“InBev are not brewers, but bankers.”
– Pierre Celis, upon hearing news that InBev would close his original Hoegaarden brewery.
For anyone who thinks it “doesn’t matter” when these huge corporations take over regional and traditional breweries, read through the tales of Celis, who was forced to deal with both Artois/InterBrew/InBev/ABInBev and Miller Brewing at various times in his career.
As a postlude, the Celis family has reacquired the Celis brands after the foreclosere sale of Michigan Brewing Company.
Beware Goose Island…
Most people don’t see the “dirty” work that goes into the brewing industry.
I’m not talking about financial or marketing shenanigans, rather the mundane, day-to-day work that goes into making and packaging beer. Anyone who’s homebrewed has a sense, of course, for the necessity to keep equipment clean and the mess than can result from a less-than-organized setup. Multiply that by a factor of “x” in a professional setting. A brewer’s regular uniform includes his rubber boots, of course, to accompany long hours of washing, cleaning, and working in cold, wet conditions. It’s a fact of life in the brewhouse – particularly the cellar.
I bumped into this article today and it reminded me of one of my early brewing gigs back in a small Bavarian Gasthof Brauerei. Part of our duties included counter-pressure fills of 2 and 5 liter glass growlers for sale over the counter. Like the safety steps being taking in the article above, we also had a plexiglas shield that we’d drop down between ourselves and each growler as it sealed on the dispenser. It seemed odd to me…until the first time I had one explode, showering me in glass and beer. I can imagine the force of a large exploding keg would be MUCH worse.
It will be interesting to see, going forward, if the cost of traditional stainless steel kegs continues to push brewers into alternatives, like plastic kegs. Obviously, those using the plastic vessels are taking some safety precautions, including the aforementioned plexiglass shields.
…then this would be the world’s greatest beer tour!
Talk about lazy journalism…I’m a idiot blogging in my basement – I have the right to be lazy – but this is a genuine media outlet regurgitating the world’s most boring list of beer tours. All of these stops are big breweries and a third of them are HUGE corporate owned commericals, which don’t show you any of “real” brewhouse, instead parade you through their visitors center for tours led by perky tour guides who don’t have a clue as to how a brewery works, aside from the script they were given when they hired in.
“Hey, look kids! Clydedales!”
If you haven’t seen any of these, Old Milwaukee (owned by Pabst Brewing Company) has a series of guerrilla ads starring Will Farrell that have been running on the Internet over the past year or so, starting in small out of the way places in the Midwest and now moving on to Sweden(!). While personally never a huge fan of his movies, these are pretty funny. Here’s one to get you started, but you can click through YouTube for many, many more:
They’re now open if you’re looking for a place to “catch” the World Series tonight:
Church Brew Works
Style: Old Ale
Much has changed in the brewhouse over the past year or so at Pittsburgh’s
legendary Church Brew Works. One of the world’s most beautiful brewpubs, to be
sure, it served beer that was sometimes less consistent and remarkable than
others, despite its stellar setting.
About a year ago, they welcomed a new head brewer in Steve Sloan, who – in full
disclosure – is a long-time friend of the BAF. An industry veteran, Sloan has
brewed throughout the world over the course of his career, including stops in
Germany, New Zealand, Hawaii, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Florida
and Pennsylvania…I’m forgetting some, I’m sure . He’s also a rarity in the
craft brewing world in that he possesses a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, so the
man can run a lab.
We’ve made a couple visits to Church over the summer, and can wholeheartedly testify that the beer has improved dramatically. In fact, they’ve been rewarded for their efforts with a stack of medals at this year’s 2012 Great American Beer Festival, including “Large Brewpub of the Year” and “Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year,” awarded to the aforementioned Mr. Sloan.
I was fortunate enough on my last visit to have a few snifters of Heini’s Hooch. This old ale has been barrel aged and its moniker is homage to an old Bavarian friend with whom Sloan and I were blessed enough to have consumed more than our share of half liters over the years. Although he passed away about two years ago, Heini was also known to enjoy his Asbach – a German brandy, so he wasn’t afraid of a little fire in his drink.
The draft pours a deep copper in color, with a thin lacing of foam that clings
to the glass throughout the pour. The nose is creamy and sweet, with notes of
caramel, molasses, toffee and brown sugar. As in a snifter of Asbach, there is
some heat from the alcohol, but the burn is mellow and trails off into a faint
While this is certainly not a session beer in any way, shape or form, this is
one of the more enjoyable high alcohol brews I’ve had recently and would most
likely only improve with age. I’ll hope they manage to bottle a few for
cellaring as I’d be interested to try it again in another year or so.
Many high school cafeterias in Europe serve alcohol to their students who choose to drink.
(Brooke, James, School Spreads Alcohol Policy to Wine Sips in Paris. New York Times, May 31, 1998, p. NE12.)
McDonald’s restaurants in some European countries serve alcohol because otherwise parents would be less willing to take their children to them.
(Barr, Andrew. Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 124.)
Most Westernized countries allow youngsters to learn drinking with their families, typically at home and with a meal. Could it be that the U.S. philosophy of driving early, typically at age 16, and allowing drinking later, at 21, is contributing to “binge” drinking habits and sometimes poor alcohol practices in this country?
EDIT: News that casual chain restaurant Chipolte has added local craft beer to their menus in Chicago. Maybe the word is getting around?
In 1989, William Sokolin paid $519,750.00 for a bottle of 1787 vintage wine which supposedly had been owned by Thomas Jefferson, then later accidentally knocked it over, breaking it and spilling the precious contents on the floor. LINK
(Barr, Andrew. Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 85.)