An Era Ends

You may have noticed that The Beer Festival Calendar hasn’t been updated for a while, and that there aren’t any new entries on this blog.

The reason is that Maryanne passed away on June 20. Her death was unexpected, and she was only 60 years old.

We’ve often said that maintaining the calendar and blog is a two-person (and a beer-drinking lion) operation. Paul was responsible for searching for festivals, answering correspondence, writing festival listings, and finding stories for this blog. That was the easy part.

Maryanne did the real work around here. She handled the technical end of the site, which entailed everything from dealing with hosting companies and honing her Rapid Weaver skills to making the physical changes to the site. Maryanne made sure this site was available and that you could access it.

Without Maryanne, this site has lost its heart and its soul. Thus I’m sad to announce that as a result her passing, there will be no more updates this year; and that The Beer Festival Calendar will not return in 2018.

My sincere thanks go to everyone who supported The Beer Festival Calendar. I’d especially like to thank those who contacted Ludwig with news about festivals to be added to the calendar. And I lift a pint in the general direction of the millions of people who visited our site during its (can it be that long?) 15-year run.

Cheers, everyone!

The Friday Mash (Vampire Weekend Edition)

One hundred and twenty years ago today, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was published. Stoker didn’t invent the vampire, but his version made it a staple of pop culture—as viewers of The Walking Dead will attest.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Denver, where the opening of Coors Field in 1995 helped turn the city’s Lower Downtown neighborhood into a craft beer mecca. One LoDo establishment, Wynkoop Brewing Company, helped propel ex-owner John Hickenlooper into the governor’s mansion.

Country Boy Brewing celebrated Lexington Beer Week by hosting its fourth annual beer cheese competition. The product, made of beer, sharp Cheddar, salt, and garlic, is found throughout Kentucky.

Most tourists visit Florence, Italy, for its many museums and works of art. However, craft beer has joined the list of the city’s tourist attractions—if you know where to look.

The Brewers Association has released its 2017 Beer Style Guidelines. They’re presented in a concise new format that removes redundant language, is easier to read, and is more user-friendly.

Corey Bellemore told BleacherReport.com how he became the world-record holder for the Beer Mile. It helps that he can hold his liquor; his personal best is 18 beers at one session.

Just in time for summer: Cincinnati’s Rheingeist Brewing Company has team up with United Dairy Farmers to make a beer-flavored ice cream. The beer is Rheingeist Truth IPA.

Finally, Bob’s Place, South Carolina’s oldest continuously operating beer joint, has burned to the ground. Bob’s offered “live music, dancing in the streets, horseshoes, bonfires at night, and tasty food from the road kill grill.”

Who’s Getting Hurt by Flat Sales?

Data compiled by the Brewers Association show that the bigger craft breweries bore the brunt of last year’s slump.

Twenty-five of the top 50 craft breweries, as defined by the BA, didn’t grow in 2016; and more then one-third of BA-defined regional breweries had either flat or declining sales. The damage was heaviest at the top of the standings: four of the five biggest crafts—D.G. Yuengling & Sons, Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Gambrinus Company—suffered a sales decline. The top five’s only gainer was New Belgium Brewing Company.

According to the BA’s Bart Watson, the regionals are getting squeezed by both ends of the industry. Anheuser-Busch Companies, whose acquisition of craft brands has stirred up controversy, is snapping up retail space at the expense of the regionals. Meanwhile, many retailers are focused on getting the products of small local breweries on their shelves, again to the regionals’ detriment.

There were some bright spots, however. Regionals that upped production in 2016 include Bell’s Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and Rheingeist Brewery. Several others that no longer meet the BA’s definition of “craft”, such as Founders Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewing Company, also posted gains for the year.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Carlsberg’s revenue growth in the first quarter of 2017: 4 percent.
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s revenue growth in the first quarter of 2017: 3.7 percent.
  • Anheuser-Busch’s investment in U.S. brewing operations since 2011: $2.5 billion.
  • A-B’s expected U.S. investment in 2017-20: $2.5 billion.
  • This year’s expected U.S. hop acreage: 58,148.
  • Percent increase over last year’s acreage: 17.
  • Percent increase over 2012 acreage: 96.
  • Mexico’s share of worldwide beer production: 5.7 percent.
  • Germany’s share of worldwide beer production: 5.2 percent.
  • Approximate 2016 production of Shipyard Brewing Company (#1 in Maine): 118,000 barrels.
  • Approximate 2016 production of Allagash Brewing Company (#2 in Maine): 92,500 barrels.
  • California’s brewery count: 623 (ranks 1st among U.S. states).
  • Breweries per 100,000 adults in California: 2.2 (ranks 23rd; Vermont, with 10.8 per 100,000 adults, ranks first).
  • Mississippi’s brewery count: 9 (ranks 50th).
  • Breweries per 100,000 adults in Mississippi 0.4 (also ranks 50th).
  • The Friday Mash (Boiling Point Edition)

    On this day in 1743, Jean-Pierre Christin developed the Centigrade temperature scale, with 0 degrees representing water’s freezing point and 100 degrees its boiling point. However, the scale is named for Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius, who came up with a similar idea independently of Christin.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Chicago, where the Lincoln Park Zoo is collaborating with DryHop Brewers on a new beer that will raise money for polar bears and raise awareness of climate change. The beer, Ursus Mapletimus, is a smoked maple imperial white ale.

    Some years ago, a pub owner in England told Arthur Johnson that he’d get free beer for life if he lived to age 100. Johnson reached the century mark, and now he shows up every day for a pint.

    Is there a beer without malt or hops? Yes. It’s an alcoholic ginger beer from Ginger’s Revenge, a new brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. The beer is also gluten-free.

    Congratulations to Garrett Marrero and Melanie Oxley, who own the Maui Brewing Company. The U.S. Small Business Administration named them “National Small Business Persons of the Year.”

    Heineken has launched a zero-alcohol version of its namesake beer. Alcohol-free beers are attractive to brewers because that segment of the market is growing, and beers without alcohol are taxed less heavily.

    English heavy-metal band Iron Maiden is coming to the U.S. Also coming to America is Trooper, an award-winning ESB inspired by the band and brewed by Robinsons Brewery.

    Finally, Breckenridge Brewing Company has announced the winner of its annual competition to name the official beer of Denver Comic Con. This year’s winner is “I Am Brewt,” a pun on the Guardians of the Galaxy superhero film series.

    Counterpoint: Craft Beer Isn’t Dying

    Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, warned last month that industry consolidation had put craft beer on the endangered list.

    John Hall, the founder of Goose Island Brewery, begs to differ. He predicts a bright future for craft as a whole because it is so diverse, innovative, and in-sync with customers. Hall cites self-distribution (which is legal in many states), and state laws allowing breweries to serve pints, as two factors that change the equation for small breweries.

    Hall also explains why Goose Island agreed to be taken over by Anheuser-Busch. One alternative was contract brewing, as Boston Beer has done for many years. Another was to take the company public; however, he didn’t like the idea of having to report every quarter to Wall Street. That left A-B.

    Of the A-B deal, Hall said, “Like all big business decisions, it was risky being one of the first craft brewers to partner with a big brewer. But we preferred to partner with brewers who understood the beer business. Through our partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Goose Island was able to do what Boston Beer did, reach consumers nationwide while retaining the quality and integrity of our beer, and our brand.”

    “Beer It Forward”

    American Craft Beer Week begins today, and part of this year’s celebration is #BeerItForward. The Brewers Association explains:

    The idea of Beer It Forward is not new–it’s “Pay it Forward,” but with craft beer. Many beer lovers use it to highlight good deeds, like covering the cost of a beer as an act of kindness or someone including more beers in a beer trade than were necessary. Beer it Forward promotes doing good, simply, honestly, without an expectation of reciprocation and with the hope that the act will be passed down the line.

    Many craft brewers exemplify this ideal every single day. They believe in the value of community and giving back, supporting causes from veterans to homelessness to a cleaner environment. That’s why this American Craft Beer Week, the theme #beeritforward is directed to the rest of our fine beer community. How can you brighten the lives of others through craft beer? A random act of kindness could be as simple as buying someone a beer. Not only will you be championing small, authentic craft brewers in celebration of their commitment to us, but you’ll be doing so much more.

    The Friday Mash (Old School Edition)

    On this day in 1364, Jagiellonian University was established in Krakow, Poland; and on this day in 1551, the National University of San Marcos, the oldest in the Americas, was established in Lima, Peru.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Rochester, New York, where Genesee Brewing Company, which is undergoing a $49 million expansion, plans to transport 12 fermentation tanks via the Erie Canal. The tanks are too big to transport by highway or by rail.

    It’s baseball season, and CraftBeer.com would like to introduce you to seven beers brewed especially for minor-league teams. Enjoy them with your peanuts and Cracker Jack.

    Think you can’t sing? Organizers of the Twin Cities Beer Choir want to convince you otherwise. You buy the beer, and the Choir provide you with sheet music and plenty of friends.

    An Indiana gas station owner found a clever loophole to the state’s ban on selling cold beer at convenience stores. He instal

    1997: A NYC Brewpub Closes

    Beer history guy Tom Acitelli takes us back 20 years, to when the Zip City brewpub in Manhattan closed its doors. Its cause of death was heavy competition.

    Zip City, named for a fictional town invented by Sinclair Lewis, opened in late 1991. At the time, there were no brewpubs in New York City. For a while, Zip City had the city to itself. Then came the brewpub bubble of the late 1990s. In July 1996, an event called the New York City Brewpub Crawl Marathon stopped at 12 establishments. At the same time, a flood of microbrewed beer arrived on store shelves in New York. This at a time when craft had a tiny share of the nation’s beer market.

    After Zip City’s demise, some in the media were ready to write off brewpubs—and even craft beer—as a passing fad. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the sector’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

    Why Is A-B Buying Craft Breweries?

    hris Herron, the CEO of Creature Comforts Brewing Company, has an explanation for why Anheuser-Busch is acquiring craft breweries.

    Herron, who worked in finance in the beverage industry, starts by explaining that goodwill—the value of a brand above its physical assets—makes up more than 50 percent of A-B’s assets, $136.5 billion to be exact. However, if A-B’s flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, continue to lose market share, A-B will have to take an “impairment charge” to reflect the brands’ loss of value. That charge would amount to tens of billions of dollars, which would clobber the company’s stock price.

    Impairment charges are looming because A-B positioned Bud and Bud Light as “premium” brands, which commanded a higher price and were perceived as superior to competing brands. However, with the growth of the craft beer sector, Bud and Bud Light are no longer considered “premium”. Nor can A-B restore those brands to premium status by raising prices, because doing so would cause them to lose even more market share, this time to Miller and Coors.

    Back to the craft brewery acquisitions. Herron believes that A-B bought them for two reasons. The first is to capture some of craft beer’s growth and, at the same time, slow it down. The acquisitions help capture growth; meanwhile, A-B’s sheer size allows gives it an advantage over independent craft breweries. It can use its buying power to secure raw materials, push its craft brands through its distribution network, and spend heavily to market those brands. A-B’s second objective is to regain the goodwill associated with the Bud and Bud Light brands. Aggressive competition by A-B’s craft breweries will force independent craft brewers to cut prices; that, in turn, would narrow the price gap between craft and A-B’s brands, and diminish the perception that those brands are no longer premium.

    Herron sums up A-B’s strategy:

    The impairment charges AB InBev could face are worth billions more than any craft brand they have purchased, and those purchases would be a small price to pay to save a legacy brand. These craft brands, whether they realize it or not, may just be pawns in the AB InBev game of chess. AB InBev is not a collaborator, they are a competitor, and a damn smart one. If one of these craft brands they buy is a successful long-term brand, great, but more important to AB InBev, is the vital role they play in the short-term of ensuring that their premium brands retain long-term value.

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