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draft beer

(LANSING, Mich) – The Michigan Brewers Guild, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, is presenting a series of free seminars this fall throughout the state geared toward effective draft line system cleaning and maintenance. Any brewery, microbrewery, brewpub or retail establishment serving draft beer (including front line staff, managers and owners) is encouraged to attend one of these sessions and get their program certified as managers of quality draft beer delivery systems.

The 2.5-hour seminars will focus on four key areas:

  • Knowing your site’s draft system (equipment and design)
  • Proper draft beer storage and service
  • Cleaning and maintaining a safe and sanitary draft beer delivery system
  • Troubleshooting your site’s draft system

Upon completion of the seminar, each attendee will also receive a copy of the Brewers Association Draught Beer Quality Manual as well as certification that they are trained in proper management, sanitation and quality of draft beer delivery systems.

While there is no charge to attend the seminars, pre-registration is required through the official Eventbrite channel. Upcoming dates include:

As additional events are scheduled this fall, they’ll be posted on the Guild’s Facebook events page.

The seminars are being facilitated by Garry Boyd, a long-time member of the local craft beer community. Garry’s last adventure was as the VP of Food, Beverage & Cultural Innovation at BarFly Ventures (the parent company for HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and Grand Rapids Brewing Company). During his 10 years with BarFly, he oversaw all food and beverage menu development, including the expansive beer program as well as the sustainability and charity initiatives for the company’s brands. From 2016 until 2019, Garry served on the board of the Michigan Brewers Guild where he chaired both the Sustainability and Quality committees.

Anyone interested in hosting a seminar should contact Garry at Draft.Quality@MichiganBrewersGuild.org.

 

bells brewery

Bell’s Brewery makes a lot of beer. During a tour of their sprawling facility in Comstock, Michigan, Austin Giles, our guide and the biggest bear hug of a person, spouts trivia at a mile a minute to drive that point home. Here are a few facts that stuck. Every second, two pints of Two Hearted are sold in Michigan. Every ninety minutes, during three different shifts a day, the team starts a new batch, and to get through one four-hundred barrel fermenter, of which they have sixty-six, it would take a person sixty years while drinking a six-pack a day. Giles smiles as though he’s up for the challenge. 

So yeah, Bell’s makes a lot of beer, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost touch with their roots. At the beginning of a timeline tracking the brewery’s milestones, there hangs a soup pot—Larry’s first brewing vessel—that could double as a sacred idol. “You look back at the pot and it’s like, oh my gosh, we were the original nanobrewery,” Bell said. It’s true and frankly insane to see how much has changed. When Bell opened up shop his competition included twenty-five other American breweries—only nine of which remain—and by 2020 we’re on track for upwards of eight thousand. Looking at the soup pot, these numbers leave an impression. This humble cauldron ushered in one of the nation’s largest and most successful breweries.

Despite his stature as a beer titan, Bell comes off disarmingly

down-to-earth and easy to get along with.

 

While moseying among the steel tanks, stories high and warehouses long, it’s hard not to feel awestruck by this empire Bell has built. Now distributed in 40 states, the Bell’s footprint goes toe-to-toe with many big box brandsand on its own terms no less. As AB-InBev continues to gobble up craft breweries, and craft breweries merge into conglomerate fortresses, Bell’s remains one-hundred percent independent and family owned. “Big brewers can say all they want that people don’t care who makes their beer, where it comes from, whether it’s independent,” Bell said. “I happen to know that they do.”  

 

I believe we’d all agree. Still, for as much as they care about their consumer, when I think about Bell’s I think about a pair of leather bootsworn in, trusty, but tucked away in a closet and taken for granted. At times, Bell feels forgotten too, “The number one question we get on tours is, is he still with us?”

He most certainly is, and to share a conversation with him now is to get lost in an aura of enigmatic energy. Despite his stature as a beer titan, Bell comes off disarmingly down-to-earth. We ricochet between his dreams of Bollrathian aliens, admiration for Walt Whitman, and musings on baseball. “When my brain has nothing to do, the place it goes is Cubs,” Bell said. Admittedly, his folkish veneer dissolves when he takes a call regarding his new Aston Martin. The sportscar will accompany his collection of eight Jaguars. Hippy turned tycoon, I can’t name another auteur in the industry quite like Larry Bell. I like to imagine he keeps a copy of Leaves of Grass stashed in every glove box. 

That said, when discussing the company, Bell is lucid. “I feel really good and excited about where we are right now,” Bell said. “We have a lot of energy behind innovation and new brands.” Take Flamingo Fruit Fight, Sparkleberry, and Pooltime for example. There’s a noticeable uptick of fun seeping into the portfolio. The Leaves of Grass series embodies the brewery’s free spirit too, breathing life into one of our country’s most nourishing poems. To borrow from verse, “the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.” Whether the beer takes off or not, it’s touching that Bell would risk sales to indulge a deeply personal project. 

 

Bell’s charters an intriguing way forward during a time when the future of craft beer isn’t entirely clear. Some argue there’s plenty of pie left for newcomers. Others worry how small the slivers are getting. “Let’s face it, we’re seeing the plateau,” Bell said. “Those heady days of 20% growth are gone. A third of the top 50 breweries had negative numbers this year.” 

From the sidelines, it seems like a good time for Bell’s to dig in their heels and pump out Oberon year-round, pile on surplus and see how things shake out, but they refuse to rest on their laurels. In fact, they’ve done the opposite. They’ve invested in a new pilot system to nurture creative recipes on a larger scale, revamped their beer garden to welcome nationally touring acts, and tinkered with their flagships to better reflect a drinker’s taste in 2019. It seems to be working. 

Unfortunately, a lot of press has focused on Bell’s trademark disputes and shifting leadership, but there’s an untold story in how they’re quietly adapting to a changing landscape. As consumer behavior shifts constantly, careful planning has gone into striking a balance between innovation and tradition, and hopefully what this amounts to is Bell’s meaning a little something important to everyone.

Let’s start with the enthusiast, perhaps the hardest to please, because no sooner does Oberon get tapped than it gets maligned on untappd as “worse than last year’s,” or for those who really want to flex their troll cred, “better when it was Solsun.” This vocal minority views Oberon as a scapegoat representing all that’s wrong with mainstream taste. It feels unfair to levy all this anger on one beer. While Oberon does taste mild, even compared to some of its seasonal competition, that’s its intentionto enhance experiences, not distract from them. Ultimately, if it bores, don’t drink it, there’s a wealth of choices to satisfy. Bell’s recently caged and corked The Wild One with raspberries, an open-fermented fruited sour that directly appeals to a beer nerd’s palate. But even these experimental offerings are beside the point. 

“Beer geeks get in their own echo chambers, whether it’s on Beer Advocate or other related groups. From where I sit, the world of beer is quite different,” Bell said. “I look at how much Two Hearted we sell.” As I’m sure you could guess, it’s a lot. “If Two Hearted were its own craft brewery it’d be the 13th largest brewery in the country.” No buts about it, Two Hearted mints cash, but maybe we’re lucky to enjoy this elephant in the brewhouse.  

For the third consecutive year, Zymurgy magazine, the homebrewer’s holy text, voted Two Hearted as the best beer, full stop, ousting the likes of Pliny the Elder and Heady Topper. Bell’s placing could derive from how cozy they are with homebrewers—what other major brewery packages their house yeast for commercial use?—but Matt Moberly, VP of sales and marketing, sees it differently. “Two Hearted’s beauty is in its simplicity,” Moberly said. “I think that sometimes the complexity of trying to innovative and utilize cool-kid hops can overpower the beauty of a balanced beer.” Single-hopped, aromatic, endlessly drinkable, it’s absolutely the six-pack I reach for after getting burned by another New-England murkbomb.

 

This brings us to Official, Bell’s foray into the hazy IPA market, which on a surface level looks like analytics pandering to what’s hot. I’ve caught myself accusing Bell’s of bandwagoning on the hazy train, but Bell anticipated these criticisms from the jump, “Look, we’ve been brewing unfiltered beer for decades,” he said. “If there’s something that’s trendy, how do we do it the Bell’s way, within our ethos and standards.” That means no flour and no shortcuts. While light on haze, the bouquet on Official is huge, and the tasting notes hit requisite citrus flavors without overwhelming the senses.  

A recurring motif from my conversations is the brewery’s insistence on quality. Bell’s gets first pick of centennial hops out west, their foeders are some of the finest in the biz, their brewing and packaging equipment is state of the art and environmentally friendly. They take pride in being a jack of all trades. “We define our brewery based on the breadth of our portfolio, not any single area,” Moberly said. “We strive to be a brewers brewery: let’s be really really good at everything we try.” The Bell’s logo has become synonymous with integrity.

bells brewery

Matt Moberly

So why have some brands like Roundhouse and Quinanan Falls disappeared into the ether? While beer speaks for itself, Moberly has noticed that to capture a younger audience, good liquid on its own doesn’t always cut it. “It’s so crowded now you have to have the total package when you put something out,” he said. “You have to not only have good beer but good branding and imagery for a chance to be successful.” Visually refreshing classics like Porter and Kalamazoo stout shows a willingness to bend even when it hurts. The new typography doesn’t quite match the original’s charm, but the consistent look should block well on store shelves. 

Ultimately, it’s about getting great beer into the hands of those who have overlooked it. For a majority of their brands, this isn’t a problem. Their portfolio has become iconic, slipping into the unexpected cracks of our lives. “I don’t know who climbs a mountain with a can of Coke,” Moberly said. “But they love to carry an Expedition Stout or a Two Hearted, take us along to their favorite places, and share their experiences with us. That’s pretty awesome.” 

Questions of succession remain as Bell reckons with his mortality, “I know I won’t live forever,” he said. I wouldn’t expect a funeral any time soon. His faculties remain acute, and his vision clear as day as a member of the old guard, Bell doesn’t see the craft beer tide reversing any time soon. “The revolution has already won,” he said. “We cracked the cosmic egg.” Whatever the future holds, all signs point to the cosmic scramble turning out in Bell’s favor. 

 

brewers association

 

Boulder, Colo. —To educate beer lovers about the craft brewing community and what it means to be independent, the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent craft brewers—is launching a new national awareness campaign, “That’s Independence You’re Tasting.” This integrated advertising campaign is part of the Brewers Association’s ongoing efforts to distinguish and promote America’s small and independent craft brewers. The videos will be presented across a variety of media platforms.

“That’s Independence You’re Tasting” takes a proud and positive tone, focusing on independence and choice—both key tenets of craft brewing culture—and tells the story of the country’s more than 6,600 independent craft brewers. These hard-working women and men are entrepreneurs, innovators, collaborators, risk takers and underdogs who advance the beverage of beer.

“Independent craft brewers are a success story for American industry,” said Bob Pease, president & CEO, Brewers Association. “Each of the over 6,600 U.S. craft breweries is a unique contributor to its community and should be celebrated. As a national campaign, ‘That’s Independence You’re Tasting’ generates awareness beyond any one individual brewery or beer and touches the spirit of independence that is a core American value. We are proud to be able to do for all our BA members what would be extremely difficult for them to do individually. Together we are united in independence.”

The initial phase of the awareness campaign launched in June 2017 with the introduction of the independent craft brewer seal. Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal indicates that a brewery is certified to be independently owned. The seal has been adopted by more than 3,700 craft brewing companies—representing more than 80 percent of the volume of craft brewed beer.

“‘That’s Independence You’re Tasting’ is designed to keep independent craft brewers and their beers top of mind. Our hope is that after being exposed to these stories, beer lovers are moved to support independent breweries and seek the seal when making their beer purchases,” added Pease. “By choosing a beer that has the independent craft brewer seal, the beer drinker knows that they are supporting a brewery with ties to the community.”

To learn more about “That’s Independence You’re Tasting” and the independent craft brewer seal, visit CraftBeer.com—the Brewers Association’s website for beer lovers—follow along and join the discussion at #SeektheSeal.

 

 

craft brewers conference

“Networking” is a cliché excuse to get a paid “vacation” and drink a bunch of beer with your industry buddies, but it’s clear that there’s sincere value in being able to look a peer in the eye over a cold one. We may be in the business of beer, but it’s the beer that makes the business worth the work.

The night before 10 Michigan breweries won medals at the 2018 World Beer Cup, the Michigan Brewers Guild hosted an at-capacity meetup at Nashville’s Hopsmith Tavern. With what seemed like even tighter camaraderie than last year’s party in D.C., we hung with a diverse crowd of industry contributors to get their perspective on what makes attending the Brewers Association’s annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) so special.

craft brewers conference

 

Scott Graham, Director, Michigan Brewers Guild

MittenBrew: On behalf of the Guild, how important is it to be at CBC?

We love to participate in some capacity every year. There’s so much content whether you’re a brewery or you represent a complementary business. For me personally, it’s a wonderful opportunity to network with my counterparts from guilds around the country, as well as connect with the Brewers Association. It’s nice to be in an environment that’s so supportive and recognizes the value of state guilds.

What’s your recommendation for breweries on the fence about attending?

This conference is an invaluable opportunity—one you should be budgeting for. I can tell you that one of the real benefits of CBC that’s not printed in any literature is that it gives you perspective. You get to step away from the hard work you do every day to learn how other people approach what we do. So often your nose is right in there that it’s good to take a break, come up for air, and put a renewed set of eyes on your business. It’s refreshing and invigorating.

When they return home from CBC, what can Michigan breweries expect from our Guild?

In a nutshell, we exist to protect and promote the craft beer industry in Michigan. Obviously, our beer festivals are the biggest promotions we do, but we want to be a resource, too. We work in a heavily regulated industry, and it’s the reality of our business that breweries are going to bump into regulation or have to deal with other parties who want to affect them. So, if we’re not paying attention to that aspect of the industry, it could cause grave problems. You don’t know when or where these things are going to pop up, but because of the growth of the industry we’re naturally going to be exposed to issues that have to be addressed. Certainly, there are nuances involved in making legislative change, so it’s critical to have a voice for the industry in that environment, and we take it very seriously in being a unified voice for our state’s breweries.

Advice for Michigan breweries that are either seasoned vets or fresh out of the gate?

Regardless of how long you’ve been in the game, from a legislative perspective, you have to make sure you know the people who are representing you. Whether those decision-makers drink beer or drink at all, they are very interested in your business. You’re employing people, you’re part of the community. If you haven’t met your representatives or senators, invite them down to the brewery to see how you work. They’re dealing with so many issues that I’m sure they’d be very interested to see what you do, and they’d be flattered that you took the time to invite them over for a beer. And when an issue does come up where you might need their help, it’s going to be a lot easier when you’ve already established a rapport with them.

craft brewers conference

Scott Graham

Dave “Rings” Ringler, Director of Happiness, Cedar Spring Brewing Company

Dave, this isn’t your first CBC rodeo. How many times have you attended, and what keeps you coming back?

This is my fifth year. I’m varsity letterman status. There are two reasons. One: To extract nuggets of information from the seminars, which I’ve found to be a success rate of about 50% of those I attend. Two: Networking here is big time. For most of us, we only see each other at the major festivals and conferences.

How do you approach the seminars?

I bring a notebook where I keep all of those nuggets, and I save them year after year. Three weeks ago, I actually went back to my notebook from the first time I attended because I remembered attending a seminar that addressed a problem we’ve been having, and those notes helped me navigate through the issue. So now, even if I attend a seminar that might not be completely relevant to where we’re at right now, I make it a point to still pay attention and document it because it’s likely going to be something that we’ll have to deal with at some point.

How many people did you bring?

We brought a bigger crew this time—five people. In the past, it started out with just me when we were in that startup phase. But as we’ve evolved we’re able to divide and conquer. I’m tackling distribution, marketing, and sales aspects. Our GM is working on brewpub management, and of course our brewers hone in on the technical side—yeast, safety, etc.

Advice for first-time attendees?

Talk to as many people as possible, and listen. The first time is always going to be a little overwhelming, but if you stay focused—and organized!—you’ll always get something out of it. And, remember, the World Beer Cup is every two years so you’ll get a lot more international exposure as well.

 

Shannon Long, Founder/CEO, BrewExport

You’re in a pretty unique space. I image attending CBC is particularly relevant for you.

Absolutely. It’s essentially the entire industry concentrated in one city for an entire week. It’s super efficient for me because I’m able to get facetime in one location with my suppliers from across the country as well as my international buyers. In some cases, aside from Skype, we’ve never met so it’s really valuable to get to know them, their beers, and their goals all a little better.

Aside from the in-person meetings, what other value does attending CBC provide for you?

They have an education track for export-relevant issues, including seminars on the TTB [The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau] and, particularly important to BrewExport, the intricacies in partnering with China, the UK, Latin American, Canada, all of which are great markets for me. There’s always new little tidbits of information I’m able to take away from the education track.

Anything in particular that’s been of notable success for you this year?

I was able to meet with the TTB and get a ruling on some of the legal interpretations that apply to me. They were great to talk to. They just made my life a little easier, so I’m a really happy girl right now.

 

Brad Etheridge, Brewer, Atwater in the Park, Atwater Brewery

For a brewery that’s distributed in over 20 states, what are you hoping to get out of repeat attendance at CBC?

Being my fourth visit to CBC, I’m focusing solely on the expo floor this year. Generally, you’ll see a lot of product repetition, but I try to look between the lines for something new—any detail that may spark a light bulb idea.

Have you found any needles in this giant haystack this year?

Yeah, what Crowler Nation is doing with their resealable twist-top lids, although I’m still a fan of Oktober’s small footprint designs. Personally, I’m over growlers—they’re heavy, awkward, and glass breaks. We’re trying to transition into being more sustainability-minded, so the ‘can route’ makes sense for us right now.

If you’re not attending any of the seminars this year, is there anything else that adds to your experience?

The expo floor here is just so massive, and it requires your attention. I do really enjoy the Michigan Brewers Guild’s annual conference—it’s definitely more manageable. But, when you walk the floor here, everyone you talk to is a networking opportunity. I try to learn from the practical applications of what other brewers across the country are doing. It’s honest feedback in real-time.

craft brewers conference

Chris Musil & Boyd Culver

Chris Musil, Co-owner, Coldbreak Brewing Equipment

You’re here as an exhibitor promoting your custom jockey boxes. Tell the people how Coldbreak came to be.

We’ve technically been around since 2005 when we were just an eBay store. In 2012, we started producing a line of homebrewing equipment, but it wasn’t until 2014 when we turned out our first jockey box at the request of Matt, the owner of Gravel Bottom. Then it just took off from there.

What’s your experience been like at CBC? I haven’t seen many other jockey box vendors, if any, on the floor.

This is our fourth year here, and probably the most successful conference we’ve had to date. There’s not a ton of competition out there, so if we’re going to be one of few it’s important that we deliver a premium product.

What makes your boxes different?

We design them from the ground up, having gone through several revisions over the years constantly working to make the best version of what we do. What the brewers like is that we keep the inputs for all the taps and lines up front in one location. It’s a clean look from  the guest’s perspective when they walk up to a booth, and the breweries really like that. We use only stainless steel—there’s no chrome. And, all of our coils are hand bent. They’re designed so that they won’t pop out of their shank. From the moment the beer enters the coils until it comes out of the fauces, its profile never changes. It chills the beer down to the proper serving temperature, and each coil holds 17 oz of beer so you’ll have a full pint everytime you pour a beer. All that being said, we also customize boxes with a brewery’s logo or branding. We partner with Premier Graphics in Grand Rapids, who wrap our jockey boxes with printed vinyl. They’re incredibly durable, and will hold up well during the rigors of festival season.

If there’s not a lot of competition, and breweries need jockey boxes, what assurances do you give them that they should choose Coldbreak?  

We back up all of our boxes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. But it’s truly more about the relationships we want to have with our clients, who we have all over the world. We stand behind every one of our products, but if you do have an issue, all you have to do is let us know. We’re approachable, we care, and we’ll make it right. We’re not just trying to sell them a jockey box, we want to sell them better experiences for their beer and ultimately everyone who consumes it. The product we make is something that’s critical in helping drive traffic from a festival back to a brewery’s taproom, and it’s a huge honor that we get to play a role in that.

craft brewers conference

Sherry Curry, David Ringler, Jen Hain

Scott Naylor, Sales Engineer, FOAM-IT

What’s FOAM-IT’s role in the industry?

We manufacture chemical application and distribution equipment.

Unpack that. How does what you do apply to CBC?

Creating sanitary processes around beer production increases quality control and creates better beer. The reality is that every brewery has to be using chemistry, and we’re here to help facilitate those relationships with the people who are supplying chemistry to those breweries.

Do you have exhibitor booth?

No booth, but we value attending because 15 of our customers are exhibiting here. We’ve created strategic partnerships with them to get our equipment in their booths so it’s really important for us to get facetime with those who are advocating our products to the industry. The ultimate end-users are the breweries; our immediate customer is the chemical supplier that’s supplying chemistry to the breweries. The better we can be as a supplier to them, the better they can be in providing solutions to the brewer.

What message do you hope your suppliers are able to communicate to breweries?

The understanding that [a brewery’s] sanitation products don’t do any good just sitting in a bucket, and that chemical application is critical to the sanitation of their operations. Founders has been a customer for about 15 years, and they’re about as good of a testimony as anyone.

 

Mike Moran, Sales and Marketing Manager, MI Local Hops

You’re relatively new to the scene, correct?

Yes. This is our second year here at CBC. We were here last year after our first crop year.

What’s been the reception like to your hops?

Increasingly positive! Breweries are being very intentional about sourcing and diversifying their ingredients geographically. Michigan’s been gaining a great reputation for sourcing and supplying hops.

Has anything helped your presence in the market?

Yes, resources like The Lupulin Exchange. It was originally established for brewers who had overages on their contracts and needed to unload their surplus. Then the Exchange opened it up to brokers and hop farms, so we’ve been selling on it for over a year, and have been able to reach breweries all over the world.

With only one previous year at CBC under your belt, have you had any standout successes?

Absolutely! Last year we met People’s Pint Brewing Collective from Toronto while they were still a brewery-in-planning. We’ve had the opportunity to work with them on recipes, and have been building a really great relationship. Since they opened, they’ve been awesome at promoting our hops to their network, and are proud to say they’re using Michigan-grown hops. That’s led to us earning the business from many other breweries in the Toronto area.

What’s been the most popular hop for you?

Definitely Michigan Chinook. We won the Hop Growers of Michigan’s Michigan Chinook Cup, recognized for the best Chinook hops grown in the state. It was judged by the Hop Quality Group, comprised of some heavy hitters like John Mallet, Jeremy Kosmicki, and Alec Mull. And, we’ve got two other brands, Copper and Mackinac, coming out soon that are becoming conversation starters because attendees here at CBC are looking for the next new thing.

craft brewers conference

Josh Gordon, Plant Production Manager, Odd Side Ales

Josh, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked over a beer, but this is your first time at CBC. What are you and Odd Side up to?

My targets for the last year or two have been on packaging, quality, and safety. We’re kind of at a tipping point where we’ve recently expanded and are likely hitting three new markets by the end of this year, so we’re scoping out what possible next steps are going to look like for us. We’re considering investments in software, process equipment, new packaging lines.

As a CBC virgin, what’s been your biggest takeaway so far?

Hands down, the camaraderie forged with people who might be randomly standing next to me when I’m looking at products, and the productive dialogue that’s come from it. It’s given me a lot of ammo in terms of ideas I can go back to the brewery with—what we can do to constantly refine and improve, and the things we can explore that might not have otherwise been on our radar.

Last year, MittenBrew published a survival guide for first-time attendees. Do you have any recommendations for first-timers or breweries on the cusp of a growth spurt?

Knowledge about the market overall. There’s so much room and so many beer drinkers for breweries to execute well, but there’s also finite real estate on shelf space—we all know that. So, if you get to the point where you’re considering distribution outside of your taproom, you better be prepared to not stop. If you do, you can easily become irrelevant.

How difficult is it to not stop and keep the quality and innovation on point—because it’s not as easy as just brewing more beer?

First of all, there has to be a place for that beer to go. Is there a market for your product? Do bars want your stuff? And more importantly, does the consumer demand your product? And if you’re ready to meet that demand, do you have quality assurances in place? In my opinion, there are two things that are really hard to catch up on—quality and safety. With rapid growth, there’s a lot of shortcuts you may want to take, but they will ultimately circumnavigate quality and safety, and can put your brewery and more importantly—your people—at risk that you could’ve avoided.

craft brewers conference

Nathan Hukill, Brewer, River’s Edge Brewing Company

You’re a first-timer here. What’s captured your interest?

I came for the education track, particularly the technical side, of course. But, one thing that’s been a little frustrating is having to choose between two equally enticing seminar topics that are happening at the same time. It makes for a tough decision.

Did you have any expectations before you arrived?

I didn’t totally know what to expect. Everyone who says the networking is great is right. I’ve been able to draw on the wealth of knowledge not only from Michigan, but breweries that I’m a fan of. There’s something about being able to connect to and learn from people over a beer.

Any parting words for CBC?

Nashville is awesome. I think it’s cool that we’re all fortunate to get to experience an amazing conference in a new city every year.

 

Pat Evans, Freelance Writer

Welcome back! Good to see you. Tell everyone why I’m talking to you.

Before I moved to Las Vegas last year, I covered the West Michigan beer industry for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine, among others. When I left and told people where I was going, the general consensus from a lot of my beer peers was that the Vegas beer scene sucked. So, since I’ve been at CBC this week, it’s been a good opportunity for me to be able to spread the opposite message about beer from Nevada.

Why’d you come back “to Michigan” for CBC?

I missed it. Michigan beer is special. Covering it has allowed me to make a living. So, when I have an opportunity like this to dip back into the Michigan scene and reconnect with everyone I’ve spent the last few years writing about—and getting to know—I can’t not show up to continue to support our industry.

Okay, defend Nevada beer. If CBC ever lands in Vegas, where should we drink?

Tourists are easily swayed by the beers they’re exposed on the strip. Some casinos brew their own beer on site, and most of that isn’t a fair representation of the state’s beer. When you come visit, go support Big Dogs Brewing Company, Great Basin Brewing Co., Revision Brewing Company, Tenaya Creek Brewery, and Craft Haus Brewery.

craft brewers conference

Pauline Knighton, Sonia Buonodono, Steph Harding, Annette May – via Fermenta

Pauline Knighton, Sales Manager, Short’s Brewing Company

What’s been your experience at CBC?

I’ve been four or five times. Our industry is constantly evolving, and people’s roles change on a regular basis, so I think it’s important to continue attending so you can grow with the evolution. Originally, Short’s sent me because they cared about me learning as much as I could about what I was responsible for on a day-to-day basis, but they also wanted me to learn about the industry that fell outside of my scope.

What’s the conference done for you in that aspect?

It’s allows you to make multiple concurrent deep dives into every facet of the industry. In my current role, I’ve been excited to learn more about leadership development and distributors.

Short’s is a pretty iconic brand, with a very special identity. Does Short’s reputation impact your perspective when you attend?

There are a lot of breweries who are nailing it from a branding and sales standpoint, so it’s great to expand your perspective in terms of breweries of different sizes executing effectively.

Goals for attending?

I hope to help continue to grow Short’s, so if I can listen to breweries who are bigger than us and learn from their mistakes, I can better position Short’s to be successful while hopefully bypassing some of those unforeseen pitfalls.

Any advice for other breweries who might need help defining their brand?

We purposely embody the culture of Northern Michigan, and although we may grow operationally, which attending CBC can help us do, it’s important to Joe [Short] to maintain the power of smallness.

Are there any unintended benefits or consequences of growing while wanting to maintain your brand identity?

You’re marrying your partners in these professional relationships, so you need to make sure that when you meet them in person for the first time it’s a cultural fit. You’re going to go through good and bad times together, so you better make sure you can kiss and make up for the greater good of your company.

You’ve been multiple times. How does a brewery determine who on their roster to send?

I think it depends on what phase your brewery is in. You want to make sure that whoever you pay to fly, or drive, to whatever amazing city CBC is held in that they’re going with a purpose to bring something valuable back to your brewery. We’re all professional drinkers, and we can network with a beer in our hand any day of the week, but for the sake of respecting your brewery and the conference, be intentional about it, and it will be worth your time and your brewery’s money.

 

 

LANSING, Mich —Ten Michigan breweries were awarded medals this week at the 2018 World Beer Cup competition—regarded as “The Most Prestigious Beer Competition in the World.” The event concluded the Craft Brewers Conference & Brew Expo America in Nashville, TN. The conference and competition are presented by the Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers.

First held in 1996, this year’s competition was the largest yet with 8,234 different beers submitted for consideration by 295 judges. Over 50 countries were represented by 2,515 different breweries. The awards are divided into 101 categories of traditional beer styles. Gold, silver and bronze are awarded in each category. This year 302 total awards were given, out of a possible 303 (no gold medal was awarded in the International Style Pilsener category).

In all, Michigan received four (4) Gold, three (3) Silver and three (3) Bronze medals. It should also be noted that Michigan received both Gold and Bronze medals in the “Old Ale or Strong Ale” category (from among 47 total entries). The following awards were presented to Michigan breweries:

GOLD

New Holland Brewing Company (Holland) — Pilgrim’s Dole

Category 85: Old Ale or Strong Ale (47 Entries)

Silver Harbor Brewing Company (St. Joseph) — Shipfaced

Category 86: Barley Wine-Style Ale (79 Entries)

Territorial Brewing Company (Springfield) — BC Light

Category 35: Light Lager (72 Entries)

Tilted Axis Brewing Company (Lapeer)  Dark O’ The Moon

Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer (53 Entries)

SILVER

 American Harvest Brew Pub at Schoolcraft College (Livonia) — American Harvest Kolsch

Category 52: German-Style Koelsch (125 Entries)

Griffin Claw Brewing Company (Birmingham) — Oblivous

Category 32: Aged Beer (45 Entries)

Speciation Artisan Ales (Comstock Park) — Genetic Drift with peaches

Category 25: Brett Beer (58 Entries)

 

BRONZE

Arbor Brewing Company (Ypsilanti) — Faricy’s Irish Stout

Category 88: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout (64 Entries)

Bastone Brewery (Royal Oak) — The Roman Wolf

Category 62: Belgian- and French-Style Ale (34 Entries) 

Black Lotus Brewing Company (Clawson) — Ninja Pirate Barleywine

Category 85: Old Ale or Strong Ale (47 Entries)

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

 

Boulder, Colo —The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its inaugural list of the 50 fastest growing small and independent1 craft brewing companies of 2017. Median growth from 2016 to 2017 for these breweries was 216 percent; the median size of breweries on the list went from 284 barrels in 2016 to 963 barrels in 2017. These companies represent 5.5 percent of craft’s growth by volume for 2017 and include eight brewpubs, 40 microbreweries and two regional craft breweries.

“With 5 percent growth overall for small and independent brewers in 2017 and microbreweries and brewpubs delivering the majority of that, we wanted to spotlight some of the breweries driving that growth,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “As the growth base for craft becomes more diffuse, these fast growing brewing companies illustrate that a diverse set of success stories still exist.”

brewers association

Methodology: The list presented includes only small and independent breweries with all of their production at their own facilities. Breweries had to have opened 12/31/2015 or earlier to be considered. It only includes breweries that reported to the Brewers Association’s annual Beer Industry Production Survey; breweries with staff estimates or data from state excise tax reports were not considered. Finally, breweries must have had data from at least three years to be considered.

A comprehensive State of the Industry report will be delivered during the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, held from April 30 – May 3, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. In May 2018, the Brewers Association will publish the full 2017 industry analysis in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, showing regional trends and sales by individual breweries.

 

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,000-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con™, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers Publications™ is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association® and the free Brew Guru™ mobile app. Follow us on

 

 

Boulder, Colo —The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 producing craft brewing companies and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 40 were small and independent craft brewing companies.1

“In an increasingly competitive and mature marketplace, these brewing companies continue to lead and pave the path for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association.

For a complete list of brewing company brands, please visit BrewersAssociation.org.

A comprehensive State of the Industry report will be delivered during the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, held from April 30 – May 3, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. The association’s full 2017 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, available in May 2018.

brewers association

 

charlie papazian

PHOTO © BREWERS ASSOCIATION

Boulder, CO —The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—today announced that founder and past president Charlie Papazian will exit the Brewers Association on January 23, 2019, marking his 70th birthday and 40 years building the craft brewing community and inspiring brewers and beer lovers around the world.

“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable. Who could have predicted that a simple wooden spoon, ingenuity and passion would spawn a community of more than one million homebrewers and 6,000 small and independent U.S. craft breweries.”

Charlie Papazian, founder of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and the Association of Brewers, set the stage for homebrewing back in the 1970s. His expertise and friendly tone assured people that making good beer was possible at home. He stressed his catchphrase of “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew” in his first book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and inspired millions to pick up the hobby of homebrewing.

In 1978, Papazian, along with Charlie Matzen, formed the AHA in Boulder, CO. They published the first issue of Zymurgy magazine, announcing the new organization, publicizing the federal legalization of homebrewing and calling for entries in the first AHA National Homebrew Competition. Today, the AHA is more than 46,000 members strong.

In 1982, Papazian debuted the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Boulder, CO. Now in its 37th year, GABF is the largest ticketed beer festival in North America with more than 60,000 attendees annually and its accompanying competition is one of the most coveted awards in the brewing industry.

The following year, the Association of Brewers was organized to include the AHA and the Institute for Brewing and Fermentation Studies to assist the emerging microbrewery movement in US. By 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association.

When asked, “Charlie, did you ever imagine that beer would become this?” His answer is always yes.

“I had a playful vision that there would be a homebrewer in every neighborhood and a brewery in every town. But what I did not imagine, couldn’t imagine, never considered, was the impact that craft brewing would have on our culture, economy and American life,” mused Papazian.

Papazian will spend his final year at the BA completing many projects, including a craft brewing history archive project. The archive will house 40 years of craft beer history in the form of more than 100,000 publications, photographs, audiotapes, films, videos, and documents—including 140 video interviews of the pioneers of American craft brewing—and will be accessible to researchers via the BA. He will also deliver the keynote address at the AHA’s 40th annual National Homebrew Conference, “Hombrew Con,” in Portland, OR on Thursday, June 28.

Brewers and homebrewers are invited to share their well wishes and Charlie Papazian stories on the AHA and BA Facebook pages.

 

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