Tuesday, 08 May 2012 08:32

2012 Craft Brewers Conference

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“We are not in a bubble, we are knee deep in foam & the foam is still rising.” – Charlie Papazian

The author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, founder of the Great American Beer festival, the American Homebrewers Association and the Association of Brewers welcomed regional craft brewers, microbrewers, pub brewers, allied trade and media alike.

Thousands of people in the beer industry came to San Diego to network with one another at the 29th Craft Brewers Conference at the Town & Country Resort and Conference Center. Thirty five countries were in attendance, totaling approximately 4,500 people.

He continued, "The Brewers Association's purpose is to promote and protect craft brewers, small & independent American brewers. We want to help you build & grow your businesses, no matter what form your business plan takes."

The opening speech was enlightening, with stated stats that invigorated the already enthused brew industry crowd. Currently, there are 1,119 breweries in planning in the US, which is more than double what it was two years ago. Only one of 84 regional craft breweries did not increase production in 2011. The top five states in number of craft breweries is currently California at 261, Washington at 134, Colorado at 127, Oregon at 121 and Michigan coming in at 102.

He reassured the audience about the continued success of the craft beer industry and squashed any doubt that it could not be sustained beyond our 30 year run. "American craft brewers will grow to producing 10% of all beer in the United States by the year 2017...there are many opportunities for continued and sustainable growth."

He expressed five areas that he feels are crucial in helping plan, evaluate and sustain a successful craft brewery & industry. Papazian's explained his acronym, TISEE - technology, inovation, service, efficiency & education. Innovation is important on how you develop relationships and of course, the beer. Service, as an area of investment, is providing the customer a service. There are numerous craft beer customers. Providing service to distributors, relailers and of course, the beer drinker is crucial. Efficiancy carries its value in operations and communications. Investment in education is vital in producing dramatic change and continued success.

San Diego Mayor, Jerry Sanders, spoke about the culture of craft beer in San Diego. San Diego has almost 60 breweries in San Diego county. "The great thing about the craft beer industry is that it's elevated the making of beer into a science. Or, as I call it, an art form. And I think that you folks have done an incredible job in really starting to create a movement in an industry that is going to be overtaking the world and I agree with Charlie, I don't see an end to this." CBC_JEK_7338

"This isn't just about beer. It's about jobs, it's about the economy. It's about innovation. It's about art."

Sam Caligone of Dogfish Head started by asking who in the industry had ever brewed a batch at home. There was a huge number of hands raised. He spoke of protecting the community via laws and product design. The product of course, being craft beer. "Together, we are changing the face of commercial beer in America and we should be very proud of that."

The underlying note in many of the speakers speeches was quality. “If your number one concern as a craft brewer isn’t quality, get out right now.” — Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association.

Odell Brewing, 23 year old Colorado craft brewing pioneers, won the brewers association recognition award. "It's been a great ride."  

BrewExpo America was held in the Grand Hall. With over 250 vendors all in one location, this is the place to shop for products and services for your brewery or brewpub. From bottle labeling solutions (www.ilslabels.com), to European malt companies (www.crispmalt.com), to custom brewery headwear (www.brewerybranding.com) to complete brewery bottling and packaging needs (www.prosperocorp.biz/), this was a craft brewers haven.6
With my new found desire to grow hops, I was personally giddy about the plethora of hop companies in attendance. Deutscher Hopfen, hop growers of Germany was in attentance, and with a German Oktoberfest-style bar maid grinning behind the mountain of Tettnanger and brand new, unnamed hops. 2000/109/728 is a new release as of March of this year. The parents are two breeding varieties from Hull, 94/075/758 and 97/060/720. A very high oil content - 4.4 ml / 100 g - guarantees an intense aroma with nuances of eucalyptus, peppermint and citrus fruit.14

Hopsteiner from New York offered raw hops, isomerized pellets, beta aroma extract and hop oils.

Hops Direct, LLC struck my interest not just because of the fancy hop oil soap they were giving away, but because of their pickled hop shoots. Pickled hop shoots are a wonderful compliment for salmon, garnish for a martini or bloody mary or garnish for various Hors d'oeuver, and they are awesome with cheese. Hops Direct also offers Healthy Options Tea, Sweet Dreams Tea, Lottie's Tea, or Just Plain Hop Tea. Hailing from Washington State's Yakima Valley, the family owned hops farm has not only 600 acres of hops, but a family history going back 80 years.

But it wasn't just the tradeshow and the speeches that embodied the craft brewers convention, it was the events and tap takeovers at the local craft beer bars - of which there are plenty - dispersed around the city.

I started by going to Dr. Bill's (of Stone Brewing Co.) house where he had (as usual) an amazing selection of bottles and a cheese and meat spread that would make even the most experienced foodie salivate.

That night, I attended a Deschutes women's beer event at Toronado. This laid-back take on the San Francisco craft beer institution is one of my favorite places in SD. Complete with rare beers and a recently revamped bar menu, I enjoyed drinking a Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum and Avery Brewing's The Reverend.

The Portland craft beer documentary, For The Love of Beer, was showing in the back area of the bar where they were celebrating the DVD release. For the Love of Beer is a documentary devoted to the stories and the passion of the women involved in the craft beer industry in the northwest. It was a buzzing night full of industry revolutionaries, like Bend Brewing’s Tonya Cornett.  Being a woman in the craft beer industry, it was awesome to drink some amazing craft beers among such a passionate group. I chatted with one of those beer advocates, San Diego local and fellow female beer blogger, Laurie Delk.

And it was only Wednesday.

32Thursday, I met more fellow beer bloggers, The Brew Bros, at The Tipsy Crow where there was an Oskar Blues total tap takeover. There was also a special collaboration release of Chaka Belgium by Oskar Blues of Longmont, Colorado and Sun King Brewing of Indianapolis, Indiana. Labeled as a "CANlaberation", Chaka Belgian-Style Ale is the first beer to come in a 16 oz. resealable Alumi-Tek® pint "bottle". The Belgian Strong Pale Ale comes in at 8% ABV. The shagbark hickory syrup from Indiana and Belgian pale malt from Colorado Malting give it a Belgian candy sweetness. The clove spice and the malt play quite well together. Overall, a very nice Belgian collaboration. And you can save more for later. That's cool.

I enjoyed a 6.6% ABV Stone Mixtape Ale and suddenly realized Stone's own Greg Koch was standing about 10 feet to my left. His grizzly beard confused my fellow bloggers and my new friend, Corrina Brown, of Barley Brown's Brew Pub. After pestering him for a few pictures, we chatted about his recent 1/2 marathon accomplishment.

Saturday held some really fun seminars, like a cheese and beer pairing. The Craft Beer and Artisan Cheeses Tasting Seminar was hosted by Janet Fletcher, Michael Landis (international cheese awards judge - my dream job) & Randy Mosher.

Randy shared, "I find that quite often you can reach people's brains and parts of their brains in ways that beer alone can't do....it's a way of changing minds. This is a great opportunity for that."

And it just tastes amazing.

Successful pairings either have to do with a contrast or a compliment by texture, aroma and/or flavor. Determine what kind of beer you are drinking. Is it malty? Is it hoppy? What is the alcohol content? What about carbonation?

The menu was very well thought out.

1. Stone Pale Ale with Point Reyes Toma
2. Full Sail Amber with Belton Farm English Top Hat Cheddar
3. Alaskan Oatmeal Stout with Wensleydale with Cranberries
4. Rogue Dead Guy Ale with Rogue Creamery Flora Nelle
5. Rabbit 5 Vulture Oaxacan Dark Ale with Crave Brothers Les Frères
6. The Bruery Mischief with Carr Valley Cocoa Cardona

Flavor profiles play a very important role in both the cheeses and the beer. It's about harminization rather than pairing. Delicate beers pair beautifully with delicate cheeses. On the other hand, Landis explained that Gruyère and Comté cheese typically have about 55 - 62 descripters, which has a great influence on the richness & diversity of the cheese.

Taste the beer first. Then taste the cheese and take a sip of the beer again. Look for how the cheese has changed the beer, if at all, and/or how it's echoed the beer.

Stone Pale Ale with Point Reyes Toma

Stone Pale Ale - Stone Brewing Company’s flagship ale, Pale Ale is a Southern California interpretation of the classic British pale ale style. Deep amber in color, Stone Pale Ale is robust and full flavored. A delicate hop aroma is complemented by rich maltiness. 5.4% ABV; 41 IBUs

Point Reyes Toma - The second cheese from the West Marin dairy that produces the popular Point Reyes Original Blue, Toma is a 10-pound farmstead wheel produced with pasteurized cow’s milk. Matured for about three months, the cheese develops a thin, hard rind; a smooth, creamy, semi firm interior; and the appetizing scent of warm butter. The texture is open, with many cracks and small eyes, and the finish is sweet and buttery, with a cultured-milk tang. To produce a “sweeter” cheese, cheesemaker Kuba Hemmerling uses a technique known as curd washing, most often employed for Gouda. This is a great cameleon cheese, that can pair with many beers. Thers's a great buttery aroma, which is great with malty beer. The tang in the cheese also goes well with a hoopy beer - perfect with a malty and hoppy pale ale, like Stone Pale Ale.

Alaskan Oatmeal Stout with Wensleydale with Cranberries

Alaskan Stout - Alaskan Stout was originally brewed as a Rough Draft for our customers in Alaska. The popularity of the Stout allowed it to become the Brewery's fourth year-round product in the fall of 1998. The origins of Oatmeal Stout go back hundreds of years when oats were added to Stouts to promote a healthier image than other beers available during that time period. Alaskan Stout is made from glacier-fed water and a generous blend of European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and premium two-row and specialty malts. The water originates from the 1,500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall Juneau receives each year. Roasted dark malts with the softness of the oaks that gives it a textural depth of flavors, with hints of coffee, chocolate and lightly caramelized. 5.7% ABV; 28 IBUs

Wensleydale Creamery Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries - The original and authentic Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries was created by David Hartley in 1995 at the Wensleydale Creamery in Yorkshire. The Wensleydale recipe goes back to 1150 AD when the Cistercian monks settled a few kilometers from where the creamery is now. This handcrafted tradition is carried on by master cheese makers using their own proprietary starter culture derived from original strains in the 1930’s. Each wheel of Wensleydale is hand crafted and carefully selected to be blended with beautiful red tangy Ocean Spray Cranberries. Crafting this artisanal cheese by hand allows for the Ocean Spray Cranberries to be more dispersed throughout the cheese and adds the perfect complement of tanginess to the slight sweetness of the cheese.

The Bruery Mischief with Carr Valley Cocoa Cardona

The Bruery Mischief
- Located in Placentia, Orange County, California, the Bruery is the brainchild of Patrick Rue. Founded in 2007, they produce a range of unique unfiltered, unpasteurized beers, often with wild microbes, barrel aging and other exotic methods. Although inspired by Belgian strong golden ales, Mischief is uniquely American. A little richer and fatter than its Belgian counterparts, it is deeply fruity and dry-hopped with American hops adding a citrusy quality to what the Bruery calls “ripe melon, pear and slightly peppery spice” flavors and a “precarious” effervescence. 8.5% ABV; 35 IBU

Cocoa Cardona - This semi-hard goat cheese from Carr Valley in central Wisconsin is a multiple ACS award winner. Goat milk has a different protein structure yielding a more delicate texture than cow or sheep milk and often has a touch or earthiness. This smooth, bone-white cheese has a nutty flavor with the slightest hint of sweetness and a little earthiness from the goat milk. The wheels are rubbed with pure cocoa powder, which makes a beautiful visual and flavor contrast with the cheese itself. Paired with a complex and luxurious beer such as the Mischief, the pairing turns towards the confectionary—not quite dessert, but way more that your usual cheese plate.

Randy had a great point with this pairing, the Mischief almost turns this cheese into cheesecake. It was amazing. This cheese is great with a slightly spicy and malty beer, which hightens the sweetness of the cheese. It was a gorgeous pairing. The flavors of the beer and the cheese worked so well together, yet the quality of both stood beautifully on it's own. They both shined.

My first Craft Brewer's Conference was an amazing experience and throughout the conference, along with Julia Hertz, I found myself asking, 'what's the best part of being in this craft beer community?'

"The best part is the excited shared between us, the craft brewers and our partners, the craft beer enthusiasts. I can't think of another industry where the customers and manufacturers are more connected." ~ Tim Etter, Tenaya Creek Brewery.

Yep.

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