In Episode 24, Ed Grohl, Easy Pretzel, and Bearcat sit down with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Jeremy Danner to discuss his role as an Ambassador Brewer, Craft Beer Twitter, the Labor of Brewing and Ed… well Ed brings the house down once again. What Were We Drinking:Bearcat: Smokestack Series Whiskey Barrel Stout and Bourbon Barrel QuadDave: Boulevard Brewing Company…
Tagged with “craft beer” (4)
// INTERVIEWS WITH
Mick Guttierez of Perro Vida Cerveza Artesenal
Ignacio Castro Cortiñas of Treintaycinco Fabrica de Cervezas
- Chef Eric Saenz of El Gaff Gastropub
- Alonso Brenes of Domingo 7 Cerveza Artesanal
Gustavo Arroyo of El Buho Cervecería Artesanal
Manuel Donarte of Café del Barista
We were in Costa Rica with Tristan Coulter of Gaslight Coffee Roasters in
Chicago, and Andres Araya of 5 Rabbit Brewery. We were there to see about
some coffee. Tristan and Andres are making Yodo con Leche again, their
imperial porter blended with cold brew and con leche, and this year they
wanted to go to the source. I was fresh off of hosting my Uppers & Downers
coffee beer festival, so this little tagalong seemed perfectly timed. We
climbed high into the mountains, as high as 1,900 meters at one point,
pulled fresh cherries off the coffee trees, and tasted through a myriad of
impressive coffees in search of the beans for Yodo.
Along the way, we met home brewers, nano-brewers, and macro brewers around
the city of San Jose, and some far out in the countryside who are working
to get Costa Rica’s craft brewing scene off the ground. It’s very much in
its infancy with only a couple of legitimate brewers producing any
meaningful amount of volume. It’s a lot like the US 30 or 40 years ago as
these men and women struggle to produce a quality, consistent beer, and
then sell that beer into a monopolized distribution and retail system to a
customer that doesn’t know what to think of it. But there’s another
important factor in Costa Rican craft beer that the US didn’t have in the
70s, namely, the US itself. Costa Rican’s are heavily influenced by what’s
happening in the US right now. They see the styles we’re producing, the
recipes, the beer flavors, and they’re working to get their hands on those
things every chance they get. And that means that Cost Rican craft beer is
in the earliest stages of Ken Grossman’s Pale Ale, combined with the 3rd
wave of brewing ambitions. It’s a bizarre confluence of factors.
Most of the beers I had in Costa Rica that week were far off style, begging
for fresh ingredients, and simply not fairing well in a hot climate with
almost zero refrigerated infrastructure in distribution or even retail. But
whatever they lack in ingredients, and infrastructure, these men and women
make up for in ambition.
I feel like the past 18 months have been a sort of reconciliation for craft
beer drinkers and brewers, with a lot of folks focusing on beers that are
highly drinkable, or sessionable, but still quite flavorful, exciting, and
ultimately easy to find.
There’s been a surge in the market of craft Lagers, Pilsners, Session IPAs
and Sours, along with some renewed appreciation for beers like Sierra
Nevada Pale Ale. And in about a month we’ll be seeing an ode to Fat Tire in
a collaboration 12-pack from New Belgium. So even as some craft brewers and
their fans are finding more and more obscure, niche areas to explore, a lot
of folks in craft beer are backing up a bit and asking themselves, "What’s
good?" And, "Can we get more of that, please?"
So with that kind of a swing back toward the middle, you’d expect a classic
craft beer like Sam Adam’s Boston Lager to be in a bit of a resurgence. But
as the nation’s largest craft brewer (right behind the recently
re-defined-as-craft brewer, Yuengling), Boston Beer Company hasn’t been
seeing the love—at least when you look at the numbers.
The numbers for Sam Adams mimics the glacial decline of macro lagers more
than it does the consistent double-digit growth of smaller craft brewers.
Is it just that Boston Beer has gotten so big that it simply isn’t part of
the consideration set anymore? Maybe. Is the profile of Boston Lager
outdated? Maybe. But I’d like to offer a different view—one that sets aside
this specific beer for a second, and takes a look at the entirely of the
Boston Beer business.
Boston Beer is so much more than Sam Adams. And its future seems geared
toward diversity—not just a single beer they’ve been making since the
In the past few years, they’ve taken a run at IPA with Rebel, and it
instantly became one of the biggest launches in craft beer history. They
followed that with a spread of different IPAs all playing off that
They’ve recently introduce a series of nitro beers that are sure to get the
word "nitro" on the minds of consumers in a big way for the first time
Boston Beer is also the owner of Angry Orchard, a cider company they
started from scratch, and now owns about 60% of the cider market in just
three years. And now makes more than a million barrels and growing.
Even before that, they launched Twisted Tea, a brand that sells 640,000
barrels’ worth of booze a year. That’s nearly the volume of Lagunitas, and
it’s still growing by double digits.
Through their Coney Island Brand, part of their Alchemy & Science wing,
they entered the FMB space with a line of hard sodas.
They’ve also recently launched a line of alcoholic sparkling waters called
All this to say, it’d be foolish to talk about Boston Beer as Sam Adams
anymore. Boston Beer is a mature, well-diversified company that’s placing
big bets on the next thing in alcohol that it feels it has the opportunity
and expertise to pursue. Through that lens, they’re not the slow-moving,
classic craft beer that we should all take pity on as it slowly loses
share. Rather, they’re one of the leading companies in the U.S. when it
comes to new alcoholic beverage entries. And by that account, they’re
Now, that might take some of the sheen off an idol for you—especially if
you were holding up Jim Koch as some sort of purist in craft beer. Although
I think he’s also that. But the larger view of Koch should certainly take
an honest look at the things this guy—and his company, of which he still
holds all the controlling shares—puts in to the world on a regular basis.
So yeah, when it comes to something like Boston Lager, this guy is as pure
as they come. And when it comes to new opportunities, new ventures, new
ideas—this guy is as cunning as it gets. And you don’t really have to worry
about reconciling all that, of course, because Koch is nothing is not
indifferent to other people’s opinions. And I kind of love him for it.
Four local San Diego craft beer brewers get together at SILO in Makers Quarter to discuss the finer points of what it takes to open and grow a brewery