Check out my recent article on The Full Pint
If you’re more than a “I’ll have what he’s or she’s having” beer drinker, you most likely have some sort of beer bucket list. Maybe it’s a brewery visit, a specific beer or even a cool bar. Or all of the above, on a multi-tab, color coded spreadsheet divided by how long it would take to get there..it.
What about breweries?
Having knocked out a fair number of my brewery bucket list over the years, I’m often wondering if my perception of how great it would be, really pans out. If my expectations were way too high from the start. Unrealistic?
For as many bucket list breweries I’ve checked off, I would have to imagine I’ve had double or triple the amount of unexpected awesome brewery surprises.
How about you? Is your brewery bucket list really holding up?
Have you been disappointed by an experience at favorite brewery? I know I have, but is that my fault. Is it a brewery’s responsibility to wow me?
What if you could go to a beer event and try amazing beers, find out about industry trends & issues and talk to some of the biggest names in California beer?
I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of beer event that gets me hyped. Having gone to all the previous California Craft Beer Summits, I’m excited about this year’s summit.
3 days of activities including 28+ educational seminars, an expo where you can talk to manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors while sampling beer from all over California. And it’s that’s not enough there are Food and beer pairings and the summit ends with a beer festival on the State Capitol featuring 160 California breweries.
Check it out, I tell me you don’t think it’s a great event. California Craft Beer Summit!
It’s a good thing we like each other!
While my wife and I are not new to road trips, the planning can get a bit
heated stressful, and this trip planning was not an easy one.
- 2 – Flights
- 9 – States
- 2 – Baseball Games
- 2655 – Miles of Driving
- 15 – days of Travel
- 1 – 30th Anniversary
- ? Breweries, Distilleries, and Generally Cool Spots
A little backstory; With a big move last year, a new house and a new job, we decided to put our big 30th Anniversary trip on hold and keep our vacation on the low-key side. The vacation destination(s) were pretty easy to pick. My wife has a goal to visit all 50 States, and she only has 5 left. Although, It would be nice if they were all near each other. Buy hey, more breweries for me. When this trip is complete, she will still have Florida and Louisiana to hit.
We are using Chicago as our hub, both beginning and ending. From there we will be visiting Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan. There is also a handful of “drive-thru” States we will be seeing in our travels.
l look forward to reporting back. I’m sure there will be at least a few beers along the way.
Every one-year-old needs a beer brewed specifically for their birthday party!
A week or so ago I put a poll question on Facebook, asking what beer I should brew for my grandson’s 1st birthday party. Saison just edged out IPA.
Brewing a Saison as my first batch of homebrew after my move to Sacramento seems to be fitting. Sacramento was once home to one of my favorites, Odonata. And I’m expecting it soon to be home to one of my new favorites from Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse.
Strangely (or way too obvious) both come from the same brewer extraordinaire and really nice guy, Peter Hoey.
Now I’ve never seen a clone recipe for the Odonata Saison, it did inspire me to brew a number of Saisons. Including one for my daughter’s wedding that was aged on Brett and peaches.
We some time and equipment restrictions (I’m still unpacking my equipment), I thought I would brew a fairly basic Saison that would come in right around 5% ABV, a perfect beer for summer.
So this is what I’m thinking
88% Pilsner Malt
6% Munich Malt
5% Wheat Malt
1% Carapils Malt
I’m going to see what’s available when I hit the homebrew store. The plan is to keep the IBU’s (as if anyone cares anymore) to around or just below 30. I will most likely stick with a 2 hops varieties, with additions at 60 min, 10 min, flame out and dry hop. It might be nice to try using some of the newer varietals for this batch.
White Labs WLP568 Saison blend has always worked really well for me. I should probably stick with what works on this batch.
If all goes as planned, this beer will be kegged and on tap just in time for the birthday party.
Here is one of my Saison recipes that I brewed back in 2012.
Just a quick update, the electrical installation is set to begin.
I hired a electrician to take care of the wiring side, but I will be doing all the grunt work. I’ve been a little scared to measure how far I need to dig the trench for the conduit, but I’m guessing it comes in about 75′ with a little tunneling to get under a small section of sidewalk.
50 amp sub-panel to provide enough power to run a small AC unit, refrigerator, lights and a handful of outlets.
If all goes well I will be able to move my fridge in soon and plan my first brewday. This will give me more time to plan the rest of the build-out.
What type of material should I use for the interior walls?
4/14/18 Update: the trench for the electrical conduit has been dug. Tomorrow I will break-out the concrete and weather permitting, the wiring goes in on Monday.
More business, less beer!
Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over A Beer Or Two
I get it, Sam Adams (Boston Beer Company) is not the cool beer on the market. But if you’ve been drinking craft beer as long I have, you might have a deeper appreciation for what the Boston Beer Company has brought to the craft beer scene. You may not be drinking their beer, but they still do make some really good beers. I’ve always enjoyed their Octoberfest.
I can still remember being pretty excited when they introduced a new seasonal or even a new style that I wasn’t familiar with. I will admit, there a quite a few beer styles I had never tried, until the Boston Beer Company made the introduction. Do you remember Triple Bock? That maple bomb might have been the beginning of the Pastry Sou…Nope not going there. Cranberry Lambic anyone? Sure it might not be a great example of a sour or funky beer, but I’m pretty certain it’s the first one of that style I ever had. And guess what, good beer or not, it got me looking for and drinking more sour and wild beers.
So what does this have to do with a book that states it’s about business lessons? For me, it meant I was going to cut it a little slack (just being honest) for all the great memories I had trying, drinking, sharing beers from the Boston Beer Company.
The book is presented through the company’s timeline from inspiration to current times. Each chapter is geared towards giving you a business lesson told with some homespun wisdom from Jim Koch.
While I didn’t get a lot of insight from the business side, I did learn a lot about the business. Like the fact that he had a female business partner when the company was launched. Or that he struggled with the sales part of the business, which would seem to contradict his media presence.
The book is really a grouping of short stories about the history of the Boston Beer Company. Koch talks about failures, success, and the challenges of staying relevant. There are even stories about the brewing industry and how breweries like AB (InBev) and Brooklyn Brewing tried to take them down or at least tarnish their reputation.
All in all the book was a fun, quick read. Although it presents it’s as a business book, it really is more of a history lesson through the eyes of Koch. No doubt there is some fluff and maybe a bit of exaggeration, but if you have read anything about Jim Koch you probably won’t be surprised.
And you thought beer was just for drinking!
I am talking about podcasts. Do you listen to podcasts? On your commute, in the gym, on the toilet; just about every topic covered by podcasts. Whether it’s news and commentary, music, sports, religion, hobbies, entertainment, fiction and non-fiction, every topic is covered. And yes, BEER.
I will admit, I love podcasts. And I will also admit that many are just not that good. Poor sound quality, way too long, self-absorbed hosts or just boring. But that doesn’t mean that all are bad. In fact, some are done so well and engaging, that you don’t want to turn them off.
So where does beer come in? Why would anyone want to talk about, let alone listen to other people talk about it? Beer is certainly a fine and tasty beverage, but it’s also a hobby. If you follow it close enough, you’ll find the beer community skirts closely to the Real Brewers of “insert your favorite City“. Trademark infringements, tap handle wars, sell-outs, venture capital, new releases, new breweries, homebrewing and just about anything else.
Beer podcasts fall into a few categories, but most blur the lines a bit between styles.
- Beer Reviews and Tasting
- Interviews and story-driven
- News and education
My favorite beer podcasts are ones that are having fun while trying to educate. After all, it’s still beer, and it should be fun. It’s nice to listen to a show that mixes it up a bit. I can only listen to somebody blather about what they think of a particular beer for so long. I try not to get too caught up in what other peoples opinions are. Taste is a personal thing.
Some of my favorite shows:
Four Brewers – Beer reviews and tasting notes, social commentary, humor (sometimes a bit crude) and the occasional interview. They even throw in some homebrew talk on occasion. A fun show that doesn’t take itself or beer too seriously.
The Full Pint – A long-standing beer blog that jumped into podcasting a while back. Beer news and interviews make up the bulk of the show. They cover a wide array of beer topics, and the Full Pint crew has been reporting on craft beer news longer than most.
Good Beer Hunting – Deep Cuts! This show digs in on all aspects of beer from brewing to sales and distribution. They also cover all beer. From Nanos to macro, and stories from the entire brewing world. This show covers the business side of brewing really well, and not just craft.
Steal This Beer – A little loud and a little drunk. This is an interview show that includes blind tasting and analysis of beer drank out of blacked out glasses. This show also concentrates on the business side of beer but keeps it on the lighter side. Best described as a conversation about beer in a bar after everyone has had a few. Oh wait, that’s exactly what this show is.
Beervana – This show is self-described as “about the art, culture, economics, and business of beer and brewing”. While a totally agree with their description, I would say this podcast keeps it a bit lighter and academic. This is a good show for someone not wanting to get caught up in too much hype, or beer business. This fits a really good middle ground.
Basic Brewing – Homebrewing! HOMEBREWING and Homebrewing? I would recommend this show to anyone who homebrews, is thinking about homebrewing or is just interested in how beer is made on the home level. Practical, informative, fun and a bit homey. This show is a podcast classic that is still putting out great shows.
The Brewing Network (multiple shows) – I saved this for last, for a few of reasons. First off, it’s a network. Many shows and topics to choose from. Highly produced and commercialized, but a wealth of great information to be had. Check them out for yourselves.
If you’re a regular participant in the local beer scene, you might even know your local beer podcaster. I became friends with all of the Four Brewers at different times, years before they began their show. The Full Pint crew are regulars at beer events in Southern California and are always happy to share in some solid beer conversation.
I know, there are way too many shows to listen to every week. A few I listen to every week. Some I read the description and only listen to the episodes that interest me. How you listen is up to you. If these shows don’t work for you, search for your own favorites.
- Protip – Speed up the playback just a bit. You’ll get more listening in and if something really peaks your interest, you can always go back and listen again.
Is having a brewery in every neighborhood good, if they are just producing average beer?
I absolutely love the fact that it’s really easy to find a brewery just about anywhere in California. It’s also pretty damn easy to find one when traveling. But are they any good? Are they really needed?
Fine, I’m guilty! I love trying new breweries. In fact, I’ve had a running goal of visiting 100 individual breweries for each the last 3 years. The goal (mostly) accomplished. But how many were truly memorable? How many are worth a second visit? Sadly, too many are just fine. Not flawed, but not exciting either.
So, back to the question? Do we really need a bunch of average breweries for the sake of having a lot of breweries? I’m starting to think not. Now, if your idea of a brewery in every neighborhood is more about having a local place to meet, drink and make friends… or a bar, fine. But now you have a bar with a super limited selection. While a brewery can be a fairly decent bar, I think real bars do BARS better.
If you walk into a brewery, sample a few beers and think “they didn’t suck”, is that good enough. Is that good enough to not give those beer dollars to a brewery you really enjoy? Not to mention time and effort lost on ho hum beer.
I really feel 2018 is going to be the year we start to see morebreweries close. And unfortunately, not all the closures will be bad breweries. Just look at the Oregon brewery The Commons. A highly regarded brewery with an average Untappd rating of 3.8 closed. Modern Times is taking over the facility. Beer consumption is down, I know, it’s hard to believe. If that trend continues, along with adding new breweries, beer dollars are going to be spread pretty thin.
If you care about well crafted beer, you need to support the breweries that are producing it. And, stop worrying about who owns what and if they are a social media darling. If your favorite spot is not cutting it, maybe it’s time you need to drop a few hints.
This doesn’t mean, no new breweries. This means new breweries need to step up. High quality and innovative beers needs to be the normal right out of the gate.
Cheers to great beer and the fans that support it.