Keg explodes, kills Redhook brewery worker

A brewery worker died from injuries received during an explosion of a beer keg Tuesday at Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.

The employee was identified as Newington resident Ben Harris.

Assistant Fire Chief Steve Achilles said the brewery employee had been pressurizing a keg by filling it with air as part of a cleaning process to remove residual beer.

“The keg failed and exploded, and he was injured by parts of the keg,” Achilles said.

Andy Thomas, vice president of Redhook’s commercial operations, said the Redhook organization is “saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Portsmouth brewery this morning, resulting in the death of one of our employees.”

“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family,” Thomas said. “We are doing everything in our power to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident and have closed down all non-essential operations at the Portsmouth brewery, including the pub, while the investigation continues.”


Samuel Adams expands its ‘American Dream’

The Boston Beer Company has announced the national expansion of the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program. With a focus on helping small businesses related to food, beverage, craft brewing and hospitality, Brewing the American Dream provides loans and industry-specific coaching, mentoring, and educational resources to business owners who find it difficult to access the capital and guidance needed to sustain and grow their businesses.

While in the past only a handful of regions had access to the program, today’s national expansion of Brewing the American Dream will target at least $1 million in new loans, expanded for the first time to recipients across the country, with significantly increased access to its high-impact one-on-one mentoring and coaching activities. Additionally, the nationwide program includes the introduction of the new Brewing the American Dream Online Community, the first online resource to provide small business owners in the food, beverage, and hospitality sector with a comprehensive platform of tools to help their businesses succeed.

Working in partnership with Accion, the country’s only nationwide microlender, Brewing the American Dream has already provided more than $1 million in micro-financing to close to 150 businesses, and created or saved nearly 1,000 jobs. Since it began a few years ago the program has offered one-on-one coaching and advised nearly 3,000 small business owners in the food, beverage, craft brewing, and hospitality industries throughout New England, New York, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

“What differentiates Brewing the American Dream is the combination of loans and hands-on education,” said Boston Beer founder Jim Koch. “Working with Accion, we identify small business applicants who are often viewed as too risky by traditional banks – yet at the forefront of job creation and growth within their local communities – and where a relatively modest loan can have a meaningful impact. From there, we get down in the trenches with them through one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help them grow their businesses.”


White Labs opens tasting room

White Labs, a yeast and fermentation supplies company, has opened of a tasting room at its San Diego headquarters. White Labs Brewing Co. held a “quiet opening” of its tasting room on March 22. A full grand opening, with expanded hours, is scheduled in June.

The White Labs Tasting Room, located at 9495 Candida St., offers a continuously-rotating menu of 35 taps pouring experimental beers brewed on site. White Labs may feature ten different pale ales simultaneously, brewed to the exact same recipe except for the yeast. The following week, beers on tap might include a similar number of stouts, pilsners or IPAs.

The beers will change regularly as the experiments continue. Each beer served comes with a complete analysis report so that tasters can learn where the flavors come from. The initial opening beers were brewed by a team of White Labs employees led by general manager Johnny Oliphant, former head brewer at Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown San Diego.

The newly-designed White Labs Tasting Room will introduce new small-batch beers brewed on-site many times per week.

Hours (to be expanded in June):
Wednesday – Friday: 4 to 8 p.m. (tours available at 5:30 p.m. both days)
Saturdays: Noon to 8 p.m. (tours available at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays)


Craft brewery exports grow 86%

The Brewers Association reports record exports of American craft beer in 2011. American craft breweries exported more than 110,000 barrels of beer in 2011, valued at an estimated $23.4 million — an increase of 86% by volume and 97% by dollars over 2010 exports.

Canada remained the industry’s largest export market, with shipments increasing 127% by volume (up to 27,976 barrels) in 2011, largely as a result of increased demand in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

U.S. Craft Beer Exports

Additionally, the United Kingdom and Sweden remained the next two largest markets. Exports to both countries totaled approximately 13,065 barrels. Regionally, Western Europe is the largest destination for American craft beer exports. Shipments to the region increased by 52 percent in 2011 and now surpass 51,613 barrels.

“The growth in international sales is remarkable in light of the lingering global economic recession. Despite decreasing purchasing power, consumer demand for American craft beers has remained strong and importers have continued to expand their portfolios of American craft beer brands, even in emerging markets, like Brazil and India,” said Bob Pease, BA chief operating officer. “These export figures speak for themselves. They are a testament to the innovation of small, independent American craft brewers and their focus on creating products of value to the consumer.”


Mississippi boosts alcohol limit for beer

Mississippi beer drinkers celebrated Monday when governor Phil Bryant signed into law a bill that raises the alcohol-by-weight limit in beer from 5% to 8%.

Senate Bill 2878, effective July 1, will expand the variety of beers sold in the state, especially craft beers. After the new law goes into effect, about 70 of what he called the top 100 brands in the world could be on shelves and on tap, said a thrilled Butch Bailey, founder and president of the nonprofit group Raise Your Pints. Currently 15 on that list are.

“It’s a great day to be a Mississippian!” Bailey exclaimed Monday on Twitter.

Bailey said the new 8% alcohol-by-weight limit translates to about 10.% alcohol-by-volume. Mississippi and Utah are the only two states that measure alcohol content by weight.

Mississippi still has the lowest beer alcohol content compared to neighboring states. Alabama has a 13.9% alcohol-by-volume cap, while Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee have no caps.

“The current law really hampers Mississippi and restricts Mississippians’ access to gourmet products,” said Bailey, who has sought the new law for the past five years. “We are thankful to the governor for recognizing this is a good bill for Mississippi.”

Monday was the deadline for Bryant to act or do nothing, allowing the bill to become law unsigned.

Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, who authored the new law, said the measure paves the way for job creation and more “cottage” and home-based industries like Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. in Kiln and up-and-comer Lucky Town Brewing Co. in Gluckstadt.

“Sometimes it takes five years for a measure to catch on and get accepted, and that was the case with this particular measure,” Horhn said. “The craft beer community was better organized this year than ever before.”


New Belgium will build 2nd brewery in North Carolina

New Belgium Brewing announced today that Asheville, N.C., has been selected as the new location for a second brewery. The 400,000-barrel brewery and packaging facility will provide New Belgium with additional capacity, allowing the Colorado-based brewer to expand into new areas of distribution. Upon completion in 2015, the facility will initially create 50 new jobs in the Asheville area with more than 100 positions expected at full buildout.

“After several years of searching, we are incredibly excited to have landed in Asheville,” said Kim Jordan, CEO and co-founder of New Belgium. “From the deep sense of community to the rich natural environment and the opportunity to revitalize a brownfield site near a vibrant downtown, Asheville has everything we’ve been looking for in a location for our second brewery.”

The 17.5-acre site located in the heart of the River Arts District will accommodate a 150,000 square-foot facility. The brewery will feature a 200-barrel brewing system, a tasting facility, and a process wastewater treatment center on-site. Tours will be available to the public. Total cost projections are over $100 million.

“Today’s announcement by New Belgium will enhance the craft brewery cluster that is growing in North Carolina,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “The jobs and investment the company is committing will be a major boon for the region and for the state.”

Construction is expected to begin in early 2013 with beer rolling off the line in early 2015.


Deschutes donation keeps water flowing

Deschutes Brewery has made a one billion gallon annual water restoration commitment through one of its local non-profit organizations, the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC). This donation marks the DRC water leasing program’s largest private donation to date, and equals 14 times more water than Deschutes Brewery and all of its suppliers use per year.

Through the water leasing program, local farmers are paid for the lease of their irrigation water and then that water is legally protected instream at the brewery’s namesake waterway – the Deschutes River. By doing this, stream flow and water quality is increased in the river, creating opportunities for life to flourish.

“We’ve always been avid supporters of the DRC and its mission,” said Michael LaLonde, chief operating officer for Deschutes Brewery and a board member of the DRC. “By creating this new partnership, we are able to give back to the river in a significant way, preserving the lifeblood of the Central Oregon region.”

In the spring and summer, water flows are greatly decreased in the river due to irrigation withdrawals. By increasing flows in the Deschutes River through the leasing program, fish habitat is revitalized and water quality is improved. Other benefits include overall enhanced ecosystems for plants and animals, while also improving recreation and tourism opportunities.