Saturday, January 24th 2015
Cheers to 80 Years of Canned Beers
It was 80 years ago today that the first cans of Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company beer went on sale in Richmond, Virginia. On that day beer drinkers got to experience opening and enjoying a can of beer for the first time and the response was almost immediately, and overwhelmingly positive. Within a year brewers from across the country would begin packaging their beer in cans and the landscape of packaged beer would be forever changed. Below is a timeline that shows notable events over the past 8 decades of canner beer.
CRAFT BEER CAN HISTORY
In 2002, a little known brewpub in Lyons, Colorado began hand-canning an assertively hoppy pale ale in a barn adjacent to where it was brewed. This innocent move by Oskar Blues, recounted time and time again, ushered in a new era for craft beer and the beginning of a new found respect for the beer can.
In the decade that followed more and more American craft brewers would look at canning as a viable option. Minimum orders and different labeling options would make canning more appealing, as would the introduction of a variety of smaller, more affordable canning lines. In 2012, the first mobile canning operations sprang up in California and Colorado. Today, they are found in almost every metropolitan area of the country helping breweries of every shape and size to get their beers in cans. There are now over 475 American craft brewers canning over 1,800 different beers. Almost 100 different styles of beer have been put in cans of a growing variety of shapes and sizes.
Just a few weeks ago, a small brewery in Lewisburg, West Virginia made history by becoming the first brewery in the state to can their beer in over 40 years. West Virginia was also the last state in the country to have a craft brewery that canned their beer. It can now be said that there is at least one craft brewery in every US state plus Washington, DC that cans their beer (click on the map below to see which breweries are canning in each state).
The future of cans is bright. Consumers are increasingly more accepting of cans and their many benefits and more and more brewers are choosing cans. Can designs are becoming works of art akin to the liquid inside them and can collecting is even experiencing a renaissance. Perhaps the novelty of cans is wearing off, but the quality and diversity of beer that is filling today's cans will continue to be celebrated for years to come. Open a can and celebrate with us!
Posted by Russ
Friday, January 23rd 2015
Q & A with Richard Roche of Cast Iron Design in Boulder, Colorado
Designers of Finkel & Garf's Cans
Finkel & Garf Brewing Company was founded by Eric and Dan Garfinkel, a father and son team that share an affinity for good beer. The brewery, which opened just last year, chose cans for their retail market and like many small craft brewers they went with a talented local design firm for their logo and label art. One look and you can tell that a lot went into the designs - and there has to be a story behind that big wheel in the brewery's logo, right? We threw a bunch of questions at Richard Roche of Cast Iron Design to learn more about the design work they did for Finkel & Garf and what some of the challenges of label design can be and he was kind enough to respond. Cheers Richard! Great job and we're looking forward to trying some beers from Finkel & Garf soon...
(CC) Tell us a little about what you do?
(RR) We are a design studio in Boulder, CO specializing in branding and all extensions of a brand. We do brand identity, print, packaging, web design, development, copywriting, and pretty much anything else we can get our hands on.
(CC) What was your involvement with Finkel and Garf?
(RR) We created the brand identity and 8 beer labels (so far) for Finkel & Garf.
(CC) How many label designs iterations usually are done before the final design is chosen/approved?
(RR) We don’t always hit it (the design and refinement process is always a bit fluid and unpredictable), but we typically shoot for 2–3 iterations with every design we create.
(CC) What was the inspiration behind the designs you did for Finkel and Garf?
(RR) Before starting a brewery, the father and son duo ran a successful business selling classic toys. We played off of their history—and their desire to oppose the “wine-ification” of craft beer—to create a coat of arms. The various toys represented in the coat of arms were selected to inspire people from all generations to reconnect with their childlike sense of wonder and excitement.
For the labels we tried to balance the whimsy of the logo with a more straightforward approach to rest of the design. They chose to use clear, descriptive names for their beers and we wanted to emphasize the refreshing functionality of that decision with a type-heavy layout. Sticking to two colors for each design also added to the straightforwardness of the design and helped the product to stand out on the shelf.
(CC) What do you see as the biggest challenges of beer label design?
(BR) The biggest challenge in the craft beer market is to stand out on the shelf while at the same time communicating a level of quality, consideration, and good taste on the part of the brewery.
(CC) As designers, how much do you think people buy beer based on the label art?
(RR) It definitely makes a big difference. We’ve heard multiple stories about people buying Finkel & Garf based on the labels. We also love craft beer and feel that a well considered label is generally indicative of a discerning brewery (although there are always exceptions).
(CC) These are sticker labels, is there a possibility of a move to printed cans in the future?
(RR) Printed cans require enormous investments in quantity, and starting with sticker labels allowed them to can a robust lineup from the start. Having a large variety was important in their goal to create an approachable product as they strive to have something for everyone. Printed cans are a possibility for the future, but for now we’ve embraced the uniqueness of the labels and the matte finish we were able to apply to them.
(CC) Have you been involved with other design work in the craft beer industry?
(RR) Not at the moment, but we are currently working with a craft distillery and we’d love to do more work within the craft beer world in the future.
(CC) Every week it seems that Boulder has a new brewery. What are some of the best things about living in a town with so much craft beer presence?
(RR) The competition keeps raising the bar for everyone and the consumer ends up winning. Even the established breweries are expanding their lineups and building new tap rooms. For the most part they all seem to have their own niches and specialties so the selection in town is unreal, not to mention all the great stuff going on in Denver, Fort Collins, and the rest of Colorado.
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, January 20th 2015
Narragansett Honors Horror Writer with New Lovecraft Honey Ale
NARRAGANSETT HONORS H.P. LOVECRAFT WITH NEW HONEY ALE
Lovecraft Honey Ale first in series of limited edition beers
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Narragansett Beer today announces the release of Lovecraft Honey Ale to celebrate the life, works and heritage of Providence’s hometown horror fiction writer, H.P. Lovecraft. As the prologue in Narragansett’s Lovecraft Series, the new beer is crafted in collaboration with Revival Brewing Company.
Born in 1890, the same year that Narragansett Beer was founded, H.P. Lovecraft spent the majority of his life in Providence as a struggling author, only achieving literary fame posthumously. Commonly referred to as the “Father of Modern Horror,” he is often cited as an influence on other notable authors and artists from Stephen King to Metallica to Ridley Scott. H.P. Lovecraft is best known for creating Cthulhu, a fictional deity described as being part man, part dragon and part octopus. It is this creature that inspired the Cthulhu Mythos, a cultural lore and shared fictional universe of Lovecraft’s successors.
"When the brewery was shut down, the spirit of Narragansett never died; it went underground, to a deep and dark place,” said Mark Hellendrung, President of Narragansett Beer. “Since reclaiming our beer in 2005, we've worked hard to stay true to our roots. But after being in that dungeon for so long, we came back with some baggage. Just like the nameless protagonist from “The Outsider,” we emerged in the light a little different. A little…strange. Think of this brew as our bold, our obscure, our tampered-with mind. It won’t be for everyone, and if it isn’t for you, you’ll know exactly who it IS for. This is OUR Lovecraft.”
Each chapter in the Lovecraft Series will pay tribute to a different Lovecraft tale, represented by the beer’s style and label, each of which will be designed by local Rhode Island artists. Serving as the series’ prologue, Lovecraft Honey Ale is a reference to space mead consumed by the winged Byakhee, interstellar predators that first appeared in the famed Lovecraft short story, “The Festival.” The label artwork for Lovecraft Honey Ale was designed by Providence-based artist AJ Paglia.
Brewed under the supervision of Sean Larkin, Head Brewmaster for Narragansett and owner of Revival Brewing, Lovecraft Honey Ale is made with a base of honey malt and finished with a touch of hops, producing a bold yet sweet honey-colored ale. Backboned by the combination of five pale malts, the beer opens up with a hint of honey sweetness, then turns with a herbal hop crescendo and a smooth finish.
Narragansett’s Lovecraft Honey Ale will be available starting on January 19th, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, a significant literary influence on H.P. Lovecraft. The brew will be available in six packs of 16-ounce tallboy cans, priced between $10.99 - $11.99 SRP per six pack. The beer is 7 percent Alcohol By Volume and 30 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Lovecraft Honey Ale will be distributed throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, and Portland, Ore. The timing and availability of Lovecraft Honey Ale will vary per market.
For additional information about Narragansett Lovecraft Honey Ale or to find a retailer near you, visit www.narragansettbeer.com.
ABOUT NARRAGANSETT BEER:
Narragansett Beer…Brewed since 1890. ‘Gansett is a straightforward, quality beer that has been a New England tradition for generations, producing a classic family of award-winning American lagers & ales. Today, ‘Gansett is produced at top-rated breweries in Rochester, N.Y., and Westport, Mass. and is one of America's top 50 regional brewers and the fastest-growing in the Northeast. Narragansett is available for purchase in local restaurants, bars, and liquor stores throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Florida, Portland, Ore. and Nashville and Chattanooga, Tenn.
Thirsty for more? Visit: www.narragansettbeer.com
ABOUT REVIVAL BREWING COMPANY:
Revival Brewing Company, established in late 2010 is the Brain-Child of brewmaster Sean Larkin.
Posted by Russ
Tuesday, January 20th 2015
Fort George Brewery Releasing Plazm Farmhouse Ale Collaboration
The Northwest loves independence. With locally sourced foods, neighborhood craft breweries, and indie record labels and magazines, people here take pride in sidestepping the establishment. In many ways Fort George’s latest collaboration represents this spirit - from the satisfyingly messy 16-ounce can design, to the dark Saison within. It’s a blatant disregard to a hop-heavy culture. Introducing Plazm Farmhouse Ale: a limited Pacific Northwest collaboration featuring the art of Plazm Magazine and the craft brewing of Fort George and The Commons.
Founded in 1991 by Portland artists, Plazm magazine publishes challenging and innovative art, design, cultural, and literary works. Plazm is also an award-winning design firm led by creative directors Joshua Berger and Niko Courtelis. Plazm has been heavily involved in creating the Fort George aesthetic, including the iconic building logo, custom typography, and striking can designs. For a free downloadable sample of the current issue of Plazm magazine, go to plazm.com/farmhouse. To see a video of every page of every issue of Plazm magazine being turned by a summer intern check out this video: http://youtu.be/IC19nUZ6xGg. And to view the two hour video in two minutes, watch their 10,000x edit: http://youtu.be/RxC7dWSbsxM
If you set out to make a Farmhouse Ale, who better to collaborate with than The Commons Brewery? From their beginnings on a 1-barrel nano system in Mike Wright’s garage, to the upcoming 10,000 ft expansion on Belmont Street, The Commons has consistently brewed some of the finest Farmhouse Ales in the country. And while much focus is placed on the hop bill in the Pacific Northwest, this collaboration focuses on the less popular (yet most important) ingredient in brewing, the yeast. Fort George and The Commons worked closely to land on the perfect yeast for this beer, bringing out just the right flavors and aromatics. With a bright white head and a golden amber glow, expect hints of tropical fruit, with light mint, pepper, and clove.
Join Plazm magazine, Fort George, and The Commons in celebrating the official release of Plazm Farmhouse Ale with a free concert at Holocene in Portland. There will be a raffle for a Plazm Collector's Edition box, among other things, and a free limited-edition commemorative stamp for the first 50 people through the door. Plus listen to music from Asss, Regular Music, Mary Lattimore, and DJ Jason Urick.
Holocene - Portland, Oregon
1001 SE Morrison Street
Sunday - February 1st
8pm - 11pm
And for the beer-centric enthusiasts, meet the collaborators at these events featuring tap lists from The Commons and Fort George:
The Bier Stein – Eugene, Oregon
1591 Willamette Street
Thursday – January 29th
6pm – 9pm
Belmont Station – Portland, Oregon
4500 SE Stark Street
Friday – January 30th
5pm – 8pm
Beer Junction – Seattle, Washington
4511 California Ave SW
Saturday – February 7th
4pm – 7pm
To independent making and publishing!
Fort George: Distributed only in the Pacific Northwest
Posted by Russ
Monday, January 19th 2015
Carton Brewing Releases Regular Coffee Imperial Cream Ale Cans
Image by Patrick Elliott (@njcraftbeerguy)
Imperial Cream Ale Regular Coffee
ABV: 12.0% | IBU: XX | SRM: XX
A Classic Jersey-ism is "regular coffee." Here when you order a "regular coffee" at any place you trust to make a pork roll and cheese you get a paper cup of coffee with "milk and 2 sugars" rather than a "black coffee that hasn't had the caffeine removed." Acidic bitter coffee flattened by milk and sweetened; the perfect foil for the salty unctuous savor of breakfast on a roll. For our homage to Jersey's breakfast beverage, we teamed up with our neighbors at Fair Mountain Coffee Roasters looking for an elevated version of classic crappy coffee. We chose Mexican Chiapas for its bitterness akin to artichoke, roasting it a little darker than usual, along with Ethiopian Sidamo for its pleasant lemon-like acidity, which we pushed up through fermentation. We added this coffee blend to a high gravity golden cream ale, contributing our "milk and 2 sugars." Drink Regular Coffee because running over a black beer with coffee is no way to get to work.