Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Maine Editorial (Page 2 of 2)

2015: The Year of the Craft Beer Growth Spurt

This year will be a year of growth – and possibly some growing pains – for Maine’s craft breweries. [Read more…]

Is ginger the new black? Ginger-flavored beers sneak into summertime

When I think of ginger, I usually think of two things. First, the little paper wrapped candies you can pick up at Trader Joe’s that are equal parts addicting and mouth-burning. Second, the strange yet ever-present pink stuff on the side of sushi plates. I don’t normally immediately think of beer. [Read more…]

An End To Bull Jagger, But Not To Great Lagers

This morning, a few folks on twitter noticed that Bull Jagger’s brewing equipment was posted for sale on Craigslist. After much speculation started to stir, there was an official announcement from Tom Bull.

Friends of Bull Jagger~

As some of you know, the brewery is for sale. Bull and Jagger are going their separate ways, and under the circumstances, we have no choice but to close the company. In the coming weeks, we will have fresh beer to package and sell. Our lagers are and will be available in Maine through our distributor, retailers, and to the public while supplies last.

Tom Bull, co-owner and head brewer, has been asked by the owners of the Big Claw brand to work with another local brewer to brew Big Claw Pilsner (and keep Tom brewing in general) for the coming spring and summers seasons . . . and beyond.

A world of gratitude to all of you who have supported us– we have learned a lot, laughed a lot, and made lots of new friends along the way.

After the brewery is sold, Tom will regroup and continue to pursue the passion that made him Maine’s 1st all lager craft brewer. Until then, enjoy our local lagers and keep supporting your local craft beers and beer sellers.

Drink up boys and girls, the brewery needs the kegs.

Prost!

I am saddened, but encouraged by the prospect that the delicious beer that came from Bull Jagger will continue somehow in the future. I wish them the best of luck and raise a glass to their future endeavors!

The Session #43 – Welcoming The New Kids

This month I have the pleasure of hosting The Session – a monthly space for beer bloggers around the world to blog on the same topic on the first Friday of the month. Though my announcement is slightly late, I hope that many bloggers can join us in this fun blogging exercise – posts are due on September 3rd. And, don’t be afraid to contribute if you’re new to The Session. The topic for Session #43 is very fitting for those just getting their feet wet…

Picture yourself starting school, on a cool, crisp September day. Only, you’re not as excited as you usually are because you’re starting at a new school. No one knows who you are, groups of friends are already established, and you have nightmares about getting lost in the hallways trying to find your next class. How will you ever fit in?…

In some ways, there may be a beer-world parallel to this experience: new craft breweries joining an established beer community, or even tougher, breaking into a non-craft beer town.

In the past year, there has been a sharp increase in the number of breweries in the US, completely bucking the steady trend of the past five years. According to Brewers Association stats, there are 1599 craft breweries in the US (as of July 2010), 110 of which opened in 2009. If you check out this graph of all U.S. breweries (which shows the total brewery count for June of each of the featured years) if you don’t believe me that brewing is taking off with leaps and bounds.

With the astounding growth of the number of craft breweries this year, chances are there’s a new one in development, or has just started out in your area. My challenge to you is to seek out a new brewery and think about ways in which they could be welcomed into the existing beer community. How does their beer compare to the craft beer scene in your area? Are they doing anything in a new/exciting way? What advice, as a beer consumer, would you give to these new breweries?

Take this opportunity to say hello to the new neighbors in your area. Maybe its a nanobrewery that came to a festival for the first time that you vowed to “check out” later. Maybe it’s a new local beer on a shelf on the corner store that you hadn’t seen before. Dig deeper and tell us a story about the “new kids on the block.” I look forward to welcoming them to the neighborhood!

To participate in The Session:
Write a post about the topic above – and leave a link to the post in comments on this post.
I’ll write a wrap-up post after the submissions come in so that everyone can see what you’ve shared.

Happy writing, Cheers!
The Beer Babe

What does it really mean to “go local”?

Everyone has a laundry list of resolutions, I’m sure. Lose weight, finish the novel, donate more to charity…

I made up a short list of my own as far as my own beer drinking was concerned, and one stuck out to me – “support local beer.” In the days of this economy, where each little business is hanging on the hopes of their customers, it seems more important than ever to me to take a step back and look back into our own neighborhoods. Let’s face it – national craft beer distibution is a wonderful thing, and there are some fabulous beers from “away” that I enjoy very often. But I started to wonder if this national distribution was keeping me from truly enjoying the local flavors around me.

I patted myself on the back and thought it was very noble of me to try and “go local” and then didn’t think about it again for a few days. While driving in the car, I began to wonder about the actual work involved in supporting my newly local Portland, ME beer scene. What does that resolution actually mean, and what’s the best way to accomplish it?

After musing (over a beer, of course) I came up a much more specific ideas as to how I could support my local breweries, brewpubs and bars. I thought I would share them with you just in case you had them on your list as well.

1. Get to know your beer store (beverage center, package store, etc.). I don’t care if you get your beer at a supermarket, corner store, specialty store or in the back of a little gas station. These places are owned and managed by people. If you find one that is on its way into carrying craft beer, talk to the managers and tell them how much you appreciate their carrying of local brews. Often, getting them to stock a local beer is only a matter of asking – and having a good relationship with your “beer guy/gal” can only lead to good things.

2.Picture 13 Go visit a brewery near you, and take a tour. Don’t know where the breweries near you are? In addition to Ratebeer’s own brewery locatorThe Beer Mapping Project is also a great resource. They’ve got all the brewpubs & breweries you’ve ever heard of – searchable by location, type & name, and displayed on a map (oh, and yes, there’s an iPhone app, too.). Peruse the country and you’ll realize that the statistics are true – there really is a brewery close to everyone (at least in the US). Visiting the brewery itself also often has unexpected benefits – by offering special beers that they don’t distribute, getting to meet or talk to a brewer, and meeting like minded beer-folk.

3.  Find that great beer bar near you. Seek it out, and use your beer-buying power to vote with your tongues. You know the type of place that I’m talking about. Maybe they don’t have 50 taps or exquisite selections of foreign beer, but they have 4-5 taps of steadily good local beer from local brewpubs. Search for and cherish bars like this, and more bars might consider adding the local taps to their lineups.

4. Tell people about good local beers you’ve had. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Spring Peeper Ale, the debut beer from Maine Brewing Company has spread like wildfire in popularity, yet it is only because people are “talking it up.” If you like a beer, declare it! In my case, I am specifically going to write about at least one additional beer monthly that’s local.

5. Encourage restaurants who support “local food” to also support “local beer.” I have been to a lot of places that really emphasize local ingredients, and some have embraced local wineries – but how great would it be for them to strike up partnerships with local breweries? Again, using the power of your wallets and voices, speak up! Ask for local breweries, and they’ll start to consider it the more they hear about it.

6. Resolve to pick local beers when beer shopping. This sounds really simple, but isn’t. Who hasn’t been tempted by the newest far away breweries, and pass by their local beers, even if they have a new beer? Local breweries might not have fancy packaging or even fancy websites, but deserve our attention just the same. For me, that actually means keeping track of where my beers come from, and trying to remember to give some session beers a chance.

I’m sure there are more strategies, and I may share them as I go. But for now, I’m going to be taking a second look when I’m out. A second look at what’s on tap, a second look at the beer list, and a second look at my local beer aisle. How have your efforts been to support your local brewery? Do you have any other additional hints to share? Leave a comment!

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