Friday, September 25, 2009

Ending Slavery

From an Advertising Age article on the National Beer Wholesaler's Association Show (read: beer distributors):

The convention's liveliest speech came from Boston Beer CEO Jim Koch, who employed the frankness of, as he described himself, a public company CEO "who owns all the voting shares and can say what I want." Mr. Koch's talk covered a range of industry topics. To point out how profitable the U.S. beer market is, he pointed to the $2 billion in cost cuts currently being inflicted upon A-B. "You can take $2 billion out of what everyone thought was a well-managed company," he said. "Imagine being able to piss away $1 million an hour and still being able to get what you need." He also implored wholesalers to abandon strict franchise agreements that make it difficult for small brewers to choose who distributes their beer, not a popular point in a room full of wholesalers. "I believe in the 21st amendment [abolishing prohibition], but I also believe in the 13th amendment [abolishing slavery]," he said.

On another note, as an addendum to my post on fresh hop ales, I found myself at the Rock Bottom recently and they have, on tap, a delightful wrinkle: a fresh hop lager. Very tasty and exceptionally quaffable.

And yes, this is a post of a man with no real time to blog - sorry. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beeronomics & Bikeonomics: The Greatest Thing Ever

Via John Foyston, the greatest thing ever:

That would be Hopworks's Christian Ettinger on the new HUB BarBike.

You got to love it, but I would not want to try and pedal that thing up Powell when full.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hoppin' It Up in Hood River

I got a note from the good folks at the Hood River Chamber that the Hood River Hops Fest has a website with loads of information. From the website:

Featured breweries again will include Gorge favorites such as Double Mountain Brewery, Full Sail Brewing, Big Horse, Elliot Glacier, Walking Man and Mt. Hood Brewing.
Oh yum. Plus, if you go, you'll also be able to enjoy the delights that await you at the Double Mountain Taproom and the Full Sail Pub if you want some more Killer Green or Lupulin, are ready for a different variety of excellent beer or are just ready to sit and enjoy some good eats - you can't go wrong either place.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hop Shortage Update

In 2007 the worldwide hop shortage loomed as a potential disaster for breweries. Fortunately, those crafty craft brewers seemed to have weathered the shortage with aplomb. And now some good news: 2009 was apparently a bumper year for worldwide hop production. Why? Good weather and increased acreage that is a result of the recent high hop prices (hooray for markets!).

Expensive hops are partly to blame for increased beer prices. With a bumper crop, hops prices should return to something close to pre panic levels suggesting that we should see beer prices come down as well. However, economists have found that in many markets producers are quick to increase price when costs increase but slow to decrease prices when costs come back down - the classic example being retail gasoline and crude oil prices.

So, brewers, distributors and retailers: how are you going to respond?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Going Local and Staying Connected

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a bit skeptical of the net economic benefits to 'going local,' but this is often confused with lack of support. On the contrary, I am a supporter of the local economy, I just think claims about the economic benefit tend to be grossly over-inflated. But, though overall monetary benefits are likely small (and may even be negative), I support the local economy because I am a big believer in the public goods aspect of community itself. I believe that an inter-connected and supportive community reaps huge non-market benefits to all its members. I am also enough of a naturalist (though usually of the economic kind) to relish the ability to connect to the earth and its bounty as directly as possible.

This is why I rejoice in living in Oregon when the hop harvest time arrives. And it has arrived! What this means to you, dear closet economist and beer lover, is an astounding array of fresh, or 'wet' hop beers on offer throughout the state. Now, some purists decry the use of fresh hops as a gimmick that produces mediocre beer as the essence of wet hops are different and much more unpredictable than their dried counterparts. Bah! To me fresh hop ales give me a connection to the land from whose bounty beer is made that is unattainable in regular beers. I love those too, but to be able to taste the raw hop essence that Oregon soil has spawned is a delightful fall treat.

And each year the treats become more numerous. Here is just a sampler of what you can find this year:

John Foyston (who is responsible for these wonderful pictures - I stole them wantonly) is all over the latest Full Sail Lupulin offerings. Normally I save Beeronomics Posts until Friday, but am posting this early so that you know to get yourself to the Pilsner Room tonight to savor John Harris's latest fresh hop magic. Not to be missed (though you will have the opportunity to try them for a while at the pub). John is arguably the grand master of the fresh hop ale (arguably the grand master of northwest brewing, for that matter), and his 2007 Lupulin won Beervana's coveted Satori Award.

[Grower Doug Weathers and brewmaster John Harris at Sodbuster Farm in late August. Credit: John Foyston]

Eugene City Brewery, an affiliate of the Rogue empire, goes one better in the freshness quotient: Rogue grows their own hops and ECB managed to get their hops into the kettle just one hour and 37 minutes after the harvesting from Rogue's hop farm in Independence. Talk about fresh. The first taste is ALSO tonight so if you are in Eugene you can drown your sorrows about having a football team that is all flash and no substance in fresh hop beer! (Okay, that was a gratuitous and uncalled for jab - but it's all right, you can just come on up a bit north if you want to see how a real college team plays football).

Bill at It's Pub Night reports on a first taste of Deschutes' King Cone Ale which is currently pouring at the Portland pub.

The Oregon Brewers Guild has also announced the fresh hop "tastival" schedule: October 3 - Hood River Hops, October 10 - Oaks Park, Portland, October 17 - TBD, Eugene. Oh happy day! I live just a hop skip and jump from Oaks Park, so hopefully I can manage to swing by...

And finally, what hands down is the coolest fresh hop happening of them all (even if it doesn't necessarily yield the 'best' beer of the bunch): Angelo of Brewpublic reports on The Lucky Lab's all-comers hop harvest ... The Mutt is a-brewin'!

And who could resist stealing Angelo's wonderful photograph of this guy. I wonder who he is?...