On the Road Again: The Very Real Impact of Beer Tourism

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Brewery relocation has been a hot topic lately, as the American beer market looks to shrink its world.

Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, New Belgium, Deschutes, Stone – all high profile cases where long-tenured legacy breweries looked to the East Coast for welcoming arms, plentiful space and tax incentives, of course. Each of these businesses have added or plan to add additional facilities thousands of miles from where they originally set up shop with hope of better tapping into markets with fresher beer and more integrated associations with communities once full of strangers.

In a way, it’s merely one end of a spectrum, where at the other, local rules supreme. Even if you may be a national brand, you can still find a connection to that powerful emotional theme of community.

But for as much effort as governments put into courting these companies – $18 million from North Carolina here, $5 million from Virginia there – it’s important to not overlook the context of what it means to have the Big Boys of craft playing alongside your small, local startups. No matter your politics or belief in courting outside businesses, there are many reasons why this happens.

Because for whatever amount of money it may take to land one of these behemoths, at least one outcome can’t be ignored. Beer isn’t just a liquid in our glass, after all. Now more than ever, it’s also an economic force benefiting communities around us.

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Beer Money: Does It Matter How You Spend Your Dollars?

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There’s a good chance that if you read this blog, you’ve come across the work by Friend of the Program Christopher Barnes, who runs I Think About Beer.

Back in January, after news broke of AB InBev purchasing Seattle’s Elysian Brewing on the heels of also buying Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing, he shared his point of view on the matter in the post “Why It Matters Who Owns the Brewery.”

In a roundabout way, the experiment of the past week has been a logical extension of his essay, which points out the potential spending pattern should you provide your dollars to one company over others: it helps them push an agenda.

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Reporter’s Notebook: North Carolina’s Smallest Brewery

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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you’re really missing out on a wild collection of inane commentary, especially on the beer industry.

But that means you probably don’t know I’ve been lucky to begin contributing to All About Beer magazine. My first story, about the growing connection between small breweries and local agriculture, isn’t currently online but can be found in the May issue along with really great work by other writers.

In the meantime, I have extra content from an upcoming story that offers a “behind the scenes” look at one of the piece’s subjects: Dave Peters, the owner and head brewer (of course) of Bear Creek Brews, North Carolina’s smallest (probably) brewery.

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Singing the ‘Blues’: Finding the Next Big Boy in Beer

Big-Boy-logo-oskar blues

Look around you and it’s impossible to miss. The world is growing up all around us.

The maturation of people, places and things we hold dear is a necessary and welcomed evolution, one that signifies change, hopefully in a good way.

Our near, dear beer industry has hit a wonderful growth spurt in recent years, filling our towns and cities with new breweries and bars stocked with the latest libations of hopped up goodness. The advancement within beer has provided us with many wonderful new businesses that add jobs, fulfill individual dreams and expand the palette of options.

But what about the old standbys? The ones that have been around long enough to not just see the industry as a whole grow to potential, but their own enterprises as well?

It’s New BelgiumAllagash, Boulevard and so many more.

But also Oskar Blues, the Colorado (and North Carolina) brewery that in recent months has seen it’s arms and legs grow long, a deeper, stronger voice among peers and a declaration of maturity: they’re ready to be a Big Boy in beer.

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It’s All Over: December 2014 Beertography

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A year ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to create a monthly beertography roundup as an effort to push my creative boundaries. Here we are, with the 12th part of the series.

With the end of December quickly approaching, it’s time for my regular roundup of beertography.

Below you’ll find some of my recent photos, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. If you like these, you can find all of my beertography on Instagram or in my running archive.

All my shots are taken with my iPhone 6 unless otherwise noted. Let’s see what December had to offer…

Mystery Brewing – This is December in North Carolina

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The Literal State of Beer: South Carolina

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NoDa Jam Session – We Jammin

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Goose Island The Ogden – Sun Setting on 2014

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Anchor Brewing Anchor Steam – Shower Beer (shot with Nikon D90)

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Here’s hoping 2015 will be just as fruitful as the past year. I look forward to finding continued inspiration from others to test my own expectations. In the meantime, you can go back to see all previous beertography posts.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

The Six-Pack Project, Revisited

six-pack project logo 6Over a year ago, I started an effort called the Six-Pack Project. It’s purpose was simple:

…bring together writers from all over the country (and maybe world)  to highlight a six-pack of our home’s native brews that best represent what our beer culture has to offer. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we want to share?

I had lots of success early on, recruiting friends and beer lovers from afar to help in my quest of finding special “six-packs” to represent the culture of their home state. But in recent months, my luck has run out.

Part of it has been time spent with some in-depth reporting and part of it has simply been  failed attempts to bring people on-board. So, I’m starting a renewed effort to bring some attention to the project and I’d love your help.

I’m starting by revisiting my own contribution, focusing on North Carolina. I’ve updated selections from my original piece, mostly thanks to the burgeoning craft beer industry in the state. I’m also on the lookout for new contributors, so you’re welcome to see the archive to help fill in blanks from around the U.S. or the world. Contact me on Twitter or leave a comment below to discuss some more.

Need a refresher on the Six-Pack Project? Here are the rules:

  1. This isn’t simply a “best of” list. The goal is to pick a collection of six beers that represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred. Specialty or one-off brews are not allowed.

With that said, let’s see what you need to check out next time you’re in North Carolina.

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The Eye of the Beerholder: April 2014 Beertography

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It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for my regular roundup of beertography from the last few weeks.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite, recent shots, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. All my shots are taken with my iPhone 5 unless otherwise noted. The space where I shoot my photos – around the house – offers somewhat limited opportunities for pretty backdrops, which is why I try to get inventive with my photo ideas.

Let’s see what April had to offer…

Big Boss Zombie – Bringing Dead Back to Life

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Dogfish Head 120 Minute (cap) – Off-Centered Ale

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Boulevard Chocolate Ale – Getting Sweet

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MadTree PsycHOPathy IPA – Rorschach on Rorschach

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Stone Enjoy By 4.20.14 – Running Out of Time

stone-beer-beertography-enjoy by-watch(Above shot with Nikon D90)

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As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

I’m running low on inspiration for May, so send good vibes or ideas! I’m also always looking for tips, tricks and other suggestions for beertography, so fire away below!

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Drunk on Visuals: February Beertography

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Yeah, yeah. A day late and a dollar short. Whatever.

It’s March 3, but February only had 28 days and I was busy last week with my latest series on the socio-economic side of the beer industry. Or maybe I’m just lazy.

Either way, I still have my monthly roundup of beertography posts to share. I’m sure to be on time with my March delivery later this month, but I hope these pics give you a nice buzz to hold you over in the meantime.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite, recent shots, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. All my shots are taken with my iPhone 5 unless otherwise noted. It seems like I had a rather hoppy February…

Westbrook Brewing IPA – Back to the Basics

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Foothills Brewing Jade IPA – Green Eyes of Envy

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Widmer Brothers Upheaval IPA – Returning from Whence it Came

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RJ Rockers Black Perle – Dark Pearl in a Sea of White

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For what it’s worth, that last one – Black Perle – was my favorite tasting of the bunch. It’s the stoutiest black IPA I’ve ever had and mixes its roasted-chocolate aromas perfectly with a twinge of hop flavor on each sip.

As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

Looking forward to sharing the next round of pics later this month.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Bias and a Taste of Home … “The Session” Jan. 2014

Photo courtesy of cs2901 on Flickr

Photo courtesy of cs2901 on Flickr

“Home” can be a very subjective thing.

Currently, my home is Durham, NC. But Home, where I grew up, is Geneva, NY.

I’ve been far from Geneva for a while, forcing my definition of “home” to slowly become judged by my ability to remember the names of streets I would walk, ride a bike or drive a car during the almost 20 years I lived there. I barely remember those names any more, but I can still get around Geneva on muscle memory, my hands guiding a steering wheel along city streets that look foreign to me now with new homes and faces sitting on the porch.

session_logo_all_text_300Castle Street was always a favorite. It runs from one corner of Geneva to another, a near-perfect cut of the northeast portion of town. Depending which direction you come from, it’s either all uphill or all downhill, ending at the outskirts of town where farms and open land reigns supreme or nearly at the water’s edge of Seneca Lake, where a Ramada hotel now takes up space where I used to play.

It’s currently winter in Durham, but it’s Winter in Geneva, a season my small, but not frail, body never enjoyed. Snow has drifted along my childhood streets for weeks, whereas the clear skies and bright sun in North Carolina has taught me that there are all sorts of winters to be had.

No matter the season, there’s one thing that can easily thaw my memory. For as much as I adore the place that is now my home – weather and all – I can’t deny the siren song echoing from the gorges of Upstate New York: Ithaca Apricot Wheat.

Is there something special about this beer? Not really. It’s a wheat ale with a dose of natural flavoring for good measure. It’s light and refreshing. It’s like hundreds of other beers of similar style or substance.

It’s got a 28 on RateBeer and a 74 on Beer Advocate.

But to me, it’s a perfect 100. It’s the Best Beer in the World. It’s my Home.
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From Taproom to Kitchen: A Taste Test with Hi-Wire Brewing

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Back in September, I made a trip to beer Mecca, Asheville, NC, to visit friends. During my stop, I made sure to check out one of North Carolina’s newer breweries, Hi-Wire Brewing, which opened up over the summer.

As you’d expect from any Asheville business, the place was cozy and friendly … but what about their beers?

Well, it just so happens that Hi-Wire recently began distributing three of their year-round beers to the eastern side of North Carolina. After finding them in my local bottle shop – an IPA, pale ale and brown ale – I decided to do a retroactive taste test.

What I’ve done is taken my initial impressions, as captured on Untappd, and separately taken notes on the bottle versions I bought last week. I was curious to compare and contrast my thoughts.

As I’m sure you know, getting beer straight from the source is always the best way to do things – a la my great Beergrimage of 2013 – but I figured this would be a fun way to offer up a few new NC beers in case you happen to pass through the state.
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