Let’s Do the 2018 Numbers

Let’s break this into (2) parts….

The two numbers that most people are going to obsess over are the big 4% and the 7% (Slightly more hidden) but since Bart Watson and the Brewers Association put a number at the top of the graphic, I wanted to focus on the .1 2016 to 2017 was .5% share of the market and 2017 to 2018 was .6% If you are looking for a silver lining then that is the big one. In a down market for beer overall, craft is still picking up share of mind.

The number that I find most important are the opens vs closes in this section of the graphic. We need to follow this number and see when column A dips below 1K and when Column B goes up and over the 500 mark. I won’t guess at what is the perfect number of breweries for the US but if pressed, I would say around 7K seems good with some churn still going on.

The 2018 Statistical Beer Review

Let’s get straight to the main data points that I track. Column A being Ounces Drunk – The goal was 175 per week and I finished with 167.81. 7.19 clear! That year average was 21.86 lower than its 2017 counterpart and 36.50 from 2016.

It is probably the last large double drop though as I get closer to the two pints over 5 drinking days in a week (160 magic number). Speaking of, I have now completed 2 full years of having 2 non-drinking days each week. Not to throw shade at the Dry-uary crowd because health is important no matter how you do it, I have 3 months off from beer in 2017 and 2018 just not consecutively.

ABV is an important control column but it didn’t budge from the 6.6 to 6.7% range. With a low of 5.73% and a high of 8.90%. The average dollars spent per week is still too high at $42.87. That may be the number that needs the most attention in 2019.

Now onto the beers and breweries: zooming in from the macro view. I had 350 beers that did not fall into the “Big 3” of IPA, Sour and Barrel-Aged and 438 that fell into that grouping with most being IPA. 788 beers that I had at least 4oz of.

I was a bit surprised to see that Sierra Nevada claimed the top spot in number of beers drunk but then took a look to see Celebration Christmas, Bigfoot and Resilience leading the way. What was weirder still in this shrinking regional world was that New Belgium was # 3 (an only non California Brewery in the top 10), Stone # 5 and Firestone Walker at # 9. My usual suspects are in that 10 as well with Eagle Rock, Smog City, Highland Park and El Segundo, joined by newcomer L.A. Ale Works.

On the other side was 94 beers that were my only taste of a brewery and 6 of those were as half of a collaboration beer.

I am pondering if I should break out IPA as a separate counted category or 16oz cans to be even more specific in 2019. Because there are always more ways to parse the data.

Featured Review – Firestone Walker Anniversary XXII

I sipped on 17 first, but now let’s try the latest modelFirestone Walker Anniversary blend.

The White box is a color departure for the Anniversary packaging. I tasted this beer on draft at The Propagator in the wise amount of 6oz. This blend seems lighter than the others by a large amount. Not boozy in either aroma or in the flavor. Little is the operative word 22 is a little smooth. There is a little alcohol burn at the edges. During the same sitting, I tasted the new Old Nan Hattan beer which shined with a holiday spice profile that made me buy a bottle in the store. Maybe it was too cold, maybe a warmer and aged bottle will show of hidden (now) complexities.

Most Checked In of 2018


Granted this isn’t a perfect vote counting system but at least the Republicans hasn’t attempted to disenfranchise Hazy beer lovers so the plain total of check-ins on the Untappd app does have some good stats to follow and keep tabs on.

Trillium at # 9 is a bit of a shocker considering that it is primarily East Coast and traders that have access. Same for Tree House but more so at # 4.  I am a promiscuous drinker but I have had nothing (0) from either so the casual beer fan outside of New England probably hasn’t either.  Maybe checking-in is skewed East Coast?

Otherwise the only supposition that I have is that Sam Adams will probably rise a bit with the Red Sox World Series beer but that may be dampened by the Trump ties that Koch has.

FWIBF18 – Recap


Now that a couple of days have passed since the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, it is time to recap the weekend….

There were changes this year. First off there was a concert with a small selection of beers available (which included America’s Preference from our own Highland Park Brewery) the night before the fest . The pre-Fest Kleen Kanteen cup was matte black instead of silver. And at the main event, the foreign breweries were mingled with everyone else. No special section just for them.

But other than that dabbling about the edges, there is not much to truly say except for favorite beers. This festival is pretty drama free. Snafu’s apparently aren’t allowed in the Mid-State Fairground.

So what did I enjoy? In no particular order…

1. Firestone Walker’s Propagator Patrick Hayze v2 was quite good soft and fruity without losing hop bite.
2. Rare Barrel Raging Waters a touch Sour lovely watermelon note. Simple
3. Fonta Flora Urban Monk Carrot Cake So good. Like a spice cake dessert
4. Thornbridge Lukas Helles crisp clear and delicious
5. BarrelWorks Pixie Dusted don’t get tangerine at first but then it doesn’t leave
6. Rare Barrel Alchemy and Magic damn good. Cucumber centric
7. Monkish Space Cookie way weird. Good balance of hops and vanilla
8. Half Acre Pony Pilsner perfect for any festival
9. Firestone Walker Lager straight from the Lager logo emblazoned golf cart/fridge

I did notice that there were more breweries that were tapped out. The speed and number seems to increase so either these breweries need to bring more beer or back-ups need to be in place. Maybe wineries or cocktails can take over? Or perhaps a staggering of start times for those breweries known to be extra popular.

In the end, all to be said is that this is an impressive gathering of beer and if you get a chance, you should grab a ticket immediately.

FWIBF18 – Day 2


Day two in Paso Robles and the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival is done.

Here are the initial thoughts swirling in my head…

The Rare Barrel is on a hot streak with me. I had two beers from their shaded booth and from watermelon to juniper they were awesome. They really got a strong and balanced taste from the melon especially.

Fonta Flora is another winner for me. One of the few big beers that I had was their Urban Monk – Carrot Cake. It was like a liquid cake. Just fantastic. Their House Lagah was strong too. I went back a third time and they had already tapped their peach and blackberry beers.

Speaking of tapped out, the “project” breweries were packed even during the VIP hour. Side Project and Garage Project really have devoted fans. So much so that places like Trillium and. Monkish weren’t really swamped throughout the day.

Kudos to Alvarado Street for their jet ski tap tower. A full jet ski with taps in the side.

That is the quick dispatch. More to come as I go over my notes including my favorite and a surprising least favorite.

FWIBF18 – Day 1


It is that time of the year. A beer fans Christmas. The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival.

Here is what happened in the drive up to Paso Robles (nothing, except that the 46 has been paved more) and what was drunk once I got there…

First stop after checking in was Silva Brewing. They had a beer and chocolate pairing in progress as well as new beers in fancy bottle packaging.

I tasted the Chuck-Amok with Chuck Silva himself nearby. Then I had the draft version of his Rose beer which really tasted great with some serious Chardonnay notes.

From there it was on to Firestone Walker for the annual tour to show off the new buildings and re-jiggering that has taken place. The campus is now around 18 acres and this coming next is a solar array to provide power for all of the buildings. The newest coming online is a massive cold building. It is too big to call just a box.

The end of the tour brought a tasting of the Anniversary beer amongst barrels from the “cocktail” series. Dark and Stormy, which I tasted back in March is part of that.

Then a brief respite before heading back for BBQ and music. I tried the latest Luponic Distortion and a Propagator beer, Patrick Hayes v2. I also filled my cup with OMG Hazy IPA from Garage Project.

I called it a day soon after.

#FWIBF18 – The Breweries

Firestone Walker chose April Fool’s Day to announce their brewery line-up for their 2018 Invitational Beer Fest and SURPRISE!, the list is great…

For those lucky enough to snare tickets to this sought after event, here are my recommendations of booths to visit….

Fonta Flora was my favorite last year and got a lot of positive press, so hit them up early. New this year are Jack’s Abby from the East Coast and there beers will be perfect for the summer sun of Paso Robles.

WeldWerks had a hella’ long line at the Beer Advocate fest so I would head to another newcomer, Oxbow instead.

The foreign tent has some big names. Thornbridge being the one that I would run to. (Oh how I love to watch the beer snobs run) Also hit Beavertown and Garage Project before their lines grow.

Lastly The Rare Barrel and Sante Adairius should be on your must visit list for at least one beer.

Where I Need to Visit in 2018

Each year, I know that more breweries and beer bars will open. I also know that I won’t get to them all. But I do have an agenda and at the top of that list are making my first visits to….

…and that is just the start.