What will the 2014 numbers look like?

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Can the growth sustain at such a high figure as 17%+?

Will the total market for craft expand to 15 billion?

Will big beer continue to drip-drip customers?

I don’t own a crystal ball so I don’t know what exactly will happen. But upcoming posts on this blog only detail growth and expansion. I believe that if growth is steady above 10% the momentum will continue and 2015 won’t be the year of the “big contraction”.

Find more craft statistics HERE.

LA on the Board

At this point this is now “old” news but considering the 4th anniversary of Ladyface concluded yesterday, I thought I should keep the focus on the Agoura Hills brewery for another day….

Cyrena Nouzille is on the board of the Brewer’s Association!

Cyrena and Ladyface has been a big part of the craft beer resurgence / catching up to other cities and it is great to see her representing the SoCal area.  It also shows that others recognize what is going on in the Southland.

Craft Beer & Craft Food – another look

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The Brewer’s Association and their associated Craft Beer.com website came to Abbot Kinney Boulevard last Tuesday, and they brought a bevy of brewers with them from all across the country.

Why?  Because they want to show that beer should be on the dining table and cooked with at home and at restaurants.  Like the Tasting Kitchen in Venice which served up a five course meal that would change even the most light American lager buyers heart.  And certainly filled my stomach and changed my way of thinking of pairing beer with food.

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The evening started with a hybrid hefe-wit canned by Karbach Brewing in Texas.  Weisse Versa took aspects from both styles and created a nice summery beer that was a great way to ease into the evening that was curated by Julia Herz from the Brewer’s Association, Chef Adam Dulye from Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco who is also the culinary consultant for the association and Chef Casey from Tasting Kitchen.

Then the first surprise was unveiled when the first course was accompanied by not one but two beers.  Usually it is one beer that is chosen to either “juxtapose” against the dish or “delve” into the flavors with a similar set in the beer.  The plan this night was to have each different beer have a hook into a different ingredient or part of the course.

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The “a-ha!” example of this was the brown butter ravioli.  The Abita Amber from New Orleans tied itself to the caramelization in the pasta and added a level of malty sweetness while the Crystal Bitter from No-Li Brewhouse in Spokane, Washington attached itself to the garlic blossoms in the dish.

It also succeeded to a slightly lesser degree with the Speck and Melon with La Blonde from Ladyface and Colorado Kolsch from Steamworks.  And with the Bistecca Fiorentina paired with olive oil and two radically different IPA’s.  The Pupil from San Diego’s Societe and a Rye IPA from Harpoon in New England.

This method really showcases the variety of beer more than any expert can do in a book or that I can reiterate over and over in multiple blog posts..  The shortcoming to it is that you get full a lot quicker. Plus it also increases the complexity of choosing the beer for the chef and beer staff.  It’s hard enough with so many options available now to pick one that us opinionated beer geeks can agree on.

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Food and craft beer was the focus of the evening but the side dish (as it were) was both talking to the brewers and the reps who were there and eavesdropping on them as they struck up conversations with compatriots they had and had not met before.  Each brewery was allotted time to talk about the beer that was being presented and about the brewery itself.  Though the space upstairs was loud, the opportunity to meet the head brewer at Bridgeport or talk to Mark from Great Lakes about the scene in Cleveland is priceless.  And it was great to have Cyrena from Ladyface in the house representing the Los Angeles scene.

I have been reading a history of wine and it is only within the last couple hundred of years that wine became the beverage of choice at restaurants and beer was pushed to ale houses and taverns.  And as with much of history it was more by chance and timing and economics than it was due to which would improve a meal.

Keg Return

Count me as a fan of the Brewer’s Association. And add this to my list of reasons why, now they are helping return kegs back to their proper homes via this website.
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Here is what the plan is, “KegReturn.com was established to help make sure lost kegs are more easily returned to their brewery owners.

By using this database to search for key markings and symbols on a lost keg, we hope to help reunite kegs with their rightful owners.

Kegs are expensive—your efforts will help decrease the cost of great beer.”

It is beyond not cool

I have been a victim of the frosted glass on numerous occasions. Most recently at California Pizza Kitchen that tried to ruin Eagle Rock’s XPA, Revolution by putting it into an ice cold glass.

Usually, I just let the glass warm and/or put my hands on the glass and passively-aggressively let the waitress see that something is wrong. But from now on, I will just send it back and teach a lesson.

Now watch the video and have your facts ready for the next time you get handed an ice glass….

Top 10 – Ugh, another lopsided Best of List

This interweb piece by Jim Galligan made the rounds earlier this month. But I just recently stumbled upon it and had to add my comments about what I see from this side by side comparison of Top10 lists.

Of these three lists, the Beer Advocate one is by far the most balanced. The list that I held out the most hope for being an even distribution of styles turned out to be the least. The Brewer’s Association list (though filled with fine beers that I would not turn down and will probably buy in abundance in the future) is basically IPA. The RateBeer list is way too stout heavy but that is to be expected from what I have encountered when using that site. (Which I still do)

What I simply don’t understand and will probably rant about until the day I die is why there is such a limiting choice of styles. Craft beer came about due to the overdominance of the lager and pilsner. It was about pushing style boundaries and resurrecting ancient beer styles. Using and creating new hops and ingredients and brewing techniques. Now to be considered great, you simply have to be a stout or an IPA. Or be Westvleteren.

I am not suggesting that each top 10 list include one beer from each style. If 10 IPA’s are the best, then so be it. I guess I am worried and saddened that the beer world is being reduced again. History repeating itself until we become so oversaturated with IPA’s and 15% stouts that there is no choice but to return to Kolsch, cream ales and English Milds.

I recently had the good fortune to try Black Tuesday from The Bruery this month and it was tremendous as I am sure every beer on the list is that I haven’t been able to sample. I guess I am still waiting for a Top10 list that reflects a wider spectrum without sacrificing quality because I know it is out there.

the Year in Craft Beer – 2011

Two things jump out at me. The number 13.2% growth and the fact that this time next year, we could be looking at over 2,000 craft breweries. That is amazing. And all in a staggeringly short amount of time. But the future number that I am looking at is market share. With each large gain the water lager manufacturers might finally learn that taste is paramount.

This chart is courtesy of the Brewer’s Association.

CraftBeer.com

Today is beer on the interwebs day. Because you shouldn’t just take my word for it. There are plenty of web voices about beer that we all should listen to. So here is the first site you should bookmark…
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…. You can visit this Brewers Association created site at craftbeer.com

There are featured breweries, beer and food pairing suggestions and a boatload of information and it is presented in a very classy way with a soothing color palate and layout.

1,525 and counting

According to the Brewers Association…
“At a time when many of the giant beer brands are declining, small and independent craft brewers are organically growing their share and slowly gaining shelf and restaurant menu space one glass of craft beer at a time.”
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