Opening a brewery has been a dream for many homebrewers for decades. With the drastically shifting marketplace away from macrobrewers and toward craft brewers, many have been able to open breweries and we’ve all benefited from greater variety in the marketplace.
But as we’ve argued before, the friendliness and openness of the craft beer world is coming under more pressure as more and more people decide to open breweries. As one Chicago media outlet writes up, there are at least twelve new breweries coming to the Windy City. How can they possibly all survive?
Of course, with every business boom, some will fail for things completely unrelated to their products — mismanagement, poor planning, cost pressures. Some still will fall away for bad beer, as they should. But with such a crowded market, some may just fall away because the market isn’t big enough. Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States, but it already has its share of breweries. Are all twelve good ideas?
Lexington, Kentucky recently saw its newest craft brewery open, and it came with a social conscious. West Sixth Brewing has opened in a space once occupied by a bread factory. The new facility was too big for their needs, so they’ve opened the rest to local artists and community groups. And best of all, it’s on a bike trail, so no car needed.
West Sixth Brewing is located in a space that is as unique as its beers. The brewery, tap room, and beer garden are in The Bread Box, a recent re-development of the century-old Rainbo Bread Factory located in the historic Northside Neighborhood. Being at the corner of West Sixth and the hopping Jefferson Street corridor, our brewery will be near Transylvania University and the future Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus and borders the next proposed leg of the Legacy Bike Trail.
Being a 90,000 square foot monster of a building, The Bread Box will host not only the brewery but also other companies and community organizations that share our values, beliefs, and commitment to the community. While the building needs a lot of work, we’re confident that the renewed energy the brewery will bring to the area, along with the addition of the Legacy Trail and BCTC, will ensure that the Bread Box will be a key part of its neighborhood for many years to come.
From West Sixth’s founders Ben, Brady, Joe, and Robin:
Though we all got to this point in our lives in different ways, we strongly agree on West Sixth’s goals. We will provide a taproom and beer garden where the beer list is never the same but that is always local. We will be a brewery that measures its success not only by making great craft beer but also by how it helps our community. We will always strive to protect our environment even if it costs us more to do so. And last, but not least, we all share a desire to create the best beer possible and to be an integral part of building a great beer culture for our great town.
If you’re in Lexington, or can make the trip, West Sixth is open and waiting. They’ve had a string of local food trucks dropping by, but you’re also free to bring your own. They’re canning beers and filling growlers, though cans have been going quick.
In February, the question we hear slightly less than “When will Bell’s Hopslam be released?” are from people wanting to know what the Troegs Nugget Nectar release date is. We wonder ourselves, given that we’ve wondered whether it’s the best beer we’ve ever had.
We had heard rumor that the brewery was running behind schedule, possibly due to their recent move from Harrisburg, PA to tourist-destination Hershey, PA. That appears to be true. Troegs has announced that Nugget Nectar will be sent to wholesalers between February 16 and February 24. Many retail outlets have been saying to expect Nugget Nectar to hit the shelves in March.
So, there you have it: You may be able to find it the last week of February or the first week of March.
Legislation allowing a Brooklyn Center brewery and other Minnesota beer-makers to serve their brews directly to customers at their establishments cleared a state Senate panel Wednesday, after a concerted social media lobbying effort by Surly Brewing Co. helped soften opposition from the powerful liquor lobby.
Brooklyn Center-based Surly is seeking the change as it plans a $20 million brewery, restaurant and entertainment center. Owner Omar Ansari told lawmakers the expansion would boost state tax revenues by allowing his company to employ 85 construction workers and 150 permanent workers at its new complex. He also pointed out that Wisconsin and other states allow brewers to serve beer where it’s made.
This is the type of thing that makes sense, helps local business grow, provides more jobs, and supports good beer.
Last summer Tröegs in Pennsylvania announced a new brewery, moving from Harrisburg, PA to Hershey, PA. Since then, construction has been moving along, and a couple of new videos are online that show how things are progressing.
Why should you be excited? For starters, they make what I think is probably the best beer I’ve ever had (though I’ve been told that this year’s batch isn’t their best). As of now, their distribution has been limited to around 3 hours driving around the brewery, but they have pushed beyond that into parts of Ohio. With a bigger brewery, you should see more of it on the shelves in your favorite beer stores.
According to Troegs, who have always offered brewery tours led by the Tröegs brothers themselves and call the expansion “T2″, you’ll still be able to experience their brewing process up-close.
At three times the size of Tröegs current location, the new 90,000 square foot facility will give guests a glimpse at the fermentation process, packaging room and oak barrel-aging room, and lab. The addition of a pilot brewing room offers insight to Tröegs experimentation—where its famous Scratch brews are dreamt-up and made.
Yesterday, brewery president Steve Hindy and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened a long-planned expansion of Brooklyn Brewery. The expansion is absolutely huge, going from 12,000 barrels of beer per year to 120,000.
Less newsworthy was something Bloomberg said while he cutting the ribbon — he puts ice in his beer.
Standing inside the just-expanded Brooklyn Brewery yesterday, the mayor revealed that his unorthodox approach to drinking beer requires ice.
“I actually put ice in my beer,” the mayor said. “Most people don’t.”
Hearing a gasp from the crowd, he explained: “I know. I’ve always done it. I don’t think it comes from Boston.”
Brewery President Steve Hindy was too polite to set the mayor straight on the correct way to savor his popular suds.
Word is that your favorite hoppy beers could be in for some recipe changes if their brewers didn’t plan ahead and contract for the right amount of hops this year. Rogue points to some news from Beer Business Daily warning that a 30% drop in the American hop harvest could have a negative impact.
The explosive popularity of hoppy beer has become bittersweet as the total American harvest was off 30% for the year, according to December’s USDA hop harvest report. Especially screwed now are those brewers relying on smaller-yield, aroma-centric American hops to make mainstream-barreling IPAs, since Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo are largely (if not totally) sold for the year.
IT SHOULDN’T BE A SURPRISE. Unlike 2007’s sneak-attack, this scarcity was established back in June, according to the BA’s Chris Swersey. That’s when members learned that both acreage and years were significantly down. It’s just now coming to a head, however, as brewers wonder if they’ll have enough of specific varieties.
They point out that Sierra Nevada is already looking toward whole-leaf hops to help fill the gap from a potential pellet shortage. I’m also curious as to what this means for the average homebrewer looking for something like Simcoe hops at their local hombrew shop — probably nothing too terrible, but it’s possible we could see small price increases for the average 5-gallon batch of Joe Homebrewer’s IPA.
They’re back in the news again, and after fighting the good fight for the permanence of their own tasting room, they have a victory to show for it. From the St. Petersburg Times…
The Tampa City Council Thursday gave initial approval to a controversial wet-zoning that pitted an award-winning local brewery against neighbors who opposed the business’ beer-tasting room.
Council members voted 4-3 in favor of Cigar City Brewing’s request to make the temporary approval for its tasting room on W Spruce Street permanent.
What swayed the city council weren’t threats from prudish constituents or dollars from big-brewer lobbyists, but jobs.
Thursday’s vote came after more than two dozen people, most of them supporting the brewery, said the council should allow the tasting room to stay. They said the tasting room was an integral part of how the brewery markets its beers. Taking the tasting room away, they said, would hurt the business.
“I’m asking the City Council to let me keep my job,” Cigar City production manager Doug Dozark said.
The line of supporters also included patrons, other business owners and even competitors who said Cigar City’s ability to thrive in the recession, going from two to 23 employees, is something the city should support.
Craft beer is good for the economy, plain and simple. The more we can argue that, the more we can change draconian and outdated policies across the country, leading to more beer and more jobs.
Triangle Brewing in Durham hopes to set itself apart from the competition by selling cans instead of bottles as it expands into the retail market.
But partners Andy Miller and Rick Tufts are betting more than $100,000 – the price of their new canning equipment – that it’s a stigma they can overcome.
The company’s partners, whose hand-crafted beers have been available until now only on tap in restaurants and bars, know they’re going against the grain in an image-conscious market by installing an automated canning line at their small brewery on the outskirts of downtown Durham. They know cans are viewed in some circles as déclassé containers worthy only of mass-produced beers such as Budweiser and Coors.
Canning is a much more prominent thing for western breweries, but more and more on the east coast are picking up the practice. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but it does have a stigma that comes along with it. I think most consumers, if they weren’t really thinking about it, would almost always pick up a bottle of something they’ve never had before they’d pick up a can.
With more and more breweries canning their beer, that stigma could easily change.
The Chicago Tribune recently ran a fascinating article about a beer tour of Denver and Boulder, Colorado. If you’re looking for a short trip in the U.S., reading this article may help you decide what to do.
The Napa Valley of beer? The Munich of the West? They like to say both out here. And it could well be true. The state has the second most breweries in the nation and fifth most per capita.
How that came to be is an oft-examined question, and the most common answer is this: Many Front Range residents aren’t from the area. They converge here in search of the mountains, a laid-back lifestyle and life’s finer things — like making and drinking good beer.
So with a vague plan of the breweries (and one bar) we wanted to hit, my drinking partner and I began at Great Divide Brewing Co. Bluegrass played on the speakers, and the warm, grassy smell of hops filled the air. We each tried the allotted four free (and healthy) tastings of what was on draft and in bottles before I settled on a Yeti, the thick, dark stout the brewery is best-known for.
I’ve spent some time in Denver, and just being in the city means you’re in for great beer. With Labor Day weekend coming up, it’s not too late to book a flight and head west.