Bucket List vs. Surprise Find

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?

The Best Beer Event?

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!

Check out my post from a past summit.

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Can We Still Learn From Samuel Adams?

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.

1994 Brew Reserve Triple Bock,
1994 Brew Reserve Triple Bock, 8.45 oz Colbalt Blue Bottle, coming in at a massive 17% ABV

So What Does 22 Mean In Beer Years?

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or just DBA is turning 22 & they are celebrating with a beer dinner.

Happy Birthday, DBA!

For those of us old enough to remember drinking beer (legally) before the existence of DBA & Firestone Walker, congratulations on still being able to remember things.

Back before Social Media and second wave of craft beer began, when you discovered a beer it was a major achievement. Now I don’t remember my first DBA. I do remember not knowing anything about the company. Were they new? Established? Related to a tire company? What I did know was that I found a beer and brewery that would change my understanding of beer and what it could be.

I’ve used DBA as a gateway beer for many of my non-craft friends. The expectation of somewhat darker, fuller bodied beer would often scare off the doubters. Inevitably, I got them to take a sip of my DBA…instant perception change. I might not have won them over, but now they were a little more open to experimenting, and straying away from their norm.

While you may think DBA is not cutting edge in today’s beer world, Firestone Walker still holds a patent for their Union System that is used in the fermentation process. And with four golds and one silver at the Great American Beer Festival, this beer has some serious street cred.

The fact that Firestone Walker is celebrating its 22nd year of existence, is as much as a celebration of its longevity as it is a celebration how far craft beer has come.

Do you think we will see DBA in a nitro can this year? I know it would make the Lion happy.

The Menu:

  • Double Barrel Ale: Welcome beer
  • Agrestic with fresh locally sourced fruit & cheese
  • Reginald Brett with an arugula salad with fresh citrus, toasted almonds, & raspberry vinaigrette
  • Rye Double DBA with NY steak potpie with flakey pastry dough, peas, carrots & beef gravy
  • UDBA with Chocolate pretzel brownie with caramelized bananas

BarrelRoom

Listen To Your Beer

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
  • Homebrewing

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.