archives archives

Connecticut brewpubs win distribution rights

Connecticut lawmakers have approved a bill allowing brewpubs to bottle and distribute beer to wholesale and retail outlets. The governor still has to sign the bill to make it law.

Under Connecticut’s current alcohol distribution laws, which were put on the books in the 1930s, the owner of a brewpub is prohibited from operating a microbrewery.

The Hartford Courant reports:

Last winter, Steve Boucino and Scott Scanlon, the owners of The Cambridge House Brew Pub, bumped up against the ban.

They hoped to open a $2 million microbrewery to make, bottle and sell their beer. But when they applied for a permit from the state’s Liquor Control Division, they were denied.

“We were told we would have to give up the brew pub to open a microbrewery since you can’t be the holder of two permits,” said Boucino, co-owner of the 2-year-old Granby brew pub, which includes a restaurant.

Frustrated, they considered taking their micro dreams to Massachusetts, where brewpubs are allowed to bottle and distribute beer. But they decided to try to change the law first.

Now they could have their Connecticut brewery up and running by Thanksgiving.


Sasquatch Brewfest

Posted by Banjo Bandolas

Anyone who’s ever been to Eugene, Oregon can tell you it’s not average in any way shape or form. Portlanders, a hundred miles north, call Eugene, Hippie-town. Cupped in the palm of the southern end of the beautiful Willamette Valley, Eugene’s a university town that draws extremes of every type. It’s also a place where somehow those extremes manage to coexist if not always amicably, at least with a mutual respect. Eugene is where I live and the home of the Sasquatch Brewfest.

Falconer winners

The Sasquatch Brewfest began 4 years ago and is dedicated to the memory of Glen Falconer, an innovative and creative local brewer well known throughout the brewing industry. Glen, whose nickname was Sasquatch, died in a tragic accident in 2002. Soon after his friends and family created the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation to commemorate Glen’s life and support the craft he so passionately pursued.

(The Sasquatch scholarship winners are pictured above. From left, Ken DesMarets of Skagit River Brewery(Mt. Vernon, WA), winner Corey Blodgett of McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse (Hillsboro, Oregon), winner Jacob Leonard of Walking Man Brewing Co. (Stevens, Washington), and Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi Brewery (Eugene, OR). And of course Glen Falconer pictured center.)

The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation promotes several Sasquatchic events each year. A golf/beer drinking tournament during the Oregon Brew Fest called the Sasquatch Brew/Am, the Sasquatch homebrew competition, the Sasquatch/Siebel scholarship competition for professional and home brewers of the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Northern California, and the crown jewel event … the Sasquatch Beer Fest.

The fun started on June 1st, Friday night, with the brewer’s dinner. It was a small gathering of enthusiasts and professionals held at the Mallard. The paired appetizers and entree’s were as follows:

Appetizer: Assorted sushi rolls with Arlen’s (Harris) Tripel brewed at Fish Brewing
Salad: Arugula with jicama and carrot matchsticks, in a Bing Cherry viniagerette with fennel bread sticks paired with Steelhead brewery’s Kolsch.
Entree choices:
Hazelnut and cream cheese stuffed chicken breast with a smoked red pepper coulees
paired with Ninkasi Believer.
Roast Lamb with mushrooms and capers paired with Rogue Black Brutal.
Smoked Salmon roulade with green olives and peppers paired with Oaked Natty Red from Eugene City – Rogue
Eggplant cutlets Au pauve with a mushroom based green peppercorn sauce paired with Willamette Brewing’s IPA.
All entrees were served with mint cous cous and vegetables
Dessert: Chocolate Chambord cake with vanilla custard paired with Oatmeal Stout from High Street

Boy did I pick the wrong week to go on a diet! Thankfully the spirit of Gambrinus had, thru liquid lubrication, loosened my grip on dietary resolve and I was able to enjoy the evening without the nagging guilt that accompanies such rich indulgence. Of course, the fortunate coincidence that my nagging guilt had to study for a test that night and couldn’t attend helped a lot.

Though some of the paired beers weren’t something I’d usually drink, paired with the food they were all absolutely delicious.
The first beer of the meal, Arlen’s triple came with a friend. A Gueuze (yet to be named) Arlen Harris brewed at Issaqua Brewing Company, which came with a story worth sharing. The Gueuze, a wheat with hints of coriander and cumin, had spent a year fermenting in an oak barrel at the brewery.

Arlen figured it must have been during the Christmas party that some young wannabe brewers knocked off the airlock and contributed what may have been the most unusual ingredient you’ll ever find in a beer. I don’t think even Sam Calagione, a name synonymous with weird beer, could have come up with adding red and blue Lego’s to the mix.

Try as I might as I sipped the tart tasty result, I could not detect a trace of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (aka Lego plastic), but I did feel the urge to bond with several of the more attractive wait-staff in the room. Coincidence? I think not!

Fade to black …

Falconer winnersSaturday June 2nd was as fine an Oregon day as you could ask for, perfect brewfest weather. As I approached the center of downtown Eugene where the brewfest is held on a 100 foot square postage stamp of land called Kesey Plaza, I spied the familiar wooden Sasquatch statue that marked the entrance to the fest. A line of eager beer enthusiasts jabbered excitedly as they waited for their REAL GLASS sampler. (When’s the last time you got one of those? Guess what, I didn’t hear one hit the ground all day!)

The brewfest may be small in square footage but the beers are chosen with care to reflect the best creative examples of the brewer’s art. The crowd was the usual Eugene mix of regular and not-so-regular citizens commingling into a harmonious mass of beer-happy humanity.

The first beer of the fest for me had to be the Sasquatch Legacy Imperial Steam, made by Walking Man Brewing especially for the Sasquatch Fest with ingredients donated by Wyeast, Hopunion, & Great Western Malting.

Pete DefazioI was more than a little surprised and delighted to find MY congressman, Pete Defazio pulling tap on the other side of the jockey box.

The Sasquatch Legacy Imperial Steam is described as a hoppy, strong (9.2%abv) Northwest version of the California Common beer. As I rolled it around my mouth another beer came to mind, Steelhead’s Hopasaurus Rex, a highly hopped, high alcohol (also 9.2%abv) IPA made right there in Eugene and as luck would have it also was being poured at the festival. I found the tap and compared the big IPA to what I’d just had. Close but there were definite differences in aroma and citrus and floral notes, but they were very close in many ways.

My un-expert opinion; If you like Hopasaurus Rex, you’re going to like Walking Man’s Sasquatch Legacy Imperial Steam, and if you like big Northwest beers you’ll love them both.

I counted 45 breweries in my program (mostly Northwest with a few exceptions) and all but a few only brought one beer, but oh, those beers, at least those I chose were stellar examples of Northwest craft brewing…no, I take that back… stellar examples of CRAFT BREWING period.

In honor of Sasquatch I decided to limit my tastings to some of the fests bigger beers. A few examples- Rogue Russian Imperial Stout, Deschutes SuperJubel, Pelican Brewery’s India Pelican Ale, and Ninkasi Brewery’s Jack Watters Stout.

After a much needed palate cleanse I planted myself in front of the bandstand with my final beer of the day, a glass of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Brown Sugga (200 pounds of brown sugar in each 30bbl batch and 10%abv) and listened to a band called Spun Honey crank out a perfect rendition of Pink Floyds Comfortably Numb. The beer was soft, malty, and smooth. Never giving any hint of the pile driver punch beneath the velvety taste. The music mixed with the beer and I found myself thinking of Glen Falconer. He’d sure be proud of the big little brewfest that bears his name.

Falconer winners


Michigan boosts deposit on beer kegs

Michigan has tripled the deposit on beer kegs, a number not quite so shocking since the state previously had a very low deposit for $10 and the new fee of $30 is less than in most states.

It costs a beer manufacturer about $152 to buy a new half-barrel when one disappears, according to Ken Wozniak of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. He said a Michigan brewing company asked the commission last year to raise the $10 deposit to $90 per keg.

“The commission thought that request was a little steep,” Wozniak said. “The purpose of the increase in the barrel deposit to $30 was to ensure the return of the keg, not necessarily to cover” beer manufacturer’s cost of the keg.

Increasing pricing for scrap metal have made kegs an attractive target for thieves.


Selling craft beer in the heartland

– The Chicago Sun-Times reports on booming sales for Goose Island Brewing, up 60% this year. The reason is the deal the brewery struck less than a year ago with Widmer Brothers/Anheuser-Busch that put Goose Island beer in the hands of a large distribution force.

“We used to get a lot of calls — from Woodridge, Lake of the Hills — saying ‘I can’t find your beer,'” said brewmaster Greg Hall. “We don’t get as many of those calls anymore.”

– The St. Louis Post-Dispatch heads to Memphis on a beer selling trip with Dan Kopman of Saint Louis Brewery/Schlafly Beer (“We’re the other brewery in St. Louis”).

Schlafly is trying to carve out an identity by promoting its product as craft beer from America’s beer capital.

An interesting story about the challenges, including promoting beer in a market (Memphis) that so far has not been particularly craft friendly.


Are we all wrong about craft beer?

Wine tastersCraft beer sales have been so strong of late that we headlined a story in this space a couple of months ago “No news here.”

Craft beer volume sales were up 11.7% in 2006, with dollar sales in supermarkets growing 17.8% – and the first quarter was even stronger. For instance, Samueal Adams was up 22% in the first quarter, and many smaller breweries are talking about gains of 25%-30% over the first quarter of 2006.

So why did SABMiller CEO Graham Mackay say the craft beer surge is going to fade (“It’s inevitable”)? We suspect he didn’t mean craft beer is going away, or even that sales won’t continue to grow. He was talking about how long these levels can be sustained. And, honestly, we should accept the fact that the growth rate has to slow sometime – and not act then (as many did in the 1990s) like the sky is falling.

On the other hand there is little reason to respect the “Beer in the Headlights” article that appeared in the high circulation online magazine Slate.

Here are the rebuttals from the beer blogosphere:

Beer Is Dead, Long Live Wine (Jay Brooks) and a followup
How do you overlook 100 million cases of beer? (Stan Hieronymus)
Pastoral Nostalgia or Blue Collar Chic? Enough of the Beer vs. Wine Debate! (Jess Sand)


‘Beer for bags’ hits snag

Australia-based Crumpler has generated publicity with a “beer for bags” promotion in several of its worldwide stores before, but is finding a problem in Canada.

From the Globe and Mail:

“In Australia, bartering, especially with beer, is a very common occurrence,” he said. “So this just comes naturally to us.”

There’s just one catch: According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, using alcohol as a means of exchange – bartering – is illegal.

AGCO spokesman Ab Campion said that by using the beer as a form of payment for merchandise, customers would technically be selling the beer without a liquor licence, which is a violation of the province’s Liquor Licence Act, he said.

Roper said he and his partners have examined the Ontario bylaws and are confident their promotion is within the bounds of the law.

We’ll see how it plays out.


Craft beer surge bound to fade?

Graham Mackay, CEO of brewing giant SABMiller, sits down with Fortune’s Matthew Boyle to talk about “rival Anheuser-Busch, the company’s new beer Miller Chill, and why goats make great mascots.”

The interview indicates that running his business is about more than the beer that ends up in the glass. Speaking about recent declines in profits he says, “The issue right now is cost pressures, in aluminum specifically. We spent about $100 million dollars more on aluminum this past fiscal year than the year prior.”

Not to spoil the interview for you, but here are two answers bound to interest Beer Therapy readers.

What is your favorite beer?

Pilsner Urquell.

What do you make of the craft beer resurgence in America?

I think it’s going to fade. It’s inevitable.

The interview.

Updated June 6: Tomme Arthur answers the same questions.


Kegerator Give-Away Contest is giving away a free kegerator. For those not familiar with the term, a kegerator is a refrigerator that holds and dispenses keg beer.

The Kegerator Give-Away Contest invites participants to fill out an entry form that explains why they should to win a kegerator. The stuff will pick what they consider the most deserving story.

“While I wish I could win the kegerator, we’ve decided to part with one of them, for the sake of our readers,” said Christian Lavender, senior editor of

Additional information and contest rules.


Saranac Thursday returns

Saranac Thursday season opened Thursday at Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y., and after nine years the event is a community fixture. The event raises roughly $30,000 for the United Way.

Russ Myers wasn’t about to let 600 miles stop him from being among the nearly 2,700 people at Saranac Thursday. The 81-year-old former Whitesboro man drove all the way up from Florida with his wife, Gussie, earlier Thursday and gave himself just enough time to unpack his car, he said.

“I made sure I got here today for Saranac Thursday,” Myers said alongside his daughter, Pam Ford of Utica. “I just like seeing all the people, and once in a while I’ll bump into someone I haven’t seen in 50 years.”

“It’s one of those things everybody looks forward to,” brewery president Nick Matt said.