Breweries

Florida Craft Brewers Win Some, Lose Some

Legislation dealing with the brewing industry is inching closer to passage in the Florida legislature. It will ease some restrictions on Florida’s craft breweries but, at the same time, will impose new ones.

It explicitly allows breweries to have on-premises taprooms. Some in the industry contended that the “tourism exemption” under which taprooms operated wasn’t intended to cover small breweries. In addition, the it legalizes beer sales in 64-ounce growlers. On the other hand, the legislation limits the amount of beer breweries can move among breweries, and caps the number of taprooms at eight per brewery.

Josh Aubuchon, the head of the Florida Brewers Guild, says the legislation is “not perfect but pretty darn good.” He points out that no brewery is even close to the taproom limit. However, some breweries are afraid that the restrictions could be tightened by future legislatures. They’re also disappointed that lawmakers haven’t address other restrictions, including the ban on self-distribuition and franchise laws that favor distributors.

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Why the South Has So Few Breweries

The nine states with the fewest breweries are all in the South, and there’s an explanation for that: the Baptists.

Steve Gohmann, a professor of economics at the University of Louisville, recently published a paper in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice about why the South is less hospitable to small breweries.

Across the country, big brewers contribute to political candidates who support restrictions—such as bans on self-distribution–that make it difficult for small breweries to compete with them. What makes the South unique is that it has a high concentration of Baptists, who support restrictions on alcohol on moral grounds. (The same is true of Methodists, who are also well-represented in the region.) Thus pastors and big breweries are unlikely political bedfellows.

But what about the Kentucky-based whiskey industry? Gohmann observes that micro-distilleries are not taking much market share from the big producers, which means Baptists don’t have as much influence when it comes to regulating spirits.

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The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

No, this isn’t an episode of Bizarre Foods. The Diet of Worms was an assembly that, on this day in 1521, put Martin Luther on trial for heresy. After the trial, a supporter offered Luther a silver tankard of Eimbeck beer, which he gratefully drank.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Durham, North Carolina, whose minor-league stadium, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will soon have a brewery. Fans will be able to buy beer and watch the brewing process.

Delaware’s liquor store owners are worried about losing business if Pennsylvania loosens its restrictions on beer sales. As it is, the Keystone State offers a wider selection of beer.

Carlsberg Breweries, which is known for offbeat advertising campaigns, put up a giant beer-dispensing billboard in London’s Brick Lane. Stay tuned: the brewery is planning more promotions.

Despite heavy taxation and domination of the market by the Singha-Chang duopoly, craft beer is making inroads in Thailand. However, home brewing is still against the law.

Sexist marketing isn’t just an American phenomenon. A Japanese brewery has it marketing a beer called Precious to women. It contains two grams of collagen, a protein that makes skin look younger.

If your beer is boring, a company called Hop Theory is here to help with flavor-enhancing teabags. Their first product, Relativity, contains orange peel, coriander, and Cascade hops.

Finally, Tricia Gilbride of Mashable.com picks the best beers to drink in the shower. She prefers IPAs because “it makes sense to select a hoppy beer when you hop in the shower.”

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A-B’s Unbranded Beer Campaign

Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev launched a new digital campaign called “Let’s Grab a Beer.” The campaign is unusual in that it carries almost no branding. According to E.J. Schultz, a correspondent for Advertising Age magazine, it’s aimed at persuading drinkers to choose beer over spirits, which have been aggressively promoted in recent years. If overall beer consumption rises, A-B InBev—which ranks first in U.S. market share—stands to gain the most.

However, some industry observers are worried that A-B InBev’s campaign will contribute to the “wineification” of beer: placing emphasis on beer styles rather than brands. Schultz explains: “For instance, if more people walk into bars and ask for a ‘wheat beer,’ rather than a Shock Top or Blue Moon, brands become less valuable. And good branding equals profits.”

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Harpoon Ex-CEO Returns to the Beer Business

Rich Doyle, former CEO of Harpoon Brewery, is back in the brewing business. Nine months after selling his stake in Harpoon, he’s joined forces with Friedman, Fleisher & Lowe, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, to form Enjoy Beer LLC. The new venture will create partnerships with craft brewers who wish to preserve their local independence, while gaining shared resources in areas such as marketing, logistics, and finance in order to compete with larger competitors.

Abita Brewing, the group’s founding brewery partner, has reportedly sold a stake in the company in order to join the new enterprise. Abita CEO David Blossman said, “Enjoy Beer will pioneer a new model in the industry, and together, we will help these independent companies compete at the next level by expanding their resources and their reach.” Abita recently completed a $30 million expansion that will increase its brewing capacity to 400,000 barrels a year. Its current annual production is 160,000 barrels, which ranks it 21st on the list of largest craft breweries.

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The Friday Mash (Great Gatsby Edition)

Ninety years ago today, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. The novel about the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, painted a picture of America’s “Jazz Age,” a phrase that Fitzgerald also made popular.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Minneapolis, where Finnegans beer is celebrating 15 years of feeding the hungry. Profits from the sale of Finnegans—half a million dollars since 2000—have been used to buy fresh produce for those in need.

Four of the world’s biggest breweries announced they will disclose calorie counts of the beers they sell in Europe. Americans might soon see calories and other nutritional data on the beer they buy.

Baseball season began this week, and the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and friends marked the occasion by choosing their top ten American lagers from a field of 20.

Friday happy hour will be part of Anheuser-Busch’s interviewing process for its new marketing office in Manhattan. It’s part of an effort to find out how well candidates handle social situations.

Maine governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would require a pint of beer to contain 16 ounces. The governor says Maine’s deceptive-practices laws already protect customers from short pints.

Mark Hunter, the new CEO of MolsonCoors, told Wall Street analysts that his company will focus more on craft beer, and that it has a desire to acquire craft breweries.

Finally, Kit Lab hopes to provide homebrewers what Hello Fresh provides home cooks: exact portions of ingredients. The recipes for each kit are supplied by homebrewers, who’ll get a cut of the profits.

Vermont Was Once a Dry State

Nowadays, Vermont is a craft beer mecca, a state where one can buy growlers of local micro products in gas stations. However, The Green Mountain State was dry for much of its history. A year after Maine passed a law barring the sale of alcohol, Vermont followed suit in 1852 and kept the ban in place 50 years. Less than two decades later, the 18th Amendment imposed prohibition nationwide.

Vermont’s original prohibition law has its roots in a temperance movement that began in New England in the 1820s. There was strong opposition to the law—it passed the legislature passed by just one vote—and enforcement was inconsistent. The law also contained a very large loophole. Alcohol used for medicinal purposes was still legal, and the manufacturers of patent medicines put plenty of alcohol in their products. Whether they made anyone healthier is debatable.

One of the last vestiges of prohibition ended in 1988, when state lawmakers repealed the ban on buying and consuming alcohol at the location where it is made. That enabled Greg Noonan to open the Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington, the first of the state’s 40 craft breweries.

The Friday Mash (Howl Edition)

Sixty years ago today, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it would defend Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, Howl, against obscenity charges. Two years later, a California Superior Court judge ruled that the poem was of “redeeming social importance” and thus not obscene.

And now.…The Mash!

We begin in Rhode Island, where Intuit, the tax software company, teamed up with a local brewery to brew a beer for accountants only. It’s called CPA IPA, and it’s just in time for tax season.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale, lovingly described by the author in The Trumpet Major, is set to return after a 16-year absence. Interbrew, an Italian company, is looking for a suitable contract brewer, and has sent a preview edition to beer writers.

It’s been called “the women’s libation movement.” Women around the world are challenging beer-related stereotypes, especially sexist brand names and ads that feature young, half-naked women.

British researchers have found that while most people’s alcohol consumption peaks during young adulthood, frequent drinking becomes more common in middle and old age, especially among men.

Five thousand years ago, Tel Aviv was a party town for expats. At a downtown construction site, archaeologists found fragments of large ceramic basins used by Egyptians to brew beer.

Griffin Claw Brewing Company will release a batch of Beechwood Aged Pumpkin Peach Ale. It’s a pointed retort to Budweiser’s “Brewed the Hard Way” Super Bowl ad poking fun at craft beer.

Finally, The “Bottle Boys,” who play music with beer bottles, have joined forces with the Budapest Art Orchestra to play a medley of epic movie themes including those from Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones.

Time Out for Trivia

The staff of Mental Floss magazine have sifted through the Brewers Association’s sales figures for craft breweries, and identified the largest craft brewery in each state. Some of them are obvious—Boulevard is Missouri’s largest, for example—but others provide good material for bar trivia. Can you guess the largest brewery in these five states?
(a) Arkansas.
(b) Connecticut.
(c) Iowa.
(d) Nevada.
(e) Rhode Island.

Time’s up. The answers are (a) Core Brewing Company, (b) Two Roads, (c) Backpocket Brewing, (d) Ellis Island Casino & Brewery, and (e) Trinity Brewhouse.

The Rise of Session Craft Beer

For decades, some craft brewers have waged an “arms race,” competing to brew the beer with the most IBUs, the most unusual ingredients, and especially, the highest alcohol content.

As Nick Panchamé, head brewer at Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, Michigan, put it, ”When craft beer started, people didn’t want anything that looked like macro brews.”

More recently, however, Right Brain has released two successful session-strength beers.

Right Brain follows in the footsteps of another Michigan brewery, Founders Brewing Company, whose All Day IPA has become its largest-selling beer. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens said, “We never intended to fill a void. By accident we seemed to time it right.” Stevens said that the beer was in development three years, and that he had no intention of “dumbing down” his products.

Another Michigan brewmaster, Tony Hansen of Short’s Brewing Company, said his company came to the realization that “big and bold beers aren’t perfect for every occasion.” Hansen added that session beers “will be kind of a gateway beer” for those looking to break away from national-brand beers.

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