Know Thyself: An Essay on Lazy Beer Marketing.

 

Know Thyself: An Essay on Lazy Beer Marketing.

Matt Tanaka

 

There’s a lot of lazy marketing in the beer world, and it’s holding good breweries back. It’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s the result of a bad idea that’s been repeated for years: all a brewery needs to do to survive is make great beer, and that if the marketing is “good” and polished, then the beer must be bad. Unfortunately, in today’s new-brewery-every-day marketplace, that simply isn’t true.

 

That recurring notion stems from the misconception that marketing is just the act of making something shiny when it shouldn’t be. That it’s the swindler’s art of making stuff up to sell a product. That’s bad marketing. The truth is, real marketing — good marketing — is something much deeper than that. It’s the well-communicated story of the culture and identity of a brewery. And, whether it’s packaging design, social media content, the words on the website, or the way the reps present their story at an event, every part of what a brewery does should be focused on communicating that identity.

 

The following “case studies” feature breweries with marketing problems, all of which stem from the fact they aren’t doing a great job of communicating who they are to beer drinkers. Because I’m not a masochist, none of these breweries are real, but as the honorable Julia Louis-Dreyfus once said in an interview about her documentary series, Veep: “Everyone loves the show because they all think it’s about the other guy.” So, before you get mad at me: these are all about the other guy. You’re doing great.

 

Case Study #1: Super Brad Brewery

 

The Problem

Super Brad Brewery is a brewpub in a small southern town known for its constant experimentation. After a recent shift to a wider distribution, they’ve found themselves needing to act more like the packaging brewery they’ve become, without abandoning their tiny-batch, change-on-a-dime brewpub origins. While waiting for a solution to magically fall into place, their social media accounts continue to treat the brewery like a bar in a small town.

 

The Fix

A simple change in the way they approach social media would help to shift their image from being a bar that brews beer to that of an established brewery. To put it simply, these guys really suck at social media. If I see them post one more photo of the shitty band that’s playing at their taproom that week, or a poorly lit shot of a greasy looking burger on BOGO night, I’m going to lose my marbles. These things are uninspiring, unoriginal, and kind of miss the point of social media in the first place. It’s not about throwing tiny advertisements and announcements at people; it’s about providing a window into the culture of your brewery, then inviting people to join you in that culture. It’s a way for someone who has never visited your brewery to get a taste of the personality of the people that make that beer. It’s about extending the experience beyond your taproom.

 

The folks at Super Brad are super goofy, with a weird sense of humor and a penchant for pranks. This is reflected in the beer they brew — it’s weird and experimental and is really hard to pigeonhole into any one style, or region. Their social media should reflect this by documenting the actual scenes of life at the brewery. That time John bought a Nerf gun and that escalated into a weeklong, all-brewery dart war? Instagram that. That time Sarah wanted to see if she could brew a peanut butter porter using peanuts that she grew at home? Take some photos of the experiments and post them in an album on Facebook with a story about the process. Show off the culture of your brewery instead of trying to pull people into the brewpub.

 

 

Case Study #2: Heelflip Brewing Company

 

The Problem

Heelflip Brewing Company is a production brewery and taproom in San Diego with a strong skateboarding theme. They have beers with names like, Double Kickflip IIPA, Boardslide Bitter and Frontside Fakie Narflip 360 BaitHook to Fakie Benihana Stout. Whenever they talk about the brewery, this is what they focus on. So much so that the beer is always treated as secondary. As a result, they’re not known for the beer they brew, even though they keep winning awards for it. It’s all summed up in their tagline: “Heelflip Brewing: Beer For Skateboarders.”

 

The Fix 

“Beer For Skateboarders” is really only half of the story. They like skateboarding, yes, but what they’re really good at is making killer beer. There’s a much stronger tie to the theme that they’ve devoted themselves to under the surface, and it’s one that shifts the focus to what’s important: the beer. Most of what they brew is low in alcohol, a decision they made because they wanted to drink sessionable beers that let them extend their skate… sessions. To let that idea speak a little louder, they could use a tagline closer to this: “Heelflip Brewing: Session Beers For Longer Sessions.” The change is subtle but important. It shifts the focus of the brand from the skateboarding to the beer. Instead of saying “We started our brewery because we like skating,” the tagline could read: “We started our brewery to make great beer, and we like to make the kind of beer that we can drink while skateboarding.”

 

Case Study #3: Melange Brewing Company

 

The Problem

Their IPA, Shondorf’s Second Staff has phenomenal graphics — a bad ass illustration of a wizard hovering above a cave where a troll wearing a “Shondorf” name tag pours hops into a steamy cauldron. Awesome. But when it sits on a shelf next to their Space Dust Oyster Stout with its classic video game-inspired graphics, or their The DM Is Always Right DIPA with what appears to be the artwork of the brewmaster’s five-year-old scribbled on a bar napkin… I get confused. And then angry. And then I buy a different beer.

 

The Fix

Consistency. Is. Key. When consumers walk into any bottle shop or liquor store these days, they’re faced with a metric butt ton of beer options. As a brewery with beer on those shelves, you have two goals: convince a first-time consumer to try your beer or remind a repeat consumer that your beer is awesome. Without a consistent identity, it’s difficult to achieve either.

 

For the new consumer, you want the three packages you have sitting next to each other to be clearly from the same place. IPA? Check. Porter? Check. Habanero Goose Feather Dingle Berry Pale Ale? Check. “I think I’ll try the IPA!” Good choice, new consumer, that Dingle Berry beer sounds suspicious… For the repeat consumer, you want their Tinder- and Candy Crush-addled brains, with their goldfish attention spans, to recognize your beer instantly, even if only because it’s familiar to them. If you’ve done your job, the last beer of yours they drank was fantastic, and now that they remember that experience, they’ll hopefully pick up your next beer.

 

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Here’s the good news: when you strip away all the buzzwords and the consultants and the fancy packaging and the instapinfacetwittergrams, you’re left with the heart of good marketing, a really strong understanding of yourself. It’s the kind of thing that, given some time, intentional thinking, and a ton of elbow grease, anyone can do. All I’m saying is that you owe it to yourself and your fans to be the most thoughtful version of yourself that you can be. Or at least one that doesn’t tweet about BOGOs.

 

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Best Looking Brands in Beer – Part 2: Evil Twin and Half Acre

In  issue 10 of Mash Tun Journal, we celebrate one of the reasons we love craft beer so much: the art and design of beer. Whether you know it or not, your local bottle shop or liquor store is hosting an exhibition of contemporary art on its shelves and in its coolers right now. Beer packaging design and labels are canvases that express the essence of their contents. Like any group art show, some work is pedestrian; some work is extraordinary.

See Part 1 of the  Best Looking Brands in Beer for the full introduction.

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Evil Twin

If you don’t know Evil Twin Brewing by now, you have been living under a rock. Evil Twin is a Copenhagen-based gypsy brewery that was formed in 2010 by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. Jeppe’s foray into beer started in the mid 2000s with a beer club and beer store in Copenhagen. Jeppe also happens to be the twin brother of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, who runs the Danish brewery Mikkeller, whose brand is also featured in our Best Looking Beers in the Business piece.

 

Evil Twin started a few years after Mikkel opened Mikkeller in Denmark. As the Danish beer scene blew up and went global, Jeppe made the move to Brooklyn in 2012 to direct his empire. After moving to Brooklyn, he opened an awesome beer bar, Tørst, which features Evil Twin beers alongside other weird and delicious beers from around the world.

 

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With beers being made on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Evil Twin has grown into a global craft beer company. He is the living incarnation of the brewer-as-rockstar, jet-setting around the world collaborating, brewing, and innovating for the craft beer world in terms of formula, design, marketing, and distribution.

 

Evil Twin is known for their elegant label design and clever beer names, such as: Beer Geek Breakfast, Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room, Imperial Biscotti Break, and Hipster Ale. Jeppe often collaborates with his wife, Maria, who has a hand in guiding the brand through the beer naming and label copy writing processes. Creative Director Martin Justesen initiated the Evil Twin graphic design style with a simple triangle. This triangle is the DNA Martin instilled in the Evil Twin brand, and is a point of reference in the art development for each beer. Martin’s process begins with a beer name. He then creates ideas and sketches from scratch. His work is eye-catching and detail-oriented.

www.martinjustesen.com

http://mikkeller.dk/

 

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Half Acre Beer Co

 

Here in Chicago, we love the design of the liquid and labels of Half Acre Brewing. They were part of the second wave of breweries in Chicago that started breaking the mold of what a brewery could be.

 

Half Acre began ten years ago as a contract brewer, and over the last decade they have grown into becoming a Chicago powerhouse. Their first brewery was built in 2008 at 4257 N. Lincoln Ave, which now houses a retail shop, a taproom and full-service kitchen, and a 25-barrel brewhouse.

 

Last year, they built their Balmoral Ave. brewery, and it’s about to be unleashed to the public. The larger brewing facility will be complemented by an awesome patio and tasting room—and more food, we hope.

 

Well crafted, creative, and classic, Half Acre’s beers are batting 1.000. You will taste magic in their iconic Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, seasonals Akari Shogun American Wheat Ale and GoneAway IPA, freak-out-and-line-up-for-it Big Hugs Imperial Stout with coffee, and other tasty taproom exclusives.
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Half Acre embraces the creative process with the design of their labels. President Gabriel Magliaro works with artist and graphic designer, Phineas X. Jones, in marketing and branding their beers. At Half Acre, Magliaro can be considered the creative director, giving Phineas a wide range of material and inspiration to create a label. Sometimes, the idea is only a name; other times, the ideas are specific. But most times, the ideas percolate in the back in the brewery. By the time it reaches Phineas, Magliaro has a fully formed concept in his mind. Phineas filters and interprets these concepts and brings their art to life.

 

Phineas works from a blank canvas. That fact alone differentiates Half Acre from other breweries following templates and the usual boring conventions of beer labeling. This approach is what makes Half Acre’s marketing and branding refreshing and fun. And their wide range of artwork, styles, and concepts are what separate Half Acre from the pack.

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Best Looking Brands in Beer – Part 1

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by Ed Marszewski
For years, Mash Tun organized and produced “Art of Beer” events around Chicago, showcases for the work of the artists and designers who communicate a brand’s personality and vision through labels, posters, and other packaging. We hosted these events to help craft beer enthusiasts understand and enjoy the parallel activities that make bring a craft beer brewery to life. These parallel art forms of making beer and making a beer brand are an obsession of ours. They have made us pursue drinking the world’s best beer while investigating the work of some of the best illustrators, artists, and designers on the planet.

 

In this issue of Mash Tun Journal, we celebrate one of the reasons we love craft beer so much: the art and design of beer. Whether you know it or not, your local bottle shop or liquor store is hosting an exhibition of contemporary art on its shelves and in its coolers right now. Beer packaging design and labels are canvases that express the essence of their contents. Like any group art show, some work is pedestrian; some work is extraordinary.

 

Some craft beer labels can be shitty and poorly designed, featuring amateur illustrations with little attention to detail. At their worst, they be downright offensive. Other times, beer labels are works of art that can entice you to try the beer—and that’s the point.

 

In recent years, the growth of the craft beer segment has increased competition among breweries in a few ways: for shelf space at retail outlets, for beer drinkers’ attention, and, ultimately, for beer drinkers’ business. Given the decline of “brewery loyalty” among consumers, breweries must now differentiate themselves from their friends and competitors in the industry. Breweries looking to set themselves apart pour thought and money into producing the right look and feel for their packaging and marketing, instead of focusing on the liquid alone. We love it when a brewery makes the packaging and design as exciting and bespoke as the liquid in the bottle.

 

When we picked the candidates of the Best Looking Brands in the Beer Business, we turned to some of our longtime favorites and a few cult-status breweries whose work we find to be experimental and progressive.

 

Enjoy.

 

Our first featured brewery is Mikkeller:

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Mikkeller was started in 2006 by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a Danish physics teacher-turned-brewer, and friend Kristian Keller. After making kitchen experiments for two and a half years, Bjergsø and Keller started brewing beer at a larger scale at Danish microbrewery Ørbæk and just dropped the mike.

 

Mikkeller broke all the molds for what a craft brewery could be. Practically inventing the idea off gypsy brewing, which is essentially contract brewing, Mikkeller beers also ushered in the notion of making a bottle or can of beer a work of culinary and visual art. Since its auspicious homebrewing roots, Mikkeller has become the face for gypsy breweries globally—both in terms of brewing and branding.

 

For Mikkeller, gypsy brewing means bouncing around from brewery to brewery, using excess tank capacity to create many different beers each year. Because of that, they need a lot of artwork to communicate the stories of their beers. That job went to Keith Shore. He first started working freelance for Mikkel—for many years now, Shore has made the beautiful aesthetic of his Mikkeller characters and illustrations into ubiquitous works of art.

 

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The design process is pretty simple. Usually, Mikkel explains a beer’s ingredients and flavor profile and Shore is given complete freedom in developing the imagery, sometimes coming up with the crazy names as well. Shore is usually working on 10-20 designs at a time, using gouache and watercolors to flesh out what is in his sketchbook. His labels are usually color bombs with cartoonish figures that make a nod to the works of Henri Matisse and David Hockney.

 

To date, Mikkeller has made over 650 beers, distributed to over 40 countries. Mikkeller has opened bars in Copenhagen, San Francisco, and Bangkok. Shores’ work is featured in the design of those spaces as well.

 

If there is anyone that has ushered in a new age of branding a beer to help it stand out in a crowded marketplace, Mikkel and Shore could take the blame.

 

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Omnipollo

Karl Grandin is part of the dynamic duo that comprises Omnipollo, a Swedish-based gypsy beer brand that Grandin and pal Henok Fentie created in 2011. Karl directs the marketing and branding side while Henok leads on brewing side. Omnipollo beers are being made all over Europe and the U.S. Omnipollo beers are unique in their packaging, and the liquid tastes delicious.

 

Conceptually and aesthetically, the bottle labels leap from the shelves and beckon you to pick them up. Representing a mixture of psychedelic abstractions and pop religious culture icons, Omnipollo artwork is unique, almost mind-blowing, really.

 

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Karl says that the Omnipollo images are based on his own dreams, and that he tries to bring that psychedelic and enigmatic sort of logic into the artwork. In Karl’s words, the Omnipollo world is “an open-ended cosmos, and although the imagery is often allegorical,” Karl encourages people to explore their own interpretations rather than explaining his intentions.

 

Rather than trying to make artwork that would somehow describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, Karl looks for what is going on around Omnipollo to try to capture something less obvious. There is always a synergy between the beer, the artwork, and the name, sometimes straightforward and obvious. Sometimes it is more cryptic.

 

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Karl says, “We want Omnipollo to be about more than the beer and the artwork. Presentation and stories are important parts of what we create. The shape of Omnipollo will keep developing and shifting. We have made handmade glass cups, garments, jewelry, and a book on homebrewing, and through all the people we meet, the collaborations we do and the ideas we dream up, Omnipollo is becoming more than the sum of its parts.”

 

We love these guys.

 

www.omnipollo.com

www.karlgrandin.com

 

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Using Bankruptcy to Kill the Narrative of the “Craft Beer Bubble.”

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By Jack O’Connor

 

Last December, San Francisco-based Magnolia Brewing filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Being a corporate bankruptcy attorney (and an optimistic beer geek), I view this positively.

 

You should, too.
Why? Because it’s good evidence that the craft beer industry is ready to move past the tired narrative of the dreaded “Craft Beer Bubble.”

 

First, let’s talk about the bubble, and how it’s been speculatively applied to the current craft beer boom, for better or worse.

 

Then we can talk about why a bankruptcy filing in Northern California may be important to ending this narrative.

 

How the “Bubble” Concept is Applied to the Current Craft Beer Boom

 

What exactly does it mean when we talk about a “bubble,” in the craft beer industry? Why is it relevant? Should I be concerned about bubbles? What about bubbles in my bath? Are you going to keep asking rhetorical questions? BUBBLES!

 
The term “bubble,” seems ubiquitous these days when discussing the growth of the craft beer industry. But it’s rarely defined in a clear way. Most often, people seem to use the term “bubble,” to refer to the very broad economic concept of an economic cycle, characterized by rapid expansion in a market, which is followed by severe contraction.

 

The most commonly cited example of a past “bubble,” in the craft beer industry was the rise and fall of microbreweries in the late 90s and early 2000s. According to data from the Brewers Association, the total number of breweries in the U.S. grew by over 500% between 1990 and 2000, ultimately stalling out and slightly declining between 2001 and 2006. Since 2006, however, the total number of breweries in the U.S. has grown again by almost 300%, from 1,511 total breweries in 2007 to current estimates exceeding 4,300 total breweries; more than have ever existed in the country’s history.[1]

 

Along with the growth in number of breweries, the marketshare of craft beer has also grown significantly over this time, both in terms of total sales, and production volume relative to the overall beer market.

 

This rapid growth of craft beer in such a short time is constantly narrative fodder for journalists, bloggers, and forum commenters (Trolls!), speculating that we’re in the midst of another “bubble,” that’s ready to burst any day. The argument usually employs the following logic:

 

New breweries are opening, and current breweries are expanding, at an unsustainable rate. Since the rate of growth is unsustainable, the growth of the craft beer industry will suddenly halt, or reverse just like it did 20 years ago.

 

While we are certainly in the midst of a booming period of growth in craft beer, this argument ignores a number of factors in making the case that we’re in the midst of a bubble. Namely, it misses the idea that craft beer is in the midst of entering a maturity. Calling it a bubble is misleading and ultimately harmful for a couple of reasons.

 

First, the term “bubble,” itself is probably not the right term to describe what happened in the 90s and what people are speculating will happen now. When used by financial professionals, the concept of a bubble focuses on trade pricing for assets in a specific market that strongly deviates from the actual value of those assets (think stock prices, home values, etc.). For example, the dotcom bubble in the late 90s and early 2000s (which happens to coincide with craft beer’s last boom & bust period), was characterized by investors buying tech stocks at artificially high prices, in the belief that they could sell them at even higher prices in the future. This speculation proved untrue, causing the bubble to burst when the value of tech stocks took a nose dive.

 

What we saw in the 90s was probably better described as a boom-and-bust period within the craft beer industry. The number of breweries expanded rapidly, and very suddenly stopped, resulting in a shrinking of the industry generally. This distinction is important to note, because regardless of the rate of industry growth, the industry has never completely fallen off a cliff. The trend, over time has continued upward. Thus, the use of the term “bubble,” can be detrimental to the industry. It assumes a cataclysmic event in which the industry as a whole goes belly-up.

 

Rather than focusing on the bubble narrative, our attention should be focused on how the industry is maturing in the midst of a boom period. Expansion, financing, and acquisition rates are high right now, and likely to slow over time, meaning at the very least fewer new breweries will open on such a rapid basis. And when coupled with increased competition between existing breweries who’ve undergone significant expansions and need to sell more and more beer to stay in business, some breweries will inevitably be forced out of the marketplace.

 

Some won’t be able to compete on quality, others won’t be able to compete from an operational efficiency standpoint. More than a few experienced craft players have adopted this view, including Sam Calgione (Dogfish Head), Bill Covaleski (Victory), Greg Koch (Stone),[2] and Mike Stevens (Founders).[3] When recently asked, all four have indicated that they think that the industry is heading toward a “shakeout,” or “fallout,” where breweries will have to close, and the number of new brewery openings will inevitably slow. But none of them seem to think that the craft beer industry is about to experience a complete bust.

 

I think Van Havig of Gigantic said it best back in 2014, when interviewed for the Strange Brews podcast on NPR. “If you think that every brewery out there is going to make it . . . No,” because every industry has “bad operators,” who’ll go out of business.[4]

 

So even during a boom, industry turnover is natural and expected. It doesn’t mean that a magical pin is about to fall from the sky and pop an imaginary bubble, causing the industry as a whole to disappear overnight. More likely, it means that the market is maturing. And there’s at least one overlooked factor that points to its continuing maturity: Bankruptcy.

 


Bankruptcy as a Factor in Identifying the Craft Beer Industry’s Maturity

 

Bankruptcy filings—especially chapter 11 bankruptcy filings—do not signal the death of a company, much less an industry. They should be viewed as a sign of industry maturity. Businesses that have no intrinsic value do not file for bankruptcy. It can be an expensive process, that really only makes sense if there is an industry and marketplace capable of supporting that business’s continued operations. When a company files for bankruptcy, an “automatic stay,” is triggered which generally prevents creditors from taking action against the company to collect outstanding debts while the company reorganizes. In some cases, chapter 11 is used to sell a business as a going concern, or run an orderly liquidation of the business’s assets.

 
The Magnolia bankruptcy presents a good example of how an established brewery in a competitive market views the long-term viability of the craft beer industry. As a San Francisco based brewery and brewpub, Magnolia (like so many other breweries across the country) recently undertook a dramatic expansion plan, which likely cost more than it could return in the short term for the brewery.[5] As a result, Magnolia filed for chapter 11 in the Northern District of California. The filings in the Bankruptcy Court show that the brewery and its restaurants are profitable, but that the company needs an opportunity to work with its secured lenders and vendors on terms that will keep moving the business forward.

 
Magnolia didn’t have to try to reorganize. If no market existed for its beers, it could have shut its doors and allowed the bank to liquidate its assets piecemeal. But by filing chapter 11, the brewery gives itself time and breathing room to reorganize its debt, reach agreements with creditors, and develop a plan to profitably continue operations.

 

This is not a bad thing. Bankruptcy filings, especially chapter 11 reorganizations, should be viewed as a sign of industry maturity. Rather than simply closing its doors and allowing the bank to liquidate its assets piecemeal, Magnolia is seeking to work its way through a difficult time, in the anticipation that a market exists for its future success.

 


What to Expect in the Future

 
So now, let me make my own wild speculations about where the industry is headed: if I’m right, we shouldn’t be surprised to see more breweries file for bankruptcy in the future. Small and midsize breweries across the country have been rapidly expanding to meet consumer demand. When breweries expand to larger facilities and add capacity, they almost always have to finance that growth through debt or private equity. And with markets becoming increasingly crowded and competitive, breweries may face challenges servicing their debt or making distributions to investors. When this happens, bankruptcy is a likely consequence.

 
But should this mean we’re about to see a bubble burst? No. Simply put, fewer craft breweries does not equate to less good beer. We’re seeing signs every day that craft beer as an industry is becoming more sophisticated, and maturing as an industry. Bankruptcy filings, even if they’re rare, should be a factor considered when determining whether the industry is maturing, or preparing for a cataclysmic downturn.

 

[1]        https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics/

[2]        All recently interviewed together by the Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/ct-talking-beer-with-stone-dogfish-and-victory-20160519-story.html

[3]        http://vinepair.com/wine-blog/craft-beer-bubble/

[4]        Strange Brews ep. 36, aired June 20, 2014.

[5]        http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/San-Francisco-s-popular-Magnolia-Brewing-Co-6681641.php

 

 

You can purchase the lastest issue of Mash Tun Journal at our shop: UndertheCounterCulture

 

 

 

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The 39th Annual Illinois Craft Beer Awards are Coming!

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The first ever 39th Annual Illinois Craft Beer Awards is a party to celebrate all the amazing, fun, and insanely creative people who make the Illinois craft beer industry the vibrant scene that it is! It’s produced by your friends at Mash Tun Journal and The Beer Temple.

The ICBA ceremony is like The Golden Globes or The Academy Awards but for beer industry professionals and for a good cause!

Who will win the highly-coveted “Foamy” trophy and in what category? You’ll have to attend the party to find out!

General admission tickets are $35

BUY THEM HERE

Admission includes:
Complementary Miller High Life
Complementary Craft Beer and Malort!
Paparazzi !
Live Music!
Entertainment !
Swag!

Participating breweries include: Hopewell Brewing, Maplewood, Three Floyds, Half Acre, Revolution, Lagunitas, Goose Island, Arcade Brewing, Transient Artisan Ales, Marz Community Brewing, Lake Effect, Twisted Hippo, Une Annee, Scratch, Noon Whistle, Forbidden Root, Middle Brow, Ballast Point, Whiner, Miller, Band of Bohemia, Blue Island Beer Co, Aleman, Pipeworks, Illuminated Brew Works, Hop Butcher, and others.

There is very limited capacity at this event. All the proceeds from the event will go to Doctors without Borders.

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Mash Tun 010 Release party

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Issue 010 of Mash Tun Journal features work by Calvin Fredrickson, JJ Jetel, Mike Killion, BJ Pichman, Alex Bach, Calvin Fredrickson, Ed Marszewski, Jack O’Connor, Jenny Pfäfflin, Mike Smith, and Matt Tanaka.

We are having the official release party for Mash Tun Journal 010 at Kimski’s Sword Fight event.

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Sword Fight: A Sausage Battle Royale
Sunday, Oct 9 – 2-6 PM
960 W. 31st St, Chicago, IL. 60608

Sword Fight: A Sausage Battle Royale

Sword Fight is Kimski’s inaugural sausage competition. It’s a celebration of encased meats and the people who make and eat them. We will pit three of Chicago’s premier purveyors of encased, cured and fresh meats; Publican Quality Meats, Haymarket Pub & Brewery and Bridgeport’s own Martinez Supermarket in a brat battle royale against one another with the audience ultimately deciding who the wiener is by voting for their favorite.

Sword Fight also features a Sausage Toss contest and a Relish Race.

The Sausage Toss (like the well-known picnic balloon toss) will use casings filled with water with different players throwing the sausages to one another, taking a step back after each catch until one player either drops or pops his sausage.

The Relish Race will be a three-member Olympic-like relay event with different runners handing off a sausage baton to one another as they run a circular course around Maria’s. First team to the finish line without dropping their sausage wins.

The final competition will be a Polish -sausage eating contest, presided by the Sausage Queen, Nicole Makowski of Makowski Real Sausage Co.

Other treats include The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band and Carnival Style Sausage cutouts painted by our own Chef Won Kim.

We invite you to drop by to share in the festivities for this afternoon of good-natured fun, frivolity and great food.

We will be serving all three sausages as a sampler and a la carte. And of course, you’ll be able to pair your sausage with Maria’s varied and wide selection of draft beers and cocktails.

 

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Yes, Sir, Senator: A Bootlegger’s Palace Becomes a Brewer’s Paradise

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By Paul Durica ( from issue 009 )

Over eighty years after repeal, Prohibition and the trade in illegal alcohol its adoption promoted remains closely associated with the city of Chicago. What other city has as one of its most globally-known former residents a bootlegger and gangster, Al Capone? In what other place can tourists take an Untouchables tour led by the likes of Shoulders and Johnny Three Knives? Every bar of a certain age claims with pride to have survived the 1920s as a speakeasy although few can offer up any evidence to support this belief. As Northwestern University’s Bill Savage, who teaches a class on “The City That Drinks,” has observed, the successful speakeasies never got caught, while those who made the papers on account of a raid quickly shuttered. As I’ve written about in Mash Tun, a lot of the illegal industry involved homebrewers with so-called “beer flats” dotting the city. There is one verifiable speakeasy that not only survived Prohibition but managed to capitalize on its illicit fame to become one of Chicago’s most beloved and long-lived restaurants: Barney’s Market Club.

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Rotund and gregarious Barney Kessel enters the public record in a scene straight out of the Jimmy Stewart film Call Northside 777. In 1928, Barney’s restaurant (also an illegal bar, as the newspapers make clear) was held up, and one of the three robbers, Hyman Greenberg, was shot and killed by a police officer, Lt. John Kelley, who’d popped in for a backroom beer. Greenberg, 23, had worked for a printing press not far from Barney’s and had worn “smoked glasses” to conceal his identity. He was a member of one of the numerous immigrant communities residing near the restaurant on the city’s west side not far from Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr’s Hull House settlement. Not long after the botched robbery, Barney would find himself on the wrong side of the law, arrested for operating a speakeasy and sentenced to sixty days in the Ogle County Jail.

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Exhibiting the charm used on the connected and powerful throughout his career, Barney managed to escape his cell for twenty of those days, a minor scandal that resulted in the county sheriff being fined for failure to enforce prohibition laws and that suggested, as did the Greenberg shooting, that the relationship between local law enforcement and bootleggers wasn’t always antagonistic. Despite the arrest and brief imprisonment, Barney managed to open a second, larger restaurant in the late 1930s, right in the center of Chicago’s wholesale market district.

 

Barney’s Market Club is the restaurant most Chicagoans remember. It specialized in steak, lobster, and smelt. Bowls of radishes and green onions greeted visitors as they sat down at their tables, one of them, the so-called “Holy Corner,” reserved for men of the cloth. Eddie the harmonica player entertained as he wandered among the tables, some inside, some out, for Barney’s claimed to be city’s first sidewalk café. Overseeing it all, Barney, a white apron tied tight around his ever-expanding center, barked out, “Put him on the payroll” or “Yes, sir, Senator,” to the delight of patrons. Politicians, like priests, frequented the Market Club, and the story goes that Barney, never able to keep straight who held what office, referred to them all as “Senator.” Whether the story is truer than the numerous ones about Chicago speakeasies is difficult to tell, but as a marketing strategy, it worked: Barney’s Market Club quickly established itself as one of Chicago’s most colorful restaurants. Barney got in trouble with the law again in the middle of World War II for selling more steaks than his ration points allowed, but, as was the case in his bootlegger days, this infraction made him only more popular with the public. A diet of his own steaks and lobster eventually caught up with him, and Barney died of a heart attack in 1951. His son-in-law took over the business and employees at the Market Club continued to call everyone “Senator” until its closing in 1996.

 

While Barney Kessel managed to not only survive but also thrive in the aftermath of Prohibition, the same could not be said of Chicago’s brewing industry. In 1900, sixty breweries operated in the city. The passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act that brought about Prohibition ended the existence of all but a handful. Those that survived succumbed, one by one, as national brands such as Miller and Anheuser-Busch took over the market. Then, starting in the late 1980s, craft breweries, Goose Island chief among them, started to appear. Today Chicago has over 150 craft breweries, with more opening each month.
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One of them, Haymarket Pub and Brewery, occupies the old Barney’s Market Club with 11 of its own award-winning craft beers and 13 guests drafts on tap. “We searched around town for over a year looking for a spot that was both a good location and also steeped in Chicago’s rich history,” says brewmaster and co-owner Pete Crowley. “When we walked into Barney’s old space in the Haymarket Square, we knew instantly we had found it.” The brewery may take its name from a different part of Chicago’s past but, through Barney’s Market Club, connects back to Prohibition. Haymarket makes one grateful, with each sip of its Speakerswagon Pilsner or Mathias Imperial IPA, that those unenlightened times are behind us and that we can all still feel like Senators.

 

 

 

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C.H.A.O.S. Diaspora: When Homebrewers Go Pro, Pt 4

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By Calvin Fredrickson

C.H.A.O.S. brew club is a homebrew collective located in Chicago’s Near West Side. Established in 2011, C.H.A.O.S provides brewing resources to budding homebrewers, from equipment, to cellaring space, to camaraderie. But if you’re just looking for a good time without a serious commitment to brewing, do not miss their seasonal parties, which are open to the public through a trial membership. A dazzling array of food – prepared by C.H.A.O.S. homebrewers –is served alongside adventurous homebrew with a deftness to make an epicurean blush.

Many homebrewers dream of taking their stovetop batches to a commercial scale. The following homebrewers did just that. Some were present at C.H.A.O.S. from its inception, or close to it, while others had only a brief involvement with the club. One thing is certain of these homebrewers: their shared goal of working in the beer industry was impacted by their time at C.H.A.O.S. These homebrewers found a way to go pro. We hope their stories inspire you like they inspired us.


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Eric Olson
Occupation before going pro: Bartender and beer-buyer
Current industry gig: Production manager, Marz Community Brewing Co.

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?

Mike Marszewski, the owner of Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar, introduced me to homebrewing. He helped me brew my first homebrew in my apartment which is now occupied by Marz’s brewhouse. This was the summer of 2011.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

Relative to the rest of the brewers, I’d say I fell somewhere in the middle. At any given point I had at most 2 carboys in the fermentation room or “ferm-room,” as members call it. My homebrewing was split between beers I brewed at the C.H.A.O.S. club house and those I brewed at home.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”? 

The beer I impressed myself the most with was an American brown ale that I had added some rhubarb and strawberries to. It was early spring when I brewed it, so I was able to utilize some fresh rhubarb from my mother’s garden in Rockford, IL. It had a wonderful tartness from the fruit backed by a robust, toasty malt bill. The beer really mimicked the experience of eating fresh strawberry rhubarb pie.

So, how did you “go pro?”

Well, I’m glad you put that question in air quotes. I’ve been in the process of becoming a pro the last year and a half working at Marz. No one simply goes pro overnight. That said, the way I stepped out of the world of homebrewing and into the world of commercial brewing started out with talks Ed Marszewski and I had. We already had this deep affection for craft beers, drinking and serving them at Maria’s. After about a year or so of nonchalantly talking about starting a brewery, a small little storefront in Bridgeport opened up (my old apartment in the back). We decided this would be as good a place as any to make our liquid dreams a reality.

What does your role at Marz entail?

Managing production at Marz entails scheduling our production and staff. Working with ingredient and equipment suppliers to ensure the brewery has the materials to brew and package our beers. Being such a small brewery we all wear a lot of different hats, so on any given day you might also see me graining out a mash tun, cleaning kegs, or labeling bottles, etc.

What’s the latest at Marz, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

We recently packaged a sour version of our Bridgeporter. It packs nearly a pound of fruit per gallon, including elderberries, cherries, and blackberries. Fruited sour up front, porter on the finish. <Doing my best jazz hands>.

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

The biggest piece of advice I have is learn from your local commercial brewers as much as possible. If you live near Chicago or another major craft beer hub, you are surrounded by many brewers with a plethora of knowledge. Brewers learn and improve they’re craft by making mistakes (which you don’t have to make!) So ask around your local breweries to volunteer or just hang out learn. Take notes, ask questions, and always pay attention to what the brewers are doing. This will pay major dividends when it comes to troubleshooting your own brewery.  In addition, homebrew clubs like C.H.A.O.S. are hotbeds for brewing know-how. I was amazed at how much I learned about brewing sitting on the clubhouse couch (RIP old friend) hungover on a Sunday afternoon.

 

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Tim Lange
Occupation before going pro: Senior IT systems consultant
Current industry gig: Head brewer, Marz Community Brewing Co.  

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?   

Just after college, my roommate’s girlfriend gave him a homebrewing kit and basic hardware, but it sat around our apartment unopened and unused for long enough that it became common property. I read Charlie Papazian’s book, got inspired and fermented a few barely drinkable beers in a closet. Friend and colleague Tremaine Atkinson (CH distillery) was a homebrewer years before this. After hearing about my semi-successful extract batches, he brought over his mash/boil kettle and a Blichmann wort chiller for my first all-grain brew.  We had a stuck sparge but made a great beer!

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

After my first few batches, brewing became a full-blown obsession pretty quickly. I built a temp controller out of Radioshack parts and turned a 14′ deep freezer into a fermentation chamber—this drastically changed the quality of my homebrews into something I was proud to share. Building a kegerator also helped develop my palate and understand how beers change over time as they lager and stale in kegs.  The last major step up was getting a 20-gallon Blichmann brew system that effectively doubled my output and allowed for split batches.  I was making two kegs in less time than I previously made one, and could experiment with different yeasts and dry hops in each keg.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”? 

My day-to-day life was lacking creativity, and brewing filled that void. I have the technical side at my job, but “creativity” is limited to problem solving. Beer satisfies both. Selling beer was always a fantasy, and it probably is for many homebrewers. But meeting Ed and getting involved with Marz actually made it possible. Trying to get into Marz forced me to work harder at brewing and evaluate each beer much more critically. I was testing my recipes against the Marz guys hoping they’d want to brew them.

So, how did you “go pro?”

I joined Square Kegs homebrew club, and later, C.H.A.O.S., to get feedback from peers and talk beer on a technical level. Square Kegs lead to entering a couple competitions and winning a couple awards. My girlfriend found an article about Ed starting Marz during this time, so I started sending lots of emails and commuting to Maria’s bar to get some facetime and share my beers with the crew.  My last award was at an event Ed hosted, and he finally caved to my persistence and gave me a chance at Marz.

What does your role at Marz entail?  

We brew three days a week right now and I brew the Saturday batch. During the week, after my day job, I spend some evenings creating or tweaking existing recipes. I also do a lot of research related to processes, equipment, or supplies. We’re fortunate to have a lot of awesome, experienced friends in the industry to guide us in making some decisions, so I spend time connecting with and learning from them. I owe a lot of people a lot of beers. There’s so much to learn as a new brewery. We’re also working on building our new production brewery and taproom.

What’s the latest at Marz, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

Starting out, we initially made some compromises for our recipes in the name of consistency and quality.  We had to prove to ourselves and consumers that we could make good beer and repeat it.  We generally used one yeast for a lot of our beers, for example, so we could eliminate a massive fermentation variable in our recipes and focus on malt and hop adjustments with each new batch.  We’ve learned a lot in a year and half and we’re applying this experience to help us make better and more interesting beers today.  We’re at an exciting transitional time in a lot of ways.  Last year we started filling barrels with various wild beers with great results. I can’t wait to work more with these types of beers in our new facility later this year. Most of my favorite beers are mixed cultures aged in wood. .

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

Ask yourself why you want to go pro. There are many constraints, considerations, and timelines that don’t generally exist with homebrewing. Brew a lot to see if the passion sticks or fizzles before wasting anyone’s time in a brewery. Also, be very critical of your beers and aspire to brew as well as the leaders in the industry. That’s what people want to drink and how you’ll be measured. And dump shitty beer!

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C.H.A.O.S. Diaspora: When Homebrewers Go Pro, Pt 3

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By Calvin Fredrickson

C.H.A.O.S. brew club is a homebrew collective located in Chicago’s Near West Side. Established in 2011, C.H.A.O.S provides brewing resources to budding homebrewers, from equipment, to cellaring space, to camaraderie. But if you’re just looking for a good time without a serious commitment to brewing, do not miss their seasonal parties, which are open to the public through a trial membership. A dazzling array of food – prepared by C.H.A.O.S. homebrewers –is served alongside adventurous homebrew with a deftness to make an epicurean blush.

Many homebrewers dream of taking their stovetop batches to a commercial scale. The following homebrewers did just that. Some were present at C.H.A.O.S. from its inception, or close to it, while others had only a brief involvement with the club. One thing is certain of these homebrewers: their shared goal of working in the beer industry was impacted by their time at C.H.A.O.S. These homebrewers found a way to go pro. We hope their stories inspire you like they inspired us.
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David Williams
Occupation before going pro: Technical consultant (I still do this, too).
Current industry gig: Head brewer, Horse Thief Hollow

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?  

I started brewing after a move from Philly to Chicago early-2006.  I saw an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown, and it looked like something that was interesting and fun. I lived in Naperville, IL at the time, and the closest homebrew shop was The Brewers Coop located inside Two Brothers Brewing. I visited the shop and bought my first homebrewing setup from Jim Ebel. I started brewing on my own for a while and later with friends.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

When I first started, it was very casual. I made the same amber beer featured on Good Eats. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I was really into Belgian beers around the time I first started homebrewing. It wasn’t until my third batch that I decided to make a Belgian-style Beer. Belgian-style beers are good to brew early on in the hobby – they’re very forgiving as far as pitch quantity and fermentation temperature goes. That third batch opened my eyes to what kind of beer could be made in my kitchen. From there, it became an obsession.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”?

I didn’t start out with any ambition to turn into a professional brewer.  It’s something that just sort of fell into place, and it’s something I do as a passion of love, because it’s certainly not something you get into for a huge paycheck. With that in mind, the notion of “Man, I could sell this” was never something I considered. It was more of “Man, this tastes good. I can’t wait to share it with my other homebrewing friends and family.”

So, how did you “go pro?”

I met Neil, the owner of Horse Thief Hollow, when he was first starting to plan out the brewpub – it was very early on in the process when it was a little more than an idea. I literally hear hundreds of people tell me “Hey, I’m opening a brewery.” So, I didn’t think much of it. He came to a C.H.A.O.S. event and tried some of my beer. We hung out at that event and later on went to other craft beer establishments, and over time, we became friends. Once he had purchased a building, Neil invited me to check out a rough space that would later become the brewpub for Horse Thief. I brewed some homebrew beers for an informal construction party. After that party, Neil asked me to help set up the brewery, and later he asked me to be the brewer for Horse Thief Hollow.

What does your role at Horse Thief Hollow entail?

I am the head brewer at our 90-seat brewpub in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. We have a full kitchen and brew all of our beer on-site. As head brewer, I am in charge of production on a five-barrel brewhouse where we fill either five- or 10-barrel fermenters. I run all the typical operations of a small brewery, from brewing to cellar duties.

What’s the latest at Horse Thief, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

We recently brewed Cheval Deux, a biere de darde with sweet potatoes. It’s typically a Fall seasonal, but we re-brewed it a few weeks ago to enter into the World Beer Cup happening this year in my hometown, Philadelphia. We did pretty well with this beer in the last WBC, winning a silver medal in the field beer category. We’ve got our fingers crossed for similar luck this year.

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

I feel like brewing is in a renaissance period right now. There’s never been a better time to get into the industry. But you should only get into it if you have the right motivations. Being a shift brewer or even head brewer isn’t going to send you home with your pockets stuffed full of money. You’re gonna work hard, long, exhausting hours. You’ll most likely be paid crap, and at the end of the day, you’re basically a glorified janitor. If you’re okay with that and truly have a love for making beer and all the creativity that goes into it, then there isn’t a better gig around. The brewing community and people you will meet are some of the best people you’ll have the privilege to meet. The community, having a creative outlet, and being able to make something with your own hands is what makes it all worthwhile.

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Jason Krasowski
Occupation before going pro: Sign manufacturer
Current industry gig: Brewer, Begyle Brewing

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?

I spent a lot of years around homebrewers, watching and helping, but I have to thank my father-in-law for pushing me to start really doing it myself three-four years ago by signing me up for the American Homebrewers Association and giving me a copy of How To Brew. The hands-on process and creation of an end product that others could enjoy got me.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

Somewhere in the middle. I was brewing twice a month when I first joined the club, and C.H.A.O.S. was my first all-grain brewing, so I really got super obsessive about hitting all my numbers (OG, FG) and making good yeast starters. But when I was there, I was always trying to listen, learn and ask questions from the other members. I think that was and is my favorite part. Everyone was super helpful. At first, I was a little intimidated by the process, but felt more at ease because of the friendliness of the other members. It was a relaxed environment and I took every opportunity I could to learn from others.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”? 

It wasn’t some recipe that set me on the path – it was realizing that I enjoyed the non-sexy details of the brewing process, like cleaning and cellar work. At almost 40 years old, I didn’t think I could have the career in beer that I wanted, that maybe the time had passed, but the craft community was inspiring and welcoming. I used to listen to brewing podcasts all day while I worked at the sign shop and just think about beer, but now I don’t need to do that. I just get up and go to work. I’m living it now, that’s the part I still pinch myself about.

So, how did you “go pro?”

My first step was to take the Concise Course [in Brewing Technology] at Siebel Institute so I had some tangible knowledge about what I was trying to do, and to show my potential employer I was serious about this career change. From there, it was looking at probrewer.com and waiting for the right opportunity. I went on a few interviews before I got the job at Begyle, and now I thank God those other ones didn’t work out because I definitely feel like what I do now is a perfect fit.

What does your role at Begyle entail?

Our head brewer, Liz French, our cellarman/cider maker, Paul Cade, and I do everything that has to get done to get great beer into your hands. Our brewery isn’t very automated, so from dumping grain and doughing-in to building case boxes, we do whatever is needed. But mostly, we clean…a lot.

What’s the latest at Begyle, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

Oh, man! That’s a tough question to answer! We’re lucky that our bosses are very supportive and trusting with putting the power of development in our hands, so we’ve been able to do some cool new things, like the Irish Red we have on tap now, or the barleywine in the fermenter. And we’ve been able to tweak older recipes to make them exactly the way we want them, like our double IPA, Quagmire. I liked the beer before, but after just a few small adjustments, it’s so juicy and drinkable to me, it’s scary!

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

Here’s what I’ve learned….
Taking a class from Siebel or somewhere that is industry-related is a big help, and looks great on a resume. It sets you apart from the competition, and let’s us know you’re serious about being in the business. So much about working at a brewery has to do with personality. You are really selling yourself, and whether or not they can see themselves working with you for what can be long, tough days. So remember, attitude is important!

As far as resume goes, nobody cares how many check-ins you have on Untappd or breweries you’ve visited. Seriously. We all drink beer, that’s why we’re here. How does what you are doing now relate to the multitasking you would be doing in a brewery? Someone told me once, “I can teach anyone to make beer, what I can’t teach is how to be a hard worker.” It’s very true.

 

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C.H.A.O.S. Diaspora: When Homebrewers Go Pro, Part 2

C.H.A.O.S. Diaspora: When Homebrewers Go Pro

By Calvin Fredrickson

 

C.H.A.O.S. brew club is a homebrew collective located in Chicago’s Near West Side. Established in 2011, C.H.A.O.S provides brewing resources to budding homebrewers, from equipment, to cellaring space, to camaraderie. But if you’re just looking for a good time without a serious commitment to brewing, do not miss their seasonal parties, which are open to the public through a trial membership. A dazzling array of food – prepared by C.H.A.O.S. homebrewers –is served alongside adventurous homebrew with a deftness to make an epicurean blush. Their annual Cerveza de Mayo is May 7th, 2016. See chaosbrewclub.net for more info.

 

Many homebrewers dream of taking their stovetop batches to a commercial scale. The following homebrewers did just that. Some were present at C.H.A.O.S. from its inception, or close to it, while others had only a brief involvement with the club. One thing is certain of these homebrewers: their shared goal of working in the beer industry was impacted by their time at C.H.A.O.S. These homebrewers found a way to go pro. We hope their stories inspire you like they inspired us.

 

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Edward Nash
Occupation before going pro: Product manager
Current industry gig: Co-owner and head brewer, Arclight Brewing Co.

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?

My father used to homebrew in the late 70’s. That was my first exposure to fermentation. Later, I had a girlfriend that said I should get a hobby. She suggested homebrewing, and I happened to be a garage sale where they had a homebrew kit never opened for $5, so I bought it. I bought an extract kit to familiarize myself with the brewing process, and then went straight into all-grain brewing. I read everything I could get my hands on and started brewing about twice a week. I also traveled a lot and would visit as many breweries as I could for future reference. I came across C.H.A.O.S., who would hold public events where you could serve your homebrew, which was awesome, so I joined them. That just fueled my desire to open a brewery.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

Hard to put a label on it…but I was brewing twice a week…so…

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”? 

Not really…I just tried to brew the best beer I could, actually I felt I could brew better beer going pro because I had access to better technology for controlling the brewing process you do not normally have as a homebrewer.

So, how did you “go pro?”

Made a decision to go for it, found a partner, and we started the process of opening a brewery.

What does your role at Arclight entail?

 I’m the co-owner and head brewer. My job entails everything in the brewing process, and I am assisted by my assistant brewer. As co-owner, I split the duties of ownership with my partner. I generally handle everything in the back of the house while he handles the front of the house, such as the taproom.

What’s the latest at Arclight, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

We have a sour program here and we do mostly fruited American sours. Our cellar has 30 oak barrels aging cherry, mango, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, and raspberry sours currently. We also have an Imperial Golden Java Milk Stout that is really popular. Additionally, we make sodas in-house, which we use to create shandies that are very popular. They have been a great gateway into craft beer for a lot of people.

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

Going pro is more than just upgrading your homebrew system and selling beer. There is so much added to the process that a lot of people do not realize. Dealing with contractors, federal and state agencies, suppliers, dealing with employees – the list goes on. In reality, actual brewing is a small part of owning a brewery, if that is the route you want to take. If you just want to be a pro brewer and brew at a brewery, be prepared to be flexible. Every system is different and you have to learn to deal with its advantages and shortcomings. Read anything and everything you can on brewing and don’t be afraid to try and fail. Not everything you make will be awesome, but it will make you a better brewer.

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Reed Schwenger
Occupation before going pro: Food service industry
Current industry gig: Brewer, Goose Island Beer Co.

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?

I caught the homebrewing bug after I worked at a craft beer/farm-to-table restaurant in River North. At the time I was 20, was seriously interested, and was eager to learn more. Being 20, I was very “up in the air” with what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t really have much direction, and never felt I fit in any one specific career. However, I did know that I was extremely passionate about all of the aspects that came with the beer industry. I was always, in a way, “a jack of all trades, master of none.” The beer world had everything I was looking for: Farm-to-table, grain-to-glass, artistic attitude, and a mysterious type of take on the beverage realm. People would say, “Whoa, that’s the brewer…(and in a way)…that guy makes magic in a pot!” and I wanted to be that guy. Furthermore, the brewing industry was, and still is, so hugely multifaceted in community. When it comes to beer geeks, we can talk about beer all day and night; we speak our own language.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

The community basis of this industry is what keeps us going. Brewing beer isn’t the most beautiful job, but the community that surrounds it is. This is the reason I wanted to be a part of C.H.A.O.S., as they’re such a great club with so many fingers in Chicago. At the time I became a member, I had a lot of my own equipment already, I always had something going either in fermentation or in maturation. C.H.A.O.S. was something that would have been good as I needed a place outside of my condo on the 16th floor, a community of people I could speak, chill, and learn with. Although I never brewed there, I have spoken, chilled, and learned with them. They’re great people. You mentioned spectrum, I was on the obsessive end of it, and there are people from C.H.A.O.S. who fall into everything from casual to obsessive.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”?

I think I was brewing beer one time, and in the background on T.V. was How It’s Made. I was staring at the abyss of the show and had a boil over. For some reason, this was the time I thought about going pro seriously. I loved automation, systems, operations, working with people, and making what seems like nothing into something people can physically put their tongue on and taste. Including this, the feedback, and learning from one another is especially fun.

So, how did you “go pro”?

While working as a bartender at numerous establishments, I was always trying to get off work and use as many connections to get my foot in the door. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but remembered the importance of working for free when you love something. I knew that if I was seriously committed to building a career out of this, I should gain formal education. I attended Siebel institute of Technology for their Concise Course in Brewing Technology, and in 2015 I was part of their Master Brewers Program in both Chicago and at Doemens in Bavaria. After graduating, and all that money spent, I learned a hell of a lot, but was also able to prove that if I was willing to foot the bill for school and be successful there, I must be passionate, trainable, and hardworking.

What does your role at Goose Island entail?

Currently, I have been at our barrel-aging warehouse working with Bourbon County Stout, BCS variants, and our Sour Sisters as well. It’s hard work, but it’s definitely fun. We work with a great team of people, and we’re always learning. The moment I was able to catch my breath, I had to have the C.H.A.O.S. guys come in and see the place. We gave them free reign on the facility, and had a great time getting to know each other better. Goose Island is making some big changes, and we shutting down the brewery for the month of March as we install new equipment. We’re still here with lots of catch-up work, and a bit of travel for many of the brewers. When we get back on track, I’ll be heading over to the brewery on Fulton. I’ll miss the barrels for sure, but they’ll always be nearby.

What’s the latest at Goose, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

For beer, I’m very jazzed about or 2015 Halia release. It’s really a great beer that showcases the variability of the barrel-aging program. The differences that we see from one year’s vintage to the next is so similar, but so different. 2014 was very peachy, where 2015 shines with the oak. The wood and fruit really worked well with one another in the cask. I’m definitely looking forward to our new equipment, and I’m eager to work with it.

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to “go pro”?

My advice for home brewers, and/or beer geeks going pro, is to brew beer. You may be able to read and talk about beer…you may know all of the mistakes possible, but you have to get your hands dirty, and you have to take reasonable risks. Join a club like C.H.A.O.S.! After all, it’s just beer, it isn’t brain surgery, so most of all, have fun.

 

CHAOS-Eric-Padilla_Photo_by_Calvn_Fredrickson_web

 

Eric Padilla
Occupation before going pro: Database application developer
Current industry gig: Former head brewer, Breakroom Brewery

How and when did you catch the homebrewing bug?

I started homebrewing just over four years ago with a couple of my friends. We wanted to learn how to make beer since we had been craft beer fans for a while, so we put together some money and we purchased equipment and recipe kits to get us started. Our first beer was a pale ale kit that we got with our equipment bundle.

C.H.A.O.S. members range from casual to obsessive homebrewers. Where did you fall on that spectrum?

I guess I would say obsessive. When we started homebrewing we were making a batch just about every other week. We had to purchase more kegs and fermenters soon after we started in order to keep up the pace. This helped us learn a lot about brewing in a short amount of time, and allowed us to see our beers steadily improve with each batch.

Did you have an epiphany homebrew where you said, “Man, I could sell this. I should make a go of it”? 

Not really, but I did notice that more and more people were liking my beer the more I brewed. I put a lot of time and effort into learning as much about brewing in order to make beer that actually tasted good. It was very rewarding to share a glass of a beer that I made with friends and have them enjoy it. I would get asked frequently about becoming a pro brewer, but at the time I had no idea what it took to actually start a brewery. I wasn’t until later when I started meeting pro brewers that I actually got to see what was involved in making beer on a large scale.

So, how did you “go pro?”

My first pro brewing gig was at Horse Thief Hollow brewpub in Beverly about three years ago. My friend, Dave Williams, invited me to come brew with him when he started as head brewer there, so I would head there after work to assist him. I was very lucky to have this opportunity because I learned a tremendous amount about running a new brewery. Without that experience I would not have been able to hit the ground running to get Breakroom Brewery started in the short time we had. This past year was great learning experience for me, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to expand as a brewer and to be able to get direct feedback on the beer that I brewed. While I am currently pursuing a new path, I wish the best for the Breakroom group and their new partnerships.

What does your role at Breakroom entail?

As the head brewer I pretty much got to do all aspects of running the brewery – from developing recipes, ordering ingredients, brewing, cellaring, cleaning, record keeping, etc. There is a lot of manual work involved and some days can be long, but it is all worth it once you take a sip of your latest brew.

What’s the latest at Breakroom, and which of your beers are you jazzed about?

I recently made a Mosaic-hopped pale ale Mosa that I split in half to ferment with two different yeast strains. One half was pitched with American yeast and dry-hopped with Amarillo hops, while the other got a Belgian Trappist strain and was dry-hopped with Cascade. I’m a big fan of these hops, and doing this split batch shows how the type of yeast used can complement them in different ways. The clean profile of the American yeast lets the hops shine through, while the esters from the Belgian strain meld with the hops to create something unique.

Any advice for homebrewers or beer freaks lookin’ to go pro?

Keep brewing, and learn as much about brewing as you can. Read as much brewing material as possible or take formal classes. Then try to intern or volunteer at a local brewery. If you feel brewing is something you’re passionate about, then make the leap and apply for a position at a brewery that can get your foot in the door.

 

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Know Thyself: An Essay on Lazy Beer Marketing.

  Know Thyself: An Essay on Lazy Beer Marketing. Matt Tanaka   There’s a lot of lazy marketing in the beer world, and it’s holding good breweries back. It’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s the result of a bad idea that’s been repeated for years: all a brewery needs to do to survive is make great beer, and that if the marketing is “good” and polished, then the beer must be bad. Unfortunately, in today’s new-brewery-every-day marketplace, that simply isn’t true.   That recurring notion stems from the misconception that marketing is just the act of making something shiny when it shouldn’t be. That it’s the swindler’s art of making stuff up to sell a product. That’s bad marketing. The truth is, real marketing — good marketing — is something much deeper than that. It’s the well-communicated story of the culture and identity of a brewery. And, whether it’s packaging design, social media content, the words on the website, or the way the reps present their story at an event, every part of what a brewery does should be focused on communicating that identity.   The following “case studies” feature breweries with marketing problems, all of which stem from the fact they aren’t doing a great job of communicating who they are to beer drinkers. Because I’m not a masochist, none of these breweries are real, but as the honorable Julia Louis-Dreyfus once said in an interview about her documentary series, Veep: “Everyone loves the show because they all think it’s about the other guy.” So, before you get mad at me: these are all about the other guy. You’re doing great.   Case Study #1: Super Brad Brewery   The Problem Super Brad Brewery is a brewpub in a small southern town known for its constant experimentation. After a recent shift to a wider distribution, they’ve found themselves needing to act more like the packaging brewery they’ve become, without abandoning their tiny-batch, change-on-a-dime brewpub origins. While waiting for a solution to magically fall into place, their social media accounts continue to treat the brewery like a bar in a small town.   The Fix A simple change in the way they approach social media would help to shift their image from being a bar that brews beer to that of an established brewery. To put it simply, these guys really suck at social media. If I see them post one more photo of the shitty band that’s playing at their taproom that week, or a poorly lit shot of a greasy looking burger on BOGO night, I’m going to lose my marbles. These things are uninspiring, unoriginal, and kind of miss the point of social media in the first place. It’s not about throwing tiny advertisements and announcements at people; it’s about providing a window into the culture of your brewery, then inviting people to join you in that culture. It’s a way for someone who has never visited your brewery to get a taste of the personality of the people that make that beer. It’s about extending the experience beyond your taproom.   The folks at Super Brad are super goofy, with a weird sense of humor and a penchant for pranks. This is reflected in the beer they brew — it’s weird and experimental and is really hard to pigeonhole into any one style, or region. Their social media should reflect this by documenting the actual scenes of life at the brewery. That time John bought a Nerf gun and that escalated into a weeklong, all-brewery dart war? Instagram that. That time Sarah wanted to see if she could brew a peanut butter porter using peanuts that she grew at home? Take some photos of the experiments and post them in an album on Facebook with a story about the process. Show off the culture of your brewery instead of trying to pull people into the brewpub.     Case Study #2: Heelflip Brewing Company   The Problem Heelflip Brewing Company is a production brewery and taproom in San Diego with a strong skateboarding theme. They have beers with names like, Double Kickflip IIPA, Boardslide Bitter and Frontside Fakie Narflip 360 BaitHook to Fakie Benihana Stout. Whenever they talk about the brewery, this is what they focus on. So much so that the beer is always treated as secondary. As a result, they’re not known for the beer they brew, even though they keep winning awards for it. It’s all summed up in their tagline: “Heelflip Brewing: Beer For Skateboarders.”   The Fix  “Beer For Skateboarders” is really only half of the story. They like skateboarding, yes, but what they’re really good at is making killer beer. There’s a much stronger tie to the theme that they’ve devoted themselves to under the surface, and it’s one that shifts the focus to what’s important: the beer. Most of what they brew is low in alcohol, a decision they made because they wanted to drink sessionable beers that let them extend their skate… sessions. To let that idea speak a little louder, they could use a tagline closer to this: “Heelflip Brewing: Session Beers For Longer Sessions.” The change is subtle but important. It shifts the focus of the brand from the skateboarding to the beer. Instead of saying “We started our brewery because we like skating,” the tagline could read: “We started our brewery to make great beer, and we like to make the kind of beer that we can drink while skateboarding.”   Case Study #3: Melange Brewing Company   The Problem Their IPA, Shondorf’s Second Staff has phenomenal graphics — a bad ass illustration of a wizard hovering above a cave where a troll wearing a “Shondorf” name tag pours hops into a steamy cauldron. Awesome. But when it sits on a shelf next to their Space Dust Oyster Stout with its classic video game-inspired graphics, or their The DM Is Always Right DIPA with what appears to be the artwork of the brewmaster’s five-year-old scribbled on a bar napkin… I get confused. And then…

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Best Looking Brands in Beer – Part 2: Evil Twin and Half Acre

In  issue 10 of Mash Tun Journal, we celebrate one of the reasons we love craft beer so much: the art and design of beer. Whether you know it or not, your local bottle shop or liquor store is hosting an exhibition of contemporary art on its shelves and in its coolers right now. Beer packaging design and labels are canvases that express the essence of their contents. Like any group art show, some work is pedestrian; some work is extraordinary. See Part 1 of the  Best Looking Brands in Beer for the full introduction. Evil Twin If you don’t know Evil Twin Brewing by now, you have been living under a rock. Evil Twin is a Copenhagen-based gypsy brewery that was formed in 2010 by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. Jeppe’s foray into beer started in the mid 2000s with a beer club and beer store in Copenhagen. Jeppe also happens to be the twin brother of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, who runs the Danish brewery Mikkeller, whose brand is also featured in our Best Looking Beers in the Business piece.   Evil Twin started a few years after Mikkel opened Mikkeller in Denmark. As the Danish beer scene blew up and went global, Jeppe made the move to Brooklyn in 2012 to direct his empire. After moving to Brooklyn, he opened an awesome beer bar, Tørst, which features Evil Twin beers alongside other weird and delicious beers from around the world.     With beers being made on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Evil Twin has grown into a global craft beer company. He is the living incarnation of the brewer-as-rockstar, jet-setting around the world collaborating, brewing, and innovating for the craft beer world in terms of formula, design, marketing, and distribution.   Evil Twin is known for their elegant label design and clever beer names, such as: Beer Geek Breakfast, Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room, Imperial Biscotti Break, and Hipster Ale. Jeppe often collaborates with his wife, Maria, who has a hand in guiding the brand through the beer naming and label copy writing processes. Creative Director Martin Justesen initiated the Evil Twin graphic design style with a simple triangle. This triangle is the DNA Martin instilled in the Evil Twin brand, and is a point of reference in the art development for each beer. Martin’s process begins with a beer name. He then creates ideas and sketches from scratch. His work is eye-catching and detail-oriented. www.martinjustesen.com http://mikkeller.dk/   ////// Half Acre Beer Co   Here in Chicago, we love the design of the liquid and labels of Half Acre Brewing. They were part of the second wave of breweries in Chicago that started breaking the mold of what a brewery could be.   Half Acre began ten years ago as a contract brewer, and over the last decade they have grown into becoming a Chicago powerhouse. Their first brewery was built in 2008 at 4257 N. Lincoln Ave, which now houses a retail shop, a taproom and full-service kitchen, and a 25-barrel brewhouse.   Last year, they built their Balmoral Ave. brewery, and it’s about to be unleashed to the public. The larger brewing facility will be complemented by an awesome patio and tasting room—and more food, we hope.   Well crafted, creative, and classic, Half Acre’s beers are batting 1.000. You will taste magic in their iconic Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, seasonals Akari Shogun American Wheat Ale and GoneAway IPA, freak-out-and-line-up-for-it Big Hugs Imperial Stout with coffee, and other tasty taproom exclusives. Half Acre embraces the creative process with the design of their labels. President Gabriel Magliaro works with artist and graphic designer, Phineas X. Jones, in marketing and branding their beers. At Half Acre, Magliaro can be considered the creative director, giving Phineas a wide range of material and inspiration to create a label. Sometimes, the idea is only a name; other times, the ideas are specific. But most times, the ideas percolate in the back in the brewery. By the time it reaches Phineas, Magliaro has a fully formed concept in his mind. Phineas filters and interprets these concepts and brings their art to life.   Phineas works from a blank canvas. That fact alone differentiates Half Acre from other breweries following templates and the usual boring conventions of beer labeling. This approach is what makes Half Acre’s marketing and branding refreshing and fun. And their wide range of artwork, styles, and concepts are what separate Half Acre from the pack.

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Best Looking Brands in Beer – Part 1

by Ed Marszewski For years, Mash Tun organized and produced “Art of Beer” events around Chicago, showcases for the work of the artists and designers who communicate a brand’s personality and vision through labels, posters, and other packaging. We hosted these events to help craft beer enthusiasts understand and enjoy the parallel activities that make bring a craft beer brewery to life. These parallel art forms of making beer and making a beer brand are an obsession of ours. They have made us pursue drinking the world’s best beer while investigating the work of some of the best illustrators, artists, and designers on the planet.   In this issue of Mash Tun Journal, we celebrate one of the reasons we love craft beer so much: the art and design of beer. Whether you know it or not, your local bottle shop or liquor store is hosting an exhibition of contemporary art on its shelves and in its coolers right now. Beer packaging design and labels are canvases that express the essence of their contents. Like any group art show, some work is pedestrian; some work is extraordinary.   Some craft beer labels can be shitty and poorly designed, featuring amateur illustrations with little attention to detail. At their worst, they be downright offensive. Other times, beer labels are works of art that can entice you to try the beer—and that’s the point.   In recent years, the growth of the craft beer segment has increased competition among breweries in a few ways: for shelf space at retail outlets, for beer drinkers’ attention, and, ultimately, for beer drinkers’ business. Given the decline of “brewery loyalty” among consumers, breweries must now differentiate themselves from their friends and competitors in the industry. Breweries looking to set themselves apart pour thought and money into producing the right look and feel for their packaging and marketing, instead of focusing on the liquid alone. We love it when a brewery makes the packaging and design as exciting and bespoke as the liquid in the bottle.   When we picked the candidates of the Best Looking Brands in the Beer Business, we turned to some of our longtime favorites and a few cult-status breweries whose work we find to be experimental and progressive.   Enjoy.   Our first featured brewery is Mikkeller: Mikkeller was started in 2006 by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a Danish physics teacher-turned-brewer, and friend Kristian Keller. After making kitchen experiments for two and a half years, Bjergsø and Keller started brewing beer at a larger scale at Danish microbrewery Ørbæk and just dropped the mike.   Mikkeller broke all the molds for what a craft brewery could be. Practically inventing the idea off gypsy brewing, which is essentially contract brewing, Mikkeller beers also ushered in the notion of making a bottle or can of beer a work of culinary and visual art. Since its auspicious homebrewing roots, Mikkeller has become the face for gypsy breweries globally—both in terms of brewing and branding.   For Mikkeller, gypsy brewing means bouncing around from brewery to brewery, using excess tank capacity to create many different beers each year. Because of that, they need a lot of artwork to communicate the stories of their beers. That job went to Keith Shore. He first started working freelance for Mikkel—for many years now, Shore has made the beautiful aesthetic of his Mikkeller characters and illustrations into ubiquitous works of art.     The design process is pretty simple. Usually, Mikkel explains a beer’s ingredients and flavor profile and Shore is given complete freedom in developing the imagery, sometimes coming up with the crazy names as well. Shore is usually working on 10-20 designs at a time, using gouache and watercolors to flesh out what is in his sketchbook. His labels are usually color bombs with cartoonish figures that make a nod to the works of Henri Matisse and David Hockney.   To date, Mikkeller has made over 650 beers, distributed to over 40 countries. Mikkeller has opened bars in Copenhagen, San Francisco, and Bangkok. Shores’ work is featured in the design of those spaces as well.   If there is anyone that has ushered in a new age of branding a beer to help it stand out in a crowded marketplace, Mikkel and Shore could take the blame.   ////////////////////// ////////////// //////// ////// //// // / Omnipollo Karl Grandin is part of the dynamic duo that comprises Omnipollo, a Swedish-based gypsy beer brand that Grandin and pal Henok Fentie created in 2011. Karl directs the marketing and branding side while Henok leads on brewing side. Omnipollo beers are being made all over Europe and the U.S. Omnipollo beers are unique in their packaging, and the liquid tastes delicious.   Conceptually and aesthetically, the bottle labels leap from the shelves and beckon you to pick them up. Representing a mixture of psychedelic abstractions and pop religious culture icons, Omnipollo artwork is unique, almost mind-blowing, really.     Karl says that the Omnipollo images are based on his own dreams, and that he tries to bring that psychedelic and enigmatic sort of logic into the artwork. In Karl’s words, the Omnipollo world is “an open-ended cosmos, and although the imagery is often allegorical,” Karl encourages people to explore their own interpretations rather than explaining his intentions.   Rather than trying to make artwork that would somehow describe or portray the style or taste of a beer, Karl looks for what is going on around Omnipollo to try to capture something less obvious. There is always a synergy between the beer, the artwork, and the name, sometimes straightforward and obvious. Sometimes it is more cryptic.     Karl says, “We want Omnipollo to be about more than the beer and the artwork. Presentation and stories are important parts of what we create. The shape of Omnipollo will keep developing and shifting. We have made handmade glass cups, garments, jewelry, and a book on homebrewing, and through all the people we meet, the collaborations…

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Using Bankruptcy to Kill the Narrative of the “Craft Beer Bubble.”

By Jack O’Connor   Last December, San Francisco-based Magnolia Brewing filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Being a corporate bankruptcy attorney (and an optimistic beer geek), I view this positively.   You should, too. Why? Because it’s good evidence that the craft beer industry is ready to move past the tired narrative of the dreaded “Craft Beer Bubble.”   First, let’s talk about the bubble, and how it’s been speculatively applied to the current craft beer boom, for better or worse.   Then we can talk about why a bankruptcy filing in Northern California may be important to ending this narrative.   How the “Bubble” Concept is Applied to the Current Craft Beer Boom   What exactly does it mean when we talk about a “bubble,” in the craft beer industry? Why is it relevant? Should I be concerned about bubbles? What about bubbles in my bath? Are you going to keep asking rhetorical questions? BUBBLES!   The term “bubble,” seems ubiquitous these days when discussing the growth of the craft beer industry. But it’s rarely defined in a clear way. Most often, people seem to use the term “bubble,” to refer to the very broad economic concept of an economic cycle, characterized by rapid expansion in a market, which is followed by severe contraction.   The most commonly cited example of a past “bubble,” in the craft beer industry was the rise and fall of microbreweries in the late 90s and early 2000s. According to data from the Brewers Association, the total number of breweries in the U.S. grew by over 500% between 1990 and 2000, ultimately stalling out and slightly declining between 2001 and 2006. Since 2006, however, the total number of breweries in the U.S. has grown again by almost 300%, from 1,511 total breweries in 2007 to current estimates exceeding 4,300 total breweries; more than have ever existed in the country’s history.[1]   Along with the growth in number of breweries, the marketshare of craft beer has also grown significantly over this time, both in terms of total sales, and production volume relative to the overall beer market.   This rapid growth of craft beer in such a short time is constantly narrative fodder for journalists, bloggers, and forum commenters (Trolls!), speculating that we’re in the midst of another “bubble,” that’s ready to burst any day. The argument usually employs the following logic:   New breweries are opening, and current breweries are expanding, at an unsustainable rate. Since the rate of growth is unsustainable, the growth of the craft beer industry will suddenly halt, or reverse just like it did 20 years ago.   While we are certainly in the midst of a booming period of growth in craft beer, this argument ignores a number of factors in making the case that we’re in the midst of a bubble. Namely, it misses the idea that craft beer is in the midst of entering a maturity. Calling it a bubble is misleading and ultimately harmful for a couple of reasons.   First, the term “bubble,” itself is probably not the right term to describe what happened in the 90s and what people are speculating will happen now. When used by financial professionals, the concept of a bubble focuses on trade pricing for assets in a specific market that strongly deviates from the actual value of those assets (think stock prices, home values, etc.). For example, the dotcom bubble in the late 90s and early 2000s (which happens to coincide with craft beer’s last boom & bust period), was characterized by investors buying tech stocks at artificially high prices, in the belief that they could sell them at even higher prices in the future. This speculation proved untrue, causing the bubble to burst when the value of tech stocks took a nose dive.   What we saw in the 90s was probably better described as a boom-and-bust period within the craft beer industry. The number of breweries expanded rapidly, and very suddenly stopped, resulting in a shrinking of the industry generally. This distinction is important to note, because regardless of the rate of industry growth, the industry has never completely fallen off a cliff. The trend, over time has continued upward. Thus, the use of the term “bubble,” can be detrimental to the industry. It assumes a cataclysmic event in which the industry as a whole goes belly-up.   Rather than focusing on the bubble narrative, our attention should be focused on how the industry is maturing in the midst of a boom period. Expansion, financing, and acquisition rates are high right now, and likely to slow over time, meaning at the very least fewer new breweries will open on such a rapid basis. And when coupled with increased competition between existing breweries who’ve undergone significant expansions and need to sell more and more beer to stay in business, some breweries will inevitably be forced out of the marketplace.   Some won’t be able to compete on quality, others won’t be able to compete from an operational efficiency standpoint. More than a few experienced craft players have adopted this view, including Sam Calgione (Dogfish Head), Bill Covaleski (Victory), Greg Koch (Stone),[2] and Mike Stevens (Founders).[3] When recently asked, all four have indicated that they think that the industry is heading toward a “shakeout,” or “fallout,” where breweries will have to close, and the number of new brewery openings will inevitably slow. But none of them seem to think that the craft beer industry is about to experience a complete bust.   I think Van Havig of Gigantic said it best back in 2014, when interviewed for the Strange Brews podcast on NPR. “If you think that every brewery out there is going to make it . . . No,” because every industry has “bad operators,” who’ll go out of business.[4]   So even during a boom, industry turnover is natural and expected. It doesn’t mean that a magical pin is about to fall from the sky and pop…

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The 39th Annual Illinois Craft Beer Awards are Coming!

The first ever 39th Annual Illinois Craft Beer Awards is a party to celebrate all the amazing, fun, and insanely creative people who make the Illinois craft beer industry the vibrant scene that it is! It’s produced by your friends at Mash Tun Journal and The Beer Temple. The ICBA ceremony is like The Golden Globes or The Academy Awards but for beer industry professionals and for a good cause! Who will win the highly-coveted “Foamy” trophy and in what category? You’ll have to attend the party to find out! General admission tickets are $35 BUY THEM HERE Admission includes: Complementary Miller High Life Complementary Craft Beer and Malort! Paparazzi ! Live Music! Entertainment ! Swag! Participating breweries include: Hopewell Brewing, Maplewood, Three Floyds, Half Acre, Revolution, Lagunitas, Goose Island, Arcade Brewing, Transient Artisan Ales, Marz Community Brewing, Lake Effect, Twisted Hippo, Une Annee, Scratch, Noon Whistle, Forbidden Root, Middle Brow, Ballast Point, Whiner, Miller, Band of Bohemia, Blue Island Beer Co, Aleman, Pipeworks, Illuminated Brew Works, Hop Butcher, and others. There is very limited capacity at this event. All the proceeds from the event will go to Doctors without Borders.

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Mash Tun 010 Release party

Issue 010 of Mash Tun Journal features work by Calvin Fredrickson, JJ Jetel, Mike Killion, BJ Pichman, Alex Bach, Calvin Fredrickson, Ed Marszewski, Jack O’Connor, Jenny Pfäfflin, Mike Smith, and Matt Tanaka. We are having the official release party for Mash Tun Journal 010 at Kimski’s Sword Fight event. Sword Fight: A Sausage Battle Royale Sunday, Oct 9 – 2-6 PM 960 W. 31st St, Chicago, IL. 60608 Sword Fight: A Sausage Battle Royale Sword Fight is Kimski’s inaugural sausage competition. It’s a celebration of encased meats and the people who make and eat them. We will pit three of Chicago’s premier purveyors of encased, cured and fresh meats; Publican Quality Meats, Haymarket Pub & Brewery and Bridgeport’s own Martinez Supermarket in a brat battle royale against one another with the audience ultimately deciding who the wiener is by voting for their favorite. Sword Fight also features a Sausage Toss contest and a Relish Race. The Sausage Toss (like the well-known picnic balloon toss) will use casings filled with water with different players throwing the sausages to one another, taking a step back after each catch until one player either drops or pops his sausage. The Relish Race will be a three-member Olympic-like relay event with different runners handing off a sausage baton to one another as they run a circular course around Maria’s. First team to the finish line without dropping their sausage wins. The final competition will be a Polish -sausage eating contest, presided by the Sausage Queen, Nicole Makowski of Makowski Real Sausage Co. Other treats include The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band and Carnival Style Sausage cutouts painted by our own Chef Won Kim. We invite you to drop by to share in the festivities for this afternoon of good-natured fun, frivolity and great food. We will be serving all three sausages as a sampler and a la carte. And of course, you’ll be able to pair your sausage with Maria’s varied and wide selection of draft beers and cocktails.  

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