The five o’clock whistle is almost ready to blow and if the wacky picture above is any indication, it’s time for another rendition of Thinkin’ and Drinkin’ — the weekly tradition where the Craft Brewing Business (CBB) crew sits around and talks craft beer news while enjoying a few cold selections of our own. And this week provided a ton of content to talk about — from more tasting room tips to bright tank insight. What did the CBB’ers think about this week’s industry developments? Read on, and then sound off in the comments below to keep this Thinkin’ and Drinkin’ conversation rolling.
Chris Crowell, editor:
Water, water everywhere, and not enough of it turned into beer. But not if SweetWater Brewing has anything to say about it. If you don’t already know, SweetWater has an annual Save Our Water campaign to raise money for keeping its local water clean. The team has raised more than $550,000 since the campaign’s inception. This year, as part of the campaign, the brewery is bringing back its Waterkeeper Hefeweizen — which SweetWater kindly sent over to the CBB offices for testing. I like what SweetWater is doing here, not just for the charity/community/social aspect or even just the importance placed on the quality of ingredients for its product, but combining all of that with the fun exclusivity of seasonal or one-off brands for loyal customers to seek out and try. Nothing creates a buzz quite like the release of a new beer from a favorite brewery and having that coincide with the promotion of a great cause, well, I’ll drink to that. Also, the catchphrase “give of your liver to save the river” is just awesome. In other SweetWater news, props to the company for this feature on the BBC. The feature notes that Sweetwater expects to sell about 143,000 bbls of beer this year,which would equate to a 30 percent increase over last year. Congrats and keep up the good work, guys.
Craft choice: SweetWater Brewing Waterkeeper Hefeweizen … while playing the Beer Fishin’ Ring Toss game that accompanied the Waterkeeper shipment in the mail. Nice touch.
Keith Gribbins, editor
It’s been mind-blowing to work with some of the brewing industry’s pioneer brewmasters over the first four-plus months of Craft Brewing Business. Guys like Mitch Steele, craft icon at Stone Brewing Co., are encyclopedias of brewing knowledge, with insight into almost any aspect of the process (from vessels and ingredients to packaging and branding). Luckily, we’ve got a library card to these elite brewing experts, and we plan on picking their brains for more issues, specifically for brewing equipment and techniques. My story on bright beer tanks with Steele is the first in a series of bright tank Q&As with industry icons. Next up is Jason Salas, head brewer at New Holland Brewing Co.
“When buying bright tanks, you need to make sure to spec out what is right for you and your brewery,” said Salas in our interview. “What is the total max pressure the vessel will need to hold? What parts and/or equipment do you want to use with your bright tanks? How many ports do all these operations require, and what size do you need each of them to be? How easy is it to get replacement parts such as new man way gaskets? What kind of cooling do you need on the tanks? What volume do you need them to be, and do they correlate to your fermentation tank size? Do we need specific tools to clean them? How do we receive them? What is the lead time required to receive them? Does the company have a good reputation and have you contacted references to talk about challenges they may have had with the tanks?”
Salas is a turbo nerd when it comes to brewing, and you’ll fully understand that impression when reading his entire story (up in the next week or two), so keep an eye out. We’ll also continue to tap the minds of the industry’s great brewing masters so that your operations can compete on the level of the craft industry’s super brewers.
Craft selection: Mad Hatter India Pale Ale
Craft beers have personalities. Brewers and enthusiast alike often want to know where those personalities come from. What’s the story behind the beer? From seminal brews like Anchor Steam to last week’s Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s improvised, social media-inspired Shoreway Shutdown Shandy, every craft beer has a story. Tom Acitelli’s new book “The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution” is a collection of craft beer stories that showcase the foundation of an industry and the origin of tradition.
“I wanted to tell an American business story at book length. Moreover, I wanted to tell a story that was fun and that intersected with other stories,” Acitelli told us in an exclusive interview. “The craft beer movement met that criteria head-on: It’s not only a wonderfully diverse and diffuse story of entrepreneurialism and moxie in itself, but one that intersects with other movements in post-World War II America, like the decline of the nation’s manufacturing sector; the rise of fine wine and food; the rejuvenation of many of the nation’s cities; and even things like the Interstate Highway System, the deregulation of the airline industry and the rise of the web.”
Craft choice: Stone IPA