Hop Thirst’s stand on Big Beer.

@hopthirst on Instagram is one of my favorite accounts to follow, not only for the amazing floating beer pictures but also for his stance against “fake craft beer” and came up with this image after being sent a beer from a brewery owned by Ab in Bev. I also got fooled with the beer and didn’t know better until after I posted it. That really opened my eyes and hardened my stance Ive taken against big beer. Give him a follow!

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Article by @hopthirst –

As Thanksgiving approaches, the craft beer community is abuzz. Stout Season is upon us, after all, and with it, Black Friday releases; the most noteworthy of which is Goose Island’s annual Bourbon Country Brand Stout (BCBS) and its variants.

There’s conflict here, because the beer itself is (I will admit) phenomenal, but its origins are highly problematic. It’s combination of smooth, rich chocolatey flavor and dense syrupy texture set it apart from many other barrel-aged stouts, in addition to it’s relatively friendly price tag compared to similar quality BA stouts on the market.

The source of the conflict comes from the fact that Goose Island Beer Co is owned by Anheuser-Busch/InBev, (ABInBev), a massive mega corporation which owns Goose Island Beer Company, Blue Point Brewing, Shock Top Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Devil’s Backbone Brewing, Wicked Weed, and many others. As a gigantic business entity, this allows ABInbev to wield enormous power – their distribution networks are far-reaching, prices more competitive than local breweries, and quality is maintained at a high standard.

Defenders of Big Beer (AB Inbev, SAB Miller/Coors, Constellation, Florida Ice & Farm Co.) insist that the most important thing is that the quality of the beers remains high. That is, it doesn’t matter if Budweiser owns Wicked Weed Brewing, so long as they continue to produce world-class sour beer. And hey, if they can distribute more widely, even better! Everybody wins, right?

Unfortunately, no.

In reality, the more breweries Big Beer snaps up, the more beers on the shelf are controlled by one giant mega-brewery. As a result, choice is replaced by the illusion of choice. Think, all the burger joints in your town have been bought up by McDonald’s, but been allowed to retain their name and branding, just the profits are now going into the corporate coffers, and creativity/innovation/menu changes all need to be approved by corporate. Further, now that McDonald’s owns all the restaurants in town, all the farmers are suddenly competing to sell to the same client, rather than dozens of different clients. This drives the price of beef down sharply, and benefits the corporation, but not the farmer, and certainly not the few stalwart holdout burger restaurants in town who refused to be bought out.

In the craft beer community, we’re talking about the market for malted barley and hop varietals. After AB InBev acquired SAB Miller last year, they immediately also acquired rights to first pick from the South African hop harvest, shutting out other craft breweries. See what’s happened? Even though these hops are going to subsidiary breweries like Wicked Weed, Elysian, and Goose Island, these breweries have all not only jumped to the front of the line to receive first pick for the best ingredients for their beer, but they’re also getting a discount as compared to an actual, local, community based brewer.

So how does this impact me, as a consumer? Sounds like I can get better, cheaper beer if I stick with the Big Beer brands! Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. If you continue supporting Big Beer with your purchases, you’re contributing to their ongoing expansion and takeover of the industry as a whole. The larger and richer they become, the more influence they have over hop and grain markets, and the more rigorous their lobbying attempts in congress will become in attempt to suppress the ability of smaller breweries to get started in the first place.

As true independent craft breweries are choked out of the marketplace, Big Beer consolidates power, and then as any large, multi-national business does, they make their product more and more generic, aimed at a broader and broader consumer base. As Big Beer gains control, the beers on the shelf in your local supermarket change to Ab/Inbev beers. Next time you visit the surpermarket, take note of how many beers on the shelf are owned by Budweiser. likely, it’s close to 50%.

Independent Craft breweries are essential in resisting this phenomenon. Beers like BCBS only exist because of the thriving craft beer community and Big Beer’s desire to capture its attention and dollars. But for every palatable beer that AB InBev produces, there are countless more from the thousands and thousands of local, community-based craft breweries across the country and across the globe, which work tirelessly to produce wonderful, unique beers full of character, creativity, and local flair. This year, let’s vote with our wallets to keep it that way. Skip the Big Beer offerings, and choose local, independent craft beer.

 

Craft Beer Joe and why he wont be buying Bourbon County Brand Stouts.

Why I Won’t Be Standing In Line For Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Next Week

For years, craft beer fans have looked forward to Black Friday . . . but it has nothing to do with cheap TVs or getting the “must-have” toy of the year.

Nope, they were excited to get their hands on Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout.

For those that don’t know, this is a high alcohol stout that’s been aged in bourbon barrels. It is a limited release beer that in in such demand that people line up to get it. It’s released the day after Thanksgiving each year.

And while I am a huge craft beer fan, I won’t be lining up to get Goose Island’s most wanted brew. That’s because I believe that Goose Island is preventing real choice in the beer market.

Here’s why:

Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 2011. This purchase started a series of independent breweries being bought by large corporate breweries.

While it seemed like “normal” business at the time, what we’ve come to see is acquisitions like this are detrimental to the craft beer industry. Large breweries like Anheuser-Busch have had their marketshare threatened by the increase in craft beer popularity. So to thwart this, they started buying craft breweries.

Once purchased, the small brewery’s products are scaled and mass produced. Then they use their influence and reach to put that brewery on retail shelves across the nation.

While this sounds great from their perspective, the reality is retail space is limited. When Anheuser-Busch increases the number of brands they own on grocery store shelves, it limits the room for other brands. That means your local and regional breweries have less space for their beer.

And when it’s time for someone to get forced out, it won’t be the 800 lb gorilla (aka big beer brands).

This is a huge deal; most of the beer purchased in America is at grocery stores. So if the majority of the beer offered there is owned by “big beer” then that is what the average consumer will buy.

And most won’t even know they are buying beer from a large corporation because the branding looks like it’s craft; because it once was. But most wouldn’t care about who owns it. They just want to drink beer.

So what does this have to do with Bourbon County Brand Stout?

I do my best to support local craft beer first. If I drink craft beer from outside my area, I try to ensure it’s from an independently owned brewery.

I avoid brands owned by corporate beer because buying their beer will only increase their ability to restrict options in the future. They now have a handful of different brands that appear to be from different breweries but they own all of it. It’s great marketing but I don’t think it’s good for the consumer.

Their goal is to monopolize the craft beer shelf space and I’m not ok with that. I want real choice because that is what drives competition and innovation.

We’ve gone decades with the same light beer options; craft beer is changing that but only if we support those that are truly driving new styles into the market.

Want to know who own’s who? Check out this list.

 

You can find more great articles and craft beer reviews from Craft Beer Joe at

Craft Beer Joe

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Anti Big Beer.

This year during Black Friday I will be at home relaxing, all while a large portion of the Craft Beer community is out hunting for Bourbon County. Before anyone can point it out, yes, I’ve stood in line for BCS and yes I’ve posted pictures on social media of BCS bottles. I have also decided to leave them up to be real and not try and cover up anything.

Today marks year 2 of boycotting Bourbon County and the big beer products. Now to go back a bit, the first time I ever stood in line for beer was for a BCS release. I remember thinking how fun it was, hanging out and talking with other people that loved beer and that BCS tasted amazing. I’m not knocking the fact that BCS isn’t a delicious beer because it is, Vanilla Rye is one of the best vanilla stouts around. Even though I started taking a stand and not supporting big beer with my wallet,  VR was a hard one to let go. I admit when it dropped again a few months back I fought an inner battle about buying it. Somehow I convinced myself that if I bought as much VR as I could find, I could in turn, trade it for all the Lambic that I wanted. ( I know the life of a beer trader ) That is what I ended up doing, telling myself  “well you are not drinking it, so that’s not really supporting big beer” looking back I can see how absolutely absurd that train of thinking was.

So what I am trying to say is, I am taking a stand against big beer. I am not perfect and I’ve slipped up and got caught in the hype of certain beers. I have been fooled and sent beer from fake craft companies that I failed to research before posting about it. I can say I am learning, I am doing my research,  and I am not supporting it with my wallet.

The paragraph below from Chris Herron CEO and Co-founder of Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in Athens, Georgia really sums up my reasoning. The full article can be found on Good Beer Hunitng it’s a really great read and there are a ton of other stories & podcast that I fully recommend getting into on the Good Beer Hunting site.

“By purchasing regional craft breweries, squeezing their distributors on margins for those brands, reducing raw materials costs due to buying power, and centralizing business functions (i.e. reducing overhead, employees), AB InBev can influence a reduction in the price-to-consumers of that craft brewery’s beer, while increasing, or at a minimum holding, their margins. This downward pricing pressure accomplishes three main things: 

  1. It better aligns AB InBev’s “High End” craft brands’ price-to-consumer with the brands’ new brand equity (which got diminished when they bought the brewery), and
     
  2. It forces other craft brands to consider lowering their prices, and
     
  3. Most important of all, it shrinks the price gap between craft beer and their legacy “premium” brands, which over time will psychologically influence consumers to see those “premium” brands, as more in line with “good craft beer.”

 

I will be posting a few more articles written by authors that have been taking a stand against big beer and showing their view points. If you would like to have a piece put up on the Beer Zombies blog in support of or against big beer, in the craft beer industry please email me beerzombies1@hotmail.com. I always like to see both sides, so don’t hesitate if you do not agree to email me your thoughts.

Cheers, – Beer Zombies

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Beer and art drive Chris Jacobs’ career

Vegas Voices is a weekly question-and-answer series featuring notable Las Vegans.

Chris Jacobs is a longtime local bartender and creator of the Beer Zombies blog, which has reviews of beers (he rated Tombstone IPA from Tombstone Brewing of Arizona 4½ out of 5 zombie heads), a list of beers he’s trying to find, news from the craft-beer world and links to informational material such as The Roaming Pint’s Craft Beer Lovers’ Gift Guide.

Jacobs also has a line of Beer Zombies merchandise, including beard oil, glassware and T-shirts, and a Go Keg Flex growler he took on a hike to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

He also incorporates the Beer Zombies logo into his art, which includes murals in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

As for the name, it sort of evolved. “I’m a huge zombies fan, growing up in the genre of ’80s and ’90s B movies,” Jacobs said. When he started doing large-scale murals, he used the name We Are Zombies; Beer Zombies grew out of that.

A native of Redding, California, he moved to Las Vegas in the mid-’90s and has been a bartender at Blue Ribbon Sushi at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas since the resort opened in late 2010.

Review-Journal: How did you get interested in craft beer?

Chris Jacobs: I grew up in Northern California about 45 minutes away from the Sierra Nevada brewery, so a lot of industry and support and our local economy was just based on people who worked there. It’s something that’s been in my life for a long time.

RJ: What is the current state of the craft-beer scene in Las Vegas?

Jacobs: I’ve lived here since ’95 and for a long time it was a no-man’s land as far as that was concerned. The last few years we’re in this really exciting time, with different styles, and out-of-state breweries wanting to be here. Next month will be 20 years behind the bar for me. For the first 15 years, there weren’t craft-beer options. People who have a passion are getting to enjoy what other parts of the United States have for a long time.

RJ: How do you think Beer Zombies might further that?

Jacobs: I really try to use it as a catalyst to bring together people within the beer community. Vegas, for being 2 million people, is kind of spread out and small-townish. There wasn’t anybody who was writing about beer and seeking out beer and trying to do festivals. That’s my contribution to the beer scene.

RJ: What sort of large-scale art projects have you done?

Jacobs: I just came back from Honolulu, at Ravish, which used to be Morimoto. Before that, I was in San Francisco for a Pizza Rock. In Las Vegas I’ve done Pizza Rock Green Valley Ranch, Pizza Rock downtown, Banger Brewing and Park on Fremont. I actually got to do a live art piece at Alesmith in San Diego. They wanted me to be part of the community that was going on while people were drinking. It was fun, very interactive. I started when they opened and worked throughout the day.

RJ: Tell us about your beer glassware, etc.

Jacobs: I have merch, which is glassware, T-shirts, hats, bottle openers — all craft-beer oriented with the Beer Zombies logo on it (and available at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits at 9915 S. Eastern Ave., Top Shelf Wine & Spirits at 6415 S. Fort Apache Road and Liquor Lineup, 6462 Losee Road, North Las Vegas).

RJ: What do you have in mind for the future?

Jacobs: Right now I have a big festival coming up, which is downtown at Atomic Feb. 18. At that festival I’ll have two Beer Zombies collaboration beers that we’re working on (with Beer Zombies branding, made in cooperation with King’s Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Brujos Brewing in Whittier, California). I feel like Vegas-based people like to see you prove yourself. My next step, hopefully, is to do a really cool collaboration with a local brewery.

 

Getting to know Chris Jacobs

Review-Journal: Place you always take visitors?

Chris Jacobs: Downtown Las Vegas

R-J: Favorite indulgence?

Jacobs: Probably doughnuts; doughnuts and beer are my passion and my weakness. I’m a big fan of Donut Bar right now.

R-J: Pets or favorite animals?

Jacobs: No pets. I’m a pretty big lover of large animals like rhinoceroses and elephants and actually use them a lot in my artwork.

R-J: Currently obsessed with?

Jacobs: Beer. That’s kind of what I do with life.