Brewing Up a Biz: Brew-U
HOW EXCITING! Here I am, essentially doing my first “remote” blog (or is that technically an “on location”?)! I’m currently in Chicago, about half way through the “Start Your Own Brewery” course at the Siebel Institute. I had my third blog installment virtually complete, about to start talking about my past brewing education decisions, but I figured that could handle being back-burnered a bit, favouring instead to discuss being on the road for the biz.
This is my second trip here to Siebel, and I’m finding (as I did on previous Concise Brewing Tech course — more on that next week) the education both inspiring and extremely applicable. With the likes of Ray Daniels, Randy Mosher, and John Moffatt as presenters, I can’t complain about the lack of relevance to the industry. These guys helped define the craft brewing industry.
On a tangent note, I am, at this moment, being inspired by the top half of a 650ml Imperial Gemini Blended Unfiltered Ale by the Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York. The reason I bought this particular bottle (aside from the reflective green background and space man on the bottle)? The degree of detailed information provided on the label! 10.5abv. 22° Plato. Malted white wheat. Cara-pils malt. Red wheat. Kettle hops: Columbus, Chinook, and Cascade. Aroma hops: Amarillo. Hop back: Styrian Golding. Dry hops: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus. Virtually the temp and and time of boil is all that is missing! In my opinion, this shows an attention to detail that respects the consumer. I appreciate that.
As a Canadian, it almost chokes me to say this, but the US in general (and these days, Chicago specifically) really has it all over us when it comes to beer. Go ahead, start typing up your hate mail now. I can take it. The quality here is outstanding, not to mention the creativity (in both brewing style and marketing). The selection is out of this world (not just the space man on the bottle; that reference was purely coincidental). Not to take anything away from some of the amazing breweries we have up north (several Quebecois, BC, and Ontario breweries are coming to mind). But a trip through the aisles of any number of specialty “warehouses” (community liquour stores are more like a “Home Depot of spirits and brews” down here) is enough to silence any die-hard objectors of this view. There is swill and there is quality, but there certainly is choice. And that, in my opinion, is a driving element of the craft segment. It’s what scares the pants off of the macros.
The nice thing is it’s a collaborative business. As a relatively new micro owner/presenter stated today in class, “I’m not competing against the micro across town. I’m competing against _____-________” (insert favourite conglomerate macro name here). And I really believe that this outlook transits the border. Great beer, techniques, and appreciation don’t need a passport. I don’t feel a “north and south” or an “us vs. them” division (as in hockey, which, incidentally, we will always win hands down) in regards to craft brewing. It’s simply an upper-case “US.”
Okay, enough touchy-feely. The bottom half of the pint of Gemini is calling my name…
~ Rod Daigle, Triple Island Brewing Company