Carly Fisher of The Feast tweeted this at us this morning, and we thought it interesting enough to pass it on to you, Constant Reader. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head (who you may remember from a little show called Brewmasters, which he discussed with Karl here) was at an event last night where The Feast caught up with him. After some discussion, Sam touched upon the Goose Island/A-B buyout.
You can find that video here, since we can’t seem to embed it yet. But this is what it looks like, sorta, if we were to embed it. Go watch it, then come back.
You can tell Sam is trying to be diplomatic, but one particular statement stands out when he uses this phrase:
“One-time craft brewers.”
He goes on to explain that he loves having “that indie rep” and digs being the David among Goliaths (which, of course, is also arguable – he’s a pretty big “David” compared to almost all others). Cheers to Sam for speaking his mind and also, we presume, saying what a lot of other craft brewers are thinking.
Last month we told you about one of two breweries in Illinois that distributes their own beer, Argus Brewery in Chicago. Argus got its start by shopping its beer to restaurants in the suburbs after distributors wouldn’t return their phone calls. Over a year later, Argus still self-distributes about one-third of its beer, mostly in DuPage County, and relies on distributors to handle the rest. But it wasn’t until Argus was able to get a toe-hold in the market that distributors took notice, according to owner Bob Jensen. “We weren’t able to get their attention initially because we weren’t established,” he told us.
But what does the pending legislation before the Illinois House and Senate mean for the future brewers of Illinois? Today we’re going to answer that question and tell you about a homebrewer who is in the midst of starting her own brewpub – and is relying on the ability to self-distribute to do so.
Meet Marika Josephson.
photo courtesy Facebook
Marika lives in southern Illinois and has been homebrewing for about two years, taking a special interest in farmhouse ales, Belgian brewing techniques and spontaneous fermentation. She has chronicled her homebrew adventures on her website, She Brews Good Ale. She also covers the craft beer scene in southern Illinois for Examiner.com and is a contributing writer at eHow and travels.com.
Her exposure to what she called the “craft beer renaissances” in New York and San Diego inspired her to start her own brewpub in southern Illinois, an area in the state that has only one brewery. In fact, according to the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild’s map of breweries, Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro is the only brewery or brewpub south of the state capitol of Springfield.
Her brewpub, which is planned for an area outside of Carbondale, will focus on using locally produced hops, grains, fruits, herbs and spices. This seems to be an increasing trend among craft brewers to either use locally grown materials or growing their own. For instance Brewery Terra Firma, former Right Brain Brewery head brewer John Niedermaier’s latest project, will use hops and spices grown on site.
But before Marika can even get to this point she has to go through mounds of paperwork, establish a location long before it will open and buy tens of thousands of dollars in equipment. Continue reading
Could this be 312's new logo? (+322 is the international calling code for Belgium, home of AB parent InBev.) Image used with permission from Jeff Cagle.*
KARL: The news of Goose Island being bought out by Anheuser-Busch seems to have taken a similar emotional path throughout many in the brewer-verse this morning. Just before 9am, John Hall announced that Goose Island was to be sold to A-B for 38.8 million dollars. At that precise moment, a wave of moderate shock resounded through the Twitterati, almost immediately downgraded to “mild” and followed up quickly with resignation. Put into one word? Bummer. When AB bought a stake in Goose back in
2007 2006 (what’s a year between friends?) I’m pretty sure we all expected this day to happen. Now it’s here, and we have to deal with it.
Assuming that we’re mostly in the “acceptance phase” of Buyout Day, we’re watching opinions flying about regarding what the purchase means for the future of Goose Island as a whole, what it means for Chicagoans specifically, and about what the AB-InBev influence will have on GI. One point: While most of the stories have been talking about AB’s role in this whole deal, remember that they’re run by Belgian superbrewerconglomeratemonster InBev. If your dollars were staying in Chicago previously, don’t get fooled into thinking they’re just going to St. Louis now – at the end of the day, those bucks are headed to Brussels.
Here’s a quick list of questions off the top of our head that we’d love to have an answer to. Afterwards, a bit of our perspective. Continue reading
New Glarus says:
“Apple Ale sings with the fresh crisp taste of Wisconsin Apples. Our Brewmaster begins with a brown ale base employing Wisconsin farmed barley and a blend of apple varieties grown in Gays Mills. Our apple growing friends squeeze them especially for this brew. Expect this Ale to pour a beautiful copper color. The fresh bouquet of Apple will rise to meet you even before the glass touches your lips. So be sure to sip slowly and enjoy the fruits of a Wisconsin harvest.”
New Glarus Unplugged Apple Ale
Fruit Beer, 4% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: It’s no secret that we have a unrequited love for New Glarus’ Unplugged series of beers. We have fawned over the likes of the Berliner Weiss and the Enigma. It’s hard not to love and appreciate what this Wisconsin brewery is able to do with fruit in beer. The Unplugged Apple Ale is another, in a long line of New Glarus offerings, that take the fruit beer to a whole new level.
Pouring a translucent amber in color the Apple Ale offers a thin, off-white head that billows and fades leaving behind a bit of sticky lacing along the sides of the glass. Get your nose in there and you’ll encounter what appears to be a very one-note beer. Apple juice. That’s about all you get in the aroma. There are no real undertones or pealing back the layers of this one. It smells like you just opened a bottle of Juicy Juice. Take a sip though and find something far more complex. Continue reading
I brought a growler of this back from a trip to Michigan recently to split with Karl and our respective wives. Before I go in to the particulars of this offering from one of my favorite breweries, lets first talk about the genesis of this beer. West Michigan Ale is actually a blend of two beers that Dark Horse did with fellow Michigan brewers from The Livery in Benton Harbor and Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City. The first beer was a rye IPA called Rocker Ale and the second beer was a brown ale they dumped, according to the bartender there the day I popped in, a “shit-ton” of candy bars in. Blend the Rocker Ale and WGRD (the brown ale) together and you get the West Michigan Ale – a hoppy, dry beer that finishes like a Milky Way candy bar. It was a hit with all four of us. Continue reading
Cigar City says:
“Jai Alai India Pale Ale pays tribute to the original extreme sport. Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt, whilst the ball travels at speeds of up to 188 miles per hour! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dub this game, with its ball traveling at race car speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a busy Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game.”
City City Jai Alai IPA
American IPA, 7.5% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: Despite having lived in Florida for two years in my mid-20′s, my only exposure to Jai Alai (pronounced HI-lie) was the opening credits to Miami Vice (below – also, you’re welcome) and season 3 episode 4 of Mad Men.
Now, in my defense, I did live in north Florida where I felt more a part of southeast Georgia than the sunshine state, and Jai Alai didn’t make it that far north. In fact, about the only place you can catch it now is in Miami. So how “merry” is this tribute to the sport? Well, it goes down as one of the best IPA’s I’ve ever had.
Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA blurs the line between a high ABV IPA with blisteringly bitter hops and an IPA exploding with mouth watering citrus flavors. The ABV is fairly high for a standard American IPA at 7.5%,. In fact, it could be easily mistaken for an imperial IPA. Its saving grace is that, no matter how hard you look, you can’t find that 7.5% ABV. It’s non-existent. And the flavor is so robust it leads you to believe you’re drinking something akin to a session beer. Continue reading
Well, the deadline to pass bills out of Illinois House committees has come and gone and HB205 was not acted on today by the Illinois House Executive Committee. So where does that leave the measure? According to the Illinois House Rules HB205 has been sent back to the Rules Committee under Rule 19(a).
19. Re‑Referrals to the Rules Committee.
(a) All legislative measures that fail to meet the applicable deadline established under Rule 9 for reporting to the House by a standing committee or a special committee, for Third
Reading and passage, or for consideration of joint action motions and conference committee reports are automatically re‑referred to the Rules Committee unless: (i) the deadline has
been suspended or revised by the Speaker, with re‑referral to the Rules Committee to occur if the bill has not been reported to the House in accordance with a revised deadline; or (ii)
the Rules Committee has issued a written exception to the Clerk with respect to a particular bill before the reporting deadline, with re‑referral to occur, if at all, in accordance with the
written exception. When a bill is re‑referred to the Rules Committee after failure to meet the Third Reading deadline, any floor amendment to the bill remaining in a standing or
special committee shall also be re‑referred to the Rules Committee.
This isn’t great news but it’s not the end of the world either. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has extended the deadline on bills in the past and could do so again in this case.
It is also worth noting that HB1988, a “shell bill” that we have been told will eventually be the Anhueser-Busch Bill, has also been sent back to Rules after not passing out of the Executive Committee. Continue reading
While we all sit around waiting somewhat patiently to find out if House Bill 205 will be called in committee this week, we thought we should catch you up on a few odds and ends.
First, if you haven’t seen the Chicago Sun Times from this past weekend they editorialized on behalf of craft brewers in the state.
A bill being considered in the Illinois House offers a sensible middle road.
It would allow self-distribution for breweries that produce fewer than 20,000 barrels of beer a year, while keeping the three-tier system in place for everyone else. Brewpubs that produce fewer than 50,000 gallons a year also could self-distribute.
The distributors argue that the cap doesn’t have to be that high to protect craft breweries trying to get their business off the ground, and maybe there’s room to negotiate on that. But we can’t see a good argument for further watering down the bill.
Once craft breweries grow to a certain size, they often switch to a distribution network to expand their reach. The proposed legislation would protect their ability, in a highly competitive market, to get that far.
Good stuff. If you haven’t done so already, read the whole thing here.
Don’t like reading? Well, you’re in luck. If you’re near a radio Thursday at 10:00 a.m. tune in to 88.7 FM, WLUW. Ryan was interviewed about Save The Craft by Mike Stephen, host of Outside The Loop RADIO. The program is a weekly news magazine that covers, “topics that don’t always get the proper attention in the media, all with a strong and independent Chicago slant.” And if you’re not close to a radio you can listen to the podcast anytime at Outside The Loop RADIO‘s website.
Save The Craft is both about preserving the rights of the two breweries in the state that self-distribute and to support the future of craft beer in Illinois. To that end we’ve been trying to put a face to this cause and tell you more about who’s craft we are are trying to save. Continue reading
We posted some information on Twitter and Facebook today regarding House Bill 205, so we figured we would cover all our bases and include the info here too. An amended version of HB205 was jettisoned out of the House Rules Committee today and assigned to the House Executive Committee. The committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Thursday is also the deadline for House bills to be moved out of committee. We’d tell you that it is “now or never” for this piece of legislation, but the speaker of the house has extended the deadline for certain pieces of legislation in the past and could be moved to do so again, if need be.
As for the aforementioned amendment, on Friday we told that the bill had been altered, dropping the barrel limit for breweries that want to self-distribute from 60,000 barrels to 20,000 barrels. This amendment directly addresses a concern of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, who oppose the legislation. They felt that 60,000 barrels was far too high to constitute a “small brewery”. They also oppose allowing brewpubs to distribute their own beer.
As soon as we find out when this bill will go before committee we’ll be reaching out to a group of lawmakers that sit on the House Executive Committee to urge the passage of HB205. And we would like you to do the same. Passage of this bill out of committee would be the first step in a long road towards making, not just Chicago, but Illinois a craft beer destination now and in the future.
Federal Judge Robert M Dow Jr has issued a stay on his ruling in the case of Anheuser-Busch v. Illinois Liquor Control Commission, extending the deadline for the legislature to reach a resolution in the matter to May 31st. That date coincides with the end of the legislative session. Judge Dow initially gave state lawmakers until March 31st to re-tool the Illinois Liquor Control Act after he found the Act discriminated against out of state breweries.
This is huge news for both Argus Brewery in Chicago and Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro. Argus self-distributes about one-third of its beer while Big Muddy self-distributes all of the roughly 400 barrels of beer they produce each year. Continue reading