Stone Brewing Sells Berlin Brewery

Greg Koch, founder of Stone Brewing, is a little heart-broken over the sale of the ‘Stone Brewing Berlin’ facility – but he knows it’ll be taken care of in new hands: Scotland’s Brewdog hands!

In this farewell letter/blog on Stone’s website, Greg goes into some detail about what happened, how bureaucracy played a role in the need to sell, and how glad he is that friends are taking it over. The Berlin project was announced in 2014, and has since been a catalyst for craft beer growth in the German capital city.

Stone Brewing will continue to distribute to Europe, and the facility there in Berlin will change hands beginning in May. Greg admits that the Berlin project may have been a bite that was a bit more than they could chew!


UK Keeps Rum Flowing

With the UK continuing to try to figure out its upcoming ‘Brexit’ deal with the European Union, other post-Brexit deals are already being agreed upon & signed. And this latest deal with Caribbean rum has us in good spirits!

According to this story in Drinks Business, the Rum will continue to flow into the UK from the Caribbean. A partnership agreement was put into place last Friday (22nd of March):

There will be no tariffs placed on all goods imported into the UK from those states [Barbados, Belize, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, The Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines] that have signed the deal. Caribbean states will also continue to gradually cut import tariffs on most of the region’s imports from the UK.

For the UK citizens who have a taste for Rum (as well as bananas, sugar cane, etc.) this means they will still have the ability to acquire those goods without too much hassle as the rest of the Brexit deal continues on and the international trade re-organization figures itself out. Hopefully this also helps to strengthen the job markets and industry in the Caribbean as the demand for product grows.

Let the [legal] rum running continue!


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.


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.