come to a conclusion with Bear Republic the victor.

Label approval came in this week for two Central City beers, Red Betty IPA and Red Betty Pale Ale, signaling the end to lots of legal wrangling between the two companies.

It began in January of 2010. The Boston IP blog reported that Bear Republic had filed a lawsuit for alleged trademark infringement of its two brands, Racer 5 IPA and Red Rocket Ale. Central City started marketing “Red Racer” in the U.S. just a few months before. The branding is the brewery’s identity (see Facebook and Twitter pages) similar to how “Fat Tire” is seen as New Belgium’s identity by some.

But no more, at least in the U.S.. “Red Betty” replaces “Red Racer” from this point forward on beers imported to the States.

The latest battle started this past June when Central City filed a petition to cancel Bear Republic’s Red Rocket registered marks. Central City allegedly discovered that Bear Republic had an agreement with Bristol Brewing in Colorado allowing it to use names that may infringe on Bear Republic’s marks. The company claimed that Bear Republic deceptively withheld this information from the USPTO.

Bear Republic responded calling Central City’s attempt to “resurrect its claim for cancellation of the Red Rocket registrations” “cynical and vexatious.” Bear Republic additionally accused Central City of recreating history, gamesmanship and misrepresentations. They even called the attempt “feeble” somewhere, too. And then there is this…

“Petitioner [Central City] is like a person who intentionally pollutes a park or playground with useless paper and then argues that the federal government should clean it up in order that local park resources be conserved. Petitioner should not be allowed to abuse the judicial process by such gamesmanship.”

The two companies quietly settled over a dispute around the “Red Racer” branding this past fall.

Fresh off of the Central City win, Bear Republic has filed for an extension to oppose four separate registrations from four companies in the past three months. The potential offenders? Germany’s Race Cat Energy Drink, Red Rocket Blaster Sports Drink and Rags’ Red Rocket Sauce.

More notable than those companies is fellow California craft brewery, the SoCal Beer Company. The beer is called Red Carpet Ale with label artwork that reflects SoCal’s Hollywood roots. We may not see anything come out of it as no opposition has actually been filed yet.

At the time of the initial rumblings in February 2010, Central City Brewmaster, Gary Lohin, said, “We want to spend our money on new tanks, and kegs, and our employees, not give it to lawyers. I see this as a lose – lose lawsuit, and I certainly wouldn’t like to see a boycott against Bear Republic.”

One has to wonder whether Lohin feels the same way today.

UPDATE: Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch raises an interesting point about whether this would create a conflict with Nebraska Black Betty. Oddly enough, Nebraska Brewing never filed a trademark application for it though someone else did. Washington-based Emerald City Brewing filed an application to register the mark in November. It will be interesting to see if there is anymore legal scuttlebutt over Red Betty or Black Betty in the future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half to be released day before Valentine’s Day

(Grand Rapids, MI) — Founders Brewing Co.’s Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing, Dave Engbers, announced today that Curmudgeon’s Better Half would be the next release in the brewery’s 750mL Backstage Series, with availability beginning on February 13, 2012, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

There has been a great deal of anticipation and speculation on the upcoming Backstage release because of the success of the first two large bottle format releases: Blushing Monk and Canadian Breakfast Stout earlier in 2011. The purpose of the series is to bring some of Founders’ most sought after beers, which had previously been available primarily at the brewery taproom or at a few select events, to a much larger audience.

“It’s been a lot of fun to watch the beer enthusiasts speculate,” explains Founders’ President, Mike Stevens. “We really try to keep people guessing, but at the end of the day our focus has always been on making beers that over-deliver.”

Curmudgeon’s Better Half is a re-branding of the beer formerly known as Kaiser’s Curmudgeon, which has only been served at Founders’ taproom and in extremely limited draft distribution. Curmudgeon is an old ale brewed with molasses and aged on oak; it becomes Better Half after aging—for 254 days—in bourbon barrels that have more recently been aging Michigan maple syrup. As a result, Curmudgeon’s Better Half is a bit sweeter than her miserly counterpart. Appropriately, the beer label depicts her holding a pitcher of syrup for the Curmudgeon’s breakfast, and is released at the perfect time of year for you to buy one for the Better Half in your life.

“The goal of the Backstage Series is to allow those beer enthusiasts who don’t have the ability to make it to our taproom an opportunity to experience some of the beers that, historically, have been limited to our taproom and a handful of high exposure events,” Engbers said. “Although these beers are not brewed in large volume, it is our intention to distribute them to all of our markets.”

The company is not revealing any additional releases in the series, but Engbers said it would consist of many of the “popular one-offs and possible big experiments” that have been offered in the taproom over the years and have become favorites among patrons and brewery staff.

The company expects to release two additional products in the Backstage Series later in 2012.

Founders Brewing Company opened their doors in 1997 with the vision of creating some of the most unique craft beer in the world. Today, Founders has a loyal following, with several beers lauded nationally and internationally as award winners in their respective categories. In 2009, they were ranked as the 2nd fastest growing brewery in the United States, and they are currently rated the second highest brewery in the world by ratebeer.com

Founders Brewing Company, 235 Grandville Avenue SW in downtown Grand Rapids, is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild. www.michiganbrewersguild.org.

Falls City Beer returns to its Louisville roots

After more than 30 years of production in places like Evansville, Pittsburgh and Black River Falls, Wis., one of Louisville’s most iconic brand names is preparing to come home.

Falls City Beer, long a dietary staple of brew-loving Louisvillians, is back.

The brand’s English pale ale has been on tap in select bars for just about year and is now available bottled at a few local liquor stores and supermarkets. And its new owner is about to buy fermentation tanks so he can begin producing small quantities in Louisville, where the original beer was brewed beginning in 1905.

The label’s rebirth — in recent years it wasn’t brewed anywhere — is the brainchild of Louisville computer software entrepreneur David Easterling, who snatched up the Falls City trademark when its last owner allowed it to lapse.

“If it was ‘Dave’s Beer,’ I wouldn’t be interested in doing this,” said Easterling, 45. “It was such an integral part of Louisville history and culture, and I was sad it wasn’t around any longer.”

So, for the cost of lawyers’ fees, Easterling in 2009 became the owner of a beer company.

Now, Easterling knows what you’re thinking.Why in the world would someone care to own the trademark of a beer that, in its later years, was known primarily for its weak, watered-down flavor?

While it was still being made by the Pittsburgh Brewing Co., the Beer Advocate Website gave it a 69 rating, with the recommendation to “avoid.” Some of the more crass beer drinkers in Louisville were known to have called it “Falls **itty.”

But it wasn’t always like that, and Easterling argues that it won’t be like that again.

When the company was formed by local bar owners early in the 20th century, it was designed to break the grip of other breweries in town that exerted control over the taverns.

Back then, the company brewed pale ales, bocks and dark beers. But when it emerged from Prohibition, the company made only the lager that would define its image for the next 70 years, Easterling said.

It would become the city’s largest brewer, and it outlasted the 25 others in the city that were operating in the early 1900s. When the Frank Fehr Brewing company closed in 1964 and Oertel’s stopped brewing in 1967, Falls City became the last of its kind in Louisville.

At its zenith, the company brewed more than 700,000 barrels of beer a year — that’s 1.4 million kegs or nearly 22 million gallons per year. Its iconic red oval trademark can still be seen on vintage signs outside of three Louisville taverns in some older neighborhoods.

Among Falls City’s innovations were the StaTab can, the non-detachable lid which replaced the old pop top on aluminum cans, and Billy Beer, a short lived beer named for and endorsed by Billy Carter, the brother of then-President Jimmy Carter.

But the brewer came under increasing financial pressure from the big operations of the 1970s, like Schlitz, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser, and went cheap on the products it used to make the beer. By 1978, it had sold out to the G. Heileman Brewing Co., which moved production from Louisville to the Evansville, Ind., plant where the old Sterling beer was made.

The brand name was later transferred to the Evansville Brewing Co. and then to the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in 1998, where Easterling said the brand was dropped a few years later.

The taste

Easterling didn’t want his new Falls City to be anything like your father’s Falls City. He was shooting instead for your grandfather’s Falls City or perhaps even your great-grandfather’s Falls City.

So he called on Bill Moore, a friend who has been home-brewing since his wife bought a kit for him for Christmas about eight years ago.

Moore said idea was for a “drinkable beer” that wasn’t too heavy on the hops, which makes beer bitter. They settled on an English pale ale, similar to a Bass Ale, and Moore went about working on a recipe.

“Dave wanted to come up with an ale-style beer ... that would appeal to a variety of beer drinkers,” Moore said. “He wanted it to be reasonably close to the style of beer they brewed when Falls City was in its heyday. From his research, it was a Vienna-style ale.”

With a few tweaks to the recipe Moore developed, Easterling was ready to begin brewing. He found a brewery in Wisconsin with excess tank capacity and the first pint of Falls City was pulled last February at Chubby Ray’s pizza in Jeffersontown.

In September, Falls City won the silver medal for pale ales at the Bramwell Oktoberfest competition in West Virginia.

The production
Falls City is now making about 120 barrels of beer a month in Wisconsin — a figure that Easterling hopes to double by the end of 2012.

By contrast, the Bluegrass Brewing Co., Louisville’s largest microbrewery, averages more than 800 barrels each month, said Scott Rousell, the managing partner of the company that owns and operates the BBC brewery on East Main St.

But Falls City is growing. Less than a year ago, it was available in fewer than 10 locations in Louisville. Now, it can be found in about 150 bars, restaurants, liquor stores and supermarkets as far away as Richmond, Ky., and Mishawaka, Ind.

(To find out where it’s available, go to fallscitybeer.com.)

At the Back Door bar in Louisville, owner John Dant said he sells about two kegs a week and that the brand has supplanted Budweiser on his tap line.

Nobody is more surprised than Dant, whose first reaction when he was approached about selling the beer was, “You gotta be kidding me. ... They’re not going to spend $3.50 a pint for a Falls City.”

But he figured that he’d put it on tap because of another old brand that has made a comeback — Pabst.

“If PBR is selling now, you have to give it a chance,” he said.

Dant said Falls City has gotten a good reception because retro is now in style and because people like to sample new products — and once they try it, they keep coming back.

“It doesn’t taste like the old Falls City,” he said.

The next move

Easterling said he’ll soon order brewing tanks to begin making a limited quantity of Falls City Beer in Louisville for the first time since October 1978, when G. Heileman moved Falls City Production to Evansville.

They’ll make it in a building on Barret Avenue in the Highlands where the company has a largely unused tasting room.

Easterling said that the company hopes eventually to use it for tastings to test and market new styles of beer, and to sell growlers, the large jugs that some bars and stores will fill with fresh tap beer for carryout. He said he hopes the company will introduce a new seasonal style before the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

“We don’t want it to be a bar,” said Easterling, who said his business model is different from that of the Bluegrass Brewing Co., which began as a microbrewery and restaurant before eventually selling kegs to other bars and bottling its brews.

Easterling said he wants eventually to bring all production to Louisville but plans to wait and see how much he can grow the brand before building a facility that could be either too big or too small for his needs in a short period of time.

He said he doesn’t expect to sell the huge amount of beer Falls City did in the 1960s and early 1970s but hopes to make as much beer as some other regional craft beer makers.

“I’d like to see us do 30,000 barrels (a year),” he said. “That’s a lot of beer.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Port City Tartan Ale coming this spring

(Alexandra, VA) – Bill Butcher, founder of Port City Brewing Company, located at 3950 Wheeler Avenue in Alexandria, VA is pleased to announce the release of his special edition Tartan Ale available for Spring 2012.

Crafted by Head Brewer Jonathon Reeves, this deep, copper-colored Scottish Ale will be produced in the 80-shilling style and offer a slightly fruity flavor to offset the malty luscious caramel and hop aroma. The limited production Tartan Ale is the third seasonal beer produced by Port City Brewing Company. Tartan Ale will be sold at select retail, restaurants and bars in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland starting March 1, 2012. This beer will be in limited supply as Port City Brewing Company is only selling one 90-barrel batch with a suggested retail price for a six-pack of $10.99.

The 11,000-square-foot craft brewery is dedicated to bringing great quality, innovative, handmade craft beers to the DC and Mid-Atlantic market. Port City produces world-class quality beer, brewing four year-round beers along with a rotating seasonal selection. Alexandria’s two Scottish founders, Captains Philip and John Alexander, inspired Port City’s launch of Scottish Ale in the DC area. Scottish beers in the 1800’s were taxed on their strength, with the strong and better quality beers costing more. Customers developed the habit of asking for them by the tax ratings, or shilling names. The 80-shilling style was one of the stronger types that could be purchased, containing 4.0-5.5% alcohol. The 80-shilling beers are traditionally malty, without much hop character, as hops did not grow in Scotland, and were expensive to import.

Named by Washingtonian magazine as Washington, DC’s best brewery tour, Port City Brewing Company is located two miles from the King Street Metro at 3950 Wheeler Avenue Alexandria, VA 22304. For more information please call (703) 797-2739 or visit www.portcitybrewery.com.

Great Lakes Brewing expanding distribution to Northern Virginia

(Sterling, VA) – Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC), Ohio’s most celebrated craft brewer of award-winning lagers and ales, announces its plan to enter Northern Virginia with Hop & Wine Beverage on February 27, 2012.

On the heels of rolling out Central Pennsylvania (February 1st) and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (February 20th), Northern Virginia is the latest distribution area in the company’s strategic growth plans. Hop & Wine Beverage currently distributes GLBC products throughout Washington DC; Virginia will become the 13th state to receive GLBC’s craft beers.

Customers can expect to see GLBC’s year-round family of beers in package and draft, as well as the new “Taster’s Pack” (a sampler 12-pack). The new market rollout will involve multiple customer appreciation events, meet-and-greets, tastings and giveaways throughout the area.

GLBC currently serves 13 states and Washington DC. Founded in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway as the first craft brewery in the state of Ohio, GLBC is nationally known for its exceptional family of beers including Dortmunder Gold Lager, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Visit greatlakesbrewing.com/washingtondc-nova and follow @GLBCinDC on Twitter for exclusive updates and event announcements.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Somerville Brewing Company launches Slumbrew in Chicago

(Somerville, MA) – Adding to an already impressive line up of craft beer in the Chicago area, Slumbrew will kickoff its distribution in Chicagoland next week (January 24-27) with a series of promotional events and beer dinners. Slumbrew is the artisanal, ingredient-driven brand of unusual beers hailing from Somerville Brewing Company in Somerville, Massachusetts. The new brewery founded by Caitlin Jewell and Jeff Leiter just launched its first three beers in October of last year to an unanticipated level of demand and community support in its local market.

The three initial beers include Flagraiser IPA – a hophead's favorite ale showcasing the Galaxy variety of hops; Happy Sol – a dry, somewhat tart hefeweizen brewed with MA wildflower honey, coriander, orange peel, and fermented with over 1,000 blood oranges per batch; and Porter Square Porter – a dark Porter conditioned on a huge amount of cacao nibs from Somerville's Taza Chocolate Company.

"Each beer we make focuses on how we can express one or more ingredients in a unique way to create an unusual finished product that is both delicious and differentiated from other beers in the market",says Jeff who heads up the recipe development and brewing operations. The beers are conceived and perfected in a 350 sq. ft. nano-sized brewery that Jeff built in a small structure on his property in Somerville. After a long process of working out recipe details and sourcing the right ingredients, the beer is then scaled up and Jeff brews on larger equipment to produce the necessary volume for distribution.

The current set of beers offer something that appeal to a wide range of beer drinkers whether people prefer lighter color wheat beers, dark and robust porters or a balanced approach to big hop flavor. The next beer due to be released in early February is a uniquely formulated imperial cream ale called 'My Better Half'. This beer is a nod to the style's history of brewing with cereal grains and is split during fermentation so half is lagered and the other fermented as an ale. The two halves are then blended back together for packaging. There have been many cream ales brewed over the last hundred years, but rarely have they been brewed to an imperial strength of 7.2% ABV and with a focus on quality malts and adjuncts. Following after My Better Half in March, look for a higher gravity Belgian-style ale called Trekker Tripel brewed with some interesting sugars that take thef lavor down a different path.

"We're very excited to bring our portfolio of beers and approach to recipe development to the Chicago area. The beer drinkers in this area are incredibly discerning and we are in great company with some of the best publicans and brewers in the country all focused on making the craft beer movement matter", says Caitlin who is the other owner and leads Somerville Brewing's marketing, events and promotion activities. Slumbrew is also part of an admired portfolio of other beers distributed in Illinois through Stoller Wholesale.

The Slumbrew beers are currently available in 22 oz. bombers in many bottle shops around Chicago and some select draft lines, but the official launch and widespread release will coincide with special beer dinner and tasting events during January 24 - 27. The first event on 1/24 is the 'Slumbrew Rock & Roll Beer Dinner' at Three Aces in Chicago from 7-9pm, followed by 'Meet the Brewer' events at Timothy O Toole's in Gurnee on 1/25 (7-9pm) and Villain's Bar and Grill on 1/26 (6-8pm) in Chicago.

To learn more about the Slumbrew beers or find bottle shop locations, visit  http://www.slumbrew.com  . Contact Caitlin at caitlin@slumbrew.com for questions related to upcoming events and promotions. For distribution, contact Joe Katze at Stoller Wholesale (joek@stollerwholesale.com). The Slumbrew team hopes to see many Chicago craft beer enthusiasts at one of the upcoming events.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Atlanta Winter Beerfest Atlanta celebrates hops and friends

On Saturday, January 28, 2012, the Atlanta Winter Beer Fest will be held in Atlanta, GA.  It will be a weekend with no football for the first time since August, so they can help you fill the void.  They will have 100+ great beers from local brewers and breweries from around the country.  There will be Live Music on 4 stages throughout the venue and several good food options to keep you from getting hungry.

Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 day of event.  Unfortunately there will not be any Designated Driver tickets.  Tickets are now on sale. This event did sell out last year, so be sure to get your tickets early.

Parking will be available next to the venue for $10 per car.  They encourage everyone to not drink and drive: designate a driver or take a taxi.

This is a 21 and up event, rain or shine (inside event, so that shouldn’t be a problem), no refunds.  Please no kids or pets.

Questions? Email: info@atlantabeerfestivals.com.