Unless you live under a beer can-shaped rock, you’ve likely heard the news that New Belgium Brewing will be acquired by Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Kirin, a Japanese brewing conglomerate.
New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan confirmed the announcement with a letter on Tuesday, saying that Kirin’s subsidiary will acquire 100 percent of the Colorado-based craft brewery. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019, dependent on New Belgium’s employee-owners agreeing to the sale.
DENVER — Jamie and Janna Williams have answered thousands of questions over the years at their homebrew shop, but the latest may be the hardest. “It’s been difficult to explain why we aren’t going to be around,” Jamie Williams said Tuesday. The couple made the decision to close their shop, CO-Brew, by the end of this year, citing a slowdown in business and the rising costs of keeping a business afloat in a growing city.
I saw a repost of an article in some publication called Punch(drink.com), on my Facebook feed, this morning, and I have to confess that I missed it when it first appeared…in 2016. That article can be reached by clicking the image. The basic premise is that rarity, in today’s craft beer culture, has come to equate to greatness and it traces the evolution of this phenomenon. It also, to which I have to object, assumes some degree of credibility for that notion. That, for me, is that part that gets me to jam by walking stick into the ground, fix the author with my best Galdolfian glare, and growl, “You shall not pass!!”
Side topic for this edition of A Beer Judge’s Diary: location, location, location
The one consistent thing I have found that’s a frequent challenge in any competition is the search for “the place.” I would have typed “the perfect place:” but of course there is no such thing. Every place has some downside. I’ve judged where there are jack hammers breaking up an old floor below me and a plank to walk downstairs once beer does what beer does: turn into Budweiser. I kid. Just think of the color.
Sometimes the location is a matter of cost and you end up with less than desirable conditions.
Knickerbocker, run by Saratoga Thoroughbrews (Saratoga Springs, NY) has had their changes. The first two times I judged this competition it was The Pump Station in Albany: fine in the morning but a busy brewpub can have problematic noise and other situations, as Music City Brewers found out with Boscos: a now extinct (mostly: one in Memphis) brewpub. Continue reading “ABJD: Knickerbocker, 2019”
I’m already getting a ton of emails, asking if I’m going to go ballistic – as I did with 10 Barrel and Ely**an – about New Belgium selling out to Kirin/Lion. Yeah, I do pretty splashy snark and they’re fun to read. Fun to write, too…
“…When twin brothers Chris and Jeremy Cox (10 Barrel Brewing) decided to brew their own beer, they were co-owners of a successful bar and grill in downtown Bend, Oregon. They didn’t have any direct experience brewing, but told anybody who’d listen about their deep passion for craft beers and their determination to break into the industry. That, as we see graphically now, was all bullshit. What the Brothers Cox were after was a Big Payday; a rosy dream of building a disposable enterprise that would eventually catch the eye of some huge mega-corp who would back a truck up to their loading dock and shovel dollar bills out the back until they buried Jeremy and Chris Cox in a sweet dream of Caribbean beaches and cold drinks with little umbrellas in them and hot and cold running babes.”
It’s a word that evokes Victor Hugo’s Paris, and could pass as the name of a pre-Prohibition cocktail. To brewers, however, a grisette is more than a word. It’s a relatively old beer style with roots in the Belgian province of Hainaut, along the French border. Its defining characteristics are, like the beer itself, somewhat hazy, due to the fact that little information about grisettes survived into the present day. And while these “little gray” beers are grouped with saisons in the farmhouse ale family, they are thought to have been brewed for workers who labored in mines, not fields. In spite of a dearth of details, quite a few brewers have nonetheless taken to this obscure style, and have arrived at three general points of agreement: Grisettes should be lower alcohol ales made with malted wheat that lean into their hop character.
The two beers that I received from Crux Fermentation Project, earlier this week, can be reviewed in just one word:
That’s it. Thanks for reading and remember to tip your server!
I’ll try to make this brief because it’s really very simple: Crux, as we have all come to know them, (because “Crux Fermentation Project” is a mouthful…literally and figuratively) is one of the most purely accomplished breweries in the US. No brewer is going to argue with that and very few beer fans would. They operate on a plane with Deschutes and Dogfish and Stone and Jolly Pumpkin and Cigar City and maybe a dozen other breweries whose brewmasters have established that the name on the label guarantees something exceptional in your glass. There is no such thing as a “Meh” Crux beer. The only real question is to what degree will these beers push our pleasure buttons. And Crux, like those other breweries mentioned, never rests on their laurels. In fact, as with Deschutes – both before, during and after Larry Sidor, Crux brewmaster and co-owner, was there – Crux keeps tweaking and evaluating and improving even their greatest successes.
The Maltose Falcons needed a lot of beer for our 45th Anniversary Party and we got some of our favorite breweries in LA involved in the mayhem. In this episode, Drew sits done with the wild and wacky crew at Transplants Brewing Company to discuss making a Pumpkin Beer that’s not a Pumpkin Beer in more than just one way. And then Drew shares his thoughts on the final beer along with the recipe that inspired it.
Those are the words of Bay Area brewing legend Ron Silberstein, founder of ThirstyBear Brewpub in San Francisco and Admiral Maltings across the Bay in Alameda. Over two decades after it was founded, ThirstyBear remains innovative in a competitive market, while Admiral Maltings is making waves in an entrenched industry.
“Some of the bigger malting companies can make a thousand tons in a batch,” said Silberstein. “We can’t do that in a year.” And yet, he adds, “Malt freshly out of the kiln has aroma and flavor that can’t be duplicated by malt that’s generally at least a year old by the time you get it.”
In the country’s nascent quest for new expressions within beer, Silberstein provides a compelling path toward new scents, flavors, and ways of doing business.