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Five facts for National Lager Day

December 10, 2014 By: mike Category: Beer learnin', Craft beer, History of beer

Fourth of July beer

Today is National Lager Day, a day for craft beer drinkers to celebrate this often under-appreciated category of beers.

Think lagers are boring? Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s Kellan Bartosch refuted that notion last year in this piece for craftbeer.com.

Bartosch, who would “take a well done lager over a poorly made IPA any day,” suggested that beers don’t need to be extreme to be good.

“The best beer drinkers I know enjoy every style and can pick out good and bad versions of each, including lagers,” Bartosch wrote.

So skip the IPA today and pick up a lager. There are many styles to choose from that don’t include American macrobrews. I’m particularly fond of Schwarzbiers and Märzens, but even a good old Samuel Adams Boston Lager (style: Vienna Lager) will do.

Speaking of, the brewers at Samuel Adams shared with us these facts for National Lager Day. Cheers!

1.) The word “lager” is derived from the German “lager” which means “to store.”

2.) Lagers are relatively new to the beer scene, first appearing in Bavaria during the 16th century; before that, ales were brewed for over 7,000 years because ales are easier to ferment.

3.) Lager yeast, as opposed to ale yeast, ferments (eats sugar to produce carbonation and alcohol) at cooler temperatures and, when done fermenting, settles to the bottom of the fermentation tank. Lager yeast also takes a longer time to condition the beer than ale yeast.

4.) Due in part to their clean, crisp character, lagers are sometimes incorrectly labeled plain and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Craft lagers are flavorful and complex, and a number of different styles fall under the lager category and include Märzen/Oktoberfest beers, Bock beers like Maibock/Helles Bocks, Pilsners, Dunkelweizens, Rauchbiers, and Schwarzbiers, to name a few.

5.) Before modern refrigeration, brewers needed a way to keep their lagers cool during the brewing process. In lieu of today’s larger cooling tanks, German lager brewers of old sometimes cooled their beer in Alpine caves or in cellars dug deeply into hillsides.

Brewers Association releases Top 50 craft breweries in 2011

April 17, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer

Brewers Association logoThe Brewers Association, a trade group that represents the craft beer industry, has released its annual list of Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies in the United States, based on 2011 beer sales volume.

Craft beer companies are defined as “small, independent and traditional,” with annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels.

The top three remain Boston Beer Co., which produces Sam Adams, followed by Sierra Nevada and New Belgium.

Regionally, St. Louis’ Schlafly has moved into the top 40 at No. 39, while Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Company has moved up from No. 27 to No. 24. In addition, Louisiana’s Abita dropped two spots to No. 17.

Here’s the list:

1. Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA
3. New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
4. The Gambrinus Company San Antonio TX
5. Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
6. Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY
7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI
8. Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
9. Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
10. Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City MO
11. Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA
12. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
13. Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
14. Alaskan Brewing & Bottling Co. Juneau AK
15. Long Trail Brewing Co. Burlington VT
16. Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
17. Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
18. Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
19. New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
20. Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
21. Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN
22. Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA
23. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA
24. Sweetwater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
25. Rogue Ales Brewery Newport OR
26. Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
27. Victory Brewing Co. Downington PA
28. CraftWorks Breweries & Restaurants Chattanooga TN
29. Oskar Blues Brewery Longmont CO
30. Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
31. Stevens Point Brewery Co. Stevens Point WI
32. Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR
33. BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc. Huntington Beach CA
34. Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY
35. Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA
36. Lost Coast Brewery Cafe Eureka CA
37. Big Sky Brewing Co. Missoula MT
38. North Coast Brewing Co. Inc. Fort Bragg CA
39. Saint Louis Brewery, Inc./Schlafly Bottleworks St. Louis MO
40. Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA
41. Breckenridge Brewery Denver CO
42. Founders Brewing Co. Grand Rapids MI
43. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Houston TX
44. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA
45. Real Ale Brewing Co. Blanco TX
46. Mac and Jack’s Brewery Inc. Redmond WA
47. Smuttynose Brewing Co. Portsmouth NH
48. Utah Brewers Cooperative Salt Lake City UT
49. Left Hand Brewing Co. Longmont CO
t50. Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Boonville CA
t50. Four Peaks Brewing Co. Tempe AZ

Meanwhile, 36 of the top 50 overall brewing companies in the U.S. are small, craft breweries, according to the association.

“In the last 15 years, craft brewing has gone from one percent of the overall beer market to almost six percent in 2011,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “We attribute a large part of that growth to the many talented brewers who are providing beer lovers with more beer style and flavor choices than ever before.”

Brewers Association releases 2010 Top 50 craft breweries list

April 16, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer

Brewers Association logoThe Brewers Association, a trade group that represents the craft beer industry, has released its annual list of Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies in the United States, based on 2010 beer sales volume.

Craft beer companies are defined as “small, independent and traditional,” with annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels.

The top three remain Boston Beer Co., which produces Sam Adams, followed by Sierra Nevada and New Belgium.

Here’s the list:

1. Boston Beer Co. Boston MA
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA
3. New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
4. Spoetzl Brewery Shiner TX
5. Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
6. Independent Brewers United  (IBU) Burlington VT
7. Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY
8. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI
9. Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
10. Boulevard Brewing Co. Kansas City MO
11. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
12. Alaskan Brewing and Bottling Co. Juneau AK
13. Long Trail Brewing Co. Bridgewater Corners VT
14. Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA
15. Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA
16. Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
17. Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA
18. Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR
19. Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME
20. Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN
21. New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI
22. Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH
23. Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA
24. Kona Brewery LLC Kailua-Kona HI
25. Rogue Ales Newport OR
26. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA
27. Sweetwater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA
28. Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
29. Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown PA
30. Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA
31. BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc. Huntington Beach CA
32. Stevens Point Brewery Co. Stevens Point WI
33. Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO
34. BridgePort Brewing Co. Portland OR
35. Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants Louisville CO
36. Oskar Blues Brewery Longmont CO
37. Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY
38. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe Eureka CA
39. Big Sky Brewing Co. Missoula MT
40. North Coast Brewing Co. Inc. Fort Bragg CA
41. Mac and Jack’s Brewery Redmond WA
42. The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc. Maplewood MO
43. Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA
44. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA
45. Breckenridge Brewery Denver CO
46. Utah Brewers Cooperative Salt Lake City UT
47. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants Chattanooga TN
48. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Houston TX
49. Real Ale Brewing Co. Blanco TX
50. Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR

Meanwhile, 36 of the top 50 overall brewing companies are small, craft breweries, according to the association.

“At more than 1,700, the number of breweries in the U.S. is higher than any time since the late 1800s,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “Beer lovers’ appreciation for American craft brewers and their craft beers continue to grow.”

Patriot act: Brewers Association raises cap for ‘craft’ breweries

January 04, 2011 By: mike Category: Beer in the news, Craft beer

Samuel Adams beerOn a recent tour of Ghost River Brewing in Memphis, founder Chuck Skypeck gave my group a pop quiz: name the largest domestic-owned brewing company in the United States.

Nope, it’s not Anheuser-Busch, Miller or Coors, which some folks guessed. Those are all foreign-owned.

It’s the Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams beers.

The Boston Beer Company holds another distinction: it’s also the nation’s largest “craft” brewer, as defined by the Brewers Association, a trade group that represents the craft beer industry.

Craft breweries are, by official definition, “independent,” “traditional” and “small.”

On Monday, the association announced that it’s revising the designation of “small” in its definition of a craft brewer, raising the cap on annual production of beer to 6 million barrels. Previously, a craft brewer was defined as a brewer with annual production of 2 million barrels of beer or less.

The change means that the Boston Beer Company, which was poised to become the first craft brewer to surpass 2 million barrels, will still be included in craft brewing numbers for the foreseeable future.

With this change to the craft brewer definition and BA bylaws, statistics will continue to accurately reflect the 30-year growth of market share for craft brewed beer. Brewers Association statistics on craft brewers will continue to keep pace with the growth of the industry,” Nick Matt, chair of the Brewers Association board of directors, said in a release. He added: “Rather than removing members due to their success, the craft brewing industry should be celebrating our growth.”

The change in how a craft brewery is defined also puts it in line with federal legislation being sought by the Brewers Association to reduce excise taxes for small brewers.

As of July 31, the latest Brewers Association statistics available, there were 1,599 craft breweries in the United States: 994 brewpubs, 534 microbreweries and 71 regional craft breweries.

After the Boston Beer Company, the second-largest craft brewer in the nation is Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., followed by New Belgium Brewing. The Brewers Association has a list of the top 50 craft brewing companies, based on 2009 beer sales volume, on its website.

The market for craft-brewed beer in the U.S. is about 5 percent.

What do you think about this change? Leave a comment below.