Good Beer Week and GABS have both been independently described by top international brewers as the “the best beer festivals in the world”, and in just three years have drawn in brewers and beer lovers from five continents.
“Due to the success of both festivals, it seems only natural that GABS and Good Beer Week should join to create a momentous week of celebrating all things craft beer,” the organisers said this week.
The fourth Good Beer Week is expected to be the best yet, with the festival team recently revealing a teaser for their 2014 lineup that boasts talent from the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Japan, New Zealand and of course Australia. The festival will host around 200 events across Melbourne and Victoria.
GABS will take place from 23 – 25 May, during the final three days of the nine-day Good Beer Week festival, attracting an audience of 12,000 people to celebrate the innovation and diversity of craft beer.
Good Beer Week Founder and festival director, James Smith said: “Like Good Beer Week, the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular has played a key role in raising the profile of the Australian beer scene here and abroad. Working in tandem for the 2014 festival will help us create one of the greatest beer weeks on the planet and will ensure the good beer message reaches a bigger audience than ever before.”
GABS co-founder Guy Greenstone added: “As both festivals are about promoting and appreciating fantastic craft beer and the people behind it, we are delighted to join forces with Good Beer Week to create a world class beer experience for visitors.”
GABS will this year see around 120 creative and modern artisan beers brewed specifically for the event by leading Australian and international brewers, and feature more than 250 beers from 130 breweries, as well as gourmet street food, a fromagerie, live entertainment, brewery and industry stands and free educational seminars.
SACRAMENTO – Football fans have the Super Bowl. Techies have CES. Fantasy and sci-fi fanatics have Comic-Con. And for each of the past five years, craft beer lovers within reach of California’s capital city have had Sacramento Beer Week to look forward to every February. Dan Scott, the founder and executive director of the annual gathering of beer geeks and foodies, spared a few precious moments from his frantic February schedule to discuss the origins of the event, what’s new this year and how to get the most out of the 2014 edition of the 11-day celebration of craft beer.
News10: What does being the founder and director of Sacramento Beer Week entail?
Scott: It’s really being the hub of a wheel. Sacramento Beer Week is really nothing without the brewers and pubs and restaurants doing their events and hosting breweries from around the area and around the world. What I do is I get the word out.
News10: Do you do it alone or do you have people working with you?
Scott: We have a team of designers and social media experts, and a team of beer lovers who get the word out about all the events and promote Sacramento as a craft beer destination.
News10: Are the team members freelancers, volunteers, employees?
Scott: They are freelancers but they get a small stipend. We all work primarily for the love of craft beer, and the love of our home town.
News10: What do you do when you’re not doing this?
Scott: Different things. I started this when I was writing my master’s thesis for public policy. So, I also do consulting on political issues, public policy issues. I do a lot of different things.
News10: What inspired the idea for beer week?
Scott: It was a topic of discussion among local brewers, restaurateurs and distributors that this is something we really needed to do. And so I was asked to explore the idea and see if it would work, and luckily, thanks to all our great beer businesses in the area it did. They embraced it immediately as participants and hosts, and as you know, Sacramento’s a beer town and a drinking town so the response was great.
News10: How many local brewers were involved in the first Beer Week?
Scott: There were nine, what we would consider local brewers in the Sacramento area – and that includes Two Rivers Cider. When we talk about craft beer, we’re always talking about cider. And when we’re talking about local beer, we’re talking about Two Rivers Cider. They are an integral part of our scene and have a long history with all of our brewers as well.
News10: How many are there this year?
Scott: This year we have 27 local breweries. What I mean by local is within about a 45-mile radius. The Sacramento beer area goes from Berryessa Brewing Company in Winters to the west, up to Sutter Buttes Brewing Company which is in Yuba City, and to the east there’s Auburn Alehouse in Auburn and Nevada City has Ol’ Republic. We don’t really go very far south.
News10: Do you remember how many events there were in that first year?
Scott: I think there was 150-ish.
News10: And this year there will be?
Scott: Three hundred to 500. The thing is, beer week has taken on a life of its own outside our immediate campaign. So there are businesses that choose to participate in the advertising campaign. They all chip in a little bit of money to help get the word out. And some businesses just say, “hey, we’re doing a beer week thing.” There’s a lot of unofficial events and a lot of official events. So there’s no real way to know. I would say 500 events is very likely among 100 local businesses.
News10: What would you say is a key factor to the continued growth and success?
Scott: It’s all about providing enough options for different people because not every event is going to appeal to every person. There’s rare, weird beers out there that the craft beer hardcores are going to embrace. And then there’s just the craft beer curious. Or there’s people that just enjoy very standard beer styles, pale ales, red ales, stouts and lagers that want to go out and celebrate our local scene. That’s one of the great things about it, is that there’s an enormous diversity of events that go on for pretty much anybody… if they’re over 21.
News10: Did you envision it would grow this much this quickly?
Scott: That’s tough to say. I knew that the craft beer scene was exploding. I did not think it was going to boom as hard as it is right now.
News10: What is the planning process like for an event like this?
Scott: Usually in the fall we’ll announce the dates, let people know what’s up. It’s up to the individual businesses to plan out their events. And these are thing that can’t be planned out too far in advance. Back in November when we start talking about beer week, these businesses are thinking about Thanksgiving, then they’re thinking about Christmas, for January they’re thinking about the Super Bowl. Once the Super Bowl’s over, that’s when they can really concentrate on things – except for some of the local restaurants who are pushing Valentine’s Day. A lot of it is last-minute planning. There’s a lot of forethought and thinking and tentative plans but it all explodes in February. On a year-round basis I’m in communication with larger entities, some beer magazines, some media so it’s always in the back of my mind, but it’s a little ridiculous to talk about beer week all year long.
News10: How does beer week benefit the city of Sacramento?
Scott: On one hand it’s simply dollars in the coffer. Most participants in beer week that I talk to say their busiest week all year long is beer week. Also it’s a matter of branding Sacramento as a destination for craft beer lovers. And that goes hand in hand with the farm –to-fork movement because local craft beer is farm to fork. We have these local people taking agricultural products and turning them into a local product that’s fresh, has an expiration date and exhibits a bit of a terroir if you will. That comes from the earth with wine, but it comes from culture and style with beer where they’re drawing from our region and our agricultural influences in order to make beer that says Sacramento.
News10: With an event like this, I’d imagine there’s a tourism draw too?
Scott: Absolutely. I get emails from people each year, and they ask me, “Hey, when’s that beer festival going to be? I have friends from A, B C coming to visit from out of state,” or, “I live in Florida.”
News10: Have you had any pushback for having a week that celebrates the consumption of beer?
News10: What’s new this year?
Scott: As I mentioned, there are many new breweries. The biggest new thing different from last year is that we’re bringing back the Sacramento Brewers Showcase. It was done in past years, but last year it didn’t happen. This is the beer festival that is exclusively for Sacramento-area breweries. That’s going to be held at the California Auto Museum on Thursday the 27th of Feburary. There’ll be a dozen restaurants as well serving food samples. That’s the standout event to me because it’s showing what we have here that’s unique to Sacramento.
As in the past several breweries are making beers exclusive to this week, including some teaming up and making one together. This includes a collaborative beer where each brewery starts with the same pale ale recipe and puts their own spin on it. At the Sacramento Brewers Showcase, each brewery will bring their creation for sampling and guests will vote on their favorite for a People’s Choice award. This is the first year this is being presented and they will get a trophy that gets passed to the winning breweries each year.
The other big change is the Capitol Beerfest, which is in its fourth year, is moving to downtown Sacramento on the Capitol Mall on March 9. It’s amazing that the city and the Convention Visitor’s Bureau are embracing this idea that we can bring beer and food down to a giant outdoor area like so many other cities do. I can’t imagine that it’ll be anything but successful. It’s one of the largest beer festivals in California.
Another new thing that is different this year is that we are offering the Beer Week Geek Membership. This is to reward the people that are going out the most and are really into going to the big events. As a beer week geek, you’ll get expedited VIP admission to both beer festivals that I mentioned. You’ll also get an exclusive tulip glass which is not going to be available on the market. It’s a $150 value for $75. So it’s a great way to tell the geekiest of the local beer geeks that their participation is appreciated.
News10: Where can people get the Beer Week Geek membership?
Scott: They can order that on the website.
News10: Can you discuss the partnership with Uber this year?
Scott: We’ve always considered responsibility and safety to be important. But as we get larger, we have more opportunities to make sure that people are aware they are responsible for their behavior and businesses need to do their best to help put the word out. So we have Uber as the official safe ride of Sacramento Beer Week.
News10: What other efforts are being made to ensure safety?
Scott: We’re also working closely with an organization called Drink Safely Sacramento, which is a new nonprofit that we helped establish last beer week. First of all it’s a localized campaign that hopefully will grow. But secondly, it’s not all about preventing driving under the influence. People have personal accidents when they drink too much, there’s public violence, domestic violence, vandalism. There’s so many things that are the result of people being irresponsible. It’s a great thing that this campaign is going to help remind people, even in small ways, that there are safer and smarter ways to enjoy yourself without doing things that you might regret, or particularly that might hurt other people or businesses. It’s all about being a responsible member of your community.
News10: How much would you estimate Beer Week has contributed to the growth of Sacramento’s craft beer scene?
Scott: It’s a chicken and egg type of thing. I’d say it supports it. It assuredly supports it. My favorite thing I hear all year from the public is I constantly hear people saying, “If it wasn’t for Beer Week, I would have never heard of this business, or this brewery.” It’s a great way for people to discover new places that are serving beer or food that they enjoy, or places they simply enjoy hanging out. I think craft beer is a runaway train and no one thing is going to be stopping it or improving it. It’s all a giant cultural movement. It’s way bigger than any of us here in town, or any single brewery or business.
News10: If you could describe Beer Week in one sentence to someone who’s never experienced it before, how would you do it?
Scott: The largest variety of beer in the area all year long.
News10: What advice would you offer someone trying to fit in as many events as possible?
Scott: Well, of course my first piece of advice is be responsible. You don’t want people driving around all day going to a dozen events. There are some hot spots where you can walk all day long to a variety of events. Downtown, midtown, East Sac, Roseville, even Auburn have several businesses. Particularly though, downtown, midtown and East Sac are the concentration.
It’s easier for someone who is craft-beer conscious because you can look at breweries you’ve never tried before, or breweries you know are doing new and interesting things. If you’re completely new to craft beer, there are many businesses that are featuring what the calendar is going to list as a “mini fest” where there might be 10 different breweries. So they’ll be pouring samples. You don’t have to go to an event and buy a pint of beer, and if you don’t like it, you’re out of luck. Or, if you do like it, there’s only so many pints of beer you can drink. Most of these events do small samples of these beers where they’ll put together a tray of whatever it is that they’re serving.
Also, go to places that you already know you enjoy. A lot of people’s favorite restaurants are going to be participating. And maybe they’ve never had a beer dinner at one of these places. That’s a great way to sit down, relax, get a great meal and good beer.
Talk to your friends. If you can’t decide what to do, maybe a buddy of yours has a really good map or agenda lined out.
And don’t be afraid to try new things.
News10: What are your favorite type of events?
Scott: That’s difficult to answer simply because I’m on the extreme end of beer geekery. I like events where there are as many different breweries as possible, because I’m looking for variety and novelty. For me the weirdest beer, and the most cutting edge beer is at the sour fest at Sam Horne’s Tavern, but there are several other sour fests being planned that week, so I don’t want to just limit it to that. Any sour beer fest, that’s one of the ones where you’re going to find me.
Another one that I really like for its novelty is the cask fest, the firkin fest I believe it’s called over at Rubicon. They have a dozen or so, maybe more, different beers that are on cask. That is the old way of way of serving beer before we had gases propelling carbonated beverages. It used to be in a barrel. You put a hole in the barrel and the beer would pour out. And so this is beer that is a little bit warmer, more at a cask temperature than it is a chilled temperature, and these are the freshest beers that you’re going to find unless you go to the brewery where they’re being made. Many of these beers are not available year round, they’re specifically put into the cask for this event. So that’s another one where there’s going to be beer that is interesting. You probably haven’t had it and if you have, you probably haven’t had it in that format.
News10: Now for the question the beer geeks are waiting for, where is Pliny the Younger going to be?
Scott: Nobody ever knows. It’s like the magic elf appearing out of nowhere. For the uninitiated, Pliny the Younger is a very limited version of one of the Holy Grail beers that is most widely regarded as that beer you have to try. It’s from Russian River Brewing Company is Santa Rosa, California. Every February, they make their triple IPA version of their double IPA, Pliny the Elder. It’s made in very small amounts and luckily Sacramento has grown to be enough of a beer market that we are getting this beer. You will get this beer in the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego, Colorado, Philadelphia, Portland, probably Seattle too. That’s really about it. It’s in a handful of markets. Gosh, there might be a total of 50 places in the United States that’ll get it. You’ll probably find it at five or six places around town during the week where you might expect it. Places serving the widest variety of craft beer. Keep your ear to the ground. Keep your eye on Twitter. That’s usually where you’ll find somebody announce that it’s going to be happening.
News10: Anything else you want people to know?
Scott: As I mentioned before, beer week is a week to go out and try something new and to broaden your horizons, as well as to go to your favorite place and enjoy your favorite beer. It’s really an opportunity for people to celebrate one of the things that’s great about the Sacramento area, that we are a fantastic craft beer scene. Our beer scene is tied into our local agriculture and we are able to enjoy things that nobody else in the world can, and that’s special. It’s a great time to be a beer lover in Sacramento.
Follow Paul Janes on Twitter: @News10_Paul
With a couple of weeks where I didn’t have a lot of events, and my New Year’s Eve calendar that I successfully set up to self-update, I had some time to go through my calendar and pick out the big craft beer events we can look forward to in 2014. Those that have a specific date attached are already scheduled and have websites up. Approximate dates for other fests are my guess, based on last year’s date, and my certainlty that they will be brought back for another year..
Events with a checkmark (actually a square root icon) (√) are now selling tickets. For big events like Dark Lord Day, watch their websites or my Facebook page for quickest notification of ticket sales.
(Early 2014) Lagunitas Brewing Opens
Lagunitas is currently hiring for both its brewery and tap room at 18th Rockwell. As with any new brewing operation, an anticipated opening has been pushed back by this, that, and the other thing, including founder Tony Magee’s last-minute decision to increase brewing capacity to 250,000 barrels per year (the original plan of 150,000 barrels was already twice the capacity of all Chicago’s brewers combined). Test batches should be running through the lines as I type this.
January 25: Lincoln Square Winter Brew
Once again we are taking the Chicago Street Festival scene indoors for Lincoln Square’s third annual Winter Brew! Join the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce and the Square Kegs Home Brew Club for a day and night of local beer and local food! Local breweries from around Chicago will set up shop on the 5th floor ballroom of DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave., to showcase what great beers Chicago has to offer. Sessions are 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Check lincolnsquare.org/pages/WinterBrew/ for updates and ticket sales.
√ February 8: Cider Summit Chicago
Advance tickets are already available for the second edition of this cider-only event, taking place at the Lakeview Terrace Room at Navy Pier. Sessions will be at 11:00 am-3:00 pm and 4:00-8:00 pm, with 90 ciders from throughout the U.S., England, Scotland, France, Spain, and even New Zealand. Each $25 ticket gets you 8 tasting samples, with the opportunity to buy more on site. Chicago Brew Bus will provide shuttle service. Check cidersummit.com for info and ticket availability.
√ February 22: Naperville Winter Ale Festival
The Naperville Winter Ale Fest will be Naperville’s first outdoor winter beer festival. The inaugural festival will take place on Saturday, February 22 at 12:00 – 4:00 pm. Situated on the frozen tundra of Naperville’s Frontier Park (SE of US 59 and 95th St.) the festival will feature over 120 unique beers from craft breweries around the country. Pull out your long-johns and parkas, it’s time to experience winter’s best craft beers. The festival will also feature food from some of Chicagoland’s favorite food trucks. General admission is tickets at $45 are available at napervillewinteralefest.com
March 1: Day/Night of the Living Ales
One of the big events organized by the Chicago Beer Society, “DoTLA” was held in March last year at Goose Island Wrigleyville, 3535 N. Clark St. Attendees will get to sample from a vast array of cask-conditioned, gravity-poured ales, and cast their votes for Champion Real Ale of Chicagoland. Watch the CBS website for details, or their profile at Brown Paper Tickets.
(March) Windy City BREWHAHA
Last year’s inaugural event was held March 2nd at the Bridgeport ArtCenter, 1200 W. 35th St. No announcement of this year’s event yet at Windycitybrewhaha.com. With the state cracking down on festivals with unlimited beer pours, look for a change in last year’s $45 ticketing policy. While last year’s list of 30 brewers included some “crafty” brands like Redd’s Apple Ale and Third Shift, it also brought in some new or small brewers like Pig Minds, One Trick Pony, and Church Street, and also offered Destihl pourings before they made their move into the Chicago market.
(March) Goose Island Stout Fest
At Goose Island’s Clybourn brewpub, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. Over a dozen local brewers pouring their stouts. Tickets last year were $35 and sold out within minutes of going on sale in February.
(Early April) Kentucky Breakfast Stout Release
Founders Brewing Co.’s calendar of 2014 beer releases shows KBS dropping in April. They have previously managed the release schedule with a pre-ticketed bottle pickup at their taproom, 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI. The pickup schedule last year rand for four days, culminating in an all-day draft release party, and then bottles will go out for retail distribution. If you can’t get tickets for the Grand Rapids pickup, be sure to check for local tapping in this area, and see if your friendly retailer can hold a bottle or two for you.
√ April 12: Tinley Park Brew Vine Festival
Returning to the newly expanded Tinley Park Convention Center, 18501 S. Harlem Ave. A $28 ticket includes admission, 12 tasting tickets, a tasting glass, and entertainment. Additional tasting tickets will be available on site. 20 beer vandors and importers were present in 2013, and there will be more capacity this year. Check tinleyparkbrewandvinefest.com, email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Tinley Park Chamber office at (708) 532-5700 to purchase tickets.
√ April 24-25: Baconfest Chicago
The 6th Annual Baconfest Chicago is set for the UIC Forum, 725 W Roosevelt Rd. This year’s event expands from two to three tasting sessions: one on Friday the 24th, and two on Saturday the 25th. VIP tickets at $200 are now available through Eventbrite, while general admission tickets at $100 will be offered in February. The organizers are promising to expand Baconfest further with a “Chicago Bacon Week” promotion.
(Late April) Dark Lord Day
Three Floyds puts its Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout on sale one Saturday at their brewery and tap room, 9750 Indiana Pkwy, Munster, IN. It wasn’t meant to be sold one day only, but it simply sells out as some 9,000 beer fans descend on the little industrial park. Tickets go on sale on a Saturday noon about a month before (the last few times have been on Easter weekend, to mess with anyone spending the holiday away from town with relatives). It’s Woodstock for beer fans (and likely more fun than any likely Woodstock 2014 concert). If you get your timed entry ticket, prepare to spend a few hours waiting in line, but you can while the time by bringing beer and trading sips with other beer geeks from around the world, listening to crunchy metal, and buying any of several guest drafts.And watch for some pre-DLD events the Friday before, especially at Flossmoor Station and Beer Geeks. Watch the Floyds’ website above, or DarkLordDay.com for updates.
There will be many other new brewers and brewpubs coming on line in 2014. Very few of them can expect to announce and commit to an opening date due to waiting for equipment and licensing.
2 January 2014
Last updated at 09:12 ET
The brewery won awards at beer festivals
An award-winning Brecon brewery has closed its doors with the loss of three jobs.
Breconshire Brewery closed on New Year’s Eve after operating in the market town since December 2002.
Three staff were laid off on Tuesday after another three were made redundant earlier in the year.
The owner blamed the closure on “a competitive and fragile market”.
Production levels had fallen from a peak of 40,000 gallons a year at its peak to less than 10,000 gallons last year, Howard Marlow said.
“There were only about 10 breweries in south Wales when we started in 2002 but now there are more than 60 in Wales,” he said.
“There are more breweries opening all the time, including another one in Brecon, which didn’t help our cause.”
In the last eleven years, the brewery won a number of awards at beer festivals.
Its Golden Valley brand was also a Champion Beer of Britain finalist at the Great British Beer Festival.
Mr Harlow added that the closure of a number of pubs locally had also contributed to the brewery’s demise.
“The business was losing money during the last few years so we had no option but to close,” said Mr Harlow.
The past 12 months were huge for craft beer, but they were especially huge in Tampa Bay. The notion that Florida was not a beer-friendly state has been convincingly challenged in recent years, but if there was a year when any remaining doubts were put to rest, this was it.
This week, the Brewer’s Association released an analysis of craft beer’s contribution to the U.S. economy in 2012: $33.9 billion. Of that, Florida was responsible for more than $875 million, courtesy of nearly 11,000 Florida craft beer-industry workers. That number should be even more staggering for 2013, when we’ve seen a tremendous rise in new breweries, beer bars and even out-of-state beers eagerly entering the Florida market.
The three big new arrivals this year were New Belgium Brewing, whose Fat Tire Amber Ale is a long-time mainstay of craft-beer bars across the nation; Founders Brewing, a Michigan brewery with two beers in Beer Advocate’s Top 10 (Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Canadian Breakfast Stout); and St. Arnold Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, and one that is only distributed in three other states.
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Of course, new Florida beers have been popping up just as rapidly, with newcomers in both Hillsborough County (Zeke’s Brewing, Three Palms Brewing, Cigar City Brewpub, Two Henrys), Clearwater (Pair O’ Dice Brewing) and Treasure Island (R Bar), but St. Pete stole the show as the beer success story of 2013.
At this time last year, St. Pete had no breweries to call its own. Brewers Tasting Room, a North St. Pete nanobrewery specializing in beers brewed in collaboration with homebrewers and professionals from other commercial breweries, opened in January.
The stakes increased as Cycle Brewing, famous for its barrel-aged imperial stouts, opened its doors downtown in August, followed shortly after by the long-anticipated Green Bench Brewing. Then 3 Daughters Brewing, a full-scale, 30-barrel production brewery, opened to the public last weekend, bringing the St. Pete brewery count from zero to four over the course of a year.
In March, Tampa Bay beer aficionados collectively celebrated the second annual Tampa Bay Beer Week. The number of events more than doubled from nearly 100 in Beer Week 2012, and festivities included beer festivals, special releases, tap takeovers, food pairings, classes and tastings at bars, breweries and restaurants across the bay area.
Among many noteworthy events were the Brewer’s Ball and Best Florida Beer Championships, held at the Cuban Club in Ybor City; as well as Cigar City’s annual Hunahpu’s Day, a massive festival centered around the yearly release of the brewery’s barrel-aged imperial stout. The event featured beers from local homebrewers and breweries, as well as highly acclaimed beers from outside of Florida, such as Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from Indiana’s Three Floyds Brewing.
For those who couldn’t get enough Tampa Bay Beer Week the first time around, the Halfway There Rare Beer Festival was held at the Cuban Club in September, featuring rare and one-off beers from myriad Florida breweries and homebrew clubs, as well as special releases from a handful of out-of-state breweries.
Florida continued to make its mark nationally in October, with seven Florida breweries participating in Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, the largest in the country. Dunedin’s 7venth Sun Brewing, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing, and Sarasota’s Darwin Brewing represented Tampa Bay, with Cigar City taking home a gold medal in the Pro-Am competition for its Poblano Wit — a collaboration with local homebrewer Jeff Gladish — and Darwin getting a big nod from Draft Magazine, which named its Charapa Spiced Porter a must-try festival beer.
As was the case in 2012, some of the longest lines at this year’s GABF belonged to Florida breweries. Boca Raton’s Funky Buddha Brewery and Cigar City drew huge crowds at the main festival, while Miami homebrewer Johnathan Wakefield was one of the biggest draws at the first annual What the Funk?! festival, a sour and wild beer-centric festival held alongside GABF.
Big things are happening in the Florida beer scene, and 2013 was a great year for all involved. Florida is cultivating a stronger and stronger reputation as a premium beer state every year, and the rest of the nation is taking notice.
But best of all isn’t the recognition or the notoriety — it’s the fact that we get to drink some of the best beer money can buy, and it comes from right here in Florida. — email@example.com
That’s one of the findings from the Cask Report, launched to coincide with Cask Ale Week, which kicks off today (27 September). The Report found that pub-goers are turning to cask ale in search of flavour, natural ingredients and craft production methods.
“There has been a sea-change in attitudes towards cask ale over the past few years,” said Pete Brown, author of the Cask Report. “This explains why it’s now out-performing the beer market by 6.8 per cent.
Cask-conditioned beer, also referred to as real ale, is served from a cask without additional nitrogen or dioxide pressure. Sixty-three per cent of licensees say the drink is attracting younger customers into their pub and a similar number say that more women are drinking it.
“More people see it as crafted product made from natural British ingredients and like the fact that it’s available only in the pub,” added Brown. “This is great news for all those who care about the future of the British pub since it helps guarantee a new generation of drinkers who will help keep pubs relevant – and open.”
Brewing up a storm
The Cask Report also refers to Britain’s brewery boom, highlighted earlier this month by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) in its 2014 Good Beer Guide.
One hundred and eighty-four new breweries have opened during the past year; some microplants in the brewhouses of regional brewers and others in pubs or converted buildings, on industrial estates or in the heart of the countryside.
Cask Ale Week is running for the next seven days under the theme of The Great Big Taste Challenge
“People love the opportunity to support local breweries,” said Brown. “But they aren’t looking exclusively for beers from their own region. In fact, 70 per cent of drinkers would like to try beers from different parts of the country more often. This provides a great opportunity for pubs to diversify their range – and for the country’s 1,150 breweries to sell beyond their own doorstep.”
Brown concluded that cask ale’s image was further modernised by the hosting of beer festivals by over 10,000 pubs in 2012. “With all the extra beers on offer in each of those pubs during the festivals, that’s not only a lot of sales generated; it’s also a good illustration of why the market is fragmenting and new breweries are opening,” he said.
Cask Ale Week, which runs from 27 September to 6 October, sees a range of activities taking place from master classes in ale tasting to beer quizzes, meet the brewer evenings, beer festivals, sampling and free pint offers. The theme for the Week is ‘The Great Big Taste Challenge’. For more information, visit www.caskaleweek.co.uk
Pete Brown is an author, consultant and broadcaster specialising in beer and pubs. He is the author of five books and was named Beer Writer of the Year in 2009 and 2012. Read some of his columns in our sister title, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, here.
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- Courtesy photo
- Breweries will offer beers that pair well with bacon at the Bacon Brew Festival in San Mateo on Saturday.
Spin! Pizza has signed a franchising agreement to open five outposts in San Mateo County within the next seven years. Founded in 2005, Spin! currently has five locations around Kansas City and recently opened its first restaurant in Orange County. The Spin! founders and owners also launched the nationally successful Einstein Bros. Bagels chain of delis. Spin! is best known for preparing everything by hand in-house daily, from the three types of pizza crust to the mozzarella and blood-orange sangria. There’s no word yet on exactly where and when you’ll be seeing this Midwestern pizzeria opening on the Peninsula. Stay tuned.
Close out September in style with two fascinating food and drink festivals on the Peninsula on Saturday. From noon to 6 p.m. in Central Park is the San Mateo Bacon Brew Festival. Yep, everyone’s two favorite things in life pair up for an exciting afternoon. Local breweries, including Devil’s Canyon and the new Warfighter in San Carlos, will provide the suds to pair with the likes of bacon baklava and bacon-wrapped scallops. In case you get tired of bacon (editor’s note: not possible), several local restaurants, including Three and Claudia’s Pastes Empanadas, will also be on hand.
Central Park, Fifth Avenue and El Camino Real, San Mateo; (650) 401-2440, SanMateoChamber.org/bbf. Admission is $10 and includes a free drink.
For those who prefer spice over swine, the sixth annual Redwood City Salsa Festival is being held in the city’s Courthouse Square from noon to 8 p.m. A salsa tasting area is the festival’s main focus, along with various salsa-themed competitions featuring amateur and professional chefs. Wash it all down at a tequila tasting and a craft brew tasting. The salsa theme also extends to music performed on the two stages.
Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City; RedwoodCity.org/events/SalsaFest.html
You don’t have to travel from University Avenue anymore for shrimp ceviche tostadas and tortas. Palo Alto’s main drag now has a Mexican restaurant again: the new Sabrosa Taqueria. Tacos with an assortment of meat options such as grilled chicken and chorizo figure prominently on the menu, along with a carrot-pineapple-arugula salad or sizzling beef fajitas. Nachos and burritos fill out the rest of the offerings. Nearly everything outside of the fajitas is less than $8, a bargain rarity in these parts. Plus, in a nod to the Persian restaurant Thyme to Eat that used to be in the space, Sabrosa’s making a “falafelrito” — a falafel burrito.
448 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 853-1450, Sabrosa.us
The greatest vacation I never had came around this time of year nine years ago.
Only months out of graduate school, I didn’t have the money to fly halfway around the world to a friend’s wedding in Munich. Which means, I also missed celebrating with him inside a tent packed with thousands of people who’d come there to do one thing: drink German lagers.
It still hurts, knowing that I was oh-so close to attending Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival on the planet. Held during the final two weeks of September and first few days of October, the festival has existed for more than 200 years and attracts 6 million people to Munich every year. Many more than that attend the countless other beer festivals around the world that have sprung up in tribute to the original.
Indeed, I’m aware of at least two O’fests happening soon in the Upper Valley, both very different from the original and distinct from each other, but nevertheless offering the chance to join friends and drink some good beer.
The first, and newest, will be in Hanover the evening of Oct. 4. This is the inaugural year for the “Upper Valley Oktoberfest,” to be held at Dartmouth College inside the Top of the Hop.
The Hanover Lions Club is organizing the event. Lions Club member Cam Rankin said he hopes it will become a replacement for the now defunct auto show that used to be the group’s largest fund raising event of the year.
“We’re hoping this is going to be a home run for us,” Rankin told me last week.
Rankin confessed he’s more of a wine drinker, but said the Lions are trying to seize on the surging interest in craft beer, particularly among the younger 20-somethings in the Dartmouth community.
The Upper Valley Oktoberfest will be a more modest affair than other celebrations, and certainly smaller than the one in Munich. Still, there will be 17 breweries in attendance, nearly all of them from Vermont or New Hampshire. The $35 admission buys you 12 tickets, each good for a 4-ounce sample, plus there’s food and live music.
There are a few newer breweries attending, including the year-old Henniker Brewing Co. and also Portsmouth-based Great Rhythm Brewing Co. They’ll be joined by local establishments here in the Upper Valley, such as Norwich’s Jasper Murdoch’s and Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, as well as Long Trail and Harpoon.
Harpoon will be hosting its own “Octoberfest” the same weekend in Boston, but will bring the party to the Upper Valley a week later at its Windsor brewery.
Harpoon’s outdoor festival is among my favorite annual events, and it’s not just because of the beer. There’s sausage, an oompa band, chicken dancing, keg bowling, and a 3.6-mile run that kicks my butt every year, but makes me feel like I’ve actually earned my two pints that day.
There won’t be the variety of brewers like at the Lions Club event, as Harpoon serves only its own beers during the festival. There’s still variety, including the malty Octoberfest, the UFO series’ hefeweizen and “white,” flagship India Pale Ale, the spicy Rich and Dan’s Rye IPA, Harpoon Dark and even two hard ciders.
Don’t expect to find much authentic German tradition in either of the Upper Valley festivals. Oh sure, there will be people wearing lederhosen and dirndls that will most likely be recycled for Halloween two weeks later. Bratwurst will be consumed and funny dancing will be in abundance. But I doubt the Munich party has a Cajun band, like the one the Lions booked, or includes a road race that starts you out on a wicked hill, like Harpoon.
The beers that will be served are certainly different, as the Munich Oktoberfest allows only breweries located inside the city limits, according to the Oxford Companion to Beer.
Not that this matters. The “real” Oktoberfest has evolved from its origins. It began as a two-day event with free food and beer in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of the Bavarian king’s son, Crown Prince Ludwig, a fact that I wonder if many festivalgoers in Germany could recite.
Traditions evolve. Oktoberfest began as a celebration with beer and has become a celebration of beer. With so many good options in the Twin States, we should be celebrating too. Prosit — to your health.
Valley News staff writer Chris Fleisher is a beer judge and the founder of the website BrewsReporter.com. He can be reached at 603-727-3229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buffalo’s affinity for beer, dating from its earliest days, has fostered a growing trend: craft brewing using local ingredients.
As the region celebrates Buffalo Beer Week, The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer sat down with the chairman of the 10-day event, Willard Brooks, who talked about some of the activities and looked back on Buffalo’s beer heritage. Here is a summary of their conversation, part of the weekly “In Focus” series. Watch the full interview above.
Meyer: How do you think our brewing history has shaped the region?
Brooks: Fundamentally, Buffalo is a beer town. It has been probably since the beginning of its history. In the late 19th century, there were 38 breweries at one point in time open simultaneously. There was a rich history of malting, as well. There were several malting facilities in Buffalo Niagara. This is part of our DNA, it seems. It’s now coming back. History seems to be repeating itself right about now.
Meyer: What has triggered this craft beer phase?
Brooks: People demand beer with great flavor. I think that is the fundamental thing that’s shifting it in that direction. Also, there’s a demand for a locally made product, which is also happening. … There are local hops farms. … In Batavia, there’s a new malt factory opening. We have breweries – two new ones – and several new ones on the way. … Within a few years, I think there will be 15 or 16 breweries.
Meyer: Is it kind of piggybacking on this whole locally grown craze for vegetables and all kinds of other things?
Brooks: I think it is part of that wide trend. However, beer is a beverage that people in Buffalo have a great deal of passion for. It’s hard to find any public event that doesn’t have beer involved in it. Going back to the 19th century, Buffalo was a city that had a tremendous number of beer gardens, with our German-American brewing history. It’s just somehow part of our culture here.
Meyer: Let’s compare the craft beer trend here in Western New York with other cities. Where are we in comparison?
Brooks: Most people would say that we’re a little bit behind, but I believe that we’re catching up quite quickly. The craft beer revolution, as many people call it, sort of began back in the 1980s. At a low point in the United States, there were about 90 breweries in the early ’80s. And now there are 2,500 breweries.
Meyer: Beer Week aims to try to capitalize on that and expand this trend. … The organizers of the event are doing anything but telling people to stay inside, grab a six-pack and enjoy a good football game, right? You’re saying, “Come on out.”
Brooks: (Laughs) Come on out. We have over a hundred events all across the region. We have events with breweries. We have events at pubs. We have beer festivals. We have films. We have beer tastings.
Meyer: How did Beer Week come about?
Brooks: Beer Week started about 10 years ago in Philadelphia. That’s the original and the largest Beer Week in the country. There, they have something like a thousand events across their 10-day celebration. That’s become a trend across the country. There are now several cities across the country that have rather large beer weeks, such as New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco. … They coincide with a trend … where cities sort of adapt to a brewing culture as a way to develop their economy.
By Lauren Blake | Photography by Sean Pressley
Posted: Friday, Sep. 20, 2013
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