AB InBev on the Death of Craft Beer

AB-InBev Gives Craft Beer a “Couple Years”

AB-InBev has been getting some heat based on a video the released showing members of The High End talking about the death of craft beer coming within “a couple years time.” I certainly have some issues with the video and how the idea presented,  but that point isn’t one of them. The term craft beer might be dead in a few years. That could be for the best, and it could really hurt AB-InBev.

6_pack brewers association independent craft beer sealGoodbye Craft, Hello Independent

Enthusiasts of the craft beer industry have likely seen the branding around the Brewers Association’s latest campaign. The newest leg, “Seek the Seal,” implores beer drinkers to be on the look out for their Independent Craft Brewer Seal the next time that they’re out at a brewery, bar, or beer store. This seal denotes that a product is made by an independently owned brewer that follows the BA’s definition of a craft brewer, though that subject is getting murkier as the industry develops. Yes, the seal still features the term “craft” that the Brewers Association has been using to define itself for years, but the focus is now on that first term, independent.

The BA’s definition of what constitutes a craft brewery has largely been supported by the industry of small brewers, but that’s predominantly from an industry professional position. To the average consumer, craft beer is just high-quality beer, which can be seen as anything aside from the American macro lagers that just about everyone is familiar with.

The issue with craft beer is not the industry or the quality of the product for the BA, it is the term craft. Craft is too generic for where they see their mission statement pointing them. AB-InBev can and does make full flavored beer that some people really enjoy and see as high quality. They see it as craft. The BA’s specific definition does nothing for the average person grabbing a 6-pack on their way to a friends house to denote where they want consumers to look.

brewbound nielsen craft beer survey independent The Value of Independence

It’s not just the BA or the brewers that wants this clarity. In May of 2017, Brewbound and Nielsen collaborated on a survey of beer drinkers about what influenced their purchasing decisions. 81% of the 2,000 beer drinkers surveyed said that the terms “independent or independently owned” resonated with them and it was determined to be the most positively influential descriptor on the survey. Terms also included words like “sour” and “hazy” both of which negatively influenced purchasing decisions in 2017. Oh, how our tastes and trends have changed.

Americans like supporting others on their way to the “American dream,” especially if that dream involves making beer! When the average consumer sees a new IPA in the beer aisle with a clever name  and a list of hops used, most assume they’re supporting a local, small business when they buy it. The BA wants to make it absolutely clear to people the difference between an independent craft beer, and what the industry has labelled as “crafty” beer, breweries that want to be capitalize on the popularity of local brewers but are owned by large scale macro-breweries.

Whether Elysian, Ballast Point, or Blue Point are some of your favorite breweries out there or not isn’t the point. The Brewers Association is trying to make it as clear as possible whether your next beer purchase is supporting a locally owned craft brewer, or one of the largest beer companies in the world. It’s not a statement about the quality of their beer, it’s about the story behind it.

Newest Article – The Birth of Brut IPA

brut ipa craftbeer.com article featureNew CraftBeer.com Article on the Brut IPA

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Sturdavant of Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Fransisco about the development of his own beer style that has recently been gaining traction on the world beer scene for CraftBeer.com.

Brut IPA is an emerging beer style developed by Kim that focuses on ultra dry and easy drinking American IPAs that feature fruit forward hops. For more info about the style, how it’s made, and what it feels like to be solely responsible for a brand new style of beer, you can check out the full story of the Brut IPA on CraftBeer.com.

The Witcher 3’s Tribute to Paul Walker

 

paul walker fast and furious gif
Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Illegal Street Racing as Geralt

I’m finally finishing up The Witcher 3, year too late I know, and just participated in an illegal street race that is a subtle nod to the late and great Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious series.

It’s well documented that there is an achievement titled “Fast and Furious” that players can earn by winning all of the horse races throughout the game, but I couldn’t find any record of this other reference to the series, and Paul Walker specifically.

witcher 3 palio paul walker race
Image Courtesy of CP Projekt Red

A Race for Cash, and Respect

The race I’m referring too takes place as part of “The Great Erasmus Vegelbud Memorial Derby” side quest. After you beat every other contestant in the derby, you are crowned champion and subsequently approached my one of Cleaver’s henchman, Cleaver is a dwarf crime boss in the city of Novigrad. Meeting with Cleaver results in him inviting you to compete in an underground and illegal street race through the city of Novigrad. There’s a vague reference here to Fast and Furious being that’s  it’s an “illegal street race” in a fantasy setting, which seems intentional, but it is also still part of the previously mentioned “Memorial” side quest and the race is known as the Palio for no discernable reason. Still pretty thin I know, I didn’t even make the connection yet, I had to replay the section after the race.

The King of Beggars isn’t exactly one of the scantily clad women that kicks off almost every race in Fast and Furious movies, but the line about respect is an obvious allusion to the scene in the original Fast and the Furious movie where Paul Walker’s character makes himself know the street racing kingpin, Dominic Toretto.

“I lose, winner takes my car, clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect… To some people that’s more important.”

The Palio is introduced as, “above all, a race of honor,” where, “the winner doesn’t  just win a reward, he earns our respect as well.” Taken altogether, this is a wonderful tribute to the late Paul Walker that seems to have been completely overlooked by most fans. Given that I’m a huge fan of the Fast and Furious and now the Witcher games, it was still pretty subtle overall.

But that’s not all! The icing on the cake is that after the races conclusion, there’s a humorous nod to the police chase following the race in the movie, except it’s a dwarf shouting, “temple guard, scatter,” rather than a street racer yelling, “we’ve got cops, cops, cops, go!” over a mic.

Someone at CD Projekt Red is obviously a fan alongside me, and that only makes me love the experience that is the Witcher 3 even more.

 

Microsoft at E3 and Beyond With Nintendo

Xbox-E3 2018 press conference briefingI’m Still Impressed by Microsoft at E3 2018

E3 is now long gone, it’s been weeks, an eternity in the games industry. Now, most fans are reflecting on the game announcements and release dates and biding their time. Somewhat strangely, I’m still lingering on Microsoft’s press conference. Especially since Nintendo and Microsoft released this:

Microsoft is trying to make the most of this flawed generation, but like the business veterans they are, they’re always focused on the long game. Teasing obvious new hardware and new studio acquisitions are significant, but what keeps me interested is the Xbox Game Pass. Even with how limited their first party offerings are, you get great value based on the $10/month price point. If I were any less into following the industry and the obscure games than I currently am, Game Pass would be my set it and forget it ticket to gaming.

I’m rarely playing the new hotness. I’m now getting around to The Witcher 3 and the years old Resident Evil 1 remake is up next. These are games that I picked out at least a year ago. The point here is that Game Pass’ aged inventory is almost a non-issue to me, and a ton of people like me. I would’ve been stoked when they announced the arrival of Fallout 4, I’m still excited to check out New Vegas after all.

Acquiring all of those new studios and committing their full effort to the Xbox platform is a big deal, but especially in regard to Xbox Game Pass. Playstation’s first party offerings are killing it, I still think about re-buying a PS4 to replay Bloodborne and God of War only makes it more tempting. Do I need to play through Bloodborne again? No. Is God of War worth a console purchase when I have a PC and a Switch already? Debatable. But they’re good enough to make you think about it. That is what every console maker wants and where Microsoft aims to be in the next few years with their new studios. Game Pass could make that come true with an outstanding value proposition.

Microsoft and Nintendo teaming up to promote Minecraft is crazy interesting. Yes, they’re partnering to capitalize on Playstation’s current bad press, but it’s still relatively unprecedented in the current landscape. Phil Spencer is regularly documented saying that he doesn’t care what device you play Minecraft on, he just cares that you play Minecraft. With Microsoft already teasing the next generation of hardware and the near inevitability of a sort of streaming option for Xbox Game Pass in the future, what’re the chances of me streaming Fallout 4 on Xbox Game Pass to my Nintendo Switch Pro in four years when I finally get around to playing it?

Crazier things have happened, maybe not in the games industry though. Let me know what you think of my farfetched ideas in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Update: Nintendo just announced a Minecraft edition New 2DS XL today! That has to be a good sign for third party relations.

Fieldwork Brewing Co. Stars Hollow Pale Ale Beer Review

fieldwork brewing co stars hollow pale ale beer reviewFieldwork Stars Hollow-Intro to Hazy IPAs

I’m still warming up to hazy, juicy IPAs. I liked them on occasion in Colorado, because they were more of an occasional occurrence. They’re everywhere in California. They’re hard to escape here, and that’s because they’re some of the most popular beers on the market. Given that I’m now working at Fieldwork Brewing Co. (Disclosure of somewhat-bias), I have to give them a chance. So far, Stars Hollow Pale Ale stands out from the crowd.

I’ve found that I’m still pretty burned out on hazy IPAs, they’re all just so much of everything I’m not exactly looking for when I want an IPA. Hazy pale ales are a bit more subtle. They may still look a bit like orange, or in this case pineapple, juice, but the juicy profile isn’t as in your face. There’s nuance in a 5.0% pale ale where a 7.5% IPA is more overwhelming.

People love drinking beer that could be a new form of alcoholic pineapple juice and hops, and I will never hold that against anyone. It’s not for me, at least not right now. Something a bit lighter on the palate, but still with some serious late stage hopping, is more my speed. The hop selection here, amarillo and blanc, aren’t my favorites, but they play nicely together here. Light pineapple and grapefruit peel make sure the beer is refreshing, but the more subtle malt bill makes sure they don’t overwhelm your senses.

Beer Review Overview

Appearance: Super hazy, golden straw colored pale ale. Pure eggshell white head with small bubbles that don’t last.

Aroma: Light pineapple and floral honey

Taste: A bit of pineapple without the candy sweetness. Almost like a stealth pineapple extract blended with a King’s Hawaiian sweet bread malt character. Subtle grapefruit rind and herbal lemongrass start the bitter finish that ends with a vegetal bitterness that lingers on the palate and lets you know you’re still drinking a heavily hopped American pale ale.

Mouthfeel: Light and smooth body with minimal carbonation that just adds a zing to the perimeter of your tongue when combined with the mild bitterness.

Overall: A refreshing and flavorful American pale ale with a new age hazy IPA spin on it. Not as crisp as I prefer my lawn games beer to be, but that’s not what they were going for. The bitterness adds to the crisp refreshing character to the pale ale without the carbonation interfering with the hops. I’m sure that any hazy IPA enthusiast would love a glass of this to go with their cup-holder equipped lawnmower on a sunny, California afternoon. Or morning, I don’t judge.

Writing in my Journal, Writing in General

journal writing work ethicWrite More, Do More

I was just writing a quick page in my journal, I’m trying to write at least a page in there each day to build the habit and just get random ideas on paper. I finished the page by saying maybe I’ll try my hand at some video editing and production, but the writing with help with that planning, so I should write first and make some video if I get inspired. I followed that up with a statement up the side of the page, inspiration is work ethic. It stuck out to me. I wrote it over. I’m still thinking about it. Continue reading “Writing in my Journal, Writing in General”

Stone Brewing Sues MillerCoors

The “Stone” Branding Has Gone Too Far

Greg Koch announced earlier this week that Stone Brewing has issued a lawsuit against MillerCoors over their packaging and branding efforts for the Keystone Light brand of beer. Stone is asserting that Keystone is willfully confusing customers with the prominence of the word “Stone” on the cans, as “Key” is on a different line in smaller text. I remember the campaign that seemed to play a major role in the rebranding, starring none other than Keith Stone. The ever-cool everyman was designed to be a casually , mustachioed man who was cool enough to show up at any college and be the life of the party. Continue reading “Stone Brewing Sues MillerCoors”