Tuesday, May 14, 2019


Here is a Good Beer Hunting article on the Paradise fire, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Butte County, thousands of breweries, Resilience IPA, and so much more.  This article appeared a few weeks ago, but it is so well done I had to post about it.  If I give quotes, I'll quote the entire story, so take some time and read it.  The response from so many breweries who shifted schedules and donated time and materials to brew Resilience IPA, and so many people who bought pints of Resilience IPA is heartwarming.  Craft breweries, even ones the size of Sierra Nevada, have become community.  I can't think of another type of business that touches such a a cross-section of a neighborhood, or town, or city, or county.  The $15 million raised when Ken Grossman asked for help is staggering. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Quick Hits

Over the past few weeks I have had three standout beers.  I did not prepare full tasting notes and picture taking reviews while I drank these beers, but wanted to get my thoughts out anyway.  Here are the three, in no particular order:

Stone Brewing's Arrogant Consortia and the heavy metal band Metallica teamed up to create Enter The Night pilsner.  I found this 5.7% abv beer a stunner.  It's hoppy, but it is still a pilsner.  It has strong flavors that never slip into palate fatigue.  The beer is crisp and drinkable, and edgier than other pilsners.  People may not think of Stone / Arrogant Consortia when they think of pilsner, but they should.  The Arrogant Consortia beers I have tried have all been excellent (even the Crime was a good beer despite my candy-ass inability to finish it), and more people should be talking about, writing about, and drinking Arrogant Consortia beers.

Eppig Brewing's Zwickelbier is an excellent interpretation of a German style.  Zwickelbier is an unfiltered lager.  It does not have Enter The Night's piquant assertiveness but it's no less a stellar beer.  Take all the thin session IPAs, dump them down the drain, and give me this 4.6% abv gem.  It is smooth, yeasty, with an unsuspecting solid heft.  If Eppig makes a marginal beer, I have not tried it.  Zwickelbier stands out from a brewery that makes across the board outstanding beers.

Hood River, Oregon's pFriem Beer's IPA could be the best IPA I have had this year.  It's not muted hazy, or crazy bitter, or brut dry; it is just a basic, delicious IPA.  The skill of a brewery is how well it produces standard styles.  A brewery may have a great grapefruit IPA or a nice hazy IPA, but how is its core IPA, or its core stout, or any core beer?  Pizza Port makes multiple IPAs capturing all the latest trends, but its year-round Swami IPA remains one of the best IPAs available.  pFriem's IPA has no frills or gimmicks; it just tastes fantastic.  It is clear, plenty bitter with just the right amount of malt.  Craftsmanship.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Sam Adams and Dogfish Head Merge

My twitter timeline is flooded with tweets and retweets on the $300 million Sam Adams Dogfish Head merger.  Beer twitter is confused.  It is so quick to condemn any merger - usually because it is big beer buying an independent craft brewery - and its habit of classifying every beer issue in stark black and white terms, with clear right and wrong opinions, and heroes and villains does not work with this merger.  A $300 million merger is obscene, so it must be bad on its price alone.  But it is craft buying craft, so that is good.  And, craft breweries can't fight big beer giants if they don't get bigger, and a merger of craft brewers is one way to get big and stay independent.  But, isn't a combined Sam Adams Dogfish Head too big to be craft, which makes it part of big beer?   Oh, God! The agony, the nuance, the contradictions!  AND FOR CHRISSAKE, WHERE DOES SAM ADAMS' CIDER OPERATION FIT IN THIS MERGER?!  Why didn't the Sams make it easy for beer twitter and just sell to AB InBev so we could all know the bad guys?

This transaction is good for craft beer.  Two independent breweries are combining and the behemoths AB InBev, Molson Coors, and Constellation are not involved.  Even if Sam Adams Dogfish Head now exceed the definition of a craft brewery, to me they are still considered craft.  The combined company is big craft for sure, but craft all the same.  Deals like Sam Adams Dogfish Head are needed to counter the continued, on purpose blurring of fake craft by the giant beer companies.  A walk down the beer aisle in most any supermarket shows how successful giant beer companies have been at cracking independent breweries market share.  Good for Sam Adams and Dogfish Head.

The Brewhound article, linked to above, notes that as part of the merger Dogfish Head is repaying/retiring the 15% ownership stake of private equity firm LNK Partners.  I am not sure how or if LNK played into Dogfish Head's decision to merge, but LNK invested in Dogfish Head five years ago and a five-year hold likely fits with LNK's investment time horizon and its requirement to return money to its investors.  Other craft brewers that took private equity money rather than sell outright are going to have to deal with similar time constraints imposed by the private equity managers and their funds' need to liquidate.  Private equity investors are not passive long-term investors.  If nothing else, getting private equity out of the two companies is positive.

I have a many years old bottle of 120 Minute IPA in the back of my beer fridge.  I am thinking of cracking it open in honor of this merger.