With the rise of 4-packs came a rise in rings.  Thankfully most breweries are not using the translucent ocean killers as in years past but I still have a major league stack of the plastic snap ons and only one brewery that I know of that takes them back.


But now comes the Craft-Pak Versa can carriers.  They “use up to 50% less plastic than competitor carriers without compromising form or function. Plus, certified 100% biodegradable*, Craft-Pak Versa completely decomposes within months. This produces fewer emissions and creates less waste.”

I am hoping to see more of these on the market.

The Firkin for June 2024

Are building landlords the biggest problem for breweries now and is it more of a problem in higher cost Los Angeles?

When an industry reeling a bit and breweries closing, the first suspects through the door are ingredient and labor costs and / or shrinking customer base.  The former pushes raising the cost of a pint and the latter scares you away from doing that so as not to lose more customers.

But rarely is the cost of the physical space invoked. Is it not an issue?

As I write this, there is an empty apartment in the building next door.  My building has had extended periods without a tenant in one of the four units because my landlord is quite rigorous in her selection process but throughout the fair city of Glendale there is plenty with a capital P office space, plenty of business space in one of the many with a capital M condominiums in town and even quite regular space open at the fancy Americana mall.

It seems a math question of possible future returns vs steady now money.  But the value of a current tenant does not seem to have risen very much if at all while the allure of some dream tenant walking in and paying double as far-fetched as it may or may not be seems to be in vogue.

I do not know how pervasive it is in the Los Angeles rental market for breweries but I have seen it mentioned a fair bit and I saw it play out with the beloved Sunset Beer Co. which was intentionally priced out of their space.  Even though literally across the street was a new and very empty development that was mostly graffiti.  

How does a landlord see that and go, now is the time to look for higher paying tenants? Do they have the cash reserves to pay for a building not getting rented out?  

I know that the stereotype of a landlord is not great even though I have a great one and others do as well.  That perception should lead to landlords differentiating themselves by being really good.  By selecting a business that they can have for the long term and work with so that BOTH succeed.  Why is that not the norm?

Ozempic & Alcohol

Ozempic has been in the news a lot though coverage was waning a bit to my untrained eye.  But now that drug is back with a new trial focusing on the liver.

The new trial is going to ascertain if Ozempic can improve liver health. How that will be determined is by the medicines’ effects on enhanced liver fibrosis, aka scarring, over a 28 week period.

Obviously, that is addiction adjacent and there are other studies about decreased desire for alcohol or nicotine in progress (and probably more planned).  And also obviously, alcohol and nicotine have big weight effects so being able to curb excess would help in weight loss.

This is another bit of a blow to beer though, since it is a high calorie alcohol. But the question is, are the people utilizing the drug in the beer buying camp?   Or will this hit another spirit or wine harder?  And of course, the main two questions are, does Ozempic work not just anecdotally against addiction and if so for how long? 

Peel the Label – AI

I like cool architectural designs and home interiors. I am also a fan of nature photography. Both of which are easily manipulated or entirely created by Artificial Intelligence.

Don’t count me in the AI enthusiasts club but don’t count me in the scared of it club either. Mostly because both of those clubs seem to be talking not about AI today but about AI in some nebulous future. Because currently, AI be janky as hell.

How does this relate to beer you might ask. There have already been AI generates beer recipes and probably some AI labels as well. Some beer writers have toyed with tasking AI to write a beer piece.

But all that is predicated on earlier content. Much like this very blog, AI must draw content. I need a brewery to brew a new beer, or for there to be a festival or a silly gadget otherwise what do I highlight or comment on? And that is what AI needs.

For example, you can ask AI to design a taproom layout. All it can do is maybe (if it is actually learning) use a size dimension alongside examples of other taprooms it has scraped from the web to create an amalgam of a layout. It cannot take into account so many things. AI cannot know how customers in your area will behave in it. It cannot incorporate nods or Easter eggs about the community. It cannot find a happy medium between two owners.

The only way AI can be effective is if you plug so many variables into it that you won’t get an actual response OR you plug in a generic ask and then work from the response as a mere base. And either way, guess who will actually do the work? An actual person.

There are a lot of cool things that computers can do but they still cannot be an actual person.

Peel the Label is an infrequent series with no photos or links. Just opinion.


When a brewery in Los Angeles calls it a day, it is sad. But when a real path breaker does it, it is doubly sad. If not quadruply sad with it happening smack in the middle of L.A. Beer Week. Such is the case though as Eagle Rock Brewery has decided to end its run at the end of June.

Founded back in 2009 by two really great people, Ting and Jeremy. They have run government gauntlets, brewed many a Unity beer, were there at every early beer festival and so much more.

Who knew that a tiny little brewery in a weird corner side street off a freeway exit with a mild ale as a torch bearer would have such an outsized impact on the direction of craft beer in Los Angeles.

Now only Ladyface Ale Companie stands from the trio of early L.A. breweries. How this will affect The Landing in Burbank or Party Beer Co. who was using the facilities is unknown at this point but this is a real dent and one that I will be processing for a while.

A New Home for Beer History

Beer history got another place to call a potential home as The Museum of Beer and Brewing opened on May 11, appropriately enough in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Historical Society spearheaded the effort and according to Gary Luther, the President Emeritus of the museum, “There is so much history in Milwaukee, not just related to great breweries like Schlitz, and Pabst, and Blatz, and Gettelman, and Miller, but also the entire industry…”

Other features include an oil painting from 1935 that shows the history of brewing and a beer hall of fame display.


Recently the beer ticker app Untappd unveiled a new badge, the Century Club. You would earn this commendation when you checked into the same beer 100 times.

I might be close via Sierra Nevada Pale Ale but other than that, I cannot name another beer that would even threaten that triple digit number. I reckon that over 20 would be a high number for me.

I think it is both a sign of my reduced use of the app and my curiosity that will bar me from getting this badge and I think I am OK with that.

Fun with Alcohol Law

As we have seen in Arizona most recently, there be a lot of just batshit crazy laws on the books and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to alcohol. Anything with a whiff of fun must be morally wrong for others to do.

Case in point, in the 1950’s if you boarded a plane you probably got a free drink and as many as you needed. But, if you were flying over a dry county or municipality, you could not be served a drink even though you were up in the air.

The rationale being that the dryness extended all the way up into the sky. Even though a few minutes later you could get a drink. Flight attendants then, and now had to deal with oddness.

Anchor Returns!

Big news from our neighbors to the north, San Francisco came in right at the end of May as, Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani founder and CEO, announced the purchase of the whole kit and kaboodle of Anchor Brewing.  All of Anchor’s assets, the steam beer recipes, the brewing equipment and the building and warehouses too. The yogurt business must be good.

THIS SF Gate piece has a lot of good bits to it but what struck me was this quote paragraph… “Brands like Anchor don’t come that easy. How do you value something like this? Do you value it because it’s been here 127 years?” Ulukaya said. “Do you value it because of how much love and passion goes into creating something like this? The ingredients and knowledge and tradition and yeast and secrets? Do you value it because of how much loyalty people have for it? Or do you value it for how much money it makes?”

That sounds atypical of most owners, looking at you shady Sapporo, as the focus seems to be the product and the legacy and not financials. It might be too late for beer from Anchor Brewing this year but 2025 is a possibility.

The Firkin for May 2024

What makes a great beer bar in 2024? It is an interesting thought experiment. With the imminent closure of Seattle’s famous Brouwers Cafe, it is something to ponder anew.

Is it number of taps? Neighborhood? Festivals? None or all of the above? Or is it just the economy stupid?

To me, all of that matters, and any wise suggestions can be blown to shit by a generation that drinks less and doesn’t want to drink what their parents did, is to have the past – present – future on draft on any given day.

The past can be a cask ale or slow pour pilsner, the future can be all the IPA you can get in the door and the future, well that is the hardest part of the equation but also the most fun to play with. A few years ago, it may have meant pastry stouts or Brut IPA or sours (remember them?).

Having a retail component is crucial in my book, especially singles. It can be hard to convince someone to spring $20+ bucks for a four-pack but a pair of singles that gets me thinking. And if you can tell a customer that the beer they like is also to-go, you might just double the sale.

For you and other beer fans, other things may take precedence but I can help but think that as sad a closure is, it also means opportunity.