The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Travel day; link round-up

I'm heading back to the East Coast tonight to continue research for my current project, so my time today is very constrained. I hope I remember to keep these browser windows open for the plane:

So much to do today...and then a short, relaxing, upgraded flight to BWI.

Et tu, Anchor?

The cashing-out consolidation of craft breweries continues with today's surprise announcement that Japan's Sapporo Holdings will acquire San Francisco's Anchor Brewing:

According to Keith Greggor, Anchor’s president and CEO, the move was a year in the making and the result of speaking with “many, many” larger breweries all over the world to find the right fit.

Anchor Brewing Co. is considered the leading pioneer of the craft beer movement, and is credited with reviving and modernizing some of today's most popular American beer styles. The price of the deal was not disclosed. Anchor Distilling, which produces spirits such as Junipero Gin and Old Potrero whiskey, is not involved in the deal and will become a separate company.

Anchor Brewing management said it did not specifically plan for a complete acquisition. However, to support the brewery’s long-term future and further international expansion (it currently distributes to 20 countries), it needed to relinquish full ownership to Sapporo.

When asked whether this deal jeopardizes Anchor’s “craft” designation, a commonly accepted definition dictated by the Brewers Association, the brewery’s executives did not seem concerned about that imminent debate, due to the brewery’s long history.

Well, yes, it jeopardizes the "craft" designation for the simple reason that Anchor won't be a craft brewer anymore, by definition. So, another one bites the dust. That leaves only about 5,300 other craft brewers in the U.S. Time to get drinking.

Certified Independent Craft Beer?

A group of 800 breweries—including Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada—has joined an initiative to differentiate their brands from the big guys:

The initiative, which was spearheaded by the trade group for independent craft brewers, is intended to differentiate "true" craft beers from those made by the likes of MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch and Heineken.

To qualify to use the seal, breweries cannot be more than 25% owned or controlled by any alcohol company that's not itself a craft brewer. Its annual production also can't exceed 6 million barrels.

Distribution contracts frequently allow major beer brands to dictate where their beer is placed on shelves, for instance. And Big Beer has successfully driven independent beers out of some stadiums, music venues and chain restaurants by asking distributors to stock their craft brands instead of independents.

Brewers say these concerns have only been exacerbated by Big Beer's incursion into craft. The acquisition of independent breweries, they argue, has eroded the few advantages the indies had: higher-quality beers in different styles and a cooler, vastly less corporate brand.

Since 2011, Anheuser-Busch has bought Goose Island, Blue Point, Karbach, Golden Road, Devil's Backbone, Elysian, Ten Barrel, Breckenridge, Four Peaks and Wicked Weed. MillerCoors now owns Terrapin; Heineken has Lagunitas; and Constellation owns Ballast Point Brewery.

We'll see how this initiative fares. Most of the beer I drink qualifies as independent, but Lagunitas still makes some pretty good brews.

Stuff to read, vol. 2,048

Still busy. So busy.

And now I have to set up a development environment.

Beer and Bibles

The Economist has found that craft breweries are inversely correlated with religiosity in the US:

Some states are craftier than others. Atop the list of craft breweries per capita is Vermont, with 44 of them crammed into one of the nation’s smallest and least populated states. In addition to being better liquored, Vermonters are a good bit more godless than the national average. This reflects a broader trend: there is a markedly negative correlation between a state’s religiosity and breweries per person.

Local regulations determine the level of production much more than demographic characteristics such as income or education, says Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, a craft-beer trade organisation. And religious legislators may get a bit overzealous. Utah, a state populated with many teetotaling Mormons, strictly limits the strength of draught beers and cocktails.

As you'd expect from that newspaper, they have a cool chart, too.

Reading list

Here we go:

It's also a nice day outside, so Parker will probably get two hours of walks in.

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

Oh, you crazy kids. This is a short list of what happened Saturday afternoon and evening in the area around Wrigley Field:

1:26PM — Dust off the ambulance. We have a female unconscious outside of Sluggers World Class Sports Bar, 3540 N Clark.

2:16PM — Callers at Addison and Halsted report seeing a man with a gun in his pocket. He is the first of many persons who will be described as wearing green clothing.

11:26PM — Recommendation: Don’t drink on the public way. Especially in front of the police station. Citation issued. 850 W Addison.

1:50AM — Hey! Remember that car that the police were impounding at Addison and Sheffield? Yeah, well, two women got into it and drove away. They've been caught and arrested at Belmont and Sheffield.

For all that, this year arrests and ambulance calls were way down from years past. Come on, Millennials, you're slacking.

Back at the Remote Office

Man, I have missed this:

I had lunch with a friend here at the Duke today (and I walked, getting me to 15,000 before noon), so why not stay and write some documentation?

I've also decided on a new rule. I gave up beer for February because I think there's a correlation between me drinking beer and me staying consistently 3 kg over my target. Well, not much changed, and I missed beer, so my New Rule is that I can have one beer per 10,000 steps (or fraction thereof). And I think I'll aggregate this over the week.

Reading list

Stuff:

Someone call lunch...

Too many craft breweries? Seriously?

Washington Post writer Fritz Hahn is freaking out that the U.S. now has more breweries than ever:

As of Dec. 1, 2015, the Brewers Association had counted 4,144 breweries in the United States, the most ever operating simultaneously in the history of the country. According to historians, the previous high-water mark of 4,131 was set in 1873.

Even when they are given a chance, some small brewers have expressed frustration with the way beer bars order products. Instead of buying three kegs of a new beer and running through them all, as it might have done when local beers were a novelty, a bar tends to buy a keg and, once it’s empty, fill the draft line with a competitor’s product, and then another one, and so on, before rotating back to the first brewery’s beer weeks or months later.

Many in the beer industry pin their hopes for small breweries on localization: the idea that consumers would rather drink beers made down the road than across the country. Lary Hoffman, who co-owns Galaxy Hut in Arlington and Spacebar in Falls Church with his wife, Erica, prefers to stock most of the taps with Virginia breweries, such as Blue Mountain, Champion and Three Notch’d. “You can get any style of beer locally now, and the quality is on par with the best beer in the world, so why not seek out the regional option?” he asks. A handful of national brands, including Bell’s and Avery, show up on the 28 taps at Galaxy Hut and the 24 at Spacebar, but they’re the exception. Customers would be angry “if our draft lineup looked like a Safeway shelf,” Hoffman says.

So, the problem seems to be, too much choice? Yeah, I'm not sure that's something we need to solve. Of course it can be daunting to look at a beer list from a place like Beer Bistro or The Green Lady. That's a problem we want. I lived through the 1980s and early 1990s, when we had maybe four "craft" breweries including Anchor Steam and Sam Adams. I'd rather live today, thank you.