Earlier this week, the Brewers Association released a fresh set of data on craft beer volume in 2017. The big headline is the country’s 6,300+ craft breweries produced 25.4 million barrels and saw a 5 percent rise in volume, good for almost 13 percent market share. Neat, huh? You should scroll through the other details here. What you won’t see, though, is a calculation on the actual number of craft beers released during the year. Figures. Each week, we take on the giant stack of beer news and pick out the five that stand out the most to share, and we’ve long assumed the number of total beers in the market is incalculable. But the truth must be out there, and if anyone would know, it would be Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association. So, on the BA’s conference call to discuss the stats, we decided to ask. There was a long pause. Then suddenly, an indecipherable madness. All we can compare it to is this:
All that’s left of Watson is a cut out in the ceiling of the BA offices. Good luck out there, Bart. May you find peace. Here are your five beers to know this week.
Please add to the madness and send your beer news (press release and photos) to [email protected] for possible inclusion next week.
New Belgium jumps through hoops to develop, sell new hemp pale ale
We covered this earlier in the week, but the news is worthy of double-dipping in our beers to know this week. The Hemperor HPA showcases the game-changing union of hops and hemp, plants genetically related that produce similar organic aromatic compounds known as terpenes. This ale is brewed with hemp hearts (the meat of the seed, minus the shell) and dry-hopped with Simcoe and experimental HBC 522 hops to create a dank, pungent hop aroma balanced by a sweet, mildly bitter finish.
“This beer has been over two years in the making, most of the time spent learning and reacting to laws that really suppress this crop’s usage,” Koenigs said of the beer that is currently banned in Kansas. “Flavor-wise, this the beer we wanted to make, but due to misinformed laws governing the use of industrial hemp, we had to take a creative and long-winding road to get to this point. We’re happy with where we landed, and we’ll be working to change federal regulation so that one day we can brew The Hemperor HPA with hemp flowers and leaves as we originally envisioned.”
Federal law prohibits brewers from using hemp leaf and flower, so New Belgium brewers found a creative solution using other natural plant materials that perfectly emulate those hemp terpenes. The Hemperor HPA contains no THC or CBD. The full story is here.
Angel City Brewery flexes creative muscle with spring releases
Angel City Brewery’s mission is to shine a light on the eclectic underbelly of what has been referred to as the other Los Angeles. With its home in the Downtown Arts District, it is the center of a cultural revival for the city’s most talented artists, musicians, hustlers and craftspeople. This passion for creativity and diversity is present in the beers it brews. Look no further the beers it has coming out this spring on into LA Beer Week in June.
March: Barreljuice, Barreljuice, Barreljuice — A beer-exorcist from the Netherworld, this simple saison transformed into a tart, golden, paranormal beer. Brettanomyces fermentation followed by six months confined to Chardonnay wine barrels, conjures an earthy barnyard aroma with hints of stone fruit and grape. This beer is dry yet sour, with subtle flavors of peach and persimmon.
April: Fuzzy Nelson — An evolution of Angel City’s own Funky Wit, this wit beer aged in French oak white wine barrels with Brettanomyces and Roeselare yeast is sour, hoppy, funky and very approachable.
May: Strawberry Gose — Featuring strawberries from Oxnard, this gose is lightly salty, tart and refreshing with bright fruity aromas. Srirachelada Ale — Returning for 2018 is Angel City’s take on the classic Mexican coctel cerveza with sriracha, tomato juice, lime juice, agave, pickled banana pepper juice and worcestshire sauce.
Bale Breaker Brewing, Pink Boots collab features new YCH HOPS blend
Lady Lupulin Blonde Ale (5.2 percent, 30 IBU) is a special beer brewed by Bale Breaker Brewing Co. using an exclusive hop blend created by YCH HOPS and the Pink Boots Society, released yesterday at the Bale Breaker Taproom. This celebratory beer was brewed at Bale Breaker by women in the local community in honor of International Women’s Day. Representatives from Bale Breaker, YCH HOPS, Single Hill Brewing, Dru Bru and Cornerstone Ranches participated in Yakima’s Pink Boots Society Brew Day event, truly making it a collaborative project.
“Working with Pink Boots Society to produce the exclusive hop blend, we wanted to create an opportunity for people in all aspects of the hop and beer industries to come together and brew something special to celebrate women,” said Kate Ruffing, the chief marketing officer at YCH, who also participated in the brew day. “It is just as much about the brewing experience as it is about the beer, and we are grateful to have been a part of this all-ladies brew day to experience it firsthand.”
YCH HOPS’ Pink Boots Blend was released to commercial brewers prior to International Women’s Day on March 8 and members, participants and brewers around the world were encouraged to create their own celebratory brews. The hop blend was produced in traditional T90 hop pellets with limited availability, and YCH HOPS will donate $3 per pound to the Pink Boots Society Scholarship funds. This year’s blend includes Palisade, Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra and Loral.
Spencer Brewery release Second in Fruit Series and Craft Assortment 4-pack
St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., is home to the first certified Trappist Brewery outside of Europe. The monks and brewmaster at Spencer Brewery have developed and received approval to produce and sell nine different beers, ranging from classic Trappist ales to traditional German-style lagers from the International Trappist Association. The ninth beer to be approved is their Grapefruit IPA, which will be released in limited quantities and is the second in the brewery’s Fruit Series.
Spencer’s Grapefruit IPA is brewed with grapefruit and Citra hops. There is a ruby red hue in its color, and it is tart and clean with a closing bitterness characteristic to IPAs (6.5 percent ABV). This Grapefruit IPA from Spencer will be introduced to the market first in their new Craft Assortment four-pack. This four-pack will feature the brewery’s American Craft beer offerings, which include their original IPA, feierabendbier (Pilsner) and Festive Lager. Spencer’s Craft Assortment four-pack is now available at retail. The Spencer Brewery’s Grapefruit IPA will be available at retail in four packs, as well as on draft throughout The Spencer Brewery’s distribution network after April 16, 2018.
Monday Night Brewing splits Tears of My Enemies into three different batches
Atlanta-based craft brewery Monday Night Brewing is bringing back one of its favorite brews of 2017 but with a twist. Tears of My Enemies is a 9.3 percent ABV Imperial Milk Stout loaded with locally made milk chocolate, Ugandan vanilla beans and coffee from locally-roasted Batdorf & Bronson. The result is a roasty, chocolaty, silky smooth drink that is, in the words of Cofounder Jonathan Baker, “like the tears of your enemies, the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted.”
This year, Tears of My Enemies was split into three batches. One was placed in Scotch barrels (like the 2017 version), another in bourbon barrels and a very limited amount in ASW Distillery apple brandy barrels.
“We wanted to see how the base beer played with the different barrels,” Brewmaster and Barrel Program Manager Peter Kiley said. “It’s really interesting to taste how the additions in Tears Of My Enemies enhance the scotch and bourbon characteristics in different ways.”
Tears of My Enemies, winner of a bronze medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, was also named one of Porchdrinking.com’s “20 Favorite Beer Names at GABF.” Look for it in select bottle shops and taprooms in the upcoming weeks.