Friday, February 8, 2013

Not Entirely Sure If We're Back Or Not

You may have noticed that this site has been conspicuously silent lately. Thanks to Joe, you've gotten some great homebrewing advice, but apparently my last post was sometime in October. The end of last year and the beginning of this year has been a bit busy and writing for MBR had to be put on the backburner. It's hard to say right now whether and with what regularity I will be able to continue to post, but will just say that I am going to try.

So, a few things that have happened since October?

Well, let's see ...

New Breweries:  One Barrel Brewing Co. is taking hold here in Madison. And, the opening of Karben4 in the old Ale Asylum space. Speaking of which, the new Ale Asylum space is now open. Over in Oconomowoc, ex-Grumpy Troll brewer Mark Duchow is getting comfortable at Sweet Mullets Brewing Co. Of course, Capital Brewery has a new brewer, Brian Destree who has spent many years working on MillerCoors' Leinenkugel brands. Of course, their new brewer is courtesy of Kirby Nelson leaving Capital to join Carl Nolen at Wisconsin Brewing Co. And, speaking of ex-Capital brewers, Tanner Brethorst has opened Port Huron Brewing Co in Wisconsin Dells. There's probably a few that I'm missing and I'm sure you'll let me know in the comments.

There's also rumblings of several other new breweries opening in the Madison area. Including a potential new nano-brewery in the Schenk-Atwood area of Madison and crowd-brewing innovators MobCraft, not to mention numerous others trying to get open around the state.

News: Finally, I'll leave you with this piece by Denis Wilson for CNN Money. It is perhaps one of the best pieces in mainstream media about the rise of craft beer and how the macros are trying to co-opt it for themselves. Give it a read.
What's noteworthy about these forays into the craft segment is the way these brands are purposely distanced from their Big Beer parents. You won't find the Coors name on a bottle of Blue Moon. Rather, you see the name Blue Moon Brewing Company. The same goes for a bottle of Anheuser-Busch's Shock Top. To distance their craft products from their billion-dollar household brands, the big brewers have gone so far as to create separate divisions to house their specialty brands: MillerCoors has created Tenth & Blake Beer Company while Anheuser Busch (BUD) has the Green Valley Brewery. 

Obfuscating the parent company behind a beer denies a drinker the right to exercise that choice [of whether to consume beer from a particular manufacturer or parent company]. However, Tom Cardella, the CEO of Tenth and Blake, doesn't see the issue this way. In addition to the Blue Moon brand, Tenth and Blake houses Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Crispin Cider, as well as imports such as Peroni and Pilsner Urquell. "There's a lot of chatter about it within the industry but, at the end of the day, I really don't think it's a big issue. These businesses are marketed differently, they're targeted differently against consumer segments within the marketplace."

"Anheuser Busch can snap their fingers and the distribution network will get it on shelves and get it on tap handles and knock off other brewers who have been on those tap handles," says the Brewer's Association's Gatza. "In an ideal world, those decisions would be made by the beer drinker…."

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