Was the ‘Take Craft Back’ Campaign a Bad Move for the BA?

Thoughts on: Brewers Association Launches ‘Take Craft Back’ Campaign to Buy ABI, published Oct. 17, 2017 on MensJournal.com.

Take Craft Back

Last week, the Brewers Association launched Take Craft Back, a “tongue-in-cheek” campaign crowdsourcing imaginary funds in the amount of $213 billion from craft brewers and consumers. The goal? To foot the bill for a weighty purchase: buying out Anheuser-Busch InBev, or ABI, the world’s largest brewing behemoth.

Why? Because ABI has systematically purchased a total of 10 formerly independent craft breweries in the past several years, which allegedly bumps “real” craft brewers off the shelves, out of hop fields and clear out of the minds of beer consumers who aren’t educated enough to make the right choice when faced with corporate versus independent brands at the bar or in the supermarket.

Beer-Brained Idea?

Did the campaign have good intentions? Yes. Absolutely. The BA works their asses off standing up for small and independent brewers around the country, and I respect them for it. In fact, I often cover their successes in beer politics, share and review their Brewers Publications book releases, and reach out to their leaders when I think a story could use their expertise. Take Craft Back is one of the many ways they are both showing and garnering support for the small beer community and I commend that.

But, there was some backlash. Although many of the brewers we love shared the news and contributed to the campaign—and, apparently, upwards of 8,000 people have “donated” (no real money was exchanged, but pledgers are sent some swag for their support)—other industry members were not so tickled. I’ll be the first to admit I laughed at the video, but I too was confused about what I was looking at.

Criticisms of the Campaign

Beer writers in my extended network reacted the most negatively out of anyone, really, and not necessarily to a fault. While the campaign, at best, is obviously a lighthearted attempt to get more eyes on the BA’s goals and convince more people to take the side of the small and independent brewers who work so hard to bring us great beer, the campaign is also bewildering, divisive, and quite frankly, petty. At it’s worst, it’s being criticized as childish, embarrassing, and a misguided use of resources.

I, as always, can appreciate both sides. However, I do agree that there are more effective (and certainly, more distinguished) ways to educate the public about the differences between independently brewed and macro-brewed beer. Although ABI hasn’t issued an official response yet, I imagine they’re laughing their way to the bank, and that the bank is the only institution that will ever touch those $213 billion.

Here’s my coverage of the Take Craft Back campaign for Men’s Journal. 

Cheers,
BeerAffair

Brewers Association Helps Travelocity Create the First ‘Beer Tourism Index’ (via Men’s Journal)

Beer nerd on a budget? Us, too. The“Beer Tourism Index”—an online beercation guide to hotel and flight deals, beer tours and other booze-related activities in the country’s best large and small beer cities—was recently launched by Travelocity with help from the Brewers Association.

Would you use something like the Beer Tourism Index to plan your next beercation? Why/why not?

Learn more about the Beer Tourism Index in my latest for MensJournal.com.

 

4 New York Brewers Win Gold at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival

Great South Bay Brewery

Great South Bay Brewery won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their Jetty Cream Ale.

New York may not win a lot of beer awards, but when we do, we win gold, baby.

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) celebrated its 35th year in Denver this weekend, bringing 60,000 craft beer enthusiasts and industry members together to sample nearly 3,800 beers from more than 800 breweries. The festival, presented by the Brewers Association, took place at the Colorado Convention Center from Thursday, October 6 through Saturday, October 8.

On Saturday morning, the GABF awards ceremony, now in its 30th year, awarded 286 medals to 254 breweries for exemplary renditions of 161 beer styles submitted in 96 categories. Though the top state winners by ratio of medals to entries per state were Wyoming (45 entries and 5 medals),  Hawaii (28 entries and 3 medals) and Virginia (200 entries and 14 medals), New York walked off with gold medals in four categories: Honey Beer; Barrel-Aged Sour Beer; Belgian-Style Witbier; and Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale. Continue reading

4 New York Craft Brewing Companies Make U.S. Top 50

The results are in—the Brewers Association (BA) today announced the top 50 craft brewing companies and top 50 overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume in 2015. According to the BA, 43 of the top 50 overall brewing companies were craft brewing companies, showing that craft breweries “continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings,” Bart Watson, BA chief economist, said. Additionally, four New York brewing companies made it to the Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies in 2015.

New York Craft Breweries in the Top 50

  • Brooklyn Brewery of Brooklyn, New York at no. 12 (compared to no. 11 for 2014);
  • Duvel Moortgat USA of both Kansas City, Missouri and Cooperstown, New York, parent company of Boulevard Brewing and Brewery Ommegang, at no. 15 (compared to no. 12 for 2014);
  • Matt Brewing Co. of Utica, New York, brewers of Saranac and other brands, at no. 17 (compared to no. 14 for 2014); and
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co. of Lakewood, New York) at no. 33 (compared to no. 35 for 2014).

Brooklyn Brewery also sits at no. 18 for overall brewing companies in the U.S. (compared to no. 17 in last year’s report), with Duvel Moortgat four spots behind at no. 22 (falling from no. 18 last year); Matt at no. 24 (compared to no. 20), and Southern Tier at 40 (compared to 41 for 2014). The highest ranking overall brewing company from New York is North American Breweries, which stood at no. 6 for both 2014 and 2015, and includes the Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands.

See how other craft brewing companies stacked up in this infographic from the BA.

ba-top-50

Surprised by these stats? Think a brewery from your state deserved a spot in the top 50? Say it in the comments.

Cheers,

BeerAffair

The Brewers Association Sent Peyton Manning Craft Beer Care Packages

The brews included in the Peyton Manning craft beer care package. via the Brewers Association

The Peyton Manning craft beer care package. via the Brewers Association

In true craft beer form, rather than cry out in rage over Peyton Manning’s un-funded Budweiser plug on Super Bowl Sunday, the Brewers Association has done one better: sent him a bunch of craft beer to try.

Surely, someone with so much money and wordly experience must have missed the craft beer isle to call out Bud on game day, and no one knows this better than the Brewers Association, craft beer’s trade organization supporting small and independent craft beer brewers.

“Since Peyton happens to play in one of the most beer-centric states in the nation, we made sure to include a good number of beers that were local to Colorado in addition to a few other classic and approachable options from around the country,” the Brewers Association said in a blog post on CraftBeer.com.

Along with the beer, the BA included a letter from Julia Herz expressing congratulations and appreciation for all of Manning’s “hard work.” The letter reads:

To help you celebrate, we wanted to share some craft beers from the over 4,100 small and independent brewers in Colorado and beyond. These indie brewers represent the ethic and integrity that makes our country so great and are also worthy of support. We’ve included a variety of choices for you to enjoy.

Here’s what was included in the Peyton Manning craft beer care package:

We’ll always be rooting for you, Julia.

Cheers,
BeerAffair

Father Beer is Stepping Down as President, Continuing as Founder

Talk about an industry always in flux.

The Brewers Association, the trade organization that represents small and independent craft brewers in America, recently announced that its founder and president, Charlie Papazian is stepping down as POBA. (That’s President of the Brewers Association, inspired by POTUS.)

Here’s the quick rundown on Charlie Papazian’s credentials, in case you’re not familiar with the amazing man responsible for American craft beer as we know it:

  • Founder, the Brewers Association (BA)
  • Founder, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA)
  • Founder, Institute for Brewing Studies
  • Founder, Brewers Publications, a leading publisher of books on beer and brewing  (For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops; Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brew House; Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers; and Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation among them)
  • Founder, the World Beer Cup (the most prestigious beer competition in the world)
  • Founder, the Great American Beer Festival, a major industry event that attracts 60,000 attendees annually
  • Founding publisher, Zymurgy magazine for homebrewers and the New Brewer, the flagship journal for small and independent craft brewers
  • Author, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, the “hombrewer’s bible” (along with several subsequent editions and other books)

Charlie Papazian is basically the godfather of the U.S. brewing industry, if the godfather was more like Mr. Rogers. He lobbied for homebrewing before it was legal, started two magazines for homebrewers and independent craft brewers, wrote the book(s) that many brewers depended on to learn their craft, and launched the major beer associations and events that attract tens of thousands of brewers and brewing industry advocates today. Oh, and he’s also a nuclear engineer.

After 37 years at the BA’s helm, he’ll be transforming his role into “founder,” and plans to continue involvement in several craft beer industry programs, the BA said.

“He will continue to attend key Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association events. He will also participate in other events in the U.S. and internationally, offering his perspectives on beer, brewing and its impact on social and business culture.”

He will also continue to contribute to both Zymurgy and New Brewer.

Like many of us who find ourselves wrapped up in this business and its ancillary community, Papazian is in it for the people.

“The tens of thousands of individual stories chronicling the success and joy that craft beer has brought to our lives inspires me. Ultimately it’s the people and their communities who have been and continue to be involved with beer who make our current beer world so special. I look forward to continued opportunities that will enhance the world of beer.”Charlie Papazian

Although I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Papazian, I look forward to the possibility someday. I wish him the best in this new stage as an ever-growing presence and proponent of the craft beer industry.

Cheers,
BeerAffair

Featured image via the Brewers Association: “CHARLIE PAPAZIAN ADOPTS NEW ROLE AT BREWERS ASSOCIATION,” Jan. 2, 2016.

 

Tipsy Turkey and Cranbeery Relish: Cooking With Beer on Thanksgiving

Photo by the Beer Bitty.

Photo via BeerBitty.com: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash tossed in a Warm Bacon and Brown Ale Vinaigrette with Sage and Toasted Pecans.

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means a barrage of recipes and relatives are probably vying for your attention and food coma threshold. To make it a little easier on you, I’ve gone through ladle-loads of beer and food recipes from all around the web and reduced it down to five easy ways to infuse your food with craft brews.

Swap out your usual side dish or soggy vegetable mush with the same dish, only better—because it has beer in it, and making it isn’t any harder than without beer. In fact, it’ll probably be easier because you’ll be enjoying it more while you sip on some extra brew. It’s a win-win. 

With recipes from some of the best beer and food resources—like the Brewers Association’s  Cooking with Beer Recipes (with insider tips from  Julia Herz, Brewers Association craft beer program director and CraftBeer.com publisher), Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Spent Grain Chef, and the Beer Bitty—you won’t regret giving these a try.

Go HAM on 5 Beer-Infused Thanksgiving Recipes  > 

Check them out in my latest beer school feature for Rally by Eventbrite.

 

Featured Image: Chestnut Brown Ale Stuffing by Brooklyn Brew Shop.

#WomanCrushWednesday: Kim Jordan

Kim_Jordan_New_Belgium

Kim Jordan, co-founder, New Belgium Brewing Company. Photo via NewBelgium.com

#WCW: Kim Jordan

Beer Cred:

Kim Jordan has more than 25 years’ experience in the craft beer industry. As co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company (est. 1991) and having served as CEO for 15 years, she has strengthened the brewery and craft beer community at large as a leader, speaker and expert in all things beer biz. Jordan recently transitioned into a new role as executive chair at New Belgium, setting her sites set on strategy and  advocacy for progressive business practices both within the New Belgium Family Foundation and on the 1% For the Planet Board of Directors.

Well Said:

“Conservation is sexy.” – “Brewing Big (With a Micro Soul),” Entrepreneur.com, Nov. 2009

Cheers to that, Kim!
– BeerAffair

#WomanCrushWednesday: Wendy Littlefield

Wendy Littlefield. Photo via LinkedIn.com

Wendy Littlefield. Photo via LinkedIn.com

#WCW: Wendy Littlefield

Beer Cred:

In honor of Brewery Ommegang’s 18th birthday next month and my departure for Belgium today, this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes to Wendy Littlefield. Along with her husband, Ed, Littlefield’s accolades go far beyond a bulleted list. From a romantic start of eloping in college, moving to Belgium and falling in love—with the tradition and taste of Belgian beer, that is—she became the first American woman inducted into the Belgian Brewers Guild and was nominated for the Mercurius Award, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Belgian government.

Back stateside,  in addition to starting two beer businesses, she started several community-driven food and drink events and associations in her now-hometown of Cooperstown, N.Y. (Belgian Comes to Cooperstown among them). You can learn more about the Littlefields in the self-told “Very Long and Boring Story” of  her career in beer—a lengthy one, yes, but there’s nothing boring about it.

Well Said:

“We have been at this business for 31 years and still adore it, and we are still married and capable of working together. How very fortunate we are. We think of ourselves as cultural anthropologists explaining culture through beer.” – “Why We Do What We Do— An Interview With Our New York Distributor,” March 2012, BelgianBeerExperts.com 

5 New York Breweries Take Home 2015 Great American Beer Festival Medals

Photo via BrewersAssociation.org.

Photo via BrewersAssociation.org.

On Sept. 26, 2015, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) awarded 275 professional medals to 242 craft breweries representing small and independent breweries throughout the United States.  This year, more than 700 breweries competed, with 423 entering for the first time. Of those first-time entrants, 38 took home medals to their breweries.

New York entered 20 breweries into the competition this year, with five taking home GABF medals.

2015 GABF New York winners:

Gold

Grimm Artisanal Ales of Brooklyn, N.Y. for their Double Negative
Category: Imperial Stout

Great South Bay Brewery of Bay Shore, N.Y. for their Hog Cabin
Category: Specialty Beer

Muscat Love, a recipe created by American Homebrewers Association member, Brian Giebel brewed in collaboration with the Great South Bay team
Category: GABF Pro-Am competition

Silver

Prison City Brewing of Auburn, N.Y. for their Bleek Worden
Category: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale

Newburgh Brewing Co. of Newburgh, N.Y. for their Cream Ale
Category: English-Style Summer Ale

Crossroads Brewing Co. of Athens, N.Y. for their Black Rock Stout
Category: Export Stout

Congratulations to our New York winners and to all GABF winners and participants! For the full list of winners and awards, visit www.brewersassociation.org.