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During Coachella in mid-April, I tasted some delicious craft beer not only in the ‘Craft Beer Barn’, but also in the ‘Rare Beer Bar,’ headed by Beer Belly’s Jimmy Han.  He even stashed away some Wicked Weed Marina, a blonde sour ale aged in wine barrels with over one pound per gallon of peaches and apricots.

This brewery is now one of 20+ craft breweries that are now owned by larger, corporate brewers. The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as small, independent and traditional – with less than 25 percent ownership by a non-craft brewer. 

I spoke to Mitch Steele, former brewmaster of Stone Brewing and current co-founder, brewmaster, and COO of New Realm Brewing, as well as Julia Herz, Brewers Association craft beer program director, about why it’s important to know what you’re drinking.

I know there are a lot of feelings on both sides as far as craft breweries “selling out.” What are your thoughts in how it affects the craft beer industry?

JH: Big picture, even though it’s not happening in mass, right? 99% of the 5,300 plus breweries  - and that’s our 2016 data there – but 99% of those are still independent and small. But as the purchases continue to happen… the slowing down of purchases was where we thought this was headed and Department of Justice issued a consent degree…and over the purchases in 2015 and 2016 – Devil’s Backbone [Brewing Company] being a key one, that was approved with some changes made from the DOJ. That’s the consent degree. Now, when Karbach came along, that was a separate investigation that then still got approved. So, as these are continuing to happen, not in mass, but as these are continuing to happen, independent breweries are absolutely threatened by the chance to already have access to market.

The more that the large global brewers become a one-stop shop, for brands and beer styles, to both distributors and retailers, the harder it is, number one to make the marketplace fair, number two, for beer lovers to really get the choice that many beer lovers desire. 

MS: Well, I think it’s really dangerous what’s going on right now, honestly. The problem is, is that the majority of the beer drinking public don’t know or don’t care about the business practices of large brewers and how it impacts small brewers. I think that’s really where the danger is, cuz, ya know, when a brewery is buying tap space, which is technically illegal, and small breweries can’t  - number one, most small breweries won’t do it because they don’t want to do something that’s against the law. And they can’t afford to play that game either. They’re not swimming in cash like some of these big brewers are, really puts the small brewers at a disadvantage. I think that the concern is that nobody really knows that except for small brewers.  When somebody’s whose kind of a casual craft beer fan walks into a bar, and sees all these beers that are craft, yet they’re all brewed at Anheiser Busch Brewery, most of the time, they’re not going to register it’s not a small, independent brewer. You see this kind of thing with other kinds of businesses as well. It’s hitting where it hurts for craft. When these brewers can potentially come in and sell a keg of beer for 50-60% of what a small craft brewer can afford to sell their keg of beer at, it really is damaging the ability of the craft brewers to sell their beer. 

I know Lagunitas isn’t your typical, small craft brewery, because of the size and how long they’ve been around, I would guess that this sell out would affect it even more. Correct?

JH: Yeah. And then you also add Ballast Point in the mix with Constellation purchase. So, if you look at sales data, sales data is not definitive, sales data from IRI more so reflect more popular selling styles of beer, because that’s what is going to go up in those scans at grocery store registers, not brewpubs down the street. Thousands of breweries frankly are not in the scan data. But if you look at scan data, and the trends of the top selling styles, you’re seeing less and less over time, the independent craft brewers brands at retail, in this case in off premise retail being in the top of the mix. 

Where you surprised by the Wicked Weed buyout? 

JH: Well, based on hearing that we’re almost done with Karbach, yes. But based on knowing that any business is going to make moves and plays to be available and it looks like the efforts to localize their beer presence is on. So, in that respect, I am not surprised. Cause they continue to make regional purchases in key beer markets of the country. Four Peaks, Arizona, Blue Point in New York, Los Angeles for Golden Road. These are very geographically, strategic made procurements and we also have to talk in terms of whatever article you publish, the deal has not gone through. It’s an announcement from AB Inbev that they are moving to make a partnership and bringing Wicked Weed into their brand portfolio, but it is not a closed or done deal. It’s still subject to review. 

MS: Well, that surprised me. I’d go so far to say that it shocked me. I didn’t see that one coming. I thought they were in it for the long haul. And I know Luke and Walt pretty well and I’ve brewed with them before and we’ve hung out a lot. I didn’t see this one coming from them. Now, I don’t know their ownership very well, and the people that actually funded that brewery for the most part. I know Luke and Walt are part owners of that, but I don’t know what percentage they own. But, I know that they had some big time investors in that brewery, and they’ve been mostly their decision, but who knows. Ya’ know, nobody really knows. But, yeah, it shocked me. Disappointed me. Some of these are not a big surprise. You hear through the grapevine that some of these newer breweries that are building themselves to sell and want to sell eventually and they’re just trying to get their business to a point to where they’re attractive to a large brewer. There are other breweries that have gone down this road that you never saw it coming.  There are people that have said, ‘Wicked Weed was built to sell.’ But I never looked at it that way, knowing the guys and knowing their beers. I thought they were in it for the long haul. Ya’ know, the whole thing is, somebody comes and offers you a ridiculous amount of money, who’s to say you’re wrong for taking that and setting up your family for generations? You can’t really fault it, I just wish it didn’t happen. 

Right. The big difference of say Golden Road, Ballast Point and Lagunitas – from what I hear, people are more sympathetic – they don’t see the Ballast Point sell as the same as Golden Road. What are your thoughts?

JH: I don’t know. I feel like there’s been social on Ballast lately. It just depends – it’s an interesting one. The acquisition, no matter who you’re talking about, have struck different nerves at different times, but I think the reasons that you’re getting so much play this week, I think potentially reaching a tipping point to some of the beer lovers that I’m seeing. I’ve even seen one comment – ‘the straw that broke the back.’ It’s getting more than any beer lovers expected. 

MS: Yeah, and people didn’t really see that one [Ballast Point] coming. The word on the street was that Ballast Point was going to do something. Stock offering, things like that. But I think the other difference with Ballast Point is the purchase number was released along with the news, and so when people see $1 billion, they’re like, ‘ok, who are we to say they shouldn’t have done that.’ 

Do you sympathize with any of these craft breweries after they explain on social media? “We had to do this because of distribution.” “The beer will stay the same.” What do you think of their rebuttals and explanations? 

JH: Well, bottom line, any brewery, any business  - let’s talk about it that way – has the right to be able to make any business moves that they want. But when 99% of the 5,300 breweries are still independent and you’ve got a 180 plus regional craft brewers that are doing it independently and you have breweries on the record saying, “we will never sell, we will always be independent,” then there are examples in the marketplace showing that you can do it without selling out to big beer…Sam Calagione of Dogfish has been very vocal about it. There was a USA Today piece on Oskar Blues. 

MS: Yeah. I don’t know if you know this, but I worked with Budweiser for 14 years. This was back in the 1990s. People still looked at Budweiser as the evil empire, but I dealt with the reaction from craft brewers all the time. Negative reaction and people who say, ‘it’s lousy beer, lousy quality beer.’ I’d get on my soap box and say, ‘ya know, you may not like it, but don’t ever talk negative about the quality because the people who brew this beer are as passionate about it and you are about yours.’ But it’s a different company now. I certainly get the backlash, I can relate to it because I dealt with it for a long time myself. I came from craft, and then I went to Budweiser and was there quite a while…it’s tough if you’re a craft brewer and in that position and all of a sudden you become the enemy. I think it’s a very uncomfortable feeling for most of them because the craft brewing business is so built on community and comradery.  Now all of sudden you’re not in the club anymore. That’s a hard thing to swallow, especially when you’ve got so many friends in the business…and people that don’t have ownership in the brewery that sell, and have no say in it, and they’re just kind of, there when it happens, those are the people that I feel really bad for, because they had no say. 

The whole access to ingredients thing I think is a little bit overplayed. I think if you’re a growing craft brewer, there are enough suppliers out there, if you work it hard enough you can get what you need, with a few exceptions. For example, Galaxy hops. Nobody can get Galaxy hops right now. Can a big brewer go in and get Galaxy hops? I don’t know if they can. I don’t know if they’re available to them. I think that’s overplayed, just a little bit. I think really the big advantage for a small brewer joining forces with a big brewer is the access to the resources, the technical resources, so they can understand what’s happening in the brewing process  - be it really complex lab equipment or whatever. And then the distribution access is huge, that’s really, the financial end of it, expansion and that kind of thing. Those are the things that really matter. 

Does distribution and those laws have anything to do with this and why they are selling?

JH: Yes, as soon as you sell, you get instant access to things that those 99% of the 5,300 breweries don’t have. You get into a system in the network for better economies of scale, for purchasing raw materials and ingredients and you get instant distribution that cannot be matched and is unparalleled and frankly, is not necessarily <pauses>

Fair?

JH: It’s leading towards not thinking it’s fair…the number of distributors over time continues to wane. Even though we have 5,300 plus breweries, today, there are only 1,000 plus active distributors. Five hundred plus of those are controlled by AB Inbev. Miller Coors has several hundred as well. Distributors are amazing partners to beer, but it’s a matter of priority. How do they decide what they’re going to sell? And when you’re an AB house – that’s a common term for distributors – their first priority is likely those AB brands. 

MS: The whole South African hop thing I think is way overblown. That’s not what people should be getting angry about Anheuser-Busch about, because Anheuser-Busch owns hop farms in several areas and they don’t sell those to any craft brewers. I don’t think this is a move on their part to really limit the accessibility of hops to craft brewers like people are making it out. I think it’s just they have a use for those hops, and they don’t have a surplus. They don’t have a surplus anymore. That’s coming from people I know that work at AB, that I trust. I just don’t think it was politically motivated. I think it was just part of their business. There are so many other things that they’re doing. Going in and buying tap handles in bars, cleaning out all the independent brewers and filling the bars with some of these brewery’s beers that they’ve purchased. They’re opening taprooms and brewpubs all over the country with that are branded with Goose or 10 Barrel or Goldenroad, or whatever. I think those are the kind of things, and they pass those off as craft. I think that’s where the real problem is and the real danger is...be honest about what you’re brewery is and what it isn’t. If you’re passing yourself off to somebody who’s a small, independent blogger, or beer writer, or brewery, or whatever, and you’re completely backed by Anheuser-Busch, you gotta’ have fully discloser there. 

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Venice, CA—After three years of anticipation, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s new Propagator campus in Venice, California will open its doors in April, with limited evening hours starting on April 7 before expanding into daily lunch service in May. The Propagator is located at 3205 Washington Boulevard near the corner of Washington and Lincoln.

Published in Beer News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Abby Berman Cohen (on behalf of the Brewers Association)

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Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2015

Boulder, CO • April 5, 2016 – 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 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 43 were craft brewing companies.¹

“The top U.S. brewers continue to drive demand, growth, innovation and exponential interest in beers from small and independent brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “With a historic record number of breweries in U.S., the top brewers continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings.”

Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies

(Based on 2015 beer sales volume*)

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The Association's full 2015 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 2016.

For additional statistics, see the Brewers Association’s annual craft brewing industry growth report for 2015.

1 Figure based on companies that met craft brewer definition for all or part of 2015. An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

2Top 50 Overall U.S. Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes 10 Barrel, Bass, Beck’s, Blue Point, Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Golden Road (partial year) Goose Island, Elysian (partial year) Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Series brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors, Keystone, Killian’s, Leinenkugel’s, Miller, Saint Archer (partial year), and Tenth & Blake brands; (c) includes Pabst, Schlitz, Small Town, and 28+ other brand families; (d) includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands. Does not include Twisted Tea or Angry Orchard brands; (e) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (f) includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (g) full year volume; craft rank reflects pro-rated volume due to sale of stake to Heineken (h) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (i) includes Bell’s and Upper Hand brands; (j) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families as well as export volume; (k) includes Sleeman and Sapporo brands as well as export volume; (l) volume will be pro-rated in 2016 data set due to sale to Constellation Brands; (m) will be part of control group with Duvel Moortgat USA starting in 2016; (n) includes Utah Brewers Cooperative and Perrin Brewing Company brands, will include Cigar City brands starting in 2016; (o) includes Boulevard and Ommegang brands; (p) includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands; (q) includes James Page, Point and Whole Hog brands; (r) includes Grain Belt and Schell’s brands; (s) includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s brands; (t) includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands; (u) includes Iron City and 17 other brand families.

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About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSMGreat 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 its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

 

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. Follow us on Twitter.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.

 

Published in Beer News
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 23:54

Green Flash Opens Cellar 3

Poway, CA – On Saturday, May 16th, Green Flash Brewing Co. executives and City of Poway officials will gather in front of a crowd of local beer and art lovers to tap the inaugural cask, marking their much-anticipated public grand opening of Green Flash Cellar 3. The San Diego craft brewery’s 2nd regional packaging facility and tasting room is dedicated to the production of rare and barrel-aged Green Flash beers.

Published in Beer News

Brewers Association Reports Annual Growth Figures for Small and Independent Brewers

 
Boulder, CO • March 16, 2015—The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, today released 2014 data on U.S. craft brewing(1) growth. For the first-time ever, craft brewers reached double-digit (11 percent) volume share of the marketplace.  
 
In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and saw an 18 percent rise in volume(2) and a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value.  Retail dollar value(3) was estimated at $19.6 billion representing 19.3 percent market share. 

Published in Beer News

Indio, CA - Empire Music Ventures is pleased to announce the 4th Annual Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience on Saturday, February 28th, 2015 at the Empire Polo Club. Taste craft beer and fine wine in one of the most beautiful venues in the Coachella Valley as you groove to the tunes of a diverse musical line-up designed to offer something for a variety of ages and musical tastes.

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This year, the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience will feature an impressive selection of artists playing an eclectic mix of reggae, folk, rock, blues, latin, funk and laid back hip hop. The event is transitioning beyond its R&B roots, offering fans a new fusion of rhythm showcased by this year’s billing of five exciting bands.

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Slightly Stoopid, Ozomatli and Fishbone will headline the 2015 Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience. All three bands are multi-genre and offer a mix of music that appeals to a broad audience of fans. Headliners will perform on the Main Stage from 7 PM – 11 PM. Strangers You Know and The Suffers will play earlier in the day from 4 PM – 7 PM on the BuzzBox stage in the beer garden.

“My focus this year was to draw a more diverse crowd to the event by offering a broader selection of artists and music,” said Alex Haagen IV, producer of the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience. “Our past events featured well-known R&B talent. This year we will feature some R&B along with a new infusion of reggae, latin, funk, rock and a bit of hip hop. It should be a really fun show with a lot of energy both on and off the stage.”

The craft beer and wine garden will be packed with regional breweries and wineries pouring tastes from 3 PM to 7 PM. Food trucks and local restaurants will offer a variety of mouth-watering menu options ranging from lobster tacos and gourmet pizza to juicy Tavern hamburgers and spicy Mexican cuisine.

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Tickets & Event Information

Tickets to the 2015 Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience can be purchased online at www.RWBexp.com starting November 14th, 2014.

Event Information

• Date: Saturday, February 28th, 2015
• Time: 3 PM - 11 PM
• Location: Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA 92201
• General Admission Tickets: $85 per person
• VIP Admission Tickets: $150 per person
• A portion of the proceeds benefit the Casey Lee Ball Foundation to support pediatric kidney research
• Food will be available for purchase
• Huge selection of breweries and wineries offering tastings
• Wine and beer tasting from 4 PM - 7 PM (VIP Tasting 3 PM - 7 PM)
• Main Stage and Headline Performances from 7 PM - 11 PM

General Admission includes:

• Entrance to the RWB Experience 4 PM - 11 PM
• Unlimited tastes of beer or wine 4 PM - 7 PM
• Souvenir tasting glass
• Free Parking

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VIP Pass includes:*
• Entrance to the RWB Experience 3 PM - 11:00 PM
• Unlimited tastings of beer or wine 3 PM - 7 PM
• Access to VIP Tasting Lounge 3 PM - 7 PM
• Access to the VIP Lounge and Bar
• Souvenir tasting glass
• VIP Parking
• Invitation to Friday night Bottle Share and Kick-off Party

*VIP Admission includes access to VIP tasting area with specialty wine and beer not
available in the general tasting area, and complementary food. Also includes access to a second VIP lounge with a full bar adjacent to main stage.

Bottle Share & Kick-off Party

On Friday, February 27th the Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience is hosting a Bottle Share and Kick-off Party in the Rose Garden at Empire Polo Club for VIP ticket holders and vendors. VIP guests each bring a bottle of unique craft beer to share with the other VIP guests. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and discover new craft beers while enjoying live music by Penny Unniversity in the fragrant gardens of Empire Polo Club. For more details about the Bottle Share & Kick-off Party visit www.RWBexp.com.

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RV & Tent Camping
Onsite RV and tent camping will be available. Fees include 2-days of camping: Friday, February 27th to Saturday, February 28th. Visit www.RWBexp.com for more details about camping onsite.

Buy one night and get the second night FREE.

• 10’x10’ Tent Campsites are $30
• RV Campsites are $100

Tickets
The website address for ticket purchases is www.RWBExp.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate the day of the festival. Children 12 and under are free. Ticket holders must be 21 years of age or older and show ID at the festival to taste beer and wine.

A portion of the proceeds from the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience will benefit the Casey Lee Ball Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports pediatric kidney research.

Directions to the Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience at Empire Polo Club:

From I-10 take the Monroe St. exit and head south on Monroe St. Follow the parking signs between Ave. 50 and 51 lots along Monroe St.

Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience Contact Information

Event Location
Empire Polo Club
81-800 Ave. 51
Indio, CA 92201
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.RWBfest.com

For more information about the festival or to buy tickets please visit www.RWBfest.com.

About The Bands

Ocean Beach, California-based band Slightly Stoopid delivers a diverse sound that’s a fusion of folk, rock, reggae and blues with elements of hip hop, funk and punk. Always a crowd favorite, the band has crafted an original sound perfected after years of playing and touring with bands like the Marley Brothers, blink-182, G. Love & Special Sauce, Pennywise, and N.E.R.D.
Sensational multi-genre, multi-cultural Grammy winning Ozomatli hails from Los Angeles and brings on an eclectic collision of musical styles including latin, hip hop, rock, salsa, jazz, funk, reggae and rap. The band has long been popular with international audiences and has played everywhere from Japan to North Africa and Australia. Their music seamlessly blends and transforms exotic traditions from Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. What other band could record a song once described as “Arabic jarocho dancehall”?

FISHBONE has been trailblazing their way through the history of American ska, funk, punk, rock fusion and (so-called) black rock since starting their professional career in Los Angeles' burgeoning alternative rock music scene of the mid-1980s. Angelo Moore’s ability to combine thought-provoking, humorous social commentary with FISHBONE’s frenzied, up-tempo music and frantic, euphorically entertaining stage show has cultivated their undisputed reputation as one of the best live acts in music history.

Indie-folk-pop band Strangers You Know was brought together by chance, and then kept together by similar musical interests, forming a sonic collective in Southern California. From folk to electro, the group has explored both polarities and everything in between.

The Suffers are a ten-piece band from Houston, TX who are redefining the sound of Gulf Coast soul, intertwining elements of classic American soul with rock and roll. Both sonically and visually arresting, the large ensemble packs each position of the rhythm section and horn section with a level of talent and taste that provides the perfect foundation for singer Kam Franklin’s massive voice.

About Empire Music Ventures and Empire Polo Club Events
Empire Music Ventures is located in Indio, CA and produces concerts and festivals. These events include the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience and numerous concerts held at the Date Shed and the other venues.



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Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

It’s time to take a look back in another glorious year for the craft beer industry. 2014 wasn’t just a great year for beer; it was a push the envelope, palate challenging, variety exploding year of flavorful suds.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Indio, CA -  Empire Music Ventures is pleased to announce the 4th Annual Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience on Saturday, February 28th, 2015 at the Empire Polo Club.  Taste craft beer and fine wine in one of the most beautiful venues in the Coachella Valley as you groove to the tunes of a diverse musical line-up designed to offer something for a variety of ages and musical tastes.

Published in Beer News

Nerds Help Newbies Tackle Evolving Nation of Beer

Boulder, CO • September 9, 2014—Presented by the Brewers Association, the 33rd annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) brings together beer beginners, enthusiasts and geeks to bond over their common love of beer. As the festival beer offerings continue to grow, this year’s GABF provides novice and seasoned beer lovers even more opportunities to learn about what they are imbibing, including support from the new Beer Geeks program.

Published in Beer News

The craft beer industry is booming, the U.S. brewery count recently topped 3,000 (3,040 to be exact, according to the Brewers Association) for the first time since the 1870s. And these brewery-filled cities are catering to local tastes with regional cuisine.

There’s been a paradigm shift in the way and what we pair with elevated cuisine and happily for us, it includes craft beer. And because there are more ingredients to play with in beer than wine, there’s more room for flavor and experimentation. When pairing complementary flavors in the food and beer, a pleasing echo can evoke a similar orchestra of flavors.

Chefs and highfalutin restaurants are no stranger to this “revolution” and are offering sublime pairings with locally sourced ingredients.  The marriage of craft beer and food is a symbiotic relationship that not only just makes sense, but has a romantic, feel-good side that is pucker-inducing and moan worthy.     

A new craft beer and food reality show may be airing very soon to fit this bill, but this is no typical reality show.

Bru Appetit takes viewers on a journey through the entire dining experience in an Iron Chef meets No Reservations meets Brew Dogs sort of reality show. 

Meeting with chefs and brewmasters in various American locations, together, they collect local ingredients.  

The show begins with an introduction to the city or town and moves to a local brewery.

To highlight the adventure aspects of the show, the Bru Appetit team engages in wild game hunting, deep sea fishing, foraging and falconry to source these craft ingredients. Yeah, falconry.

They return to the brewpub or kitchen with a chef’s challenge, where the Bru Appetit host and the chosen local chef create regional cuisine based on the ingredients gathered earlier.  After the culinary ‘throwdown’, the cuisine is paired with local craft beer, with the aforementioned chef and brewmaster.

And one of the ingredients in each dish must include the beer from the episode’s brewery or brewpub.

So, who is Bru Appetit?

Carlo Overhulser is the founder, producer and creator, with 15 years of A/V experience in major recording studios and television and is an avid homebrewer. He also founded the The Beer Channel.  

Jason Horn is the host, award winning chef and guide.  Horn is also the executive producer, creator and host of The Dive Whisperer.  With a background in the culinary arts, he has also worked as a contract chef.  Horn is also a homebrewer and mixologist.Jason

The two met through Facebook last November, when Carlo watched a pilot that Jason made.  Carlo was impressed with his drive, ambition and passion. And having merged their talents and passions into a show they truly believe in, a great friendship has formed.

Horn and Overhulser have filmed the pilot episodes in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia.  They filmed two different pilots to show networks what they could do in 30 and 60 minute formats.

Back FortyTheir first visit in April, brought Horn and crew to Back Forty Beer Company in Gadsden, Alabama, meeting brewmaster, Tim Blevins.  Their Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale is brewed with Alabama wildflower honey, roasted malts and Apollo and Willamette hops.  

Horn joined Alabama Hog Control to source their first local meat, the old fashioned way: hunting. When in Prattville, Alabama, do as the locals do, and hunt for hogs.Hog

Horn also visits Hokes Bluff and his noggin’ is soon covered in approximately 10,000 bees while cautiously sipping their popular beer. It’s an awesome site. And coincidentally, the current craft beer reality show, Brew Dogs, filmed a bee keeper segment the very same day for their Dogfish Head Delaware episode.  The main difference?  The Brew Dogs had protective clothing on.

Horn took some sound advice from the bee keeper: “If you respect them and don’t swat at ‘em or try to act a fool, they won’t mess with ya.”

BeesHe laughed over the phone, that he was saying to himself, “Suck it up and just do it.”

They move onto the chef’s challenge with Charles Ryan Nichols at J. Clyde’s in Birmingham’s Southside district, a central figure in the state’s craft beer movement. This tavern and alehouse is also known for their seasonal dinners and southern, beer inspired desserts, like their granny smith apple and cranberry oatmeal crisp and Young’s double chocolate stout brownie.

For this meal, they hauled in hog and honey.

Horn seared a two-inch-thick wild boar chop and topped it with a mixture of roasted garlic and sweet onion preserve topping, which was cooked in Truck Stop Honey Brown and Cold Creek’s wildflower honey. Nichols on the other hand, soaked cutlets of the pork overnight in buttermilk and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale. The following morning, he pounded and pan-fried the cutlets before finishing them in creole-style gravy. Alongside was a biscuit coated in a mouthwatering reduction of Cold Creek honey.

Salivating yet?

JudgesThe judging was done by Danner Kline,  a specialty beer rep for a local distributing company and founder of Free The Hops, Carla Jean Whitley, managing editor of Birmingham Magazine and Eric Velasco, freelance writer with a passion for brewing and cooking.

The craft beer sales recently has grown drastically in the Southeast alone. A staple in the Southern craft beer scene since 1997, SweetWater Brewing Company was named one of the top 25 US craft breweries by the Brewers Association in 2013 according to beer sales volume.

For the second episode, the crew visited Sweetwater and chatted with brand ambassador, Zak Schroerlucke.  This informative and action packed episode also features Red Brick Brewing, the oldest brewery in Georgia. The crew visited Decimal Place Farms, an award winning, 18 acre dairy goat farm located in Conley, Georgia.  Here, the white Saanen goats milk produce soft chèvre, feta and tuma cheeses.Goat Farm

Horn then discovered exactly how being a falconer can come in handy when capturing some tasty game pigeon.

Brick Store Pub also got some Bru Appetit praise, when they visited their gastropub restaurant.  It’s one of the highest rated pubs in America, according to Beer Advocate.  Here, you can find fine draught ales like Allagash Confluence and Orpheus Atalanta.  

The chef’s competition at the 5 Seasons Brewing Westside in Atlanta, included the captured pigeon and the amazing aforementioned cheese.  Chef Dave Larkworthy was the competitor. Larkworthy is famous in the area for having a thriving relationship with farmers, using local and quality ingredients in high volume, a perfect complement to the show.

The completely adlibbed show is a culinary, craft beer, adventure that will inspire you to know more about your local restaurants, breweries, brewpub and farms. And you’ll get thirsty…941184 10200470236095957 624590543 nand hungry for local flavor.

Overhulser says, “It’s like the host is talking to you…it’s everybody’s show. You’re a part of this. It’s really regional and local…”

The primary networks the duo is negotiating with are Food Network, Bravo, Esquire Network and Spike TV.  June 14th was their first day of submitting, and there is big interest.  

So when should the craft beer drinker and foodie expect to see it?  If all goes well, and signatures are signed, they hope for an airing in the Fall of this year.

Who knows, maybe they’ll come to the Coachella Valley to taste what our sunny desert valley has to offer!  
 
After all, Palm Springs is known for its amazing chefs. The farms in the valley are numerous, offering delicious dates, flavorful bell peppers and an abundant supply of citrus fruits.  And our three local breweries are making waves; for example, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. brews farm-to-table beers on a H.E.B.S. (high efficiency brewing system), one of only nine in operation on the planet.

Keep a lookout for Bru Appetit where foodies, beer aficionados, adventure enthusiasts and travelers can uncover different regions, cuisines and of course, amazing craft beer.  Check out the sizzle reel and outtakes of the show here.

Cheers!

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
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