The Session: The Beer Book That Isn’t Written

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. 2013 was a pretty good year on my blog but 2014 was a total wash. What happened? Who knows. A lot of incomplete stories I told from the experiences I lived but what became of them?

2014 was a great year in beer for me, & 2015 looks like it should shape up quite a bit better. Really, only time will tell but the story needs to start somewhere. Where is that you might ask? Within the pages of the newest book… that isn’t written.

The book doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t even have a single topic. The only common thread is beer. It’s more about what is missing from our community. But this causes a few issues. What is missing for me, may not be missing for you. How is that possible? A story about community that isn’t equal across the board? Sounds about like life.

In the pages of my chapter in this book, one thing I find that is missing is the common thread between beers.

What exactly do I mean? We all share the same love for beer; just at varying degrees. Even a beer that would be considered technically or stylistically bad is loved by someone. Beers that were once considered the best in the portfolio are looked at as overrated. What happened?

Have we forgotten what beer was like? The constant evolution of styles and ingredients have lead to the same in the beers we drink. If we can remember their roots, we will not get lost in the world as some have. Though, forgetting where these new and improved beers originated has created a gap that a certain percentage of us see, while the majority of the community doesn’t even realize that it exist. Eliminating the thread between past and present.

I feel that the major craft breweries have noticed this too; getting back to their roots. One thing I predicted for 2015, which we will see if it comes to pass in the next 12 months, seems to already be getting it’s feet off the ground.

While everyone is still trying to get their hands on rare and exotic beers or those brewed with ingredients of the same vein, a few of the more popular craft breweries are taking a step back. They are taking what some might consider a huge risk. They are adding classic, even historic, beer styles to their catalog; Porters & Pilsners.

Unnecessary risk? Basic innovation? With the stigma of lagers in our world, and the track record of lagers that were added to portfolios in the past, only those who study and understand beer styles would be likely candidates to initially flock to try these beers… while the uninitiated may pass over them because there is nothing magical about the beers. By holding onto the common beer threads, we can rediscover the passion and ingenuity that sparked the revolution we see today.

So what is this beer book that isn’t written about? What is my chapter within the text or maybe even just a single volume about? The past, present, & future of beer? The missing link in our community? Or the need to sit back, and relax, while we appreciate what simplicity can bring us…

Cheers!

The Session: The Beer Book That Isn’t Written

Tour de Fat Durham

This past weekend, Hop Man, made an Appearance at New Belgium’s Tour de Fat. For those of you who don’t know, Tour de Fat is essentially a Beer Carnival showcasing New Belgium, sustainability, and their lifestyle and culture when it comes to fun and bikes.

A celebration of bikes, beer and community in 12 U.S. cities spreading the good word about the radness of the mighty bicycle and a simple, honest way of living.

If you need a recap of why I would be interested in something like this… You have not been paying attention, but here you go. As soon as I got there I started scoping out the park trying to figure out my game plan for the day… Not that I really needed one. It was to only be about excitement and going with the flow and then I ran into this sign.

I guess this set the stage for what I was drinking anyway. I may or may not have been able to score my way into the VIP tent, Thank You Again! So it was cool just being around everyone that was there. I even left with some swag that will be going on many of rides with me.

Tour de Fat kicked off with a fashion show, (actually, it kicked off with a Bicycle Parade that lead to the opening but still…), showcasing the best of the best at the park. I shot a clip of the catwalk as it was shutting down. Take a look here.

//player.vimeo.com/video/99412874 Fashion Show.mp4 from L Allen Huerta on Vimeo.

Of course I came dressed for the occasion, not that it should come as a surprise to you. But after the show, IT WAS TIME TO GET BEER!!!

Over the course of the day I tried everything that was available at the Lips of Faith tent. I didn’t bother heading over to the other but they had Summer Helles over there. I highly recommend finding that on and trying it. Especially those of you who say you don’t like lagers. This is one of the best beers I have had in a while and it even falls into the Light Lager category for those of you who always trash it. Just saying.

There are a few shows, and bands, I wish I would have caught but there were a lot of good people to talk and hangout with. Of course enjoy your company, but if you have the chance to show up to an event make sure you check out as much as possible. They put on a great show. I should have taken photos of the puppeteer. He did some pretty… interesting things that I did not even know were possible. Including a stripping puppet and Homer Simpson on the drums! Pretty epic.

There are a few more stops this year, so if you have the chance to get out to them, I suggest you do!

Washington, District of Columbia Yards Park 5/31/2014
Durham, North Carolina Diamond View Park 6/21/2014
Chicago, Illinois Palmer Square 7/12/2014
Twin Cities, Minnesota Loring Park 7/26/2014
Boise, Idaho Ann Morrison Park 8/16/2014
Fort Collins, Colorado Civic Center Park 8/30/2014
Denver, Colorado City Park 9/6/2014
San Francisco, California Golden Gate Park 9/13/2014
San Diego, California Golden Hill Park 9/27/2014
Tempe, Arizona Tempe Town Lake 10/4/2014

Now, I could not let you go without showing you what I wore, so you better show me up at the event that you go to!

Cheers!

Tour de Fat Durham

Craft Beer Growth?

Right now is a time where all in the beer world is golden. Some even say its recession proof. Your neighbor, who used to only drink American made lagers or fancy imported beers whose names you cannot pronounce, is jumping into the game; opening a brewery simply because it is a great investment. There is even a chance that your favorite brewery has reached capacity and now has to make the ultimate decision; Stop where we are and let our product and fans speak volumes for our business. Or take route number two and expand, increase production, or even move to a secondary location.

Several breweries are at that point now and both decisions have been made. Both Russian River and Hill Farmstead took the ‘stop where we are at’ route. Some are disappointed by this decision, but others respect it and understand what it will do for their local market or the quality of their beer in the future. On the other hand, there are the breweries, such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and even potentially Deschutes that are expanding and bringing their beers into new markets as they do. Some people complain about what this is doing to the local beer scene, even though New Belgium stated they did not want to interfere, and others are excited to finally get their hands on beers that were nothing but a rumor… Then there’s me.

I have gone across many places in this country for work, enjoyment, and as you suspected, craft beer. I travel not only for the love, but for the fact that I cannot find what I want where I live. Sure, you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. What makes this even sadder is the fact that I live in North Carolina; home to a number of great breweries and the new location of some of the big shots.

As you know, Oskar Blues is already in town, Sierra Nevada is months away from completion and New Belgium has plans to be open and in production next year. With all the beer these guys are known for, and the big shots from North Carolina, you’d think I’d be set… WRONG!

Okay, sure. I get Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and similar beers from other major breweries. But nothing beyond that and a few seasonals. A funny thing, I went into a local store to see if I could find Celebration Ale. You know what I found? Summerfest… IN NOVEMBER! I really don’t remember seeing Summerfest during the summer. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough but there’s no excuse. I have contacted other breweries about similar incidents in the past. Is there some reason this is happening?

While there is great choice and variety in the United States, it only goes as far as consumers will allow it. In this case, I am not even sure it is the consumers fault. On one of my beer-scapades, I drove up to a favorite bottle shop of mine, Bottle Revolution, and asked them about their distributors and beer availability. I was informed that where I live is kind of a grey area for beer in the state. Distributors don’t even consider ordering or sending much craft beer to the area. This is shocking to me being there are two well established homebrew clubs and over 350,000 people living in this “small” area.

Granted, not all of them are known craft beer drinkers, or even of age but part of this population is a military base. With people from all over the country, some of whom, have a certain expectation for the beer that they drink. One of the two homebrew clubs was actually set up and ran by service members who cannot get the beer they want. The members come and go as they enter and leave the area. But the passion and love for craft beer stays. So there IS a market.

I really don’t know how to explain it but I’ve lived in similar areas before. There are always one or two local craft breweries within a few miles and they make a name for themselves. But for the everyday consumer, i.e. not the obsessed craft beer nerd, unless you were going there for dinner, why do you care? You aren’t buying their beer when you go to the grocery store and you aren’t sharing it with your friends.

I hear about all this growth and I’m truly excited to see the companies grow… but what does it mean for my town? Nothing? Is it going to be just the same as it was before? Even when it comes to “local” options, I can only get a select few because even those breweries are looking for more lively and thriving markets. No one wants to try an untapped market; they stick to pre-established ones. That doesn’t make sense to me, but what can I do? I make decisions based on what beers or breweries I feel are worth it. Nearly 2500 breweries across the country and the selection, not to mention rotation, in my local stores would not make any enthusiast happy.


Only 18 months old and outdated

I know there is interest, but what is it going to take? Who do I have to talk to in order to bring awareness and better products into my area? I am not even talking about the major, regional brewers right now. What’s it going to take to get a brewer from Charlotte, approximately 120 miles away, to sell their beer where I live? They ship further East than me, as well as further North. Why not here?

Cheers!

Craft Beer Growth?