Maybe I should move to Hawaii.

Maui Stone Craft Beverages Have officially announced they are distributing 21 different brands to Hawaii. Think of all those Whalez turning into shelf turds. I need to get there. Here’s what they had to say:

“It’s been a long journey, but our team has really stayed the course, and now Maui | Stone Craft Beverages is ready to help Hawaii cast commodity beer aside and move to quality craft beers,” said Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero. “Craft beer options in Maui have grown since we first began brewing, and with the addition of 20 new brands, Hawaii is about to take another large, tasty leap forward. It’s exciting to partner with Stone, as our companies are aligned with the same beliefs and goals of providing the best possible craft beer to our fans.”

Check out the brands, and weep for the whale you’re missing:

AleSmith Brewing Co. – San Diego, Calif.
Avery Brewing Co. – Boulder, Colo.
Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Healdsburg, Calif.
Black Market Brewing Co. – Temecula, Calif.
The Bruery – Placentia, Calif.
Eel River Brewing Co. – Fortuna, Calif.
Great Divide Brewing Co. – Denver, Colo.
Julian Hard Cider – Julian, Calif.
Lightning Brewery – Poway, Calif.
The Lost Abbey – San Marcos, Calif.
Maui Brewing Co. – Maui, Hawaii
Modern Times Beer – San Diego, Calif.
Mother Earth Brew Co. – Vista, Calif.
Oskar Blues Brewery – Longmont, Colo.
Pizza Port Brewing Co. – Carlsbad, Calif.
Port Brewing Co. – San Marcos, Calif.
Refuge Brewery – Temecula, Calif.
Saint Archer Brewing Co. – San Diego, Calif.
SKA Brewing – Durango, Colo.
Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, Calif.
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks – Salem, Oregon

Pay-to-Play For Craft Beer?

A couple months ago, Pretty Things Beer went on a rant on twitter and exposed what many were questioning what was happening in Massachusetts.

“Ever heard the term “committed lines”? This is what it means. Breweries buy draft lines so their lame beers aren’t irrelevant.”

After Dann Paquette’s, founder of Pretty Things Beer, twitter rant, the Boston Globe released a story on how the Massachusetts regulators have launched an investigation into whether beer distributors, brewers, and retailers are violating state law by agreeing to promote certain beers at bars and liquor stores in exchange for payments that freeze out competitors. This isn’t the first time this has been reported. Back in 2010, James Ylisela from Crane’s Chicago Business paper went deep and found pay-to-play a large part of taps in Chicago.

brewhouse 2-58473

Pay-to-play isn’t just buying draft lines at bars. It’s also breweries or distributors may paying retailers to stock their beers over not competitors. Free beer, gift cards, and expensive equipment such as draft systems are also commonly used as part of pay-to-play. It’s an insanely dirty market scheme, greed is overtaking quality of craft beer. Not by breweries, but by bar and store owners. They want all they can get from those trying to make a living.

The manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages is heavily regulated throughout the United States, and much of this regulation was born in the aftermath of prohibition. These laws and regulations have gone unchanged for decades. The rapid expansion of the craft beer industry has drawn some of these regulations into question, highlighted the need for reform and increased craft beer customers’ awareness of why their favorite brew may not be offered at a particular establishment.

Another story of pay-to-play comes from co-owner of Idle Hands Craft Ales LLC Chris Tkach. He recalled an incident this year where a bar manager in Waltham said he had no room to stock Idle Hands because a distributor of competing beers had provided free keg equipment in exchange for reserving more tap handles.

“I asked if we could continue to be on tap, and the bar manager said, ‘No, this distributor bought all new [equipment] for us, and we have to dedicate those lines to them,’” said Tkach, who declined to name the bar.”

Pay-to-play is hard to expose, but it must be done. What are your thoughts on this?

Sorry, Bud. We don’t want your beer.

Craft beer sales have officially risen above Anheuser-Busch’s “King of Beers”. I didn’t think it would happen this soon, but I’m not complaining. According to the Wall Street Journal, some 44% of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Budweiser. What beautiful words to hear. This doesn’t mean the craft beer is selling more, there are still flavored malt beverages, and premixed cocktails (barf) that are being sold more than Bud. Even BudLight sells more than normal bud. It’s a small step, but I think it’s in the right direction. (Of course drink to your fancy, or not. But come on, think of your tastebuds.)

Great Lakes to Rebrand in 2015

Great Lakes Brewing Company has been around since 1988. Many in the midwest know this company and enjoy their beers, but with craft beer growing and new, more pop culture minded breweries open and distribute their beer, older brands can fall behind and be forgotten.

GLBC will launch a refreshed logo and packaging artwork featuring unique rejuvenated illustrations. The new designs, developed by an artist who will be revealed in January, explore the history and quality craftsmanship essential to the GLBC brand. GLBC will launch the refreshed look around Memorial Day, starting with their five year-round brands: Dortmunder Gold Lager, Eliot Ness Amber Lager, Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry IPA, and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. All subsequent packages will be released with the refreshed look, following GLBC’s rotating seasonal calendar.

Check out their upcoming Seasonal Release Program:

  • January: Conway’s Irish Ale
  • March: Chillwave Double IPA
  • April: Rye of the Tiger IPA
  • April: NEW Spring Variety Pack with three of each of the following styles: Session IPA, Kolsch, Belgian Single, Belgian Wit (names coming soon; package will not sport refreshed look.)
  • May: NEW SEASONAL Alberta Clipper Porter (package will not sport refreshed look.)
  • June: NEW SEASONAL American Wheat (name coming soon.)
  • July: Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA
  • August: Oktoberfest
  • September: Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale
  • November: Christmas Ale
  • November: Blackout Stout

A little to much breakfast in your beer?

Dogfish Head is known for their wild adjunct beers. But this takes the cake, er, scrapple? This draft-only exclusive beer is brewed with, you guessed it, scrapple. What is scrapple? Scrapple is a patty made of pork scraps, cornmeal and spices. For a brewery that brews some strange beer, this might be at the top. Check out more on it here.

From the Dogfish Head blog:

  • Maple syrup harvested from the trees at Northfield Mount Hermon, the high school in western Massachusetts where Sam met his wife, Mariah.
  • Barley smoked over applewood from Delaware’s Fifer Orchards, for that applewood, bacon-y aroma.
  • Lactose, or milk sugar.
  • For the quintessential Delaware touch, 25 pounds of a super-lean version of Rapa Scrapple’s famous recipe. Rapa, the world’s largest producer of scrapple, was started by brothers Ralph and Paul Adams in Bridgeville, Del., just down the road from Dogfish.
    If you’re not from the mid-Atlantic, you might be scratching your head right about now and thinking, “What the heck is scrapple?” Well, scrapple is a patty made of pork scraps, cornmeal and spices, kind of like a cross between bacon and a sausage patty. In other words, it’s awesome.

    (If you’re not from the mid-Atlantic, you might be scratching your head right about now and thinking, “What the heck is scrapple?” Well, scrapple is a patty made of pork scraps, cornmeal and spices, kind of like a cross between bacon, a sausage patty and a corn muffin. In other words, it’s incredible.)

  • Last but not least, a special blend from The Bean Factory in St. Paul, Minn. The coffee, added cold press post-fermentation, is a nod to one of Sam’s all-time favorite bands, The Replacements, who hail from Minnesota and were a fixture on Sam’s radio every morning back in 1995 as he mashed in. The beer is also named for The Replacements anthem “Beer for Breakfast.”

Kickstarting a Brewery

This trend has been happening for awhile, people donating money to help a new local craft brewery open. Braxton Brewing in Kentucky has set a Kickstarter record for crowdfunding a brewery with raising $71,885 through 654 people.

“We’re beyond excited and humbled at the support from both the Greater Cincinnati and Kickstarter communities,” said Jake Rouse, Co-founder and CEO. “We never imagined the campaign to go so well, and can’t wait to share the space with everyone.”

Does kickstarting a brewery help or weaken craft beer? This question can’t truly be answered until maybe twenty years from now. There are dozens of breweries that were opened this way but their impact will only be obvious year and years from now. What do you think?

Alpine joins forces with Green Flash Brewing

In craft beer, collaboration and shared knowledge is a large part of the culture. After brewing beer for Alpine for about a year, Green Flash Brewing has officially announced that they have acquired Alpine Brewing. Beer nerds have no fear, each brewery will remain independent to operate and maintain their own brands and culture. Pat McIlhenney will remain Alpine’s president and brewmaster to oversee all operations of Alpine Beer Co. while also ensuring Alpine beers continue to meet their standard of quality, whether brewed at the Alpine or Green Flash facilities. The most exciting change will happen over the next several years, as Alpine beer will become available to fans from across the country that have only experienced the greatness of Alpine beers while visiting California. Rejoice!