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San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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Societe IV : Let the Games Begin!

2016 has been something a weird year for me in the world of craft beer. I have never had to defend my own personal opinions from other beer drinkers in the way that I have had to do since January when the usage of the term “indie beer” got exposure on a quasi-national level. It marked something of a turning point for me as I realized that the craft beer world was not quite not the shiny, happy place that I had turned it into in my mind. In short my love affair was under something of a strain.

So leave it to Societe Brewing to host an event that not only delivers the goods on every level but helps to rekindle the fires of my passion for this elixir that I love so much.

Societe Brewing has been one of my favorite breweries since they opened their doors four years ago. Honestly, Societe is probably my personal favorite but the thought of trying to rank breweries in San Diego is not only daunting but counterproductive to the harmony and unity between breweries in the area. Those ideas of harmony and a collaborative spirit between breweries was proudly on display at Societe’s fourth anniversary party this past Saturday, known simply as Societe IV.IMG_7095

Part of the fun with anniversary parties at Societe has been that every year is something new and they are continually raising the bar. This year will be a hard one to beat. Incorporating an Olympics theme, complete with a torch and a parade of the “Ale-thletes” to start the event, Societe invited nearly two dozen breweries (and one-man team Nate Soroko) from all over San Diego and one from Northern California to compete in a variety of brewers games, including a washer toss tournament, grain stacking challenge, tri-clamp challenge, Beer Chugging, Stein Holding and even an impressive barrel throwing event, which for those who are not sure, a barrel weighs right around 90 pounds and is not the easiest thing to throw for distance, but was a sight to behold. The spirit of camaraderie and friendship were on display for all to see and take part in and the fun that these folks were having was simply infectious as it was impossible to find someone not having a great time.IMG_7098

As fun as all the games were to watch and enjoy rooting for your favorite local brewers, we also came for the beers. I found several new treats to savor while enjoying all the festivities the day had to offer. New variations of The Bachelor, their single hop IPA series, included Nugget, Calypso and Idaho 7 while The Bachelorette, their single hop lager, introduced the Sterling varietal. To round out the new beers was the first Societe witbier, The Filly. Suffice to say everything was incredibly enjoyable and of the highest quality.

What came as perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire day, and announced only a few hours before the event, was the opportunity to purchase their very first bottled beer, a feral ale called The Swindler. As someone who was lucky enough to have this beer during the Societe 3 event last year, I can attest to its absolute incredibleness.IMG_7103

At four years in Societe is continuing to showcase not only their excellence at brewing but at displaying the strong sense of community between an incredible number of local San Diego breweries. In a lot of ways I was filled with a great deal of pride, even if my connection to the brewing industry is tangential at best, the event left me invigorated and rejuvenated. So cheers to Societe and all the Ale-thletes, I hope this one becomes a tradition, but even if it doesn’t, I will still be there to give all the support I can.

Cheers,

Tom

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Four San Diego breweries claim spots in the top 50 for Craft Beer sales in 2015

Released today by the Brewers Association, this information provides a valuable look at how the sales of craft beer are impacting the market as more and more local breweries make a name for themselves on a national level.

It is also hard to look at this list and not notice the breweries who will be left off of it this time next year when the are removed due to their acquisition by larger macro breweries.

Still, the silver lining is that the market for quality craft beer made by local, independent brewers continues to grow and that should be applauded, well done to the men and women who are making great beer to be enjoyed by all.

Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2015

 

Boulder, CO • April 5, 2016 – The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 43 were craft brewing companies.¹

 

“The top U.S. brewers continue to drive demand, growth, innovation and exponential interest in beers from small and independent brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “With a historic record number of breweries in U.S., the top brewers continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings.”

 

Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies

(Based on 2015 beer sales volume*)

Download Map Here

 

Brewing Company City State
1 D. G. Yuengling and Son, Inc Pottsville PA
2 Boston Beer Co Boston MA
3 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Chico CA
4 New Belgium Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
5 Gambrinus San Antonio TX
6 Lagunitas Brewing Co* Petaluma CA
7 Bell’s Brewery, Inc Kalamazoo MI
8 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
9 Minhas Craft Brewery Monroe WI
10 Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
11 Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits* San Diego CA
12 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
13 Firestone Walker Brewing Co Paso Robles CA
14 Oskar Blues Brewing Holding Co Longmont CO
15 Duvel Moortgat USA Kansas City & Cooperstown MO/NY
16 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
17 Matt Brewing Co Utica NY
18 SweetWater Brewing Co Atlanta GA
19 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
20 New Glarus Brewing Co New Glarus WI
21 Great Lakes Brewing Co Cleveland OH
22 Alaskan Brewing Co. Juneau AK
23 Abita Brewing Co Abita Springs LA
24 Anchor Brewing Co San Francisco CA
25 Stevens Point Brewery Co Stevens Point WI
26 Victory Brewing Co Downingtown PA
27 August Schell Brewing Co New Ulm MN
28 Long Trail Brewing Co Bridgewater Corners VT
29 Summit Brewing Co Saint Paul MN
30 Shipyard Brewing Co Portland ME
31 Full Sail Brewing Co Hood River OR
32 Odell Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
33 Southern Tier Brewing Co Lakewood NY
34 Rogue Ales Brewery Newport OR
35 21st Amendment Brewery Bay Area CA
36 Ninkasi Brewing Co Eugene OR
37 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
38 Narragansett Brewing Co Providence RI
39 Left Hand Brewing Company Longmont CO
40 Uinta Brewing Co Salt Lake City UT
41 Green Flash Brewing Co San Diego CA
42 Allagash Brewing Co Portland ME
43 Lost Coast Brewery Eureka CA
44 Bear Republic Brewing Co Cloverdale CA
45 Troegs Brewing Co Hershey PA
46 Karl Strauss Brewing Co San Diego CA
47 Breckenridge Brewery* Littleton CO
48 North Coast Brewing Co Inc. Fort Bragg CA
49 Four Peaks Brewing Co* Tempe AZ
50 Revolution Brewing Co Chicago IL
*Craft volume pro-rated in 2015 or will be pro-rated/exiting craft brewer data set in 2016

 

Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies2

(Based on 2015 beer sales volume)

 

Rank Brewing Company City State
1 Anheuser-Busch, Inc (a) Saint Louis MO
2 MillerCoors (b) Chicago IL
3 Pabst Brewing Co (c) Los Angeles CA
4 D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc Pottsville PA
5 Boston Beer Co (d) Boston MA
6 North American Breweries (e) Rochester NY
7 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Chico CA
8 New Belgium Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
9 Craft Brew Alliance (f) Portland OR
10 Lagunitas Brewing Co (g) Petaluma CA
11 Gambrinus (h) San Antonio TX
12 Bell’s Brewery, Inc (i) Kalamazoo MI
13 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
14 Minhas Craft Brewery (j) Monroe WI
15 Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
16 Sleeman Brewing Co (k) LaCrosse WI
17 Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (l) San Diego CA
18 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
19 Firestone Walker Brewing Co (m) Paso Robles CA
20 Founders Brewing Co Grand Rapids MI
21 Oskar Blues Brewing Holding Co (n) Longmont CO
22 Duvel Moortgat USA (o) Kansas City MO
23 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
24 Matt Brewing Co (p) Utica NY
25 SweetWater Brewing Co Atlanta GA
26 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
27 New Glarus Brewing Co New Glarus WI
28 Great Lakes Brewing Co Cleveland OH
29 Alaskan Brewing Co Juneau AK
30 Abita Brewing Co Abita Springs LA
31 Anchor Brewing Co San Francisco CA
32 Stevens Point Brewery Co (q) Stevens Point WI
33 Victory Brewing Co Downingtown PA
34 August Schell Brewing Co (r) New Ulm MN
35 Long Trail Brewing Co (s) Bridgewater Corners VT
36 Summit Brewing Co Saint Paul MN
37 Shipyard Brewing Co (t) Portland ME
38 Full Sail Brewing Co Hood River OR
39 Odell Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
40 Southern Tier Brewing Co Lakewood NY
41 Rogue Ales Brewery Newport OR
42 21st Amendment Brewery Bay Area CA
43 Ninkasi Brewing Co Eugene OR
44 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
45 Narragansett Brewing Co Providence RI
46 Pittsburgh Brewing Co (u) Pittsburgh PA
47 Left Hand Brewing Company Longmont CO
48 Uinta Brewing Co Salt Lake City UT
49 Green Flash Brewing Co San Diego CA
50 Allagash Brewing Co Portland ME

Download High Resolution Graphics Here

The Association’s full 2015 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer, available in May 2016.

 

For additional statistics, see the Brewers Association’s annual craft brewing industry growth report for 2015.

1 Figure based on companies that met craft brewer definition for all or part of 2015. An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional:A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

2Top 50 Overall U.S. Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes 10 Barrel, Bass, Beck’s, Blue Point, Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Golden Road (partial year) Goose Island, Elysian (partial year) Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Series brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors, Keystone, Killian’s, Leinenkugel’s, Miller, Saint Archer (partial year), and Tenth & Blake brands; (c) includes Pabst, Schlitz, Small Town, and 28+ other brand families; (d) includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands. Does not include Twisted Tea or Angry Orchard brands; (e) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (f) includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (g) full year volume; craft rank reflects pro-rated volume due to sale of stake to Heineken (h) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (i) includes Bell’s and Upper Hand brands; (j) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families as well as export volume; (k) includes Sleeman and Sapporo brands as well as export volume; (l) volume will be pro-rated in 2016 data set due to sale to Constellation Brands; (m) will be part of control group with Duvel Moortgat USA starting in 2016; (n) includes Utah Brewers Cooperative and Perrin Brewing Company brands, will include Cigar City brands starting in 2016; (o) includes Boulevard and Ommegang brands; (p) includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands; (q) includes James Page, Point and Whole Hog brands; (r) includes Grain Belt and Schell’s brands; (s) includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s brands; (t) includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands; (u) includes Iron City and 17 other brand families.

 

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About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSMGreat American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

 

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association. Follow us on Twitter.

 

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.

 


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It’s the Great Pumpkin (Beers), Charlie Brown!

It’s that time of year when the temperature begins to drop and the cool, crispness in the air signals the change of season from summer to fall as the leaves begin to turn color and sail to the ground where they wait for us to rake them up into big piles for the children of the neighborhood to jump into.

Well, maybe not in Southern California.a97bf1d1-794a-401e-a8dc-16a9dfe23805

October in San Diego usually means odd pumpkin patches in the middle of parking lots with straw on the ground. Costume shops in every strip mall that has an unoccupied building and lunatics who try to tell you that cold cider is just as good as hot cider. Savages I tell you!

But what we don’t have in the way of the more iconic definition of the fall season, we more than make up for in our efforts to evoke that fall feeling of cool nights and crisp air with some truly wonderful pumpkin ales made by some of the best craft brewers in San Diego, and for this list, one who is slightly further away.

Much like last week’s post on specialty ingredient hibiscus, pumpkin is something that can easily be done wrong. It’s also easy to look at the absolute flood of pumpkin related items and say that pumpkin beer is simply a gimmick to get money from suckers who worship at the house of gourd.

The question has been asked to me on several occasions; can pumpkin beers be considered a true craft beer? Or do you lose credibility because of the perception that pumpkin beers are merely a fad? It’s a question I like to answer with another question; Is it brewed by a craft brewer? Than the answer is yes, it’s craft beer. However, if you want to delve into the question further, I will happily elaborate. The beer must be carefully crafted to be something unique, not something that is simply allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon added to a fermentor. The design of the beer has to be really strong and showcase what real pumpkin flavor can bring to the world of craft beer.

That being said, allow me to present four craft beer that might make you rethink the way you look at pumpkin beer.

Coronado Brewing Company: Punk’in Drublic Imperial Pumpkin Ale.2014-10-08 18.39.43

The beer opens with a rich orange/amber color. lightly carbonated. The nose is a mix of pumpkin and nutmeg with a noticeable hint of cinnamon. First taste is a nice blend of natural pumpkin flavor with more sublet notes from the added spices and a light honey sweetness. The beer drinks easy and has all the nice flavors that a fall beer should have. The spices don’t overpower the beer, you can readily taste the natural pumpkin flavor without thinking that you are being force-fed pumpkin pie in a bottle. Plus the brew has a nice 8.0%ABV which you might not suspect as I found it to be a rather subtle. I love the design on the bottle and the name alone kind of makes it an easy sell to me, good thing it is also easy to drink and even easier to recommend.

Mike Hess Brewing: Magma Cucurbita, Imperial Pumpkin Stout.2014-10-13 16.06.38

Another beautiful bottle for a stout that pours at an impressive 7.25%ABV. The color is a dark molasses with a rich foamy head. The aroma is a roasted earthiness mixed with subtle hints of spice. Taste wise, it’s matches well with it’s aroma. This beer is roasted like pumpkin seeds and has an earthy quality like the brew just came out of the ground at a pumpkin patch. This beer drinks very well and gets more complex and enjoyable as it warms up to room temperature. On the front end of your palate, you get all the malty goodness, the pumpkin and spices are more subtle and noticeable on the back end. This is a wonderful beer to sit around on a cool autumn night with to help you stay warm.

Alpine Beer Company: Ichabod Ale.

With the amazing brewers at Alpine using a wheatwine as the base for this ale, you have to know it’s going to have a little something behind it, and at 10%ABV it doesn’t disappoint. The ale pours a golden orange color with a lovely nose of cinnamon and nutmeg but used moderately so as not to over power the beer they have crafted. It tastes as good as it smells and with a sticky wine sweetness that adds to the overall enjoyment of the beer. This isn’t one that should be gulped down in a hurry, this is a much more easy going, take a sip and enjoy the leaves changing color sort of beer. Take your time with this one and you’ll truly appreciate what it has to offer.2014-10-11 16.16.37

Kern River Brewing Company: Pumpkin Ale.

Kern River is not a San Diego brewery, but you’d never know it from the way their “Just Outstanding” IPA tastes. In fact, that beer is the sole reason I was so excited to try out this pumpkin ale. The label is simple yet the tag line says it all, “So good it’s scary!”. The beer pours a healthy orange color with a nice level of carbonation. The nose on this ale is full of fresh pumpkin smell and that’s exactly what you get as the ale touches your tongue. You’ll notice a soft undercurrent of allspice on the backend, but only if you are paying close attention. This pumpkin beer is amazingly drinkable and at only 5%ABV it’s not going to end your night of trick r’ treats early. The restraint from the temptation to over spice this beer is perhaps the most impressive thing of all. It takes true craftsmanship to show that level of restraint and let the fresh pumpkin flavors be the star of the beer. A phenomenal ale and luckily, everyone I’ve shared it with has agreed with that assessment. Highest recommendation you go find this beer right now.2014-10-13 23.06.59

So there are my four favorite pumpkins ales for this Halloween season, did I forget any? Let me know which ones have caught your eye.

Now if we could only get the brewers to make that beer with the turkey/cranberry/gravy/stuffing flavor for Thanksgiving we’d be all set!

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Tom