Yesterday, I was alerted via social media that former high school classmate was looking for help. I clicked on the link and was compelled to see what I could do.
Last May, Stacie Parker Fretz lost her husband, Gregory Fretz, to throat cancer. Greg had been the craft beer industry since 1994 working for Pyramid and Deschutes Brewing. In 2011 he realized his dream of owning his own brewery when he co-found Phoenix Ale Brewery with George Hancock, former chairman of Pyramid Brewing in Seattle.
Sadly, when Greg died there was no life insurance and a mountain of medical bills. This has forced Stacie to file for bankruptcy in attempt start over. Now, Stacie is in jeopardy of losing her portion of the brewery, and is looking for help to keep “Fretzy” in the family.
Here is what I received from Stacie:
“Basically, it is a very small portion of the brewery that I am trying to keep…Greg and his partner started the brewery while Greg was still working for Gary Fish, from Deschutes. So, he kept his full time career…while spending any spare time he had looking at property, going over business plans, and everything else that goes into starting a new brewery. The brewery… is still growing. So basically, my shares are really not worth anything at this point. I just want my kids to be able to have what was Greg’s passion someday. After all, our flagship beer is named “Fretzy” after him! I would hate to have to tell the kids that the brewery is gone as well… At any rate, I hate that I am being kicked while I am already down. It is humiliating enough to have to file bankruptcy, and now for them to take all that we have. There is no savings, no 401k, no life insurance…just a roof over my head, and my people… The local craft brewery people have been amazing throughout the past almost 15 months. I think beer people are just good people.”
I’ve never met Greg (that I know of) , have never been to Phoenix Ale Brewery, and I really didn’t know Stacie in high school. I just love craft beer, and I hate reading stories like this. Not to get too political here; but can’t we all agree that no one should have to file bankruptcy due to medical bills?
Let’s continue to show Stacie that craft beer people are amazing. Check out her campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/cmxurw and help keep “Fretzy” in the family.
P.S. Thanks to Beer PHXation Blog for additional information to help with this post.
A few weeks ago, my Twitter feed was filled with re-tweets of USA Today’s article listing the 10 Best Craft Brew States. Many people were excited that their state made the list. I was happy that my home state, Washington, was number two, finally getting some national respect.
The problem with the article was that the list was solely based on the number of Craft Breweries per state. True that the number of craft breweries is a factor in determining the best craft beer states, but what about breweries per capita, craft beer consumption, history, and quality? It is a difficult assignment, but with some research and ground rules you could probably do a little bit better.
When articles like this are posted, I skip right to the comments to see the backlash. In this case, people from states that did not make the list chirped in to say why their state should be listed, how their state is the best and that the writer doesn’t know anything. The commentary got quite comical and a little mean. I loved the ones that said “…where is North Carolina?”, that had responses that said “north of South Carolina”.
I used to get riled up at lists like this too since I have a strong bias for the Pacific Northwest. Lucky for me, the PNW was at the forefront of the movement in the 80’s and I have not known a time when craft beer wasn’t available (At least for the 21 years I’ve been of drinking age). Call me provincial, but if Washington, Oregon, Seattle or Portland, are absent from a “Best Beer States/Cities” list, I discount it.
Lately I’ve had a change of tune. It’s just exciting to see how many states, cities, and regions are taking claim to the best craft beer. How awesome is it that that craft beer has spread across the country? People all over this great nation now have great local beer to drink, and they too are proud to support their breweries. It’s amazing! My motto is Traveling Globally, Drinking Locally. Visiting near and far away places to try the local beers, preferably fresh from the source, is my passion. It’s getting so easy to do now. I love it!
To poke a little fun, I decided to do my own listing of the best craft beer states, that is completely random. What the heck. Now everyone can complain. It’s a double random list that I prepared with the help of Random.org. I first took a list of the states, plus Washington DC, and randomized it, and then I created a 1-51 random sequence, placed them in a spreadsheet, and then sorted starting with one.
The randomness gods have spoken and here is the list. It is best enjoyed while drinking your favorite craft beer. I think a few of the states are fairly accurate, Colorado would be in my top 4, but Oregon at 45 is comical. North Dakota, who knew?
Have fun, relax, and be happy that we have so many wonderful beers to choose from in our great nation.
If you don’t already know, the State of Washington has two budget proposals on the table that will increase the excise tax on craft beer. These taxes will cause undue harm to Washington craft brewers. This Friday, April 19th, Washington craft beer lovers will converge in Olympia to urge our state politicians that they should support our local, small business, craft brewers, and not increase their taxes. I encourage you to join us.
Roger, from Georgetown Brewing, posted one of the best responses I’ve seen on the subject. Check it out here.
Here is the official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2013
Beer Lovers Unite to Oppose Beer Tax Proposal
A Rally in Olympia on Friday to Defend the Brewing Industry
(Monday, April 15, 2013) – Seattle, WA – A group of craft beer enthusiasts, brewing industry workers, and other concerned citizens will rally in Olympia this Friday to stand united in opposition to the proposed beer tax increase. The Defend Washington Beer Rally takes place at the Capitol steps on Friday, April 19 at noon.
The goal of this Friday’s Defend Washington Beer Rally is to capture the attention of lawmakers, making it clear that real people stand in opposition to the proposed tax increase. They are not protesting the increased cost of a pint of beer; rather, they are protesting a drastic increase to the already-high tax on breweries and the potential ramifications it could have on the craft beer industry. The rally’s organizers understand the current budget crisis but feel that this tax plan is ill advised and shortsighted.
“Over the past five years, Washington’s craft beer industry has seen an explosion of growth,” says Joe Korbuszewski, one of the event’s organizers. “This has resulted in the creation of more jobs and small businesses. We feel it is irresponsible to overly tax an industry that would be devastated by such an increase, not to mention the ripple effects it would have on the local economy.”
The Legislature recently introduced a budget plan that includes an increase to the excise tax that all craft breweries pay on beer sold in Washington. In particular, the plan calls for a drastic increase in the tax rate for craft breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels per year. With the exception of Redhook, all of Washington’s nearly 200 breweries fall into this category. The tax proposal does not raise taxes on larger breweries. This Friday’s rally is a show of support for Washington’s breweries, which would be most greatly impacted by the tax increase.
“It’s one thing to tax us, the consumers, at the point of purchase; it’s another to tax small businesses that run on slim margins at the point of production,” says Korbuszewski. “We understand our state’s crisis with the budget shortfall, but we feel that this tax is simply too much.”
Kendall Jones, producer of the Washington Beer Blog, agrees. “This isn’t about my pint price. This is about impeding an industry that we should be fostering. I don’t think this proposal has been properly vetted. I say that because I do not believe our Governor and our Legislature actually want to stymie job creation. Craft beer is a growth industry, creating the best kind of jobs: manufacturing jobs. At least that’s what the local craft beer industry has been doing in recent years and is doing right now. This proposed tax increase jeopardizes all of that.”
Craft beer lovers, brewery workers, and many other people who work in pubs, bottleshops and businesses that benefit from Washington’s vibrant craft brewing industry will attend Friday’s rally in Olympia.
Let’s face the facts. I like beer, specifically craft beer. Whenever I’m on vacation I drink locally made beers and seek out where they are made. Luckily, Cindy humors me. It will be no surprise then that we spent an afternoon at the Maui Brewing Company production facility; taking their tour and enjoying some fresh Maui beer.
First off, we should get to the logistics. The production brewery is in Lahaina on Maui’s northwest side, just a few blocks off of Front Street, on the east side of the highway at 910 Honoapiilani Highway #55. (See Map) If you are looking for it, you won’t want to confuse its location with their brewpub which is 6 miles north at 4405 Honoapiilani Highway #217. (See Map) The tour costs $10 and includes a 30-45 minute education on the Maui Brewing process, a 6 sample taster tray, and a token for a free pint at the brewpub. They offer two tours on Friday’s (3pm and 4pm) and three on Saturday’s (10:30am, 11:30am, & 12:30pm). Reservations can be made by calling the Tasting Room at 808.661.6205 during normal hours.
We started off in the Hawaiian appointed tasting room which is in the warehouse facility. Behind the bar, Ann was quick to welcome us and get us all setup for the tour. We were about 15 minutes early, so Ann recommended that we start it off right with one of our two sampler trays. It was a good call! The sampler included the regulars: Bikini Blonde, Manna Wheat, the amazing Coconut Porter, and Big Swell IPA. It also included as one seasonal the Aloha B’ak’ton brewed with 40lbs of chocolate for the Mayan Apocalypse. I’m so glad zombies didn’t end the world and I got to taste this wonderful beer with roasted malted aroma and dry dark chocolate bitter finish.
We sat around and chatted with a couple from Tulsa whom I invited to write a post about Tulsa Beer, hopefully they will take me up on it. It wasn’t long before Buck led us back to show us the 25 barrel brewing facility where all of Maui Brewing’s canned and kegged beers are produced. It was the typical brewery tour, walking you from the beginning of the process from grain and hop selection, through the mash tun, the boil kettle, the fermenters (They have 9 100bbl fermenters), and on to the canning and kegging. It differentiated from other tours when talking about sustainability, Maui ingredients, and the process for getting that wonderful coconut flavor in the Coconut Porter.
The mission at Maui Brewing is to put a little bit of Maui in every beer. That’s why you’ll find Maui pineapple in their Manna Wheat, and the Coconut in their Porter. Every Maui Brewing beer is made in Maui, and they pledge to keep it that way. They do all they can to ensure quality and taste of their canned beer, no matter where it is, and tweak the recipes for the best product. Maintaining the Maui flavors on the mainland can be a challenge due to the freshness of the Aloha ingredients. Unfortunately, this means that they are only distributing in select markets in eight additional states. Fortunately, Seattle is one of those markets!
When Buck’s brilliant tour ended, we headed back to the tasting room where Awesome Ann was waiting for us with our second sampler tray. The beers all seemed to taste a little better after 40 minutes in the warm brewery. We sipped these down pretty fast and ordered up a couple of pints. After yakking with Ann for a while (and some dude from San Diego), and passing on last call, we settled up and continued on with our day.
I know when you are in Maui, the last thing you will probably want to do is go in to a warm warehouse with all sorts of machinery, and many different smells. However, if you like good beer and are even slightly interested in learning the brewing process I assure that you will enjoy the Maui Brewing tour. There is even a little liquid gold at the end.
Up next will be the brewpub. Spoiler, we’ve already been there, and highly recommend it.
I’m going to try something new today, we’ll see how well it works out. Cindy and I are at the opening of Machine House Brewing in Georgetown (Seattle, Wa), and I’m going to write a live article. My goal will be to post it before I leave. I reserve the right to come back to edit it and add photos later.
And away we go.
We were a bit challenged in finding it. It was our fault as we approached it from the Northeast of their building, back where the old Georgetown Brewing was. There were no obvious signs for the brewery, until we saw it’s number 121 on the mailbox. We found their door (actually three) and entered, through the BACK door. So we are challenged. We walked through, past the cold storage, entered the taproom, and saw the FRONT door. Lesson learned, enter from the South, diaganally from Georgetown Records.
The space is big! It looks like they have some room to grow. It’s definitely industrial, after all we are in Georgetown, and in an old brewery. It is a bit chilly too, so bring a coat and gloves. For accomodations they have a large walk up bar, a comfy sofa (which we are sitting on now), and a couple tables with keg seats.
Owners Bill, the brewer, and Alex were behind the bar meeting all the patrons at their new establishment. We had great conversations about how they met (same soccer team) and started the brewery. Bill and I talked about traditional British beers and the new movement in England where more breweries are making more American Style beers. It was really good conversation, you should have been there.
On tap today they have three beers: Mild, Gold, and a Bitter all served out of traditional British hand pump Beer Engines. The Gold is good, an English Ale with earthy malt and floral hop flavor. The Bitter, a darker amber hue, is very smooth, malty with mild hop finish. I should have started with it, with the hops from the Gold still fresh on the tongue. Moving onto the Mild, a dark roasted malt flavor bomb that is so easy to drink, is only 3.6 ABV, and tastes great. Watch out North Fork, this may be my new favorite session beer in Washington.
Okay, I’m frustrated and done, with my iPhone not Machine House Brewing. Bill and Alex are off to great start. I look forward to watching them grow.
Explore Your Craft Comes To Seattle: A Night With Widmer Brothers Beer, Draft Magazine, Gourmet Food, Music, and Art
Widmer Brothers Brewing and Draft Magazine are bringing their Explore Your Craft series to Seattle on Thursday, November 15. It is billed as an unforgettable evening of beer, food, and art. I found one writers review of a past event that that backs this up.
Official Press Release:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Nov. 8, 2012 – Explore Your Craft, a collaborative effort between Widmer Brothers
Brewing and DRAFT Magazine celebrating the art of craft beer, will be held in Seattle on Thursday, Nov.
15, and tickets are available now. The Seattle Explore Your Craft Event will feature Widmer Brothers
beers paired with food from Herban Feast, The Cheese Cellar and The Swinery, live music from Danny
Godinez, and artwork from John Osgood.
Seattle is the fifth of six cities where Explore Your Craft will be hosted this year. The final event in the
2012 series will be hosted in Boston on Monday, Dec 3.
WHAT: Highlighting the Widmer Brothers Brewing portfolio of handcrafted beers, the Seattle Explore
Your Craft event will offer a selection of small plates from Amanda Herrera, chef de cuisine for Herban
Feast, offering a unique food and beer pairing experience for attendees. The celebration will also feature
local artisans, including The Cheese Cellar and The Swinery; live musical performance by Danny
Godinez; and an urban contemporary art installment by John Osgood.
Featured beers at the Seattle event will include Falconer’s IPA from the Rotator IPA Series; SXNW,
the latest Brothers’ Reserve release; Barrel Aged Brrrbon ’12; Milk Stout; Alt; and Pacific Gem, an
experimental IPA brewed with Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand. Widmer Brothers favorites—
including Brrr Seasonal Ale, Drifter Pale Ale, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Nelson Imperial IPA and Pitch
Black IPA—will also be available.
Beer and food pairing examples include:
• Sweet balsamic onion and roasted garlic jelly on crostini with brie paired with Drifter Pale Ale
• Crying tiger endive leaf spoons with spicy grilled chicken, carrots and green onions paired with
• Black and blue beef sliders served with picnic fries and paired with Pitch Black IPA
• Mole chicken tostada with black beans and fresh cabbage salad paired with SXNW Dark Ale
• Banana chocolate bread pudding bites with Brrrbon caramel sauce paired with Barrel Aged
WHO: Special guests include Rob Widmer, co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 15, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
WHERE: Sodo Park, 3200 1st Ave. South, Seattle 98134
COST: Admission is $45 per person. Purchase tickets online at exploreyourcraft.com.
About Widmer Brothers Brewing
What started as a dream for two ordinary brothers who just loved beer has now become a reality for two
ordinary brothers who still just love beer. Kurt and Rob Widmer helped lead the Pacific Northwest craft
beer movement in 1984 when, in their 20s, they dreamed of brewing unique interpretations of traditional
beer styles. In 1986, Widmer Brothers Brewing introduced the first American-style Hefeweizen; today,
the unfiltered cloudy beer is the company’s signature brew and one of the best-selling wheat beers in the
country. Based in Portland, Ore., the brewery currently brews a variety of beers including its Rotator IPA
Series, Drifter Pale Ale, Nelson Imperial IPA, a high-end Brothers Reserve Series and a full four seasonal
lineup. For more information about Widmer Brothers Brewing, visit www.widmerbrothers.com.
Spain is well known for its wine, but what about beer? We recently visited Barcelona to find out. Beer and tapas are a part of Barcelona’s identity; like cafes in Paris, you will find a cerveceria on every corner. Unfortunately, most of them serve standard, limited flavored lagers. We are happy to report that this is beginning to change.
There is a revolution brewing in Barcelona, and not just the plight of Catalonia to secede from Spain. Local artesian craft breweries and beer bars are introducing the city to beer with more body, flavor, and hoppy bitterness. With the passion we saw, I’m sure they will succeed in making Barcelona a good beer destination.
Our trip wasn’t just about beer so I didn’t attempt to find every good beer spot. Nevertheless, here is what we found.
We started with a visit to Cerveceria Fabrique Moritz, a historic Barcelona beer that was re-introduced in 2004 after closing down in the late 70’s. The majority of their beer is produced under license outside of Barcelona; however they rehabilitated their original brewery into an upscale brewpub. They’ve done an amazing job updating the building while keeping remnants of the buildings past; blending the modern lighting, glass, copper kettles, and vintage advertising art, with the original 19th century brick building. On the way to the basement restrooms they’ve even provided a glass floor so you can see the original foundation.
The food was great at Moritz, some of the best tapas we had in Barcelona. They had two of their own beers on tap: Moritz and Epidor. The Moritz was an easy drinking crisp sweet lager with a mineral finish. The Epidor was an amber lager that had a more pronounced hop and mineral finish. Though nothing special, they were both better than the other Spanish lagers we had. I really liked the Moritz “hybrid”, which is a 50/50 mix of the two.
Iberian La Cervesera Artesana
Located in the Grácia neighborhoodIberian La Cervesera Artesana advertises themselves as being Barcelona’s only Microbrewery. Though they are not the only Microbrewery, they are the only Micro Brewpub in Barcelona. The English style pub is cozy, with brick walls, wood bar, and decked out in traditional burgundy and green. In the rear of the building, behind a wall of windows the brewing equipment is on prominent display. The staff was friendly, and from what we could tell with our limited Spanish were knowledgeable about beer.
Besides their own beer, they had a few European beers on tap, and a large bottle selection from around the world. (Including Duff, and Great Divide). They had four of their own beers on tap, all of which were good. The Rossa was refreshing citrusy blonde ale that was perfect after a warm afternoon in Parc Guell. My favorite was the Maca, a medium bodied British Bitter with an earthy malt and floral hop taste. Cindy preferred the Negra, a very dark porter with a big roasted malt and smoky flavor. We both liked the smooth and robust Boletus smoked stout.
Like a beacon, the blaring AC/DC drew me in to this Barri Gòtic bar and bottle shop. However, it was the beer that kept me coming back to La Cerveteca. It is one of the best beer bar/bottle shop in Barcelona. They had ten taps from Spain, Italy, Germany and one American beer, and a decent selection of local and international beers in bottles. As a card carrying member of the Rogue Nation, I was happy to see Rogue Mogul on tap and a prominent display of Rogue cases. Though being fairly small, the bar was always packed with people, showing that the beer scene is beginning to take hold. The two standout beers I had here were the local Holz Supporter, a very good porter, and the Italian Brewfist/Beer Here Collaboration Caterpillar, an American Pale Ale that has a 94 overall rating on Rate Beer.
As a beer supply store and manufacturer of brewing equipment Ca L’Arenysis helping arm the craft beer revolution in Barcelona. Under the name Guineu, they are also producing some fine beer. We purchased a few bottles form La Cerveteca and took them back to our apartment.
Rocaters – Abbey Ale
Pours cloudy dark amber, little head and has a bready caramel nose. The flavor was sweet caramel up front and finished fairly bitter. It reminds me of a good homebrew. We both liked it. I wouldn’t say it up there with the beers we are used to, but it holds its own, and has way more flavor than most of the beer in Barcelona.
In the glass it was dark brown with a thin tan head and a sweet chocolate aroma. It tasted like it smells, and has a bit more bitter hop present than most stouts. The mouth feel was a little thin, but the carbonation is just right. It’s a great dessert beer and goes real well with the dark chocolate we bought.
Antius English Bitter
It was a semi-opaque copper, with a thick white head, and a fruity aroma. The taste started with candy and finished with dry citrus hop bitterness. Okay, but not something I’d go back to.
A cloudy golden ale, with a slight pinkish tint, a thin white head, and a bready/floral aroma. Bready, grassy malt taste followed by citrusy and floral hop bitterness. For a super session beer, 2.5%ABV, this beer has a lot of flavor and more body than expected. I could drink a lot of these.
Thinking they were in Barcelona, I reached out to visit their brewery. Xavier responded quickly and agreed to a tour. After discovering they were a couple of hours away I decided that we weren’t up the trip. Not wanting to let us down, Xavier came up with a great alternative. He hooked us up with his friends at Cervezas Fort in Barcelona and helped arrange an appointment.
After a 20 minute Metro ride we arrived in the l’Hospitalet neighborhood, a residential and light industrial area that probably doesn’t see a lot of tourists. A brief walk from the station, we arrived at the door of Cervezas Fort. We found our way in, went to the second floor, and met up with brewer Federico Gorgone. We were happy to find that Federico spoke English. He showed us the small, 600 liter (5 barrel) brewery that contained everything to brew beer as well as storage, office space, and bottling. He took us out on the back roof top and showed us where they hoped to soon expand. Oh yeah, and he told us that the brewery had only been operating for a month.
Soon after our arrival owner, Gabriel Segovia, walked in; Federico introduced us and helped translate. Gabriel knows a thing or two about beer; his father opened El Vaso de Oro fifty years ago. Now in its third generation of ownership, El Vaso de Oro was the pioneer of the tapas selling 500 liters of beer a day. Sadly, they were closed for vacation and we were unable to experience the Gold Cup. I see a need for a return trip
Gabriel and Federico spent over an hour with us; taking time to tell us about the craft beer movement in Barcelona while they chilled a couple of beers for us to try. Federico said that they are trying to put the home brew culture into their brewery, doing everything from the heart, and putting soul into the beer. Their goal is to break into the “Lager Crowd” and educate them to good beer with bitter hops. They plan to add a tap at the El Vaso de Oro to help. Since Spain grows very little hops, the people are just not used to the flavors that they provide. The good news we heard was that Barcelona’s first craft beer festival this year was very popular.
They opened a couple of bottles of their American Pale Ale for us. It was good; fairly grassy upfront with a nice floral finish, unfiltered so there was a little residual yeast flavor. Being so new, they say they are still tweaking their recipes. Gabriel led us back to the fermentation tanks, and took a sample of a single hopped version of the pale ale. Darn, it was real good!
Llúpios I Llevats – Glops
Talk about two birds with one stone, across the hall from Fort sits Llúpios I Llevatsthe brewers of the Glops brand of Cervesa natural artesana. Cerveser (Brewer) Àlex Padró was introduced to us as the founder of craft beer in Barcelona. He started with a 150 liter brewery 5 years ago, and has since doubled his capacity to 300 liters. Though he was busy, he showed us around his micro-brewery allowing us to peek inside one of the fermenters, and watch his bottler work. He kindly gave us some coasters and buttons, and we were on our way.
Ale & Hop
It was our last night in Barcelona, and we had time for one more beer. We set out to find Ale & Hop in Barri Gòtic that Federico had recommended. We had a rough idea of where it was, but the small alley like streets can get a little confusing. On this night, my beer positioning system (BPS) was in fine working order, and we made it directly there. It’s a quaint bar with a few bar stools and back area with a several tables. They had ten or so beers on tap and a good bottle list. It had a friendly vibe, tasty food, and good beer, making it a must stop for any beer traveler. If I had another night in Barcelona, I would have gone back.
I look forward to one day returning to Barcelona and seeing what becomes of their bubbling beer scene.