A few bits of news and notes from around the beer world....
Last week the Brewers Association released a list of the top brewing companies in America based on 2009 statistics. You can find the list here. When taking a look at the list, I noted a few things. The vast majority (31-19) of the top 50 craft breweries are located west of the Mississippi, while the overall list shows a more even distribution with more breweries situated east of the Mississippi (26-24). Western States (California, Colorado, Oregon) typically have more lax distribution laws which make growth in the craft industry easier; In addition, they have access to large relatively local sources of hops (The cascade and surrounding regions of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho make up essentially all of the U.S. based hop crop).
On the overall list, I was surprised to see that Boston Brewing wasn't the largest American owned brewery. I had always taken for granted that with the foreign purchase of the "big 3" brewers that Jim Koch was the "big man on campus." Not only is Pabst ahead of them, but Yuengling Brewing has jumped ahead as well. Obviously, letting Pabst slip my mind is a massive historical error, but Yuengling surprised me. I guess being situated out west, my exposure to Yuengling is limited...
I was also happy to note that local canned beer specialists Oskar Blues made the top 50 craft brewing list for the first time. Their beer is not the best that you'll find on the shelf, but it's a great fall back in times of choice overload, and, as I mentioned last week, beer in can form opens up increased transportation possibilities. Certainly that new brew-pub in Longmont (which I've still not made a trip to) is paying off with higher viability and sales.
(Their Longmont facility)
Also released last week was this list of the 2010 World Beer Cup winners. Again, I have a few things to note. In the first category, American-Style Cream Ale or Lager, I notice that Lone Star won a medal. Much like fellow medalist Old Style, Lone Star tastes so bad that after completing one you'll swear off drinking ever again. Considering that many of these beers are consumed in this country, it's impressive that our society has lasted this long. The category is crap, obviously, but I still note that these awful beers are awarded anything. Shameful. (I guess every "beer" has a category, further down the list Colt .45 and Mickey's get on the board as well)
Further down the list, I noted 3 beers that I wanted to highlight. Alaskan Brewing's Smoked Porter (which is one of my favorite all time beers) won gold in category #19 (Aged Beer). The brew punks from BrewDog took home gold for their Hardcore IPA in category #83 (Imperial IPA); I tried this the other week, and it was a spectacular beer. And finally, Festus, from the Sandlot, won bronze in category #28 (German-style Marzen); I note this because the Sandlot is the brewery inside Coors Field where the Colorado Rockies play, good on ya guys (Yes I know their by Coors, so what.... BASEBALL)!
(The outside of the Sandlot Brewery on game day. From: This guy's flickr account)