Friday, April 30, 2010

An Emperial IPA for Stone's 14th Anniversary

The folks at Stone Brewing Company posted a brief yet info-packed video yesterday announcing the details of their ever-changing Anniversary Ale that is released each summer.

For their 14th Anniversary this year, it seems as if they are taking one of their most traditional approaches ever with a Brit-inspired Emperial IPA, and by traditional I mean it sounds a bit off the beaten path nonetheless yet still a bit tame for Stone at the same time.

Check out the video for more info:

Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA Announced from stonebrew on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Craft Beer Stunner: The Griffin Group Acquires Anchor Brewing Company & Establishes Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC

Wow. Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Brewing Company since 1965 and one of the long standing pioneers of the craft brewing industry, has sold the brewery. Again...WOW.

Hot off the press via BeerAdvocate:



Acquisition Continues the Legacy of a San Francisco Icon

(San Francisco, CA) - April 27, 2010 - The Griffin Group, an investment and consulting company focused on beverage alcohol brands, announced its acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company which includes its portfolio of craft beers and artisan spirits, including the award winning Anchor Steam Beer.

The Griffin Group is led by beverage alcohol veterans, Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, two longtime San Francisco residents who have been working with Anchor Brewing Company's owner, Fritz Maytag to maintain the iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco.

"Anchor Brewing Company has a long history in San Francisco and The Griffin Group is ushering in an exciting era while maintaining our proud, time-honored history," said Fritz Maytag. "Combining Keith and Tony's passion for the Anchor Brewing Company, their industry experience and expertise only means that Anchor will be enjoyed in San Francisco for generations to come."

"Since 1896, Anchor Brewing Company has been an icon of San Francisco's history and culture," stated Griffin's Founding Partner, Keith Greggor, "I am honored to bring Anchor Brewing Company into our family of craft beers and artisanal spirits through establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC."

Anchor Brewers & Distillers intends to establish a "Center of Excellence" in San Francisco for craft brewers and artisan distillers from around the world. An epicenter of development, education, entertainment and innovation, all designed to further contribute to the culture and heritage of craft beer and artisan spirits.

"San Francisco is the perfect place to establish this center," stated Tony Foglio, "Through our extensive portfolio of craft beers and fine spirits our focus will be to educate and satisfy the increasing consumer demand for authentic, quality and natural products that reflect the passion of their creators."

Continuing the Anchor heritage, Mr. Maytag has been named Chairman Emeritus of Anchor Brewers & Distillers.

The Griffin Group operates as both boutique merchant and investment bank for premiere craft beers and artisan spirits. In addition to the Anchor Beers, The Griffin Group will assume control of the spirits brands including Old Potrero Whiskey, Junipero Gin and Genevieve Gin through the acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company. Additional affiliated companies to be held under Anchor Brewers & Distillers include Preiss Imports, a leading US specialist spirits and beer importer, and BrewDog USA, LLC, the US division of the leading UK craft beer.

The Griffin Group is headquartered in Novato, Marin County, California.

Hopback, beer, Anchor Brewing, sold, San Francisco, Griffin Group, Fritz Maytag

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carolina Blues

North Carolina is the most under-rated beer state in the country. Sure, places like California, Colorado and much of New England receive all the hype, but North Carolina is home to some real brewing gems. From the Pisgah Brewing Company in the the mountains of the western portion of the state to the Weeping Radish Eco Farm and Brewery along the eastern shores of the Outer Banks and with The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Top of the Hill and more in between, North Carolina is a growing force to be reckoned with in the craft brewing world.

My personal favorite brewery from the state however is fortunately also one of it's easiest to come by. Highland Brewing Company cranks out it's beers in Asheville, one of the coolest little cities you'll ever visit.

Highland was founded in late 1994 by Oscar Wong and started with a 6,500 barrel capacity that was draft or 22 ounce hand-bottled offerings only. A few years later they added a bottling line that allowed them to start packaging in 12 ounce bottles and they have been steadily growing since, now having the capacity to brew up to 20,000 barrels annually.

Their portfolio includes a nice range of styles from a wickedly tasty Oatmeal Porter to a tongue tingling Kashmir IPA, but the beer we'll be looking at today is their most popular offering, Gaelic Ale, a highly quaff-able Amber Ale with a nice balance to it.

What I like about this one is the simplicity paralleled with a bit of uncertainty. For instance, I couldn't really completely put my finger on what was going on in the aroma. It's got a nice sweet malty caramel base for sure thanks to a good dose of caramel malt, but is there some cocoa in there? Some faint, juicy, citrus hops in the back? A slight tick of pine, and perhaps even some spice notes like a hint of cinnamon? Hmmm. I'm probably over-thinking it but there seems to be more here than meets the eye, although the flavor is much more direct.

Earthy, rugged notes lead each sip with a good roasted malt tone, but the sweetness from the caramel is still there as well, and the juicy hops that I thought I picked up in the aroma are certainly present at the finish. Although they certainly make their presence known, hops never really come out and attack the palate (which works nicely for the style) and they let the malt do most of the talking for a balanced overall flavor.

A very easy beer to drink, and at 5.8% ABV it's still arguably at the top end of what would be considered a session ale. Many people like to max out session ales at about 5.0% ABV, while others will push it up to about 6.0% ABV. I tend to fall in the latter group. Regardless, it's still quite good. It's not going to blow your palate away with bold or new flavors, but that's not the idea here. Take this one for what it's aiming to be and you won't be disappointed.

Hopback, beer,
Highland, Asheville,
North Carolina, Gaelic Ale,
Pisgah, Weeping Radish,
Duck Rabbit, Top of the Hill