Industry News

Top Craft Breweries of 2013

The Brewers Association has released its annual list of the top 50 craft breweries. Boston Beer Company once again holds down the top spot, followed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing Company.

Newcomers to the top ten include Duvel/Moortgat USA, the Belgian company that acquired Boulevard Brewing Company; and Brooklyn Brewing Company. They replace F.X. Matt Brewing Company and Harpoon Brewery, which rank 11th and 12th on the list.

The Friday Mash (Istanbul Not Constantinople Edition)

The Four Lads once asked the musical question, “Why did Constantinople get the works?” Their answer: “It’s nobody’s business but the Turks’” Eighty-four years ago today, the Turks changed the city’s name to Istanbul. They also changed the name of their capital to Ankara.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Listerman Brewing Company is hosting Starkbierfest, a family-friendly version of Munich’s Lenten tradition where potent doppelbock takes center stage.

Yards Brewing Company is brewing a special beer for the popular TV show “Walking Dead.” No humans have been eaten in the brewing process, which involves smoking goat brains.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has installed craft beer taps at his official residence. The first keg he tapped was Silverback Pale from Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortune magazine writers tried MillerCoors’s new Fortune beer and gave it a thumbs-up–and not just for its name.

While visiting Belgium, Jay Brooks discovered a new organization, the Belgian Family Brewers. Its members have been brewing for at least 50 years, and have been family-owned all that time.

Purists are up in arms about it, but three Seattle-area homebrewers have developed the PicoBrew Zymatic, a “set-and-forget” system that can be controlled from one’s laptop.

Finally, Florida craft brewers learned that campaign cash trumps free enterprise. The State Senate president admitted that he’s against legalizing half-gallon growlers because a big beer distributor is a major contributor to his party.

New Laws to Aid Michigan Craft Breweries

Earlier this week, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed bipartisan legislation aimed at boosting Michigan’s craft-brewing industry. With around 150 breweries and brewpubs–and many more in the planning stages–the state ranks fifth in the nation.

The newly-signed legislation doubles the amount of beer microbrewers may produce, from 30,000 barrels per year to 60,000. It allows brewpub owners to now have interest in five other pubs, up from the previous two, so long as combined production does not exceed 18,000 barrels per year. Additionally, small microbreweries produce less than 1,000 barrels of beer per year will be able to self-distribute directly to retailers under certain conditions.

The Friday Mash (Ale and Pi Edition)

Today is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant. It’s celebrated today because Americans write the date as 3/14; and “3″, “1″, and “4″ are the three most significant digits of pi in decimal form. Ludwig recommends a beer, preferably a Real Ale, to go with your pi.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Boston, where Jim Koch invited survivors of last year’s Marathon bombing to his brewery, which is again brewing a special “26.2″ ale to raise funds for those injured last year.

A company in Canada plans to brew a “recovery ale” for athletes. It’s called “Lean Machine”; and it has 77 calories, 0.5 percent alcohol, and contains nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company has tapped into New York tradition with an egg cream stout. An egg cream contains milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water–but no eggs.

A Wisconsin lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a state Beer Commission. It has the backing of the state’s breweries.

Charlie Papazian, head of the Brewers Association, has decided to discontinue the Beer City USA competition because it has “served its purpose.” Grand Rapids won last year’s competition.

investor C. Dean Metropoulos, who bought Pabst Brewing Company four years ago, is reportedly considering a sale of the company, which could be worth as much as $1 billion.

Finally, John Verive, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times, explains why the classic tulip glass is the only glass you’ll need. It’s versatile, supports the beer’s head, and holds in its aromas.

The Friday Mash (Genuine Bell Edition)

On this day in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Ironically, Bell considered the phone a distraction from his real work as a scientist and refused to have one in his study.

And now…a busy signal!

We begin in Philadelphia, where a beer garden will open across from the Liberty Bell. Philly has other good “hop spots,” and USA Today’s Marla Cimini will show you around.

Almost 600 types of barley seeds have been added to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This ups the chances that survivors will be able to enjoy a post-apocalyptic beer.

In India, architecture students from Bangalore and Spain used thousands of beer bottles to construct a classroom. The bottles eliminate the need for artificial light inside.

Stone Brewing Company plans to open a second brewery in the eastern U.S., and it appears that Greensboro has been found worthy as a site to brew Arrogant Bastard and other ales.

A London-based start-up company has a remedy for job stress. Desk Beer offers Friday deliveries of local craft beer–provided, of course, the boss approves.

If you plan on some beer hunting, Lindsey Grossman of Paste magazine suggests eight beer-related apps for your phone. They include a “fairly addictive” game called Micro Caps.

Finally, after being served three ales he couldn’t stand, Johnny Sharp unleashed a rant titled “Am I The Only Man in Britain Who Hates Craft Beer? You may find his writing an “acquired taste.”

The Friday Mash (Mind the Gap Edition)

On this day in 1863, the London Underground opened between Paddington and Farringdon stations. Today, it consists of 11 lines and serves 270 stations. Ludwig reminds passengers to mind the gap, especially after a few pints at the pub.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Verallia North America glass plant is celebrating 100 years of making beer bottles. On a busy day, it turns out over three million.

Miami New Times correspondent Kyle Swenson roamed south Florida looking for a $1 draft beer. After a long journey that took him to the region’s grungiest bars, he finally succeeded.

In Texas, an off-duty firefighter came to the aid of a truck driver whose vehicle had caught fire. He used 16-ounce cans of beer from the truck’s cargo as makeshift fire extinguishers.

Beauties, eh? Labatt Brewing Company unveiled its U.S. Olympic commemorative can series. The cans are modeled after Team USA’s hockey sweaters from past Olympics.

With 33 breweries, New Hampshire ranks second in breweries per capita. All of them can be found on a new map created by the state’s tourism office and brewers’ trade group.

Now that it’s legal in Colorado, some wonder about marijuana’s impact on beer sales. A leading member of the state’s craft beer community believes it’ll have little effect.

Finally, the Border Town Bar and Grill in North Dakota used recycled beer bottles as a main component to sealcoat its new parking lot. They’re more expensive, but don’t contain toxic silica sand.

Most Influential Beer Sites

Zephyr Adventures, the organizers of the Beer Bloggers Conference has compiled a list of the world’s 20 most influential beer sites. The ratings are based on four factors: Alexa rating, incoming links, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers.

Heading the list is Heineken, followed by Beer Advocate, New Belgium Brewing, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Ludwig Roars checks in at number….oops, we can’t find it on the list!

By the way, this year’s North American Beer Bloggers Conference will take place August 22-24 in San Diego.

A Craft Beer Bubble?

America has never had more breweries than it has today, and the quality of beer at your local bar has never been better. But will the good times last? Some observers think the craft-brewing industry is in the midst of a classic bubble that might be about to burst.

Noah Davis of Business Insider points that for every Alchemist, brewers of the wildly successful Heady Topper double IPA, “there are numerous small breweries turning out solid product that will never see a profit.” Davis wonders how the hundreds of breweries that opened this year, not to mention another 1,500 in the planning stages, are going to find distributors, get shelf space, and sign up tap accounts. The newcomers, he adds, are entering a craft beer market that is dominated by a few big players.

Industry figures believe the days of double-, and even triple-digit growth won’t last much longer. John Laffler, who opened a craft brewery in Chicago last year, said, “I see the industry becoming more local, more regional, more city-specific. At that point, you’re locked in making $35,000 a year and hopefully your business can last 10 years.”

Some startups might not survive. According to Greg Koch, the founder of Stone Brewing Company, “You can expect that consumer fatigue will show up again, just like it did in 1996. It’s like a school of fish. It will turn, but you don’t know when.” The industry shakeout of the late 1990s resulted in some 300 brewery closures.

World’s First Crowd-Sourced Brewery

MobCraft, a brewery in Madison, Wisconsin, has introduced the Crowdsourced Beer Platform, the first of its kind in the world. Every month, MobCraft asks its customers to vote for the beer they want brewed. The winning batch is packaged in a four-pack of 22-ounce bottles, then made available at the brewery or shipped to customers via online retailers.

So far, MobCraft has brewed five crowd-sourced batches including Arabian Date Night, Praerie Fyre Amber Ale, and Most Mobbed 2XIPA.

Women Return to Brewing

Most readers of this blog are familiar with the role women once played in brewing, and how the rise of commercial brewing pushed them to the sidelines. But times are changing. Slowly but surely, women are raising their profile in the craft brewing industry. Krystal Baugher, writing in Atlantic magazine, explains why this is happening:

Thanks to the “good food” movement, a push to recognize local, organic, and high quality-flavored food and beverages, there has been a steady increase in craft beer at the expense of large-scale facilities. Because of its emphasis on creative flavors, food pairings, and the DIY hobby culture it steams from, craft beer gives women slightly more opportunity for inclusion.

That said, Baugher concedes that many men still don’t take their female counterparts seriously. She points out that Colorado has 154 breweries, but only ten women are known to be part of the main brewing process. There’s work to be done.

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