It’s Founders Brewing Company’s version of the Golden Ticket. The brewery is offering tasting tours of its underground barrel-aging caves to ten lucky people. The caves, located in former gypsum mines 85 feet below the surface, are where Kentucky Breakfast Stout and other strong beers are aged. They’re normally closed to the public.
To win a tour, which also includes two nights’ lodging in Grand Rapids, a meet-and-greet dinner with the Founders team, and guaranteed entry to the brewery’s annual Black Party, one first has to join Founders’ “Cadre” enthusiast team. Then the entrant must describe his or her “dream” barrel-aged beer, including ingredients, a name, and label artwork. And did I mention that the package includes a chance to taste KBS?
Entries are due February 24.
Thirty-two years ago today, Apple Corporation introduced the Macintosh, which popularized the mouse and the graphical user interface. The introduction came in the form of the famous “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Michigan, where Founders Brewing Company, having filed the necessary paperwork, can once again sell Breakfast Stout with a baby on the label.
In the UK, health officials now recommend that men drink no more than six pints of beer per week. They also warn that drinking any amount of alcohol can cause health problems.
Paste magazine introduces you to seven “ridiculous, but kind of awesome” beer gadgets. They include a CO-2 injection system for growlers and a bottle that imparts an oak taste.
New laws in a number of states have encouraged “farm-to-keg” breweries, which make and serve beer using ingredients grown on site. These breweries operate much like wineries.
Did you get a drone for Christmas? AC Shilton of Outside magazine explains how can you train your new toy to fetch and deliver your beer.
In Australia, Quentin Tarantino was presented with a six-pack of Victoria Bitter in cans specially designed to honor him. He was joined onstage by actors Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.
Finally, the Craft Brewers Alliance plans to distribute Kona beer in Brazil. It cited “the great synergies between Hawaiian and Brazilian culture, with their amazing beaches and strong water lifestyles.”
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.
As the craft beer industry grows more crowded, it becomes increasingly important for breweries to distinguish themselves from the competition. One way of doing so, aside from the beer itself, is the look and feel of the beer’s packaging. Chris Wright of GearPatrol.com sought out a number of leading figures in the craft community, and asked them about the design of their beer labels.
Wright’s panel of experts includes Brooklyn Brewery’s Milton Glazer, who founded New York magazine and designed the iconic “I (Heart) NY” logo in the 1970s; Flying Dog Ales’ Erin Weston, who works closely with Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrator Ralph Steadman; and Dogfish Head Brewery’s Sam Calagione, who really needs no introduction. Ten other designers, representing such well-known brands as Founders, Ommegang, and Sly Fox, also contributed to this fascinating oral history.
The designers come from various walks of life; and, as expected, many of them are home brewers. They explained to Wright what they wanted their labels to convey, such as psychedelia or fond memories of the beach. Perhaps the best comment came from Calagione, who told Wright that label design has become a challenge. He said, “It’s getting harder to find fun, provocative on-brand names these days with 1.5 new breweries opening every day and only half a million words in the English language.”
The craft beer community was abuzz this week with news that Founders Brewing Company sold a 30-percent stake to Spain’s Mahou San Miguel Group.
Why did Founders do this? The answer came in a story in Wednesday’s MLive.com. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens told the publication that there were two reasons for the deal. First, by providing an international distribution chain, it ensures that Founders will be around for years to come.
More importantly, Stevens said, the deal was far better than the alternatives: getting acquired by one of the world’s brewing giants or falling into the hands of private-equity investors.
Stevens offered the best Worts of Wisdom of the entire year with this comment:
“We were looking for someone who truly understood the soul this brand,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find that among a bunch of bankers and in the private equity world. Priority No. 1 for people like that is a return — profits.
On this day in 1968, Intel Corporation—Intel is short for “Integrated Electronics”—was founded in Mountain View, California. Today, it is one of the world’s largest and emiconductor chip manufacturers. Chances are, your personal computer has “Intel inside.”
And now….The Mash!
Appropriately, we begin in California’s Silicon Valley. Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, will offer fans a wide selection of local micros to choose from.
Cigar City Brewing Company has signed an agreement to pour its beers aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships. Carnival also offers its own private label draft beer, ThirstyFrog Red.
This was bound to happen. Oregon’s Full Sail Brewery has sued Atlanta-based Sessions Law Firm, alleging that the law firm copied its trademark for Session Premium Lager.
Kirin, once the undisputed number-one brand in Japan, has dropped to second place behind Asahi. The chief reason for Kirin’s downfall was not entering the fast-growing premium beer market.
Grand Rapids’ Founders Brewing Company made BrandInnovators.com’s list of Top 10 American-Made Brands to Watch. Founders is joined on that list by Sonoma Cider Company.
Rumor has it that Anheuser-Busch InBev will merge with SABMiller. The combined company would own 80 percent of the world’s leading brands and control 30 percent of the world’s beer market.
Finally, Brasserie Cantillon is aging its beers inside a bomb shelter. No, the brewery isn’t expecting another invasion. It simply ran out of space; and fortunately, the city of Brussels found them a new subterranean location.
On this day in 1953, Francis Crick and James D. Watson published a paper in the British journal Nature that described the double helix structure of DNA. The ability to sequence and manipulate DNA is a key to the biotechnology industry, and modern medicine in general.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in the Willamette Valley, where the nation’s first hop and brewing archive was recently at Oregon State University. The valley, on the 45th parallel, has ideal hop-growing conditions.
Jay Brooks dusted off a 1947 issue of Look magazine, in which writer Don Wharton asks readers “What Kind of Drinker Are You?”. He describes 11 categories, and most of us fall into at least one.
Brewing carries a “white men with beards” stereotype, but Los Angeles is home to a growing Latino brewing community. LA Weekly profiles several craft cerveza breweries in the area.
Summer is coming, and that means session IPAs. The trend started last year with Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA, and other breweries have jumped in with their own versions.
And when those hot days of summer arrive, you might want one of these: The Beer Glass Froster by from Hammacher Schlemmer, which will frost your glass in ten seconds.
Flying Dog Ales is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Old Bay seasoning with a spicy summer ale called Dead Rise. It’s named after the boats used by Chesapeake Bay crabbers.
Finally, Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, asks whether micropubs–establishments with Real Ale and no electronic distractions–are a passing fad or the future of British watering holes.
- Visitors who toured Founders Brewing Company in 2013: 2,518.
- Price of a Founders tour: $10 (includes a pint glass).
- Barrels of craft beer sold in 2011: 11,467,337.
- Barrels of craft beer sold in 2012: 13,235,917 (up 9 percent from 2011).
- Cost of a bottle of domestic beer in Hanoi, Vietnam: U.S.$0.44.
- Cost of a bottle of non-alcoholic domestic beer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: U.S.$0.59.
- Cost of a bottle of black-market domestic beer in Tripoli, Libya: U.S.$5.49.
- Change in Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s sales from 2011 to 2012: Up 13 percent.
- 60 Minute IPA’s share of Dogfish Head’s production: 48 percent.
- What Anheuser-Busch InBev paid to re-acquire Korea-based Oriental Brewery: $5.8 billion.
- What A-B InBev sold Oriental Brewery for in 2009: $1.8 billion.
- Sales of number-one selling beer Bud Light in 2013: $5.95 billion.
- Average price of a case of Bud Light: $20.18.
- Percent of Americans who call Budweiser their favorite beer: 51.
- Percent who call Budweiser their least favorite beer: 46.