Decompose

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.

Screenshot

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.

ERB – RIP

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.

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.

Burton Unions New Home

Brewing history is important and that history includes both the knowledge and the equipment.  And earlier this month there was some positive news on that front as Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company has announced that they are taking some old Burton Unions and given them to Thornbridge Brewery and will also help with the set-up to get them going.

Burton-on-Trent was the Portland / San Diego and Asheville of its time. Basically the brewing town. You can go HERE to read all about Burton Unions.  (Firestone Walker used a modified tiny version up in Paso Robles.) Like most bespoke items, it was not modern day efficient and thus not being used by Carlsberg.

I have a feeling that Thornbridge will be able to make good use of the Unions.

Peel the Label – Ballast Point Capacity Shift

In brewing, it is important to be in the right size home when it comes to equipment, space and beer in the tanks.  It is the Goldilocks Conundrum.

I have been thinking about this since the news broke that Ballast Point Brewing had released its Miramar facility to a new owner and that they were going to determine what the best brewing size fit would be for them.  And while that hunt is under way, some beers will contract brewed for them.

But how does one know what capacity is needed?  And also be flexible enough for minor fluctuations up or down?  I theorize that it was harder back when growth was flying upward because as the accelerator is pressed, you don’t know when you will run into traffic. Not wanting to miss out on sales, you press down on the gas in the form of second locations and more tanks and more people power.  

Now, in opposition, is a bit easier to predict because the growth has flattened and you can see a truer demand than before.  A local brewery can figure out how to keep 6-10 taps filled while canning a bit and selling kegs when there is not a block long line out the door.  

But too big can be good overall as it provides contract homes for those breweries that are testing proof of concept or do not have the full funding needed for their own space so a little wiggle room is beneficial.

It is an interesting question and we will see in the next few years who played their cards right especially if Ballast Point turns a corner.

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

Tip of the Hat!

Russian River Brewing does some really cool things for the craft beer industry.  Their latest is….THIS

..which is just a cool way to help an up and coming brewery. An if Pliny is brewed on that kit, there are some good vibes coming from that for sure.

CCBG

Usually mergers and acquisitions occur and it is a net negative.  Especially when it is the big players in the beer industry.  A big brewery buys a small one and then proceeds to water down the product or distributors get bigger and bigger until they cannot service all the beer they have in their portfolio.

But the new Circle of Crowns Beverage Group Strategic Alliance is indeed that an alliance.  CCBG includes Inglewood-based Crowns and Hops, Fresno-based Full Circle Brewing and its sister brands Speakeasy Ales and Lagers and Sonoma Cider. All black owned breweries.

The two main prongs of the alliance are a combined sales force bringing not just one brewery but multiple to the table and second Full Circle will use their excess brewing capacity to brew Crowns and Hops beers which, I think, may change once the Inglewood brewery is up and running.

Owning your local market is quite important these days so the fact that each one is in a different sector of California will help as well. But the combined weight might just push growth so that these beers get more placement.

More Small Print

There is the potential that beer labels will have to squeeze in a lot more information onto them in the future.  More specifically, allergens and nutrition information.  Which is not good for those, like me, who need major magnification just to read what hops are in the beer.  And though I like the idea of a QR code that leads you to more detailed information, what percentage of people are going to use that and then what percentage of those will understand the governmental gobbledygook that passes for information?

You can read more HERE from the Brewers Association.