Two more earn title of Master Cicerone

The Cicerone Certification Program has announced that Canadian Mirella Amato and Missourian Neil Witte became the fifth and sixth individuals to earn the title of Master Cicerone. Amato is the first Canadian citizen and first non-US resident to earn the top rank among beer professionals. Witte works as Field Quality Manager for Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. They both earned the certification through a series of exams culminating with two days of intense taste testing plus written and oral questioning about beer styles, draft systems, beer evaluation, brewing technology and beer and food pairing.

Overall more than 18,000 have passed the first level Cicerone exam known as Certified Beer Server, but only six individuals have now earned the Master Cicerone title — the third and top level of the program. Founded in 2007, the Cicerone Certification Program tests and certifies beer expertise similar to the wine world’s Master Sommelier program. The Master Cicerone exam includes 10 hours of written questions, 2 hours of oral questions and 2 hours of beer tasting and evaluation.

Witte started at Boulevard Brewing brewer and has worked since 2000 as field quality manager. In this role, he works with distributors and retailers providing education and training on brewing, beer styles, beer and food and draught system installation and maintenance.

Amato runs Beerology, a beer consulting and training service based in Toronto. She conducts guided beer tastings, beer dinners and food pairing workshops for consumers, and retailers and also offers staff training and consulting services for retailers and breweries.

Since it began offering certifications in January 2008, the Cicerone Certification Program has awarded more than 18,500 first level certifications, called Certified Beer Server and 650 certifications at the second level of the program, called Certified Cicerone.


Call goes out for Beerdrinker of the Year resumes

Once again, Wynkoop Brewing Company is seeking beer resumes from the nation’s most beer-minded men and women for its 2013 Beerdrinker of the Year contest. The 17th annual contest seeks and honors America’s most passionate, knowledgeable beer lovers and ambassadors.

The Beerdrinker of the Year wins free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing Company, a $250 tab at their local brewpub or beer bar, and has his or her name engraved on the Beerdrinker of the Year trophy at Wynkoop.

They also design and brew a special batch of beer at Wynkoop Brewing (with head brewer Andy Brown) as part of their winnings.

The three Beerdrinker of the Year finalists are flown to Denver at Wynkoop’s expense for an action-packed weekend that culminates with the Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on February 23, 2013 at 2 PM at Wynkoop Brewing.

This year’s three finalists will stay in Denver’s famed Brown Palace Hotel while in town for the finals.

To enter the contest, applicants must submit beer resumes that include the entrant’s beer philosophy and details on their passion for beer and 2012 beer experiences.

Resumes should also detail the entrant’s understanding of beer and its history and importance to civilization, along with the entrant’s efforts to educate others to the joys of great beer.

Resumes for the Beerdrinker of the Year are reviewed by national beer experts and previous Beerdrinker of the Year winners.

Resumes must be sent by email to and be received by Wynkoop by no later than December 31. Each entrant will receive an email confirmation that their resume was received.


Stone plans a ‘Vertical’ party for 12.12.12

So who’s up for a 11-beer vertical tasting?

You bring the Stone 02.02.02. We seem to be out.

Stone Brewing Co. released the final beer in its Vertical Epic Ale series Monday, Stone 12.12.12. For those unaware, each year since Feb. 2, 2002 (02.02.02), Stone has released a Stone Vertical Epic Ale beer exactly one year, one month and one day apart. The idea was that each year a beer in the series would be brewed with its own unique recipe, one that would allow the beer to mature over time enhancing the flavors and aromas. The intention was that drinkers would cellar the bottles from each year and open all 11 vintages together for a vertical tasting on Dec. 12, 2012, the date of the last Stone Vertical Epic Ale.

Like everybody lets beer sit around for 11 years.

Fortunately, Stone has an alternative for those of us who kept opening bottles. The brewery will hold a festival at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens: Stone Epic Festival: The Final Chapter. It will take place on December 12 and commence at exactly 12:12 p.m. PST. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to experience all 11 Stone Vertical Epic Ales, in addition to special barrel-aged variations, with food pairing stations featuring dishes specifically created to marry with each of the vintages.

For the record, Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale was brewed with a Belgian yeast strain and features cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, rosehips, sweet orange peel, and a dash of clove.


Lost Abbey adds 13th beer to Ultimate Box Set

Lost Abbey Box Set

Turns out that Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey has decided to make its Ultimate Box Set a baker’s dozen. The brewery announced that the suprise 13th beer, inspired by “Message in a Bottle” by the Police, will be available Dec. 1, along with a select number of Ultimate Box Set Collector’s Editions for purchase by the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Lost Abbey "Message in a Bottle"“When we began the Box Set releases last January our plan was to release a bonus track and make a number of complete sets available to the general public at the end of the year,” director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur said for a press release. “But as the months progressed we began to worry that the demand was beyond our production levels and we weren’t going to be able to deliver complete sets to both those who reserved them during the year and have some left for the public in December. As a result we opted to make the sets available only to those who reserved them.”

To reserve a complete box set, patrons had to purchase one of the 350 bottles in each monthly Track release. The purchaser’s names were placed in a lottery, 45 were drawn and received the option to purchase a complete box sets at the end of the year.

The Collector’s Edition Box Sets include all 13 beers released throughout the year, a hand-built and individually numbered Lost Abbey road case, and an album-style book created by Grammy award-winning designer Matt Taylor of Varnish Studio. The book includes detailed descriptions of each Track, album cover art for each beer’s label, “liner notes” from Arthur, and a faux The Lost Abbey vinyl record.

Individual bottles of Track 13 and the complete Box Set Collector’s editions will go on sale in The Lost Abbey tasting room at 10 a.m. Saturday. A total of 350 bottles of Track 13 will be available for purchase and must be consumed in the tasting room.


Rogue’s latest includes pages from ‘Moby Dick’

JohnMaier with Emily Michael PowellPowell’s Books and Rogue Ales & Spirits have collaborated to create Rogue’s latest beer – White Whale Ale.

White Whale Ale is infused, literally, with the spirit of the book “Moby Dick.” Michael and Emily Powell took pages from a copy of the book and, along with Rogue brewmaster, John Maier, added them to the brewing kettle at Rogue. “Moby Dick” has special meaning to Michael Powell, who was inspired to become a bookseller when he found a first edition of the novel in a box of books he’d purchased.

White Whale Ale was brewed in honor of Powell’s Books 41st Anniversary. Powell’s is the one of the world’s best known independent bookstores. Its flagship store in downtown Portland, Oregon, covers an entire city block and contains more than one million new and used books.


Goose Island founder to step down as CEO

Goose Island Beer Company founder John Hall will step down as chief executive officer at the end of the year. Hall started Goose Island as a brewpub in 1988 and it grew into a top-producing brewery. He will continue to own two Goose Island brewpubs in Chicago.

Hall sold the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011. Andy Goeler, who has been with A-B for 30 years, will take over as Goose Island CEO. Goeler recently has been in charge of the fast-growing Shock Top brand.

Anheuser-Busch has significantly expanded Goose Island distribution in the last 18 months, producing much of popular beers at A-B breweries in other states. Goose Island used the space this freed up to make more of high-end beers such as Bourbon County Stout and Matilda. According to the Chicago Tribune:

. . . in a phone conversation Friday, Goeler made clear that his focus is expanding Goose Island nationally with four core beers – 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honker’s Ale, India Pale Ale and a rotating seasonal (Mild Winter, Summertime or Fall Harvest), all of which will largely be brewed at AB plants in Baldwinsville, N.Y. and Ft. Collins, Colo. Starting next week, Goose Island beer will be distributed in all 50 states, making it one of the few craft brands with a true national footprint.

The Tribune also reported, the brewpubs will “maintain their relationships with the AB-owned Goose. Goose will not only continue to produce high-end beers, Goeler said, their output will be expanded with (still more) space for barrel aging. And . . .

(Goeler) said staying true to the company’s history is vital to its expansion, and the fact that the company will continue to be run from Chicago, rather than St. Louis, seems to lend the thought credence.

“The roots of Chicago, to me, are so critical to the long term health off the brand across the country,” Goeler said. “If you lose that connection, you’ve lost the brand.”

Hall will join an “Anheuser-Busch Craft Advisory Board” that will help guide the brand.


Ommegang wins four European Beer Star medals

Brewery Ommegang captured four medals at European Beer Star awards. Judging was held last month and winners were announced Tuesday at Brau Beviale in Nuremberg, Germany.

Twenty-three America breweries won medals in the judging, which has quickly grown into one of the world’s premiere beer competitions. It attracted 1,366 entries from 45 countries this year, compared to 271 entries in 2004.

The Cooperstown, N.Y., brewery that is owned by Duvel in Belgium won a gold medal for Ommegang Gnomegang, a silver for XV Anniversary, and bronze for Rare Vos and Ommegang Ale.

Two American breweries won three medals (in both cases two gold and one silver): Deschutes Brewery in Oregon and Boston Beer, for its Samuel Adams beers.

Firestone Walker Brewing also won three medals, two golds in the judging (for Union Jack and Double Jack), and another gold from beer drinkers. The “Consumers’ Favourites” were chosen in public voting on the 50 gold medal winners.

Other America breweries winning two medals including Oskar Blues, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Odell Brewing, and FiftyFifty Brewing.

The complete results.


SAVOR heads to NYC in June

The Brewers Association has announced that SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience will be held June 14-15 in New York City this year.

Washington, D.C. hosted the event the last five years. SAVOR will return to D.C. in 2014, on May 9 and 10.

“Part of our mission as a national, industry association is to promote small and independent craft brewers and their craft brewed beers to audiences around the country,” said Sam Calagione, chair of the Brewers Association’s board of directors. “Moving SAVOR to New York City, the culinary capital of the world, in 2013 is an incredible opportunity to showcase craft beer from a diverse sampling of small U.S. producers who have helped shift the perception of beer from something predictable and homogenized into the dynamic, flavorful, food-friendly beverage it is recognized as today. Craft brewers, beer lovers and foodies who attend SAVOR contribute to a historic localization of beer and a shift in the culinary arts world.”

Tickets go on sale to the public April 17, and association member pre-sale takes place April 16.

Seventy breweries served beer at SAVOR in 2012, paired with food prepared to match the beers. The SAVOR website summarized what attendees could expect:

– Craft beer and food small plate pairings—a variety of food items and two-ounce tastings of craft beer specifically paired to illustrate how well craft beer and food complement one another
– Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
– Educational and tasting salons. Seating for those is limited and requires purchase of a separate ticket
– A variety of artisan cheese samples provided by members of the American Cheese Society
– A variety of oysters on the half shell provided by The Choptank Oyster Company
– The opportunity to meet and talk with the owners/brewers of the breweries participating in the event
– A commemorative tasting glass
– An event program with room for tasting notes
– An exit gift


New Belgium, Stone raise nearly $1 million for charities

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat traveling show raised more than $500,000 for local nonprofits this year, and Stone Brewing announced it has contributed more than $400,000 to charities.

Now in its 13th season, Tour de Fat broke the $2 million mark in total funds raised since its inception. The money from each stop goes to nonprofit organizations, generally in the world of bike advocacy, with money spent in a wide variety of ways, including trail maintenance, safety education, lobbying for better bicycle communities and a wide variety of other impactful initiatives.

Each stop includes a costumed bike parade and bike-themed activities, complemented by live entertainment, New Belgium beer, local food, art bikes and more. Tour de Fat traveled to 15 cities between June and October, attracting a total of 74,400 festival attendees and 47,150 parade cyclists (up 4,850 attendees and 6,000 riders from 2011). In addition, the festival had an impressive 86% diversion of waste from landfills.

Stone Brewing, based in Southern California, held multiple events and contributed to multiple charities. Notably, Stone donated $86,373.61 to ReBuild Waterbury and $30,000 to Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund for efforts to restore Waterbury, Vermont, a community that was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The proceeds are from the sale of the collaboration beer, The Alchemist/Ninkasi/Stone More Brown Than Black IPA, brewed in December 2011 with Ninkasi Brewing Company in Oregon and The Alchemist Pub and Brewery of Waterbury. The Alchemist Pub and Brewery was one of the unfortunate casualties of Tropical Storm Irene.

“Every year we strive to donate to charities that enhance the communities they serve,” said Stone CEO Greg Koch. “2012 was no different and we are proud to have contributed more money to deserving charities than we did in 2011. But the real praise goes to the people working for these charities that continue to improve our communities and provide services to individuals and families. Cheers to them!”


Abita co-founder Jim Patton dies

Jim Patton, one of the founders of Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana, died last month of unknown causes. He was 59.

Patton helped start the brewery in the town of Abita Springs in 1986, the first “craft brewery” to open in the south and one of the first in the United States.

“The first night we rolled out with a beer, we had one bar in New Orleans and one bar in Mandeville that carried it,” Patton told the Miami’s New Times newspaper last month. “We got some of the local television media in there, and they had some pictures of people dancing on the bar, and you just can’t buy that.”

Abita made 1,500 barrels of beer its first year. It now produces more than 125,000 barrels annually. Patton sold his stake in the company in 1997.

After leaving Abita, Patton helped start Zea Rotisserie & Brewery and did the initial brewing. Later he brewed at Key West Brewery in Florida, and recently became involved with the launch of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami.


Scientists find yeast gene linked to beer foam

Scientist in Spain and Australia say they have identified the yeast gene which helps produce the proteins needed to create beer foam — which creates the head on beer when it is poured and sometimes leaves lace on the side of a glass.

“This novel protein is responsible for beer foam stabilization,” the researchers wrote in a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. “This report represents the first time that a brewing yeast foaming gene has been cloned and its action fully characterized. . . Foam quality is an important organoleptic property of beer that directly correlates to consumer appeal.”

The gene is called CFG1, which stands for Carlsbergensis foaming gene, said scientists from the University of Santiago de Compostela and University of Burgos, both in Spain, and the University of Sydney in Australia.

Similar fermentation genes have been discovered for wine and sake.


French brewers face massive tax hike

French president Francois Hollande is pushing for a 160% increase in beer taxes, proposing that the money be used to help fund struggling social programs as France tries to limit its budget deficit.

The tax would affect both French-brewed beers and imports. Imports account for about 30% of French beer consumption.

The measure would result in 20% higher prices in bars and supermarkets, said Jacqueline Lariven, spokeswoman for the French brewer’s federation Brasseurs de France.

”This measure will affect all brewers, including small entrepreneurs,” said Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, head of the Brewers of Europe, in a report from the Associated Press. “‘This is a very shortsighted approach by penalizing one sector.”

The Brewers of Europe, a trade group, called the measure a “kick in the teeth” and complained that beer is ”being singled out” compared to wine. Bergeron said he believes that’s because of the French government’s reluctance to raise the tax on the country’s favorite alcoholic beverage.


OSHA cites Redhook for safety violations

U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Craft Brew Alliance with 14 alleged safety violations as a result of its investigation into the accident in which Redhook Ale Brewery worker Ben Harris died in April.

Harris was killed when a keg exploded while he was cleaning it at the Portsmouth, N.H., brewery.

Investigators said Harris was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him. During the investigation officials determined that the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from the keg cleanout line. They found the line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 pounds per square inch, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers.

OSHA also found that other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning out steel kegs.

OSHA recommended a penalty of $13,000 for the violations.

Investigators also discovered several other unrelated deficiencies. These resulted in $50,500 in recommended penalties for the Craft Beer Alliance.

In response to the findings, Redhook released a statement saying that the investigation into the tragedy found that Redhook and the Craft Beer Alliance did not willfully violate workplace safety standards.

The statement, released by spokesman Ted Lane, also said the citations mentioned in the report have already been addressed. “The Portsmouth brewery uses compressed air to push waste beer out of returned kegs prior to washing and filling,” according to the statement. “The brewery believes it was operating safely because it has historically washed and filled only stainless steel beer kegs without incident.”


Great American Beer Festival results

One of these years it will be physically impossible for the Great American Beer Festival to get bigger.

As it is, 2,700 different beers were served at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and 4,338 beers from 666 breweries were assessed by 185 judges from 11 countries during the competition held in conjunction the festival.

The complete list of winners in 84 categories is here (a pdf). The breweries that were most successful in their class were:

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Funkwerks, Funkwerks Brewing Team

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Tröegs Brewing Company, John Trogner III

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Pabst Brewing Company, Gregory Deuhs

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Basecamp, Devils Backbone Brewery Team

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
The Church Brew Works, Steve Sloan

Brewpub Group and Brewpub Group Brewer of the Year
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, Rob Lobreglio

Finally, a few other fun numbers . . .

– 578 breweries in the festival hall
– More than 2,700 beers served at the festival
– 49,000 attendees
– Approximately 2,800 volunteers
– Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 50.6
– Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale, 203


Brown Distributing, Descrecente, Tryon honored at GABF

The Brewers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) announce Saturday that Brown Distributing Company, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. has been named the 2012 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year. The Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award, now in its sixth year, recognizes the beer distributor who does the most to market, promote and sell craft beer. NBWA and BA presented the award jointly the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Brown Distributing Company, a family-run Florida company for more than 90 years, has evolved into a craft beer powerhouse, distributing beer from 64 craft breweries to nearly 4,000 retail accounts throughout the state. Over the past 12 months, the company has achieved a 76% increase in craft beer sales volume.

DeCrescente Distributing Company of Mechanicville, New York, was honored with the Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award, and Tryon Distributing of Charlotte, North Carolina, received the Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award.