My take on “craft” vs. “craft-y”

There’s been a lot of debate in the beer press lately over what a craft beer is or is not. The Brewer’s Association, essentially the trade group for “craft” brewers, is drawing a line in the sand about the production and promotion of craft-like beers by large, non-craft breweries.

This basically means Blue Moon, Shock Top and the like are excluded from the craft beer boy’s club.

My question – does it really matter? To use the words of Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics, “a rising tide lifts all ships”. While some of the “craft-y” beers might be a little “crappy”, they still represent a shift away from watered down American light lager (a.k.a. Budweiser, Miller and Coors) to beers that offer more flavor and variety. Ultimately, the more variety that is being produced, the more choices consumers have and that makes a better environment for craft beers to find new customers.

The Bud Light drinker of 2010 tries a Blue Moon in 2012 and by 2013 is trying Harpoon, Breckenridge or Southern Tier. I don’t see anything wrong with that side of the picture.

Where I think that the Brewer’s Association might have some issue with “craft-y” beers is in  getting into new markets. If a bar puts Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Miller, Shock Top and Blue Moon on their taps (all pushed by a distributor that doesn’t care to bother to stock craft beers), why does that bar have any motivation to find a craft distributor to fill out their beer menu?

I applaud some of our Cincinnati bars that have taken their taps “all local”. When in Akron on Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of dining at a restaurant that had over 100 beers available, BUT NO BUDWEISER! Amen! I can only hope that once beer drinkers get a taste for better beer, they’ll start to ask their favorite watering hole to carry more variety.

To close, a question for the Brewer’s Association… If craft beer grows so strong as to dominate the market, causing Budweiser to have to dramatically cut distribution, do they get to call themselves a craft brewer? Let’s not argue over semantics. Let’s sit down with a good beer and talk about what makes a good beer.

New Belgium announces General Manager for new Asheville location

New Belgium LogoNew Belgium Brewing is pleased to announce that Jay Richardson, Director of Production and IT at the Fort Collins brewery, will assume the role of general manger at New Belgium’s second brewing facility in Asheville, North Carolina. Richardson is a 9-year New Belgium veteran having led both the IT and Production teams during his tenure. Prior to his work with New Belgium, Jay spent many years in business systems consulting and IT leadership positions.

“I am incredibly honored and motivated by my co-workers’ confidence in me to work in this new role,” said Richardson. “I look forward to working more closely with the team that has done so much to make this expansion a reality. My family and I are truly excited to become active members of the Asheville community.”

Richardson will begin transitioning into his new role in 2013 and expects to relocate with his family in 2014 prior to the brewery’s opening in 2015. As General Manger, Richardson will oversee all phases of planning, business administration and project management at the brewery. In addition, he will ensure that all decisions and actions in Asheville are in line with New Belgium’s vision.

“Jay has done an amazing job for us over the years and has proven his leadership skills at every turn,” said New Belgium CFO/COO, Christine Perich to whom Richardson will report. “We are very fortunate to have him ready and willing to lead our team in Asheville.”

New Belgium anticipates hiring 40-50 positions in Asheville starting in 2014 and will add roughly 20 jobs more each year until 2020. For more information on New Belgium’s Asheville plans please visit: http://www.newbelgium.com/Community/ashevillebrewery.aspx

Oskar Blues brews first batch of Dale’s Pale Ale in New Brevard, North Carolina brewery

Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard now has North Carolina-brewed Dale’s Pale Ale in the fermenter, a mere seven months after announcing the plan to open a brewery in Brevard, North Carolina.

oskar-blues-new-brevard

“It’s been an insane six months!” says Noah Tuttle, head brewer in Brevard. “From moving the family across the country, working on the OB Brew School, and helping get this brewery up and running, it’s been crazy times. But that’s how we roll at Oskar Blues, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis has had a mountain bike parked in Brevard for many years.

“This is a magical place,” Katechis says. “There’s inspiring bike riding in the hills and a supportive small-town mountain community that’s a lot like our home in Colorado.”

About 80 friends, family, local brewers and media visited the new brewery on the historic day for barbecue, beer and a chance to get up close and personal with some shiny new fermenters.

“We’re all enthusiastic to welcome Oskar Blues to Western North Carolina,” says John Lyda, president of the Asheville Brewers Alliance and head brewer at Highland Brewing Company. “Having these folks as part of the brewing community here is gonna be a lot of fun.”

The brewery includes a taproom overlooking the brewery floor that’s open to the public daily and serves Oskar Blues beers on tap and by the can (of course). Special release and one-off beers brewed on the small pilot system will be tapped regularly there.

Oskar Blues Brewery Brevard Taproom is open daily Noon-8 p.m. including FREE Brewery Tours Mon to Thurs at 4p.m. and Fri-Sun 2,3,4,5 p.m.

NYE Grand Opening Celebration – We’ll be throwing down at our New Year’s Eve Grand Opening Hootenanny, open to the public. The party runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and features live music from local rock band Jupiter Coyote as well as the Pisgah Pickers, a side project of the renowned Steep Canyon Rangers. There will be some special release beers brewed with local Riverbend Malthouse malts, food trucks, and trolley bus rides from and to Asheville. Proceeds from the event will benefit Muddy Sneakers (http://muddysneakers.org/ ), an experiential outdoor education program for school children based in Brevard.

Tickets for the night are available at: www.oskarbluesNCNYE.eventbrite.com