Friday, February 27, 2009

Beer Wars - Brewed in America

I actually just heard about this film from another blog that I follow, Craft Austin. Beer Wars is an independent film that "takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer." Initially, it reminded me of another recent independent beer movie, American Beer. However, American Beer was made by five friends filming their experiences while travelling in a mini-van to 38 breweries in 40 days. Beer Wars (from what I was able to learn from the website and trailer) appears to be more of a behind the scenes documentary about the business of craft beer and the industry's ongoing battle for market share with the macro breweries. A battle that the craft beer industry is continuing to be successful at as indicated by the recent statistics released by the Brewers Association. What makes this documentary even more interesting is the filmmaker herself... she allergic to alcohol! That's right, the filmmaker is unable to consume the product that her documentary is about. So, I'm guessing we won't be seeing scenes of drunken debauchery as in American Beer.

A special "live" screening featuring Ben Stein will be taking place at select theatres around the country on April 16th. Oddly enough, it doesn't currently appear to be scheduled at the Alamo Drafthouse, which seems like the nature place to screen this type of film. I've contacted the Alamo to see if they're planning on having it or not. It definitely looks interesting and I'm certainly going to plan on catching it at one of the local theatres.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Craft Beer continues to increase it's market share

The Brewer's Association released their tabulation of the craft beer industry for 2008 and once again, there was an increase in the market share for craft beer while the large commercial brewers continued to consolidate and lose market share:

Although the increase from last year was not as large as past increases, it occurred while the economy was spiraling downward and craft beer prices were increasing. An indication that consumers are continuing to choose quality over quantity. Hopefully that trend will continue despite the rather dismal economic outlook for this year. Fortunately, most hops have had a significant drop in price recently, which will lower costs and help smaller breweries ride out any downturn in the craft beer market.
More information and additional statistics for 2008 are available at the Brewers Association website.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Texas breweries need your support!

A bill has once again been introduced into the Texas Legislature to allow breweries to sell beer directly to on-premise visitors. Distributors and liquor stores freak out when they hear about this as they immediately assume that this will cut into their profits. What the fools don't realize is that the average consumer is not going to drive all the way out to a brewery whenever they want a beer, they're still just going to go to their local store. What it will do is increase the number of craft beer drinkers and enhance the Texas beer culture, which in turn will increase beer sales. Visitors to the brewery are constantly asking if they can buy a sixpack after sampling the beer and not only can it not be sold to them, but they cannot even be told where it can be purchased! If a visitor is allowed to buy the beer while at the brewery, then chances are, he's going to want to buy it again or perhaps even try a different craft beer which he'll purchase from a store! Whenever someone is sent away without being able to purchase, particularly someone new to craft beer, a new craft beer drinker and purchaser is potentially lost as they may not remember what beer they tasted and liked while at the brewery and will just go back to their regular old beverage.

Similar bills have been introduced in the past, but failed thanks to the large distributors who fund powerful lobby groups and give large donations to politicians. However, maybe if enough people write their Representative and ask them to support House Bill 1062, they'll actual listen to their constituents. If you're unsure who your representative is, you can use this handy link to find out Texas Wineries won this right a few years ago and it completely changed and enhanced the economics of the wine industry and this bill has the potential to do the same for the beer industry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monthly Tour and Tasting at Independence Brewing

This Saturday is the monthly tour and tasting day at Independence Brewing. Admission and beer is free, but bring some cash along and pick up a glass or t-shirt. Don't forget your ID and you may want to bring a lawn chair. I'll be there, wandering around and helping to pour beer, check ID's and such. More information, including a map to the brewery, is available on the website.

** UPDATE - Photos from the tour day **

The line in the background are people waitingto get in. The line in front is one of two lines for the beer.

It's probably the most people I've seen out at one of our regular tour days.

Amy making an announcement and thanking everyone for coming out.

Rob enjoying the beer he brews at Independence.

People didn't seem to mind waiting in line, particularly to sample the new Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Is there a football game today?

I'm Canadian, so it probably goes without saying that I'm a big hockey fan. Rarely, and usually only when forced, do I watch NFL football. My wife can name more current NFL players then I can and even recognized that the middle school on King of the Hill is named after the former coach of the Dallas Cowboys. She IS from Texas though, so I guess that should be expected. However, even though I probably just be watching the game out of peer pressure and for the commercials, it still seemed appropriate to whip up a batch of chili. A chili that has beans! A statement that is immediately met with protests from my in-laws who adamantly defend their view that chili does NOT contain beans. Whatever, I'm Canadian, I don't feel the need to force my political or chili beliefs on the rest of the world. I feel there's room in this world for many types of chili, with or without beans.

While we're on the subject of chili and beer, beer is a common ingredient in chili. What I don't understand is chili recipes that call for a very light bodied and flavourless beer such as Budweiser. A chili usually has very bold flavours, so if you want the beer to contribute to the flavour and not just add moisture, dark and fuller bodied beers would be more appropriate. Chocolate is actually a common ingredient in chilis (much to the shock of my in-laws), so adding a chocolate stout or brown ale usually compliments the flavours in the chili very well. I added a bottle or two of our Bootlegger Brown Ale in the chili I made today, but in the past I've also used our pale and amber.

My chili is currently simmering on the stove as I enjoy one of my Holiday Cheer and write this blog entry. Its smelling and tasting better and better as the afternoon goes by. I've never worked from a recipe when making my chili which makes it hard to reproduce the ones that were amazing and avoid the ones that weren't, but this time I decided to actually write everything down.

Cheers and go Broncos!

** UPDATE - Photos from the chili making **

Poblano, Jalapeno and Red Peppers were grilled and then diced.

In addition to ground beef, I also add grilled and diced steak.

The finished chili, simmering on the stove.