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/// HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
 
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 » BACK TO HOPVINE INDEX
 
HEARD IT THROUGH THE HOPVINE
What do Wil Wheaton, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con and beer have in common? The recent Comic-Con, held in San Diego, had all of that and more. The usually geeky series of Comic-Con events this time started at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station, where Stone cofounder Greg Koch hosted Hop-Con and offered a stout made by Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Wil Wheaton and website impresario Drew Curtis. At the convention center’s exhibition hall, artist and writer Eric Powell, creator of The Goon, was distributing free beer koozies bearing the image of his lovable lunk. Then there was the Game of Thrones beer tasting by invitation only (mine must have gotten lost in the mail) inside the Wired lounge at the Omni Hotel. Take the Black Stout, available in stores this fall, is the second Game of Thrones brew from Brewery Ommegang. The Black succeeded (or vanquished) the Iron Throne, a Belgian-style blonde ale. Many other beer-themed gatherings took place, including Heroes Brew, San Diego’s first superhero-themed beer festival. That may be a first for San Diego, but have you ever attended an AHA national convention? Just sayin’…

What do you call a beer festival with no beer? The annual Keswick Beer Festival in Sunderland, England, saw around 1,000 punters make their way to the Ashbrooke Sports Club. Warm weather helped to create a big thirst as drinkers enjoyed the 30 different types of beer that were on offer. However, the three-day event came to an abrupt end early Saturday evening when the festival, ahem, ran out of beer. Yes, they depleted the reserve stocks in the clubhouse too. Paul Amundsen, festival organizer, said, “We’re very sorry we couldn’t continue into Sunday, but there was no way we could replenish the stocks in that time. I think we will need to look at how we are going to do things next year.” Indeed you shall, sir…

Jody Scheckter, famed Formula One World Champion in 1979, is owner of the Laverstoke Park estate in the west counties of England, a producer of organic food and drink, including beer. All of the products feature a picture of Scheckter drawn by his four-year-old son. After years of selling the organic ale and lager branded with the image and dubbed “Mr Laverstoke” (and almost 200,000 bottles sold), a single complaint from a member of the public to the Portman Group last year instigated an investigation by the alcohol watchdog, which is funded by the drinks industry. As a result, Scheckter was informed that the label breached the Portman Group’s voluntary code because “Mr Laverstoke” could be seen to appeal to children. Scheckter was asked to remove the image. Despite the threat of delistings among major retailers, Scheckter has said that he won’t be changing the branding of his alcoholic products. “After several meetings, a lot of debate and over £30,000 spent on legal fees, we decided that to change our ale and lager label was not a viable option for us.” Scheckter also stressed that he didn’t believe “for one minute” that the label was encouraging under-18s to drink. It certainly is encouraging mean-spirited anti-alcohol types to disrupt legitimate businesses…

Conspicuous Consumption Dept.: Philippe Di Méo, whose previous projects include the design for Château Mouton Rothschild 2000 as well as recent collaborations with Champagne houses De Venoge and Dom Pérignon, has encased Roederer Cristal’s distinctive clear glass bottle in a lattice of 24-carat gold. Each bottle takes four days to create by two master goldsmiths, with the designer describing the result as being “inspired by the greatest traditions of jewelry.” Following an official launch at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix, 200 of these jeroboams were made available worldwide through carefully targeted “prestige” retailers and high-end nightclubs, with a global MSRP of £18,000, or over $27,000, each. Come on, BrewDog, let’s step up your packaging!…

What’s your 10-20 for 420? If you are in Atlanta, you might think of SweetWater’s delightful 420 Extra Pale Ale, a beer named after a highway segment near the brewery. If you’re on the West Coast, you may giggle and pull out a doobie. Tony Magee, the off-centered (ooops, TM infringement), wacky beer wizard of Petaluma, Calif., and founder of Lagunitas Brewing Company, had long ago paid homage to a legendary group of Marin County teenagers called the Waldos, who coined the term 420 to designate light-up time for marijuana enthusiasts, by putting the 420 code word on his labels. SweetWater owner Freddy Bensch sent a letter (whatever that is) to Mr. Magee informing him of the Georgia brewer’s trademark of the term 420 on a beer label. Readers of Tony’s Twitter feed were the first to know that Tony was not happy with the owner-to-owner interaction involving letters rather than direct personal contact. The term “dweeb” may have been invoked in the general direction of Mr. Bensch. With Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale now a part of the Lagunitas portfolio, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a new label soon from the Lagunitas gang. Let’s see, the Doobie Brothers wrote “Black Water.” How about “Oh, SweetWater, keep on jokin’. Lagunitas beers are better when tokin’"…
 

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