Ingredients make the beer. Quite literally, actually. All the individual selections of grains, malts, hops and yeast come together to make a delicious brew that you put your name on and send off into the consumer wilds. It’s not unlike what we do here at Craft Brewing Business: we scour the industry for the most in-depth information from highly experienced sources to create content that impacts your business. Check out the biggest headlines from this year’s ingredient-focused features.
Since we’ve started, Craft Brewing Business has covered the growth of small, independent hop growers and other agricultural start-ups that have sought to support the craft beer movement on a local level. It’s also a trend that larger hop growers, like Crosby Hop Farm LLC, and distributors, like BSG CraftBrewing and Hopunion LLC, have noticed.
You heard it on the BrewExpo America exhibit hall floor and echoing through the massive seminar rooms at the Craft Brewers Conference. You heard it at breakfast and at the after-Expo events. Sure, there was plenty to see and talk about at CBC 2014, but there was one topic that was on the tip of every attendee’s tongue: Quality. Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza explained it best when he said that craft beer is gaining steam in part because of the consumer’s interest in quality, and if the new supply matching that demand can’t live up to that consistent quality, the industry overall could feel the effects.
Back in February, Texas-based Saint Arnold Brewing Co. released Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 6 — an imperial pumpkin stout that aged for six months in rum barrels. That sounded delicious. We felt it was worth a followup with Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner about his company’s barrel-aging program and brewing philosophy for our continuing barrel-aging Q&A series.
Craft brewers are always looking for new beer trails to blaze. Experimenting with a new, or new-to-you, hop variety could diversify your offering in a crowded market. Check out what our panel of hop experts recommend…
We had the opportunity to meet Ali Capper in Denver at the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America. She’s a farmer’s daughter whose career in London spanned 15 years in marketing and advertising, which became pretty apparent as we interviewed her. She has now returned to her roots on the farm and works tirelessly to promote British hops. We asked Ali to give some insight into the British hop market, and she happily obliged with this quick Q&A.
Barrel-aging beer is an addiction (like a Lays potato chip — you can’t stop with just one). Take Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego. The company started small, as they all do, aging just one beer (its popular Le Freak) in a lone red wine barrel. Soon there were a few bourbon barrels filled with Double Stout. Before you could say West Coast IPA, Green Flash was trying all sorts of combinations in more than 500 barrels.
The British hop harvest is dramatic, noisy, frenetic and does not last very long. This year, British hop farms completed the harvest of one of their oldest, most romantic, most fabulously aromatic British crops. British hops are grown in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. During harvest, the whole hop bines are taken out of the hop yards to a “picking” machine which strips the hop bine, separates the hop from the leaf and conveys the hops into the kilns where they are dried before being conditioned and baled.
Within the craft beer boom is a mini-boom of barrel-aging. More craft breweries are starting to mix in a couple barrel-aged specialty one-offs to try something new, re-think an old favorite or stand out in a crowded market place. Side Project Brewing is a small craft brewing outfit based in St. Louis, producing about 150 barrels (bbls) since starting two years ago. Owner and Brewer Cory King started Side Project as (get this) a side project from his day job as head brewer at Perennial Artisan Ales.