Six-Pack of News, Volume 27: A New Best Beer in America

In the last Six-Pack earlier this month, I reported that ABI's October acquisition of a minority stake in RateBeer finally came to light. In the period since, some independent craft breweries have asked to have their beers removed from RateBeer. Good Beer Hunting recently hosted a roundtable discussing this backlash.

Related: Check out Six-Pack of News, Volume 26 for more on the RateBeer news!

The American Homebrewers Association and Zymurgy magazine released the 2017 list of the best beers in America, as voted on by Zymurgy readers. This year, Bell's Brewery's Two-Hearted Ale took top honors, dethroning Russian River's Pliny the Elder for the first time in 8 years. SFGATE has more, including some reasons for the new top beer, as well as comments from Bell's.

Beerpulse.com (likely among others) reported the Press Release from Boulevard Brewing Company announcing a $10 million expansion of their brewery in Kansas City, Missouri.

The number of breweries in America now numbers over 5000, and Virginia is doing its fair share by recently passing the 200 licensed brewery milestone, according to Brewbound. Virginia's 206 breweries make it 13th-ranked state in the U.S. for number of breweries. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe points to the passing of a 2012 law that allowed breweries to sell beer for on-site consumption, not just purchasing for off-site. In addition to Virginia's 200+ breweries, Governor McAuliffe has worked hard to push several high-profile craft brewers to open up East Coast operations in the state of Virginia.

Finally, with green power efforts ever increasing worldwide, craftbeer.com reports on two domestic craft breweries that are now able to provide up to 100% of their electricity via solar power.

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, Part 1

Today, I bring you the first part of six video reviews featuring beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Beer Camp Across the World Series. In this video, I check out their collaborations with Ayinger Brewery and Avery Brewing Company. Check 'em out!

Beers in Review: A Sessionably (?) Fruity Pair

We start off today's BiR with a Session IPA from North Carolina's D9 Brewing Company. Swell Rider is officially listed as a Tangerine Session IPA (the ABV lines up at 5.1%) that is a year-round D9 offering, but it seems to get a bigger push in the summer (as evidenced by the addition of 16oz cans to the year-round bottle and keg offerings). It pours a slightly hazy light yellow, looking almost like a hazy white wine. The citrus aromas came through in a big way, and they carried into the flavor profile, as I got tangerine and orange, along with tangerine rind (which was also utilized in the bittering process of this IPA). The rind ramps up as it warms, serving to cancel out some of the more pure fruit notes. Despite the power of the rind, the general bitterness is more on the mild side, especially at the back of the throat towards the end of the drinking experience. This all serves well for a sessionable IPA, though. Very nice, overall.

Next up is a Salt Lake City-based brewery that I had only previously seen when travelling to the West Coast. A local bottle shop had Uinta Brewing Company's Birthday Suit Sour Cherry Blonde. Now, I can't be 100% certain, but a little bit of research leads me to think that this is Birthday Suit 19, with each edition of Birthday Suit numbered to reflect the brewery's anniversary each year. Uinta have entered their twenties, so this is likely either a rebrew or some other beer that I'm missing. This Blonde brought a lot of sessionable qualities, though the ABV is a little too high for a session beer (6.2%). The beer pours a nice hazy peach color, and is mildly sour and brings a whole lot of fruity cherry notes. There is also a mild funkiness in the beer, both in flavor and mouthfeel. To me, it was reminiscent of the gunky mouthfeeling of drinking cranberry juice or perhaps a lemonade from concentrate. I appreciated the relatively low sour level in this Blonde. It made the beer more drinkable, and ALMOST turned this into a legit session beer (held back only by that slightly-too-high ABV).

Video Review: Yards Brawler

Today, I check out a session ale from Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia, PA. Check out Brawler!

 

Starting next week, I'll be checking out the new Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across the World series. It's 12 beers, so I'll do 2 per video. That will book up my video reviews for the next month. That will probably start next weekend.

Beers in Review: A Local Duo

In today's BiR, I check out a couple more beers from right here in Columbia, including a collaboration with one of my favorite bottle shops.

But first up is a Dunkel, or dark lager, from traditional German-style brewer Bierkeller Columbia. Their Fastenbier is what they call a "Franconian Dunkel", referring to a Dunkel style from a specific region in central Germany (as opposed to the more common, at least in America, Munich Dunkel, named after the city in southern Germany). In their preparation of this Franconian Dunkel, Bierkeller uses smoked malts, and I'm not sure if this contributed to what I interpreted as a bit of an odd flavor note. The Fastenbier pours a cola brown, comes in at 5.1% ABV, and I found it to be quite roasty, almost to the point of char, but not crossing the line. Presumably, that is the first indication of these smoked malts. I got a little bit of chocolate maltiness and perhaps a hint of cola, but the beer is not very sweet at all. There are also some roasted grain notes, but the flavor note that surprised me was green olives, which I found throughout the drinking experience. I'm not sure if my palate was interpreting some combination in an odd way, or the smoked malts influenced me in this flavor direction, but it was a distracting note that I found it very difficult to overlook. I have always found Bierkeller's beers to be well-executed, even if they aren't to my particular liking (mostly, I'm looking at the Rauchbier on this one), but this odd olive note seemed out of place to me. Otherwise, I found it to be fairly light and sessionable beer that didn't hang around too long, which made it easy to move on to the next beer.

Next up is a collaboration between River Rat Brewery and Craft and Draft bottle shop. I found Nah Mean? Peaches and Cream to be a very well-executed Cream Ale. Clocking in at 5% ABV, and pouring a hazy yellow-gold color, this Cream Ale brings a whole bunch of corn and grain notes with a perfectly mild amount of sweetness and a slight bitterness. Add a medium-light body and a fairly refreshing finish, and this adds up to a very nice, if simple, Cream Ale.

Video Review: Space, the Final Frontier

The beer in today's review comes from Shmaltz Brewing Company, and is a continuation of their Star Trek series of beers that began last year. Check out my thoughts on a rather different Imperial Porter.

 

Also, apologies on the rather hot mic. My computer apparently chose to draw audio from the webcam instead of the Meteor Mic. I will fix that for next time!

A Very Brief Wicked Weed Update...

I have no intention of continuing to beat a dead horse, here, but I found it very interesting that Wicked Weed, which had never sniffed the Columbia, SC market before, will magically be having a launch event at the local art museum sponsored by KW Beverage, the local Budweiser distributor! It only took a month! What were the odds???

 

If you will permit me a brief moment of straight-up opinion, I'm fairly disappointed in local dive bar The Whig and the Columbia Museum of Art for supporting this, and pouring salt on such a fresh wound to the craft beer community.

Six-Pack of News, Volume 26: Acquisition Heavy

My first group of stories all have to do with mergers and acquisitions of various types. Unfortunately, A-B InBev IS involved, but at least not with a brewery. Let's get started.

Fort Collins Brewery, a craft beer staple in Colorado since 1992, and working under its current name since 2003, has been acquired by Vancouver, BC, Canada's Red Truck Beer Company. FCB will cease operations in July, though Red Truck will produce some of their own beers AND is pursuing the possibility of contract brewing through the facility. Red Truck also intends to create a restaurant/brewpub in the soon-to-be-former FCB space. (Originally reported by Porch Drinker, additional details from Brewbound)

Additionally, Cismontane Brewing Company recently acquired the assets of its struggling southern California neighbor Lightning Brewery.  According to Brewbound, the deal does not include rights to the Lightning Brewery name or use of their tasting room. Cismontane will look to sell off the equipment piece-meal or sell the entire facility as a turn-key brewing operation. They may also keep some of the equipment as they look to equip their own new production facility.

In our obligatory ABI story of the week, it was recently announced that ABI's venture capital group ZX Ventures purchased a minority stake in RateBeer, a top beer rating and reviewing website. One little detail: THIS HAPPENED IN OCTOBER! Like all such ABI acquisitions, RateBeer founder Joe Tucker maintained that the site will be allowed to maintain its "value as an unbiased beer authority". Bud Light remains in RateBeer's 50 Worst-Rated Beers list, so so far, so good. (h/t Porch Drinking)

In a story that I am very happy to see: while craft beer growth may be slowing nationwide, Vinepair calls the South a "slumbering craft beer giant" as Prohibition-era laws are finally being modernized across the region. As examples, Alabama and Florida registered the most growth in barrels of beer produced nationwide between 2011 and 2016, with a few other Southern states amongst the Top 10.

Finally, craftbeer.com recaps a recent craft beer-based category on "Jeopardy!", and even allows you to play the category at home! Just remember to answer in the form of a question!

Beers in Review: With a Blonde Stout That KILLS It!

Before we get to that stout from a PRB-debuting brewery, I bring you one from Thomas Creek Brewery. Trifecta IPA was originally created as a collaboration with Greenville-based The Community Tap bottle shop and beer curator (now getting airtime on this blog as part of The Funk Collective event) several years back. It is now part of Thomas Creek's year-round rotation. This IPA comes in at 6.9% ABV and 86 IBU. Pouring a fairly clear amber-to-gold color, I got lots of floral notes, along with a mild sweetness that is more prominent earlier in the drinking experience. There are also some straight-up citrus hints throughout, as well as some citrus rind bitterness that combines with the natural hop bitterness to create a potent bite that is most noticeable towards the back of the drinking experience and ramps up overall as you drink the beer. It has maybe a hair more hop bite than most that claim to be "American-style" IPAs, but I find this to be a really solid beer overall.

Next up is a blonde stout from Legal Remedy Brewing Company, a brewery that I had never had before but has been lauded extensively by work colleagues of mine, and they have talked about this World Court Mocha Blonde Stout as being particularly notable. I didn't quite know what to expect from a color standpoint, but it turned out to be a fairly standard clear gold color. Clocking in at 6% ABV and 24 IBU, I got a whole lot of nice coffee and white chocolate aromas, which is rare for my nose to pick up. Those aromas play directly into a straight forward flavor profile that includes the coffee and a mild roasty note as well as a well-managed sweetness level coming from the white chocolate that doesn't get in the way at all. I found perhaps a slight grainy or bready note as well that, when put with the rest of flavor profile, gave me the impression of blonde brownies. Simply, this is a terrific beer. It has amazing flavor notes that are well-balanced to truly nail a somewhat unusual style in the blonde stout.

The Funk Collective Update: More Details, Participating Breweries, and More

On Wednesday, I told you about a new sour and rare beer festival that is being presented by 2 South Carolina breweries and one SC-based bottle shop/beer curator. Now, Birds Fly South, Revelry, and The Community Tap have released more information on The Funk Collective, a two-day invitational event to be held this July in Greenville, SC.

For starters, the two breweries, will alternate years of hosting the festival. Greenville-based Birds Fly South is hosting this year, with the festival moving to Charleston, home of Revelry Brewing, next year.

On Friday, July 7th will be the Upstate (next year Coastal) Brewery Showcase, a VIP-only event for 150-200 people and will feature about 15 breweries offering their sour beers for tasting, along with a limited group of rare bottles from across the country.

 

The Funk Collective main festival will be held on Saturday, July 8th. Over 30 breweries from across the country have committed to attending the festival, which will also feature sour beers.

Tickets for the Saturday Festival only or the Friday/Saturday combination are available here. Also found on that page is a current list of participating breweries for each session. It appears that Friday-only tickets, intended to be a VIP Experience, are not available.

Most importantly, this festival will donate all of its net proceeds to Asheville, North Carolina's Eblen-Kimmel Charities, the original benefiting group Wicked Weed's Funkatorium Invitational, and an unintended victim of the WW/ABI acquisition. Since their mass-pullout from WW's now-postponed and "evolving" event, many craft breweries have donated to Eblen-Kimmel as a show of support to a charity that should not be forced into hardship because of Wicked Weed's decision. The Funk Collective event will be another way to help that group.

Video Review: Beers of Summer, Part 2

Today, I check out two more Summer seasonals as part of the Beers of Summer series. This includes one of my all-time favorite beers which might be having a little bit of difficulty, or at least an identity crisis. Check out my thoughts on beers from Victory Brewing Company and Bell's Brewery here!

South Carolina's Craft Beer Community Taking Advantage of Wicked Weed's Event Issues

One thing that was affected by the Wicked Weed/ABI fallout from earlier this month was July's Wicked Weed Funkatorium Invitational, a sour beer event that was supposed to feature some 70 breweries from across the country. Once the acquisition news was released, most of the independent craft breweries backed out, and WW announced their intent to postpone, reschedule, and "evolve" the Invitational, which is likely just code for "maybe people will care less about the acquisition in 4 months."

Well, yesterday, some members of the South Carolina craft beer community saw a sour beer-sized hole in the beer festival schedule, and jumped on the opportunity. Greenville's Birds Fly South Ale Project is partnering with Charleston's Revelry Brewing Company and Greenville-based bottle shop and beer curator The Community Tap to put on The Funk Collective, a two-day show featuring funky and sour beers.

Day One of the event will consist of "local artisan food & brews and rare bottles", while Day Two will be the main festival, which will feature funky and sour beers from over 25 breweries. Most importantly, this festival will donate all of its net proceeds to Asheville, North Carolina's Eblen-Kimmel Charities, the original benefiting group of the Funkatorium Invitational, and an unintended victim of Wicked Weed's decision. Since their pullouts from the WW event, many craft breweries have donated to Eblen-Kimmel as a show of support to a charity that should not be forced into hardship because of Wicked Weed's decision. The Funk Collective event will be another way to help that group.

Birds Fly South's Ames Webb released the following statement on the event:

This gathering of funky brewers isn’t a statement on the WW decision. All of the good in the craft community should be highlighted. We founded the Funk Collective with Revelry Brewing Co. because the funk and sour community is strong and we need to continue to come together and celebrate it.

The event will be held on July 7 and 8. Participating breweries and more information will be released later this week, and I will keep you apprised of the latest on this festival.

Video Review: Checking One Off the Bucket List (Pliny the Elder!!!)

Well, the surprise is spoiled in the post title, but I don't care. I almost feel like this beer is far beyond my comprehension and ability, but my parents made a hell of an effort to get it from California to South Carolina, so I GUESS I'll have to drink it! Check out my unworthy thoughts on Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Elder!

Six-Pack of News, Volume 25: An Acquisition News-Free Edition!

Man, it seems like that ABI/Wicked Weed news hit the fan a couple of weeks ago, and everyone else decided to stay the hell out of the news cycle for a while. I tried to do this news round-up about a week ago, and there was nothing but new releases out there. But, I was able to scrounge up some actual news, so let's get to it!

The Colorado Rockies baseball team celebrating their 25th season playing in Denver, the Denver Post documented how the Rockies, and especially the building of Coors Field, spurred the craft beer scene in Denver.

I admit, this piece from The Full Pint's co-founder is more opinion piece than news. But bookmark this list, and watch it for the next decade.

Portland, Maine's Shipyard Brewing Company is not happy with Columbia, Missouri's Logboat Brewing Company over the name of one of Logboat's beers.

Justin Kendall at Brewbound documents some the activities of the Massachusetts state alcohol task force, which is tasked with modernizing the state's alcohol laws and unwittingly playing referee between distributors and small craft brewers.

Brewbound (among others) is also reporting that New Belgium Brewing's longtime brewmaster Peter Bouckaert will be leaving New Belgium to work at a rebranding small-scale brewery and coffee producer in Fort Collins, Colorado (home of New Belgium).

Finally, in a Vinepair article that could have some NSFW-ish content in it, the English brewery Cerne Abbas is producing a Pilsner brewed with the aphrodisiac plant watercress. The beer's label contains at least one double entendre and, fair warning, cave drawing-style art of a man with a club and a significant erection. Frankly, you should all be proud of me for acting like such a grown-up in writing this summary.

 

Video Review: Beers of Summer, Part 1

I was going to save this for tomorrow, but it's already made, so what the hell. Double post day!

Today, I give you the first part of the 3-4 part Beers of Summer series, which will continue into next week (with hopefully something special coming in this weekend's video review). Today, I check out year-round Witbier offerings from Ballast Point Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company. Check them out!