Victory Brewing Company

Forecast for 2017: Craft Beer Turf Wars

The number of craft breweries continues to grow rapidly, while the growth of the craft sector is slowing. Which means something has to give.

Jason Notte of Marketwatch.com predicts that 2017 will be the year of the turf war; there will be less mergers-and-acquisitions activity and more competition among breweries to claim shelf space.

This could be the year that craft breweries lay off workers and make other cuts in an effort to trim costs. Industry leader Boston Beer Company has been hit hard by shrinking sales of Samuel Adams Boston Lager; the company’s shares have tumbled 50 percent from their 2015 high.

We’re also likely to see more breweries bring in private-equity firms. Already this year, Victory Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing Company have formed such partnerships with such firms.

And we’re likely to see smaller brewers focus on taproom traffic and food sales and avoid the battle to get their products on store shelves and on bar and restaurant menus.

Notte believes that Oskar Blues is the brewery to watch because it has been the craft sector’s trend-setter for years. The brewery was the first to can its beers and the first to build a second facility in the eastern United States. Two years ago, it kicked off the private-equity trend when it sold a majority interest to Fireman Capital. It then used some of that money to acquire craft breweries in Michigan, Florida, and Texas; the latter two states are considered underserved beer markets. Oskar Blues also borrowed from the big national brewers’ playbook. It rolled out more mainstream beers, sponsored sporting events, and put an emphasis on brand recognition.

Notte concludes, “Whether drinkers benefit from [this] turf war or become victims of it remains to be seen.”

The Friday Mash (All That Jazz Edition)

Ninety-nine years ago today, The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the first-ever jazz record, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band later changed “Jass” to “Jazz” and went on to record many classics, most notably the “Tiger Rag”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Royal Oak, Michigan, where the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles grew up. The Roak Brewery threw a party in Frey’s honor, and brewed a English golden ale called “Lyin’ Eyes” for the occasion.

A beer spa is now in business in Sisters, Oregon. Hop in the Spa, which is partnering with Deschutes Brewing, offers “microbrew soaks” and “hops on the body” treatments.

Ultra-marathoner Jesse Weber employed an unusual strategy for going the 50-mile distance. Along the way, he stopped for a Pabst Blue Ribbon–after fortifying himself with cookies and a quesadilla.

Victory Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing have formed a joint venture which, they hope, will allow them to stay independent and stay competitive in a consolidating industry.

Bay area rapper E-40 has released his own brand of malt liquor, which checks in at 10% ABV. Deadspin.com’s Patrick Redford tried a bottle (a 40-ouncer, of course) and gave it a resounding thumbs-down.

World of Beer is looking to hire three people for what it calls “the internship of a lifetime.” Interns will get to travel, drink, and share their adventures with the world—and get paid for it.

Finally, Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse has teamed up with Hi-Five Doughnuts to create a new beer called “Mmm…D’oh! Nuts.” The doughnuts and vanilla glaze—a gallon’s worth—created a smoky beer with a root beer-like sweetness.

The Friday Mash (Tom McCall Edition)

Today would have been the 100th birthday of former Oregon governorTom McCall. He’s best known for environmental initiatives, including the nation’s first returnable bottle bill. The Oregon Brewers Fest takes place every July at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in York Haven, Pennsylvania, where Jeff Lebo has built a house for his collection of 83,000 vintage beer cans. His Brewhouse Mountain Eco-Inn offers overnight accommodations.

Serving miners? Krogh’s Brew Pub of Sparta, New Jersey, is storing casks of Imperial Stout in an old iron and zinc mine. They’ll be tapped at next year’s celebration of Krogh’s 15th anniversary party as a brewpub.

Iron Maiden, the heavy metal band, has teamed up with the Robinsons brewery to brew its own beer: Trooper, named after one of the band’s most popular songs.

Victory Brewing Company and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery are hosting “Amber Waves,” an exhibition of beer and the art promoting it at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference.

After Thomas Knight of Key West got caught stealing from an airport bar at 5:40 am, security handed him a trespass warning. At least he isn’t on the no-fly list.

Homebrewer Robert Scott has invented the Tapit Cap, which keeps growlers of beer fresh and carbonated. He’s trying to raise $80,000 on Kickstarter to bring his device to market.

Finally, a toast to Mark and Mandie Murphy, who have opened a baseball-themed brewery in Ontario. The Left Field Brewery’s lineup includes the wonderfully-named 6-4-3 Double IPA.

The Friday Mash (Rocket Science Edition)

One hundred years ago today, Wernher von Braun, the greatest rocket scientist in history, was born in Germany. He was the architect of NASA’s Saturn V launch vehicle that propelled Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon on July 20, 1969.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Grand Rapids, Michigan’s craft beer capital, where the city’s Public Museum plans to add a brewing history exhibit.

All About Beer magazine’s Brian Yaeger wandered into the cinematic archives and dredged up the 1985 film Beer starring Loretta Swit and Rip Torn. Here’s his review.

Soon it will be easier for brewery startups to raise capital online. The U.S. Senate approved the CROWDFUND Act, which will allow businesses to raise up to $1 million through government-approved crowd-sourcing portals.

Good news and bad news from Victory Brewing Company. It’s about to reach capacity at its current facility, but will build a second brewery not far away. The new location will use water with the same mineral composition as Victory’s original brewery.

New York City’s craft beer has gotten oodles of publicity, but Long Island has quietly been upping its game as well. Imbibe magazine’s Josh Bernstein knows where to find good beer on “the Island.”

James Fallows, the Atlantic’s national correspondent, took time out from weightier issues to report on Australia’s craft beer explosion.

Finally, global warming didn’t cause the extreme heat in Columbus last month. The culprit was the Elevator Brewing Company’s Ghost Scorpion Lager, which was brewed with the hottest peppers on Earth.

Is Pale Ale Getting Its Mojo Back?

Pale ale was the style that put Sierra Nevada on the map and introduced millions of Americans to craft beer. In recent years, it’s been eclipsed by India pale ale and IPA’s bigger, more imperial brothers. However, according to Greg Kitsock of the Washington Post, reports of pale ale’s death are exaggerated. Victory Brewing Company, spotting an “unoccupied niche,” has added Headwaters Pale Ale to the lineup; and, at the other end of the country, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, famous for its unfiltered wheat beer, brought out Drifter Pale Ale a few years ago.

We have it on good authority that summer will eventually come. Really. When it does, you’ll be looking for alternatives to high-gravity beer. Perhaps it’s time to give pale ale another try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll fall back in love with it.

Is Collaboration the Beer Trend of 2010?

Greg Kitsock’s latest entry on the Washington Post food blog, All We Can Eat, is about collaboration ales by the nation’s top brewmasters.

Already this year, we’ve seen the release of the first beer in Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s 30th anniversary series, along with a saison brewed by Stone Brewing Company in collaboration with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Victory Brewing Company.

There’s more to come. Boston Beer Company is working with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan brewery on a wheat beer that will be “high in alcohol yet Champagne-like and light on the palate.” It will, of course, comply with the German Reinheitsgebot.

And you might remember “Masters III,” a collaboration by Coors, Molson, and Germany’s Kaltenberg that made a brief appearance during the mid-1980s. Greg certainly does. He describes it as “a Michelob/Beck’s/Heineken clone, not far enough outside the mainstream to justify the hype or extra price.” Masters III disappeared from the market after less than a year. Or, as Ludwig would say, “it wasn’t a roaring success.”

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