Brew Biz: Werts and All

Wormtown Brewery
455 Park Avenue
Worcester, MA 01610

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Brew Biz is a column written by Ken Carman for Professor Goodales

I have spent a lot of time over the years touring New England as an entertainer. That has given me the delightful opportunity to interview some great brewers, sip beer as I watch sailboats float in and out of Kennebunkport from up high: Federal Jacks, and rave about David Wollner’s beer at Willimantic in Connecticut. One such experience was at least 10 years ago: I went to a “new” brewpub in Worcester, Mass… don’t ask me how “Worcester” is pronounced; I’ve asked residents in the past and I’ve heard at least three variations. Maybe you won’t even have to ask: they’ll just correct you with whatever version you don’t use.

Main Street was impressive: a bit too much for downtown Worcester: a city not exactly in that great economic shape at the time… but I admit maybe no place might have been that good. Huge brewery and bar downstairs, concert hall second floor, huge pool room and a walk around to see it all from on high? Trust me: these folks really over built. Ever since Main Street’s passing I have whispered to the beer Gods, over and over, how much Worcester really, really, really, really, really needed a new brewpub type restaurant. And they answered with Wormtown.

“Over built?”

Not Wormtown.

Though nothing in life is ever perfect, they do seem to be doing it right, proving there’s an obvious value to growing with demand instead of over building in advance. But I do wish it was more visual on the south side Route 9 coming out of Worcester. Easy to miss traveling east to west. From the west: headed into Worcester, it’s fine. I tell you this because I really would rather no one miss this fine jewel.

I saw the ad in Yankee Brew News and decided to swing by. It’s on Park Ave.: the part Route 9 headed West towards Spencer and Ware. (“Ware?’ ‘Ware.’ ‘Ware?’ ‘Ware…'” Abbott and Costello missed a great addition to the baseball routine.) On my first visit neither Ben: brewer and owner, or Tom: manager and owner of the restaurant, were there.

Small, little, place. No over build here.

I had a drop dead beautiful unto the taste buds Barleywine, and I’m rather critical of Barleywines, having sat through many a late night session of Big Bob’s Barleywine Bash in Pensacola Beach, and also as a winner of the “coveted” Big Bob Barleywine award. I bribed him, I admit, bringing lots of 10% and over quaffers each year.

Ben’s Barleywine would be perfect as is, but he went one better by added a touch of the oak cask during fermentation. Amazingly taste-rrific.

Damn. I knew I had to meet this brewer.

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Minnesota Survives A Cold Near-Beer Experience

Written by Scott Simon for NPR

The Ugly Mug restaurant and bar in Minneapolis displays a few of its MillerCoors products. (Jim Mone/AP)
Cold beer is on tap in Minnesota this weekend. But it was almost the casualty of the two-week shutdown of the state government that may have come to an end.

MillerCoors, which holds “brand label registrations” for 39 beers, including Miller, Coors, Blue Moon Pale and Hamm’s — almost 40 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota — sent in its renewal notice on June 15.

But the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Agency said that MillerCoors overpaid its registration fees and refused to stamp the paperwork.

MillerCoors sent another check immediately. Julian Green, director of media relations for MillerCoors, pointed out that beer is its business. “We don’t take securing our licenses lightly.”

But the state agency didn’t process the check by the time the state government shut down on June 30. Its employees were shut out. Hundreds of taverns and restaurants also worried that they could not sell alcohol because their license renewals were just piling up like wet coasters in state offices.
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