Author: Tom Wilmes

Inside Beer: Top 10 Trends Shaping Craft Beer

If there’s one constant in craft beer, it’s how quickly the landscape continues to change. From mergers and acquisitions to strategy and packaging, here’s a look at some trends that will continue to impact the industry into 2018 and beyond. Big beer flexes its muscle. Even casual beer drinkers can’t help but notice the buying spree that juggernauts such as AB InBev, MillerCoors, and Constellation Brands have been on. Cult favorites Wicked Weed and Funky Buddha are just the latest in a long line of breweries to hand over their craft credentials in favor of the distribution muscle, resources,...

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Inside Beer: Playing the Hops Market

As critical as hops are in beer, you might expect growers, brokers, and brewers to have their supply systems dialed in to ensure sufficient quantities of the desired varieties meet everyone’s needs. Surprisingly, this isn’t always the case. Every few years, reports of a hops shortage or an oversupply ripple through the industry, causing minor panic and sending prices either shooting skyward or tumbling back to earth. Maybe there’s a drought, an unanticipated surge in demand for a certain hops variety, or too many brewers contract for more hops than they end up needing (which creates a glut of...

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Inside Beer: First the HORSE, Then the Cart

There’s a large blue HORSE taking up several prime parking spaces at Fremont Brewing in Seattle. Owner Matt Lincecum can see if from his office window. “I’m looking at it right now,” he says. “It’s a public/private partnership between us, the state of Washington and a local bioenergy company where we take a small-but-significant portion of our liquid and solid waste and convert it into electricity.” The blue shipping container in Fremont’s parking lot houses the country’s first portable bioenergy plant. Called HORSE (for High-solids Organic-waste Recycling System with Electrical Output), the unit is capable of turning roughly 1,000...

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Inside Beer: When “Local” Isn’t Enough

“Local” is a loaded word and should be approached with caution. It’s layered with multiple connotations, many of which are too readily accepted at face value. Calling yourself “local” implies you’re actively part of a community—that you’re one of us. For conscientious consumers, it signifies support for local producers while limiting how far goods travel to reach your plate or glass. For craft brewers, the “local” tag can be an advantage in securing tap accounts and shelf space, especially when going up against big players with marketing clout and distribution muscle. For a product that’s made with just four...

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