2 Beer Guys Blog

Welcome to the 2 Beer Guys Blog! Here, you will be able to read our stories and adventures as we travel through the world of craft beer.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Extreme! Yes...and I like it!

This blog is a bit late in coming, but I think you will be informed and will have plenty of time to find a date for the Extreme Beer Fest next February. Sean, Ian and I ventured into Boston on a Friday afternoon (I know, very romantic). We were down one Beer Wife, but of course, she was there in spirit. We met Andy at Cyclorama (he was a trooper and waited about 10th in line) but we ditched him for coffee. Upon our return, the line was REALLY long, so we cut behind Andy. Bonehead move of the night: Ian, Sean and Amber not bringing Andy a cup of coffee...DOH!

Upon entering the event we were wowed by a huge room, walls peppered in beer tables with very specially aged beers. We were walking into the Night Of The Barrels. We would partake of a variety of wood aged beers that we would probably never have again. They could be aged in oak barrels, wine barrels, whiskey barrels....I couldn't find one aged in a pickle barrel....crap! It was interesting to see the signs behind the beer tables. Most were very humble signs written in marker on white paper. It only made your first drink of the luscious liquid all the better. That's the way they trick you....humble signs, KICK-ASS beer! Although the place was huge, it was not as packed as we had anticipated. Very lovely indeed. We walked around a bit frantic at first trying to taste as many of these beers as possible. We soon realized that because they were all over 10% we should slow up a bit. Well....we didn't. Wink.

At one point, the guys listened to some key note speakers while I just chilled with some beer, observing the a room filled with people that shared our same love: Beer.

We all enjoyed some wonderful food from the Sunset Grill. We were wowed by the choices; chilly, cheddar wurst, gourmet pizza, and paninis. yum, yum and double yum!

We enjoyed meeting the folks from the Surly brewery in Minnesota. We also enjoyed drinking their beers!

I raise my glass (literally) to Jason and Todd Alstrom (sorry guys, don't know how to add the two dots above the "O") of Beer Advocate. Good show chaps, good show. I will feverishly try to find a date for next year.

Any takers?
Beer Girl, signing out!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Power to the people

As we like to do around here at 2beerguys, we'd like to put something in your hands. I've set up a mirror of the blog at 2beerguys.wordpress.com, and have imported all of the previous posts that have been done on this blog. So, with the exception of the last two blogs Sean has done, everything should be there. I like WordPress because it's got broader support in the blogging community, has more 3rd party applications for it, and I think it has a much cleaner, more readable interface. Please "hop" on over to the mirror blog at 2beerguys.wordpress.com and let us know what you think. I've already sent out a few invites for accounts on the wordpress blog so you can check it out for yourselves.

I look forward to hearing your feedback!



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunnier Skys and Brighter days are in our future

It's not time to dance around and say the witch is dead, but at least this gives craft beer lovers hope for a sunnier future. (Although this may entice me to do a dance of joy / forward roll.)



Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

By Lew Bryson
updated 2:19 p.m. ET, Sun., Feb. 10, 2008

If you don’t live in Pennsylvania, this is going to sound a little weird: When I go to the beer store (a state oddity), I have to buy at least a case of beer.

It’s not because of my terrible thirst; it’s the law. We call it the case law, and it’s been in place for more than 70 years, since shortly after the repeal of Prohibition. You can’t go to the store and buy six-packs, 12-packs, or single bottles.

We can buy six-packs at licensed premises, like bars and ­restaurants — if they offer the service. Not all of them do, although some people buy a bar license and sell only six-packs, an interesting end run around the law. But there’s a catch there too. You can’t buy more than two six-packs at a time — though if you step out the door, you can step back in and buy two more.

Pennsylvania’s case law is uniquely convoluted, but much of the rest of the United States suffers under similarly irrational beer laws. Mississippi has a 6 percent cap on alcohol levels in beer, even though the state allows sales of 18 percent fortified wine. Utah doesn’t allow private citizens to buy kegs; apparently, they’re considered Weapons of Mass Drunkenness. A number of states have separate licenses and stores for beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight and for “high-alcohol” beer.

Relief is in sight: Stupid beer laws have been falling. Florida did away with its beer-bottle law, which restricted the sale of beer in anything other than 8-, 12-, 16-, or 32-ounce bottles and cans, in 2001 — although the sale of beer in bottles larger than 32 ounces is still not allowed. Montgomery, Alabama, now allows the sale of draft beer rather than just beer in cans and bottles. South Carolina recently “popped the cap” and now allows beer with more than 6 percent alcohol by volume, though the upper limit is now 17.5 percent. Dry towns across the South are reconsidering their booze bans to draw restaurant business.

In Pennsylvania, there’s a bill in the state House that would allow six-pack sales at beer stores and allow bars to sell up to three six-packs. It’s considered a pretty safe bet for passage — Pennsylvania voters have said in polls that they want to see the end of the case law. The state’s small brewers are all for it; it makes their more expensive beers easier to sample. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving is in favor of the change, because it lets people buy beer in smaller quantities.

Great, right? It’s great for consumers, maybe, but highly disruptive for the tavern and beer-store owners. The case law has shaped their business — down to the fact that beer stores have concrete floors and wide aisles for moving ­pallets of cases around, and they lack nice shelves and glass-front coolers and display units. The guys who laid out big money for bar licenses to sell six packs — they can run as high as $500,000 — may wind up expensive curiosities. As one store owner told me, “I’ve got to change my whole store to accommodate this.”

Montgomery bars are spending big bucks on keg coolers and draft lines and learning about line maintenance and cleaning glassware. South Carolina stores need a lot more shelf space for the hundreds of new beers that are now legal, and the state’s craft brewers are scrambling to learn how to brew big beers to compete with out-of-state double IPA’s and barley wines. Restaurants in formerly dry towns have to compete with chain restaurants drawn by the new ­opportunity.

It’s easy to brush this off as part of doing business, as a lot of beer bloggers are doing. The tavern owners in Pennsylvania have had a 72-year monopoly on six-pack sales, and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them? Beer-store owners had the luxury of never having to open up a case and stack sixers in the cooler. Hey, get to work!

That’s cold, almost a bit Stalinesque. Some of those business­people worked hard within the system to bring Pennsylvania a variety of beer that is second to none. The six-pack-shop guys went deep in pocket for a more expensive bar license so they could sell us the single bottles we craved. The laws were ridiculous, and I’m glad to see them disappearing. But these guys were our beer comrades, they fought the revolution with us, and now we’re going to send them into exile, saying essentially, work harder or starve.

I’d feel worse, but I suspect they’re going to land on their feet. They were, after all, the men and women who were beating the hell out of the system already. The beer-store owner I talked to was one of them. “I’ll have to put in shelves, and I maybe won’t be able to carry as many beers,” he said. “But I’ll do it.”

Faced with consumer demand and a change in the law, what else would you do? Beer is a highly regulated product, and changes in those regulations are part of the risk of business. Looking at the accelerated pace of regulatory change affecting alcoholic-beverage sales over the past 15 years — increased taxes, labeling and advertising guidelines, keg registration, and stiffer D.U.I. laws — it’s only going to get riskier.

Link to Article.

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Portsmouth's Smuttynose wants brewery in Hampton

Hot off the press!! This is Great news.


By Patrick Cronin
February 26, 2008 6:00 AM

HAMPTON — The Smuttynose Brewing Company is considering the possibility of relocating its brewery to town.

The Portsmouth-based company went before the town's Planning Board last week with preliminary plans to relocate the brewery to 105 Towle Farm Road.

The proposal was to subdivide the existing 17-acre property into two lots.

A three-acre lot would be retained by the owner and a 14-acre lot would be used to develop a brewery, restaurant and tasting room.

The existing orchard and historic barn on the property would be incorporated into the development, according to the proposal.

Planning Board member Fran McMahon said the project is an allowed use in an industrial park and it would not need any variances from the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment.

It would be constructed directly across from QA Technology.

"I would say, generally, the feedback from the board on the project was really positive," McMahon said. "There will need to be a discussion about the details, but there was no real opposition."

McMahon said the next step for the company would be to make a formal presentation and request to the Planning Board.

This is the third location the company has looked to relocate its brewery.

Originally, the brewery was planning to relocate to Newmarket, but negotiations with the Newmarket Community Development Corp. fell apart at the end of 2005.

The company then proposed to construct the facility at 1900 Lafayette Road in Portsmouth, but that, too, fell apart after strong objections from neighbors.

Portsmouth residents who spoke against the proposal listed concerns including traffic, lights, odor, noise and public safety.

Smuttynose Brewing Company is owned by Peter Egelston.

He started the company in 1994, and the company says demand for the product has grown more than 20 percent in each of the past three years. In 2006, the company produced 15,000 barrels — the most it's ever done, upgrading the company from the "micro brewery" category to "regional independent brewery" status.

In June 2007, Smuttynose Brewing ranked No. 48 on Ratebeer.com's World's Top 100 Breweries list.

Smuttynose Big A IPA was listed as one of the 25 Best Beers in America in a recent issue of Men's Journal Magazine.

Link to article

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sam Adams steps up!

Saw an article about this by Lew Bryson. Sam Adams is selling 20,000 lbs of hops they determined they can live without to small craft brewers at cost. Very cool.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Myriad of topics

Hello Everyone,

Here's a quick update of what's going on these days...

Night of the Barrels: A couple of us are heading to the Night of the Barrels event, hosted by the Beer Advocate, on Friday.

Description: A very special, exclusive, and all inclusive evening of wood-aged beers (from fresh oak to bourbon barrels to wine barrels), guest speaker panel, tasty snacks, complimentary hydration, chance to rub elbows with the industry.

Its a sold out event, but if you are interested in reading about the event, please visit: here.

Our Glass Wine Company:

Ourglass Wine Co. is a boutique wine and gourmet foods store located on Route One North on the North Shore of Boston.

On Saturday, Ian and I will be pouring samples of Craft Beer during the Winter Blues Grand Tasting. We will be pouring craft beer from Harpoon, Mercury and Sam Adams. Please visit us anytime on Saturday, February 16th between 3-7pm.

For directions, please click here.

500th beer Event:

Just a reminder that the 500th beer party will be at Jen and Ryan's house. We will be celebrating this achievement with a blind Barley wine tasting. If you have any questions, please give me a call.

Harpoon beer dinner:

If you are interested in attending the Harpoon Beer Dinner in Rowley Mass on Friday February 22nd, please sign up soon. Space is limited and it is filling up. Click here for more information.



Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Smuttynose Big Beer Series

This was a no-brainer. Please enjoy this story about Smuttynose and their Big Beer series. I am very happy to read this success story. The big bottle series has made a major impact on the 2Beerguys. While I can't say that I enjoy them all, I am never let down by their quality offerings.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

The Beer Nut: The Big winner, by a nose

By Norman Miller/Daily News staff
GateHouse News Service
Tue Feb 05, 2008, 02:52 PM EST

The bottom fell out of the craft beer market in 1996, and Smuttynose Brewing Company was among many beer makers that felt the impact. The Portsmouth, N.H., brewery lost 30 percent of its sales between 1996 and 1998, owner Peter Egelston said.

All of the company's wholesalers told Egelston he should make the beer ``more drinkable'' and ``mainstream'' - in other words, more like Budweiser, Miller or Coors.

Egelston, however, had another idea. Instead of making lighter, less flavorful beers, he went in the opposite direction, introducing a line of higher alcohol, flavorful beers called the Big Beer series.

``When I think about it, the decision to brew more robust, high gravity beers was one of the dumbest things we could think of doing,'' said Egelston. ``For me, that wasn't why I got into the business - to imitate the big-selling beers. In a way, we were almost defiant in introducing the Big Beer series. We said, `No, we want to assert our character. If we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging.'"

The Big Beer series, introduced in 1998, has been a huge success for Smuttynose. Each release, several a year, is eagerly anticipated by better-beer lovers.

This year, Smuttynose has changed the series. Currently, the new Baltic Porter is in stores, available in 22-ounce bottles; and in December, a Belgian Quad, a strong style of ale, will hit the shelves.

The Baltic Porter is a phenomenal beer. Porters are typically ales, but a baltic porter is generally brewed with lager yeasts.

The Smuttynose version is brewed with a lager yeast, and it is full of flavors. There is some roasted malt flavor, slight chocolate undertones and a sweetness, maybe from raisins or another fruit.

``Once we realized, in fact, that we weren't going to go out of business and we had some traction, we've had a lot of fun with these,'' said Egelston. ``We're looking to push the boundaries and find a style we haven't tried before. We're actually fairly conservative. We really like to stay close to traditional styles, and this is a style we haven't done yet. We thought it was a brand that was somewhat underrepresented out on the market.''

Actually, Egelston was correct - until this year. Three Baltic porters will be hitting or have hit the market in 2008. Along with Smuttynose's Baltic Porter, Victory Brewing Company of Downington, Pa., and Otter Creek of Middlebury, Vt., are releasing their own versions of the style.

Some of my personal favorites in the Big Beer series include the Imperial Stout, which will be in stores later this month; the Big A IPA (India pale ale), in stores in May; the Wheat Wine, which hits shelves in August; and the Barley Wine, an October release.

Although the Big Beer series is the most well-known among the Smuttynose portfolio of beers, it is not all the brewery is known for.

``The Big Beer series is really a fairly small part of our business,'' said Egelston. ``It generates about 95 percent of the publicity for the brewery, but they're only about 5 percent of our sales.''

That could change, though. The brewery recently installed a new bottle labeler. Now, instead of hand-labeling each bottle in the Big Beer series, the machine will do the work.

``That's a huge difference for us,'' said Egelston. ``It's the most arduous part of the job. Making the beer is fun, but putting those damn labels on by hand is the hardest part. It has been the reason we haven't made more. Our supply does not meet the demands.''

Don't worry if you're having trouble finding the Big Beer series, because they sell out quickly. Smuttynose's regular beers, available in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles, are a good alternative.

The Old Brown Dog Ale is probably the best brown ale produced in New England, while the Shoal's Pale Ale is an easy beer to quaff down. The regular IPA (The Big A IPA is a double IPA) is the brewery's top seller and is pretty tasty.

The brewery's seasonals are worth trying, too. The Summer Weizen is one of the best New England summer beers, while the Pumpkin Ale is a step above most.

Link to Article.

Terrapin Brewery makes plans for expansion

When I started reading this article, I was skeptical about posting it to the blog. Initially, I did not think that a start up brewery in Georgia was relevant enough, until I read their story.

Terrapin Beer company, founded by Brian "Spike" Buckowski and John Cochran, opened their doors as a brewpub serving craft beer and food, while contracting their beer production to Frederick Brewing Co. This is interesting to me because Frederick Brewing Co is the Brewery that Flying Dog purchased and recently announced that they will be using as their head quarters. Say no more, I'm hooked :)

It is an interesting business model and I believe that it's a great plan for someone wanting to break into this market. Rather than spending time and money on a production facility, they located a quality facility to produce their product until they had the capital to brew their own.

I hope you enjoy.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

Terrapin takes next step as it opens own brewery

By Don Nelson | don.nelson@onlineathens.com | Story updated at 8:03 PM on Saturday, February 9, 2008

Like the tortoise of Aesop's fable fame, Terrapin Beer Co. partners Brian "Spike" Buckowski and John Cochran have taken a plodding and purposeful pace in pursuing their dream of opening a craft beer brewery in Athens.

"For us, it's been a long, straight road, and (like a turtle) we just keep plugging along, slow and steady," said Buckowski, who serves as the brewmaster at Terrapin.

Buckowski and Cochran decided 10 years ago while they were both working at the Atlanta Brewing Co. that they wanted to open their own beer making facility in Athens. Last week, their dream was realized and Terrapin Beer Co. officially began brewing its craft beers in a building on Newton Bridge Road.

Since 2002 when Terrapin introduced its first beer, Rye Pale Ale, the Athens-based company has been contracting with other breweries to make its beer, most recently getting its bottled beer done at the Frederick Brewing Co. (now Flying Dog) in Frederick, Md., and its draft brew with Zuma brewery in Atlanta. The Rye has become Terrapin's flagship brew, said Cochran, who is a brewer himself, but spends most of his time on the management and sales end of the business.

Following up on the success of the Rye, Terrapin has created two other year-round beers, a Golden Ale and India Style Brown Ale. The Rye and Golden, both award winners in major craft beer competitions, are available by bottle or draft in several states, and the India only is available as a draft in Athens and Atlanta, so far.

Terrapin's first Athens-brewed beer, which initially will be produced only as draft, will be ready to ship out in kegs near the beginning of March, Cochran said.

"We hope to start bottling in a month or so," he said. "It depends on the assembly of the bottling line, which is not complete."

With the draft production under way, Terrapin now can stop its contract draft brewing in Atlanta.

"The plan for this year is to make all our beer here except for excess Rye Pale Ale bottles, which will be made in Maryland," Cochran said. "We expect to do some Rye bottles here, and those will be sold locally, but all our other products, draft and bottle, should be coming from this plant within the next three months."

Once Terrapin gets cranked up for production of both draft and bottled beer, the brewery is expected to make 10,000 barrels of bottled and draft beer a year. That translates to about 20,000 15.5-gallon kegs that Terrapin will make at home, but the company also will continue having the brewery in Maryland make 3,000 to 4,000 barrels of its Rye Pale Ale in bottles.

To give that some perspective, the Samuel Adams brewing company generates close to 2 million barrels, and Sierra Nevada brews 600,000 a year, Cochran said.

"So we're just getting started," Cochran said. "We're on the low end."

Besides its year-round beers, Terrapin makes seasonal brews under its Monster Beer Tour, through which Buckowski has produced Big Hoppy Monster, Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, All American Imperial Pilsner and Rye Squared, sold in specialty four-packs. Buckowski also will work on what the brewery is calling the Side Project, where every two months or so, he will create some "wild" new brew, Cochran said.

Getting their plans off the ground after deciding in 1998 to build a brewery in Athens wasn't easy, Buckowski and Cochran said. They spent six to eight months developing a business plan, one that a consultant with the Athens Small Business Development Center said was one of the best he had seen.

Still, that wasn't enough to sell investors or bankers, who were too taken with the high-tech frenzy.

"It was depressing," Buckowski said. "At that time back in 1999, it was all about the Internet, and if you weren't looking for $30 million and didn't have a computer in your basement, you weren't getting any money."

Asking for $1.2 million to $2 million dollars for a brewery that didn't have any product to show drew laughs from bankers, he said.

"We spent three to four years of trying to raise funds before we were actually able to release our first beer," Cochran said. "What we finally realized was we were not going to get the capital we needed to open a facility right off the bat, so that's why we started contract brewing."

The two based their company in Cochran's basement and began visiting a friend they had at the Dogwood Brewing Co. in Atlanta.

"Spike and I pooled our resources together, bought some kegs and asked if (our friend) would turn it over to us to brew our own beer," Cochran said.

Buckowski was able to create the Rye Pale Ale, which Terrapin introduced in Athens at the Classic City Brew Fest in April 2002. Later that year, the Rye won the American Pale Ale Gold Medal at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival. The beer only was available in draft form in about 15 Athens bars at the time.

That notoriety churned up considerable interest in Terrapin, with people calling from across the United States asking where they could get the beer, Cochran said.

"Because of that medal we went into the Atlanta market, and the place where we were brewing couldn't handle our increased production plus what he was doing," Cochran said.

So Terrapin sought another brewery in the Southeast to handle their increased volume and found the Frederick Brewing Co. in Maryland.

The Maryland plant had a lot of excess capacity, a nice lab and was very quality oriented, Cochran said. The brewery also allowed Buckowski to come in and supervise the Terrapin brewing, an important part of the contract, Cochran said.

Buckowski takes a strong hands-on approach to his brewing, and he possesses an artistic skill for his work, Cochran said.

As Terrapin continued the contracting brewing, Buckowski and Cochran kept seeking some investment capital to build their own facility.

The partners were working with a local financial consultant on a plan to sell stock in the company in the fall of 2006, when eight private investors stepped forward and expressed an interest in investing in the business, Cochran said.

Terrapin was able to get an infusion of $800,000, not enough to build a brand new brewery, but enough to buy the equipment and lease the building to start making beer. The investors weren't corporate types, but Athens people who liked beer and the concept of an Athens brewery, Cochran said.

Terrapin moved into the Newton Bridge Road building last March and were set up and ready to begin brewing by August. The final license came through in December.

Terrapin's short-term goals are to get the brewing operation up and running and to become profitable, Cochran said. Buckowski agreed.

"The short-term goal would be to definitely get out of the blocks and put Terrapin on the map as Athens' local brewery and get this off the ground as a viable business ," Buckowski said.

Producing 10,000 barrels of beer will help get them there, Cochran said. The company also would like to get more fermentation capacity and Cochran expects that to happen within the next year.

In the long term, both partners want to build Terrapin's reputation as a premiere brewing company.

"I would really like to see Terrapin viewed as one of the premier craft breweries in the U.S.," Buckowski said.

"It's not necessarily about the volume," Cochran said. "What we have said we want to do is to become known as the most experimental brewery in the Southeast, and that entails making a lot of different styles of beer."

The craft beer industry is a growing market, but to remain competitive, breweries need to make new tastes, Cochran said.

"The craft beer industry is all about what's new," he said.

In the past few years, the craft beer market has become more mainstream, with people who previously only drank domestic beer trying more of the craft varieties, Cochran said.

Grocery stores expanding their displays of craft beers and larger beer companies such as Anheuser-Busch buying up small microbreweries lends evidence to the growth in the craft market, Cochran said.

"We had a distributor from Florida call us and said that Publix is getting ready to do bigger sets with craft beers," Cochran said. "Kroger in Georgia does a great job with craft beers."

The growing market for craft beers and the reception Terrapin's products have gotten, especially in Athens, makes Cochran feel comfortable about Terrapin's future and about taking the gradual approach to opening the brewery in Athens.

Terrapin could have opened a brewery in Atlanta a year or two sooner, but Buckowski and Cochran were committed to Athens.

"We're in Athens for the long haul," he said. "Part of the reason it's taken so long to get open is we were committed to coming to Athens. This is our town absolutely."

Beginning Monday, Terrapin will offer regular tours for people to visit the brewery, check out its gift shop, taste the beers and get a first-hand look at the brewing process and equipment, Cochran said. Tours will be held from 5-7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and from 2-5 p.m. the second Saturday of each month.

For more information, call (888) 557-2337.
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 021008

Link to article.

Solar power used to help make beer in Oregon

When I read this article, I knew that it was something right up our alley. If we ever are involved in creating a brewpub/brewery, solar power can help.



Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

By Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Any aficionado will tell you that sometimes a good beer is like a glass of sunshine. At the Lucky Lab Brew Pub on Hawthorne, it's reality.

The brewery recently became the first in Oregon to use a solar thermal system to brew their beer.

Solar collector panels line the pub's roof, gathering the sun's energy. The harnessed energy is then used to heat the 900-gallon tank of water that stands nearby.

Lucky Lab uses the warmed water to make beer, which must be a toasty 160 degrees. It also is used for other hot water needs at the pub, like the dishwasher or bathroom.

When the sun doesn't provide enough rays to meet their needs, a traditional water heater serves as backup.

Lucky Lab Brewing Co. co-owner Gary Geist says they anticipate relying almost solely on the new system in the summer but have been able to make good use of it since it went in place in December. Even in the gray Oregon winter, the tank has gotten as warm as 145 degrees with the new system.

Making beer requires a lot of water; each sip of the good stuff is water in some form. So a significant up-front cost, about $70,000, was still worth it after Geist and co-owner Alex Stiles determined the long-term savings.

"It's a no-brainer," Geist said.

The company says the system should pay for itself within the next few years and they anticipate energy savings for the next 25 years.

"It's perfect for a brewery," Geist said. "We use a lot of water to make beer."

A handful of breweries across the country have used alternative energy for their electricity needs. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in California is creating the country's largest private solar installations for its electricity. But heating the water directly is a more unusual system.

"What feels good tastes even better and many beer drinkers are responding, applauding and supporting green craft brewers," said Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the national nonprofit industry group, the Brewers Association.

Lucky Lab said the move just made sense for economics, ethical and community reasons.

"It's a pretty incredible system," Geist said.

Lucky Lab will be brewing a special "Sun Beer" to celebrate the change and plans to put similar systems in place at other Lucky Lab locales.

Link to article.

Maryland Brewers pushing to change laws

With the rising popularity of craft beer, there is an increasing pressure to change local and state laws. Maryland is a prime example. Small craft breweries are sticking their neck out and saying that the current laws are ancient and they are hurting their business.

In summary, all beer must be sold through a distributor before reaching the end consumer. The smaller distributors are just a blip on the radar and the larger breweries get all of the attention. Hopefully changes will come soon.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!


Local breweries hope a proposed law will help them sell more beer outside their bars and restaurants.

Frederick's Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery, and Brewer's Alley Restaurant and Brewery stand to benefit from the law, which would allow them to self-distribute a certain amount of beer, rather than hire a distributor.

The owners said they've run into trouble because they brew such a small amount, it's not worth it to the distributors to spend a lot of time marketing, selling and stocking their beer.

So they hope to self-distribute until their beer becomes more established and they brew enough to interest a distributor.

Delegate Sue Hecht is sponsoring the bill, which she says is similar to a bill allowing small wineries the same opportunity. All of Frederick's state lawmakers are supporting the bill as co-sponsors.

"If you allow these microbreweries to be viable and allow these microbreweries to self-distribute and grow, it will create more business for the distributors," Hecht said.

The bill was previously introduced by Delegate Paul Stull, but withdrawn as brewers tried to work with distributors and a similar wine bill was debated.

Gary Brooks, operations manager of Barley and Hops, owns a similar brewery in West Virginia where state laws are different. He's been able to self-distribute and plans to brew 6,000 barrels of beer this year.

By contrast, he brewed only 837 barrels in Frederick for Maryland distribution. Each barrel is 31 gallons, or roughly 330 bottles.

"In Maryland, it would give us the opportunity to get our product out on the shelves," Brooks said.

Both breweries sell their beer to Harry Grove Stadium, but have had difficulty restocking on busy weekends because they have to work through the distributing companies.

They said they'd like to continue to sell to the stadium, and expand to local restaurants or golf courses. They would also be able to sell beer at craft beer festivals across the state.

As drafted, the bill would allow breweries to sell up to 5,000 barrels of beer directly to retailers. If they wanted to distribute more, they would turn those sales back over to a distributor.

Phil Bowers, president of Brewer's Alley Restaurant, said he'd like to handle the marketing while the beer is still becoming known.

"What we would like to do is to be able to grow the brand and then hand it over to the distributor," Bowers said.

Both breweries produce six types of beer, as well as seasonal brews.

They said business has taken off in the past few years as craft beer has become more popular.

"People are starting to learn more about craft beer. It's got a lot more flavor to it," Brooks said. "They are looking for a better beer, a more flavorful beer."

Link to article.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Battle in Denver over right to sell beer!!

Supermarket wine and beer sales still facing opposition at Capitol

Associated Press - February 8, 2008 6:14 PM ET

DENVER (AP) - The fight between liquor stores and supermarkets over who should be allowed to sell beer and wine continues at the state Capitol.

The grocers' have made an effort to reach out to independent store owners and craft brewers who oppose the idea but it hasn't worked.

The new proposal would allow supermarkets and other stores that sell food, including convenience stores and large retailers like Target and Wal-Mart, to apply for a license to sell beer and wine everyday except Sunday.

Food stores would be only be allowed to dedicate 5% of their space to selling beer and wine - about one aisle in a large supermarket. And they would have to make sure that 20% of that space was dedicated to craft beer and boutique wine. Liquor stores would also be able to set aside 5% of their space for selling food.

A coalition of liquor stores maintains that opening up their stores on Sunday is the best way to offer shoppers more convenience. They fear losing business to large retailers but supermarkets say that hasn't happened in other states.

Link to Article.

Is Budweiser losing their grip?

Oh, so I was a little surprised when I read about Budweiser's "100 percent Share of Mind" campaign from the early 90's. Having never stumbled upon this concept, I am shocked to never have seen this information in any of their commercials. The commercials promote the quality ingredients and the refreshing taste, but not controlling the world?. Monopoly, what? Preventing other breweries from selling their goods... Is Budweiser the REAL creator of Pinky and the Brain?

Well, the good news is that they never reached their ultimate goal and their grip is loosening. It's not major change, but dropping from 70% to 60% is a rainbow in the sky. Hopefully, with the increasing popularity of craft beer and changes in the law will decrease this hold even further.

You can decide. We have a choice. Try something different. Support your local craft brewery.


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!!

Beer distributors want more than Bud

David Kesmodel
The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 6, 2008 11:10 AM

A decade ago, Anheuser-Busch Cos. began dangling financial incentives to get beer distributors to jettison rival brands. The campaign, known as "100 percent Share of Mind," was a big hit, helping the King of Beers tighten its grip on the U.S. market.

But now, some distributors are finding that selling only Anheuser products might not be smart in the fast-changing alcohol-beverage industry.

In the past year, distributors in Texas, Tennessee and elsewhere have decided to eschew Anheuser's incentives and begin selling rival beers such as Yuengling Lager, as well as wine and spirits. Recently, R.H. Barringer Co. became the first Anheuser distributor in North Carolina to start selling other brands, acquiring a rival that sells wine and imported beer. Today, about 60 percent of Anheuser's sales flow through distributors carrying only its brands, down from about 70 percent at its peak.

The shift might help competing alcohol brands gain market share, as distributors divert some of their attention from Anheuser, which accounts for about 48 percent of U.S. beer sales. For consumers, it means greater choice at their local bars and liquor stores. Wall Street analysts say the movement signals a weakening of the St. Louis brewer's clout in the marketplace, as small-batch "craft" beers and imports, as well as wine and spirits, wrest market share from mass-market brews like Budweiser.

Anheuser's exclusive distribution system "was a great business model," but "the consumer environment has changed dramatically," says Bump Williams, general manager of the beer, wine and spirits practice of market-research firm Information Resources Inc.

In recent years, some of Anheuser's 560 independent distributors became frustrated as craft brands such as New Belgium Brewing Co.'s Fat Tire Amber Ale surged in popularity and competing distributors snatched them up. Often, the distributors adding such high-margin brews were the same ones that peddled the beers of Anheuser's top rivals, SABMiller PLC's Miller Brewing and Molson Coors Brewing Co.

Anheuser wholesalers "are realizing that we have made the competition stronger by basically forfeiting these brands to them," says Chris Monroe, vice president of D. Canale Beverages Inc., a Memphis, Tenn., distributor that carried only Anheuser products until last fall.

As profit growth eroded, Anheuser distributors began clamoring for the company to acquire brands with higher profit margins and growth rates. The beer titan has responded over the past two years. It reached a deal to import European beers such as Stella Artois and Beck's from Belgium's InBev SA. And it has expanded agreements to distribute other companies' craft brews, spirits, water and other beverages.

Some distributors began hawking rival products several years ago. Others haven't been able to distribute the InBev products and other new brands from Anheuser because of franchise laws governing beer sales. The laws, which exist in many states, block a distributor from taking over a brand unless the existing distributor agrees to sell it. Ironically, Anheuser distributors often backed the adoption of such laws.

When distributors forgo the incentives Anheuser offers exclusive partners, they are making a bet that they will make up the difference with revenue from the new brands. The incentives include cash payments of two cents a case, access to credit and truck-painting allowances.

Last fall, 11 distributors in Tennessee stopped being exclusive, in part because the state's franchise law kept them from obtaining the InBev lineup. They all began selling brews made by Pennsylvania' s D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., one of the nation's oldest beer makers, which was entering the Tennessee market.

"We saw a brand with some very strong potential, and we didn't want that brand to fall into competitive hands in the state," says Mr. Monroe of D. Canale in Memphis.

The move may be hurting Anheuser. Yuengling established 3.2 percent market share in terms of volume in food stores in Tennessee in the 13 weeks ended Dec. 30, says Information Resources. In the same period, three of Anheuser's four-top selling brands in the state - Budweiser, Busch and Natural Light - experienced sales declines. Budweiser volume fell 5.4 percent.

"There appears to be some correlation between Yuengling's entry into Tennessee and the softness in some Anheuser brands," says Mr. Williams of Information Resources. He says it is common for Yuengling to grab share from Anheuser when it enters new markets.

Dave Peacock, Anheuser's vice president of marketing, says Yuengling is having a minimal, if any, effect on its Tennessee sales, noting that other brewers experienced similar declines late last year.

Still, Anheuser wasn't happy with the way it learned of the Tennessee distributors' decision. "We found out later (in their decision-making process) than we would have liked," says Mr. Peacock. "When we don't get early communication, it rubs us wrong."

Anheuser continues to champion the exclusivity program, believing it gives distributors the best chance to succeed. "We want their efforts and focus aligned with ours," says August Busch IV, Anheuser's chief executive. The company is open to talking to its distributors about beer brands it could acquire that would help strengthen their businesses, he says.

Mr. Busch's father, August Busch III, ran the company when it began the exclusivity program in 1997. The campaign angered Anheuser's foes, especially craft-beer makers that lost access to some markets. The Justice Department investigated the brewer for possible violations of antitrust law, but eventually dropped the probe. At the time, Anheuser controlled about 45 percent of the beer market, and about 41 percent of its distributors carried only its brands. As more distributors went exclusive, Anheuser's market share rose to 50 percent, a significant feat.

So far, the biggest Anheuser distributor to end exclusivity is Ben E. Keith Co. of Fort Worth, Texas. The distributor, one of the nation's largest, sold only Anheuser beers for about 75 years until last spring. It began selling brews like Trumer Pils, as well as wine and energy drinks that also aren't affiliated with Anheuser. The decision came "after much debate and with the utmost respect" for Anheuser, says Kevin Bartholomew, who runs the company's beer division.

Mr. Bartholomew is among those who believe such a shift ultimately will benefit Anheuser, because individual distributors will have enhanced their long-term business prospects.

Some industry observers are surprised a greater number of distributors haven't flown the coop. "It really hasn't been a widespread national jailbreak," says Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, an industry publication. "It will be interesting to see if August continues to hold the party line."

Some analysts say "jailbreak" may not be far off.

Jim LaRose, a Cleveland-area distributor, says he is among those taking a hard look about whether to remain exclusive. He says his sales growth has flattened. "I have to have an outlook toward what it's going to take for me to compete in all tiers of the industry," he says.

Link to Article.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Harpoon ST. PATRICK'S festival information

Mark your O'Calendars - the Harpoon St. Patrick's Festival is just around McBend. Join as at the Harpoon St. Patrick's Festival on March 7th and 8th for a celebration that will have you getting jiggy with it once again.

Here are the details:

Friday, March 7, 5:30 to 11:00 pm (Doors close at 9:30 pm)
Saturday, March 8, 2:00 to 9:00 PM (Doors close at 7:30 PM)
Come early - Limited capacity! Rain or shine.

Here at our Boston brewery. 306 Northern Ave., Boston.

$15 cover charge includes souvenir cup. Cash bar.
You must be 21 years or older with proper ID to attend.

Visit www.harpoonbrewery.com or call 888-HARPOON ext. 3 for more details.

On the Friday night of our St. Patrick's Festival, present your Friend of Harpoon Card and receive 2 for 1 entry! Don't forget to bring your Friend of Harpoon card both days, so you can get in the faster Friend of Harpoon entrance. However, if the tent is at capacity, you must wait in line.

LOCAL Harpoon Beer Dinner - Lets Go!!

Hey NOW.... Beer dinner in Rowley. GAME ON!!

Please let me know if you want to go, Amber and I are IN!!

Email me if you are interested


Harpoon Brewery Tasting. . .with an International Tavern Fare Offering
Rowley Country Club – February 22nd

Join Harpoon for this unique beer and food pairing event at The Green Jacket Room at the Rowley Country Club. The dinner will include appetizers, four courses and dessert, all paired specifically with a different Harpoon beer. Harpoon Brewer Ray Dobens will be in attendance and discuss the beers and the food pairings.

The cost of this special evening is $25, but by mentioning that you are a Friend of Harpoon, you get a $5 discount. Reservations for Friends are required and can be made by emailing mitch.affairs@comcast.net or call 978-948-5053.

Drinks and hors d’oeuvres start at 6:30 pm – hope to see you there.

THE MENU w/ commentary

6:30 – 7:00 PM: Guests begin arriving for social gathering [Yes, we would be the guests]

- Assorted Cheese, Bread Sticks, Vegetable Crudite & Dips paired with Harpoon Munich Dark and UFO Hefeweizen [Umm.... Munich Dark... ummmm]

7:00 PM: Salutations and overlay of nights activities with menu and Harpoon Beverage offerings. [Yes, We salute YOU!!!!]

1st Course: Thin Crust Individual Chicken Spinoccoli Pizza - boneless chicken with spinach & broccoli topped with a roasted garlic alfredo preparation paired with Harpoon IPA [Yeah, don't miss this course.]

2nd Course: Colorado Chili topped with melted cheese surrounded by nacho chips paired with seasonal Harpoon Hibernian Irish Style Red Ale [Chips!! WOOO HOOO...]

3rd Course: Stuffed Grape Leaves, Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Stuffed Clams paired with Brown Session Ale [Ok, who wants mine?]

4th Course: Pulled Pork & Sliced Prime Rib BBQ “sliders” – bite size fresh rolls filled with popular tasty fillings paired with Harpoon Ale [Yeah, can't wait to have this one. Who can deny pulled pork? - um... well maybe a whole country in Asis --OOPPS ]

9:00 PM: Wrap Up with. . . Cookies & Brownies paired with Harpoon Cider [Wait for it.. wait for it... ]

Monday, February 04, 2008

Publick House

I can only hope that everyone is passionate about something in their life. For me, at this moment, I'm passionate about beer. Not just about drinking it, but writing about it, talking about, and educating others about it. As I write this, I'm sitting at the Redhook Cataqua Publick House in Portsmouth. I look around, and I see a lot of people enjoying great conversation over good beer. The premise of the publick house is, of course, nothing new.
The inhabitants of the UK have been drinking ale since the Bronze Age, but it was with the arrival of the Romans and the establishment of the Roman road network that the first inns, in which the traveller could obtain refreshment, began to appear. By the time the Romans had left the Saxons had formed alehouses which grew out of domestic dwellings. The Saxon alewife would put a green bush up on a pole to let people know her brew was ready. These alehouses formed meeting houses for the local cottagers to meet and gossip and arrange mutual help within their communities. Here lies the beginnings of the modern pub. They became so commonplace that in 965 King Edgar decreed that there should be no more than one alehouse per village.
In case you didn't catch that, there was a time reference of 965. For those of you counting at home, that was over 1000 years ago. Sure, times have changed and the beer has changed, but the concept has remained the same. Publick House's remain the same, in their purpose of providing beer to the community, and in providing a location for the community to gather and engage in conversation. I look around, and I think I'm the only one here that is here solo...and that is by virtue of a day off from work. Everyone else is here with at least one other, in some cases several people, and they are in engaged in conversation regarding a wide range of topics I'm sure, whether it be the presidential race, the Superbowl, or the beer sitting in front of them.
Later, the public bars gradually improved until sometimes almost the only difference was in the prices, so that customers could choose between economy and exclusivity (or youth and age, or a jukebox or dartboard). During the blurring of the class divisions in the 1960s and 70s, the distinction between the saloon and the public bar was often seen as archaic, and was frequently abolished, usually by the removal of the dividing wall or partition itself. While the names of saloon and public bar may still be seen on the doors of pubs, the prices (and often the standard of furnishings and decoration) are the same throughout the premises, and many pubs now comprises one large room.
Despite these distinctions, the basic premise still applied; these venues served as destinations for thirsty patrons to gather and discuss the days events. The dynamics of the conversations differ also, where some are between patrons, and other are between patron(s) and the bartender. One established change in the times is the way that publick houses are now identified. The particular one that I'm writing from has a distinctive rooftop, similar to its sister brewery in Washington. However, throughout history, publick houses were identified slightly differently.
Another important factor was that during the Middle Ages a large percentage of the population would have been illiterate and so pictures were more useful than words as a means of identifying a public house. For this reason there was often no reason to write the establishment's name on the sign and inns opened without a formal written name—the name being derived later from the illustration on the public house's sign.

The earliest signs were often not painted but consisted, for example, of paraphernalia connected with the brewing process such as bunches of hops or brewing implements, which were suspended above the door of the public house. In some cases local nicknames, farming terms and puns were also used. Local events were also often commemorated in pub signs.
The idea here is to let all members of the community, no matter their education level, know where the publick house is. While establishments these days may not need to cater to such individuals, the idea that providing a destination for all members of the community to gather and discuss the topics of the day remains. This, in essence, is what 2beerguys hope to accomplish. We've established a destination for our friends, family, and community to visit to discuss whatever is on their mind, as well as enjoy some tasty beer along the way. Short of teaching others about the merits of a hand-crafted beer, we're more than happy to just bring our friends together in good spirits and discuss amongst each other whatever is on their mind. If we had our way, they would do it over a well-crafted beer, but as long as they're together thanks to us, that's really all we can ask.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

BeerAdvocate to Host the East Coast's Largest American Craft Beer Fest

By: Todd on Wednesday - January 30, 2008 - 14:27 UTC

BeerAdvocate to Host the East Coast's Largest American Craft Beer Fest

At the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA

(Boston, MA - January 2008) In keeping with their self-elected duty to bring better beer to the masses, BeerAdvocate founders and brothers Jason and Todd Alström are crafting something big.

Held on June 20 & 21 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, the first annual "American Craft Beer Fest" (ACBF) will feature 3-sessions, invite upwards of 75 breweries, and serve at least 300 craft beers with an expected attendance of 15,000 appreciators of beer.

"It's time," stated Todd Alström, "It's time the East Coast had a large-scale, world-class event that not only celebrates the creativity and growth that's occurring amongst America's craft brewers, but puts the respect back into beer." The latter being a reference to their personal motto "Respect Beer," in which the brothers urge consumers to appreciate the brewer's art respectfully through support, beer education, and responsible enjoyment.

In addition to tasting a wide-variety of beer, ACBF will offer attendees plenty of beer education, including guest speakers, beer & food pairings, one-on-one opportunities to interact with actual brewers, and networking opportunities for beer industry professionals to help them support and bring more awareness to craft beer.

"We're excited to be working with our partner Harpoon Brewery, the Seaport team, and craft brewers in bringing the East Coast a destination event that we hope to grow into one of the largest beer fests in America," added Jason Alström. "Craft beer, its growing number of loyal followers, and the region are ready for an event like this."

Tickets go on-sale in February.

Click here for link

Free the Hops Movement

Alabama Craft Beer enthusiasts have started a Free the Hops movement that includes boycotting Budweiser products distributed by Birmingham Budweiser. This movement is inspired by delays in changing the archaic laws that prevents the sale of beer higher than 6%. This limits the sale of most craft beers which are currently in New England.

In particular, styles such as Imperial Stouts, Double IPA's, Scotch ales, and Barleywines could never be enjoyed by those in Alabama. Also, the 2Beerguys would be unable to host their Belgian education class. This is down-right terrible!! I agree that it is time to end antiquated and arbitrary laws discriminating beer

After seeing this mentioned on BeerAdvocate's website, I decided to investigate further. Starting with http://freethehops.org/, I learned that:

"Free The Hops -- Alabamians For Specialty Beer is a grassroots, non-profit organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama. These beers are commonly referred to as craft beers due to the skill and artistry required to brew them, but they are also appropriately classified as specialty or gourmet. You might think of them as the Mercedes of beers."

Generally stating that beers over 6% can not be sold is some what difficult to image. But knowing that only 1 or 2 of the top 100 beers in the world can be found in Alabama brings this issue to reality. "By law, they simply cannot be sold here. That is what Free The Hops is trying to change. We want to give Alabamians the option to choose the Mercedes of beers."

Alabama isn't alone in this struggle. Residents in Mississippi and West Virginia are handicapped by this same issue. Up until very recently, South Carolina was included in this list, but on MAY 7th, 2007, the Governor of SC signed into law a bill that raised their limit to 17.5% ABV. Currently, there are movements to reform the law in both WV and MS, while the voice of the Alabamians are falling on deaf ears.

It is rather strange, knowing that there aren't any restrictions on Wine or Spirit sales, that this law isn't changed already. It seems to be a no brainer, but those lobbying against this change have a firm grip. They are worried that their market share and profit margins will reduce when customers are given a choice.

What are the Risks? (as stated by Free the Hops)

  • Underage drinkers are not interested in specialty beer. Underage youth don’t want—and can’t afford—high ABV beers. Strong beers are an acquired taste meant for sipping and savoring and do not appeal to young adults. Moreover, strong ales are vastly more expensive than the other beer choices available and out of the price range of the average student’s beer budget.

  • There is no link between drinking-related fatalities and alcohol by volume laws. According to data from MADD , states with no alcohol by volume restrictions actually have a 6% LOWER RATE of alcohol-related fatalities than the national average. While this doesn’t establish a causal link, the data refutes the argument that allowing strong beers will increase the number of drinking-related incidents. In fact, Ohio saw a decrease in such incidents following its recent move to remove the artificial constraint on beer.

  • Finally, we're just as against drunk driving as you are. Most Free The Hops members are parents who are adamantly opposed to illegal or abusive drinking, and we believe these specialty beers will not contribute to such behavior.

What can you do?

It is as simple as GETTING INVOLVED. I think it is easier said than done. In a state, where there aren't any alternatives, it will difficult to encourage everyone to boycott all beer sales. Yes, those on border towns can spend time and money in search for craft beer, but how long will this last with the rising gas prices. The best thing to do would be to create a strong voice.

Speak with your local government officials. Find out who their friends and families are. Learn where they eat and do have their business. Spread the word to those who can make a difference. Elect those into office who are in favor.

To find out more and/or to join the cause, please visit: http://www.freethehops.org


Make Drink Craft Beer available for everyone!!

Costco enters the beer business

Here are some interesting articles released this week. With the increased popularity of Craft beer and the contract beer industry expanding, Costco has announced that they will be offering their own beer under the Kirkland brand.

The plan was approved to brew an amber ale, pale ale and hefeweizen made in partnership with Gordon Biersch Brewing in San Jose, Calif.

Through acquisition and growth, Gordon Biersch operates restaurants located in 16 states across the United States. Other brands operated by the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group include Big River Grille and Brewery, Rock Bottom Restaurant Brewery, Seven Bridges Grille and Brewery, A1A Ale Works and Ragtime Tavern and Seafood Grill, and Bluewater Grille

The market soon will determine the quality of this beer. If Cosco's is able to create a low cost quality offering, it may do well. If not, then you know what will happen. Time will only tell. :)


Drink Craft Beer, You've Earned It!!

Costco gets into the beer business
By Elizabeth Lee | Friday, February 1, 2008, 11:28 AM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A couple of years ago, Sam’s Club and Costco commissioned private label wines. I’ve tried a few of the Kirkland Signature wines from Costco, and before Christmas, picked up a bottle of the warehouse club’s French Champagne. (Good Champagne, but there’s something about the words “warehouse club Champagne” that doesn’t jell.)

Now Costco’s striking a deal for private label craft beers — you can read about it on BrewBlog, from the Miller Brewing Co.. They’re looking at a hefeweizen, a pale ale and an amber ale. According to the blog, the company is also looking at a private label single-malt Scotch. Trader Joe’s is another retailer that’s moved heavily into private label wines and beers.

Link to the article.

Costco beers soon could sell in warehouses
By Amy Martinez
Seattle Times business reporter

Costco shoppers could soon see a new name in the beer aisle.

The Issaquah company has received federal permission to begin selling its own brand of beers bearing the Kirkland Signature logo.

The Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved label applications for amber ale, pale ale and hefeweizen made in partnership with Gordon Biersch Brewing in San Jose, Calif.

But Chief Executive Jim Sinegal said during an interview Friday "there's a lot of work to do," noting that Costco is "months away" from introducing the craft-style brews. BrewBlog, an industry newsletter by Miller Brewing, reported the label-application approvals earlier this week.

Costco already sells Kirkland Signature wine, including two bottles of a 2005 Washington syrah from the Columbia Valley for $39.99, as well as a single bottle of a 2006 Pinot Noir from New Zealand for $16.89. Costco also sells private-label vodka and scotch, though not in such states as Washington, where the government controls packaged liquor sales.

"In the past, private-label beer hasn't worked," said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights, a trade newsletter in Nanuet, N.Y. "Beer, in particular, has been known to be a very brand-driven business, even more so than wine."

Store-branded beer accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. market, while Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser, captures about half of the beer sold annually, Shepard said.

Retailers covet the higher profit margins of private-label products, but consumers historically have regarded them as downscale. Because Gordon Biersch makes craft-style brews, downscale is "not where Costco is going," Shepard said. "Craft brewers are something different ... with a premium, import-type image."

Trader Joe's for years has sold private-label beers in partnership with Gordon Biersch, including a Bavarian-style hefeweizen and Bohemian lager.

For now, though, Sinegal said it's too soon to talk about a Kirkland Signature brand of beers. Costco is still negotiating with Gordon Biersch, and prices are yet to be determined.

"To begin the process, we have to seek permission to sell the product. We've done that, and now we need to develop it," Sinegal said.

"We have hundreds of products that go through this process, and some never show up," he said. "Chances are, this will, but we're not there yet."

Link to the article.