1. The craft beer scene is expanding at a rapid rate over the last 10 years. With the industry growing at a rapid rate, industries that support the craft beer industry are also growing at a fast rate. One of the areas that are growing is the craft beer tour industry. Tour companies showcasing the areas craft beer scenes are popping up in major cities all over the country. We love the idea of beer tours. I mean can you think of a better way to visit breweries then have someone else transport you around and give you information about the breweries? We can’t! At Journey to Beer Store we thought it would be great to learn more about these beer tour companies. We recently sat down with Scott Coggins owner of Charlotte Brew Cruise to learn more about his company and to see what would be in his dream six pack.

     
    Scott how did you come up with the idea to start Charlotte Brew Cruise?

    I wish that I could say that Brews Cruise was my idea from the beginning, but I can’t. Brews Cruise is a network of brewery tour operators around the country that spotlight the craft beer industry in their respective cities. We’re all independently owned and operated, but we’re all tied together by the Brews Cruise network.

    Personally, I’ve always worked in tourism. Over the years I’ve given tours by foot, bus, van, bicycle, segway, horse-drawn carriage and helicopter. I’ve covered topics ranging from Native American history to wildlife and everything in between. While doing all of that I managed to gain a strong appreciation for craft beer and the culture surrounding it. When I heard about Brews Cruise and looked around at Charlotte’s burgeoning beer industry it seemed like a great fit. It was an opportunity to combine what I love with what I do. I contacted the founder of Brews Cruise and we got to work bringing it to the Queen City.  

     
    Your company is called Charlotte Brew Cruise. Does the cruise take place by boat?

    That might be the most frequent question we get when people call or email us! The answer is no...we conduct tours by passenger van or bus. Think “cruise” in the sense of “cruisin’ around town.”

     
    Scott you offer a couple different tour options, can you tell us more about each option?

    We offer both public and private tours. Our public tours are capped at a maximum of 14 people and are open for individuals, couples and groups to join. It’s a great opportunity for beer lovers to make some new drinking buddies!

    We also do a ton of private tours for all kinds of occasions. We’ve had birthday parties, bachelor/ette parties, corporate events, holiday parties, retirement parties....we’ve even done a post-bar mitzvah tour for all the adults who planned/set up/cleaned up the bar mitzvah. Apparently it was a long stressful day and they needed a fun way to unwind afterwards!

    Scott since starting Charlotte Brew Cruise in other major cities, can you tell us where else people can find a Brew Cruise? Secondly, will you be bringing a Brew Cruise to the Boston/ New England Area?

     
    Currently you can find Brews Cruise in the following cities: Asheville NC, Charleston SC, Denver CO, Atlanta GA, Charlotte NC, Chicago IL, Nashville TN, Savannah GA, Tampa FL, Space Coast FL, Boise ID and opening in Raleigh NC later this year.

    The entire Brews Cruise family would love to see it spread to New England! If you know of anyone interested in owning a Brews Cruise operation have them contact Mark Lyons (our founder/licensor) at info@brewscruise.com He’d be more than happy to provide more information regarding licensing.

     
    What Breweries do you visit on the Charlotte Brew Cruise?

    We’ve got great relationships with the breweries in Charlotte. Our primary goal is to support the industry as a whole. One of the ways we do that is by ensuring that we aren’t inundating their taprooms at inconvenient times. We want to be a benefit to these guys...not a burden. We might visit Birdsong Brewing Co., Sycamore Brewing Co. and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery on one tour, then visit The Unknown Brewing Co., Heist Brewery and Lenny Boy Brewing Co. on the next. It depends on their staffing availabilities, event schedules, etc. Each week, we create itineraries that result in the best experience for our tour guests as well as the brewery staffs.

    Scott if you could have a dream six pack of beer from the breweries that your Charlotte Brew Cruise visits what six beers would be in your dream six pack?

    This is a tough question. There’s a lot of really good beer around here. I’d want some variety for sure. A beer in there for all occasions. My answer might be different tomorrow, but right this moment I’d say...

    -  Hop Drop ‘n’ Roll (NoDa Brewing Co.) - It didn’t win gold at the World Beer Cup for nothing.

    -  Doin’ Thyme Wit (Birdsong Brewing Co.) - It’s such a good, unique summer seasonal.

    -  Southern Hospitali-tea (The Unknown Brewing Co.) - I’m a Southern boy to the core. A sweet tea flavored amber ale on the front porch puts me in a happy place.

    -  Copper (Olde Mecklenburg Brewery) - You can drink it in any situation. Always a solid choice.

    -  Jalapeño Pale Ale (Birdsong Brewing Co.) - Best peppered beer I’ve had. All the flavor and aroma, but none of the burn. So good with Mexican food.

    -  Jordy’s Peanut Butter Porter (Sycamore Brewing Co.) - Have to include a good porter for those cold, rainy nights in the winter.

    Since we are talking about cruises what are your thoughts on Carnival Cruise Lines putting a brewery on a cruise ship?

    I can drink fresh craft beer while sailing to a warm, tropical location? If the beer is good I see zero problem with this.

     
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  2.  

     
     
     
     
    While working at a brewpub in Saco, Maine, Zach Poole saw many new breweries sprouting up all over Maine. He was interested in finding out more about these breweries and thought how a tourist coming to Maine would also want to know more about these breweries. So what did Zach do about this? He bought a bus of course and this was how Maine Brew Bus was born! Don Littlefield joined Zach at Maine Brew Bus in November of 2012 and since then they have teamed up and had thousands of people on their buses each year. They give daily tours and teach people about the great craft beer culture that Maine has to offer. At Journey to the Beer Store we thought there is no better way to tour the Maine beer industry while learning something along the way so we sat down with Zach Poole and Don Littlefield to learn more about Maine Brew Bus!

     

    Zach and Don why did you decide to start the Maine Brew Bus?

    Zach –I was working at The Run of the Mill, which is a brewpub in Saco ME. I was helping pour
    their beer at festivals, and was meeting other people in the industry. At that time there were
    many new breweries that were popping up. I didn’t know where they were located, and I knew
    that other people who lived in the area or who were visiting weren’t aware as well. So I went on
    Craigslist and bought a bus!

     
    Don- I met Zach at a festival right after he had started the company. Although I wasn’t sure if
    the concept would actually work, I helped him out by promoting his idea at the Maine Brewer’s
    Festival in November of 2012. When 20 people told me that night that the idea was brilliant, I
    knew Zach was really on to something! So I have been helping him ever since to make this
    company the most sought after beer attraction in the Northeast.

     

    Zach and Don you offer several different tours, for example Local Pour and Suds and
    Spirits. Can you tell us more about all of your different tours?

    Zach - We are pleased to welcome our newest bus to our fleet. Nicknamed “Chewie”, it
    previously was a camp bus for Chewonki in Wiscasset, Maine. So with this third bus, we will be
    running up to 18 tours a week throughout the summer and early part of fall. We really try to visit and promote as many of Maine’s breweries as we can. Over the course of the year we visit over 20 breweries and nearly 10 other alcohol producers such as distilleries.Timing plays a huge role in how we design the tours, as well as distance. Also important to us is to make the beer options as diverse as possible. We want to introduce our guests to as many different styles so that they may find a new favorite.

     How many tours do you do in a day?

    Zach –Each bus is able to run two tours a day, one departing at 10:30am and another departing
    midafternoon. So with three buses, a maximum of 6 tours carrying 80 people in one day is
    definitely possible. Our Saturday tours are the most popular, often times sold out weeks in
    advance and right now we have reservations five months from now.

     

    After your first year you had 1,500 guests take the Maine Brew Bus. How many guests
    have been on the bus since your first year?

    Zach- In 2014 we had over 2,500 guests, and that was with just one bus for part of that year.
    This year to date we have had over 1,800 guests, so that puts us on track to have well over
    3,500 guests in 2015. We are aware of several guests who have taken three different tours with
    us since we started, which is amazing.

     

    Can people reserve a bus for a private tours?

    Don- Yes! We have had a lot of great private tours. We do many corporate tours, staff outings,
    bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthdays…you name it. Part of the reason we got a third bus
    is that recently we have had about half of our tours reserved privately.

     

    Does the Maine Brew Bus take tours outside of Maine?

    Zach – Currently we don’t, there are too many great breweries in Maine. With over 60 in the
    state now, we have many options without crossing state lines.


    With the success of the Maine Brew Bus, do you have plans to expand Maine Brew Bus

    to other New England States?

    Zach- We are aware of many brewery bus tour operators who got started after seeing what we
    were doing up here in Maine. We pride ourselves in running very educational tours that are
    really focused on promoting the individual businesses and their owners. The alcohol is really
    only part of the story of our success. Our model would work well in other areas, but for now our
    focus is solely in Maine.

     
    Portland Maine is the craft beer capital of Maine, why do you think so many craft
    breweries are opening in Portland Maine?

    Don –Ever since D.L. Geary chose Portland for his brewery way back in 1983, people have
    been trying to replicate his success. Gritty’s, Shipyard, and later Allagash have really paved the way for prospective brewery owners to see some serious potential in locating their breweries in Southern Maine. A lot of this has to do with our fantastic water, and also our thriving restaurant and bar scene. You cannot survive with below average beer in this area, as a really good beer will spread like wildfire across the taps of the city. There is also a nonstop influx of beer drinkers in to Portland thanks to our tourism based economy. All of these people talk about their experience with our beer, which generates even more interest in coming here.

     

    Zach and Don if you could have a dream six pack from the breweries that you visit on
    your tours, which six beers would be in your dream six pack?

    Zach- This is tough, I picked the following 6 beers so no matter where I am, what season it is or
    food being served, I would have something that would fit the bill. Allagash Curieux, Bunker
    Machine Czech Pils, Foundation Epiphany, Tributary Pale Ale, Rising Tide Ursa Minor, and
    Banded Horn Veridian.

    Don- For mine I would focus on some of our great hoppy pales and IPA’s. Here is what I would
    put together: Maine Beer Company Lunch, Bissell Brothers Substance, Barreled Souls Paper
    planes, Austin Street Catherine, Funky Bow So Folkin’ Hoppy, and Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale.

     
    Zach and Don if you could be a cast member from a TV Show in the last 20 years, what
    show would you be on and why?

     Zach- I would be Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, does that count? He’s living my
    dream, traveling, eating and drinking.

    Don- I think it would be great to be Nick Miller from New Girl. He barely works, when he does
    he tends bar, and is often just drinking beer while constantly trying to figure out his life.

     

    -------------------------

    If you want to know more about Maine Brew Bus check out their website: http://www.themainebrewbus.com/
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  3. In a couple of days, the Nation's birthday will be here. July 4th is a time when everyone stops what they are doing for the day to spend time with family and friends, eat some great food, go to the beach, the lake or the pool. One essential part of most everyone's July 4th celebration (besides the fireworks) is some great beer. At Journey to the Beer Store we wanted to help you make that hard decision on what beer to bring to that next July 4th party. Lets face it you shouldn't show up empty handed to the party!

    Cross Rip IPA ( Devil’s Purse Brewing Company South Dennis, MA)

    If you are going to drink at the beach (especially a beach on Cape Cod) Coss Rip IPA
    brewed by Devil’s Purse Brewing Company is the beer for you. At 6.6% ABV Cross Rip IPA, is a strong beer but not too strong that it will interfere with your beach experience while on Cape Cod. When traveling to Cape Cod this week make sure you hit Devil’s Purse Brewing Company.

    Breaking Bud (Knee Deep Brewing Co. Auburn, CA)

    I love the Breaking Bud name, label and the beer. It is not just a catchy name and label but a really great beer. The label brings back memories of one of the best shows on TV, Breaking Bad, with the

    little hop guy on the cover in a hazmat suit and the Breaking Bad graphics in the label. Breaking Bud is only 6.5% ABV, so you can drink Breaking Bud most of the day and then go home after your July event and keep drinking it while watching a marathon of Breaking Bad and not have to worry about falling asleep on the couch.

    Ball & Biscuit and Steal This Can (Lord Hobo Brewing Company, Woburn, MA)

    We couldn’t decide which one of the first two brews from Lord Hobo Brewing to put on our list this year because they are both really good and drinkable, so we put both on. You can bring several of these 4 packs with you to your July 4th outing and people will be happy with you and maybe even let you stay after the fireworks end…well maybe not. One of these beers from Lord Hobo Brewing might convert someone who isn't a craft beer drinker...well it should because you people don’t know what you are missing.

    Not Your Fathers Root Beer (Small Town Brewery, Wauconda, IL)

    If you have friends, that like root beer or friends who are not big beer fans this is the beer that you want to bring to your July 4th event this weekend. You will check the bottle 2-3 times to make sure what you are drinking is really beer! You might be asking to drink this beer with a straw and maybe want to make a root beer float!

    Mango Giner Tripel (Naples Beach Brewery, Naples, FL)

    If you live in South West Florida, you are lucky that you live close to Naples Beach Brewery! My suggestions for you is to go to Naples Beach Brewery and pick up any growler and bring it to your July 4th party. I can guarantee your friends won’t be disappointed. Our pick for you would be Mango Ginger Tripel, it sounds like summer and fun.

    Imperial Destroyer (Do Can Brewery, Lowell, MA)


    In honor of Journey To The Beer Store's good friend Pat Slattery who passed away earlier this year, I think everyone should have a Do Can Brewery beer if you can find one. Our pick is our favorite Do Can Beer Imperial Destroyer. If you have several Imperial Destroyer you will think you were fighting along side Hans Solo and Luke Sky Walker. May the force be with you!
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  4. Photo by Devil's Purse Brewing Co.


    Devil’s Purse Brewing Co. to release Mandarina Table Beer
     
    SOUTH DENNIS, Mass.--To celebrate Independence Day Devil’s Purse Brewing Company will release its Mandarina Table Beer in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
     
    The Mandarina Table Beer is the first limited release in Devil’s Purse’s series of seasonal styles.
     
    “Our nation has a long and rich brewing tradition and we thought it would be a great way to enjoy our Independence Day by releasing a new beer,” said Matthew Belson, co-founder and brewer.
     
    Devil’s Purse’s Mandarina Table beer is an easy drinking, thirst quenching, lower alcohol hoppy ale with 4.6% ABV and 35 IBUs. Warminster Floor Malted Maris Otter and Dingemens Pilsen provide the base malts. A pinch of Warrior hops is added for bittering followed by a whirlpool addition of Apollo and Ultra hops. The beer is then exclusively dry-hopped with an ample amount of Mandarina Bavaria from Germany. Mandarina Bavaria provides a pleasant fruity aroma with distinctive notes of tangerine and citrus. 
     
    “Mandarina Bavaria is such a wonderful aroma hop that we felt it would be a great addition to a summer table beer release,” said Michael Segerson, co-founder and brewer.
     
    Quantities of Mandarina Bavaria Table Beer are limited but will be available for growler and Crowler fills at the brewery as well as on tap at select Cape Cod restaurants.
     
    About us
    Devils Purse Brewing Company is a new craft brewery located on Cape Cod in South Dennis, Mass. The brewery focuses on making small batches of European inspired ales and opened May 2015.
     
    For more information about Devil’s Purse Brewing Company visit: www.devilspurse.com
     
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  5. After graduating from college Jeremy Cross took a road trip that would change the rest of his life. After that road trip Jeremy decided he didn’t want to work on Capitol Hill and he wanted to be a brewer. He applied to any entry level brewery positions that he could find. Several years later Jeremy and his friend and co-founder Scott Houghton decided it was time to start their own craft beer company. Jeremy and Scott started Battle Road Brewing Company in the same area where the American Revolution started, Lexington Massachusetts. Recently I heard the news that Jeremy and Scott were teaming up with Whole House Group and will being opening a new brewery and beer garden in Maynard, MA. At Journey to the Beer Store we were interested about this new endeavor and wanted to learn more. We were happy that we were able to sit down with Jeremy Cross, Co-Founder of Battle Road Brewing Company, to learn more and what his thoughts are on the craft beer scene currently.

     

    Jeremy how did you get into the craft beer business?

    Back in 1995 I was fresh out of college and slowly transitioning from watery light beers to more flavorful craft beer such as Sam Adams and Pete’s Wicked Ale.  That summer I went on a cross country trip with a friend and my eyes were opened to the wonderful array of styles being brewed all over the country.  I returned home, abandoned my goal of working on Capitol Hill (I was a poli sci major) and started to apply for entry level positions to any brewery that would take me on.

    I like the name of your Brewery Battle Road Brewing Company. How did you come up with the name and does the name of any special meaning?

    The “Battle Road” refers to the Revolutionary War battle that occurred in Lexington and Concord.  My fellow co/founder, Scott Houghton, is a huge history buff.  Living in the very spot where it all began inspired our company’s name and the brands that we produce. 

    Jeremy you brew four brews: the flagship 1775 Tavern Ale, Barrett's Farmhouse Ale, Lexington Green East IPA and Midnight Rider Porter, which of these brews is your most popular?

    I guess the Tavern Ale would be considered our “flagship” brew.  We plan to add many, many more to our repertoire once the brewpub is up and running.  In a smaller brewing environment (such as a brewpub) there is a lot more room for experimentation and we look forward to being able to push the boundaries stylistically.

    You have recently announced that you going from a contract brewery to opening up a brewery and a brew pub in Maynard.  Can you tell us more about the new brewery space and when the brewery will be open?

    It is a truly remarkable mill building in Maynard.  The exposed brick and beam skeleton of the building will provide a great back drop to a rustic restaurant and bar that will showcase the brewery.  The brewpub is also situated on a pond which is an ideal setting for our beer garden.

    The brewhouse has been ordered and, if all goes well, we should hopefully be brewing in October.

    Where can people find Battle Road Brewing Company beers?

    Since we have partnered with Whole House Group, we will be operating under a new LLC.  We are going to re brand our graphics and relaunch in cans.  We are still waiting for licensing, so as of this very moment, we have no product on the shelves.

    The craft beer Scene is growing at a rapid rate in the last 10 plus years. Do you think the industry can sustain this growth?

    The short answer is no.  New products seem to be hitting the shelves at an exponential rate.  At some point water always finds its level.  I’ve been through a shakeout in the mid ‘90’s and expect to see something similar in the not too distant future.

    Beercations have been growing in popularity recently. If you could go on a beercation anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

    These days you can pretty much go anywhere in America and find a fantastic beer culture.  I have always been a huge fan of the old world brewing centers.  I have spent plenty of time in Germany, but my bucket list beercation would be Belgium and the Czech Republic.  They have been making some of the world’s greatest beers for hundreds and hundreds of years and the beer culture there is out of this world from what I understand.  I could imagine sitting in an outdoor café, sipping on a beautifully crafted Czech Pils or Belgian ale being the source of tremendous inspiration!
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  6. First off I have to thank my cousin Erin you sent me this beer with several others for the Seattle area. Airways Brewing Company is located in Kent, Washington. Sky Hag IPA is an American double IPA it also could be reffered to as an Imperial IPA style of beer. Sky Hag IPA is 7.80 % ABV and 99 plus IBUs. Airways Brewing report  that Sky Hag is the brewery most popular beer. If you can't get Airways beer in your area you might be in luck, Airways ships its beers to you. Well they ship to handful of states, check out the Airways Brewing Company website for more details if you live in a lucky state.


    Now back to the beer, who else love this beer name and label...I sure do. I wondering who's grandmother is on the label? Sky Hag IPA pours an amber color with a thin off white color head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is of honey, hops and some malts. The flavor is of citrus hops, and some malts with a light alcohol taste. Sky Hag IPA is a nice hoppy beer. I liked Sky Hag IPA from Airways Brewing Company. I wish I could sample more of Airways Brewing Company's offerings, but I am out of luck. I am happy that I was able to sample this one. One side note this beer should be on most flights heading west especially to Washington.
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  7. Tonight's review is Big Daddy IPA brewed by Speakeasy Ales & Lagers located in San Francisco California. Big Daddy IPA is an American IPA style of beer and is 6.5o % ABV and 60 IBU. Big Daddy IPA is part of The Usual Suspects series of beers brewed by Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. You can find Big Daddy year-round in 12oz, 22oz bottles and on tap.


    Big Daddy IPA pours an orange color with a frothy white color head that diminishes somewhat quickly. The head leaves a nice coating of lacing on the side of the glass. Big Daddy IPA has a nice aroma of floral citrus hops, honey and a little caramel malt. The taste is hoppy, caramel, citrus, grapefruit and a little grain. Big Daddy IPA has a nice bitter finish with some hops. I thought Big Daddy IPA was a good drinkable IPA that I would get it again. Being a mob movie fan I liked the play of the name and logo.
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  8. 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.

     

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    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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  9. 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.




    --------------------------------------------------

    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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  10. 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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