Homebrewers Association gives Obama lifetime membership

December 17th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

The American Homebrewers Association has given special lifetime gift memberships to President Obama and outgoing White House chef Sam Kass.

The president made history when he purchased a homebrewing kit and — along with Kass — headed the effort to brew White House Honey Ale, the first beer known to have been brewed in the White House.

“Homebrewing is a model example of a bipartisan, pro-community and pro-business activity that all kinds of people can be passionate about and enjoy. President Obama and chef Kass are among the nation’s 1.2 million homebrewers, which include both Republicans and Democrats,” AHA director Gary Glass said for a press release announcing the gifts. “What better way to honor their enthusiasm for the hobby than to give them a lifetime membership to our community, which consists of many leaders, patriots and successful craft beer entrepreneurs.”

President Obama and Kass were mailed the letters below from Glass on behalf of the organization.

To President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

As one of the nation’s 1.2 million homebrewers, we would be honored to provide you a complimentary lifetime membership to the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to promoting the country’s ever-growing community of homebrewers.

Since its founding in 1978, the AHA has worked to educate Americans about the country’s longstanding tradition of homebrewing. Your participation in homebrewing has elevated national awareness for the hobby and has inspired the country’s homebrewers, many of whom have become successful craft beer entrepreneurs.

We thought this membership, which we have also given to chef Sam Kass as he completes his tenure at the White House, would be a fitting and timely holiday gift. Homebrewing is an activity that everybody—regardless of their background or politics—can bond over and enjoy. As part of your holiday celebrations this year, we hope you will brew a batch of the White House Honey Ale or Honey Porter, the brews that have drawn such great national attention to our favorite hobby.

We look forward to you becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association.

Happy holidays, and cheers to homebrewing.

Yours truly,
Gary Glass
Director
American Homebrewers Association

To chef Kass:

Dear Chef Kass:

As you complete your tenure at the White House, we wanted to send a thank-you gift for all the contributions you have made to the country, and, in particular, to the advancement of our favorite hobby: homebrewing.

We would be honored to provide you a complimentary lifetime membership to the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to promoting the country’s ever-growing community of homebrewers.

Since its founding in 1978, the AHA has worked to educate Americans about the country’s longstanding tradition of homebrewing. Your enthusiasm for the craft, and your initiative in experimenting with and sharing the White House’s delicious homebrew recipes have been wonderful—and we are deeply grateful.

We thought this membership, which we have also given to President Obama, would be a fitting gift for the holidays. As part of your holiday celebrations this year, we hope you will brew a batch of the White House Honey Ale or Honey Porter, the brews that have drawn such great national attention to our favorite hobby.

We look forward to you becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association. We hope this membership will allow you to continue to engage in the hobby as you embark on your next endeavor.

Cheers, and happy holidays.

Yours truly,
Gary Glass
Director
American Homebrewers Association

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Founders Brewing sells 30% share to Spanish brewery

December 17th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan, one of the fastest growing breweries in the country, has announced a partnership with Mahou San Miguel. The Spanish brewery will take a 30 percent stake in Founders.

A press release state that the partnership “will help Founders grow through Mahou’s international distribution network to access the emerging craft beer community around the world. Founders and Mahou are focused on long-term strategic growth, with a commitment to brand longevity and product quality. ‘Founders will remain Founders,’ with continuity in their recipes, processes, facility and staff.”

“We knew that taking on a partner was the necessary, responsible thing to do for the future of Founders because it would open up new doors for growth as well as ensure our legacy for years to come,” CEO Mike Stevens said in the press release. “We spent a long time determining who would be the best partner to help us grow Founders while staying true to our beers and our culture. Mahou shares our family values and a commitment to their communities; they also believe in the importance of long-term partnerships. We are honored to be working with a brewer that commands so much respect.”

Javier López del Hierro, president of Mahou San Miguel, added, “Our investment in Founders is a great source of learning, innovation and transformation for Mahou San Miguel to get directly involved in the U.S. craft market.”

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2014 craft beer in review

December 9th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

The numbers are in from the Brewers Association in Colorado.

“It’s remarkable to see how beer has evolved in the past century. Year over year we’re seeing tremendous growth in the craft beer sector and 2014 proved that craft beer is moving into the mainstream,” Bart Watson, BA chief economist said for a press release. “Consumers are making a conscious choice to buy and try the plethora of options produced by small and independent craft brewers.”

The BA recap:

– U.S. brewery count returns to historic levels. In November, the United States passed the mark of 3,200 brewers in the country and the number of brewery licenses reached the highest ever, topping 4,500 in the first sixth months of the year. Thirteen states (CA, CO, WA, OR, MI, NY, PA, TX, FL, WI, IL, NC, OH) now have more than 100 breweries each.

– Breweries are opening at a rate of 1.5 per day. In addition, there are more than 2,000 breweries in planning.

– Craft brewers were the growth point in the overall beer industry. Through June of 2014, craft brewers enjoyed 18 percent growth by volume. Numerous data channels are showing continuing double-digit growth for craft in the second half of the year.

– India Pale Ales (IPAs) remained the most favored craft beer style. According to retail scan data, IPA is up 47 percent by volume and 49 percent by dollar sales, accounting for 21 percent volume share of craft and 23 percent dollar share of off-premise beer sales. Additionally, the style was the number one entered category at the Great American Beer Festival®.

– Variety packs had a strong year with craft beer lovers. Retail data also indicates that variety packs are up 21 percent by volume and 24 percent by dollar sales, equating to nine percent volume share of craft and seven percent dollar share.

– Craft beer fans are becoming as diverse as craft beer itself. Data indicates that 38 percent of households bought a craft beer in the last year versus 29 percent in 2010. Additionally, women consume almost 32 percent of craft beer volume, almost half of which comes from women ages 21-34. Hispanic populations are demonstrating increased craft engagement as well.

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British parliament votes out pub ‘tie’

November 19th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Members of Parliament have voted to allow British pub tenants to buy beer from any supplier they want, effectively ending the “beer tie” that has required landlords to buy beer from the companies that own their pubs.

The MPs voted 284-269 against the government and for a clause in the Small Business Bill that allows pub owners to buy beer on the open market. The amendment means no longer have to buy beer from their parent pub company and could seek a contract where they would only pay rent on the property.

The Campaign for Real Ale, whose members lobbied to end the tie, praised the vote. Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive said: “Today’s landmark Parliamentary vote helps secure the future of pubs. CAMRA is delighted that, after ten years of our campaigning, MPs have today voted to introduce a market rent only option for licensees tied to the large pub companies – a move that will secure the future of the Great British Pub.

“This simple choice should spell the end of pubco licensees being forced out of business through high rents and tied product prices. Thank you to the 8000 CAMRA members and campaigners who lobbied their local MP to help make this happen and to those MPs that voted to support pubs. CAMRA are now urging the Government to accept the outcome of the vote.”

The surprising results left the pub industry in upheavel. Before the vote, the British Beer & Pub Association warned if the rebellion succeeds, 1,400 pubs would close and 7,000 jobs would be lost. Brigid Simmonds, BBPA’s chief executive, said: “Without ‘the tie’ many much-loved British breweries, robbed of their existing market through their own pubs, would also have to close.”

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Massachusetts ‘pay-to-play’ probe steps up

November 14th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

The Boston Globe reports Massachusetts regulators have issued subpoenas — indicating the investigation into charges of “pay-to-play” that came to light last month is getting serious — to “breweries, beer distributors, and retailers for records to determine whether they are paying for, or demanding payments for, access to bar taps in pubs and restaurants and shelf space at stores.”

Dan Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project kicked things off with a late night rant on Twitter. He wrote that two bars owned by the Wilcox Hospitality Group — Lower Depths and Bukowski Tavern — were asking brewers to pay in order to be put on the bars’ draft lines. Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of words were exchanged on Twitter, in blogs, and on internet discussion boards in the next days.

“We’re looking at any and all forms of inducements,” Frederick Mahoney, chief investigator for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, told the Globe. “This is ongoing, and this may not stop here.” He declined to identify which companies were under investigation.

A spokesman for Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the ABCC, warned the agency was prepared to take “strong corrective measures” against any company that violates the state’s liquor control laws. Punishment for these types of violations could range from warnings to suspension of a company’s liquor license or even revocation.

The Globe report indicates many breweries have been contacted or received subpoenas and includes their reactions.

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Schell moves to preserve Grain Belt sign

November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Grain Belt sign, Minneapolis

The Grain Belt beer sign that has been a Minneapolis landmark since the 1940s but dark for almost 20 years apparently may soon be lit again. August Schell Brewing Co., which acquired the Grain Belt brand in 2002, announced it will buy the sign and the Nicollet Island land it sits on and donate it to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. The organization plans to raise money to light and maintain the sign.

“People love the sign,” Schell president Ted Marti said. Schell, located in New Ulm, is the second oldest family owned brewery in the country.

Minneapolis Brewing Co., which brewed Grain Belt until selling the grand to Schell, originally leased the sign from the Eastman Family. It was moved to its current location on the Mississippi river in 1950 after first sitting atop the Marigold Ballroom. The Eastman Family Trust currently owns the sign.

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Green Flash, Alpine will ‘join forces’

November 10th, 2014 | Posted by Real Beer

Green Flash Brewing and Alpine Beer Company have announced a unique partnerships in which the breweries “will join forces, teaming up to share resources, knowledge and experience.” In a press release, Alpine founders Pat and Val McIlhenney and Green Flash founders Mike and Lisa described the affiliation as mutually beneficial. The press release describes the deal:

Each company will remain independently operated and maintain its distinct brand and culture. Pat will remain Alpine’s President and Brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Company while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet his unwavering standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most notable change will transpire over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to their legions of fans from across the country who have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California.

In a “handshake agreement,” Green Flash began brewing Alpine beer in November 2013 at their San Diego facility with the goal of helping longtime friends at Alpine raise capital to expand their production capacity. Green Flash has been producing three of Alpine’s brews (Nelson, Hoppy Birthday and Duet), increasing Alpine annual production from 1500 to 3000 BBLs.

The experience of brewing together has been a successful learning experience for both breweries. Green Flash Brewmaster, Chuck Silva divulged, “It was both intriguing and challenging to meld our philosophies while we worked together to scale up Pat’s recipes to be brewed in larger quantities. We worked together to stay true to the original beer and were very happy with the ultimate results. Working with a close friend is a real treat, but for me, brewing with Pat and making Alpine beers, is yet another highlight of my brewing career in San Diego.”

The successful arrangement they have shared over the past year was the impetus that prompted the breweries to take their relationship to the next level. Each views the partnership as an organic evolution that will benefit both of their operations in many ways. “Our team was thrilled to be able to brew the awesome beer from Alpine when we began teaming up,” says Mike Hinkley of Green Flash. “The excitement of our brewers is what prompted me to think about additional ways we could work together and help each other. We perceive this solid new partnership as an incredible opportunity to continue to explore our craft while benefiting from the passion and experience of Pat McIlhenney.”

“After working with Green Flash for the past year, I have come to truly trust and deeply respect the entire Green Flash operation – Chuck and all of their brewers are meticulous, yet easygoing, and I am comfortable working with the team,” says Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Co. “There are many benefits in teaming up with Green Flash as a partner. Not only are they committed to producing high-quality beer, the company culture and mom and pop roots of Green Flash are very similar to our own.”

Alpine employs 20 people, is distributed exclusively in California with the ability to produce a maximum of 1500 BBLs from their San Diego County brew-house, with most of their beer sold directly from their on-site pub. Brewing capacity limitations have made it impossible for Pat and his team to support the overwhelming demand for their exceptional products. As partners, Alpine will be able to tap into the growing Green Flash team of talented brewers, their production capacity, access to capital, and human resources in operations and administration. Mike added that “I am hopeful that the culmination of the next few years will be that, together, we build a new production facility in Alpine. Maybe we will even brew some Green Flash ale in Alpine.”

“I know there is strength in unity, which will allow both of our breweries to secure even higher quality ingredients – we will be a great force as a team,” exclaims Pat. “However, the most important advantage is how this partnership will help improve the quality of life for my employees. For the first time, Alpine will be able to offer our team an excellent company benefits package including affordable health care, 401K plans and other perks made possible by this exciting partnership.”

In 2015, Green Flash will begin bottling select Alpine brews in 22oz bottles adding to the three current draft offerings. Collaborative brews are already in Chuck and Pat’s top-secret conversations, so consumers can expect these to appear in their tasting rooms and at the best craft beer bars in Southern California. The two Brewmasters are already talking about how they can work together at Green Flash’s Cellar 3, a special barrel-aged beer packaging facility that is currently under construction in Poway, and will include a cork-finish bottling line.

Chuck said, “I consulted Pat and borrowed some of his ideas when I made our tenth anniversary Flanders-style ale, which was a great success and will be recreated at Cellar 3. I am always on the look-out for ideas. With Pat and me on the same team, you can count on us to push the envelope even further.”

Mike summarizes, “This partnership is win-win-win. Green Flash wins because we are teaming up with a truly iconic brewery. Alpine wins because they get to see their beers enjoyed by so many more of their adoring fans. But most of all, beer geeks everywhere win, because Chuck and Pat will be working together to create beers that will blow their minds.”

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