Capital of Craft

I have not seen a Brewers Guild with a podcast but The San Diego guild has just started The Capital of Craft.  It is “a podcast that focuses solely on the San Diego beer industry.”

According to the podcast description it is “Curated for industry professionals, we will cover topics specific to our city and provide relevant conversations with guests from all walks.”

I have listened to episode 1 about distribution and though it may be a bit deep in the weeds but craft beer fans should be aware of what happens to get local beer to you. Learning about shipping rates alone is an interesting facet of the beer business.

I will be following to see what guests and topics come next.

Best Label?

Hop Culture, the allied beer writing arm of Untappd, came out with their best beer labels of 2023, which you can check out right HERE.

With a few exceptions, I was not in agreement with picks because there was a certain gothic swirly tattoo darkness to a lot of labels plus Humble Sea whose labels for sure stand out but are not for me.

But enough of my side eye, I want to point out that two of my favorites from SoCal were on the list. Brouwerij West and Everywhere Beer Co. A tip of the hat to them.

No More Drizzle

I am not a deliver me my stuff person.  Especially when you hear all sorts of stories about gig workers being exploited and the companies like Amazon and Uber making money hand over fist but it doesn’t seem to trickle down.

Which leads me to the Uber which announced that they were shitcanning Drizly, techincally labeled as an “alcohol e-commerce deliver platform.  Uber bought them three years ago and is just now deciding that all orders should just come through their app.

Will this affect craft beer?  A bit.  Your bigger players like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada might lose some trade but those who are ordering booze online will migrate to Uber and do it there.  And you weren’t really finding local beer on it so it will be the same as before for them.

What it probably means longer term is that alcohol delivery, which should be a higher margin business, looks to be another delivery business casualty because it doesn’t make sense financially when you factor in infrastructure and potentially slows down in-store sales.

Frigid

When the EVs won’t charge and mom won’t leave the house because that ice is ready to bring you to the ground, plus it is Dry January, it means snowbound breweries could use some help.

I mentioned that January is already a historically slow craft beer month and a week of closures in many parts of the country brought on by snow and freezing rain and just don’t want to get out from under the bed covers weather were just the cherry on top of the economic woes sundae.

So, use that extra leap day this month to help. How, you ask?

If where you are at has beer available from breweries in the Pacific NW or Upper East Coast, buy those. If they have inventory that their locals could not buy, help out. It will also help your local bottle / can shoppe as well as distributor. You can also but merch for yourself or for gifts throughout the year.

The Firkin for January 2024

Seems like IP un-aithorization has roared back into use again. For a while, labels that I saw on the interwebs seemed to have actual thought out designs but lately, that whole piggyback on someone else’s work is back like a cold you can’t shake.

I know that punners gonna pun and that not all artistry will be to my particular liking. There are some breweries whose labels just do not speak to me but I am at the very least, on board with breweries who at least try to be original.

But there are soooo many lazy beer labels that look like children’s cereal boxes or sodas or candy bars that I have to believe that they sell enough to make a brewery take that step into outright identity theft. Me, I would looking over my shoulder for a Cease and Desist letter.

This, at a time, when you can probably find many artists to create a look for your new pastry stout or candy sour that actually tells the story of your brand and not a secondhand tale with missing pages that is more attached to the original IP than your beer.

Please No Chill

Well, the big industrial marketing brewers are at it again.  Spending time on advertising over ingredients.

Coors Light has had its iconic (?) Silver Bullet Train for as long as I can remember but now they are harnessing some Hollywood CGI so that lucky (?) fans can see their face in the ad during the Super Bowl.  They will also get $500 and swag.  

The downside is that the actual commercial during the game will be played at normal speed which means no one can see the faces.  You have to go to their website or god forbid the Coors YouTube channel to see a slow motion version where you might be able to catch your face if you don’t blink.

Cacao in the Yeast

There is always lots of beer chatter about a new hop varietal even when given an unappetizing name like Anchovy but less attention to yeast unless it is Thiol Boosted.

But premiere Yeast Lab, White Labs has found a new and rare yeast….

…strange to have a yeast from rare cacao. Hope to find a beer with it.

Cooking on Cook

When word came that famed Oregon brewer John Harris (Dechutes, Full Sail) was selling his brewery to Great Frontier Holdings, Ecliptic and that most of the beers would be brewed elsewhere, it was a blow as Ecliptic anchored the bottom of trendy Mississippi Avenue in North East Portland.

But news dropped earlier this month (about the same time that we learned that Bagby Beer Co was making way for Green Cheek) that…..

“…Von Ebert Brewing announced it is moving into the formerly Ecliptic Brewing facility on N. Cook Street in Portland, which allows the brewery to expand production and distribution from 4,000 barrels per year to as much as 20,000 barrels per year.”

And, “John Harris is a beer institution who helped put Oregon on the map. By taking over the N. Cook. Street space, Von Ebert will be able to continue the legacy of brewing Oregon’s world-class craft beer.”

The best part of the news comes from Harris, who says, “Von Ebert Brewing makes awesome beers and I look forward to working with them to continue to produce small batch Ecliptic beers on the same equipment.”

The transition to Von Ebert Brewing should have the N. Cook Street taproom reopened this spring.

Aware

Offering up an alternative to Dry January for those who feel the need to monitor their drinks intake is an upcoming smartphone app from researchers from Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne in Switzerland.  The app is called Smaart.  It uses a game template to reward users for reaching moderation and non-drinking goals.

Since it is still being trialed and not available you can also peek at Drinkaware and Drink Control, two other apps that help keep account of drinking.

Better to keep track all year than binge in December and February.

A Dry Pushback

I am not a social media power user (still no Tikety Tokety for me) but I have noticed pushback on Dry January from various and sundry folks with half the month now past even in the face of the amount of N/A options increasing significantly. Lots of #PubJanuary hashtags out there.

Maybe instead, the moderation talk can be spread throughout the year instead of focusing on the slow times in January.

We know why taprooms are slow and less crowded, the reasons are twofold. Financial and seasonal. When the weather is crappy, people go out less and they certainly don’t sit out on a patio with a beer or two. Customers have also probably over celebrated during the holidays and take a breather for a bit. Whatever the reason, the brewery books do not look rosy because of it each January and into February.

So ironically, you end up promoting a month of drinking less in an already slow month which, in essence, is setting an easier goal for yourself. If you wanted to take a bigger swing, then pick a month in the high summer drinking time.

Before I go further, I am not against N/A options, in fact, I think all the options should be on the menu. Choice is great and needed. And if someone uses January to re-set themselves healthwise, again, all for it. But if you don’t go to breweries or bottle shops for a month, you cannot expect all to be there when you want to binge on February 1st.

The pendulum has swung in favor of the survival of breweries as we sit in non-growth times for craft beer. Dry January may have been a non-factor when growth was big but now that it isn’t it is most certainly seen.

What to do? Well, moderate your drinking through the year. instead of one lump sum. I advocate taking days off each week. I don’t drink alcohol two days of the week and I watch my intake to keep it at a certain level the rest of the days. I end up with three sober months that way. And local business’s get my money each month.

Option two is to buy craft N/A options at their taprooms. One can go out with friends without drinking. If more people did that, breweries, bottle shops and bars would notice and probably increase the N/A section of the menu.

You can support locally AND be healthful at the same time.