Label Insanity

Playing a bit of catch-up here, last month the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild held their Label Insanity contest.

I think that each brewers guild or as many that want to, should do this so that there could be a giant countrywide competition. What makes this competition good is that they have niche’d it to “insane” instead of best. That choice could allow for a best Halloween or Christmas label as well.

Here is this years winner in North Carolina….

World Beer Cup – Los Angeles medals

The World Beer Cup spent Cinco de Mayo passing out medals.

Beachwood was the big local winner with three medals. Figueroa Mountain picked up a pair which I count as L.A. because of the Westlake Village outpost. Below are the Los Angeles area medalists:

Gold

Highland Park Brewery – Hello, L.A. – International Pale Ale

Silver

Lincoln Beer Co. – Mosaic Pilsner – American-Style Pilsner

Cellador Ales – Akimbo – Fruited Wood and Barrel- Aged Sour

Beachwood – Full Malted Jacket – Scotch Ale

Bronze

San Fernando Brewing Co. – Imperial Death Star – American-Style Imperial Stout

Beachwood Blendery – Funk Yeah – Belgian- Style Sour

Beachwood – Mocha Machine – Coffee Stout

Learning to be Weathered

Sometimes, I let the press release take the wheel, especially when it is something important, so read on and I will have comments below.

“Rahr Corporation and craft brewing industry leader Marcus Baskerville today announced the launch of a new, first-of-its-kind incubation program aimed at supporting and creating space for underrepresented groups in the craft brewing industry. The Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program will provide structured brewing education, training, professional mentorship, and resources to women and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) brewers.

The program will be housed in Baskerville’s new Weathered Souls Brewing Co. location opening later this year in Charlotte, North Carolina, and targets brewers who are transitioning to professional commercial brewing and planning to either start or own a brewery. Over the course of one year, 12 brewers will be selected to travel to Weathered Souls for a monthlong immersive program. Rahr Corporation has committed $100,000 to fully fund the program’s first year.

“We are proud to support this unique program that is actively taking steps to diversify our industry and broaden its appeal,” said Rahr Corporation President and CEO Willie Rahr. “Our company believes that fostering a more diverse and inclusive industry is not only morally imperative but can also be a driver of growth for craft beer. Through this partnership, we can help build a stronger and more sustainable brewing industry for future generations.”

According to 2020 data from the Brewers Association, there are approximately 8,800 breweries in the U.S., and less than 65 are Black-owned. And while 22% of the country’s breweries have women in ownership, partnership or majority shareholder roles, women represent only 7.5% of actual brewers.

“Even with the unprecedented growth and popularity of the craft beer movement, women and people of color continue to be left out,” said Baskerville, founder and leader of the program. “Named after my grandmother, the Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program will provide opportunities for those who are underrepresented in our industry to gain hands-on training and education in brewing – hopefully jump-starting incredible careers.”

Participants will learn about brewery maintenance and brewing beer on professional equipment; malting and analytical tests related to brewing practices; yeast propagation, cell counting, viability and health; and how to create, finance and market a sustainable brewing program. They will have access to Rahr’s technical experts and premium products.”

This is basic teamwork here. Find and train and then they will push the ball forward with you in the future. And since the mood towards quotas and hiring seems to be negative at the moment, this training probably won’t be pushed overall and needs to be pulled instead. I hope this program works and can seed breweries all across the country.

Haunted by Owner

In rather quick succession, more bad brewery news here in Los Angeles. Phantom Carriage Brewing in Carson is being pushed out. The new building owner will be using the space for their needs apparently.

This was a fun spot to visit because of how strongly they leaned into the horror theme. The space was kitted out in such a way that it looked spooky even when the lights were on.

How a taproom that hung its hat on visiting hung on without going the to-go can route is probably a story in itself. But the hard fact is that land and rent in LA is expensive and finding a good landlord is not easy either and then the whole thing can come tumbling down if a good landlord sells.

The social media announcement did not close the door on a return and maybe there is a market or capacity at another brewery to have a co-tenant. I have always thought that there could be a space where breweries could either start their journey or re-ignite their business, where you could get pours from two or three breweries plus a sampling from all LA breweries. A one-stop City of Angels beer shop.

Don’t Toss the Bag

One of the keys to recycling is to make it easy to do. People will go an extra yard or two to help the earth which is why THIS program is so cool and I hope maltings will copy the plan of action.

Helios

More hops are on the way! Next from the Hopsteiner breeding program is Helios™.

Here is a brief summary, “the next super high-alpha hop king. Helios™ is one of the most agronomically sustainable hop varieties grown today thanks to its unrivaled yield and powdery & downy mildew resistance genes.”

Yes, that is mostly ag talk but until we see how brewers use it and with what other hop combinations, we won’t really know if it will have a signature shorthand like Citra does with, well, citrus and Strata has a tea like note to me.

Un-Liberated

Sad news to report, Liberation Brewing in Bixby Knolls has called it a day.

Here is the info from their social media post, “We are closing operations at 3630 Atlantic on April 30th. The financial impacts of COVID were significant and impacted our ability to negotiate a lease extension.

Thanks to all our employees past and present, brewers & breweries, local orgs and beer clubs, friends, family, and beer drinkers like you. You made it such a brilliant ride. Much love.”

I would suggest buying some of their bottles, yes bottles, of some of their Belgian-styled beers, they are quite fun and out of the normal for L.A. breweries.

Two A’s

Take a look at the attributes of these two new (in hop breeding time) from Glacier Hops Ranch.

I posted about Alpenglow already and it is still limited but the words Pina Colada attached to the Ahhhroma (still not sold on that name) hop seem likes one that could really take off. Maybe in a year or two we will see if either become popular.

Tweaks

The Brewers Association made no big waves in their 2022 beer style guidelines. Clarity, spelling and grammar being the key words in their press release.

As the craft beer landscape continues to evolve, we want to ensure that our Beer Style Guidelines continue to be a trusted resource worldwide and are in stride with the innovation that continues to be brought forward,” said Chris Swersey, competition director, Brewers Association. “We took 2022 as a year to focus on housekeeping, to address some discrepancies within the exiting beer styles, and for a small number of significant updates to certain beer styles.”

Stay tuned for GABF in the fall to see who comes up with medals.

HenHouse Talks the Future

And to get to the future, you have to talk about the past. And that past is fraught when you are a minority brewery in this country.

Which is why it was great to hear Shyla from Bow & Arrow and Teo from our SoCal Crowns & Hops talk about their respective journeys in a beer world that is quite white.

Here are some of the words of interest that struck me from the discussion…

  • Why do we assume that beer drinkers and brewery owners look a certain way?
  • access to capital is still a major hurdle
  • call out people, don’t let the haters use language without using language to change the narrative
  • No Jerks!
  • How do we frame gentrification when it is a minority business person in a minority neighborhood
  • We need to get to a time where the story is the beer and the beer only, and not who is behind it because telling the story of who you are, if that story always revolves around your skin tone is tiring
  • Don’t be an Ally in name only. Do sonething