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EDITORIALS & LETTERS 2012 » BACK TO EDITORIALS & LETTERS INDEX
 
December 2012/January 2013
Legacy Breweries Support Celebrator

 
The Celebrator Beer News (originally called the California Celebrator) turns 25 with our next issue. The first “brewspaper” (a term coined by Bret and Julie Nickels, founders of California Celebrator) hit the street in January of 1988. Our first back page full-page ad was to have been for Lyon’s Brewery Depot in Sunol. Sadly, that iconic multi-tap “craft” beer bar burned to the ground just weeks prior to our launch. Our friends at Anchor Brewery in San Francisco jumped in at the last minute and assured that our first issue would have some funding by providing a full-page ad from Anchor. We have always been grateful for that support.

Celebrator has been honored over the years with the financial support from many early brewing entities. Of those in existence during our launch period (there were only 20 breweries in all of California in 1988), the following are not only still with us but will be pouring beer at our 25th Anniversary Party next February 17, 2013, at the Oakland Convention Center Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland.

Closest to that venue and one of our longest continuing advertisers is Pacific Coast Brewing Company in Old Town Oakland. Also attending the event that were brewing when our first issue dropped are Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing, Rubicon Brewing, Marin Brewing, Triple Rock Brewing, Bison Brewing, Tied House Brewery and several others yet to commit. Their legacies are legendary and to have them at our celebration of our 25 years of publication is gratifying and humbling.

We are thankful for this support and are in awe of the resourcefulness and resiliency of these pioneer breweries to have survived so long in the precarious endeavor of producing and marketing full-flavored beer. In the early days, consumers didn’t know much about what we now call “craft” beer. Hopefully, the Celebrator Beer News had something to do with the education of beer drinkers reinforcing their appreciation and enjoyment of “good beer.” That continues to be our mission today.

As we look forward to the next 25 years of craft beer coverage, we hope that you will consider, praise and support (you know, buy something from) these legacy breweries that helped to keep our publishing effort funded in the pursuit of an educated beer consumer. Support our advertisers as they keep us alive and publishing. We hope to see you at the 25th Anniversary Party that closes San Francisco Beer Week on February 17, 2013. And here’s to the next 25!
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (December 2012/January 2013)

Dear Editor:
Surely you jest! A lot of beer descriptions cause me to wonder (e.g., “aromas of dusty cabbages and turnips”), but on page 35 of the Celebrator’s August/September issue, I was nonplussed to see this phrase in the Blind Tasting Panel’s review of Pilsner Urquell: “Herbal nose of cedar, caramel and gym socks…” (emphasis mine). Please tell me that was added just to see if anyone was reading that page. A great issue, otherwise — love the cover. Keep up the good work!

Yours truly,
Miles Jordan
Chico, California

Dear Miles:
We’re not sure what SAB MillerCoors is doing with the formerly classic Pilsner Urquell, but the sample we had definitely reeked of someone’s significantly used athletic apparel. We’ve had PU from the source, and this effort was more reminiscent of brewing standards during the commie years. And Don’t Call Me Shirley! — Ed.
October/November 2012
A Quarter-Century of Craft

 
Being a beer geek 25 years ago was not easy. Few retailers carried the small number of brands available, and finding something fresh on draught was a joyful experience. When I opened my wine-bar café in 1979 in the San Francisco Bay Area, the only small breweries around were Anchor, Sierra Nevada and a new one called New Albion. The Bay Area had a few start-ups that were promising. DeBakker, Thousand Oaks, Palo Alto Real Ales, Sacramento’s River City and Grant’s from Yakima, Wash., were among the few that were around. Boulder Brewing had just started up, but the beer didn’t make the journey from Colorado in very good shape. We are grateful for the improved refrigerated shipping we enjoy now.

Today’s good-beer enthusiast waddles in a sea of great beer choices. Almost every region of the country has its dominant craft breweries, leading the way for many much smaller brewers to follow. With over 2,000 craft breweries in the United States, our choices have simply never been better. But many of the 20-something millennials, who have never known a time when there wasn’t a huge selection of amazing beer brands and a dizzying array of styles, can be intimidated or turned off by the sheer magnitude of choices to be made.

It’s understandable, then, that new-to-the-party beer drinkers might rebel against what they see as “Dad’s beer” or effete “beer geek” beer, and choose light industrial megabrewed lager as a statement of lifestyle reaction to the new normal. Perhaps some “beer evangelism” is in order to help those in need of good beer.

Our brewers are doing their part to keep increasing production, selection and quality of craft beer offerings. It’s up to those of us who enjoy the mind-boggling bounty of bodacious brews to share our knowledge (respectfully, of course) with those less fortunate in their beer choices. Spread the word of good beer. Our brewers will be happy to make more.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (October/November 2012)

Dear Editor:
I assume that I didn’t miss this (layout) improvement in the past June/July issue and that this is new for August/September. Well done!

Rich
Chico, California

Dear Rich:
Thanks for the props on our layout. Actually, it’s been an ongoing process for some time now. Thanks to our art director, Ken Hickmott, and the input from our writing staff, the old Celebrator is looking cleaner and should be more readable. Any other thoughts out there? — Ed.



Dear Editor:
I’m a fan of your site, and I’m loving it! Just want to tell you that we have just opened a small microbrewery, and we have made our first beer, which we call Black Bitch (taken from the legend about the Scottish town of Linlithgow). It’s a dry stout-porter, casked/keg-conditioned beer, made in the Philippines!

I’m Swedish and have been in the Philippines for a while and have experienced difficulties in brewing beer in this country. You cannot find yeast, hops, or malt. So we are importing yeast and hops from Australia. Also, we end up making our own malt from an imported barley, which they use as feed for fighting roosters in this country, but it functions well. We are doing it because we are tired of drinking only lager beers, which is the only beer available in the Philippines.

All the best,
Morgan Kallefjord
Manila, Philippines

Dear Morgan:
Thanks for the note. Glad you are trying to bring real beer to the Philippines. Nice that you malt your own barley, otherwise used for fighting roosters. Instead of Black Bitch (nice name but could get you in trouble in certain parts of town), how about Raging Cock beer? Just sayin’. — Ed.
August/September 2012
Size Isn't Everything

 
But no size isn’t anything. Think about it. The explosion of new brewing in America has been a mixed blessing. Over 2,000 breweries are now in operation in the U.S., the largest number of operating breweries since before Prohibition. Some of them, however, are quite small. And quality can vary.

A nanobrewery is a very small brewing operation, usually producing less than four U.S. barrels at a time (often much less). Nanobreweries are acknowledged and licensed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Usually, the idea is to start small and grow into a much bigger operation.

Consider the phenomenal growth of Sam Calagione’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del. Calagione started his company as a brewpub with a tiny 10-gallon (less than one barrel) homebrew system in 1995. The brewery now has a 200-barrel brewhouse and added fermentation capacity, bringing it to nearly 100,000 barrels per year in production, with potential for much more.

Our colleague John Foyston, writing for The Oregonian, gave the nod to Mike Wright (by day an IT project manager for Multnomah County), who moonlights as brewer-owner of Beetje (Flemish for “little bit”) Brewery (now called The Commons Brewery), “perhaps the smallest federally licensed brewery in Portland and one of a growing flock of nanobreweries such as Natian Brewery, Mt. Tabor Brewing, Captured by Porches Brewing Company, Vertigo Brewing, Heater Allen Brewing and others.” A Nano Beer Fest was held in Portland earlier this year, and Rogue Ales is sponsoring a Nano Fest at its Green Dragon alehouse in Portland. All this action is in the Portland area alone!

We’d have to go back to the third issue of the Celebrator to find our first article on a nanobrewery. In our July/August 1988 issue, we ran a story on a fellow named Klaus Lange, who founded a brewery restaurant called Seacliff Café & Vest Pocket Brewery in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district. Lange recognized the historical tradition, dating to the Middle Ages, of brewing at home and offering your beer and food to travelers. His stove-top brewery produced several different beers — most notably his Seacliff Dutch Brown, served up with a Belgian carbonnade of beef on braised carrots.

The photo in this early edition of the Celebrator showed some beer industry notables in attendance for a dinner honoring the Bard of Beer, Michael Jackson, who had heard about the tiny brewery and decided to visit. In the photo are Mark Carpenter, Anchor Brewing; Judy Ashworth, Lyons Brewery Depot; Steve Norris, Home Brew Shop; Brendan Moylan, pre–Marin and Moylan’s; Ken Vermes and Ed Chainey, distributors; and Bret and Julie Nickels, founders of the then-called California Celebrator.

The recently held Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego noted the continued growth of the industry and gave a nod to the many new ventures in start-up mode whose size would put them in the nano category. Literally hundreds of new nanobreweries are working toward offering their first brews to an anxiously waiting (they hope) and thirsty public. Keep in mind that the nanobrewery opening in your neighborhood may have the next Sam Calagione manning the kettles.
June/July 2012
Beer Sales Down! Craft Beer Up! Whaaat!?

 
The Craft Brewers Conference, held in May in San Diego, saw 4,500 beer industry professionals gather to bask in the glow of an industry experiencing unparalleled growth and success despite a continuing dour economy. Although U.S. beer sales overall were down an estimated 1.3% by volume in 2011 (compared with down 1.2% in 2010), the craft beer segment continued to surge, according to data announced by the Brewers Association during the CBC.

Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2011 was 13% by volume and 15% by dollars, compared with growth in 2010 of 12% by volume and 15% by dollars, according to the BA. Craft brewers sold an estimated 11,468,152 barrels of beer in 2011, up from 10,133,571 in 2010. Craft brewer retail dollar value in 2011 was an estimated $8.7 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2010.

The large, industrial light lager breweries blame this loss of market share on an increase in wine and spirit sales. But this erosion of share would seem to mirror the wine industry in the late ’70s and ’80s, when wine appreciation changed from quantity (inexpensive jug wines) to quality (more expensive but more flavorful varietal wines). Today’s craft beer lover is not likely to go back to drinking industrial light lagers. It is obvious that the real growth in the beer industry is from small local and regional breweries making increasingly characterful beers for a much more sophisticated beer consumer.

As of March 26, 2012, the Brewers Association identified around 250 brewery openings in 2011 (174 microbreweries and 76 brewpubs) and 37 brewery closings (12 microbreweries and 25 brewpubs). The total number of craft breweries in America is approaching 2,000 — a number not seen since pre-Prohibition! Clearly, the voracity of the craft beer segment is not to be denied.

In a hotly contested election year focused mainly on jobs and more jobs, the craft beer community currently provides an estimated 103,585 jobs in the United States (including the serving staff in brewpubs). And most beer businesses are expanding, requiring even more employees.

There has never been a better time to be a beer lover. Nearly every city or town has a local brewery or pub specializing in craft beer. Craft beer choices today are amazing, and new styles or variations on traditional styles seem to multiply almost daily. Beer lovers are proselytizers (that’s not dirty, honest). With an almost missionary zeal, craft beer enthusiasts share their passion for great beer with friends, family and any disengaged suds sipper on the next bar stool.

The word is spreading, and the word is beer.

Word.
April/May 2012
New Data Confirms Craft Beer Sales Are at an All-time High!

 
Overall, beer sales rose more than 2 percent in 2011, surpassing $98 billion in total retail sales! According to market research company Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be attributed to the high-end (craft) beer business. Sales for the category of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold off-premise was up nearly 3 percent.

Craft beer sales are quickly approaching $1 billion in U.S. supermarkets, and the number of breweries in the U.S is climbing towards 2,000 — a number we haven’t seen since the limited-distribution pre-Prohibition era. Yes, 2011 was a phenomenal growth year for the craft beer industry, and now we have some year-end SymphonyIRI Group data to back it up.

Craft beer’s dollar share in U.S. supermarkets was up 15 percent over the previous year, to 10.8 share, the sixth consecutive year of growth. That’s double the share it held in 2006. These numbers prove why craft beer is the number one–growing beverage-alcohol segment in U.S. supermarkets.

The Beer Institute recently released new data that showed that the value of beer sales in restaurants rose more than 9 percent in 2011, totaling about $23.6 billion in sales. With restaurants now responsible for nearly 24 percent of total beer sales, they are the largest share of on-premise sales. Beer retail sales in restaurants jumped from $21.6 billion in 2010 to nearly $23.6 billion in 2011. Beer lovers are making their beverage choices known, and it’s getting the attention of the retail adult beverage industry.

The boost in restaurant beer sales coincides with a period of growth in the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association expects 10,000 new eating and drinking establishments to open this year, bringing the industry total to 970,000 locations. Consider also that the Brewers Association reported in January that 260 new breweries came online in 2011 — and nearly every brewery they have interviewed is reporting significant volume growth. Cause to celebrate indeed!

And beer in America means jobs. According to the latest Beer Serves America study, the beer industry directly and indirectly supports approximately 1.8 million American jobs, including those at our nation’s 547,000 beer-selling retail establishments.

Keep drinking good beer and tell your friends about it. Otherwise, they won’t know what they are missing.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (April/May 2011)

Dear Editor:
I may be missing something, but I am unable to find your brewery listings and Hop Spots on your website. I can download the current mag and then scroll through till I get to it, but it would be much more convenient if these listings were available online.

Thanks,
Dale
via email

Dear Dale:
They are available on the Web and from some very good sites that we are not about to duplicate. Way too much work! Here are some of our favorites: beermapping.com, craftbeer.com and taplister.com. Hope this helps. — Ed.
 

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