Dead Seltzer Database

Two seemingly unrelated items that I hope to tie up with a bow.

I recently read an Eater Portland piece chronicling notable restaurants that closed in 2021. Then I read that….

SABInBev has pulled the plug on the Cacti brand of hard seltzer. Not super surprising or important in the grand beverage scheme but it did get me to thinking if someone out there on the interwebs is tracking the comings and goings of hard seltzers in the way that the Eater folks did.

Now, I am not so plugged into this world, didn’t even know there was a brand called Cacti, but maybe someone else can point me towards a list. I think it would inform us all if seltzer is a passed fad or just in a mature market.

Lórien

From the folks that brought us the Strata hop comes the newly named Lórien.

Indie Hops describes this Tolkien sounding hop as follows “aromas and flavors of citrus zest, fresh melon, sweet hay and wildflowers, all capped by a cinnamon spice.”  In the Saaz and Sterling realm.  Clean with “a complimentary finish of fruity/floral hop flavors.”

Sounds like it would fit into the IPL or Session IPA styles.

The Firkin for December 2021

It is easy to proclaim at the end of each year that the last twelve months were a crazy rollercoaster. But I think we need to look at this in three year increments instead of one year.

2020 had a different trajectory than 2021 and 2022 will (hopefully) be the last part of the trilogy of the Covid years.

I said hopefully because it may look a little bleak at the moment with Omicron and the January surge that will follow the holiday. But breweries hung in there and new ones opened. Both may have been by a hair but it did.

I think that beer life will improve this year, maybe by June we won’t be looking over our shoulders. It may not be enough for some breweries but I think it might allow for some positive churn.

But whatever happens, it will be crazy.

What Will the Hop of 2021 Be?

Old school beer fans can remember how Citra took over in IPA’s back in the day.  But, to me, there hasn’t been another hop with that meteoric of a rise and with staying power since.

This is not to say that the new varietals since are bad, they just haven’t stormed in like Citra.  Mosaic and Simcoe have their fans but also some detractors.  I happen to like Strata and it has gained a good amount of ground but others like Sabro and the newer Talus and Nectaron haven’t really popped yet.

Part of the problem, as we know from our supply chain issues this Christmas, is that this is all about supply and demand.  There has to be enough supply to create the IPA’s and pale ales by, at least, the trendy FOMO breweries but not too much that it becomes a commodity.  

But hops are not a quickly steered boat but more of a container ship so that means conditions have to be just right.  There has to be enough interest from brewers to push growers to plant and enough interest from beer lovers when those bines are mature.

Maybe what Stan Hieronymus calls the “new wave” of English hops like Jester and Harlequin will find that right window.

The Firkin for November 2021

For this Firkin opinion piece, with the turkey merely a leftover memory and Christmas fast approaching, I want to get a little grumpy.

Just a little. Then I can get back to my cheerful but wary self. Here is a short list of beer items that I am NOT thankful for…

  • the lactose-isation of beer from pastry stouts to milkshake IPA’s
  • the slowed but still going IP theft labels
  • anyone not feeling welcome in a taproom
  • Whole Foods not being able to scan a single can, only 4-packs
  • lack of half pint pours in many places
  • the font size on labels growing ever smaller
  • idiots not wearing masks

That feels better. Now onto the final month 2021.

Project TapRoom

My wife is a make-over show fan, but not the normal kind. She will watch the first ten minutes of a show and then fast forward to the end reveal. Very efficient. She has been speed watching a new (to me) show called…

…and as I peered over her shoulder, I thought that breweries could use this too. Have a brewmaster go back into the brew house to recommend new beers and new processes whilst a designer tackles the tap room decor.

Not to come across as mean, but some taprooms could use help in both areas. Maybe even toss in a segment on branding and labels.

I would need Executive Producer credit if anyone wants to take this elevator pitch and run with it.

A Non Starter

I am empathetic to but wary of groups who have anti-alcohol agendas. In this recent, NPR piece they discussed various options for curbing drunk driving with automotive technology.

I have spoken about this in the past but considering the refusal by large chunks of the country to wear a simple mask, the chances that drivers will blow into a tube or take an onscreen direction from a car is probably not going to happen.

It is also bad enough that my Prius is probably sending information to Toyota but what if it sends info about where I am and realizes I am near a brewery?

Now, I would not mind if the tech had an opt-in. I would like to know if I am over a limit and need to wait thirty minutes to an hour before driving. Especially if that meant an insurance discount.

This may need to have a stick AND carrot approach.

A Bell Ringing in Belgium

I haven’t had to weigh in with comment on the business side of brewing for quite a bit but yesterday breaking news arrived that Bell’s Beer was joining New Belgium which itself is part of Lion (aka Kirin).

I know that is a bit of a complicated flow chart but it boils down to the two iconic breweries becoming siblings of a sort.

And it doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. Then again, I am non-plussed when it comes to good breweries banding together. Sometimes it won’t work but it can produce a bigger company that can then do more.

My usual advice stands. Monitor both breweries beers and if the nothing changes, don’t worry, be happy.

Awaiting

DuClaw Brewing is using their latest hazy IPA, Hopportunity Awaits, to shine a light on ten craft beer industry professionals to show that it takes all kinds of people to get beer into your glass. Along with Craft X Edu, cans of the IPA will feature these eclectic folks…

Kenny Gould, founder of Hop Culture Magazine

Barb Baker, Siren of Stout 

Leanne O’Neill, Sip & Saunter beer blogger 

Hannah Ferguson, professional brewer and owner of DOPE Cider House and Winery.

Aadam Soorma, award-winning beer writer

Em Sauter, cartoonist and founder of Pints and Panels

Stephanie Grant, savvy storyteller focusing on diversity and inclusion.

Ryan Cervantes, a packaging manager

Emily Wang, founder of Fermly craft beer lab in Denver, CO.

Rachel Breite, professional brewer