1. Several weeks ago while on vacation in South West Florida I had the opportunity to visit Naples Beach Brewery and meet its owner Will Lawson. I enjoyed my visit at Naples Beach Brewery and talking with Will so much that I thought it would great to learn more about Naples Beach Brewery and the craft beer scene in South West Florida. If you want a break from the beach in the Naples area jump over in your car and take the short journey to Naples Beach Brewery.

    Will, how did you get into the Craft Beer Business?

    My journey to the craft beer business began by being a craft beer consumer. I started drinking great craft beers from my home state of Michigan in my early twenties. After moving to SWFL in 2003 I quickly realized there were very few craft beer options down here at that time. I picked up home brewing as a way to access those beer styles I was used to drinking back home. I developed a love for the brewing process and the science behind beer making which was the driving force behind my career change to professional brewing.

    Will, you completed the brewing curriculum at the Siebel Institute of Chicago. Would you recommend that other people who want to open a brewery take this program?

    I would strongly recommend that people who are interested in brewing on a professional level or owning a brewery get some kind of professional brewery training/formal education. I was fortunate in that I was able to get both as my Siebel Institute credential paved the way for employment at a small brewery. In an increasingly competitive industry it is important to have a solid foundation to build from.

    I had a chance to visit you and your brewery recently and sample some of your beers which were all great. What is your most popular beer at this time?

    Our flagship beer Weizen is still our most popular brand. Our Pale Ale and Classic Ale have both done very well for us also. Our newest brand IPA has developed a strong following in a short period of time which I feel shows our craft beer consumer here in SWFL is developing a more seasoned palate.

    Will, you are currently in the process or expanding your brewery space. Can you tell us more about what the new brewery will have and when it will be open?

    We are in the process of building out an additional 4500 sqft which will house a completely new brewery operation. We have purchased a new 15 barrel brewhouse along with 15 and 30 barrel cellar tanks. The new brewery will also have a small tasting area designated for customers to enjoy our beers while they view the equipment and other parts of the operation. The new brewery will also have a gift shop/store where visitors can purchase swag and prepackaged beer to take home. We plan to have the new brewery on line by September 2015.

    Naples Beach Brewery beers are available at the brewery for tasting and growler fills and on draft at local restaurants. Do you have plans to bottle/can your beer?

    We are going to purchase a canning machine to be installed in our new brewing facility. We plan to put as many of our brands in to cans for sale out of our brewery store. We would also like to can at least two of our more popular brands for sale through some of our local retail outlets.

    What is craft beer scene like in South West Florida currently?

    The craft beer scene down here is alive and well. We opened in November 2012 as the first brewery in SWFL. There are now 6 breweries operating in SWFL with as many as 5 more in the planning stages. It is easy to see the industry growth here locally when you look at how much more craft beer is being sold at the retail level whether it be in the grocery stores, liquor stores, specialty stores, restaurants, bars etc.

    Will, if you could have a dream six pack what six beers would be in your dream six pack?

    Great question. Most of the time my list would be influenced by time, place, setting, the company I’m amongst, etc. There are so many great beers out there. A generalized six would be: Bells Hop Slam, Founders KBS, Boulevard Tank 7, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine, Orval, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

    Will, if you could be a cast member of any TV Show in the last 20 years what show would you be on and why?

    ESPN’s Sportscenter!  I’m a huge sports fan and have without doubt watched more of that show in my life than any other program. I can’t complain because making beer for a living is great fun but to sit around and get paid to talk about sports all day… now that’s living the dream.

     

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    If you would like to learn more about Will Lawson and his brewery Naples Beach Brewery you can find more on the website http://www.naplesbeachbrewery.com/home


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  2. I am a very lucky guy.  I taste beer with my homebrew club, people bring beer to my beer podcast, I am opening up a brewery.  I often feel like a kid in a candy store.  I am that 'beer guy'.  Maybe you are that guy, or gal, too.


    I look at the beer revolution we are currently experiencing, and can think of no analog in recent times that can match this movement for its pervasiveness and ability to change minds. People have compared it to the California wine scene of 30 years ago, but those vintners were just replicating old-world styles using new techniques.  Nobody was inventing styles, white zinfandel aside, and nobody was looking to create new flavors - more to coax old flavors out of new terroir.  The high-end ice cream market boom in the same era changed how we defined ice cream, with Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Daas, but that arena was limited until recently to the big-little guys, who were often actually owned by the mega-big guys.  Multi-national big.


    This is truly a tremendous experiment in market-shift unfolding before our eyes. Remember when 99 bottles of beer on the wall seemed like a lot?  Now you can find that kind of selection at the Quickie Mart, and half of the beers are from local and owner-operated breweries.



    Not only are styles emerging out of obscurity and creativity, but the fickle folks who buy beer are forcing brewers to fine-tune their offerings into products (ooops, sorry Mr. Kimmich) which are at the same time novel and consistent.  Craft beer drinkers are as fiercely loyal as Bud or Miller drinkers,  but we are loyal to the category and concept of 'Craft Beer' instead of to a specific brand.  We are loyal to the quest for the next great beer.  We will give your beer a chance, but it needs to have something special for us to return.  What IS that something special?


    Is it quality?  Quality is absolutely necessary, but it is like 'customer service' in other industries - it is just assumed.  Even SUPERIOR quality just gets you in the door.



    Is it the emotional tie to the local brewer?  That is a piece, for sure, and many people stake their livelihood on that.  Not since pre-prohibition have we had so many local beer brands, many servicing just a zip code or two.  That is powerful.  But how far does that power go?


    Is it reliable availability, or lack of reliable availability?  Breweries have build successful empires based on these opposed philosophies, as the middle ground is unsafe territory, but the extremes both seem to work.  People LOVE the brand they can get every day, and they also LOVE the brand they have to work for. 


    Perhaps it isn't just what is in the glass, but everything else outside the glass as well.  More on this soon enough.



    So what does any of this have to do with Heddy Topper or a $5 milkshake?  I was a junior in college when Pulp Fiction came out and I remember seeing it at a drive-in theater in a 68 VW bus.  It is a universally accepted fact that I was much cooler back then.  That movie is nothing if not a series of memorable scenes, but one scene really stuck with me.  Vincent Vega, a mobster played by John Travolta, had been tasked by his mobster boss to entertain mobster boss's wife Mia Wallace (played by Uma Thurman) while Mr. Wallace was away, presumably earning continuing education units at the Mobster University.  He, of course, takes her to a burger joint.


    They enjoy some awkward conversation in a booth made from a 1950's car, with a Buddy Holly look-alike as their waiter (one of Steve Buscemi's first on screen roles).  As they try to find their chemistry, she walks him thru the menu.  One of the items is a $5 milkshake.  The exchange goes like this:



    VINCENT: Did you just order a five-dollar shake?

    MIA: Sure did.

    VINCENT: A shake? Milk and ice cream?

    MIA: Uh-huh.

    VINCENT: It costs five dollars?

    MIA: Yep.

    VINCENT: You don't put bourbon in it or anything?

    WAITOR: Nope.

    VINCENT: Just checking. 


    Their conversational gets a bit more personal, and actually more comfortable.  The situation becomes... cool.  And then, when the milk shake arrives:


    VINCENT: Can I have a sip of that? I'd like to know what a five-dollar shake tastes like.

    MIA: Be my guest. You can use my straw, I don't have kooties.

    VINCENT: Yeah, but maybe I do.

    MIA: Kooties I can handle.

    VINCENT: Goddamn! That's a pretty f-in' good milk shake.

    MIA: Told ya.

    VINCENT: I don't know if it's worth five dollars, but it's pretty f-in' good. 

    So what made that milkshake so good?  Was it the quality of the ice cream?  Or the freshness of the milk?  Those things certainly played a part.  But the fact that it was a memorable night with an interesting person at a place not soon forgotten?  The fact that it was a really good time?  That makes a $5 milkshake pretty f'in good.


    I have in front of me a can of the world-famous Heddy Topper.  My last, in fact.  I will acquire this beer whenever I reasonably can, and will accept donations from weary travelers in search of supper.  It was not easy to get this can, but neither was it too difficult.  I live in NH, just a state away from a Vermont state of mind.  Which makes the distance from my porch, uh, office to The Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury VT both significant and yet still easy enough to overcome.  The Alchemist only delivers their coveted cans to bottle shops on week days, which sell out almost instantly every week, and they only distribute in Vermont.


    I remember the last time I had one - an early Spring Saturday at Sweetwaters in Burlington VT.  My wife and I had just hiked around Shellburne Farms on Lake Champlain, we got caught in the rain just long enough to appreciate that we got out of it in time, we were having a laughing walk down Church Street when she said "That guy is drinking a Heddy" and pointed into the pub.  She doesn't drink beer, but she pays attention.  We popped in, she had a Negroni, I had a Heddy, the bartender was exactly what you want from a bartender - funny, playful, responsive, and it was perfect.  Another beer could not have served me better.  But it was experiential.  It was subjective.


    So as I said, I have in front of me a can of the world-famous Heddy Topper, in a coozy I got from Alchemist Owner Jen Kimmich.  I had the chance to interview Jen and John and their brewmaster Jim for my show, and they are the real deal.  John recommends drinking from the can, with a pimpin coozy if you can, so I do exactly that. I crack the top, and I get that unique C-hop blast I expect, and from a foot away.  Apricot, too, if you pay attention.  As I bring it closer to my face, the piney notes take over, and soon give way to a bit of cut grass and rich malt.  I take a sip, and the balance is spot on.  I have a smile on my face.


    Is it the best beer in the world?  Or even the best Double IPA?  Twenty feet away from me, I have Stoneface IPA on draft on my deck.  I have an Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail up next in the drinking queue.  I picked up 2 freshie-fresh IPAs today at local breweries while driving around with my wife (did I mention that she is awesome?).  I have choices.


    So is Heddy the best of the best?  I don't know, but it's pretty f'in' good.




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    Michael Hauptly-Pierce is the co-host of The Tap Handle Show, available on iTunes, Stitcher and at www.TheTapHandleShow.com, and is one of the founders of Lithermans Limited Brewery in NH www.Lithermans.beer .  He can be reached at Mike@thetaphandleshow.com
     




     

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  3. Tonight's review is of Revolution Brewing Company Anti-Hero IPA. Revolution Brewing Company is located in Chicago Illinois. Anti-Hero IPA style is an American IPA and is 6.5% ABV. Anti-Hero is available year-round. Revolution Brewing Company beers are mostly available in Illinois and in Ohio. However last month and early this month a small amount of Revolution Brewing Company beers were available in Massachusetts and that is where I found it.


    I don't know about everyone else but I love this logo and graphics on this can. I think it is one of the best can design that I have seen in awhile.


    Anti-Hero color is an orange color with a thick bubbly head. The head mostly dissipated but left a small amount of head still remaining for the majority of the time while I was drinking the beer. The head left an above amount of lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma was piney citrus hops, pine and caramel. The taste I got was floral hops, resin, citrus, pale malts and a little caramel. Some bitterness. I thought this was a well balanced tasting beer. Final thoughts is that is a great and drinkable IPA that is not over powering with hops flavors. I can see someone drinking this beer all summer along especially at a cook out.
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  4.  
    Michael and Steve are co-owners of Lithermans Limited Brewery. They took a different journey than other brewery owners to open a brewery together. Michael and Steve came to together over music…and to be more specific old school rap music! After laying down almost a couple dozen tracks and drinking Steve’s home brew, they realized that they had another craft they could master in, and that was not rap it was craft beer. At Journey to the Beer Store we wanted to learn more about New Hampshire’s newest craft brewery.

     
    Michael and Steve how did you two come together to start Lithermans Limited Brewery?

    (MHP): Steve (aka Doc Jones) was my sales rep for a few product lines I dealt with, and one day he walked up to my desk when I was blasting NOFX "White Trash, Two Heebs and A Bean".  We started talking tunes, and decided to get together for a beer sometime.  We drank some of his homebrew together, and came up with the idea for a rap duo - Lithermans Load. We spent 3 years or so laying down about 20 tracks, some of which can be found here for free listen or download: http://www.icompositions.com/artists/Litherman



    Where did the name Lithermans Limited Brewery come from and does it have any special meaning?

    (MHP): First of all, let me address the drunken elephant in the room.  We struggle with the appropriate use of an apostrophe in our name.  As >Litherman< started as a proper surname, it should not change upon becoming plural - ie >Lithermans< verses >Lithermen< for the plural. So plural-possessive would be >Lithermans'<, but the apostrophe kills the aesthetic balance of our logo, so we dropped it all together in the final take.

    A Litherman's Load is that car FULL of groceries that would be best brought into your house in 3 loads, but you do it in one.  It takes more effort than 3 trips would, but you do it that way anyway.   THAT is a Litherman's Load. I wish I could still find the reference, but it was from an "archaic phrase a day calendar".  Yeah.  I am that guy.

    As Doc Jones and I segged away from old-school hip hop and into brewing, it was still a Litherman's Load with a 45 minute drive from his house to mine, and kids and jobs and all that grown-up shit.  But the idea came to us to theme the beers musically, and pay homage to our rhythmic roots, and we became Lithermans Limited.  In fact, our Visual Identity and Design Manager Steve Lee designed our first logo 4 years ago for a home brewing competition:



    It was based on an earlier Litherman's Load logo my wife had drawn a few years prior, with New Hampshire scenery added in:


    This was based on art from Zeppelin IV - a take on the guy in the picture frame on the cover, but carrying cases of beer and 12" vinyl under his arm instead of a bundle of sticks.





    This became, under the amazing talent of Steve Lee, our current logo:


     
    and glyph:



    Where will the brewery be located and will you have tap room hours?

    (Doc Jones): We will be brewing in Bow NH, just outside the state capital.  We plan on a tap room in the future, and are zoned for it, but will start phase one by packaging our beers and making them available thru craft-focused bottle shops in NH like Bert's Better Beers and The Drinkery.



    What styles of beer will you brewing and will you have a “Flag Ship” beer?

    (Doc Jones): We will launch with an imperial red called 'Simply Red Ale'. Almost 9%, chewy, slightly sweet, pacific hop forward but not overly bitter. Not a DIPA, not a Barleywine, not... anything you have ever had before.  We will follow that with 'BowWowWow YippieYo IPA', a Chinook-forward straight-up California style IPA; 'Tangled up in Bruges', our ever-evolving Belgian-style saison, made with our house saison yeast blend and seasonal ingredients; Down With OBB (other brewer's beers) - our collaboration series.  'Crisped Cream Ale' made with German noble hops and crisped rice.  We have over 40 tried and true recipes to work with, ready to scale to 2-4 barrels.  
    Our system is capable of brewing upwards of 6 BBL, but we want a modest start.  Patience is the brewer's art, right?  We recently launched a crowd-funding campaign to finance bright tanks and a glycol system.  Our plan is to have our beers on the shelf by 12/2015 so Geoff Carson can make his New Year's resolution of starting 2016 with a Lithermans! Here is a link to our campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lithermans-limited-brewery/x/9786846

    Where will Litherman' Limited Brewery beers be available?

    (DJ): At first, just craft-focused beer stores.  We plan on Plymouth to Salem and Nashua, Milford to Raymond and East... eventually.  Perhaps a draft line or two close to the brewery, we will work on that and keep you posted.
    How will Lithermans Limited Brewery beers be packaged bottles, cans, kegs or a combination of the three?

    (MHP): To quote one of my favorite philosophers, Eazy E - "no more questions"  We are finessing that right now, kegs are much more of a phase two than a phase one.  Packaged beers are where we will start. As to whether in cans or in bottles, just know we will be on shelves this year.

    Michael and Steve, beercations have been growing in popularity recently. If you two could go on a beercation anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

    (MHP): I would say either a 3 hour radius of San Francisco CA, or Bruges/Roselare Belgium and across the channel to Dover UK and the surrounding area.  I would love to compare barrel aging in those two regions.  Portland ME is on fire, too. But NH is amazing.  I would stay here.  We went from 0-60 in about 3 seconds.  Guys like Bill at White Birch led the new rebellion, but the old guard was a small crew before 2011.  Props to all of them!  It is just a much bigger scene now.  Derry/Londonderry is banging!  603, FTB, Kelsen, Moonlight Meadery, Rockingham, Cask and Vine.  That is a 3 day weekend right there!  Concord is coming up as well, with Oddball and Area 23 as well as us.  The seacoast is worthy of beer bus tours!  We have a wonderfully rich, collaborative environment in NH beer right now.

    (DJ): There are so many great places to go for a beercation. If I went international it would have to be Germany in October. Who doesn’t want to experience Oktoberfest, Right? If I stayed stateside it would be Colorado. So many great breweries, plus I could combine that with making some turns on the slopes. Après ski anyone?

    Where do you see the craft beer scene in ten years?
    (MHP): I see a new generation of prohibition.  No, not really. I see a bubble, for sure. But the pie continues to grow as the percentage of 19-26 year olds who have never tasted a Bud continues to increase.  Marketing will wax and wane as a driver in the craft market, but the return to local movement in craft beer will only grow in power.  It is a weird thing, to be a brewer.  Scientific, and yet not considered geeky. Even a bit of mystique, as a lost art most people have absolutely no understanding of.  Usually coming from somewhere very... other. Engineer, sales schmuck, camera-person.  The consumer wants our stories, and our passion, and finds the validation of seeking those stories in their enjoyment of our beers.  It is the brewers who have a good story, and tell it well, that will get the people's attention.  It is the brewers that also make a consistently drinkable drink, and get it to market effectively, that will keep that attention.  I think Lithermans Limited is that brewery.

    (DJ): Craft beer drinkers are always looking for something new. I think that over time we will see changes to which styles of beer are most popular. Right know IPA’s are all the rage and we are seeing the growth in popularity of Session beers. We have also started to see large craft breweries like Stone make changes to some of their long standing flagship beers. As the craft beer scene evolves we will see more of this trend. Variety is the hops of life.


    Michael you are the co-host of The Tap Handle Show, will you have you both on the show as guests?


    (MHP): Steve aka Doc Jones has appeared as 3rd chair on 2 episodes, and he is welcome back any time!  I think you will be hearing more from Doc Jones on The Tap Handle Show!  As far as having me as a guest with another guest host taking my chair, all I can think of is The Chappelle Show with Wayne Brady... but I could see Sam Venator from Swift Current or Jason Phelps from Ancient Fire or Chris... No. I don't see that happening. Ever.  
     

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  5. Nestled in an industrial park, in an area that could be considered the craft beer capital of Portland Maine, lies Austin Street Brewing Company. Back in October I traveled to Maine for a brewery tour day with a friend of mine, and one of the breweries that we visited was Austin Street Brewery. Since that visit I have been thinking about Austin Street Brewery and its Kon-Tiki beer. Since I can’t get Austin Street beer in Massachusetts I thought the next best option was to interview the owners Jake and Will of Austin Street Brewery, to learn more how they went from home brewers to opening up one of Maine…and possibly the region’s best new brewery. We also discuss dream six packs and hit TV shows.
    Jake and Will how did get into the beer business? 
    I (Jake) started home brewing six years ago and became increasingly involved with the hobby.  It got to a point where I was spending all my spare time doing home brew related stuff.  Will is my brother in law, and aside from enjoying my beer, was looking to start a small business.
    Jake you were a home brewer before deciding on opening Austin Street Brewery. What was the most difficult part transitioning from a home brewer to opening a brewery and brewing for a living? 
    Will and I had minimal business experience before starting this adventure.  We've learned a lot in a very short time, but it's that side of things that has presented the biggest challenge. 
    The name of your brewery is Austin Street Brewery how did you come up with this name for your brewery? 
    Quite simply, I (Jake) live on Austin Street in Westbrook, ME.  What started as a fun name to put on my home brewed beers, ended up being the name we used when we decided to take things to the next level. 
    I visited your brewery this past October and fell in love with your Kon-Tiki beer. What is the most popular beer that you brew currently at Austin Street? 
    Patina Pale Ale is our flagship brew and our only year round offering. Kon-Tiki certainly generated a lot of buzz for us, but it is on hiatus until we can secure the hops we need.  With such a small production size, it can seem like everything is popular, but Patina, Kon-Tiki, and Milk Stout seem to be at the top of the list. 
    You have great names for your beers like Patina Pale, Crushable IPA and Snowblower Beer. How did you come up with the names for your beers? 
    Most of the names come from home brew days. We always discuss names, but our thought is if nothing stands out, then we don’t force it. Our milk stout is a good example, so we just call it what it is.
    Where can people find Austin Street Brewery beers?  
    At this point almost all of our beer is sold right at the tasting room in the brewery.  We send kegs out occasionally, but due to our production size, our beers can't be found on draft at bars and restaurants with any regularity. After we upgrade our system later this year, you’ll be able to find our beer throughout Maine.
    Jake and Will if you two could each have a dream six pack of beer, what six beers would you have in your dream six packs? 
    I guess what I'll do here is include the beers that were inspirational to me as a home brewer and led to the beers we brew now. 1. Hill Farmstead “Edward” 2. Duck Rabbit “Milk Stout” 3. Allagash “Confluence” 4. Rising Tide “Daymark” 5. Sierra Nevada “Bigfoot” 6. Alchemist “Heady Topper
    Jake and Will if you two could be a cast member of any TV Show in the last 10 years what show would you be on and why?  
    Will and I are both huge Seinfeld fans and I think that show fits our brewery well.  On the surface you have a show that is seemingly about nothing, but when you watch an episode, you realize that it’s quite the opposite. I think people might look at Austin Street Brewery and not see much of a theme for what we do, but once you become familiar with our style, you start to see common threads running through everything we do. 
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  6. When Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin were screening their first film they visited a lot of college towns throughout the country. During many of these trips they would visit a local brewery or brewpub and they found themselves inspired by the brewery owner’s stories. After a bit of filming these stories about the local breweries Chip and Alexis thought they had a great idea for their next documentary. They would tell the story of a brewery from the very beginning to it becoming an actual brewery. At Journey to the Beer Store we were excited about Blood, Sweat, and Beer and wanted to learn more about the film. What we learned got us even more excited to watch this film on our favorite topic craft beer. So sit back, enjoy a beer and read about a great documentary on the craft beer scene in the United States and the story of two startup breweries and the struggle they dealt with while starting a brewery.

     
    A documentary exploring the explosive growth of the craft beer industry sounds like a great idea. How did you come up with the idea to make this film?

    Alexis and I both love beer. We visit a lot of college towns to do screenings of our first film (The Dream Share Project) and the first thing we love to do in a new town is to check out the local brewery or brewpub. During our travels, we became fascinated with the food and drink revolution happening in towns all across America. We would often take brewery tours and find ourselves moved and inspired by the passion that brewers have to create fresh, delicious beer for their local communities. We started filming with brewers back in April of 2013 to capture their stories and passion, and we started to get an idea to make a feature documentary following start-ups on the journey from blueprint to brewery.


    How did you come up with the name Blood, Sweat, and Beer for your documentary?

    In the film, we follow Danny Robinson, the owner of Backshore Brewing / formerly Shorebilly Brewing, as he dealt with a trademark lawsuit that threatened to put him out of business. At one point, I remember he says "I'm putting my blood, sweat, and tears into this brewery." That line always stuck with us and seemed to sum up the struggle that start-up breweries go through.


    Can you tell us more about the film Blood, Sweat, and Beer?

    Yes! The film explores the explosive growth of the craft beer industry and the dramatic stories of two start-up breweries. The film follows a trio of 23-year-olds as they struggle to start The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company in Braddock, PA. Matt, Asa, and Brandon hope their brewery will help this once-prosperous steel town bounce back from decades of neglect, violence, and population loss.

    The film also tells the emotional story of Danny Robinson, a boardwalk brewery owner and restaurateur whose empire is threatened by an aggressive trademark lawsuit that could leave him penniless.

    Through the film, we feature interviews with other craft brewers, beer experts, writers, and personalities.

    Blood, Sweat, and Beer follows two breweries owners Matt, Asa, and Brandon of The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company and Danny Robinson, a boardwalk brewery owner how did you pick these brewery owners to be the main subjects of your documentary?

    We started with a general idea to make a documentary about the industry. We quickly realized that what was missing was an emotional arc and personal stories - we needed people to root for, who were going on a journey. With that in mind, we decided to focus our interviews more on start-ups, which would allow us to capture stories of people pursuing big goals and overcoming challenges along the way.

    We started filming with Danny from Backshore Brewing (formerly Shorebilly Brewing) right as he cut the ribbon to open up his brewery on Ocean City Maryland's historic boardwalk. We were instantly captivated by his passion for entrepreneurship, and how candid, easy-going, and funny he was on camera. At that time, we had no idea how dramatic his story would get. 3 months later, a t-shirt company in town sued Danny's brewery over the name Shorebilly. Danny has been fighting the lawsuit ever since, and lawyers fees have been accumulating all along. We knew we had to see Danny's story through to the end. We just found out the verdict of his lawsuit 3 weeks ago, but we won't give away any spoilers.

    For the Brew Gentlemen, we met the founders Matt and Asa when they were taking a Cicerone exam near where we live in Washington DC. We we're instantly struck with how young they were. I think they were 22 years old at the time - definitely the youngest start-up brewery team we had met. We decided to follow up with them and visit their brewery in Braddock,  PA, just outside Pittsburgh.

    When we first drove through Braddock, it was like driving onto a post-apocalyptic film set. Homes and historic building were boarded up or falling apart. Ivy crawled over front doors. Trees grew through front porches and roofs. The streets were empty, and most of the businesses shut down. Braddock was the ghost of a once-prosperous steel town.

    Matt and Asa told us it was their mission to build their brewery and help revitalize Braddock. We knew we had out second story.

    I am sure you have learned a lot about the beer industry in the United States while filming. What would you say is the most interesting thing that you learned about the craft beer industry while filming Blood, Sweat, and Beer that you didn’t know prior to making this film?

    The most surprising fact was probably just how small the margins are on beer sales. After covering all the overhead and taxes, a brewery can usually only expect $1-$2 in profit on each six pack they sell. That means you have to sell A LOT of beer to earn a comfortable living. In most cases, the people who decided to start craft breweries are not doing it for the money - they are doing it because they absolutely love the craft of creating delicious beer.

    The passion over profit mentality was evident in pretty much every interview we did. Brewers often told us that they would call up other neighboring breweries to borrow brewing supplies, swap ideas, or generally help each other out. That's pretty rare in a capitalist society. What other industry allows for that type of collaboration between competitors? It's pretty inspiring.


    When can we expect Blood, Sweat, and Beer to be released and where will people be able to find it?

    Folks can pre-order the film at: http://bloodsweatbeermovie.vhx.tv/ - and use coupon code BEERSTORE to save 20% at checkout. We're doing film festivals and beer week screenings this spring and summer and shooting to release the film on a wider scale this fall. If people would like us to visit their town to do a screening, they can let us know via the screening request form on our website: http://bloodsweatbeermovie.vhx.tv/#screening

    Also, our huge dream is to find a way to get the film on Netflix - so tweet @Netflix or send them an email and let them know you want to see Blood, Sweat, and Beer.


    The craft beer scene is growing rapidly over the last 10 plus years. Where do you see the craft beer scene 10 years from now in 2025?

    This is a question we asked every single brewer, beer writer, and expert we interviewed - they all had different answers. Some think the growth we're seeing now is unsustainable and we are headed for some sort of market correction or shakeout. Others feel that there is definitely room for more growth - after all, we have over 7,000 wineries in the United States and only about 3,000 breweries - many feel that beer can easily match the wine industry.

    Personally, I tend to agree with folks who fall somewhere in between the optimistic and pessimistic perspective. I think that we probably won't see many more huge national craft beer brands like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. However, I think there is plenty of room for more local breweries who don't have aspirations of distributing on a huge regional or national level. People are craving locally-sourced, artisinal food and drink. It really is the golden age of beer - and I think we still have a ways to go. Then again, I could be totally wrong. Guess we'll have to wait to 2025 to see :)

     


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  7. Michael Hauptly-Pierce and Tim Roberts have been talking about the craft beer scene in New Hampshire and nationally for the past year on their hit podcast show The Tap Handle. After listening to several episodes of The Tap Handle Show, we at Journey to the Beer Store became fans and wanted to know more about the show and the two people behind it. From our interview with Michael we find out how The Tap Handle Show started, who would be their dream guest on the show (and no it wasn’t us J) and we discuss some recent trends happening currently in the craft beer industry.

     

    Michael and Tim how did you two meet and how did you come up with the idea to start The Tap Handle show podcast about craft beer?

    Tim and I met thru BNI, a referral-based networking organization. Tim owns and manages 5 franchises of BNI, including NH, where I am on the director team.  We were leaving a Manchester Monarchs game when he asked me if I wanted to do a podcast about beer. I did, so we took a few weeks to come up with a format and branding, and regrouped to launch the first episode a year ago this month.

    How long have you two been working on The Tap Handle show?

    One year, with weekly episodes and random surprise episodes.

    You have had 50 plus shows since starting The Tap Handle show, who was your favorite person that you have both interviewed?

    I immediately think of Rik Marley from Flying Goose. He is so dynamic and yet chill, the interview takes on his vibe and goes it's own way. ( http://www.thetaphandleshow.com/2014/06/ths-19-rick-marley-flying-goose-brew-pub-grill/  ) Mitch Steel from Stone in CA was amazing, in that he is such a giant in the beer world but was so gracious with his time and insight. What a thrill to chat with him!  ( http://www.thetaphandleshow.com/2014/03/ths-005-mitch-steele-stone-brewing-co/) Jen and John Kimmich from The Alchemist were a great tag-team, and also were very generous with their time. Talk about feeling like kids in a candy store, getting a 2 hour interview in the Alchemist employee lounge, hanging out with the founders and the head-brewer, drinking our way thru 4 different IPAs in unending supply. Then, a tour with the brewer thru the brewery, including some Slugworth-worthy trade tips and a sample of a wild/sour red cherry beer from the fermentor. (http://www.thetaphandleshow.com/2014/10/ths-35-alchemist/) Everyone has been very generous with their time and stories, and almost to the guest - I would have any of them back on the show!

     
    Michael you are a brewer and a beer judger, where did you brew and where did you judge beer competitions?

    I completed my last 'home-brew' on November 14, and it will be featured in "Brew Hampshire" by Slate Roof Films in the near future. I am currently building a commercial brewery in Bow, NH. We are projected to open in 3rd quarter 15, with beer available at bottle shops in central/southern NH and a very few draft lines.  Lithermans' Limited.  I have judged the Sam Adams Longshot for 4 years, and often do Ocean State Competition at Johnson & Wales in RI, at New England Regional Homebrew Competition, and help with the competition at The New England Homebrewer's Jamboree.



    If you could have one all time guest on The Tap Handle Show, who would that be and why?

    Jim Koch would be a blast to interview.  He was the iconoclast.  Ken Grossman from Sierra Nevada.  Fritz Maytag. Both for the same reason as Jim. They led the shift in what beer was.  What it was perceived as.  If he were still alive, Michael Jackson - hands down.  Peter Cellis, who re-invented the Wit-bier style from history.  



    Where can people find The Tap Handle show?

    iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, IPMnation.com, TheTapHandleShow.com

    We are everywhere. Resistance is futile.

     
    The craft beer industry has been expanding at a rapid rate recently especially in New Hampshire. Do you think this rapid growth can continue?

    The metrics show that the craft-beer pie is growing and the macro-lager pie is shrinking at almost parallel rates.  As long as all the newcomers can keep delivering good beer, the pie will continue to grow. New beer stores and beer bars can accommodate the growth for a while.  Who knows how long that is?  Solid business with the ability to deliver solid product solidly will prevail.  

    If each of you could have a dream six pack, what six beers would you have in your dream six pack?
    4yr old Bigfoot, Founders Bolt Cutter, Samael's from Avery, Rochefort 10, Rodenbach Gran Cru,  DuckRabbit Milk Stout.

    Recently craft breweries have been being acquired by a bigger brewery or by one of the “big three”. Do you think this trend is good for the craft beer industry and will this trend continue?

    I feel like it grows the penetration of the acquired brands at the expense of the others. This is what capitalism is about (in theory) but it leads to a homogenization of the beer scene. 
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  8. 


    Mike Marcoux got into the craft beer scene 4-5 years ago when his friend Nick (and head brewer) had him sample a beer that he had brewed. Since then Mike has been hooked and knew that he wanted to start his own brewery. With a lot of sweat and hard work Mike and Nick opened Iron Duke Brewing. At Journey to the Beer Store we wanted to learn more about Mike and Iron Duke Brewing, so we thought it would be great to sit down with him and learn more. We learn how Mike came up with the name Iron Duke Brewing, what styles of beer he will be brewing and his thoughts on some trends in the craft beer industry.

     

    Mike how did you get into the beer business?

    Our master brewer, Nick, got me into it about 4-5 years ago. I was actually spoiled though; my first batch was done on a small 10 gallon nano system. At that point, Nick had already been brewing about 5 years and he had used his engineering background to build the small system. He started about 10 years ago like most home brewers on his stove. Thousands of batches later he is now the head brewer over a 30 bbl system.

    What is the most difficult part about starting a brewery?

    For us it was the construction. We moved into an old mill building that needed a lot of work. The building had been abandoned for over 10 years. It took over 16 months from the day we got the keys to the day we opened our doors. For the first 5 months we didn’t have water. At the same time, it was the most rewarding process. We could have been open sooner, but we decided early on that we were going to do as much of the work ourselves as we possibly could.

     

    Iron Duke Brewing is a great name for a brewery. How did you come up with the name?

    In the literal sense, Iron Duke is an engine. It is an engine of small stature with very little horsepower. In the summer of 2004, the engine well over a decade old at that point, our master brewer put the old engine into 1982 Jeep CJ 5 he built. While most doubted it would even start, the engine lasted longer than anyone ever expected. Iron Duke is more than an engine. It represents doing what on paper shouldn't be possible. It represents taking on a larger task than is sometimes even reasonable. It represents getting the job done no matter what it takes.

     

    Your logo is great how did you come up with the logo?

    Actually we have an amazing friend/artist, Sarah Concannon, who came up with it. It wasn’t easy though. After 20+ sketches, a period spanning over a year, we were sitting at a bar one night and she showed me the sketch that she had drawn free hand. I knew immediately it was the logo for us. She found the perfect icon to represent our hard working spirit.

     

    What styles of beer do you brew and what beer is your most popular beer that you brew?

    We’ve always tried to push the envelope when it comes to style. At this point, we’ve had 8 different beers on tap in the taproom, but over that last 10 years we’re brewed over 100 different recipes. Our best seller to date is the Baby-Maker, which is an Irish Porter. Baby-Maker, while Irish at its roots, has influences from all over the beer spectrum. This medium to dark colored ale is slightly malty sweet with a delightful roasted finish. Some of our other beers are Dead Nuts (American IPA), Stud-Finder (Double IPA), Sinker (Breakfast Stout), The Common (Kentucky Common Ale), Stockhouse 122 (Hoppy Pale Ale), Shoes for Louie (English Strong Ale) and Wild Card (Black Lager).

     
    How much beer do you brew in a year?

     
    We just opened on Thanksgiving Eve, but we’re projecting around 500 bbls.

     

    Where can people find your beers?

     
    Right now the brewery is the only place to find our beers, but starting this month we will be in a few select bars & restaurants.

     
    Where would you like to see Iron Duke Brewing 10 years from today?

    Hopefully still experimenting and pushing the boundaries of traditional recipes.

     
    If you weren’t an owner of a craft brewery what would you be doing for a job?

    Batman

     
    The craft beer industry has grown at a rapid rate in the last 10 years. Do you think the industry can sustain this growth?

    Man I hope so. J. I do think there’s still plenty of room for growth. I won’t break the numbers down, but we all know that craft beer is still a small % of the beer industry. As consumers become more aware of the different styles the sector will hopefully continue to grow.

     

    If you could have a dream six pack what six beers would be in your dream six pack?

    Anything local. We have so many great breweries popping up in Western Mass. Give me a variety pack from each and let’s make a night of it.
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  9. Would you drink a beer that was made from another human’s spit? Sample a drink made from frogs? Or drink fermented horse’s milk? Probably not …but one man does just that and his name is Jack Maxwell the host of Travel Channel’s new hit show the’ Booze Traveler’ which airs on Monday nights at 10. ‘Booze Traveler’ is not like any other type of drinking show on TV. Jack travels the world to learn about different cultures and customs by trying out the local alcohol offerings.  Learning about people and their cultures is something that Jack Maxwell did while growing up in South Boston.  Jack worked in the local bars and taverns and said that one thing he noticed was that people liked to tell stories over a drink. This unique perspective of other cultures, local stories and unusual alcoholic beverages is what Jack brings to us as the host of the ‘Booze Traveler’. Here at Journey to the Beer Store we wanted to learn more about the show the ‘Booze Traveler’ and its host Jack Maxwell so we reached out to Jack for this one of a kind interview! If you would like to follow Jack Maxwell on twitter and follow his travels his handle is @SouthieJack.



    Jack, you are from South Boston. How does someone from Boston end up on the Travel Channel with their own show traveling the world sampling the worlds booze?

    Well the short answer is I auditioned as an actor because they were looking for a host of the show, but the real answer is when I was a little kid in Southie I would walk up and down the streets of Broadway shining shoes in the bar rooms (and there were a lot of bar rooms) and they would let you go in as a little kid to make money and shine shoes. I just fell in love with the stories these rascals would tell after a few drinks. They were boozy stories and tales and they were just captivating. I thought WOW that is a great thing…traveling and having a few drinks at the same time, whether it was beer or whiskey (there weren’t a lot of fancy drinks back then when I was a kid) and I thought this was so fascinating. So really I have been getting ready for it since then and I just didn’t know it.


    When did you audition for the show?

    I auditioned about three years ago and we shot a pilot with a company called White Reindeer Productions. Maria and Debra ran auditions and I got the part and we went out and shot a pilot in all these different places. A year later they sold it to the Travel Channel and after they developed it into what they wanted we went out and shot 13 episodes and here we are airing the original episodes.

     

    Along with being the host of Travel Channels Booze Traveler you are also an actor, starred on stage, and also in TV shows like 24, Lost, Beverly Hills 90210, House, and some other movies. What is was your favorite role that you played in?

    You know there are just so many that are really rewarding and for an artist to get to do what he/she does every day and in my case it would be acting. It is such a wonderful blessing. It is all frosting, they are great for different reasons. This job here, which I don’t even call a job, has to be my most rewarding and most fulfilling because I get to travel the world and meet people and places and different cultures and share meals with them and cocktails with them and strange concoctions which is just great. As far as the acting part, being on stage with Al Pacino is a fascinating and trippy thing because here he is maybe the greatest living actor (I would certainly make a case for that) and he is acting and he is teaching how to act at the same time. Here you are acting and following him and you are on stage together and it was beautiful. It was a nice full play and then afterwards we shot a movie together so I spent a nice long time around the man. It was really great. Jessica Chastain was in that play also. She was just starting out at the time and look at her now with all of the nominations.

     
    In Travel Channels Booze Traveler you travel the world exploring different drinking cultures and imbibing on the local booze offerings. Where is the favorite place that you have traveled to on the show so far to drink?

    Wow you know here is just a handful...Spain because of its food and beauty and its fantastic temperatures. Iceland was so remote and I met people there that I would be friends with forever. Mongolia was so far away and those drinks were trippy. Peru because we sailed down the Amazon and found a lost native tribe. It has just been fascinating in so many different ways I could never pick one!

    You have sampled a lot of different alcoholic beverages while filming the show like spit beer from Peru. What was the toughest thing that you drank that you would not want to drink again?

    Well to be honest I probably would drink everything again and in the right circumstance, however a couple stood out. I mean spit beer I had to get my mind around that. The ladies in the village chew up this root and spit it out and they invited me to do that. After that they ferment it and you drink it and that is all it is. It is saliva fermented on this potato like root. Yeah that is weird to me but that is it. I would never go and spend time with them and have a culture of people, in this case a tribe, take me in and not partake in everything that they do. At the same time yeah I paused for a second before I took a sip of their spit beer as they had invited me to do.
    Oh frog in a blender was no chocolate shake! Frog in a blender is supposed to be good for your lungs. It was at a smoothie shop with strange concoctions and you had to drink it 15 days in a row. I drank it just for the novelty of it because she made it right in front of me. She skinned a frog, put it in a blender and drank it down. So yeah, I did that but it was weird to see something alive two seconds before that and then in the blender with all the bones and blood crunching…but I guess if I go there and just look at it and don’t drink it, it is not as good of a show!


    Where would you like to travel next for Booze Traveler?

    Wow you know there are a few places I would like go. I am Italian and Irish so Italy of course for great foods and fantastic wines and Ireland for great story tellers and the beauty of those green rolling hills but I thought Cuba would be fascinating. I would like to go anywhere though because when I was going out the first time we hit 15 places, (13 countries and 2 states) and I could never have predicted it went down the way it did. I thought some places wouldn’t be as fascinating as there were and vice versa. Now I am just open to going anywhere and living that experience because it is not looking at the monuments and the buildings and the historic landmarks. It is about the people and why they do it and why they do what they do and when they invite me to be a part of it it is the best part of it. You can get that anywhere on earth.

    If you could have a dream six pack of beer/booze from the places that you traveled to on the first season of Booze Travelers, what six beer/drinks would be in your dream six pack?

    Whoa that is a really good question. I would start with the beers since this a beer thing right? In this Monday nights episode we go to the Netherlands and there is the first World beer bank and he ages beer 3, 4, 5 years and it gives such complexity to the beers. They are all dark beers of course. You get a hint of chocolate and nut and it wasn’t like that when they stored it. It was really fascinating. The beer bank was a bunker that they used to fight off the Germans in the World War and you wouldn’t think of storing beer in there. But it was the perfect place for because it keeps it cool, it was somewhat underground, they store it at room temperature and then you come back years later to drink your beer and it is smooth and creamy. It is really the best beer I have ever had.

    Another one would be a nice chocolate stout that I had in Belize. Oh that was a good beer! There is a guy called a chocolate man and he makes chocolate into everything. He even puts it in to his beer and it was so hot in Belize and a nice cold chocolate stout did the trick...it was just what the doctor ordered. Austria had good beers. They had most lagers that we enjoy in the States but there was also a nice Pilsner. They also had a Suntory Whiskey that makes a wonderful whiskey and a Pisco Sour which is a really great cocktail.
    Also, Mr. Wano who has won so many titles as World’s greatest bar tender along with Japan’s greatest bar tender made a couple of cocktails for me. So either one of those…the White Lady or the Japanese Garden. Those are both fascinating and really great.  

     
    Any chances of bringing the show to Boston in a future season?

    Actually there is a chance and you are the first one hearing this. They want to go back to Boston for one of these episodes and find out how I grew up and how I became who I am and became fascinated with what I am doing. We will probably go to Southie and go to a few bar rooms and show where it all began. I love the people of Southie and Boston is such a great, great city and I can’t wait to go back.


    When do you think it will be coming to Boston?

    We don’t know because we don’t have a schedule and it hasn’t been announced but I know they say in the future they would like to get back.

     

    Well here at Journey to the Beer Store we hope there is a second (and third and fourth…) season to the Booze Traveler because we know that we along with so many others really enjoy where Jack takes us drinking the eccentric drinks that he drinks! Make sure to watch Booze Traveler on the Travel Channel tonight and see Jack drink some fantastic Netherlands beers!

     

     

     

     

     




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  10.  
    



    Like many beer enthusiasts Matt Tarlecki started home brewing while in college. However, he had something special that many don’t and quickly became an award winning home brewer. After winning a home brewing competition in 2011 Matt knew that he wanted to be a brewer and open his own brewery. Two years later in 2013 Matt left his job as a civil engineer in Philadelphia and moved to Hadley, Massachusetts to begin work on opening Abandoned Building Brewing. At Journey to the Beer Store we thought Matt’s story was interesting and we wanted to learn more about Matt and his brewery and his thoughts on some recent trends in the craft beer industry.

     Matt how did you get into the craft beer business?
    I started homebrewing back in college in 2006. I started to get serious about homebrewing in 2009 after finishing my master’s degree in Civil Engineering at Cornell University, and over the next 3 years I won about 2 dozen awards. At this time I was living outside of Philadelphia, which is where I’m originally from. One of the competitions I won was sponsored by a local brewpub outside of Philadelphia, called McKenzie Brew House. I brewed my winning recipe, a Belgian Quad called Dark Night, on their 15 bbl brewhouse. Ever since that experience I knew I wanted to become a brewer. I continued homebrewing while studying brewing textbooks and manuals in my spare time (my full time career was Civil Engineering). Starting in 2011 I began working on the business plan for Abandoned Building Brewery which was to be located in Western Mass. Using my background in civil engineering and consulting with the various business owners and brewers I befriended over the years I developed the business plan and designed the brewery. In March of 2013 I left my job in Philadelphia, moved into a friend’s house in Hadley, MA and started renovating the space for the brewery, which I signed a lease for in January of that year. Once I set my mind on something, I tend to take it all the way to end; in this case it was getting into the craft beer business.

    What would your advice be to someone who wants to open a brewery?

    My advice to someone who wants to open a brewery: Have you considered all the other options besides opening a brewery? It is one of the most challenging endeavors you will ever undertake in your entire life, and it will cost more money than you have. Even after you’ve built the brewery now you have to make the beer which must stand up to the rigorous judgment of the increasingly critical craft beer drinking community.  If you believe that you can accomplish all of those challenges, then I say go for it. Almost everyone in the beer industry that I talked to about opening Abandoned Building Brewery had nothing but cautionary words of advice, and as long as you are confident in yourself and in the people supporting you, you have a good chance at succeeding.

    Abandoned Building Brewery is a great name for a brewery. Was it easy to come up with this name for your brewery since your brewery is located in what was an abandoned building?

    I came up with the name of the brewery about three years before I started the actual brewery. I was using the name Abandoned Building Brewery during my homebrew days when I would bring my brews to my friends’ house parties and art gallery openings in Philadelphia; it was a good way to let people I didn’t know try the beers and get unbiased feedback. The name actually originated from my interest in exploring abandoned places, buildings, even whole towns throughout my travels around the country.

    Matt, you built the brewery mostly on your own, how difficult was this?
    Constructing the brewery posed some challenges, but my background in Civil Engineering helped me overcome almost every obstacle. Critical thinking, planning, and the ability to adapt to unknowns is crucial to getting through the construction phase. For the most part I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed witnessing first-hand the evolution of the space into a working brewery. Also, working with and being cooperative with city planners and inspectors will go a long way.  I could not have built some parts of the brewery without the help of my brother and some of my close friends. The 2 aspects of the brewery I contracted out were the plumbing and electrical work.

     What styles of beer do you brew and what beer is your most popular beer that you brew?
    I brew mostly American and Belgian style ales. These 2 types of beer provide a large opportunity to experiment with dozens of individual beer styles. Since the brewery opened in March we have brewed an American Pale Ale, 4 Different American IPAs, 2 Belgian Saisons, an American Stout, and a Belgian Quadruple. Currently, our fall seasonal, Nightshade Stout, is our popular beer, but our Belgian Saison called Lola’s Saison is our year round favorite. I am also aging the stout in a whiskey and a rum barrel which will be released shortly, and I am aging our Saison in red wine barrels that have been dosed with wild yeast and bacteria in the hopes it develops into a wonderful sour ale. Barrel aged beers will become a big part of our limited beer offerings as we grow.

    How much beer do you brew in a year?
    The brewery opened in March of 2013 so it hasn’t had a full year yet, but so far we have brewed about 210 barrels.

    Where can people find your beers?
    The majority of our beers are sold in draught form in western Mass from Agawam up to Montague. I have a few accounts that carry our beers in central Mass and Boston.
    I just started bottling the stout in 22 oz bottles, and it is available in a few stores close to the brewery. For a full list of locations, people can check out our website: abandonedbuildingbrewery.com.


    A recent trend in the craft beer industry is collaborations between different breweries. If you could do a dream collaboration with any brewery owner who would be your dream collaboration partner?

    I would love to do a collaboration with Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker in California. I went to college in a town that was next to the Firestone Walker brewery, so I had easy access to all 3 of their beers that they started with, now they have about 20.  His attention to detail and quality and knowledge of beer chemistry make him one of the best brewers in the US, and FW also has an extensive barrel aging program in place.

    A recent trend in the craft beer industry is that craft breweries have been sold to one of the big three or to other craft breweries. Do you think this trend will continue and also do you think this is good for the craft beer industry?

    In the past few years there have been more than 1000 new breweries that opened their doors in the US, and as a result craft beer has taken a big chunk out of the sales from mass produced beer. ‘Big Beer’ companies know this and they are trying to get in on the action. The one way they’ve done this is to buy out a few of the breweries making craft beer. The total number of breweries that have been bought by the big 3 or other breweries is only a small fraction of the total. I doubt this trend will continue, because there seems to be a noticeable outcry from craft beer supporters when their favorite brewery is no longer independently owned. This may result in the loss of local support for the brewery, but the brewery may gain new market share as a result of their increased distribution which would be one of the outcomes of being bought by a larger company. It’s hard to say if the selling of a few independent breweries to larger corporations is good or bad for the craft beer industry. Overall, I would say this is not in the best interest for craft beer, because there generally seems to be a correlation between being bought out by a larger company and a decline in the beer quality.

    Beercations have been growing in popularity. If you could go on a beercation where would you go and why?
    I have already taken a few beercations in my lifetime. They are awesome. The most recent and  notable was a trip to Belgium to bask in the vast offerings of Belgium style beers. The trip included a visit to Cantillon Brewery in the heart of Brussels and Brouwerij De Halve Mann (translates to Half Man Brewery) in Brugge, about a 40 minute train ride northwest of Brussels. If I could go on another beer trip I would probably go back to Europe to explore some of the smaller and lesser known breweries of Belgium and France. I really love the beer that comes out of that region of Europe and, just like in the States, there are many breweries in small towns in Europe that make delicious beer but do not make it out of their countries.
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