Random Beer Thoughts: May 2018

In case you missed it: I wrote a two-part article for The Full Pint on my favorite NEIPAs from every state in New England. Part One covers beers from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire while Part Two covers beers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Let me know what you think!

One of the big beer twitter debates has been about whether or not kids belong in breweries. Beer and Brewing has a well thought out piece on the issue. I am personally fine with kids in breweries, assuming it’s an appropriate time of day and that the parents continue to parent their children. My three year son old has been to a number of breweries in his life, especially when he was an infant, and the few times he got rambunctious we took him out of the space. I’ve seen plenty of kids hanging out in taprooms, and a few who were out of control, but I’ve also seen way more occasions where “adults” were acting embarrassing or inappropriate. It is really up to the brewery, if they decide to be 21+ that is fine, if they decide to be family friendly and you feel the need to drink yourself under the table or curse like a sailor there are plenty of bars where you can booze without any kids around.

Another major topic has been the low rates of pay for many brewery employees. Bryan Roth has a well researched four part article on the subject. David Infante also writes about the struggles that beer employees face. It is a tough topic. Breweries are able to fill the positions at lower salaries because so many people want to work in the industry, and many small breweries are running on thin margins or have significant overhead and/or debt. That being said, I hope that some of the popular breweries who are making tons of money are using some of the profits to ensure that their employees are making a living wage.

Melcher Final

Local standout Trillium Brewing has made a number of announcements this month. First, their popular beer garden on the Greenway is coming back for the summer. They also announced that future bottle releases will be in 330 mL bottles instead of 750 mL bombers. I love this change, I have a bottle of Night and Day that I bought months ago and it has sat in my cellar, it’s not every day that I can justify opening a bomber with double digit ABV. I am also more likely to try something new if it is available in a smaller package. Finally, after some successful experimentation in their Permutation series they have decided to change the fermentation profile of their hoppy beers. While tweaking the recipe of popular beers is always a risk, I love the desire to continually improve.

Norm Miller has been running a series of articles called “A Beer For Everyone” where he tries to identify a beer that his friend Nicole (who “doesn’t like beer”) would enjoy. Modern beer has such diverse flavors, I think anyone who flat out proclaims that they don’t like beer probably hasn’t tried much outside of macro lagers. It is interesting to follow the beers Norm and Nicole are trying and her reactions to each. They haven’t found a winner yet and Norm is still taking suggestions. I’ve suggested a nitro milk stout, I think the mouthfeel might be different enough to get a positive reaction.

One criticism I’ve heard of the NEIPA style is that they all taste the same. This is obviously ridiculous, notice how the same people don’t make the same criticism of other styles that have much less variation in flavor profile. Springdale was able to offer further evidence to the contrary with their new clear NEIPA, a genius take on the style.

Alchemist Heady Topper

Vinepair has an oral history of Heady Topper, the beer that is widely credited with starting the New England Style IPA craze.

Big additions to the Somerville brewing scene this month. First, Remnant Brewing opened to rave reviews. Now Small Change Brewing has launched as a contract brewery, specializing in overlooked beer styles.

This monthly article always has news about brewery openings, but I think we’ll also see more news about closures this year. One local brewery that is closing is Greasy Luck Brewpub in New Bedford. The owners admit that they never had a passion for brewing and were using a SmartBrew automated system to make their beer. I wonder why they decided to start brewing their own beer in the first place. Wouldn’t it be easier to just run the bar and keep a selection of awesome local beer (made by others) on tap?

Shipyard Brewing is also going through some major changes, shutting down their production brewery in Portland and looking at opening a taproom/hotel. Shipyard is part of a group of brewers who founded the Maine craft beer scene but have clearly struggled to adapt to changing tastes and increased competition.

Mast Landing Gunner's Daughter

Hop Culture has been doing a series of insightful Q&A’s with brewers. Here is one with Parker Olen of Maine standout Mast Landing and another with Zac Ross from eclectic Connecticut brewery Kent Falls.

Boston Magazine has a list of Massachusetts breweries that are worthy of a summer road trip. I am hoping to squeeze in a number of brewery-centric road trips this summer and fall.

The Massachusetts Brews Guild hosted their first technical and business conference. This is a great idea. I attend scientific conferences every year as part of my day job, you can learn so much from your peers in the industry.

John Holl talked to a number of industry insiders on the best practices for running a rewery’s social media accounts. There are some breweries that have mastered social media, adding major value to their business. There are many who have not, either neglecting their accounts or posting inappropriate or combative messages.

Allagash Saison

Hop Culture reflects on Allagash saison day, a celebration of a great style that showcases many of the things that are great about craft beer.

Carla Jean Lauter reminds beer fans not to steal glassware from taproom (or let others get away with it). It really sucks that someone feels the need to write that article, but it is clearly a problem at many breweries.

The Full Pint uses analytics to show that interest in “Cult Beers” may have peaked. I think there are so many amazing beers now, many of which are readily available, that it is hard for any single beer to gain a national cult following the way Pliny and Heady did even a few years ago.

Vanished Valley XP

Beer Advocate names 50 of the best new breweries in the country, with a number of local places mentioned.

Kate Bernot has an extensive interview with the first Brewers Association Diversity Ambassador, Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham. Craft beer can do a much better job reaching out to a more diverse clientele, and the creation of this position is a solid step in the right direction

Beervana calls BS on the recent marketing campaign AB-InBev is using to try and connect Budweiser Red Lager to George Washington. It is a sad commentary on the current state of media that a number of organizations published articles on this beer without looking into the claims made by the company.

The World Beer Cup has announced it’s 2018 winners, with a few New England breweries taking home hardware.

Do you enjoy drinking a beer in the shower but hate how quickly it warms? Shakoolie might be the solution you are looking for.

That is it for May links! As always, feel free to pass along anything that you think should be included. Cheers!

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