In late October, the news broke that Lagunitas (or was it Heineken) had closed a Community Room charitable space in Portland. It was PR claimed that it was a hard decision to make but I am pretty sure that the big brewery could have stopped taking reservations and then easily found the spare change in the marketing department couch to keep the place afloat through all the booked events or called it quits on January 2nd.
This led me back to a conversation I had recently where the massive Lagunitas complex off the 210 freeway was brought up and how it had completely fallen off the map in the Los Angeles beer universe. Back in time when I was invited there on media day and saw all the space for trucks to be loaded with easy access to move out onto the freeway to send Lagunitas beer to the large SoCal market and presumably to Mexico. Space for brewing and taprooms and food. But years have passed and no rooftop garden bar as spoken of. Nothing but a temporary taproom that had the look of thrown together over a weekend which I don’t even know is open or not anymore. And there ha been nary an update about the whole project since.
If two states are affected, in two widely disparate areas like Portland and SoCal, there is something afoot. This feels like a re-trenchment from above and not something guided by Petaluma HQ. I expected this to happen to one of the “High End” breweries or Constellation with the inflated Ballast Point sale but maybe Heineken hit a financial wall first. A self-imposed wall to be sure.
Now that H2OPS is in my local Whole Foods, I will occasionally pick up a bottle partially to spite the La Croix people but also I like the taste of it. I wish it were hoppier and that they had single-hop waters but I am not complaining.
Now Lagunitas with that mad Heineken money is getting into the sparkle water segment with a Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops water as part of (I guess) their foray into weed water, Hi-Fi Hops.
This water also has brewers yeast “which the company said will “biotransform-ate the hops to just the right flavour.”
Personally, I think the spiked water trend is not long for this world, much like the spiked soda’s seem on the verge of playing out. Maybe this will work but it will need to have some actual hop kick for me to buy more than one.
There are beer categories still left to be filled. Gluten-free now has more (still not enough) options and the alcohol free section of the store shelf could use freshening which is where the new, and aptly named, Heineken 0.0 comes in.
This new beer would join an 0.0 line that already includes Amstel 0.0, as well as radler products including Soproni 0.0 Maxx Radler and Amstel 0.0% Radler outside the U.S. but would be the first global offering.
Currently the lowest available are the “light” Heineken at 3.3%. Will a craft brewer enter this market? Might be a opportunity here.
One moment Lagunitas Brewing is trumpeting their SoCal Azusa location and then as the ink dries on that deal, comes the news that Heineken will be a 50/50 partner with the outspoken and brash Tony Magee and his Petaluma based brewery.
You could reasonably ask if these deals are coming more and more because people are now semi-used to them and the reaction isn’t as negative as when Goose Island changed hands.
But in my opinion, there are a crop of breweries that need access to cold, hard cash to grow. Adding more debt or going back into debt may not hold the appeal that it never did and with the big breweries seeing that their feeble attempts at “crafty-ness” were not flying, they are going after the next best thing.
You can read the brewery side of it HERE and then the more introspective and literature based version from Magee himself HERE. I won’t add anything extra to either because the proof lies down the road.
Part One – If you trusted the owner and the brewer before and they do not change, then you should remain optimistic but watchful. If I won a cash haul tomorrow, I wouldn’t change overnight. I might change but I would hope that I would remain the somewhat snarky fellow that I am. Keep the same thought for a company ’cause the Supreme Court says they are people like you and me
Part Two – As I have instructed before, now is the time to try Lagunitas beers and jot down your flavor thoughts. Then do so again in 3 and 6 months time. If those thoughts are similar, then worries were overblown. If it is drastically different, then tell the world. Just don’t go about moaning right now.
From FEMSA – Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma (also brewers of Bohemia, Carta Blanca, Sol and Tecate) and owned by Heineken comes Indio. It is described as “a Lager-type beer with an amber hue and a distinctive light caramel-malt taste.”
I received a six-pack from the PR firm that is spreading the word to the LA (and maybe) other markets. In my e-mail, I let them know that the LA scene was hopping and that the beer would need to earn a good review considering the great stuff that I am starting to see from our new breweries.
Well, Indio pours a very pretty amber color. Aroma is primarily sweetness and not much else. The first sip is mostly sweet but that fades into wateryness. As it warmed I got a bit of an apple taste as well. But any flavor that does appear tends to disappear as quickly. Indio is better than Corona or Sol or Tecate bu that is not much of a bar to hurdle. It just doesn’t have much other than water going on. I would prefer a strong pils from Lagunitas or Trumer to pair with Mexican food or a hot day for that matter.
So kudos to the effort. It doesn’t have that numbing corn pop taste that I get off of American Industrial water lagers but it could use a heartier grain bill and a dose of hops to create a better beer for me.
There is a bit of a movies and TV theme on tomorrow’s FoodGPS post. But trust me, it all comes back around to beer in the end. There may be exotic locales with a green bottled beer of ill repute. A serpent chasing it’s own tail in search of a brown ale and then there are zombies too……