2014 Craft Beer Year in Review Pt. 3
Dan from the The Full Pint is back with part three of the 2014 Craft Beer Year in Review. We take a look at some very notable moments from many famous craft breweries as well as some hot issues that surfaced throughout the year. Click here for part one , two and four. Stay tuned for part four shortly.
10 Barrel Brewing – Oregon houses the most craft breweries per state. Much like pre-prohibition times, the fine folks of Oregon have access to freshly made beer close to their house. A few months ago, the fairly new fan favorite 10 Barrel Brewing announced it would be selling itself and pub locations to AB-InBev. This angered many locals and craft beer enthusiasts nationwide. This sparked the ongoing debate of whether or not it matters who makes your beer.
Dogfish Head – Veteran mainstay of the craft beer movement Dogfish Head stayed the course for 2014. The continued their musical collaboration series with BEER Thousand, a tribute to Guided by Voices, and continued making crazy experimental beers. Of note, Dogfish Head appointed Nick Benz to the position of Chief Executive Officer. This alarmed some, who consider founder/President Sam Calagione the ultimate figure head of the company. Sam assured folks that while the company was in need of some corporate structure, it’s still his company, and he’s still very much in charge. Of note, Dogfish head has yet to cave to recent craft beer trends such as west coast IPAs, canned beer, sour and barrel aged offerings. Let’s see what 2015 brings us on that front.
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery – One of the quickest rising breweries in Southern California made some buzz this year. Late this fall, Hangar 24 had a organizational restructuring, in which a few dozen employees were let go. The first assumption made was that Hangar was in trouble. We’ve learned that this was not the case, and that they were re-aligning and restructuring efforts to better distribute and sell their ales. They also announced their own Reserve Society type club called Barrel Roll Membership Club, in which folks will have access to favorites like Pugachevs Cobra, Chandelle, and other yet to be named barrel aged offerings.
Internet/Trade Darlings – There are many subcultures within the craft beer enthusiast genre. One of the most prominent is the beer trading community. A few years ago, the most popular items for trade were high alcohol by volume barrel aged Imperial Stouts and Porters. Beers like Kate The Great, Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate, Bourbon County Stout were feverishly traded. 2014 had a whole new set of trade darlings, and the style of choice seems to be funky, crackly saisons, sours, sour saisons, and fruit beers. Breweries such as Side Project, DeGarde, Cellarmaker, Sainte Adairius and The Rare Barrel have flooded trade boards with their modest strength, funky offerings.
Lost Abbey – I’m still exhausted from the 6 pager I wrote on why I think Lost Abbey needs to restructure their branding, so I’ll keep this short. They’ve added a third brand dedicated to hoppy ales, and Cuvee de Tomme was defeated by it’s own yeast strain again.
Los Angeles Beer Scene – The once laughable Los Angeles beer scene was showing strong promise in 2014. Golden Road Brewing made a complete 180 in terms of beer quality and drinkability. El Segundo Brewing mades hoppy ales that rival anything you would enjoy from San Diego. A very small brewery named Highland Park Brewing opened this fall, making some creative and tasty ales. Eagle Rock Brewing just launched their second venture, Eagle Rock Publick House and Smog City has been on a tear now that they have settled in to their home in Torrance. Anyone who says they don’t make good beer in LA better come see me.
#instabeer – We know craft beer came well before the invention of Instagram, but the marriage of the two has contributed to an entire new generation embracing the locally made, rare and nationally distributed craft beers through a photograph, comments and some hashtags. Back in my day, you had to conduct beer trading on RateBeer or BeerAdvocate. Today’s kids throw up a picture on Instagram and have a trade wrapped up in minutes via Instagram.
Sierra Nevada Brewing – It was amazing to see the mature, veteran craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing stay relevant and popular in 2014. They conducted a massive campaign in which they brewed a collaboration beer with a dozen breweries including Bell’s, Russian River, Firestone Walker, Cigar City and Ballast Point. Those beers were sold in mixed 12 and 24 packs nationwide. They then “went on tour” by creating a 7 city festival circuit, in which they traveled by bus across the country. They opened their second, east coast facility in Mills River, NC, with the goal of having their fresh ale travel a shorter distance from tank to mouth.
Stone Brewing Co. – Stone Brewing Co. had a tremendous year in which they expanded their core lineup, their seasonal lineup, their retail footprint and announced plans to expand their brewing footprint. Co-Founder/CEO Greg Koch came out of his four month sabbatical this summer and announced plans to build a destination brewery in Berlin, Germany. There was a little kink in the announcement,as they used IndieGoGo crowd funding as a platform to build excitement. After the smoked clear from the initial outrage, Greg explained they were merely selling special beers, and the funding would go to the construction of the new brewery, and they were not a well-to-do brewery asking their fans for free money. After that that big announcement, Stone decided on Richmond, VA as their East Coast destination brewery, after considering a few other states.