Mid Atlantic Brewing News December 2013/January 2014 : Page 1
Anything You Can Brew, I Can Brew, Too By Greg Kitsock “I looked at other industries – lots of Scotch distillers age their whisky in rum or sherry or Madeira casks,” says Daniel Westmo-reland, brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch’s Williamsburg, Va. plant, on the genesis of his Batch 23185 Bourbon n Vanilla Cask. The all-malt beer, one of three brands in A-B’s new Project 12 variety twelve-pack, is aged on a bed of bour-bon-barrel staves and shredded Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s kind of f a barrel-aged beer light … but not in a pejora-tive sense. The 5.5% alcohol h ol l content by volume, plus the combination of vanilla beans and caramel malt, renders it exceptionally drinkable. As it warms up, you can detect a hint of the charred oak. I would have no problem with pegging Bourbon Vanilla Cask as a craft beer, but for the fact that it’s brewed by the world’s larg-est beermaker at a facility that can churn out 3.2 million barrels a year. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors might be huge, but they’re not ﬂ ailing help-lessly like the dinosaurs after the asteroid hit. As longtime brands like Budweiser and Miller tank and craft beer grows by double digits, the big players want their share of the pie. They’ve got talented brewers who can duplicate almost any style that their smaller small e brethren make, and add sa a f few new wrinkles of See Big p.4 Daniel Westmoreland, brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch’s Williamsburg, Va. plant. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANHEUSER-BUSCH BREWERS: INSIDE Event Calendar ............................12 Homebrew ...................................12 Hop Ed .........................................13 Maps ...................................... 18-21 POST-SHUTDOWN BLUES: Feds Struggle with Beer Backlog ILLUSTRATIONS BY HANS GRANHEIM By The Brews Brothers (Steve Frank & Arnold Meltzer) October’s 16-day government shutdown at ﬁ rst proved to be a boon to watering holes as furloughed workers hit the bars to com-miserate and pass the time. But the boon turned to bane as the shutdown froze activity at the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal agency in charge of brewery inspections and label approvals. “In short, new breweries cannot start up and new beers cannot be sold,” Boston Beer Co. chair-man Jim Koch explained to USA Today. O Even with the government fully func-tioning again, the TTB faces such a backlog that brewery openings and new releases from old breweries could be delayed weeks, if not months. Last year TTB received 152,000 COLA (certificate of label approval) requests for malt beverages, wines and spirits. Unbelievably, all of these forms are processed by one dedicated civil servant, says the TTB’s Congressional and public affairs director Tom Hogue. "He is absolutely amazing,” asserts Hogue. That worker, unfortunately, was one of the estimated 850,000 federal employees furloughed as being non-essential. (So was Hogue, incidentally.) See Shutdown p. 5 Hop on This Bus! ....................... .... 6 Canine Quaff ................................ 7 Book Review.................................. 8 Stocking Sutffers:Top 10 Beers ... 9 Fairy Hopmother ........................10 State by State News Virginia ...........14 C. Penn ............22 Philadelphia ...24 E. Penn ............26 W. Virginia ......28 Maryland ........29 Baltimore ........31 D.C. ..................33 New Jersey .....34 Delaware ........36
Big Brewers: Anything You Can Brew, I Can Brew, Too
I looked at other industries – lots of Scotch distillers age their whisky in rum or sherry or Madeira casks,” says Daniel Westmoreland, brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch’s Williamsburg, Va. Plant, on the genesis of his Batch 23185 Bourbon Vanilla Cask.
The all-malt beer, one of three brands in A-B’s new Project 12 variety twelve-pack, is aged on a bed of bourbon- barrel staves and shredded Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s kind of a barrel-aged beer light … but not in a pejorative sense. The 5.5% alcohol content by volume, plus the combination of vanilla beans and caramel malt, renders it exceptionally drinkable. As it warms up, you can detect a hint of the charred oak.
I would have no problem with pegging Bourbon Vanilla Cask as a craft beer, but for the fact that it’s brewed by the world’s largest beermaker at a facility that can churn out 3. 2 million barrels a year.
Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors might be huge, but they’re not failing helplessly like the dinosaurs after the asteroid hit. As longtime brands like Budweiser and Miller tank and craft beer grows by double digits, the big players want their share of the pie. They’ve got talented brewers who can duplicate almost any style that their smaller brethren make, and add a few new wrinkles of Their own. Westmoreland, for instance, will celebrate his 34th anniversary with A-B next February. He broke into the business at 18, working with a local distributor to set up keg parties for fraternities and sororities at his alma mater, William and Mary. He was part of the startup team that inaugurated A-B’s Fort Collins, Colo. In 1989.
Project 12 kicked off in 2012. Brewmasters at each of A-B’s 12 plants nationwide were enlisted to create new recipes fermented with the Budweiser yeast. To give them street cred as ‘local” beers, they were all christened with the zip code of the brewery where they were made. Three beers were chosen for last year’s variety pack, among them an earlier version of Bourbon Vanilla Cask. One of the selections, an amber ale from A-B’s Fairfield, Calif. Location, was promoted to year-around status as Budweiser Black Crown and hawked during last February’s Superbowl.
Only six of A-B’s breweries submitted beers for this year’s Project 12 sampler. The winners, besides Westmoreland’s beer, were Batch 94534 North
Pacific Style Lager, a lager with ale hops from the Fairfield brewery, and Batch 43229 Beechwood Bock from A-B’s Columbus, Ohio branch. In picking these three, A-B relied on feedback from concertgoers at the Budweiser Made in America Music Festival, held Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia.
While calling for new ingredients and flavors, A-B’s top brass set certain limits. The Project 12 beers, according to a company press release, are intended to “exhibit Budweiser’s clean and crisp taste.” Of all the Project 12 crafted so far, only one has exceeded 7% alcohol, says Westmoreland.
Nevertheless, if A-B ever decides to greenlight to more experimental beers or imperial styles, they’ve got plenty of recipes in their archives.
Willy Wonka’s Beer Factory
On Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis campus there is a nine-story building housing a 10- bbl semi-automated pilot brewery that goes by such cute nicknames as “Hogwarts” and “Willy Wonka.” Here, neophyte brewers – the typical worker here is one or two years out of college – are encouraged to let their hair down in formulating new beers.
“They get hands-on experience, and they develop a passion for brewing,” says Jane Killebrew-Galeski, A-B’s technical support director for North America.
Recent brews include Smoked Orange Honey Ale and Bratzel, an ale crafted to resemble a pretzel in flavor with a roasted sourdough flavor, a hint of butter and a salty finish. Brewers here have concocted an 80-IBU double IPA and a 9%-abv barleywine. They’ve done a ginger snap beer and a candy cane beer. They came up with Shaka Brew, a pineapple lager aged on coconut, as well as a bacon beer made with a hunk of cooked meat tossed into the kettle. “The flavor came through much saltier than we expected,” laughed Rebecca Reid, brewmaster and manager of the pilot brewery.
Is there anything they won’t try? “We’ve experimented with wild yeasts, but it scares the life out of me,” admits Killebrew-Galeski. However, A-B can farm out the sour and spontaneously fermented beers to its subsidiary, Goose Island Beer Co. In Chicago. (Goose Island recently released four new sour beers, including such ambitious projects as Lolita, a Belgian-style pale ale fermented with Brettanomyces and aged in wine barrels on 30,000 lb of fresh raspberries.)
None of the beers brewed at the pilot facility have been sold commercially … not even at the 300-seat beer garden that A-B opened at its St. Louis brewery last spring.“The only way the public sees these beers is in new product development, in consumer focus groups, where they might taste 2-3 variations,” explains Reid. Or you can attend a festival where they’re serving something special under the table. (Like one of their recent experiments, Shock Top Ghost Pepper Wheat.)
Fewer than 10% of all test brews will make it to retailers’ shelves, says Killebrew- Galeski. “You can’t get attached to them … but you do,” she sighs.
The Ultimate Honor: Your Own Brand
Vanilla Bourbon Cask is an exception to the rule: Westmoreland didn’t have the luxury of brewing a small pilot batch to trouble-shoot his recipe. He had to get it right the first time or dump the contents of a 500-barrel brewkettle. “We babysat it that first day,” he recalled.
Is there any chance his baby might become a year-around addition to the Budweiser family?
“That would be the ultimate honor for a brewmaster,” he answers. But he cautions, “We’d have to figure out a better way to handle the staves.”
In response to comments he received at the Labor Day fest in Philadelphia, Westmoreland upped both the vanilla and wood in this year’s batch. The current recipe calls for three pounds of vanilla and one wooden stave per barrel of beer. The staves are sourced through a third party and discarded after one batch, so the brewery would need to keep a veritable lumberyard’s worth of wood moving through the pipeline.
“But I’m sure we could make it happen,” he adds.
Post-Shutdown Blues: Feds Struggle With Beer Backlog
Steve Frank & Arnold Meltzer
Feds Struggle with Beer Backlog
October's 16-day Government shutdown at first proved to be a boon to watering holes as furloughed workers hit the bars to commiserate and pass the time.
But the boon turned to bane as the shutdown froze activity at the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal agency in charge of brewery inspections and label approvals. “In short, new breweries cannot start up and new beers cannot be sold,” Boston Beer Co. Chairman Jim Koch explained to USA Today.
Even with the government fully functioning again, the TTB faces such a backlog that brewery openings and new releases from old breweries could be delayed weeks, if not months.
Last year TTB received 152,000 COLA (certificate of label approval) requests for malt beverages, wines and spirits. Unbelievably, all of these forms are processed by one dedicated civil servant, says the TTB’s Congressional and public affairs director Tom Hogue. "He is absolutely amazing,” asserts Hogue. That worker, unfortunately, was one of the estimated 850,000 federal employees furloughed as being non-essential. (So was Hogue, incidentally.)
During the shutdown TTB was reduced from 470 employees to about 35.
The upshot: The average processing time for malt beverage COLAs has more than doubled from 12 days at the end of September to 25 days by the end of October.
“The day the government reopened was the day they gave us our license,” said Mark Osborne, owner of Adroit Theory Brewing Co. In Purcellville, Va. He was looking forward to a soft opening on Dec. 28. However, because COLA approval is necessary to sell beer across state lines, his market will initially be limited to Virginia.
“Label approval is definitely the bottleneck. We’ve done 27 beers on a test basis and we have all the paperwork ready, But everybody we talk to says it will take at least four months.”
Technically, the TTB only has authority over beverages crossing state lines. However, Volker Stewart, owner of The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore, found that he couldn’t register new brands even in his home state of Maryland without prior COLA approval.
Applications Pile Up
Additionally, beers and other alcoholic beverages that use non-traditional ingredients must have their recipes approved by TTB. In fiscal year 2013 the TTB processed over 3,700 beverage formula applications for domestic beers, more than 70 per week. Average processing times have increased from 48 days at the end of September to an estimated 61 days at the end of October.
Inasmuch as winter seasonals were already in the pipeline by mid-October, the shutdown will likely have the greatest impact on spring brews. Such seasonal beers and brews with unusual ingredients, often with offbeat flavors, are the backbone of the craft industry, notes Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.
The rapidly growing number of breweries will put additional pressure on the TTB. "In 2013 we are on track to have between 400 and 550 brewery openings, or more than one per day,” reports Gatza. The number for 2014 will probably be at least that large. In FY2013 the TTB received 1,181 Brewers Notice applications. The average processing time at the end of September was 86 days, assuming the application was complete. The post shutdown processing time is estimated at 108 days, although the TTB is assigning additional people and has approved overtime to reduce the delay.
Other agencies have some impact on breweries and brewpubs include the Small Business Administration, which averages about 120 loans to small breweries each year. (San Antonio’s Alamo Beer Co. Luckily obtained their $5 million SBA loan to construct a new brewery just days before the shutdown.) The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Requires completion of the Food Facility Registration Form for any facility that handles food, including beer. This also applies to beer distributors. Online registration was suspended during the shutdown.
Businesses Put on Hold
In Charlottesville, Va., owner Hunter Smith of Champion Brewing Co. Filed his paperwork in August with the expectation that it would take 60 days to process. He was still waiting to hear back as of press time. Part of Champion’s loan closing and lease are dependent on getting the licenses. Smith has contractors lined up to start work on Dec. 1, but that won’t happen if he can’t close on the property.
“I feel bad to call someone up that was effectively laid off for two weeks and came back to a double pile of work and say hey, can you pick up the pace?” commented Smith of the TTB. “But we’ve got orders to facilitate and beer to make and construction to do.”
It’s not just would-be brewers whose plans are being put on hold. The City Tavern in Philadelphia, which traces its history back to 1773 and has hosted such luminaries as George Washington and John Adams, was shuttered for ten days during the shutdown, putting 80 employees temporarily out of work.
The reproduction of the original tavern sits on federal parkland. Through a somewhat convoluted contract, City Tavern’s owner and chef Walter Staib is technically a tenant.“The last time the government closed we weren’t affected, so I took off for a trip to China thinking all would be fine,” said Staib. Through a series of text messages he discovered first, that the shutdown had taken place, and second, that his restaurant had been closed, even though there are no federal employees or guards on the premises.
The Department of the Interior allowed the City Tavern to reopen 12 days into the shutdown, thanks in part to the intercession of Congressman Bob Brady and Philadelphia Mayor Mike Nutter.
Nonetheless, “We lost around $125,000 in business and had 30 to 40 catering cancellations,” lamented Staib. Among his losses were the Princeton University Class of 1960 Reunion and the Police Chiefs’ Convention. “So far the government has made no offer to compensate us, and because of the nature of the shutdown it’s not covered by insurance.”
George Hummel, Greg Kitsock and Steve Marler contributed to this article.