Bellingham Beer Lab to Kickoff Membership Drive

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Want to own a brewery? Well, how about just a piece of a brewery? The Bellingham Beer Lab (BBL) is a cooperatively owned brewery incubator that has been in the planning stages for several months. The membership drive kicks off this Saturday, September 29 with a brewing demonstration at Cheese Meat(s) Beer, a beer-focused restaurant in downtown Bellingham.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The wait is almost over for Bellingham beer lovers who want a chance to own a share of their own community brewery. Bellingham Beer Lab, a cooperatively owned brewery incubator that has been in the planning stages for more than a year, will kick off its consumer membership drive Saturday, Sept. 29 during a brewing demonstration at Cheese Meat(s) Beer in downtown Bellingham.
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Japanese Sake Makers Shake Off Tradition, Try Brewing Craft Beer

Kiuchi Brewery vice president Youichi Kiuchi holds a bottle of his company’s Hitachino Nest beer. To make beer, the brewery is using equipment that once was used for sake

Written by Lucy Craft for NPR

Until recently, if you ordered Japanese beer, there weren’t many to choose from. Before the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, four major brewers — Asahi, Suntory, Sapporo and Kirin – controlled the manufacture of Japanese beer.

But the major brands’ domination is ebbing, for reasons that have as much to do with Japan’s ancient history as with its evolving palates. And now some traditional sake brewers are ditching the tradition and trying their hand at craft beer brewing.

From a dusty country road about 100 miles north of Tokyo rises the white-washed facade of a sake brewery. Here in the quiet town of Naka, the Kiuchi family has been brewing Japan’s ancient rice wine for seven generations, since the time of the shoguns.

But these days, the beverage rolling off Kiuchi’s production line would make its 19th century founders squirm. The brewery is now a leading maker of micro-beer.

“That building furthest away used to produce sake,” says vice president Youcichi Kiuchi as he shows me around. “Now it’s only for brewing beer.”

The humid air inside the newly expanded plant is fragrant with malt and wheat. After being in the beer business for just 15 years, the company will produce more than 250,000 gallons of craft beer this year, earning about $8 million. Half of that is destined for pubs and supermarkets in the United States.

Kiuchi Brewery is among scores of Japanese sake makers that have branched into craft beer. The most successful have seen year-on-year growth of as much 40 percent, in the face of a long, slow decline for sake.

Ry Beville, publisher of The Japan Beer Times, says that demand for craft beer is unprecedented.

“A lot of people are saying 2012 is the year of craft beer in Japan,” he says. “You’re seeing an explosion of craft beer bars and restaurants in Tokyo. There’s over 100. All across the country, they’re popping up every week.”

For Youichi Kiuchi, shifting into beermaking was not just a savvy business move, but an act of personal liberation. Making beer, he says, has literally changed his life.

“Making sake is like judo or flower arranging – you’re judged by how well you stick to the rules; there’s no margin for improvisation,” Kiuchi says. “But beer is about doing what you want. It’s fun to make and sell. Sake is hard to make and tough to sell.”
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Bottoms Up! Local Brew Bus Launches in November

Written by Jamie McGee for The Nashville Business Journal

From the man who brought Nashville the East Nashville Beer Festival, 12 South Winter Warmer and Brew at the Zoo, now comes a new beer event — this time on wheels.

Matt Leff, founder of events company Rhizome Productions, launches the Nashville Brew Bus on Nov. 3, transporting craft beer lovers from breweries to brewpubs to bars serving locally brewed beer in a motor coach.

“Any major city with a good beer scene has some form of a brew bus,” Leff said. “In the past two years, we’ve seen great growth” in the Nashville craft beer market.

That growth includes the opening of Fat Bottom Brewing in East Nashville and Turtle Anarchy Brewing Co. in Franklin in the last two months, in addition to the opening in recent years of Jackalope Brewing Co., Calfkiller Brewing Co. and Blackstone Brewing Co., which recently restarted its bottling and distribution efforts.

Leff’s tour will begin at the Flying Saucer and include stops at three to four breweries where participants can sample different beers. Participants will also stop at a craft beer bar, such as 3 Crow Bar, 12 South Taproom, M.L. Rose, etc., or a brew pub, such as Boscos Restaurant & Brewery or Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery. Food and a free pint will be included in the package, which Leff anticipates will be close to $45.
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