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Fining/Filtration – Hands On, or Hands Off?

When it comes to fining and filtration there are as many options as there are opinions. Clarity vs. Natural, Shelf Stability vs. Fresh, Tradition vs. Modern. In both the wine world and the beer industry – this is a debate almost as old as the craft.

In Australia, the ‘fight’ over whether to fine and filter wines is heating up. This article in WineTitles Media gives a great overview discussion about the pros and cons each side sees to their argument.

My 2-cents on the subject comes down to a tradition-based approach (especially coming from the beer industry) that certain long-time ingredients for fining are ok to use, especially if they are true to style from a heritage perspective. In the brewery my family and I ran for a number of years, we focused on the British-styles of beer. In that tradition the old-school ingredient for finings and yeast control was/is isinglass (or fish guts – the swim bladders specifically). This element helped to settle yeast still in the beer column, and provided a clarity element without having to run the beer through any filters – which I think strip out too many flavor elements, especially ones having to do with hops and their oils. 

Other newer breweries would opt in favor for more modern additions (like Clarity Ferm and the like) which brings a laboratory enzyme element to the fining party. Those beers had a similar look and feel to ours, but – call me old-fashioned – I liked the traditional more so than the modern. In any case, check out the article to give you more of a feel for what the arguments really are.


Podcast Episode #02 – Cider Apples

In this episode of the BoozeWerks Podcast, Devin Mills talks about cider apples and how you go about making hard cider.

Episode Highlights:
  • Common Fermentation Problems
  • Types of Apples
    • Sharp, Bittersharp, Bittersweet, Sweet
    • Acidity
    • Sweetness
  • Concentrate vs. Crushed
  • How to Crush
    • Mill Types
    • Pressing
    • Treatment for Wild Yeasts
  • Best Cider Fermentations

UK Bars/Pubs Face New Music Fees

As the music industry still tries to figure out how to survive in the new digital age, one place they keep dipping back into is the Bar/Club scene. Though you might be thinking “This is a craft alcohol blog! Why do we care?” – because when you run a tasting room or taproom you fall under the same rules for live music and any audio you might have playing in the space.

In the UK, according to this story in Drinks Business, the bars, pubs, and clubs are facing a fairly major increase in the licensing fees they have to pay to continue to have live & recorded music played in the establishments. Upwards of almost 130% increase in fees! This is a trend we’ve seen somewhat here in the US as well, but not to that level – at least not yet. This is something to keep an eye on as you make plans for your taproom/tasting room and what the extra costs might be. (Tip: Remember that the fee the charge you is based on seats/capacity in the room, and not how many actual people are there or not!)

If you need to look up more info, here in the US you’ll want to checkout the 3 major music licensing companies: ASCAP, BMI, & SESAC. These groups do control some international areas too, but you’ll have to check with your particular country’s rules to know if there are others as well.


Heritage Mexican Wine?

This story out of the Dallas Morning News in Texas, has us a bit curious to try now new wines coming out of northern Mexico (up near the California border)! It seems like a family in Baja are rescuing a long forgotten vineyard and starting to produce some spectacular Mexican wine (under the label name Bichi) – but they have no idea what the grape varietals are!

The vineyard looks to be over 70 years old, with no records of what was planted and where the grape stock came from. Irregardless, the family is reportedly putting out some amazing products – something we’ll have to keep an eye out for next time we’re in Southern California! Heritage Mexican wine – very cool.


Millennials and the Tasting Room Model

Is your Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) model ready to change with the up-and-coming generation of millennials and their tastes? This story from Wine-Searcher has some nice insights as to why winery tasting room visits in Napa & Sonoma have been trending downwards in recent years. And how California wineries are now watching and taking note as tasting room visits in other locations like Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York and others are seeing double-digit growth!

These tasting room visits and DtC programs (like wine clubs and such) are especially important for small- to mid-sized wineries (and even the trend in Urban-wineries), as their DtC revenue & margins are an important part of their business model – even upwards of +75% of their total sales. In the story, for example, one of the wineries in the Willamette Valley area shared the stat that their DtC business-model accounts for only 30% of their total revenue, but that amount was almost 50% of their actual margins/profits!

Bringing in programs like educational sessions, yoga outings, dinner food/wine pairing events and more have been driving the taproom visits & growth in other parts of the country – so much so that the older, traditional wineries in California are starting to take notice. The younger Millennial generation is looking for something different from what their parents and grandparents had or experienced – so you should keep that in mind as you move forward on your winery project or as you look for ideas as to how grow your current business model!