June 19, 2013

Hallmarks of Beer Culture in Ascendance | Crafting Beer Policy San Diego

This popped up in my Facebook feed today. I've decided that I will begin a small collection of these pieces and call them "Hallmarks of Beer Culture in {Ascendance | Stagnation | Declination}" depending on the situation. File this under Hallmarks of Beer Culture in Ascendance. 

Join us on Thursday, June 27th at the newly-opened Modern Times Brewery  for a wide-ranging look at San Diego’s burgeoning beer industry.
Moderated by VOSD land use reporter (and local beer partisan) Andrew Keatts, the program will feature five speakers sharing unique insights into the world of local craft beer.
Our confirmed presenters: 
Greg Koch | Munich, Napa…San Diego – The Untapped Potential of San Diego’s Beer Industry
Jacob McKean | So You Want to Start a Brewery?
Neva Parker | The Science and Nuance of Yeast
Omar Passons | Craft Beer and Community Development
Tatiana Peavey | Data, Social Media & Growing the Beer Community 

This is an event in San Diego. If you can make this, you will earn my eternal jealousy.

You can also flag this as an idea that I intend to steal. In July, Leah Huss of Papago | Huss Brewing, is planning a discussion called, "Back to Basics". In that talk, several invited guests will talk about a core beer and speak to it's complexity.
This might be the spring board for a few industry colleagues of David Conz  to begin to plan a series of beer lectures that will honor both Conz and Greg Fretz.

June 14, 2013

Flagship Beer Day 2013

Today, June 14th is Flag Day, a day in which we commemorate the adoption of the old Stars and Bars. Last year, I introduced the concept of blogging about local breweries top selling craft beers or flagships. The idea was to celebrate the beers that allow breweries to be successful in our communities. Flagship beers allow brewers to create beers that might be more resource or time intensive--a fair number which are loss leaders.

Face it. It may have been years since that last time that you've had a Kilt Lifter or an Orange Blossom. Your palate has changed. You have changed. You know more than you did then. Might you now have a new opinion?

This year, time has been the tyrant and I won't be able to write a post about a specific flagship beer. I'm torn between heading to lunch for a Sun Up Trooper or finding out what Fate considers it's top seller to be. (In fact, given their gangbusters out-of-the-gate popularity, their flagship may not even be on tap today.)

I'll be mentioning a bit more about flagship beers in a guest post for the Four Peaks Brewsletter that should hit your inbox around June 26th. You can subscribe here. This will be the inaugural post of a section devoted to local bloggers. More on that in a future post.

You can read a round-up of last year's Flagship Beer Day here.  Also see local beer gadfly, Hop Head Fred's Flagship Beer Month in May chronicled here. I should get him to change his month to June. What say you Fred?

June 10, 2013

Beer Ecology | More than Buildings, People and Beer

This week, I found a concept that helped me look at  the growth, health and diversity of our beer community and beer culture. It's also revelatory in how we might fill in the gaps and deal with the lack of richness and consistency in the experiences we have here in Phoenix.

Our urban landscape closely maps to the highs and lows of our beer scene. If I could drive one point home it would be on how the parking lot real estate complex has stifled the growth of new breweries (and bars, restaurants and shops) in downtown Phoenix. You can catch up on what I've written here--And An Urbanist Shall Lead Us.

Once again, Taz Looman's blog, Blooming Rock is the source of my personal revelation. This time the writer is a guest, Kirby Hoyt. In Why We Need to Think About Infrastructure as More Than Just Roads and Bridges, Hoyt talks about the concept of ecology, not in the biological or environmentalist movement sense, but anthropological:
The term ecology simply means the relationship of organisms to each other and their surroundings. When thinking of landscape as infrastructure, one should emulate the conditions of the natural environment in a conspicuously designed manner. The diversity of the landscape should meet those of the natural environment, if possible. At the very least, landscape as infrastructure should contain overlapping programs to ensure a diverse ecology.
So instead of just talking about the role of raised buildings and how public transportation fails Phoenicians for beer drinkers, we need to take a more holistic approach on all things beer.

Each of these could take up post on its own, but here are my thoughts:
  • While I think that it's important to save the buildings that we still have, there are numerous empty strip malls. Many are either too big or too small. Using these buildings could require some creativity, partnerships with other businesses and flexible landlords. We also need to encourage partnerships with architects and urban planners.
  • Most of our Arizona beer drinking places have really failed to take full advantage of our outdoor drinking spaces. This has much to do with minimum parking requirements and working with local permitting agents. A success story is OHSO taking advantage of its northern exposure creating a dog-friendly outdoor space. Natural shade and trees are an integral part of the classic biergarten. We could do better here.
  • Beer has gone from a seasonal and local enterprise to a model where any style from any city can be created anytime. Might it be to time to look at beer styles that better reflect our climate? Might it be time to re-examine the current beer market? This may come as a surprise to some craft beer enthusiasts, but compared to the rest of the country, Arizona is not pulling its craft beer weight. I've heard from a few insiders that our Symphony/IRI numbers trail other states by an embarrassingly wide margin. Arizona has far too many macro beer drinkers and there are too few craft beer breweries tapping the large Hispanic market. After all, as Alworth alludes, "People Know Less About Beer Than You Think". In Arizona, the divide seems Grand Canyon-esque. The notion of making a popular approachable beer here is essential and would take advantage of a local conditions. One can't help but think of New Glarus' top selling adjunct lager that outsells Miller in its own backyard.
  • In Arizona, we seem to equate auto transportation dollars with notions of freedom and independance and yet I can think of nothing more freeing and independent than knowing that I can hop on a bus or light rail without fear of a DUI. The opportunities in which public transportation works in conjunction with a craft beer lifestyle are essentially nil. These types of transportation expenditures are generally regarded as wasteful or give-aways. In the meantime, in 2012 there were 27,000 DUI arrests. Anecdotally, a good number of those were some of my craft beer friends. It's not uncommon to hear about 100 mile commutes in the name of "supporting" craft beer. This is not a sustainable strategy.
What are your thoughts on beer ecology?