It’s the beginning of August, and by the inexorable laws of seasonal creep, that means it’s officially Oktoberfest season in taprooms and bottle shops across the country. Most folks assume the word “Oktoberfest” on a beer label or tap list refers to a particular style, but it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Let’s talk about how we got here, and then get into the details of what’s what with Oktoberfest lagers.
It is still the biggest news to come out of the craft beer industry this year: Boston Beer Company purchased Dogfish Head Brewery for a reported sum of $300 million. The move merges the two brands under the collective roof of Boston Beer Company bringing together the 2nd (Boston Beer Co.) and 13th (Dogfish Head) biggest producers of craft beer in the U.S. It’s a massive move that caused shockwaves throughout the craft beer industry and beyond. Craft beer is no longer in its startup phase: It is big business, which sometimes warrants massive moves that can shift the entire trajectory of the market with it.
Of course, Boston Beer Company bringing the Dogfish Head brand onboard also comes with the totemic leadership of its founder, Sam Calagione, who will sit on Boston Beer Company’s Board of Directors. Calagione has always been an outspoken and vibrant voice in the craft beer community who frequently zigs where others zags and takes pride in the innovative spirit on which Dogfish Head has built its market share. With the new merger comes a new role for Sam and a new path for Dogfish. In the days following, beer drinkers have voiced valid concerns that the Dogfish brand might get diluted or complacent post-acquisition. True to form, Calagione thinks otherwise and is rather bullish on what the merger can do for his brewery.
I asked Sam five questions about what life looks like for Dogfish Head in a post-merger world, what beer fans can expect from the brewery, the collaboration opportunities that are now available with Boston Beer Company and more. Here’s what he said.
River North Brewery sits on the corner of an unsuspecting, industrial, urban street in downtown Denver in the heart of River North district. You may miss it if you were just driving by, but if you are looking, the brewery stands out with a gorgeous polished metal sign on red brick with black paint. It fits in so well into the neighborhood that you could assume it has been there for years. Technically, they have been.
Nibbling cheese while sipping wine is a time-honored tradition, but an increasing number of breweries are challenging the old-fashioned wisdom and introducing pairing beer with cheese. Embracing beer and cheese may seem like a stretch but many experts contend that beer is actually a better partner for cheese.
I recently had the pleasure of attending Halfpenny Brewing Companyâ€™s monthly beer and cheese pairing in Centennial, Colo. and found that beer does indeed play nicely with cheese. According to Halfpenny co-owner/brewer Chris Reigrut, â€œBeer and cheese just make an excellent pairing.â€
Chances are, if you have been to a brewery before, you have been on a brewery tour. It’s an easy way to get the consumer closer to a brewery’s brand, process, and beer. While some offer hands-on exercises, unlimited samples, and specialized experiences, your typical, run-of-the-mill brewery tour is no longer memorable. Beer drinkers are much more educated and knowledgeable of the brewing process and the craft beer industry as a whole than they were 5 or 10 years ago. Sniffing hop pellets and looking at stainless steel fermenters can get dull after a while.
To stand out in today’s brewery tour landscape, you really have to offer something that goes beyond the status quo and provides a deeper connection to the brewery you’re visiting. Many national and regional breweries have realized that their brewery tour can help extend the beer drinker’s experience with them, which could help influence subsequent purchasing decisions at retail locations and bars. Offering something different and memorable is a great way to standout from the fray of local colleagues and regional competitors. Things like specialized tours and immersive tasting experiences are just a few ways that breweries have revamped their tours to better appeal to today’s beer drinking clientele.
When I stepped into 22 Northmen Brewing Company, I felt like I was in that scene of Beauty and the Beast when Gaston is singing his song.
We don’t always liken a brewery to our favorite Disney movie, but when we do it’s our highest form of flattery!
Their IPA might be their most well-known and widely-distributed, but my favorite Lagunitas Brewing Company offering is a beer that blurs the lines of the drinking experience. A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is a classic that can be enjoyed rain or shine, sun or snow. Its hearty ABV, unique wheat body, and complex flavor profile have made it a fan favorite for years. It’s also an employee favorite, says Lagunitas Brewmaster Jeremy Marshall. While the original has its perks, Lagunitas employees and brewers have had access to a version of A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ that has never graced retail shelves before now: an unfiltered-version designed to taste like you’re drinking it straight from the tank. That was the inspiration for their newest offering and Sumpin’ Sumpin’ sibling, Little Sumpin’ Hazy.
In 2015, the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective was born out of Oskar Blues Holding Company in what began as a financial partnership with Fireman Capital Partners, a Boston area private equity firm. The Collective brought together a group of like-minded brewers who still maintain their independence under the Brewers Association’s definition of a small and independent brewery, but have also become part of a unified entity that has allowed for greater collaboration of ideas, resources and distribution networks. Just two months after the formation of CANarchy, Oskar Blues brought Michigan’s Perrin Brewing Company to the fold and have since added four others.
We all know the cliché, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” In theory, that advice can be applied to beer as well but yet, we all ignore that saying. In reality, the cover (or in the beer industry, the label) is what sells the first can or bottle, while the contents sell the following case and create loyalty. It would be foolish to think the package doesn’t matter. The design wrapped around the liquid tells the story of the product and the company.
Stories are the foundation of human experience and connection and Portland, ME based artist Heidi Geist has quite the story. She is in the midst of a cross-country endeavor to explore and experience the American craft beer culture through label art. I had a great conversation with her about the 48 Beer Project, how it got started, what she is experiencing and the works she creates.
What does it mean to be a craft brewer in 2019? For many, sticking with the status quo is no longer business as usual. Brewers today understand their consumers on a deep level and have more data than ever on their preferences. One of the newer preferences that continues to make waves outside of the typical craft beer market is hard or “spiked” seltzer.
Well before we met Sam and Libby, we were familiar with the pair’s brand and products.
Their enamel pins are some of the most creative, unique and wear-able beer-related accessories we’ve seen. Katie wears her hop pin regularly, swapping it …
Denver’s oldest and largest production brewery is getting back to basics. Great Divide Brewing will celebrate its 25th Anniversary by bringing the party back to their original Arapahoe Street location for a block party-style celebration this Saturday from 2-5pm, as it had done for so many years.
The weekend’s festivities will also feature several familiar nods with 14 variant takes on their iconic Yeti Imperial Stout, including 25th Anniversary Big Yeti, a higher octane 13.5% version available on draft and in 19.2 oz cans to-go, and never before released Maple Pecan and S’mores versions.
A brewer’s influence can expand well beyond the beer you buy in a taproom or the cans you see on shelves. Craft brewers today realize that their presence in their local communities can inspire positive change and network effects that help their neighbors and taproom regulars alike. Athens, GA-based Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is one of the breweries defining what it means for a brewer to be authentically connected to their community. In early 2018, Creature Comforts hired Matt Stevens to be their Community and Culture Director; his job description includes running their Get Comfortable and Get Artistic charity initiatives.
One of the country’s most prolific new beer festivals returns this Saturday in the 2019 WeldWerks Invitational, and we now know exactly what to expect. The Greeley, CO-based brewery has announced their pour list for Saturday’s SOLD OUT event taking …
After the great success of their collaboration last year, Westbound & Down Brewing Company teamed up with Goed Zuur, Denver’s premier sour/wild-focused beer bar, once again to create a unique blend for the Five Points Jazz Fest. Today, the two collaborators are releasing Acid Jazz Vol. 2 with a special opening taking place at Westbound and Down’s The Cultural Center today, June 14, from 3-7 p.m.
I spent four days in Austria. The majority of that time was spent exploring Vienna, but I also ventured to Salzburg for a full-day experience and I’m very thankful I did. Taking the 2.5 hour train through the scenic Austrian countryside made the trip fly by. Snow peaks and shimmering lakes whirred by from the comfy view of the cabin seat. Then, the Untersberg appeared, a northern peak of the Alps, rising high above; below the mountain sits Salzburg, a historical city home to 150,000 inhabitants and a timeless beer tradition.
When I lead beer tastings and classes, I often hear people express a common misconception: lagers are inferior to ales. This idea is starting to change as craft lagers become more popular, but there is still plenty of confusion out there about lagers, and for good reason—with so many styles, craft beer can be confusing! Fortunately, misconceptions about lagers are pretty simple to clear up.
If you donut know, National Donut Day is today (June 7)! For all you beer lovers out there who indulge in a donut every now and then, perhaps with an emphasis on the “now,” here’s a pairing that will make your taste buds dance in joy.
There’s always some fun in pairing various foods, sweets, desserts, etc. with various different types of beers. This particular pairing puts an emphasis on the sweet. The dough-y fried/baked goodness that is a donut is such a sweet treat to enjoy on all occasions. So, in preparation for National Donut Day, we hit up Voodoo Doughnuts and raided the beer fridge to create this perfect pairing.
Amidst stunning architecture and a scenic landscape filled with rolling hills, snowy mountain caps, and rushing rivers, lies a long-standing brewing tradition primed for new growth. Austria is home to over 300 brewers now who made 9.8 million hectoliters (there are roughly 0.85 bbls/hectoliter) of beer last year; its people drink more than 110 liters of beer per year – only behind the Czech Republic and Germany for most Europe. Vienna, Austria’s capital, is a fitting image of the current state of the country’s beer scene. Many bars only have taps from storied breweries like Ottakringer or Trumer available. Zwickel, Helles and Pils reign supreme. IPAs are little more than a passing rumor with beers over 6% routinely raising eyebrows. It’s a city fixed between consistency and curiosity. All of these market factors were on display when I visited the Wiener Bierfest recently, just steps from the historic St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
It’s been a few weeks now since we made a quick beercation to Chicago and Milwaukee.
We thought about compiling all 17 breweries we visited into a single post but decided that wouldn’t be any fun to write or for you to read. We considered highlighting our top five favorite breweries in each city, but thought that would be too cliche. Instead, in a moment of clever wit, we decided to feature three breweries: the first brewery we visited, the funkiest brewery and our favorite brewery in each city. We hope you enjoy “Eff” Milwaukee!