Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Oddbits: Craft beer sales boom in 2008, the Trappist glassware policy, Root Beer, the roundup

By William Brand
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 11:44 am in Uncategorized.

Oddbits…Good craft beer may be selling for as much as $10 a six-pack (who buys sixers, I dunno. Somebody must), but the Brewer’s Association reports that craft beer sales continue to boom in the first six months of 2008.

” Craft beer dollar sales during the first half of 2008 increased 11percent compared to this same period in 2007. The Brewers Association attributes this growth to a grassroots movement toward fuller flavored, small batch beers made by independent craft brewers.

According to The Nielsen Company, beer sales are affected the least by the economic downturn, with wine sales showing the most impact. Additionally, craft beer is gaining customers from across all segments of beverage alcohol.

The Brewers Association reports that in the first half of 2008 volume of beer sold by craft brewers grew by 6.5% totaling an estimated 4 million barrels of beer compared to 3.768 million barrels sold in the first half of 2007. Harry Schuhmacher of Beer Business Daily stated, “Crafts have really taken pricing this year given high input costs, and yet it is still driving volume gains faster than the beer category.”

Meanwhile…back in Oakland, I love the Trappist glassware policy:

  • Our Glassware: We pride ourselves on providing appropriate brewer intended Glassware for our beers whenever possible. However these glasses are not free. We pay for them. Glasses are not yours to keep, only to borrow while you enjoy your beer.
  • Anyone observed attempting to steal a glass will be asked to leave and never to return. You will then be forced to drink mediocre beer elsewhere for your entire life.

Drinking swill lager? Now that’s a heavy sentence.

I’m finally doing a post about root beer. The question has been asked: Root beer is fermented, why isn’t there any alcohol?

Answer: There is alcohol, but the percentage is very low: from a third of one percent to a half of one percent. You’d have to drink about a gallon and a half to get the alcoholic equivalent of a single, 5 percent beer, one expert says.

This photo (It’s a 1958 Chevrolet Impala) is one of the labels for 101 Root Beer from Big Wave Soda Co. of Monterey. The root beer’s to be sold at Beverages and More stores soon. Another new root beer comes from Thomas Kemper Root Beer, which is made with cane sugar and honey instead of high fructose corn syrup used in most America sodas today.

What’s a cane sugar soda taste like: it’s sweeter, but not intensely so. Think of Mexican and French Cokes, for example. They’re both made with sugar instead of corn syrup, or so I’m told. Although Coke will not comment. Thomas Kemper sodas, by the way, are widely available in the Bay Area and Northern California. They’re made in Portland, OR. The company was a big money maker for Pyramid Breweries, so they sold the company for cash, but still make the sodas.

Last gasp for root beer. The New York Times did a root beer tasting last month. Check it out here:

Our No. 1 root beer, from Sprecher in Wisconsin, a wonderfully balanced and complex brew, uses a combination of corn syrup and honey, while our No. 2, the restrained and flavorful IBC, uses only corn syrup. So even with the importance of the sweetener, something more is at play with root beers…READ THE REST OF THE STORY…


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  • Drew

    William – Do you know why The Trappist rinses out each of their glasses prior to pouring the beer? I’ve always thought that pouring a beer into a glass that was just rinsed will have a negative effect on head retention and lacing.

  • William Brand

    It’s the Belgian method. Until recently, every good Belgian bar had a running water sink. Now each beer tower includes a sink that automatically sprays the glass and rinses it inside and outside with cold water. The idea is go get the tempoerature of the glass to about the same temperature as the beer.

    That does not mean ice cold or frozen. Frozen glasses, while a great sales technique, much pushed by the manufacturers of tasteless light lager, impede the taste of the beer. The Belgian method is much better. I have links and a video, so I’m going to re-post your question and my answer in three minutes. b

  • KenO

    You’re wrong. I don’t know of any brewery that pushes frozenfrozen glassware

  • KenO

    You’re wrong. I don’t know of any brewery that pushes frozen glassware.

  • William Brand

    Hey. what I meant was the image…pushed by beer commercials, and by bars. Have you never walked into a bar or restaurant, asked for a beer and received it in a glass straight out of a freezer? It’s ubuiquitious in America. No, of course actual brewers don’t push frozen glasses, but their ad agencies sure do.