In Flight Craft

Two items got me to thinking, well actually three. Sometimes I need thought provocation in triplicate.

One – This piece about an Australian Airline promoting local products, including beer. HERE.

Two – From the Bourbon Pursuit podcast talking about airport specific whiskey from Maker’s Mark in New York and Sydney.

Three – This photo from Beer Paper LA….

We all love to travel to beer destinations but we don’t have to be bereft of good choices just because we are heading to an airport or a train station and sometimes it is nice to be able to pre-party before you get wherever you are going.

Seek the Seal, Simply

Don’t know if I missed this or it is new but the above handy Google-esque tool can be just the thing to send to your friends that don’t know who owns who. Just start typing the name and you will have an answer in seconds. Check out this tool HERE.

Rams or Chargers


With the Chargers moving north to join the Rams in Los Angeles, the City of Angels is NFL rich again.

And despite the interwebs gleeful destruction of the new Chargers logo and the connection to themed Bud Light cans for both teams, I look forward to some football themed and named beers from our local breweries.

Here are a few suggestions…..

Three Weavers could do a session ale, maybe a hoppy brown, with the name Inglewood Tailgate.

Phantom Carriage could do a Legends of the Past sour ale with a label that notes famous Rams and Chargers who are now passed to the great beyond.

El Segundo could have a Day 1 IPA release called Concussion Protocol. A bit morbid but not everyone is an NFL fan.

The next L.A. Brewers Guild Unity beer could be called Hometown Rivalry and be an Imperial ESB.

Misfits United

True Craft (check in around the 16 minute mark, though you should watch the build-up)….

Greg Koch today revealed plans that are bigger and more ambitious than even building an American brewery in Berlin. True Craft will launch a $100 million fund for investing in “real” food and beverage companies with the goal of creating a stable and ongoing environment for “craft” conscious companies so that selling out doesn’t have to be an only option.

This fund which has garnered a not unsizeable starting bankroll of $100 million will acquire minority positions in craft breweries. Per Koch, “They can make their own decisions about their future,” he said. “They can stay independent. They can get financing and flexibility that they need to flourish, while keeping their soul and control.”

I almost think it is too late to the game but a welcome addition to the brewery succession plan cupboard of ideas. ESOP’s and partial sales to investors or merging with bigger craft brands are all well and good but without a place to go that can guide brewery once the initial founder is done is what is needed more. SABInBevMiller may think they were smart to buy up formerly craft breweries but their eternal short-sight syndrome may have led them to buy when breweries would have gone “poof” and vanished. Innovative financing ideas like this and micro-loans are what are truly needed to keep innovative ideas bubbling for years.

I know the Pollyanna card will be played in my direction. Thinking that whatever breweries join must fall into lockstep with Stone could be a worry but the main reaction so far seems to be to the name, True Craft, alone.

Financing is tricky. So are succession plans. Just like a thriving craft beer culture needs breweries of all sizes. All types of plans should be available. True Craft may not affect more than a few breweries but it could be a lifeline for those few and to piss on the whole endeavor instead of finding where it could help seems counterproductive.

More on this endeavor will be posted here as it develops. (And I hope it catches on with coffee, cheese, wine and other “crafted” foods and drinks)

Let’s Do the Numbers

To recap 2015 in craft beer….
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The Brewers Association (BA), recently released their 2015 data on the state of craft brewing.

Here are what I consider the important take-aways:

12% market share of the overall beer industry but if you look at it as retail dollar value then the number goes up to 21% market share.

Throughout the year, there were 620 new brewery openings and only 68 closings.

One of the fastest growing regions was the South, where four states—Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas—each saw a net increase of more than 20 breweries, establishing a strong base for future growth in the region.

None of these numbers shock me as much the sheer brewery total but what it does tell me is that there is still growth happening. Maybe not spikes upward but steady walking up the hill for sure. And I like to see that the South is starting to catch-up with the rest of the country, it speaks to me of the fact that either cities and states see the growth and are helping OR breweries are looking for open spots on the map to do business in. And from this year forward, I think it will be important to chart the opened-closed number and see how that trends.

The(e) Elbow Room

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In the rain, with Christmas lights glowing hard, it can be hard to pinpoint where Thee Elbow Room is at.  At least in my case, I drove by it a couple times before getting out on foot to locate it.

Down a few steps in a sunken courtyard off of Honolulu Avenue in Montrose the small bar is a nice refuge from the outside world.  Yes, they do have two TV’s that could be scaled back to one but there are a bevy of taps and an interesting selection of beers to try.  Strike Brewing caught my eye but the draft system was having issues so I moved on to a porter from Tap It which was smokey with a touch of chocolate.

The bartender was helpful.  Offering information about the beer when prompted and on the ready when the next round was needed.  There are a couple tables inside but the most comfortable seats were at the bar.  They also offer up food as well for those wanting a pairing option.

 

This + Craft Beer

L.A. is not Belgium (yet) but one thing that might be translatable from there to here is the combo.

Wasbar-1

Check out this article with photos from PopUpCity right HERE. Why can’t we mix and match? Restaurants have been slow on the uptake.  Either grafting on beer to a menu (looking at the lazy people and Bourbon Steak in Glendale) or ignoring it all together. So how about Pet grooming and beer?  Pets get treated real well here in L.A. so why not combo with some craft beer?  Or follow the Wasbar example.  Maybe a combo coffee house in the morning, craft beer at night concept?

(Art + Beer) x L.A. Beer Week

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The 5th year of L.A. Beer Week starts simmering with this exhibit featuring the works of artists limited (or unlimited) by being asked to create a piece of art with the humble beer coaster.  We all know by now that craft beer pairs magically with food, now it is time to see how it translates into the world of art!  And keep on doodling on coasters.

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Cold Turkey

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Black Isle Brewery in Scotland got a lot of press for their Cold Turkey Breakfast beer. A whopping 2.8% ABV monster. Apparently some folks are not used to brash marketing. Wait, BrewDog has been doing it as well!

All sarcasm aside, certain beers by dint of name or marketing catch on with the Social Media hordes.  But hopefully, this will bring more attention to the other ORGANIC beers that Black Isle brews.  If it gets more people to buy the Pollinator Honey/heather beer or their pale ale then it is a job well done.

And for the record, I would sample the Cold Turkey.  Sounds refreshing for a hot day in L.A.

Super Beer for the Super Bowl

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(Image from the NFL website)

In a couple hours, Harbaugh Bowl 2013 aka Super Bowl 47 will begin and it is a great opportunity to expose people to great beer in their glass while they watch the gridiron action and the light beer commercials that promise hot girls to any guy with a Bud/Miller/Coors in his hand.

But you can do better. All it will take is some creativity and knowledge of the two cities vying for the top NFL prize. If you are a Niners fan, then stock up on some Anchor or 21st Amendment beers. Or find any other Bay Area beers like Almanac or Drake’s to proudly show your allegiance.

Unfortunately, brewed in Baltimore beer isn’t readily available here in L.A. so you will have to think outside the tackle box. You could have golden Kolsch-style beers for those rooting for San Francisco and black stouts for Raven fans. Or you could do a west coast IPA versus east coast IPA taste test for each quarter. Another option would be to have some Abita beers since the game is being held down in New Orleans.

If you are really ambitious you can do some food and beer pairings to highlight the stereotypical foods of each city. Get a couple beers to pair with Ghiradelli chocolate and crabs to mollify both sets of fans.

At the very least, bring out the good stuff. Don’t get railroaded into drinking something bad when you could (at the very least, and it is a great very least) bring a growler of beer from your local craft brewery.

Hut-hut, hike!