In recent years, there’s a good chance you’ve read, heard, or watched news about the incredible rise of non-alcoholic brands. A company like Athletic Brewing—one of the fastest-growing breweries in the country—or non-alc wine appearing in the latest TV revival of Sex and the City. There are examples galore, but the truth is that even as these sub-segments of non-alcoholic options grow rapidly, they remain a literal fraction of today’s alcohol market. And the opposite, high-end ABV side of things is also showing lots of strength.
In this episode, we talk with Colleen Quinn, CEO at America's first brewery to exclusively focus on beer and seltzer at 8% ABV and up, Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company. Based on a recent analysis for Good Beer Hunting’s Sightlines+ subscriber news section, we found that somewhere between 8-10% of craft beer sold in retail carries an ABV around 8% and up, a share that has basically tripled from five years ago and continues to grow. If we have products offering something for non-alcoholic occasions, Greater Good is working to position itself at the other end of the spectrum as the brewery people turn to for big, bold flavors in beer.
Colleen's beer industry experience that led her to the Massachusetts-based company started with Craft Brew Alliance—a consortium of beer companies from across the country—before a short stint with Anheuser-Busch after the company bought Craft brew Alliance in 2020. After running her own consulting firm, Colleen is now at the reins of Greater Good, which grew its production by +66% between 2019-2021. Simply put, this brewery is positioned to capitalize on an established trend in a unique way and has lots of room to run.
What does that mean for how the company accomplishes a goal of being the leading producer of big beer in the U.S.? That’s for Colleen to explore and us to learn.
The Earth is burning—so why don’t more people care? It turns out, one way to get people’s attention is to let them know that if things don’t change (a lot, and soon), we might not have beer for much longer.
In her piece titled “Seeds of Change — The Promise (and Challenges) of New Brewing Grains,” which was published on September 28, 2022, freelance writer Hollie Stephens explores the world of experimental and sustainably oriented grains like Kernza and Salish Blue, which agricultural scientists hope will change the face of craft beer and the ingredients that it’s made from. As a writer who often covers topics like sustainability and climate change, Hollie describes a sense of growing fear she feels as she learns more about the agricultural side of things. But in today’s conversation, she also shares a sense of optimism due to the ingenuity and passion of people working to make the world not just a better place, but one that simply continues to exist.
Today, you’ll hear about her initial discovery of experimental grain growing programs and why she decided to dive into their origins, scientific importance, and their effects on craft beer. We also discuss the ways that we as consumers can help incentivize brewers to invest in this developing technology. As it turns out, things are changing whether we like it or not, so time is of the essence if we hope to keep up. Hollie says it’s a wonderful time to be a beer drinker, but only if we collectively commit to understanding and engaging with where that beverage we all hold dear comes from, and where it might be going next.
How many of us have dreamed of opening a “third space”—as in, a social space that isn’t our home and isn’t our workplace—whether it be a collective art studio, a bookstore-slash-gallery, a coffee shop with live music—or perhaps a beer bar with shelves upon shelves of vinyl records? Well, the Maestro family did just that, and they did it well.
In Courtney Iseman’s piece titled “Better on Vinyl — BierWax in Brooklyn and Queens, New York,” which was published on Good Beer Hunting on September 21, 2022, she dives deep into BierWax’s history, origins, pandemic struggles, and unique place in New York City beer history. She encourages visitors to head to BierWax to discover something new, whether it be beer or music, and leave with a sense of welcoming community that serves to engage and inspire.
In today’s conversation about her piece, we’ll talk about how Chris and Yahaira Maestro created an extension of their home, how they became living proof of a dream realized, and why there simply aren’t more places like their bar out there. We’ll also discuss how it is possible to like your job, how Courtney found a new family at BierWax, and the ways in which authenticity and intention can help nurture a warm, inviting space that remains an all-too-rare outlier in the beverage scene. If you’ve ever nurtured a still-unrealized dream, this is the conversation that may encourage you to finally go for it. This is Courtney Iseman on BierWax.
When people think of South Dakota, beer doesn’t likely come to mind. Maybe Mount Rushmore. Probably agriculture. But in this episode, we’re exploring what it means to be a part of building a culture and knowledge for beer in a state where that’s still sort of new.
We’re chatting with Nicki Werner, director of brewing at Jefferson Beer Supply in Jefferson, South Dakota, a city with a small population and until just recently, a lack of exposure to homegrown beer. Nicki opened the business with her partner and Jefferson native, Anthony Roark, and together the pair are showing how a commitment to education and community can grow something unique in places where the idea of “craft beer” is still new. Light Lager may dominate the minds and taste buds of local residents, but Nicki’s skill in the brewhouse is working to introduce customers to pastry Sours, Imperial Stouts, and Hazy IPAs.
As you’ll hear from Nicki, it takes a holistic effort to pull it off, and it helps to also find inspiration from peers that show how connecting to the place where you live and work can be translated to the way you make and sell beer.
So … what did you do over your summer vacation? It’s a classic question so many of us would answer whenever returning to school each fall, and if Reggie Duvalsaint was sitting in a circle with peers to recap, he’d have a hell of a story.
This summer, Reggie crisscrossed the country to work at baseball stadiums in every corner of the U.S. As a ballpark vendor, he sold beer and food to fans. And as an astute social being and with a good business mindset, he also took note of what people became excited about and why ideas of “local” can drive sales.
So, in this conversation you’ll meet Reggie, hear about his one-of-kind journey to visit 30 ballparks, and pick up some inside tips of what people were eating and drinking while out to a ballgame. It’s a fun snapshot to a moment in time with a tour guide who spent months compiling experiences and knowledge. With that, he hopes to inspire others to find excitement with whatever they may want to accomplish, whether that’s with travel, meeting new people, or just finding an excuse to do something new and different.
There’s an inherent tension in making art. The best art comes from a deeply personal place, but also speaks in a universal register. That's not to say all art is for every person, but when the artist can successfully weave specific, individual moments into the grand themes of life, the results can be sensational.
In his column for Good Beer Hunting called “This Must Be The Place,” writer Oliver Gray shares glimpses of his life through the lens of beer: sometimes directly, other times more esoterically. His lyrical observations about finding his place as a beer lover, father, partner, and friend remind me of songwriting, in that there may or may not be an obvious answer at the end, but it sure has a beautiful flow.
Today, Oliver and I discuss how he evolved from a nonfiction writer to a blogger to a columnist, as well as why he shifted from his own outlet to Good Beer Hunting. You’ll hear which writers and artists inspire him, as well as why he thinks certain things simply matter in the way that they do. We’ll also dive into what struck me specifically in his latest entry called “Boxed Up,” which pinpointed the freeing, but chaotic, experience of moving.
Oliver describes his short, poetic entries as comfort food, a descriptor with which I agree wholeheartedly.
In this episode we’re taking a trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where Whitney and Scott Selix share with us stories of their hospitality careers and what it means to create an innovative tap list at Lua Brewing. It’s that latter piece that caught my eye when I first came across Lua, with a lineup that includes traditional German and English beers alongside various hazy IPAs and slushee Sours.
If like me, you may not know a lot about the brewing scene in Iowa, and Whitney and Scott offer context of being part of a growing beer culture where you can introduce a drinker to new styles with something like an English Mild, but you also have to provide access to something fun and different—like a “Blue Razz Electrolyte Sour” that as it turns out, wasn’t the first take in Des Moines on that collection of flavors and ideas.
As partners at Lua and in life, let’s get to know a little more about this brewery and what it means for Whitney and Scott to make something special in a burgeoning market.
This is Lua Brewing’s Whitney Selix, president and co-founder, and Scott Selix, director of operations and co-founder.
Lager might be having a moment, but as a whole, craft beer drinkers don’t always reach for the easiest beer on the menu. Instead, the newest, most intense, biggest beers on the block tend to get the most attention. But sometimes—often—the best beer is actually the familiar one, the favorite, the old reliable. Sometimes, it’s Narragansett.
In his story “Hi, Neighbor — Narragansett Lager’s Return to Ubiquity,” writer Matt Osgood manages to tie the Red Sox, the movie “Jaws,” and the iconic ’Gansett Lager into one historical romp through the brewery’s origins, influence, evolution, and impact on today’s craft beer culture. As you listen, we’ll talk about why he tends to write about singular beers and breweries through a historical lens, what he wished he could have explored more in his piece, and why this story couldn’t have happened anywhere but New England. We’ll also unpack how Narragansett manages to balance nostalgia with modern-day beer culture, and why this unassuming “hipster” beer is enjoyed by everyone.
Beer doesn’t have to be a challenge to drink, and today’s conversation is as easy as popping open a cold Ganny and crushing it like Quint. Don’t get the reference?
It’s time to talk apples. Or, at least, how apples fit into all the other flavors you might experience when you pop open a bottle or can of hard cider. To help with this journey, we’re chatting with Jasmine Mason and Ashley Johnson, a pair of cider lovers and entrepreneurs behind the Cider Jawns. As to what a “jawn” is exactly we’ll get into during the conversation, and along with some Merriam-Webster definitions, Jasmine and Ashley will share with you insights into what feels exciting to today’s cider drinkers.
For some, it’s finding a kind of hard cider that surprises, whether dry or sweet. For others, it’s about the flavors that can be added on top of an apple base to create something fun or different. But regardless of your level of experience with cider, Jasmine and Ashley will give us a good barometer of what’s working in today’s market and for who, and how they like to use that to guide the way they think about and make cider.
From the jump, it’s easy to hear and understand Ashley and Jasmine’s enthusiasm for cider and how they’re working to carve out a space for themselves and others. And by the end of this conversation, you’ll also know how they hope to take that effort further in the future.
Like many craft beer enthusiasts entering their late 30s and early 40s, I’ve found the booze real estate in my refrigerator is starting to shrink. First, I started adding cans of LaCroix knockoffs from ALDI. Then I swapped a few beers for some hard kombuchas, followed by regular kombuchas. Right now, I’ve got cans of fruited sparkling tea, and recently I realized that the only alcohol I have left in the house are samples for work.
I am, like thousands of others, beginning to dabble in reducing my alcohol consumption. The motivations for doing so are myriad, whether it be intentionally for health, economically because of inflation, or for any number of other reasons. These shifts, once cast as secrets among craft beer fans, became much more openly discussed when longtime beer writer Norman Miller announced he was giving up alcohol for health reasons in 2018, along with his beer column, “The Beer Nut.” It was a revolutionary admission, and one that resonated with fellow beer writer Jerard Fagerberg, among many others.
In the first piece for his new column, Let Go Or Get Dragged, Jerard speaks with Norman four years after that announcement of his sobriety. You’ll hear clips from Jerard and Norman’s conversation today, as well as Jerard’s inspiration for the column, his personal drinking history, and his approach to sobriety. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of non-alcoholic beer, and the societal movement that’s seeing more Americans embrace being sober-curious. This isn’t a critique on the beer industry itself: Rather, it’s a holistic look at how alcohol shapes our lives, our culture, our minds, and our bodies.
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