2014 Craft Beer Year In Review Pt. 4
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 three. Stay tuned for part five shortly.
AleSmith Brewing – AleSmith had a pretty fantastic 2014. They announced big expansion plans that should be finalized in the new year. They continued leading by example in the rare bottle release game by running smooth-as-silk online sales for their barrel aged series beers. They also created and released a beer with San Diego baseball legend and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, named San Diego Pale .394 to the delight of the locals.
Beer Week – I went on a rant during American Craft Beer Week, in which I expressed my fatigue with the entire Beer Week concept. While it’s a good way to get new beer drinkers involved, those who stay in the mix have seen it all. Tap tower takeovers and beer fests happen every week of the year.
Craft Lagers – Reports indicate that IPA is the best selling style of craft beer currently, and that new found craft beer lovers have inadvertently hit the macro brewers where it counts. While some associate the word lager with the watery, flavorless offerings of Miller and Budweiser, many craft brewers have gone toe to toe with that notion, and have put craft lager in proper light (no pun intended). Golden Road Brewing of Los Angeles added a product to their lineup called 329 Lager, which replaces that 18 pack of swill with some carefully crafted all malt lager. Firestone Walker added Pivo Pils to their lineup last year, and has done well this year, including winning a GABF gold medal. There is a time and a place for all styles of beer as long as it’s well made, and there is definitely a spot for craft lager.
Gose – Not only were Session IPAs the rage this year, but the German-style tart wheat Ale known as Gose were pretty darn popular. Anderson Valley, Almanac Beer Co, Westbrook Brewing lead the way in this genre, offering a refreshing, tart alternative to the big heavy beers occupying the shelf. It is delicious, but had many scratching their head as to how or why this caught on in such a way.
Lagunitas Brewing – Lagunitas continued doing their thing, which consists of delicious hoppy ales and marching to the beat of their own drum. They came up with a beer in the same vein as Stone Enjoy By IPA, called Born Yesterday, in which they wet hopped a beer, put it on the truck for next day delivery. The results were amazing, and beat my own expectations.
Mainstream Craft Beer Coverage – Now that craft beer is this cool, accepted part of our current culture, mainstream media has picked up and begun covering craft beer. In house and outsourced craft beer press relations go bonkers when Esquire, GQ, and USA Today mention their breweries brand, and rightfully so. Even online publications that don’t really care that much about beer can’t help themselves from making a top five list about the buzz-worthy beers and beer drinking destinations.
Prairie Brewing – Prairie is still wowing locals and enthusiasts around the country. They have a nice balance of farmhouse ales, “adjunct stouts” and marketing that makes you want to purchase and drink their beers. 2014 saw much more BOMB! on the market, sans the waxing. While we never got official word from Prairie on the wax situation, we’ve heard quality was put over aesthetics, and if true, I say that’s a mighty fine choice.
Russian River Brewing – The demand for Russian River is as strong as it ever was, if not stronger. Everyday, a new young adult turns 21, does some Googling, and goes right after Pliny The Elder. We saw first hand at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across American festival, while there were nearly a hundred breweries in attendance, the only booth that had a line was Russian River. They made headlines this summer by announcing that they would be borrowing brewhouse space from Firestone Walker while remodeling their Santa Rosa brewhouse. They were quick to point out the remodeling didn’t insinuate expansion or increase in output.
Terrapin Beer Co. – Terrapin Beer has been making some pretty fun beers for a while now, but entered into the fancier genre this year with the limited edition, waxed bottle format. They started the year off with a Cinnamon Roll variant of Wake n Bake, made a Pumpkin Pie Imperial Porter and finished off the year with a French Toast variant of Wake n Bake. This put them in new light with those who like to trade, collect and pop fancy bottles on special occasions.
Westbrook Brewing – Westbrook is a fairly new brewery, and considered an Internet/Trade Darling. They upped the production on their Mexican Cake, and kept it rare with the barrel aged variants, causing a frenzy on the trade block. While I can’t give them 100% credit for the Gose fad, from travels on social media, they have the most popular Gose product on the market.