Random Beer Thoughts: July 2020

The issue of exploding fruited beers was back in the spotlight after reports of Trillium Daily Serving cans exploding when warmed. Jim Vorel at Paste had some thoughts on this phenomenon and Trillium’s response. My thoughts were pretty blunt, if a beer explodes it is the brewers fault, and it is ridiculous to blame the consumer. Apparently this is a somewhat controversial statement, I even got accused of writing “clickbait”, but I stand by the statement and what I wrote.

The COVID pandemic continues to effect every part of life, and brewery operations are still very much a part of that. The Brewers Association is pushing for financial relief to help craft beer survive the pandemic. Many breweries have opened beer gardens to get some socially-distanced on premise sales, White Lion opened theirs in Springfield this month. Other breweries have moved into distribution, including Redemption Rock who signed on to Night Shift Distributing this month. Sam Adams has decided to close their taproom roof-deck in Faneuil Hall due to an influx of out of state visitors. I think it is safe to say that the entire industry is going to look much different when all of this is “over”, and it remains to be seen what will be left at the end of the chaos.

Speaking of the Brewer’s Association, they have been under fire in the last month. First, many members were shocked when they laid off numerous long-time employees, resulting in a letter to the national organization signed by a large number of state guilds. Then a group of prominent voices in beer spent time calling out the association for doing nothing about members with a flagrant history of racism, and then for not responding to these questions until Association president Bob Pease was asked on a podcast hosted by two white men. Fortunately this led to a change in policy, where the Brewer’s Association can now expel members for poor behavior. It remains to be seen when and how this policy will be used, but hopefully it’s a step in the right direction.

The cross-section of beer and race relations has been a constant topic over the past month, which is not surprising considering everything that is happening in the country right now. Many brewers have contributed to the Black Is Beautiful collaboration, including 15 in Massachusetts, with a promise to donate proceeds to charities that help promote social justice. Beer Kulture has rebranded as a non-profit, with the goal of supporting diverse communities in beer. Garrett Oliver has helped launch the Michael Jackson Foundation, which will provide grants to Black, Indigenous and People of Color who are hoping to start or further careers in the brewing and distilling industries. Hopefully all of this work helps get a more diverse group of people working in craft breweries, which will in turn lead to more diverse clientele at taprooms.

Boston Magazine has put out their annual Best of Boston list and named Idle Hands the best brewery in the region. Awesome for Idle Hands, they make amazing beer in a wide variety of styles.

Massachusetts craft breweries and distributors have reached an agreement that will allow small breweries to get out of their deals, something that was nearly impossible before. This is big news, at least one awesome brewery in the state closed shop a few years ago because of a crappy deal with their distributor.

The Eco-Friendly Beer Drinker has a couple of interesting articles this month that mix his passions for beer and sustainability. The first looks at what 3 small breweries are doing to make a big environmental difference, while the second looks at two major local breweries that don’t use plastic can carriers. I would love to see every brewery abandon those can carriers, I have a big bag of them I need to find a place to deposit for recycling post-quarantine.

Hop Culture has a profile of new Massachusetts brewery Gilded Skull Brewing and Blending. I actually recently reviewed the first Gilded Skull beer, a NEIPA named Gilded Empire.

Need something other than haze and hops to keep you cool this summer? Eater Boston has a list of great local non-IPAs. It’s a little lager-heavy, but lots of good choices here.

Gary Dzen has a list of some of the best beers he’s tried in quarantine, with some good local options.

Stars and Stripes Brewing in Freeport, Maine shut down their taproom for a day after being misled by members of a certain political campaign that advertised the brewery as the site of a campaign event.

In addition to their previously announced expansion Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont has a number of interesting projects in the works, including a new bar and restaurant.

Clickbait Article of the Month: Two this month! Gear Patrol has a “25 Beers To Try Before You Die” list, with the typical mix of classics and some hype beers. These lists are always ridiculous, to narrow down the hundreds of thousands of beers in the world to 25 is impossible for anyone, but I imagine they always get lots of clicks and shares. In a similar vein, Good Housekeeping has a 15 Best Beers for the summer list.

That is it for July. As always, thanks again for reading Hoppy Boston and liking/sharing/commenting on social media. If you have any articles you think need to be included on the list next month feel free to pass them along!

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