Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Baden-Württemberg is a panoply of delightful beer experiences. Just across the Danube from Bavaria, Ulm is one of Germany’s more underrated beer destinations. The university town of Tübingen, where Goethe once studied, makes for an ideal beer stop en route to the Black Forest. Freiburg is home to a hilltop beer garden surrounded by vineyards. And, of course, there’s Stuttgart, home of an autumn beer festival every bit as enjoyable as Oktoberfest.

Over the years I’ve introduced you to numerous beer gardens across Bavaria. Since many of you don’t confine your travels to Bavaria, and since Baden-Württemberg brews beers every bit as good, I thought you might want to hear about some of the shaded beer groves in this region. Here are a few worth putting on your beer travel itinerary.

Close to France and Switzerland, Freiburg is one of those towns that combines the best of beer and wine. With its soaring filigree cathedral steeple and medieval gates standing sentry at different entry points around the city, it’s a beautiful city worth a trip for more than just the beer.

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Music Composer/Entrepreneur Pairing Craft Beer & Curated Sound At Hudson Valley Events

Joe Chris is a young talented music composer and entrepreneur – a pairing Chris hopes will open doors. Speaking of pairing, Chris, whose real name is Joe Hahnenfeld, is using his entrepreneurial chops to develop a unique alignment – curated musical experiences with food and beer tastings.

What Chris is selling is not just background music designed to enhance a culinary event; rather the arranged music is a custom-designed soundtrack composed to be part of the sensory and immersive pleasure of sipping a specific craft beer. Over the course of these events, known as Sonic Tastings, participants sample four flights of beer and nibble on finger foods while listening to guided compositions for each beer.

Two Ladders Brewing Company in West Nyack will be holding Sonic Tastings monthly; the next event will be held on August 12, and a portion of the proceeds for the ticketed event will go to People to People, the food pantry in West Nyack. Chris has been test-driving the pairings concept at other breweries over the past year, including Industrial Arts Brewing Company in Garnerville, Stony Point Brewing Company in West Haverstraw, and Slate Point Meadery in Poughkeepsie.

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The Pour Fool Budweiser vs. American Craft Beer: An Update

Adolphus Busch

By Stephen Body

What if a good friend wrote you a letter…and in this letter, your friend said that he or she needed your help; would possibly suffer without it? What if that friend was facing a profound injustice. Would you stand up with them and say, “This Far and No Farther!” What if it were even simpler than that? What if they just had their roof damaged in a big windstorm and you wanted to help. Would you grab that hammer, climb the ladder, lend them a tarp, bring a dinner plate so they’d know you’re there for them?

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Once-Booming Craft Beer Market Stalled At 0% Growth In 2022, Brewers Association Reports. Now What?

It was the first year craft beer had not grown market share.

Ignoring 2020, a year when almost every industry suffered anomalous results, craft beer had grown every year for as long as anyone can remember. But when Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, took to the stage to present his state of the industry address at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference, he reported that the streak was over. The Brewers Association, the trade group representing small and independent brewers, had determined that the craft beer achieved 0% growth in 2022.

“We’d certainly seen slower growth even prior to Covid,” says Watson. Craft beer had been growing by double-digit percentages year-over-year for decades, but this had slowed to single-digits since 2016 (in 2020, the industry actually shrank by 10% as the pandemic…

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Sapporo USA Will Shut Down Anchor Brewing Co.

Update: At 4:44am ET on 7/12/2023, roughly 12 hours after this story was published, Anchor Brewing Company issued a press release announcing it will cease operations and liquidate its business. VinePair will be updating reporting throughout the day.

Today at 9 a.m. local time, employees of Anchor Brewing Co. will gather at the historic San Francisco firm’s plant on Potrero Hill for an all-hands meeting with leaders from its parent company, Sapporo USA. There, they’ll be told that the storied company will cease operation and be liquidated, ending 127 years of production.

A representative for Anchor Brewing Co., Sam Singer, issued a press release early on the morning of July 12 announcing the closure. VinePair first reported yesterday on the imminent possibility that Sapporo USA would shutter the iconic brewery, which it acquired in 2017. Now, America’s first craft brewery and the maker of the Bay Area-born Steam Beer will be sold for parts.

It’s an unceremonious demise for the famous brewery. Anchor and Sapporo USA declined multiple requests for comment in the run-up to this watershed decision. In the release, Singer attributes the decision to a mix of familiar factors: “the impacts of the pandemic, inflation, especially in San Francisco, and a highly competitive market left the company with no option but to make this sad decision to cease operations.”

Current and former workers cite another factor: Sapporo USA’s ownership itself. Over the past few years, they tell VinePair, the Japanese conglomerate’s United States’ subsidiary has been deferring necessary plant maintenance, picking fights with its union, and investing in costly automation equipment in hopes of retrofitting the urban manufacturing landmark into a facility that could handle its lager-based ambitions. A controversial 2021 rebrand caused anguish among workers and drinkers alike who viewed the vivid packaging and slick logo as an affront to Anchor’s singular, artisanal aesthetic. Continue reading “Sapporo USA Will Shut Down Anchor Brewing Co.”

When Beer Goes Flat

America has fallen out of love with beer, the story goes. Sales are down. Market share is shrinking. Spirits-based drinks are ascendant. And for breweries, a storm is coming.

That story is incomplete, at the very least. A seismic shift really is occurring within the beer industry, which weathered a pandemic that kept Americans out of bars and, before that, withstood the Trump administration’s trade war that put a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, and which now faces intense competition from hard seltzers like White Claw and Truly. Today American consumers have the most diverse array of alcoholic options, from the most diverse array of producers, in the country’s history. And while this may be great news for drinkers—especially those who don’t like beer-flavored beer—it may not be for brewers.

The overall business picture of beer is that it’s in decline. But the decline is not a free fall. Beer is still, by far, the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage by volume. In fact, overall alcohol consumption had actually increased in the past couple of decades leading into 2021. So, when alcohol industry analysts say beer is falling, they’re talking about beer losing market share of retail dollars. In 2022 spirit sales amounted to 42.9 percent, and beer accounted for 41.2 percent—its first year in second place.

Beer has actually been losing market share for some time. From 2011 to 2021, for example, Anheuser-Busch InBev—the conglomerate behind Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Stella Artois, and more—fell from 46.9 percent of the market to 38.6 percent. But now Americans’ changing taste in alcohol has reached an inflection point, and it isn’t the Budweiser bottle that’s sweating. If your brewery is very large—or, perhaps surprisingly, if it’s very small—you’ll likely find comfortable shelter from the storm coming for the beer market.

It’s the brewers in the middle—the craft-beer makers that have a regional or national footprint, the non-Buds, the non-Millers, what you probably think of as the good beers—that could get soaked.

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Britain’s Cask Ale Is Struggling. Is American-Style Craft Beer to Blame?

Dozens of London pubs have acquired a new decorative feature this summer. On bar tops across the city stand vaguely old-fashioned, totem pole-like objects amid serried ranks of colorful keg fonts. These are handpumps, traditionally used to serve cask ale — for so long a staple in this country. But in many of the British capital’s pubs, they’re now purely for show.

Covid-19 has been hard on cask ale, the “warm” British beer that completes its fermentation in the serving vessel. This is how it acquires its distinctive soft carbonation, a key part of what makes it so enjoyable and such a contrast to keg beer, which generally has carbon dioxide added from an outside source. Cask needs to be drunk quickly, within three days of being breached, because when beer is pumped out of the cask, air enters. Also known as “Real Ale,” a term coined by consumer organization the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in the 1970s, it’s best enjoyed at cellar temperature, around 53 degrees Fahrenheit, not chilled like keg.

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American Craft Beer: Confusing Evolution with The Apocalypse

Written by Steve Body
SO…within the past couple of months, some breweries have failed and some have made some drastic decisions, spurred along by the well-established New Reality of post-pandemic America. Yes, certainly Covid was exactly like a nuclear warhead, planted within an earth fault, exploding and wrecking shit in every direction. MANY business of all types closed the doors for good and some of those – actually a reasonably small number – were breweries. And of course, I read this morning that reaction to this latest couple of Unthinkable Events – The brilliant Lost Abbey scaling back, moving, and curtailing distribution to California only and Anchor Brewing cancelling their iconic Christmas Ale and similarly limiting distribution – constitute Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling and that “everything’s Changing!!”.

And that part, certainly, is true…but not for the reasons given.

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Deschutes “Symphonic Chronic”: Megaphonic

Written by Steve Body
There is a growing, well, for lack of a better term, “substratum” of US craft beer that’s been labeled “convenience store only”. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably seen some of ’em: tall, 19.2 ounce cans, usually cartoon or otherwise attention-grabbing artwork, and the message “9%” large and unmistakable, there on the front.

As one of those tiresome beer snots who does NOT, like EVER, buy his beer in a convenience store, I didn’t find out about these beers for a very long time. But we were taking one of our frequent day trips around this magical state of Washington, one sunny afternoon in late spring, and found ourselves in a line for a ferry, with maybe an hour to kill. As we were hungry and, on this unseasonably warm afternoon, THIRSTY, I walked out of the ferry lot to a nearby independent market and looked in their beer cooler and…it was like looking through Stargate. A whole new world was there, clearly visible…and a bit frightening.

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