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Brewing scholarships

Still time to apply for the two Glen Hay Falconer Foundation Brewing Scholarships available for the 2006 World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology, held at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago.

The Concise Course in Brewing Technology is a two-week intensive program that covers every topic critical to successful brewery operations. The program is designed for brewers pursuing a wider knowledge of professional brewing standards and techniques in order to advance their brewing careers as well as individuals planning to enter the brewing industry.

The Scholarships are open to professional brewers as well as homebrewers from the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Northern California regions (San Francisco Bay/Monterey Bay areas and north). Each Scholarship includes a $500 stipend to help offset travel and lodging expenses.

The selection committee is comprised of professional craft brewers and brewing industry experts. The full application must be received no later than April 20.

For information on how to apply, visit the Siebel Institute website at


Beer keg theft growing problem

Today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has a front page story about the growing of beer keg theft. The nut:

A global boom in the market price for commodities, including steel and aluminum, has sent scrap-metal prices soaring. And that has created a tempting target for criminals world-wide in everyday objects that contain metals – from light poles along highways to lowly beer kegs.

The story focuses on Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. There Neil Witte has came up with a novel way of dealing with the problem, strapping each of his kegs with a large yellow “STOP!” tag with a cartoon cop warning scrap dealers not to buy Boulevard kegs.

The story sounds funny, but it particularly serious of smaller brewers. For instance, 40,000 kegs in Boulevard’s inventory represented more than 20% of the brewer’s fixed assets in 2004.


Weekly Therapy: Tomme Arthur Q&A

You might have heard that Port Brewing, which operates three brewery pubs in Southern California, acquired the former Stone Brewing facility in San Marcos. Now it’s time to find out what that means.

Tomme Arthur, who oversees brewing operations for Port Brewing, provided some answers just before heading off to Belgium with four other American craft brewers.

Arthur created some of the most sought after American craft beers of the young 21st century – an extraordinary range that includes Cuvee de Tomme, the ultra-hoppy Hop 15, saisons with a distinctive American twist and many others – but most have been served only at the Solano Beach facility where they were made or a few special beer events around the country.

Now they’ll be available to a much wider audience – although you won’t see them in your local grocery store soon – and a conversation with Arthur makes it obvious that he’ll have a lot more exciting news in the coming months.

Tell us about the company that bought the former Stone brewery.

TA: A new entity known as Port Brewing LLC. The goal of our new operation is to translate many of the fabulous beers that we as “Pizza Port” have been releasing and take them to a wider audience. We will also be building a new brand known as Lost Abbey as part of our operation.

What’s the system size and yearly capacity?

TA: The system is the former Stone Brewing 30-barrel brewhouse. It came with two 30-barrel fermenters, one 90-barrel fermenter and one 120-barrel fermenter. Total annual output through these tanks alone makes over 5000 barrels possible. This number is subject to change based on fermentation profiles of beers we are contemplating. We also have made a major investment in oak, which we believe will allow us to produce no less than 6 beers per year from these barrels.

How much oak?

TA: We now own 94 oak barrels, both bourbon and French Oak wine barrels.

We have already filled 6 bourbon barrels, and the first beer will spend 6 months breathing in the bourbon before being released later this year.

These wine barrels will be filled with all kinds of critters and fun bugs in the coming months. Some of the Cuvee de Tomme will find a home in these barrels (to offset some of the major bourbon flavor of the new oak blended at bottling time). We will also be releasing a new version of the Le Woody (the blonde version) as well as the Le Woody Brune, which will have a name change and slight recipe variation – different cherries.

We are making a major commitment to barrel aging and look to have six beers available in from wood after about 18 months of being up and running. Two (beers) will be strictly from bourbon barrels, one will be a blend (Cuvee) and three will be from the (bug-ladden) French Oak. All will be bottled. One will be brewed under Port Brewing brand and the other five will all be Lost Abbey beers.

What will be available beyond draft beer?

TA: As part of our expansion we have signed up with Stone Distributing, who will be handling our Southern California Distribution. The first cases of Sharkbite Red have already started hitting stores. This will be the only 6-pack from Port Brewing for now. We anticipate releasing a second beer in 12 ounce-bottles, but will let the market dictate what that release will be.

Our focus for bottling will be on larger format bottles. Most of the Pizza Port beers will be bottled and labeled under Port Brewing and sold in 22-ounce bottles. We hopes to have the first ready by early April. Beers like Shark Attack, Hop 15, Santa’s Little Helper and even new beers from Jeff Bagby (brewer for the Carlsbad pub) like Hop Suey may get a shot at hitting some glass in the not-so-distant future.

For the Lost Abbey, we will use a hood and wire unit. Like Russian River, Allagash and Unibroue we will be bottling in 750ml brown bottles imported into the states. All of the bottled Lost Abbey beers will be bottle conditioned with live yeast. The barrel-aged beers will most likely follow the Russian River beers into the market in 375ml glass. It is quite possible that limited runs of larger bottles may happen as well although, but we have not purchased a corker to do bottles larger than 1.5 liters.

What beers/brands that will be distributed?

TA: Port Brewing Co will be making Sharkbite Red Ale, Wipeout IPA and Amigo Lager for draft distribution. Only the red will be bottled. Seasonal beers will follow when possible.

On the Lost Abbey side, we envision four beers available in 750ml cork finished bottles. The first is Avant Garde.

I love the name of this one for many reasons. The dictionary definition:
A group active in the invention and application of new techniques in a given field, especially in the arts.
Of, relating to, or being part of an innovative group, especially one in the arts: avant-garde painters; an avant-garde theater piece.

This name just resonates what we will be about – finding ways to stay ahead of the curve and at the forefront of expression. The beer will be brewed in a quasi biere de garde fashion. In many ways, we expect it will be a table beer.

It will be brewed to about 6% abv with a lager yeast at ale fermentation temperatures. We will also be custom roasting some of the malt using the restaurant pizza ovens (yummy garlic). We brewed a pilot batch in Solana Beach and can’t wait to make it on a larger scale. The beer will sport a burnt blonde color with notes of freshly baked bread and a certain fruitiness from the yeast combined with Brewers Gold hops and Spalt from the French countryside.

As a brewer, what will you be able to do that you haven’t before?

TA: Not bump my head on the cellar in the brewery for starters. . . .

Then, we hope to stop having to apologize as we have in the past that many of these great beers aren’t available outside of San Diego. Honestly I am most excited about working on the barrel program and developing the Cuvee on a larger scale as well as other barrel-aged beers that weren’t possible in the past. The packaging of many of these “elusive” beers will enable us to be in more places than in the past. We are looking at opening up new states and distribution agreements in the next few years.

Since this deal went public online, we have been flooded with calls from people wanting our beers. While this feels great, we know that we have to take care of our backyard first before we head east.

Where will your beer be distributed?

TA: Initially only in Southern California to begin with. Arizona and Northern California would be next. We hope to have some beer on the East Coast in Philly and DC before the end of 2006.


Pro-am competition at GABF

The Brewers Association and the American Homebrewers Association have announced a 2006 GABF Pro-Am Competition in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Great American Beer Festival. From the BA website:

Here’s how it works. Craft breweries can select award winning homebrew recipes from existing homebrew competitions (competitions held after January 1, 2005 qualify) or through their own competition. The winning homebrewers must be American Homebrew Association members at the time of the judging. The professional brewers then scale up the winning homebrew recipes to be brewed in their brewery and entered in this special competition (GABF registration opens in mid-May).

The brewery will then submit that beer into the GABF competition to be judged against all the other GABF Pro-Am entries. Both the winning breweries and homebrewers will be awarded gold, silver and bronze GABF Pro-Am medals to be presented during the GABF awards ceremony held September 30, 2006 in Denver.

This looks like fun, since one of the rules is that beers that are entered must be served at the GABF.

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Spitfire beer ad escapes censure

A advertisement for Shepherd Neame’s Spitfire beer has once again survived a challenge to a British advertising watchdog, despite complaints about its use of Hitler’s Nazi SS insignia.

Shepherd Neame conceded that the humor behind using the dreaded SS insignia in an ad was edgy, but argued that the insignia was the butt of a joke as part of its long-running campaign evoking the British World War II spirit at the expense of the Germans.

The brewery had a similar run-in with advertsing authorities in 2001.

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A more perfect pint

Guinness will spend more than $4 million to promote a new “perfect pint” gadget being called the biggest revolution to hit the beer can since the invention of the widget.

The plug-in “Guinness Surger” sends an ultrasound signal through a glass to separate the black body from the creamy head, just as a pint settles when poured in a pub.

When customers buy the new kit they get two cans of special widget-free Guinness, a pint glass and the Surger itself – a base unit on which the glass stands as the ultrasound passes through.


Profiling Stone and Greg Koch

The Union-Tribune in San Diego profiles Stone Brewing Co. co-founder Greg Koch.

The lengthy article concludes with the punchline:

“I’m going to let Stone get as big as it’s going to get, as big as it wants to be,” he said. “The only goal is to maintain our original set of standards.”

Speaking of Stone. A case (12 bottles) of Stone Epic Ale 02/02/02 recently sold for $2,500 on eBay. At that price it shouldn’t be surprising that a second immediately went up on the block.


Beer in the mainstream press

– The Washington Post’s once-a-month beer feature focuses on Jerry Bailey of Old Dominion and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery.

– Missed this last week, but a great lead in the Wall Street Journal (pay site) on a story examing Anheuser-Busch’s struggles to increase sales: “It’s good to be king — except when your realm is shrinking.”

– John Filson in the Toronto Star: “Keep in mind there are tons of beers that call themselves pilsner, but are lukewarm examples at best. It’s an industry problem: if a beer wants to call itself a pilsner, it just does, even if it’s too bland or bad or out of character to deserve the designation. Just consider the ramifications if Loblaws decided to call any cut of meat sirloin and you’ll see why that’s a problem.”

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A gathering of St. Louis breweries

Poor Richard’s Ale, made by about 100 breweries across the country to makr the 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth, let to a surprising gathering of breweries in St. Louis. The Post-Dispatch reports:

A Schlafly beer served at the St. Louis tour center of Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation’s largest brewer? Tom Schlafly, owner of the St. Louis Brewery Inc., sipping an Anheuser-Busch product?

These sights might cause people to do a double take, but that’s what happened Tuesday afternoon, when staff from Anheuser-Busch and St. Louis Brewery, the maker of Schlafly beer, gathered to toast Benjamin Franklin’s birthday.

A-B is lobbying other breweries to get involved in a campaign to boost the image of beer, and this reflects their effort.

“There are things we can do together that could make our overall industry get a higher profile in consumers’ minds,” said Bob Lachky, executive vice president of global industry development at A-B’s domestic brewing unit. “And everybody (in the beer industry) would benefit.”


Beer not included

Once again, Saint Arnold Brewing Co. in Houston is actioning off the rights to name a fermenter. Racing to keep up with rapid growth, Saint Arnold has installed its first 120 barrel fermenter and as it did in 2004 the brewery us auctioning the naming rights on eBay.

This is actually the third time Saint Arnold has offered customers the opportunity to become a part of the brewery. Previously:

– In 2004, the brewery held a similar auction for one of its tanks, which led to the christening of the “St. Gonzo” tank.

– In 2003, the brewery’s supporters gladly handed over close to $7,500 to help the brewery pay for a reverse osmosis system to purify its water. Those who donated to the cause have their names displayed on the water tank.


Victory Brewing seeks stories from customers

Victory Brewing in Downingtown, Pa., wants stories from loyal customers to help celebrate Victory’s 10th year of brewing.

“This contest, with each of its categories, details exactly how far Victory has gone in influencing the lives of our customers over the past ten years. With distance from the brewery, we’ll be able to find out how far around the world Victory beers have been enjoyed, while with the most memorable Victory experience, we’re sure to find people have enjoyed our beer in ways we’ve never imagined,” said co-founder Bill Covaleski.

Winning entries will receive one of two $200 Victory Gear shopping sprees.

Enter via e-mail (, or through traditional mail (mail to: Victory Brewing Company, 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335, Attn: Jacob Burns). Entrants should include: their essay, name, mailing address, day-time phone number, and e-mail address. Winners will be announced “Victory 10-Years New Party” Feb. 17-18.