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

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The Best Brooklyn Beer Book Editions Ever Are Here

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The 2017 Brokelyn Beer Book: Zone 1 (Above Atlantic Ave.)

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The 2017 Brokelyn Beer Book: Zone 2 (Below Atlantic Ave.)

Every year since 2010, Brokelyn has published the Beer Book, a pocket guide and passport giving craft beer lovers 30 tickets to the best beers in the borough. Now available in two separate editions, one for upper Brooklyn and one for lower Brooklyn, the Brokelyn Beer Book is created with the dual purpose of making beer more accessible to Brooklyn’s budget-conscious beer lovers, as well as to support and promote the beer businesses that are creating the craft beer scene as we know it.

Without the bars, beer-conscious restaurants and, in more recent years, awesome small and independent breweries that participate in the Beer Book, we would not have the outstanding selection or flavorful variety of handcrafted, lovingly crafted beers—created with the curious, caring consumer in mind—that we have today.

Likewise, without Brooklyn’s beer drinkers, from the craft beer curious to the beer connoisseurs, the bars and breweries we now know and love would not have the opportunity to thrive.

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The 2016 Queens Beer Book is also still available until April 2017.

As the Brokelyn Beer Book (or, as it is also referred to, the Brooklyn Beer Book, since Brokelyn now also publishes a Queens Beer Book, available until April 2017) enters its seventh year, with yours truly as current curator and copywriter, I ask that you take a minute to explore the new editions—both the Upper Brooklyn Beer Book and the Lower Brooklyn Beer Book—and to appreciate the 60 businesses who made the books possible this year. Without them, there would be no Beer Book.

And, I invite you to explore, especially, the new breweries included in the 2017 editions—like Interboro, KCBC, Lineup and Wartega—along with the updated mix of beer-slinging institutions and those who are newer to the scene. If you’re in the industry, or lucky enough to have regular access to craft brews without breaking open your piggy bank, consider buying the Beer Book as a gift for the thirsty and thrifty beer lover in your life.

Here’s to Brooklyn beers, and to a pair of Beer Books that are better than ever!

Cheers,
BeerAffair

 

 

What I Do As a Beer Writer

Taking notes at Moeder Lambic, Brussels, Belgium.

Taking notes at Moeder Lambic, Brussels, Belgium.

Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. I figured I may as well publish it here, too. 

As a craft beer journalist and blogger, I’m often met with mystified expressions and questions when I explain what I do: “A beer writer? So, you drink beer and write about it? That must be fun!”

Well, yes, I do write about beer, and I do drink a lot of it in order to write about it. But, much like food writers don’t spend all of their time seated at fancy restaurants with a sea of courses stretching before them into waves of table infinity, beer writing isn’t all about bellying up to the bar. Continue reading

Queens Beer Book 2 on NY1 News!

The Queens Beer Book was recently featured on NY1 News.

The Queens Beer Book was recently featured on NY1 News!

This week, the Queens Beer Book made its second annual appearance on NY1 News in an interview with Josh Schneps, owner of Schneps Publications and publisher of QNS.com and Brokelyn.com (co-publishers of the book), and myself, Cat Wolinski, curator, writer, editor and obsessor over this little book of big dreams.

I’m still getting the hang of TV appearances, but I’m sharing this for the sake of the bars and breweries featured in the book. What I hoped to communicate in the interview was that the Queens Beer Book was created to promote local businesses who are making and selling great, independently produced beer, making the craft beer community a possibility in Queens. What came out was more like, “There’s great beer here, and it’s not Budweiser.”

But, foot in mouth or not, I always feel great knowing that people may be catching a glimpse of my efforts to support and encourage the progress of craft beer; that they may retain a little bit of awareness about our local beer makers and the bars, restaurants and shops who are supporting them; and that maybe, just maybe, the next time they reach for a beer menu, they’ll ask for a SingleCut, Rockaway, LIC Beer Project or Bridge & Tunnel, or a Finback or a Transmitter, and they’ll leave the Bud Light behind for the days when better quality, better intentioned beer wasn’t available here.

Check out the video here and the words below from NY1.com:

Queens Beer Lovers Now Have a Guide for Best Brews in the Borough

Beer lovers in Queens now have a go-to-guide to help them find some of the best brews in the borough.

The Queens Beer Book is back for a second year. It showcases more than 30 beers at more than 30 of the best bars, breweries and beer-centric eateries across Queens.

Brooklyn has had its own similar beer book for a few years. Publishers say they’re ready to show off what Queens has to offer.

“The beer scene in Queens is exploding, so right now you have at least a half dozen breweries in Long Island City [and Astoria] alone,” said Josh Schneps , QNS.com publisher.

“The criteria, first of all, is having great beer. That means beers that are made locally, made regionally—things other than the normal Budweiser [and] Bud Light that people might be used to,” says Queens Beer Book curator, Catherine Wolinski.

The book can be purchased online for $30.00. It’s good for one year. For more information visit http://www.QNS.com.

Buy a Beer Book here: Brokelyn Beer Book Store

Cheers,
BeerAffair

Craft Brewers Pick Their Favorite Shower Beer

The shower beer can be many things: post-workout hydration, multitasking before a night out, or simply a refreshing pick-me-up while washing. For Lewis Kent, the Beer Mile world champion, shower beers are both post-race liquid trophy and pregame ritual. “After a race or a hard workout, when I come home and I’m getting ready to go out with friends, it’s nice to have a little reward,” says Kent.

Craft brewers have caught on to the concept, and a growing number of craft beers billed as “shower beers” are hitting the shelves, providing more flavorful, stimulating options to take into the tub. With warm weather approaching, now is the perfect time to indulge in these palate-scrubbing brews — from a hoppy pilsner to a lime-zested gose to a pale ale bursting with citrus — made for good, clean fun, in the shower and out. Read more on MensJournal.com > 

The Queens Beer Book is Back!

 

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The second annual Queens Beer Book is now on sale at Brokelyn.com.

 

The 2016 Queens Beer Book is here!

I’m always met with a mixed wave of relief and accomplishment when the Beer Books launch, and for the second year running, this is especially true with the Queens book. Though my several years’ history with the Brooklyn Beer Book can’t be surpassed, the Queens Beer Book, which launched in 2015, holds a special place in my heart. This book was my baby last year, and it’s been a rewarding experience watching it fly the nest and be so well received amongst the craft beer curious in Queens.

The limited-edition book, curated and edited by yours truly, brings beer adventuring beyond Brooklyn’s borders, offering an easy, affordable way to discover the exploding craft beer scene in Queens. Buying one gets you 31 beers at 31 of the best bars, breweries and beer-centric eateries across Queens for just $30, featuring awesome venues in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Ridgewood, Forest Hills, Whitestone and Bayside.

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Rockaway Brewing Co. in Long Island City, Queens. Photo via Brokelyn.

 

Which is why I’m VERY excited to announce that the 2016 edition is on sale, ready for the next round of beer drinkers to journey through its 31 pages, this time enjoying new bars, breweries and beer halls to accompany some favorites from last year, and nice places to go out while saving a little extra cash.

Good through April 15, 2017, this is an explorer’s guide to great food and drink spots you haven’t been to yet, as well as an incentive to revisit neighborhood favorites. (Want proof of how much fun they are? See the books in action on Instagram.)

2016 Queens Beer Book Venues Include:

60 Bean Kitchen & Coffee • Alobar • Astoria Bier & Cheese (Ditmars) • Beer Belly’s • Beer Closet • Bierleichen • Bierocracy • Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden • Bowery Bay • Bridge & Tunnel Brewery • The Courtyard Ale House • Diamond Dogs • Jagerhaus • John Brown Smokehouse • LIC Beer Project • The Local Bar • Maggie Mae’s • Max Bratwurst Und Bier • The Monk • The Other Place • Press 195 • Proof & Gauge (at Astoria Distilling Co.) • The Queens Kickshaw • The Ridgewood Ale House • Rèst-âü-Ránt • Rockaway Brewing Company • SingleCut Beersmiths • Snowdonia • The Standing Room • Unidentified Flying Chickens • Woodbines

Pick one up now to support local businesses bringing craft beer to life in Queens. Oh, and to get a bunch of free beers while you’re eating and drinking your way through the borough this year.

Thank you to 2016 participants and purchasers! 

Cheers,
BeerAffair

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.

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

Cheers,

BeerAffair

Victory and Southern Tier Merger

“Craft brewers took a world where people didn’t care about flavor or freshness in their beer, and changed it dramatically.” – Victory Brewing Company co-founder, Bill Covaleski

Last month, Victory Brewing Co. of Downington, Pennsylvania and Southern Tier Brewing Co. of Lakewood, New York merged to operate under a holding company formed by private equity firm, Ulysses Management. The two breweries’ new owner, Artisanal Brewing Ventures (amusingly abbreviated ABV), provides “management advice, assistance and vision to a select but growing list of independent craft brewers and distillers,” according to the Ulysses Management website.

The merger can be seen two ways: another pair of craft breweries surrendering their independence to the almighty dollar; or,  two craft breweries joining forces to continue fighting the good fight against macro brands, with more money and power behind them than if they continued operating solo. One facet important to note is that ABV is a parent company, and won’t be producing any goods or services itself.

Whether you’re of the “another one bites the dust” camp or the “I’m not surprised/devastated/outraged, business is business” camp (I tend to lean toward the latter, in this case), consider this quote for a moment and let it tell you one sure thing: the beer world is changing, it  will continue to constantly change, and a long as we have lots of options for good beers to drink and good people making them, we’re doing alright.

Read more of Covaleski’s response in Men’s Journal’s coverage of the merger here. For the full release, head to stbcbeer.com.

 

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

There’s Finally an LGBTQ Group for Craft Beer Lovers in NYC

LGBT Craft Beer

For many craft beer drinkers, it’s not hard to find a bar where one is immediately at ease, knowing that beer brethren and sistren are nearby to talk hops, barley or brettanomyces. Bars specializing in craft beer abound in New York City; apps like Untapped and Instagram connect craft beer lovers at astoundingly specific points of interest; festivals occur frequently across the country; and there seems to be a meetup group for every beer drinker, whether you’re a bottle sharing single dad in Brooklyn or a young woman with a penchant for artisanal ales.

But for some, the craft beer community leaves something to be desired: a designated group for LGBTQ beer fans, where non- hetero, binary or cis identifications are overtly accepted and celebrated. Here, members would feel they were among their kindred spirits as beer lovers, with the added comfort of a common bond.

In Long Island City, Queens, Alexa Blair Wilkinson is filling that void with NYC LGBT Craft Beer, a Meetup group created in partnership with well-known craft beer bar, Alewife. Wilkinson, who describes herself on the Meetup page as a “craft beer nerd with the heart of a unicorn,” is also an executive chef and certified Cicerone, a professional credential for serving beer and pairing it with food, similar to a wine sommelier.

Says Wilkinson in the NYC LGBT Craft Beer description, “Whether it’s friendship, a spark, a bottle share, or some nerdy yeast loving talk…this meetup is for anyone who likes or wants to learn more about the growing craft beer movement within a safe environment.”

LGBT Craft Beer meetups will include beer tastings, beer dinners, tasting competitions, charity events and seasonal parties. For the most part,  Wilkinson plans to hold the events on Sundays in Long Island City, but is open to different times and locations, the event description says.

Wilkinson’s Meetup is not only an opportunity for queers to get together for a beer, but an answer for a community that has been lacking solid stance in New York City’s craft beer scene. More than that, the group will be working with its partner venues to host charities and fundraisers; at the debut event in January, attendees are encouraged to bring winter coats for a New York Cares drive.

The debut NYC LGBT Craft Beer Meetup will take place at Alewife in Long Island City on Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 7pm. The meetup is also sponsored by Troegs Brewery, who will be donating a keg to the event. Specials for the group include $5 pints and snacks on the house, along with “a chance to get together and talk craft beer,” Wilkinson said.