Ah, the new classic debate of the craft era: Cans vs. Bottles and which one is better for your beer.
In this podcast we:
Glad to be back in the recording chair – I hope you’re still here with me. Cheers!
Someone brought it up to me again the other day: You should get back to blogging more.
And, you know? I agree… for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s cathartic. It’s a nice release to be able to commit thoughts to words and publish them, even in a vanity forum like this blog, but also because there are a lot of topics that I’d like to see discussed in the world at large that I feel like I can at least introduce, and hopefully see out and about.
However, what with this whole “owning a brewery” thing, my time is often pretty limited and when I write it takes up a LOT of time – not only because, regardless of how fast a typer I am, it takes a long time to get things out, but because I’m just enough of a nerd to not want to write a blog post unless I have a complete thought. You should see how long it’s taken me to put this post together … or, maybe you can see it.
What’s more, often I only really think about writing when I’m upset about something and I don’t want to have the reputation (any more than I already do) for being the angry, ranty brewer guy. I am often not angry, and so I’d like that to actually come through on my blog. However, I REALLY like turning convention on its head and really looking at why it is we do what we do. Nobody ever made progress by doing the same old shit over and over again, and I really like applying creative problem solving to things that don’t necessarily appear to be broken. That often comes off as angry – or at least hyper-critical. But I don’t want to come off that way.
So, I’m going to try something new: Podcasting. There are a few reasons for this.
1) I can talk faster than I can type, and while part of me wants to make sure that there’s a complete written post around a podcast, that seems to me (for now) to be faster than setting down words to an entire post.
2) I can do it in a lot of different places. There’s no reason I can’t record a podcast while I’m working on something in the brewery, or in between tasks, whereas writing needs to take place in basically one or two environments where I have a computer and a long time to sit in one place.
3) It’s a lot easier to tell my tone when you hear my voice. If I don’t sound angry, I’m probably not angry. Not always the case, but normally true.
So, we’ll try this out. The podcast will serve two functions:
To educate. I’ve taught a Certified Cicerone Study course a couple of times over the past year and it’s very popular, and while I think people are generally interested in the Cicerone program, I think most people just want to learn more about beer – and so I’ll be doing little bits of education. Everything from how beer is made to how tap lines are cleaned to what the ingredients are and how they’re used. I’ll try to do this in a very non-technical way so that it’s easy for anybody to understand. With any luck there will be something for everybody to learn.
To inform. Since I’ve started Mystery, I’ve learned a LOT about the industry that I never would have thought about as a drinker and a fan of the industry, and I think it’s worth discussing some of those things… things like: Why the three-tier system is actually pretty great. Or that bars often don’t take care of their own draft systems. Or how AB-InBev is going to crush us all and how you’re going to help them.
And it will staaaaaart now.
My book, North Carolina Beer and Breweries is officially released today.
And before the book was even officially out, I’d already had at least one AMAZING, humbling review.
Now comes the hard part – the the book tour. In this, I need help.
I’m a nerd. I’ve been to a lot of book signings and releases, and in each and every one of them the author generally gets up, reads a bit from the book, answers some questions, and then shmoozes and signs books for a while. I’ve also been to a couple of beer book signings and releases before where the author kind of stands around and drinks while signing books when people manage to approach the with a pen and a book in hand. I find the latter kinda lame. I want to hear from the author, that’s why I’m there. Otherwise I’m just drinking with somebody I don’t know and I could just buy a signed copy of the book and have the exact same effect.
So, this is where you come in – what do I do at these? The nature of this book is such that reading from it is difficult – it’s not fiction, it’s essentially episodic non-fiction. There are small snippets about the entire state and what’s interesting to a crowd in Wilmington will be different than what’s interesting to a crowd in Asheville. So, in order to make sure that everybody who goes to one of these gets a great experience, what’s the best thing to do?
Read from the history section?
Just do a talk about beer in North Carolina?
Beer tasting with whatever is local? (Remember – that requires buying kegs.)
Just hang out and shoot the shit?
Stand on the bar and deliver a gospel sermon about craft beer?
Help me, internets – what would YOU find interesting?
There are a couple of reasons that I’ve been so quiet here this spring. One of which, given my most recent posts, should be obvious: this brewery that I started up. As it turns out, those take a whole lot of your time. It’s a little insane. It’s fun, but it doesn’t leave much time for public musing.
Well, now that both of those are essentially wrapped up, I’m still going to be busy. But! This is the type of busy where I can actually see people, and hopefully have the time to write a little on the side. So, just in case you want to say hi and share a pint here’s where you can find me in the next two months:
Thursday, April 12, 6PM – 8PM: Book Launch Party @ Mystery Brewing Company
437 Dimmocks Mill Road, Suite #41
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Saturday, April 14, 12PM – 11PM: All About Beer’s World Beer Festival Raleigh
Tuesday, April 17, 8PM: Fullsteam Brewery
726 Rigsbee Avenue
Durham, NC 27701
Wednesday, April 18, 4:30PM – 7:00 PM: Bottle Revolution
4025 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
Thursday, April 19, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM: Olde Hickory Tap Room
222 Union Square
Hickory, NC 28601
Saturday, April 21, 12PM – 6PM: Hickory Hops
Wednesday, April 25, 7PM – 9PM: Carrboro Beverage Company
102A East Main Street
Carrboro, NC 27510
Friday, April 27, 4PM – 6PM: Cape Fear Wine & Beer
139 North Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
Wednesday, May 9, 6PM: Foothills Brewing
638 West Fourth Street
Thursday, May 24, 6PM: Olde Mecklenberg Brewing Company
215 Southside Drive
Charlotte, NC 28217
Wednesday, May 31, 7:30 PM: Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café
55 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Thursday, June 1, 4PM – 7PM: Hops and Vines
797 Haywood Road, Suite 100
Asheville, NC 28806
You can also find this schedule on this page which will be updated regularly as the schedule is updated.
I’m a little late off the mark on this, since the article that I’m responding to was actually written days ago, and really had a fair amount of buzz over the weekend. Still, since through some fluke of internettery or bad programming I’m unable to post my feelings in the comments of article, you get to read my thoughts here.
This is in response to the article posted on Bon Appetit‘s website named (le sigh) Why Beer Growlers are Bad for your Brew
The first thing I’d like to point out is that the URL to the article is actually “Garrett Oliver Thinks Growlers…” and I bet the next work is “Suck”, but that apparently didn’t meet the “sweeping generalization in order to get as many eyes as possible” criteria. Good job. It worked. I wish it wouldn’t have.
It’s raised a bit of ire around beer blogs and on Beer Advocate, and one of the commenters on the article itself poses the interesting question of “Why would anyone ever be so emotionally committed to growlers that it would ever induce such outrage?”
I can’t say it’s outrage, but it definitely makes me feel a bit.. well.. exasperated. Garrett Oliver really did write the book on beer. Well… he edited it, anyway, despite numerous errors, and his opinion carries weight, even when it seems like a quick one-off bullshit answer to some guy who he’s drinking with. Because after you’ve written the book on beer, your slightest opinions get repeated like this:
“Oh, well, Garrett Oliver says [poorly translated version of what Garrett Oliver actually said taken immediately as the holy fucking gospel].”
It’s especially bad when it’s repeated by a magazine like Bon Appetit, even if it is a bullshit one-off name-dropping blog post by some guy who was probably just desperate to meet an editing deadline, because people who trust Bon Appetit (who are likely people who buy good, craft beer) are likely to come away with:
“Oh, well, I read in Bon Appetit that Garrett Oliver says [something incredibly inaccurate which will be taken as an unbreakable law that only a basilisk's tooth dipped in unicorn tears could possibly destroy].”
So, let’s hear it for journalistic integrity on the internet in 2011!
I can tell you why people would get emotional about it – for some small breweries, growlers can be a life saver. Packaging lines (bottles, cans) are expensive, and growlers can be a great way for new and/or small breweries to get product into locations, like grocery stores, or maybe even people’s homes, in a way that kegs just can’t do on a large scale basis. It’s not emotional, it’s defensive.
At Mystery, we’re counting on growler sales to help us through our startup, and I’m hoping that they constitute a large portion of our sales. That said, we’re planning using a counter-pressure growler filler to make sure that they’re packaged correctly instead of urinating directly into each one, as Garrett Oliver would have Andrew Knowlton have you believe. And I would never, EVER fill a dirty growler. Dirty growlers should be traded out for clean ones. I have the tools to clean growlers in ways that most people do not in their homes, and ultimately, I am represented best by giving you excellent beer.
But to address a big issue in the article of “the pros hate growlers”. Ugh. Are growlers ideal ways to package beer? No. But I don’t hate them.
Here’s what I hate: I hate it when bottle shops have beer sitting warm on shelves. I hate it when they have beer sitting near fluorescent lights. I hate it when they don’t pull beer off of the shelves after 90 days. I hate it when bars don’t clean their tap lines, or when they serve beer in frosted mugs, or shove a faucet into a beer while it’s being poured, or don’t give me a new glass when I order a new beer. I hate it when bars don’t have dishwashers that get hot enough to clean lipstick off of glassware, or wash their glassware in the same dishwasher as their food dishes.
All of those things can have a detrimental effect on the flavor and presentation of a beer and all of those are way, way, WAY more common than someone filling a dirty growler or filling one so incorrectly that the consumer will notice a difference, assuming they consume it while it’s still fresh.
But I can’t control those other things. I can, as a brewer, control the quality of the growlers that leave my establishment. I can make sure they’re clean and they’re filled properly – just like any packaging brewer would do for ANY packaged beer product.
I’d like to see an actual well-researched, well-considered followup article by Bon Appetit about this, but I’m sure it just won’t happen.
This piece of pseudo-journalism will go on misinforming in droves. It might seem silly, but these little one-off things coming from a source that people trust can be very damaging to small businesses. It’s already being repeated, and all it takes is one more journalist who doesn’t know how to research (which I’m starting to believe is most of them) to make this opinion law by referencing it in some wider reaching periodical.
Come on Bon Appetit, do what’s right and fix your crappy journalism by actually doing some work on the story. I’m issuing you a challenge. Write a good story on beer packaging. Your readership deserves it.