BEST beer making

What To Know Before Home Brewing

  To make beer, the only ingredients you need are grain, hops, yeast and water. But according to Mark Colomb, a member of local home brewing enthusiast group Home Brewers of Hardin County, it’s the endless variations of these ingredients and the beer maker’s personal touch to their process that makes brewing an alluring pursuit.

Home Brewers of Hardin County will set up a booth June 16 at the Kentucky Craft Beer Festival in Elizabethtown, showcasing the process of home brewing. Colomb, who has been home brewing for about six years, said the hobby has gained traction locally in the past few years.

“There is an increase in the interest in home brewing and that’s a reason why we created the club,” he said.

Colomb said anyone can create their own beer if they can gather the right materials for the job. However, he said getting started might seem intimidating for home brew novices.

“Just looking at the equipment that you need to brew beer can be daunting,” he said.

For a traditional 5-gallon home brew, beginner brewers will need a ceramic or steel boiling pot, a burner, a fermenter with airlocks, a siphon, a large stirring spoon, bottles, a bottle brush, bottle caps and a bottle capper to get started. A thermometer, bottling bucket and hydrometer also are recommended.

Several starter packs containing all or most of these elements are available for purchase online and at home brew supply stores. However, Colomb said these kits often are better for getting an idea of the process than for seriously pursuing home brewing.

He said beginners often will gravitate toward extract brewing, which is less complex than the all-grain process. Extract brewing includes first creating a solution called wort with water, malt extract and hops. The wort then is combined with yeast and left alone for about two weeks so it can ferment. For those who bottle their beer, a priming solution is added to the bottles before adding the beer to ensure carbonation. About another two weeks of waiting is required before serving. A typical 5-gallon session usually will yield about 54 12-ounce bottles, Colomb said.

Aaron Hawkins, co-owner of Flywheel Brewing in Eliza­bethtown, said though brewers have more creative control when using the all-grain approach, using malt extract might be better for beginners because of the fewer steps and equipment needed. The all-grain requires grain mashing and sparging, steps that require additional resources.

“It takes a step out and minimizes risk of not getting necessary sugar out of grain,” he said.

For gathering all of the necessary ingredients for beer, recipe kits are available for purchase online or at home brew stores. These kits include whole grains or malt extracts, hops and brewing instructions. Colomb said these kits are useful for beginners who are learning the process and are not yet ready to experiment with their own recipes.

Hawkins said sanitation is perhaps the most important part of the brewing process. Sanitizing every aspect of equipment is essential before brewing because failure to do so will result in unsavory beer, he said. Colomb suggested using a home brew cleaning solution such as Star San.

“No matter how close you follow a recipe, if it gets compromised post-boil, it’s a ruined batch,” Hawkins said.

For information about the brewing process, Colomb suggested using home brew online forums, searching the internet for brew guides, or visiting brew supply stores, which exist in cities such as Louisville and Bowling Green.

He said the Home Brewers of Hardin County meet monthly and offer advice and assistance with novice brewers as well. Club information and meeting times can be found at facebook.com/groups/hardinhomebrewers.

Hawkins said once a potential brewer understands the basics of brewing, creating personalized beer recipes will come much easier and often will prove to be rewarding.

“In my opinion, the best thing about home brewing is getting to make stuff you can’t buy anywhere else,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to add crazy ingredients.”

 

beer birthday

Father’s Day Beer Gift Ideas – From Delicious Craft Beer Packs To Make-your-own Kits

 

FATHER’S Day is TODAY, but if you haven’t got a present for your old man yet, don’t panic.  If he likes beer (which we’re guessing he probably does) here are some fun brew-themed alternatives to buying him a pint down the pub on June 17.

Beerwulf

Beerwulf offer craft beer multi-packsCraft beer packs You’ve seen him drink dark ales, you’ve seen him drink lager, and he always tries a pint of whatever the pub has on their rotating craft beer tap.  If this sounds about right, why not get dad a selection of craft beers?  Beerwulf is offering a Father’s Day Pack of 12 beers for £25.95.  The beers are from 12 different brewers – including an exclusive fresh and fruity pale ale from Kompaan – and the beers are brewed in six different styles.  There’s sure to be something new and exciting in the pack to please him.

Beerhawk

Beer Hawk is selling Father’s Day craft beer selection packs Beer Hawk is also selling a Father’s Day craft beer pack.  For £20 you’ll be able to get your old man five delicious beers, a tasty bar snack and a Dad’s Beer Glass.  The pack features popular brews including Hoegaarden and Goose Island IPA.

thefowndry.com

The Fowndry’s brew your own beer kit costs £54.99Brew your own beer kits If your dad’s a hands-on person, why not buy him a brew-your-own beer kit?  The Fowndry offers the full works – their kits cost £54.99 and comes with a craft brewing guide, an airlock, thermometer, funnel and easily-explained, step-by-step brewing instructions.  Those who are new to brewing, or on the fence over how much work they want to put in, could opt for a Woodforde’s Admiral’s Reserve Starter Kit.

Woodfordes

Woodfordes Admirals Reserve Real Ale Home Brew Kit Much of the process is done for you here, so all you have to do is add water.  The kits cost £22.99 and make 40 pints at 4.5 per cent, or 32 pints at 5.5 per cent.  Whichever kit you choose, most provide the basics: yeast, thermometer and a funnel, but will require you to collect your own bottles before you start bottling.  The kit you choose will come with its own instructions as to how exactly to brew the beer.  Once you’ve added the ingredients, your beers will need a cool, dry room in your house to ferment.  If you don’t have a cellar or an attic, spaces like behind the sofa will do.  Remember, the longer you leave your beer to ferment, the stronger it will be.

Adnams

Brewing at Adnams brewery in SouthwoldBrewery tours Did you know, lots of the UK’s major breweries offer tours?  If you live near a brewery, it’s worth having a look on their website to see if they take visitors.  Meanwhile, below are three of the best brewery tours on offer in the UK.

Adnams

Adnams runs daily tours at their brewery in Southwold Adnams, Southwold  Adnams beers can be found on tap or bottled up in pubs across the country.  Their brewery in picturesque Southwold, Suffolk runs daily tours that take roughly an hour.  These are followed up by a 30-minute tutored beer tasting session.  The tours cost £20 per person, and include the tastings and a bottle of beer to take home.

Getty – Contributor

London Pride is one of the many popular beer brands owned by Fuller’s Fuller’s, West London  Fuller’s brews many of the nation’s favourite beers, including London Pride.   Their tours are a chance to see behind the scenes of a world-famous brewery.  Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London, offers 20 tours a week which last for an hour and a half.  As with all good brewery tours, the session ends with a tasting session of Fuller’s finest ales.

Getty – Contributor

A glass of London Stout, from left, Yakima Red, and London Pale Ale are seen in this arranged photograph in the tasting rooms at the Meantime Brewing Co. Meantime, East London  Meantime in Greenwich, London is another brewery offering punters the chance to see how their beers all come together.  The tour costs £20 a head and lasts an hour and a half.  Of course, the tours end with a tutored tasting session.

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If beer isn’t really what your dad is after, why not have a browse of our other Father’s Day ideas.

Not a present man? Why not encourage your dad to get fit this Father’s Day instead?

And stuck for what to write in your Father’s Day card? We can help with that too.

beer with pretzels

5 Beer Snacks You Can Make At Home To Impress Your Drinking Buddies

 

Three of the beer snack choices: beer nuts, from left, garlic and anchovy-roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and cheese-filled, bacon-wrapped dates. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS)  Sweet Pharoah’s chariot, somebody stop me. It’s not enough I keep nagging you how to do stuff you’ve already been doing your whole life (“Press the toaster lever down firmly and resolutely with the right hand .”), now I’m telling you how to drink beer with your friends? Oh, for the love of . Well, at least, if you continue reading, you’ll get some good snacks out of it.  And, no, I don’t mean that I’ll bring you snacks; I mean you can – oh, never mind.  WHY YOU NEED TO LEARN THIS  One quality that made George W. Bush as popular as he was was the fact that he always seemed like “a guy you could have a beer with.” His successor, Barack Obama, once famously held a “beer summit” to bring together two individuals caught up on opposite sides of a national debate on race. Then, of course, there was the great Tom T. Hall, who famously sang, “I like beer. It makes me a jolly good fellow.”  So, that’s why you need to drink beer. As for the rest, beer without snacks is like tentacles without suction cups. (Don’t ask; I was on a deadline.)  THE STEPS YOU TAKE  Consider today’s column to be a reflection on hospitality. A meditation, if you will. Or, a rumination, perhaps, if you happen to be one of those “hideous human-cow hybrids” we discussed in last month’s column. (Let this be a lesson, kids: Never miss an episode of “Prep School.”)  Knowing well the truth behind the concept of the “home field advantage,” we humans have always had a soft spot for the visitor as underdog. We go out of our way to make the guest feel “at home.” Right? Not surprisingly, then, hospitality – the obligation to make the guest or stranger feel welcome – is of paramount importance in many of the world’s great religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Hospitality is why, when Madge is coming over, we do whatever we need to make her feel comfortable, including cleaning the house, or at least the salon. You know how Madge just loves being received in the salon.  Of course, how we define “comfortable” is entirely between you and your guest, and not every guest is as discerning as Madge. Sure, some of us guests hanker for the bone china and starched white linen. Me, I’m more of a plastic plate and paper napkin kind of guy.  At the same time, some of us hosts have all kinds of stops we can pull out: extra cash out the wazoo (can we say “wazoo” in a family paper?), mad culinary skills, you name it. Others of us can barely scrape out a bargain jar of generic honey roasted peanuts. What any of us can or can’t afford in money and time, then, is between us and our god, whoever that may be.  Regardless, we generally agree that our common humanity obliges us to make our guest know that he or she is welcome.  Now, combine that obligation with the good that comes from meetings like Obama’s beer summit, and you start to see that there’s a whole heap of good that comes just from sitting down with the peeps and sharing a small repast. That’s why we go that extra mile.  And as long as we’re on distance metaphors, congrats on taking that first step and reading this here missive on handy snacks you can whip up in 3 to 5 jiffies.  For our purposes, we’re assuming you’re serving your guests something refreshing and possibly alcoholic – like beer or gin rickeys. And for that you need a snack as salty as a locker room colloquy with a head of state.  Now, as we discussed above, you know better than I what falls within your means. However, if you’ve got the time and inclination to spend a little time in the kitchen, here are some simple suggestions that will make your guests know they are welcome:  Chips: If you’ve got a mandoline, thinly slice some peeled potatoes and keep them covered in water. Pour vegetable oil into a large pot until it’s one third full, and heat over medium high to 350 degrees. Dry the potatoes on clean towels, and fry until golden brown. Season with salt, and flavor with your favorite spice mix. Yum.  Beer nuts: Melt a couple of ounces of butter with an equal amount of brown sugar and a teaspoon-ish of your favorite spice mix and some salt. Toss with a couple of cups of raw nuts, and roast in a 375-degree oven until toasty and delicious.  Snack like it’s 1972: Wrap bite-size pieces of dried fruit (date, fig, apricot slices, etc.) in half of a slice of bacon or pancetta per piece, and bake at 350 until crispy, about 15 minutes. If you want to get all crazy, stuff the fruit with goat cheese before wrapping.  Veggie snacks: Mince a couple of cloves of garlic with a few anchovies (trust me), and whisk it into some extra-virgin olive oil. Toss with bite-size cauliflower or broccoli florets to coat and roast, turning once, until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Your stupid friends will make fun of you for serving this, but it will be gone first.  Crunchy chickpeas: Deep-fry or pan-fry cooked chickpeas until they’re crunchy and golden, about 15 minutes, then drain and toss with salt and your favorite spice mix.

beer glass

Sipp Industries Signs Agreement To Enter Homebrewing Beer Market With Major Hemp Beer Kits

Company Partners with Craft a Brew to Produce Market First Hemp Beer Brew Kits  COSTA MESA, Calif., June 18, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — via OTC PR WIRE — Sipp Industries, Inc. (SIPC), a multifaceted corporation specializing in technology, manufacturing, and distribution of commercial and consumer products announces entry into the growing homebrew market featuring Major Hemp Brown Ale’s classic hemp ingredients.   Sipp Industries selected Craft a Brew as their partner to nationally launch home brew beer kits enabling any household to brew Major Hemp beer in their very own kitchen.   Craft a Brew is one of the largest homebrew suppliers in the country which sell to hundreds of independent homebrew stores and multiple recognizable national retail chains.  The companies have come to terms on an agreement where Major Hemp beer kits will be featured on their website at www.craftabrew.com and distribution channels as soon as the kits are produced next month.   In conjunction with the online sales launch at Craft a Brew Sipp Industries plans to market Major Hemp beer kits on various marketplaces such as Amazon and EBay where Major Hemp will be the only hemp beer kits available.  Sipp Industries will also market business-to-business targeting retail stores and distribution channels where there is growing demand for beer kits.  Kyle Westfall, founder and President of Craft a Brew, stated, “We at Craft a Brew are excited to partner with Sipp Industries to bring these one of a kind Major Hemp beer kits to craft beer lovers and home brewers nationwide.  This partnership is an opportunity for our company to reach new customers in the growing homebrewing market through Major Hemp craft beer kits.”     According to The American Homebrewers Association there are over 1.2 million people that brew their own beer in the United States of which 40% have started in the last four years.  This growing population represents an estimated 1.4 million barrels of beer per year.  Ted Jorgensen, President of wholly-owned subsidiary Major Hemp, commented, “Our Major Hemp beer kits are a game changer and will not only open up revenue opportunities in a growing segment of homebrewing but also elevate the awareness of hemp beer and our flagship brew, Major Hemp Brown Ale.  We will aggressively market and sell our beer kits with Craft a Brew, which is an immediate revenue stream, as well as targeting B2B where we feel there is a huge market for hemp beer kits.”   Sipp Industries has strategically timed the launch of Major Hemp beer kits to coincide with multiple evolving beer production and distribution opportunities in the Midwest.  The company has already successfully test brewed a hemp beer with a major brewery as well as in final discussions with a contract brewer located in the Midwest with canning capabilities and established distribution.

 

close up of beer

Rise In Craft Beer Fuelling Home Brew Business

 

MAL West’s home brew business is booming as Queensland’s interest in craft beer continues to bubble.

The Booval business owner has moved into a new shop on Hamilton St, after outgrowing his previous premises.

It’s been three years since Ipswich Brew Co opened and during that time, Mr West’s client base has steadily grown.

Now he serves about 1000 people.

“We just got busier and busier so we needed to hold more stock and the old shop got really crowded,” Mr West said.

“Then we took over a section of the old Chinese restaurant next door but quickly outgrew that too.

“There’s two sides to the popularity – the huge savings to be had and the fact you can make a better quality product than the mass produced beer.”

Mr West opened his Booval shop after spotting a gap in the Ipswich market.

Mal West from Ipswich Brew Co. has moved to Hamilton Street across from Booval McDonalds. Rob Williams

He said the rise of craft beer had opened a new world for people, who genuinely enjoyed the variety of flavours now found in bottle shop fridges.

“The craft side of things is really growing,” Mr West said.

“Home brewing is not just about people drinking cheap booze, it’s about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to make good quality stuff. People are trying these boutique beers and realising the old XXXX or VB is not the be-all and end-all.

“The rise of craft beer has opened their eyes to the possibilities. You can literally make anything.”

It’s not just the secret to making delicious beer Mr West is selling in his shop, he sells sausages and cheese-making kits too.

“Making cheese is easier than you might think, you just need some milk and a 4 litre pot,” Mr West said.

Mal’s top brewing tips

  • Get the temperature right: 18 degrees
  • Keep it clean: you don’t want bacteria ruining the taste of your beer
straight from the keg

We brewed an ancient Graeco-Roman beer and here’s how it tastes

We brewed an ancient Graeco-Roman beer and here’s how it tastes

File 20180417 163982 u7h74c.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Barn Hammer Brewing Company Head Brewer Brian Westcott, Matt Gibbs of the University of Winnipeg and Barn Hammer owner Tyler Birch teamed up to re-create an ancient beer.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

Matt Gibbs, University of Winnipeg

Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world; it is also the most popular drink after water and tea. In the modern world, however, little consideration is typically given to how beer developed with respect to taste. Even less is given to why beer is thought of in the way that it is.

But today, Canada is in the middle of a beer renaissance. A relative explosion of craft breweries has led to a renewed interest in different methods of brewing and in different types of beer recipes.

In turn, this has driven interest into historical methods of brewing. It is a rather romantic idea: That very old brewing processes are somehow superior to those of the modern world. While almost all of the beer on the market today is quantitatively and qualitatively better than that produced in the ancient world, attempts made by both historians and breweries recently have had some good results.

For example, the collaboration between University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern and Dogfish Head Brewery that resulted in their “Midas Touch”, based on the sediment found in vessels discovered in the Tomb of Midas in central Turkey, and the Sleepy Giant Brewing Company’s ancient beers created as part of Lakehead University’s Research and Innovation Week.

Beer made an old-fashioned way is shown at Barn Hammer Brewing Company in Winnipeg in March 2018.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

Why re-create ancient beer and mead?

From an academic point of view, researchers have realized eating and drinking are important social, economic and even political activities. In the ancient world, food, drink and their consumption were important indicators of culture, ethnicity and class. Romans were set apart from non-Romans in several ways: Those living in cities versus those who didn’t, those who farmed in one place versus those who moved around, and so on.

One of the other ways in which this distinction was made was in the different foods people ate and in the liquids they drank. This is clear in the ancient Graeco-Roman debate surrounding those who drank wine and those who drank beer.

Although the saying “you are what you eat” is a fact in terms of physiology, the Romans also believed that “you are what you drink.” So Romans drank wine, non-Romans drank beer.

These indicators (real or not) even exist today: The English drink tea, Americans drink coffee; Canadians drink rye, the Scottish drink scotch.

So the re-creation of ancient beer and mead (an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and other liquids) allows us to examine many things. Among them are these cultural and ethnic considerations, but there are other important and interesting questions that can be answered. How has the brewing process transformed? How have our palates changed?

The “Roman” recipes and their recreation

The Romans left us a variety of different recipes for food and drink. Two of them form the basis of an ongoing research project between the co-owners of Barn Hammer Brewing Company — Tyler Birch and Brian Westcott — and myself that attempts to answer some of these questions.

The first is a recipe for beer that dates to the fourth century Common Era (CE). It appears in the work of Zosimus, an alchemist, who lived in Panopolis, Egypt, when it was part of the Roman empire. The second is a recipe for a mead probably from Italy and dating to the first century CE, written by a Roman senator called Columella.

Both recipes are quite clear concerning ingredients, with the exception of yeast. Yeast, or more appropriately a yeast culture, was often made from dough saved from a day’s baking. Alternatively, one could simply leave mixtures out in the open. But the processes and measurements in them are more difficult to recreate.

The brewing of the beer, for instance, required the use of barley bread made with a sourdough culture: Basically a lump of sourdough bread left uncovered. To keep the culture alive while being baked required a long, slow baking process at a low temperature for 18 hours.

Zosimus never specified how much water or bread was needed for a single batch; this was left open to the brewers’ interpretation. A mix of three parts water to one part bread was brewed and left to ferment for nearly three weeks.

The brewing of the mead was a much easier process. Closely following Columella’s recipe, we mixed honey and wine must. The recipe in this case provided some measurements, and from there we were able to extrapolate a workable mix of roughly three parts must to one part honey.

We then added wine yeast and sealed the containers. These were placed in Barn Hammer’s furnace room for 31 days in an attempt to imitate the conditions of a Roman loft.

What did we learn?

First of all, it’s worth noting that the principles of brewing have not changed significantly; fundamentally, the process of brewing both beer and mead is arguably the same now as it was 2,000 years ago. But as true as that may be, even now the production of Zosimus’ beer — particularly the baking of the bread — was labour-intensive.

Mead decanting.

This led to another question: Did the link between baking and brewing depicted so clearly in ancient Egyptian material culture and archaeology persist even centuries later?

Second, we recreated beer and mead from the Roman Empire as faithfully as we were able. The data all suggest that the beer is a beer, and the mead is a mead, right down to the pH level: The beer, for instance, stands at pH 4.3 which is what one would expect from a beer after fermentation.

Third, as the photos here make clear, the mead looked like red wine, the beer was quite pale but cloudy. Neither case was particularly surprising, but what was interesting was the difference between the first tasting of the beer and the second 10 days later.

In the former, the beer looked liked a sourdough milkshake; in the latter, the beer looked like a pale craft ale, and one that would not be out of place in the modern craft beer market.

Fourth, with respect to taste, the beer was sour but quite smooth, and had a relatively low ABV – Alcohol By Volume: the measurement that tells you what percentage of beer or mead is alcohol — around three to four per cent. The sour taste resulted in diverse opinions: Some people liked it; others hated it. The mead was incredibly sweet; it smelled like a fortified wine due to presence of Fusel alcohols, and had an ABV upwards of 12 per cent.

While general tastes may have changed, there are modern palates that appreciate ancient beer and mead. Is this a physiological question? Perhaps, but what seems clear is that ancient indicators based on what people drank are likely more indicative not only of the Romans’ beliefs and opinions about non-Romans, but also their prejudices against them.

The ConversationUltimately, what the project suggests so far is that while the brewing process may not have changed that much, in some ways neither have we.

Matt Gibbs, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Classics, University of Winnipeg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

frothy beers - good picture

Why bland American beer is here to stay

Why bland American beer is here to stay

File 20180312 30989 klloff.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Americans tend to prefer beers that have corn or rice ‘adjuncts,’ or fillers.
RetroClipArt/Shutterstock.com

Ranjit Dighe, State University of New York Oswego

Although craft beer has experienced explosive market growth over the past 25 years, the vast majority of Americans still don’t drink it.

Only about 1 in 8 beers sold in America is a craft beer. For the first time, the three best-selling beers in America are light beers: Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite. Bud Light alone has a greater market share than all craft beers combined.

So while the selection has broadened dramatically, most people’s tastes have not. Even craft beer companies are adjusting to this reality: A recent Chicago Tribune article noted that craft breweries are releasing beers that are “less hoppy and in-your-face” in order to appeal to the majority of Americans who prefer “big corporate lagers.”

In other words, they’re brewing blander beers.

How did Americans come to prefer such bland beer? As an economic historian, I’ve extensively researched the political economy of alcohol prohibition, and the unique history of the U.S. temperance movement might bear some responsibility for country’s exceptionally bland beer.

The ‘lager bier craze’ clashes with teetotalers

Unlike European countries with beer preferences and styles that have evolved over centuries, America lacks a homegrown brewing tradition.

The classic American beer is an “adjunct pilsner,” which means that some of the malted barley is replaced with corn or rice. The effect is a beer that’s lighter, clearer and less hoppy than its counterparts in countries like England, Germany and Belgium.

In colonial America, English-style beers and ales predominated, but rum and then whiskey were the drink of choice. Cider, easier to make at home, overtook beer by the early 19th century.

However, the American beer market grew during the great mid-19th century wave of German immigration. German lagers were an immediate hit, partially because the German brewing method of bottom fermentation – which involves a relatively long fermentation period and cold storage – made for a more consistent, storable product than top-fermented ales. The lagers were also mellower, though they were dark and hearty compared to what would become popular later.

But the “lager bier craze” dovetailed with another big trend: the temperance movement, which at various times sought to reduce problem drinking, reduce drinking more generally and eradicate alcohol consumption completely. From 1830 to 1845, the temperance movement gained momentum as more and more Americans were taking voluntary “temperance pledges” and giving up spirits and cider.

A print from the 1800s promotes ‘lager bier’ as a ‘healthy drink’ and a ‘family drink.’
Library of Congress

German brewers always maintained that beer was a “temperance beverage,” unlike ardent spirits such as whiskey. And indeed, European temperance movements did tend to regard beer as relatively harmless.

But activists in the American temperance movement – which by then had become more about abstinence and intertwined with evangelical Protestantism – didn’t buy the argument. The 1850s saw the first big push for state-level prohibition laws, which ended up being passed in a handful of states. Those laws didn’t last for a variety of reasons (including the Civil War), but they did serve notice to the brewers that they needed to work harder to convince the public that beer was a temperance beverage.

Perfect for a midday drink

In the 1870s, American beer would become mellower still with the advent of a new type of lager: the Bohemian pilsner. Clearer, lighter and blander than the Bavarian lagers that had previously dominated the market, pilsners looked cleaner, healthier, more stable and less intoxicating.

As an 1878 issue of the trade publication Western Brewer noted, Americans “want a clear beer of light color, mild and not too bitter taste.”

Brewers and drinkers who wanted to avert the temperance movement’s gaze naturally chose light pilsners over dark lagers. But lighter beer also was a good fit for the long hours of American factory workers, many of whom ate at saloons between shifts. Coming back to work drunk could get you fired, so if you wanted a beer or two with the salty saloon fare, the weakest beers were the best bet.

Pragmatism and personal taste soon became intertwined. Anheuser-Busch introduced Budweiser in 1876 – whose rice adjuncts produced an even milder beer – to great success. Pabst Blue Ribbon, with its corn adjuncts, became a national sensation as well.

In 1916, Gustave Pabst, the son of Pabst Blue Ribbon’s founder Frederick Pabst, told the United States Brewers Association that “the discrimination in favor of light beers (is strongest) in those countries where the anti-alcohol sentiment is strongest.”

Nonetheless, the drumbeat of the temperance movement started getting louder.

Prohibition leaves its mark

By the late 19th and early 20th century, the temperance movement had returned in force. Efficient organizing campaigns by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League led to a new wave of state and local prohibitions and, finally, a push for national prohibition.

An 1888 photograph of the New Hampshire Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
Keene Public Library and the Historical Society of Cheshire County

National constitutional prohibition, as decreed by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, was devastating to the beer industry in the short term. But in the long term, it further laid the groundwork for a nation of bland beer drinkers.

Careful estimates by economist Clark Warburton found that alcohol consumption during Prohibition may have actually risen for wine and spirits but fell by two-thirds for beer, which was harder to conceal. Although Prohibition may have introduced a generation of young people to cocktails, they had hardly any exposure to beer – and certainly hadn’t acquired the taste for hearty beer.

In March 1933, eight months before the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition, Congress modified the Volstead Act to allow the production of “non-intoxicating,” low-alcohol beer and wine, with a maximum of 4 percent alcohol by volume.

The new, watered-down beer was a huge hit with the public, which hadn’t tasted a full-strength legal beer since 1917. Dark beers and ales had accounted for some 15 percent of the market before World War I. But in 1936 their share was just 2 to 3 percent. In 1947, researchers at Schwarz Laboratories analyzed the alcohol, hop and malt content of American beers in the 1930s and 1940s and remarked that many of these early post-repeal beers were “too hoppy,” “too heavy and too filling” for consumers’ tastes. The report noted “a corrective trend” in which brewers sharply reduced their hop and malt content.

More adventurous brewers and drinkers were also stymied by post-Prohibition laws. State and federal policies effectively banned homebrewing, and most states required a “three-tier” system of brewers, distributors and retailers that made it more difficult to make and market specialty beers.

The blandification of American beer continued for another 70 years. During World War II, American troops got 4 percent alcohol beer in their rations, exposing yet another generation to the joys of weak beer. The hop and malt content of beer fell sharply and steadily over this period. Hop content fell by half from 1948 to 1969, and the rise of “lite” beer in the 1970s accelerated the trend. Hop content fell 35 percent from 1970 to 2004.

Despite the phenomenal rise of craft beer, light beers are still dominant. The craft beer explosion is a remarkable story, but perhaps we should stop calling it a revolution.

The ConversationFor now, bland beers are still king.

Ranjit Dighe, Professor of Economics, State University of New York Oswego

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

BEST beer making

Fed up with Big Beer’s incursion, independent craft breweries push back

 

A new seal began to appear on bottles and cans of American craft beer in 2017. It both certifies that the beer came from one of the nation’s independently owned and small-scale breweries and signals that these upstarts are fighting back against the corporations trying to co-opt their authenticity and craftiness.

The corporate juggernauts often called “Big Beer” clearly get the multifaceted appeal of independently brewed craft beer powered by a thirst for locally made products like beer made from traditional and unusual ingredients. That’s why they’re trying to beat back the competition by giving off the same vibe as the craft breweries that have eroded their edge – when they’re not running Super Bowl commercials that deride people who drink craft beer.

Like other researchers studying this trend, we see the growing taste for beer from small-scale artisanal breweries as a consumer-based social movement. We believe the new label will help craft brewers to hold their ground because many enthusiasts don’t want to be fooled into drinking a fake version of a product that commands a premium due partly to its diversity and authenticity.

Montage of photos with the new independent craft brew seal. Brewers Association, CC BY-SA

Only two giant players remain in the domestic market after years of mergers: Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

This duopoly is using three main strategies to quash its tiny competitors. It buys out craft breweries and launches its own “craft” brands, which do not fit the artisanal industry’s own definition since they are mass-produced. It also derides craft beer drinkers.

Masquerading as upstarts

We call Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top, MillerCoors’ Blue Moon and similar beverages “imposter beers” or “crafty beers.” They tend to leave their big corporate parents off the label – which of course stresses local origins.

Blue Moon’s packaging, for instance, notes prominently that it is made in Golden, Colorado. That geographic detail, the labels’ imagery and a prominent reference to the Blue Moon Brewing Company (with no reference to MillerCoors) suggest a source with modest means, not a multibillion-dollar behemoth.

Consumers who felt deceived when they discovered that Kirin beer was made in the U.S. and not Japan – despite advertising that suggested it was imported – sued Anheuser-Busch in 2013 and won. So did plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit regarding Beck’s, also brewed by Anheuser-Busch. But Big Beer has prevailed in court with litigation involving consumers who felt misled about what kind of company brewed their beer rather than its geographic origin.

For example, an irked beer drinkersued MillerCoors for misrepresenting its Blue Moon label as a craft beer. MillerCoors responded that any definition of what makes a beer “craft beer” is meaningless.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel agreed. Essentially ruling that beer is beer, no matter how big its brewer is, he dismissed the case – letting Goliath get away with posing as David.

Snapping up competitors

Big Beer also acquires small labels and even, in some cases, homebrewing supply companies.

This infiltration almost always occurs on the sly. The labels and usually even the beer itself stays the same after ownership changes.

Many craft beer enthusiasts lament the “loss” of well-loved craft brewers like Goose Island and Breckenridge, which now belong to Anheuser-Busch, and Lagunitas, a label Heineken now owns.

Anheuser-Busch and its Big Beer peers like Constellation Brands, which imports and brews Corona and other premium beers, have bought out or acquired large stakes in at least 33 craft brewers in recent years.

This spree is leaving craft brewers and customers trying to figure it out two things. First, does the ownership matter? Second, what is Big Beer up to?

We interviewed nearly 20 New England brewers and brewery owners to see what they thought. Some surmise that Big Beer is capturing some labels to study the industry and culture. Others suspect nefarious ploys to control shelf space and taps – and protect the market share of the biggest and most cheaply produced beers from any additional craft beer encroachment.

Similarly, Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of craft label Wicked Weed in 2017 prompted Jason and Todd Alström, brothers who run the popular Beer Advocate website, to complain about what they call “zombie beer brands.”

That is, beer that appears to be locally brewed by independent owners but what they called Big Beer’s “soulless” competition for the real thing.

Taunting craft beer drinkers

When Big Beer isn’t imitating its craft brewing competitors, it counters their appeal by belittling their customers.

In a commercial that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl, Budweiser declared that it is “proudly a macro beer,” not to be “fussed over” or “dissected” or imbibed by consumers of “pumpkin peach ale.”

Budweiser’s 2015 Super Bowl commercial that belittled craft beer fans.

The company doubled down on its big-is-better meme the next year. In a similar commercial, Budweiser sneered at the origin stories of many craft breweries – which often begin as homebrewing pastimes – that Budweiser is “not a hobby” and “not small.”

Budweiser dissed craft beer and craft beer drinkers in this 2016 Super Bowl commercial.

Budweiser also feminized male craft beer drinkers and implicitly questioned their sexuality. The 2016 commercial boasted that its beer is “not soft” and “not a fruit cup” to a thumping, masculine beat.

Some craft brewers retaliated with parodies.

Ninkasi Brewing in Oregon mocked Budweiser’s anti-craft message.

Who is winning?

All but US$23.5 billion of the $107.6 billion Americans spent on beer in 2016 flowed toward Big Beer. But the volume of beer sold has stagnated since 2013 as American craft breweries, which now number more than 5,200, gained ground.

In 2017, U.S.-brewed beer fell by 4 million barrels to 170 million barrels. However, sales of imported and craft beer sold straight to consumers (versus at bars or restaurants) rose measured by dollars, as did domestic super-premium brands like Michelob Ultra Light and Bud Light Lime, according to the market research firm IRI Worldwide.

We expect independent craft brewers, which are gaining a bigger market share overall, to prevail.

But we’re not underestimating Big Beer, especially when Blue Moon Belgian White was the top-selling “craft” brand sold directly to consumers in 2017.

This article has been updated to correct where Blue Moon labels say the beer is made: Golden, Colorado.

 

Fed up with Big Beer’s incursion, independent craft breweries push back

File 20180201 123826 10b9w6t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Many enthusiasts judge craft beer by more than its flavor.
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Ellis Jones, College of the Holy Cross and Daina Cheyenne Harvey, College of the Holy Cross

A new seal began to appear on bottles and cans of American craft beer in 2017. It both certifies that the beer came from one of the nation’s independently owned and small-scale breweries and signals that these upstarts are fighting back against the corporations trying to co-opt their authenticity and craftiness.

The corporate juggernauts often called “Big Beer” clearly get the multifaceted appeal of independently brewed craft beer powered by a thirst for locally made products like beer made from traditional and unusual ingredients. That’s why they’re trying to beat back the competition by giving off the same vibe as the craft breweries that have eroded their edge – when they’re not running Super Bowl commercials that deride people who drink craft beer.

Like other researchers studying this trend, we see the growing taste for beer from small-scale artisanal breweries as a consumer-based social movement. We believe the new label will help craft brewers to hold their ground because many enthusiasts don’t want to be fooled into drinking a fake version of a product that commands a premium due partly to its diversity and authenticity.

Montage of photos with the new independent craft brew seal.
Brewers Association, CC BY-SA

Only two giant players remain in the domestic market after years of mergers: Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

This duopoly is using three main strategies to quash its tiny competitors. It buys out craft breweries and launches its own “craft” brands, which do not fit the artisanal industry’s own definition since they are mass-produced. It also derides craft beer drinkers.

Masquerading as upstarts

We call Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top, MillerCoors’ Blue Moon and similar beverages “imposter beers” or “crafty beers.” They tend to leave their big corporate parents off the label – which of course stresses local origins.

Blue Moon’s packaging, for instance, notes prominently that it is made in Golden, Colorado. That geographic detail, the labels’ imagery and a prominent reference to the Blue Moon Brewing Company (with no reference to MillerCoors) suggest a source with modest means, not a multibillion-dollar behemoth.

Consumers who felt deceived when they discovered that Kirin beer was made in the U.S. and not Japan – despite advertising that suggested it was imported – sued Anheuser-Busch in 2013 and won. So did plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit regarding Beck’s, also brewed by Anheuser-Busch. But Big Beer has prevailed in court with litigation involving consumers who felt misled about what kind of company brewed their beer rather than its geographic origin.

For example, an irked beer drinker sued MillerCoors for misrepresenting its Blue Moon label as a craft beer. MillerCoors responded that any definition of what makes a beer “craft beer” is meaningless.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel agreed. Essentially ruling that beer is beer, no matter how big its brewer is, he dismissed the case – letting Goliath get away with posing as David.

Snapping up competitors

Big Beer also acquires small labels and even, in some cases, homebrewing supply companies.

This infiltration almost always occurs on the sly. The labels and usually even the beer itself stays the same after ownership changes.

Many craft beer enthusiasts lament the “loss” of well-loved craft brewers like Goose Island and Breckenridge, which now belong to Anheuser-Busch, and Lagunitas, a label Heineken now owns.

Anheuser-Busch and its Big Beer peers like Constellation Brands, which imports and brews Corona and other premium beers, have bought out or acquired large stakes in at least 33 craft brewers in recent years.

This spree is leaving craft brewers and customers trying to figure it out two things. First, does the ownership matter? Second, what is Big Beer up to?

We interviewed nearly 20 New England brewers and brewery owners to see what they thought. Some surmise that Big Beer is capturing some labels to study the industry and culture. Others suspect nefarious ploys to control shelf space and taps – and protect the market share of the biggest and most cheaply produced beers from any additional craft beer encroachment.

Similarly, Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of craft label Wicked Weed in 2017 prompted Jason and Todd Alström, brothers who run the popular Beer Advocate website, to complain about what they call “zombie beer brands.”

That is, beer that appears to be locally brewed by independent owners but what they called Big Beer’s “soulless” competition for the real thing.

Taunting craft beer drinkers

When Big Beer isn’t imitating its craft brewing competitors, it counters their appeal by belittling their customers.

In a commercial that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl, Budweiser declared that it is “proudly a macro beer,” not to be “fussed over” or “dissected” or imbibed by consumers of “pumpkin peach ale.”

Budweiser’s 2015 Super Bowl commercial that belittled craft beer fans.

The company doubled down on its big-is-better meme the next year. In a similar commercial, Budweiser sneered at the origin stories of many craft breweries – which often begin as homebrewing pastimes – that Budweiser is “not a hobby” and “not small.”

Budweiser dissed craft beer and craft beer drinkers in this 2016 Super Bowl commercial.

Budweiser also feminized male craft beer drinkers and implicitly questioned their sexuality. The 2016 commercial boasted that its beer is “not soft” and “not a fruit cup” to a thumping, masculine beat.

Some craft brewers retaliated with parodies.

Ninkasi Brewing in Oregon mocked Budweiser’s anti-craft message.

Who is winning?

All but US$23.5 billion of the $107.6 billion Americans spent on beer in 2016 flowed toward Big Beer. But the volume of beer sold has stagnated since 2013 as American craft breweries, which now number more than 5,200, gained ground.

In 2017, U.S.-brewed beer fell by 4 million barrels to 170 million barrels. However, sales of imported and craft beer sold straight to consumers (versus at bars or restaurants) rose measured by dollars, as did domestic super-premium brands like Michelob Ultra Light and Bud Light Lime, according to the market research firm IRI Worldwide.

We expect independent craft brewers, which are gaining a bigger market share overall, to prevail.

But we’re not underestimating Big Beer, especially when Blue Moon Belgian White was the top-selling “craft” brand sold directly to consumers in 2017.

The ConversationThis article has been updated to correct where Blue Moon labels say the beer is made: Golden, Colorado.

Ellis Jones, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of the Holy Cross and Daina Cheyenne Harvey, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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