Tag Archives: @BisonBrew

TheArtofBeer and Life..2013

My Year in Review

TheArtofBeer

2013 kicked off with a new chapter in my career.  After a 2nd layoff in 4 years in my old industry, I decided to pursue something that I have passion for. ::Insert Legally Blond quote:: “Luckily” Stone Brewing Company took a chance on hiring this geeky beer girl and the rest is history.  It has not been an easy year for me.  Learning the beer industry is far more challenging on the inside than it appears from the outside looking in.  I have battle scars but I have also learned so much.  I have had respect for Stone Brewing Co from my very beginnings in San Diego in 2002.  Stone was the company that flipped me from a wine drinker to “TheArtofBeer” and that was no easy feat.  But wowser this industry is tough!  I cut my teeth on amazing craft beer because of Stone and I came to appreciate the heart and soul of the craft brewing industry.  I learned so much in 10 years and I developed friendships across the country because of this silly little blog and my life on Twitter.  How amazing is it that I ended up working in the industry?

Craft Brewing is not an easy row to hoe and I have respected just how challenging the path is from the very beginning.  Now that I have spent a year selling beer, I can honestly say that it is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Despite a conviction deeply set in the core of my being, I have had to face the reality that craft is still just a small blip on the screen that is the overall beer market.  The masses just haven’t caught on yet.  Since passion is something I have always had plenty of, even when selling mundane plumbing/hvac products , this became a very personal mission for me. Game on!

I am most thankful for the amazing wins I have been able to chalk up and I am thankful for some of the great chains that have been patient with me as I navigated my way through this very foreign industry .  I have made mistakes but hopefully I have learned from them.  I am also thankful for some of my Stone comrades that have helped me make it through some very challenging times.  My favorite motto learned “It’s Just Beer” has helped me through some rough days and every win I have made has meant the world to me.

Aside from World Peace, my wish for 2014 is that we are able to get more people to venture into the amazing world of craft beer.  As main stream retailers take a chance on bringing craft into their stores, I hope my fellow craft beer drinkers will remember to appreciate the fact that this is how we can expand our share from 8% to 20% and beyond in the coming years.  Don’t get caught up in beer snobbery and judging breweries for selling in more places than just our beloved Bottle Shops.  For every new consumer that passes by a corporate beer to pick up a Stone Mixed 12 pack or (insert any craft beer package) on the shelf, it’s a win for craft.  It paves the road for the tiny new craft breweries that open daily and gives them a path to success.  When we expand the base of craft beer drinkers, everyone wins.  The larger craft breweries are making it possible for new breweries to have a chance of succeeding.  Please remember that.

This year has not been without some personal hardship.   As I prepare to walk away from my home, the lesson learned is that home will always be where I make it.  Trust me when I say, this is the hardest thing I have ever gone through short of losing my parents, but… I will survive.  I also had another good health scare that left me minus some flesh but it’s a blessing that I was given the ability to make a difficult choice before it was too late.  My vanity has taken more of a beating but I feel good about the outcome.

Even my closest friends do not know that once again, I exposed my heart and once again I made a bad choice.  I guess I have resolved myself to having the worst taste in men EVER — but I blame myself for being a difficult person.  At the end of the day, I have to own my faults.  As much as I wish I could find love, I am beginning to find peace with being alone.  The holidays are always the hardest for me.  It has been so long since I have had family, I don’t remember what it even feels like.  But I do appreciate the friends that stand by me…no matter how difficult I tend to be.

I am thankful for so many good people in my life.  There are too many to name.  You know who you are and I appreciate each and every one of you.  Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and for putting up with me when I am being a royal pain in the ass.  Please forgive me if you are not in the photo montage  I did my best to capture as many people as possible but it was impossible to get everyone that matters.

My Year in Review

My Year in Review

Thanks for putting up with me…World Peace

xoxo

TheArtofBeer

Beer Research Call to Action!

I received a request from Anthony Simone (@erroneousrex) , a grad school student in New York that is doing research on Craft Beer Marketing.  He sent me a survey and asked that I respond to it.  You will find my answers below.  You may not agree with me—That’s okay with me.  If you have an opinion you should answer them and email (details below) your response back to him. Words I live by:

“The World is Run by Those Who Show Up!”

Do you believe it is important to use local ingredients in beer production and why/why not? –

I do not think it is completely feasible for all beer to be brewed with local ingredients but I really respect breweries that release specialty beers that do use seasonal, local ingredients.  I believe there are more and more craft breweries that are focused on utilizing local products.  Many breweries are growing their own hops now and some are and using local fruit.   Cascade Brewing makes some amazing barrel-aged sour beers using fruit from Oregon.  Logsdon is a co-op that is growing some of the ingredients they use.

I think you will find that many craft breweries promote the pairing of their beer with locally sourced food.  I would guess a large percentage of Craft Beer drinkers trend toward Farmer’s Markets, humanely raised meat and organic ingredients.  Breweries like Bison Brewing help people associate the source of ingredients to the food they eat and the beer they drink.

If you do believe it is important to use local ingredients there is an instance where they would be more expensive to acquire do you believe the ethical choice of “buying local” would trump the financial decision?

I can only speak for myself but I think there are many people that feel the way I do.  I will absolutely pay more to support local products.  I buy 80+% of my food from local sources.  With regard to beer, I support my local breweries but I am also a “beer traveler” that visits other great beer cities and brings home beer to share.  I support “craft” and appreciate well-made beer from all over the country.  I love to ship my local favorites to people in other places as well.

There are over 40 hop varieties in America alone not to mention multiple varieties of barley malts.  Do you believe the average drinker of even high-quality craft beers can actually tell the difference between these different varieties? Do you believe it is necessary or productive to mention esoteric ingredients in a craft beer’s marketing?

I do believe people with refined palates can differentiate the more prominent hop varietals.  It is no different that people with a strong palate for wine varietals.  I don’t think the average person can articulate what they taste without reference points made in beer descriptives (is this a word?), but the more they sample and identify with, the more they can ell the difference between the major varietals.  I think it is great when breweries call out specific ingredients because it teaches people to differentiate.  The wine industry has been doing this with grapes forever.  Beer is far more complex in my humble opinion.  A newbie can read a label and correlate the ingredients with what they taste.

There is a perception of elitism in craft/micro-brew beer marketing and culture. Do you believe this might have the negative effect of turning off potential craft beer newbie’s? Or would you even consider this a “negative” effect?

Absolutely not!  I think Craft Beer marketing actually encourages newbie’s because geeks, and socially awkward people are the poster children for Craft Beer. Look at Greg Koch from Stone Brewing.  He is a brilliant public speaker but he is not a social butterfly when in a one-on-one situation.  When he is on stage talking about his passion for beer – He lights up a room.  People can identify with his passion.  One of the beautiful things about craft beer is that it embraces the hipsters, geeks, brainiacs and yes, even the #pretty people.  Craft welcomes anyone that has an appreciation for the road less traveled.  Young and old come together to share an appreciation for craft.

I do believe the beer reviews and forums on Beer Advocate can intimidate people but truthfully, the few  “doucebags” that talk smack on BA are a source of entertainment for many people and there are heaps of great reviews to be found there as well.  I support anyone wanting to learn about craft beer and I will go out of my way to help people learn.  I am not alone in this thinking.  Craft Beer is an “equal opportunity” product.  It does not discriminate.  There is no wrong or right.  Your taste is exactly that…it’s your taste.  True craft beer lovers champion individual taste and they do not criticize people for having a different opinion.  How I wish this would translate to other aspects of life…

There is a perception that mega-brewers are selling a lifestyle while craft and microbrewers are selling an authentic and quality product. However as craft and micro-brews are sold using contemporary marketing techniques one could say they are also selling a lifestyle and in a sense “selling authenticity.” Would you agree with this? Do you believe that the average craft/micro-brew consumer is savvy enough to realize this but consciously “buys into” the message?

I think macro-beer is selling alcohol above all else.  They market to people that don’t care about quality or “craft” – They care about calories, price and being able to drink massive quantities before they toss their cookies in the toilet.  Craft Beer tends to market ethics,  flavor, social responsibility and the beautiful interaction with food.  Just look at the growth of the Craft Brewing segment.  It out-paces macro consistently.  People in this country are finally waking up!  They are more educated about quality, ethics and sourcing in food as well as alcohol.  They understand the value of supporting local food, beer and businesses in general.  Everyone has the ability to vote with his or her wallet and I believe the number of people choosing “craft” everything will continue to grow.  Food, clothing, alcohol, etc…all represent making better choices.  People that are independent thinkers grasp the importance of supporting local products. The masses will follow the early-adopters.  It is just a matter of time.

Beer is not food but an alcoholic beverage. However, craft/micro-brewed beer marketing and culture tend to treat it like a fine food, something almost on par with artisanal cheese or caviar. Do you believe it is the responsibility of craft/micro-brewed beer producers and promoters to impress upon consumers the fact that beer is an alcoholic beverage and not food apart from the obligatory government warnings?

I do not believe brewers should have to answer to stupidity. People that cannot differentiate between food and alcohol have much bigger issues.  We do not need any more government regulation.  We need more individual responsibility.  People need to take responsibility for their own actions.  Drinking alcohol should be done in moderation, regardless of the beverage.  Craft breweries advocate for this.  They preach quality over quantity. This is the key.  I do not drink to get drunk.  I drink to experience the flavor and the interaction of the beer with the food I eat.   I truly appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into Craft Beer and I respect the people that risked it all to bring their beer to market.  Capitalism at work…

Help Anthony Simone(design grad in NY doing masters on craft beer marketing. with his research)…Answer the questions above and email to him at:

anthony.simone@mail.com

@erroneousrex

Grad student at the Pratt Institute working on a Masters in Communications Design. I like water, malted barley and hops (preferably together).

New York City

http://www.behance.net/gallery/Graphic-Design-Portfolio/3708366

Forgive my spelling, grammar, etc…Happy to answer any questions you have!

Cheers
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Craft Beer in Oakland…

Oakland Amtrak Station     Jack London Square

Looking for a weekend getaway on the “left coast”?  I suggest Oakland.  That’s right — the place that often gets a bad rap for being thug central because of the Raider Nation.  The truth is that Oakland is a pretty cool place to visit if you like Craft Beer, Farm-to-Table Restaurants and an Urban Adventure.  If you live on the West Coast,  you can take Amtrak right into Jack London Square.  Otherwise fly into SFO or OAK and take BART (BayAreaRapidTransit) to the downtown Oakland City Center stop.  This post will highlight just a few places in Oakland that I frequent but there are several other great spots really close by.  The people here are friendly and fun.

I like to stay at the Waterfront Hotel at Jack London Square.  The Waterfront is part of the Joie de Vivre boutique, hotel chain which offers a different experience than the standard chain hotel and at affordable rates.

http://www.jdvhotels.com/
The Waterfront is a quirky little hotel right on the channel between Oakland and Alameda.  Some of the rooms have great views and there is a small, heated swimming pool and patio where you can chill out and soak up the sun on a nice day.  Miss Pearl’s Jam House is the on site restaurant that has a good selection of beer and a Slow Food approach to food.  Friend and Bison Brewing owner, Daniel DelGrande clued me into this place after my repeated gripes about the natty Courtyard Marriott in downtown Oakland.  Unlike the Courtyard, the Waterfront is clean, friendly and best of all; is just two blocks from Beer Revolution, my favorite place to enjoy beer in Oakland!

Beer Revolution is my kinda place.  Fraggle & Rebecca, the owners, are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They have 47 rotating taps and they take pride in the fact that keep the lines meticulously clean.  Beer Rev has access to a lot of new releases and limited edition craft beers.  I savored a glass of Drake’s Brewing special barrel-aged  “Passionate Monkey” during a Tap Takeover event last year.  Last week, High Water Brewing (one of the newest breweries in the Bay Area)  “Aphotic Barrel Aged Baltic Porter” went on tap for the very first time and WOW was that a treat.  You get the picture…There are hundreds of bottles to choose from in the Beer Rev coolers as well.   It is not difficult to find something super special here and I always make it a point to ask the bartenders what the rare options are.  They do not serve food (yet) at Beer Rev but they do allow food from neighboring spots to be enjoyed on premise.  The Vegetarian spot on the corner is really good.  An expansion project is planned for Beer Rev later this year and it appears food will be part of it!

http://beer-revolution.com/
464 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 452-BEER (2337)

High Water Brewing
http://highwaterbrewing.com/highwater.php

I fell in love the very first time I had dinner with friend Dan from Bison and Rock Star Chick Brewer, Alex from Drake’s Brewing in nearby San Leandro.  Chop Bar features seasonal, local ingredients when possible and they serve up some good craft beer and cocktails!  They have some great small plates that are perfect for sharing and I recommend doing just that when you visit Chop Bar.  One of the best things about restaurants committed to Slow Food concepts is a constantly changing menu.  You will never get bored because there is always something new to try.  Fresh ingredients that are in season and sustainably grow taste better.  That’s a fact!
Chop Bar
247 4th St Ste 111
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 834-2467
http://www.oaklandchopbar.com/

Drake's Barrel House

Drake’s Brewing Company (same ownership as Jupiter & Triple Rock in Berkeley) is about 10 miles from Jack London Square in Oakland and well worth the trip.  I am guessing a cab ride is about $20 but it is completely possible to take BART to the San Leandro Station and walk 1.25 miles to the brewery.
Visit the Beer By Bart website for details:
http://beerbybart.com/why/drakes-brewery-and-barrel-house-san-leandro/
The Drake’s Barrel House opened last summer with 24 taps featuring the regular Drake’s line-up as well as seasonal choices and the incredible barrel-aged beers that they are now famous for.  You cannot get these special beers outside of the Bay Area “yet”, so this is your chance to see what all the buzz is about.  The Quaid’s Dream– Imperial Stout aged in Port Barrels with blackberries I sampled last week was brilliant but I must confess that I am still longing for another sample of Passionate Monkey!  Owners , John & Reid Martin, have the formula for success in brewing ventures as well as brew pubs.  Triple Rock & Jupiter are both Bay Area favorites within the Craft Beer Community.

It’s a bit hard to find Drake’s the first time. Look for the driveway to the right of Wal-Mart and the left of Sport’s Authority.  Drake’s is tucked back in the corner as you drive between the two buildings.
1933 Davis Street
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 568-BREW (2739)
http://drinkdrakes.com/
http://barrelhouse.drinkdrakes.com/?page_id=9

Here are the links for a few other places in Oakland that deserve some props:

The Trappist
25 Taps & 100 Specialty Bottles
460 8th Street
Oakland, California
94607
http://thetrappist.com/
(510)238-8900

Luka’s Tap Room & Lounge
16 Taps & Specialty Bottles
Excellent Mussels!
2221 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
(510)451-4677
http://lukasoakland.com/

Linden Street Brewery
95 Linden St
Oakland, CA
(510)251-8898
http://www.lindenbeer.com/

The Inn at Jack London Square is not a bad alternative

Do "NOT" stay at the Jack London Inn! Very Scary Place

Enjoy Oakland and let me know how you liked it!

Word…
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

The Hopocalypse Approaches… « DrakesBrewing

When times get a bit tough, I measure my life in segments of  “things to look forward to”, aka small adventures that make me smile and forget the hard parts of life.   The event below @DrakesBrewery is one of those things.  It is not a secret that I am a fan and friend of talented young brewer @brewsugar (#girlpower) and that I am also a huge fan-girl of Drakes!  If you happen to be in the Bay Area on the weekend of the February 4th — check out this “not to be missed” event. I’ll buy you a beer if you show up!

Maybe we can play “Pin the Tail on the Beer Advocate Douchebag” and I will donate rare beers as prizes for winners!!!

Be sure to make public transportation arrangements or have a designated driver.

The Hopocalypse Approaches… « DrakesBrewing

#DrinkResponsibly

TheArtofBee
xoxo

@BrewSugar

The Best of San Diego Craft Beer – Part One

Tap List at BLAH

If San Diego is in your travel plans for 2012, this post will offer up a few good suggestions.  If you live under a rock <kidding> in San Diego and have never checked out the places that make us known as one of the greatest Craft Beer Cities in the U.S. then you’ve come to the right place.

Part One of the series starts with an adventure in public transportation that will take you safely to South Park, North Park & Normal Heights.  That’s right – you heard me.  San Diego Metro Transit Bus Route #2,  aka The “Hot Deuce” < Hot Deuce Schedule – Saturday >  travels from downtown San Diego to the top of 30th Street (The Craft Beer Corridor of San Diego) at Adams Avenue.  Catch the Deuce at the Americas Plaza stop near the Trolley Station or on Broadway at 3rd Ave. For $5 you can hop on and off the bus all day, not to mention the fact that you can enjoy your beer responsibly.

During San Diego Beer Week, this is the route I chose for visiting Twitter Craft Beer Friends @TheBeerWench (Ashley), @JessHunter (Jess), @MllBess (Bess), @BisonBrew (Dan) and Amie.  There was side-splitting laughter and beer experiences that we will remember for years to come.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all did.

Here are the great Craft Beer spots you can hit and pace yourself please:

Hamilton’s – Hop of the Hot Deuce at the 30thstreet, about 15 minutes from the stop on Broadway.  Open the screen door and allow your eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness that lies within.  Don’t be surprised if there are several adorable pups hanging out at the bar; Hamilton’s is pet friendly!   They have 28 tap handles and 2 cask engines pouring a kick-ass variety of local craft beer as well as some world selections .  They have a cooler stocked with bottles that include rare finds like Firestone Walker Abacus and library selections from breweries like Stone and Lost Abbey.  You can order food from the take-out place next door through a tiny window located near the pool table.  Don’t expect anything fancy but rest assured that it is good pub-type fare.  On the second Saturday of the month, a local brewery is featured on all tap handles and there is a feast of “free” food to boot.  Plan on getting there early.  It gets crowded fast…
(619) 238-5460
1521 30th St, San Diego, CA
http://hamiltonstavern.com/

Next stop The Linkery on 30th just south of University Avenue.  The Linkery boasts artisan sausages, made on premise, and a terrific menu of farm to table selections that showcase the strength of the Slow Food movement in San Diego.  Fresh **Local** produce and pasture-raised meats are featured along with 10 tap handles and a cask engine. The Linkery has a highly innovative menu and the staff here tends to know their stuff when it comes to beer.
(619) 255-8778
3794 30th St
http://thelinkery.com/blog

Walk about 5 blocks north on 30th  (past University Ave) and you will find the infamous Toronado San Diego (left or west side of street) , the sister location to the original in San Francisco.  There are more than 50 taps and several cask engines showcasing the Best of San Diego, the US and the world!.  You can find them all listed on the gynormous chalkboard hanging above.  If you can’t find a beer here that you like then you are in need of therapy <enough said>.  Don’t faint when you look at the epic bottle collection in the cooler.  Last time I was there we enjoyed a 2 year vertical of “Cable Car”; a very special American Wild Ale brewed by Lost Abbey for Toronado.
(619) 282-0456
4026 30th Street
http://www.toronadosd.com/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

Cable Car

Cable Car Vertical

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across the street and up a block or so up from Toronado,  you will find Ritual Tavern , one of San Diego’s BEST farm-to-table restaurants, featuring old world, traditional cuisine with great beer pairings to compliment the food served.  Innovative and ethical; Ritual serves up great food. Ritual has 8 tap handles and a cask engine; plus bottle selections.  Prepare to have your socks knocked off at Ritual.  The food is as interesting as it is outstanding.  “Hop” back on the Deuce at the next stop north or back toward Toronado.
(619) 283-1618
4095 30th (& Polk)
http://ritualtavern.com/

Next stop Tiger! Tiger! Tavern – the latest brilliant venture by San Diego local favorites Lee and Jenniffer Chase along with Jeff Motch and Clea Hantman.  Located just off the now famous 30th Street Hot Deuce route at El Cajon Blvd, Tiger! Tiger! offers up a mighty selection of sustainable, seasonal small plates and sandwiches.   My fav is the Bánh mì (photo right) but I love the oysters as well!  There are about 30 tap handles on this custom built Direct Draw Draught System.  The selections include Belgian-styled beers.  Don’t be fooled by the pizza oven.  No pizza served here but they bake some terrific bread.  Save the pizza for the next and final stop on the Deuce; sister property Blind Lady Ale House.
(619) 255-2491
El Cajon Blvd (just east of 30th)
http://tigertigertavern.blogspot.com/

Last stop on the Hot Deuce loop is Blind Lady Alehouse (BLAH as the locals call it).  Exit the bus at the Adams Avenue stop on the corner of 30th.  DO NOT go inside the really scary bar on the corner unless you are missing most of your teeth and have a meth problem.  You’re going to stroll east on Adams Avenue for about 7 blocks where you will find BLAH on the left (north) side of the street.  By this time the walk will do you good if you have indulged in a beer at each stop thus far!  Blind Lady Alehouse is the original venture by Lee and Jenniffer Chase, Jeff Motch and Clea Hantman.  This group of friends turned their passion into a successful business that has made Draft magazine’s “America’s 100 Best Beer Bars” list.  Lee brought an impressive brewers resume to the table for the restaurant and Nano brewery (Automatic Brewing) as well as expansive knowledge of the craft beer industry in general.  All four owners are passionate about food ethics and chef Aaron La Monica serves up the finest in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.  The thin crust pizza** selections are as tasty as they are creative and pair perfectly with the selection of 26 craft beers handles, a cask engine and a few bottled beer choices.  There are always vegan menu items at BLAH but fear not #Bacon lovers.  BLAH has pork products available! Order at the bar, grab your plates and utensils and find a seat.  This is the way it works so deal — the food is awesome and the beer superb!
Closed on Monday for Lunch
(619) 255-2491
3416 Adams Ave
http://www.blindladyalehouse.com
Do not order pizza here if your idea of great pizza is Papa John’s – You will not like it #justsayin

If you make it through all 6 of these locations you are A) Worthy of your SD Beer Card and B) A Craft Beer Consumption Rock Star.  Walk off a little more of your beer on the way back to 30th Street to catch the Hot Deuce back to the downtown area.  I sincerely hope you enjoy this adventure.  This beer geek is woefully proud of the San Diego Craft Beer Culture.
Stay tuned for Part Two of the series which focuses on the best places to sip good beers in Little Italy and the downtown area.  Part Three will highlight the other great Craft Beer spots San Diego County and last but not least, Part Four will offer up some top brewery picks.   These lists are based on my experience and opinions.  There are scads of other spots in SD that are also highly regarded so please do your own homework.  Please also check Hours of Operation.

Cheers —- TheArtofBeer

xoxo

Special thanks to @Goats_Udder for the crash html lesson!

Please Drink Responsibly

Map locations are not exact so pay attention to addresses listed above

The Hot Deuce Route Map