At the beginning of his keynote address to the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, Stone Brewing Company’s CEO and co-founder Greg Koch played a video he and others had collaboratively produced for the occasion. It is a great video, especially the first minute or so (a great viral or television commercial in itself) and was an excellent start to a solid and interactive address to the conventioneers. I anticipate that a lot of viewers of the recent Beer Wars documentary expected to see something similar and that is one of the reasons they left disappointed. The tone gets a little preachy at times and also takes several direct swipes at the big guys, promotional approaches whose appeal and viability can be debated (and were yesterday during the conference, with one presenter actively advising against them). In any event, definitely take a look at the video below and feel free to offer your thoughts.
To put it mildly, next week is going to be busy. Several hundred craft brewers from around the world will descend on Boston for the annual Craft Brewers Conference. There are events, both industry and consumer, spread throughout the city and it’ll be nice to catch up with the community.
I expected we’d lay low this weekend in preparation for next week but that didn’t really happen. On Friday night, we headed out to the annual Boston Beer Summit, where we had the chance to see brewers from around the region who don’t often make it to Boston. On Saturday, we set out for trips to Colonial Spirits and Julio’s Liquors, with the mission of tracking down available beers for inclusion into my new project, Great American Craft Beer. It will be a user-friendly and approachable guide to the best craft beers available in America, with a lot of other content to be described later. We’re in the early stages of putting the book together now, but it will be published by Running Press (publisher of several of the late Michael Jackson’s excellent books) in 2010. Returning home with more than 120 bottles of beer (and a few bottles of Rye for diversity’s sake), I realized the haul constituted only a fifth of what would ultimately make the book. Wow.
So after trips to the stores, both of which have excellent selections and bulk purchase discounts (very helpful for this project), we decided to head into Worcester as we were but fifteen minutes away. Located in the sometimes invisible lair of central Massachusetts, Worcester doesn’t get a lot of attention from beer lovers. Flying under the radar are two excellent beer bars, with design schemes on two very different ends of the spectrum. Armsby Abbey is an upscale gastropub with an excellent beer selection and a very solid food menu. A half-mile away, the Dive Bar (a play on a nautical theme mixed with a salvaged dive bar), hosts one of the few long bar setups I’ve come across in New England. These bar types are often see in places such as Chicago and it was a real pleasure to have a few pints there.
I am now home, surrounded by more beer than I want to think about reviewing (takes a bit of the fun out of drinking actually) and thinking about next week’s events. Welcome to town everyone…
We decided to take the day off of work today and head down to Plymouth to visit Mayflower Brewing, where our buddy Matt Steinberg is the brewmaster. I’ve been meaning to get down to Plymouth for more than a year now as Matty is making some classic, traditional beers, including perhaps the region’s best porter. I expected to find a few folks from the New England beer scene there but was pretty surprised at the size of the turnout and the number of familiar faces. Defying the old too many cooks maxim, brewers from across eastern New England stopped by to lend a hand with hop additions, running hoses, cleaning tanks, and hauling spent grain. The roster included Matt and Drew Brousseau of Mayflower, Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing (who was leading the group as the Brewers Association’s selected brewer), Scott Brunelle of Rock Bottom Boston, Tod Mott of Portsmouth Brewing, Dann Paquette, Jeremy Goldberg of Cape Ann Brewing, along with several folks from Cambridge Brewing, Harpoon Brewery, and others.
The beer, the Audacity of Hops, will be a somewhat strong Belgian-style IPA, similar to the beer Will brews at Cambridge. It was an entertaining brewday as a half-dozen or more brewers appeared to be manning the operations at different points, in between pizza and beer stops. At a little over 20 barrels, the beer included more than 1700 pounds of malt (hauled away by the sheriff for an inmate run farm), a healthy addition of Belgian candi sugar, as well as every hop the guys could get their hands on (Tettnang, Magnum, Columbus, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo, Palisades, Hallertau Hersbrucker), with additions used in the mash, dry hopped, in a hop back, in fermentation, and before bottling. All told, it appears they will be using about 60-70 pounds of hops.
The beer will be available for attendees of the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference in Boston and for purchase in select local bars during the conference. In celebration of the occasion, we’re debuting a new video segment on BeerScribe and hope the bugs get worked out.
Here’s Matt Steinberg introducing the beer…
And here’s the gang packing the hopback in, um, a very scientific manner…