Monday, December 7, 2015

Ocean Beach Brewery?!?

Ocean Beach Brewery, which stood half-built and looked abandoned for years, is opening by the end of the year.  A Christmas miracle.  San Diego Eater is reporting "that Ocean Beach Brewery could possibly see the light of day by the end of 2015."  The location is about a half block from the beach and across Newport Avenue from Newport Pizza & Alehouse, one of Ocean Beach's original craft beer locations.

Eater provides the following information on Ocean Beach Brewery's brewer:
Now attached to helm the five barrel brewhouse is Jim Millea, an alum of UC San Diego Extension's Brewing Certificate program and a 13-year homebrew vet who interned at Ballast Point Brewing and Benchmark Brewing before being hired on to help launch Scripps Ranch nano, O'Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company. The OB resident, who also works as a civil engineer, will be brewing up his recipes for OB Brewery's lineup, including a hoppy red, Belgian wit, cream ale, stout and an IPA. Expect a menu of pub food, from sausages to burgers and salads.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Christmas Beers

There are some new Christmas beers on the way.  AleSmith has renamed what I thought was its holiday beer, Winter YuleSmith, Double Red IPA.  It is a hoppy, imperial red ale.  In news to anyone who has ever purchased Winter YuleSmith as a Christmas seasonal beer, on December 11, Alesmith is releasing what it is calling its "first Christmas beer ever."  I guess the beer that I have been drinking every year for last twelve years or so that came in a bottle with green and red lettering surrounded by a holly design was not a Christmas beer.  The new, official holiday beer is AleSmith Noel.  It is a "Belgian-style holiday ale brewed with wintry spices."  Oh, those tangy wintry spices are my favorite.  While I wait for next week's Noel release, I'll enjoy the beer formerly called Winter YuleSmith, as it is one of the best imperial red ales ever.

Green Flash has opted for an imperial IPA to celebrate the holidays.  I don't expect any mystery from an imperial IPA, especially one from Green Flash.  Green Flash has a poem on its Facebook page that describes Holly Jolly as a "mistake," which makes me think its new holiday beer is a remake of 2012's amazing, actual mistake, Jolly Folly.  If I am right, Holly Jolly is a must try beer. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sad News

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is closing, which is bad news for beer drinkers.  The transient brewer of Jack D'Or and other fine beers is calling it quits in a response to "pay-to-play" tactics that have muscled Pretty Things' beers out of bars.  Pretty Things' owners, Dann and Martha Parquett, have been vocal critics of brewers and distributors buying tap space.  It is a shame that seedy practices pushed a craft brewery to quit.  I have not had a Pretty Things beer in a few years, which is my loss.  According to the article linked to above, bottles of Pretty Things should be available through January.

Like Dann Parquett, Modern Times Beer's founder, Jacob McKean, and Stone Brewing's Greg Koch have not been shy to point out pay-to-play, where brewers pay bars to get their beers on tap, usually at the expense of smaller craft brewers.  The recent wave of craft brewery acquisitions by big brewers and a shrinking number of distributors can only make this situation worse.  It is hard for even an aware beer drinker to know the darker side of the restaurant industry.  When ordering beer out, I try to select the best local beers available.  It is unfortunate that the best tasting beers are not always the beers from which you get to choose. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

I think I write every year that Thanksgiving - to me - is not the best holiday for drinking beer.  There are just too many starchy foods with non-complementary flavors.  Red wine was this year's dinner drink.  (And for Pinot Noir fans, to me, the $50 bottle Cherry Pie is no better than the $20 Cherry Tart.)  After dinner - stomach permitting - is another story.  A nice beer can be enjoyed by itself and not have to compete with all the other carbs.   This year I had a bottle of Ballast Point's Homework Series #6 Robust Porter.  I did not take any pictures or write down any notes, I just enjoyed this rich, roasty porter.  It was smoother than it was robust, and was the right finish to a fine day.  It is another well-done entry in Ballast Point's Homework series of beers.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Anti-Merger Mania

I read this Fortune article this morning, which I found through Stone Brewing's twitter feed. It makes sense that Stone linked to the article, as Greg Koch, one of Stone's founders and its current executive chairman, has strong opinions on selling to mega brewers:
“M&A isn’t a term I use a lot. I think you mean ‘selling out,’” says Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch. “Some of us got into this for our passion … and wanting to fight ‘the man.’ Crazy as that may seem, there are some of us that may hold to that vision.”

Koch, who recently announced plans to step down as CEO to assume the role of executive chairman, vows he won’t sell Escondido, Calif.-based Stone, and that because of his public comments on the topic, he hasn’t been courted by big brewers or private equity firms. “They know my response would include the words ‘sand’ and ‘pound,’ ” he says.
Most corporations have a price at which they'll sell, but these are strong words. Stone understands that you cannot sell to a huge company, collect a big paycheck, and then expect to run your business as if you still own it.  

In a separate, but related story, Modern Times Beer, founded by Stone alumnus Jacob McKean, posted this humorous troll:

Modern Times' mindset is similar to Stone. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

No Overnight Success

The $1 billion price tag for Ballast Point is still rattling through people's minds.  I'm sure every craft brewery is doing the math trying to figure a value for its business.  One thing everyone needs to remember is that Ballast Point is no overnight success.  It has been slugging it out, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year for nearly twenty years.  Newcomer breweries Saint Archer Brewery and Golden Road Brewing, which were recently acquired by MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev, respectively, owe their new fortunes to the hard work of breweries like Ballast Point, Stone Brewing, Karl Strauss, AleSmith, Port Brewing, and other craft beer pioneers.

The craft beer revolution did not find these brewers.  Their relentless efforts, innovation, and ultimately, great tasting, quality beers created today's craft beer revolution.  Formed in the wake of the 1980's craft brewpub collapse, they struggled through mid-1990s and early 2000s.   They did not compromise or pander to trends.  They proved to consumers that there is much more to beer than a thin, mass produced pilsners like Budweiser or a fancy European Heineken.  The shift in beer drinking didn't happen all at once,  Fifteen years ago most people had no idea what an IPA was, and if they tried one would have been shocked at its bitterness.  Today, IPA is the most popular craft beer style, and everybody wants a Sculpin.