Tour de Fat Raised More Than Ever in 2014

This year, New Belgium’s traveling tour of philanthropic bicycle advocacy, raised $625,716 for cycling-related nonprofits across 10 cities. It’s a new record for Tour de Fat, with about $70,000 more than raised in 2013. The money from Tour de Fat goes toward causes such as building new bike lanes, maintaining and creating mountain bike trails, providing bicycles to youths and other awesome things that New Belgium always does.

The tour traveled from Washington DC to Durham, NC , Chicago, Il, Twin Cities, Minn,  Boise, IH, Fort Collins, CO (of course), Denver, CO,  San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, and Tempe, AZ. The tour has been going on for 15 years now and has raised almost $4 million in that time. Craft beer likes to give back for all the support you give.

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Forbidden Root Brewery Brings Spices to the For Front of Beer

Pushing boundaries and palates, Forbidden Root Brewery is a botanical gypsy brewery bringing 150 years of history to Chicago. Forbidden Root’s brews are planned around natural botanical ingredients such as stems, blossoms, sap, herbs, spices, leaves, bark, flowers, honey, and roots. The recipes are inspired by early brewers from America and England producing low-alcohol beers infused with local botanicals. Some of these concoctions were sold as “elixirs” or “tonics” with medicinal qualities. The first three “elixirs” from Forbidden Root are Forbidden Root, Sublime Ginger, and Shady Character.

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Forbidden Root

In times long past, Root Beer was something far Nobler. Forbidden Root returns to that lost era. Malt and a pinch of hops are topped by a generous dollop of botanic ingredients which include wintergreen, vanilla, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, clove, star anise, tarragon, basil, capsicum, patchouli, sandalwood, balsam of Peru, licorice root, cocoa, and molasses. . . . The rich complexity and a long clean taste tell you this is not a soda, but a traditional brew that is a . . . window into another age.”

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Sublime Ginger

Storms come and go, and in the end, there’s just a refreshing breeze. So with this shimmering golden wheat beer, the escape is sure to be fresh, cooling, and sustaining. We start with a dry and creamy wheat beer and add fresh botanicals and a splash of key lime juice for a tangy flavor with the delicious bite of ginger. The flavor is bright, layered, and thoroughly satisfying. This beer resonates with the Caribbean otherworldliness of the Florida Keys.”

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Shady Character

For all this beer’s rough nuts and gnarly roots, Shady Character’s flavors are genteel and as well-mannered as you please. We start with a classic porter, as we think its soft chocolatey flavors are perfect to showcase the complex, distinctive flavors of American black walnut. Then we dig deep into botanic brewing’s treasure trove: licorice, roasted chestnuts, and a dash of spices all add layers of flavors and tie the whole thing together.”

Plans for a brewpub in West Town’s East Village neighborhood have not been so easy with a liquor ban and commercial manufacturing zoning, but gaining community support has been helpful. Robert Finkel says that when the brewpub is officially opened,

“We’ll serve great, cool, sometimes experimental beer and food that will pair well. We’re about flavor and experience; we have some great plans for the brewpub and the neighborhood. We’re also looking to educate and facilitate discussion around natural ingredients, botanicals, foraging, cooking and brewing with herbs, roots, and spices.”

Forbidden Root-4524Founder and Rootmaster Robert Finkel, founder of Prism Capital and former Chairman of the Illinois Venture Capital Association, has enlisted craft beer experts BJ Pichman and Randy Mosher. BJ Pichman, operations manager, has been in the Chicago craft beer scene for years, brewing with and learning from some of the industry’s most respected minds. Randy Mosher, creative partner and alchemist, has been searching for unique beers since the 1980s and is author of five books, including The Brewers Companion (1991), Radical Brewing (2004), Tasting Beer (2009), A Beer for All Seasons (2014), and Mastering Homebrew (2014). With no brewery location, Forbidden Root will continue to gypsy brew on local Chicago brewery friends’ premises, not being tied to one location.

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“Botanical beer is our core, with honey and chocolate also in our wheelhouse. The botanical ingredients will be naturally grown and sourced locally when possible but also from around the country and world as far as South Africa and Australia–some ingredients are not available domestically,” said Robert Finkel. “Once bottling production starts, we will launch within Chicago and certain parts of the state. By year-end, we hope to be in the entire state, and in 2015 will look to scale to a couple of Midwest states as well. These are the plans–but as we all know, plans can change!”

Until their brewpub opens, keep up with Forbidden Root to find out where they will be pouring their beers or read more about their history and passion.

Stone Brewing to have 3 Breweries Worldwide by 2016

After Stone Brewing announced they would be opening a brewery in Berlin, Germany, many craft lovers have been waiting for their announcement of the location for their second American brewery. Stone signed a formal letter of intent with the City of Richmond, Virginia, signifying the company’s interest in building its East Coast facility in the city’s Greater Fulton Community. They reportedly plan to invest $74 million to construct a production brewery, packaging hall, destination restaurant, retail store and its administrative offices.

“The search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor,” said Stone President and Co-founder Steve Wagner. “We received and reviewed hundreds of proposals, visited more than 40 sites, and received quite a bit of attention from communities and craft beer fans. The three finalist cities each provided diverse offerings, however, we decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements, subject to the city’s approval. We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans. We are honored by the amount of time and effort all the communities that submitted proposals put forth, and we want to specifically thank Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones for welcoming us.”

This will be the fourth brewery to have to locations in America producing beer. How large can craft beer get before it’s no longer craft?

Founders Expanding Brewery

Founders Brewing (know for their notorious Kentucky Breakfast Stout aged in bourbon barrels) has announced further plans for their expansion at its current site. Founders will be adding 37,000 square feet of new space for equipment like their new 300 barrel (bbl) brewing system, fermentation tanks. The next 20,000 square feet will include more fermentation space and packaging systems.

“The focus of this expansion is to increase the capacity of our production facility—to brew more beer right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan,” said Mike Stevens, our co-founder and CEO. “Because of increasing demand from the growing beer enthusiast community, we aren’t able to fill orders right now. We’re expanding because we’re committed to this city, this state and the craft beer community.”

All I can say is I hope they are able to produce more of their popular beers and of course, more KBS. Because having KBS released once a year just isn’t that fun anymore.

GABF Gold Medal Winners

GABF has a competition every year to award the best beers in BJCP categories from blind tastings. The top gold winners were:

  • AC Golden’s Colorado Native Amber Lager in American-Style Amber Lager category
  • Cannonball Creek Brewing Co.’s Black IPA in American-Style Black Ale category
  • Telluride Brewing Co.’s Face Down Brown in American-Style Brown Ale category
  • Wit’s End Brewing Co.’s Jean-Claude Van Blond in Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category
  • Funkwerks’ Raspberry Provincial in Belgian-Style Fruit Beer category
  • CB & Potts Restaurant & Brewery – Highlands Ranch’s The Weasel in Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest category
  • Ska Brewing’s True Blonde Ale in English-Style Summer Ale category
  • FATE Brewing’s Laimas Kolsch in German-Style Kölsch category
  • Crow Hop Brewing’s Rado’s Red Ale in Irish-Style Red Ale category
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant’s Golden Export in Munich-Style Helles category

There’s many more medals in the bronze and silver for Colorado, that I’m not going to bother! So many good craft beers from one state. Check out the rest of the winners here.

Beer Christmas in Colorado

Every year the Great American Beer Festival comes to Denver, CO. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but GABF week is almost better. It’s the best time to seel out those rare and hard to find craft beers that you can’t get anywhere unless you stalk forums, become best friends with managers at bottle shops, or trade with strangers on the internet. Tap and Handle, a local beer bar brought out some fancy stuff from Goose Island, Firestone Walker, New Belgium, Crooked Stave Artisans, and many more that I imbibed in. Hops n’ Pies in Denver had Barrel-Aged Abraxas from Perennial Artisan Ales, which is very sought out, and utterly Whale status (A whale is known to beer geeks to be an ultra rare beer).  My only suggestion is to not miss out. There are still some total whales hiding out there from GABF week.

Small Craft Brewers Breathe Easy

Back in March, a new rule was proposed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The rule, known as the—take a deep breath—Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals, would require that breweries essentially become certified animal feed production facilities.” As some may not know, many local craft breweries donate their spent grain to farmers, usually for free. This act would crush most small breweries with costs to just get rid of the spent grain. Like anyone looking out for the little guy, there was a loud uproar against this new rule.

From the FDA:

“Human food processors already complying with FDA human food safety requirements, such as brewers, would not need to implement additional preventive controls or Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations when supplying a by-product (e.g., wet spent grains, fruit or vegetable peels, liquid whey) for animal food, except for proposed CGMPs to prevent physical and chemical contamination when holding and distributing the by-product (e.g., ensuring the by-product isn’t co-mingled with garbage). However, further processing a by-product for use as animal food (e.g., drying, pelleting, heat treatment) would require compliance with the preventive controls for animal food rule.”

Breathe easy now, small craft brewers, things are still brewing away.

Read all of the FDA’s revisions here.