Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Craft vs. 'Crafty' Debate

According to the Brewers' Association, a craft brewery is:

An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.

Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

There has been quite a fervor lately about Big Beer (Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMillergetting into the craft beer game. These two giants have taken notice of the craft beer movement, part of a larger movement to buy local and support independent businesses over corporations. To put it simply, these two giants are (allegedly) afraid and greedy. At the end of this blog post there are links to a scant few of the myriad articles and blogs discussing this very topic.
The most recent example is Anheuser-Busch InBev purchasing the remaining stake in Goose Island Brewery of Chicago. By the above definition, Goose Island is no longer a craft brewery.

Do you enjoy Shock Top? 
Nope not a craft beer. It's brewed, distributed, and marketed by ABInBev. 
Does a Blue Moon fill your glass from time to time? 
Nope, not a craft beer. It's brewed, distributed, and marketed byBlue Moon Bre...ha! It's ultimately a SABMiller product.

Big Beer is doing everything it can to make sure you, John Q. Public, have a difficult time distinguishing between genuine craft beer and psuedo-craft beer. In acts of (alleged) manipulation, trickery 'craftiness', and obfuscation Big Beer is copying genuine craft beer packaging, mantras, and explanations. 
See if you can find a beer called Third Shift in your grocer next visit. Looks 'crafty', doesn't it? It's a SABMiller concoction. 

There is an argument that "a good beer is a good beer." Some have even gone so far as to claim a high rating on RateBeer.com or Beer Advocate means these brews exempt from scrutiny. These appeals to authority do not refute claims such as these: 
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is not a craft beer. 

If you're concerned about supporting local economies, being independent, and demonstrating your purchasing power (at least in the beer world), there are a few things you can do to make sure your next pint is indeed a craft beer.

1. Be informed - Do some research before you purchase that pint, sixer, or keg. Sites and apps like Untappd and RateBeer.com will tell you immediately who the brewed the beer. 
2. Support the venues that carry craft beer - Seek out the places that carry craft beer. Support them. It's the main way to let them know craft beer is wanted, and needed, in your area.
...most importantly...
3. Don't settle - If there's no craft beer to be had, don't have a beer. Choose something else. Settling tells the world it's okay. Have some integrity. Stand for what you believe in, what you support, and for principle.

The Promised Links

Trouble Brewing: The Craft Beer Vs. ‘Crafty’ Beer Cat Fight
Macro Ownership of 'Craft' Beers 
The Coming Threat to Your Craft Brew
Big Beer Dresses Up in Craft Brewers' Clothing
Hopslam: How Big Beer Is Trying to Stop a Craft Beer Revolution
Budweiser's Blocked Corona Deal is Partly About Craft Brews

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kickstarter and Beyond

Ok, the hard work is behind us.  We’ve got all the money we need and we should be open in the near future…NOT EXACTLY.

Fact: Our Kickstarter goal was a fraction of what it is going to take to get FSBC up and running.
Wait, what?

Yes, it’s true.  You cannot open a brewery with $45k. You cannot open a brewery with $52,350 or  $100k.  You might be able to shoe string together something that sort of works for $200k if the stars all align just right.

Unfortunately we need to spend a large portion of our funds on Kickstarter incentives.   We need a building.  We need a large building.  We need a building with industrial capacity utilities.  We need concrete floors, with drains in them.  We need lots of shiny, expensive stainless steel equipment.  We need kegs, a cold room, tables, chairs, draft equipment, lighting, comfortable bathrooms…  In a perfect world we would walk into a building with all of this in place and start brewing tomorrow.  It doesn’t exist, never has in Randolph County.

So what was the point?

The point of Kickstarter was to gain the support and loyalty of the local community.  It was not intended as a test however if it was, we (or should we say you) passed.  We needed some startup capital to continue brewing beer on a small scale to get our name out there, we needed money to put a lease on a building, we need to print up t-shirts, we need to start the legal paperwork with the Federal, State and local government, we need to pay our lawyer. 

Where do we go from here?

As one of our good friends put it: “You done good, now comes the hard part”.  

Plain and simple, we need a lot more money.  Over the coming months we will explore all of the potential inventors we have been meeting and making plans with.  Will it be easy?  No.  Will it be a challenge? Yes.  Will we be able to achieve our next goal?  Absolutely.

If the Kickstarter campaign has shown us anything it is that Asheboro is ready for a brewery.  The support we have received has been nothing short of amazing.  Think about this:  FSBC was the largest fully funded Kickstarter brewery campaign, EVER.  FSBC was the fifth largest fully funded Kickstarter food project, EVER.  The four fully funded Kickstarter food projects that earned more money than us came from Brooklyn, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle.    Enough said.

One of the lessons we have learned from breweries recently opened and those still in planning is not to predict or announce an opening date until just before the actual date.   Realistically, we are looking at close to a full year.  

Rest assured friends, family and strangers.   We will be working tirelessly to get our doors open as soon as possible. We want to be able to charge you for our beer instead of giving it away!  Please keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, our newsletter, website, blog-posting….. 

By Andrew

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Too Young to Die

“I’m too young to die.  I haven’t lived yet; I haven’t seen Italy or Spain.”
~ A recent quote from a conversation

Ever walk into a pub, bottle shop, or brewery and have a similar thought?
A thought that we beer fans, connoisseurs, and snobs will never experience all of it? 

Those beers that are only available in small markets, but end up at the top of every Best Beer list, tease us constantly.  Or, those one day events that most of us cannot drop a few hundred bucks on to get to.  Don’t forget about the breweries that offer insane in-house offerings that are bragged about via Facebook and Twitter.  
Aye, we are all too young to die.

As the craft beer world continues to expand, the Beer Bucket List grows lengthier and more daunting.  A small pang of anxiety attacks as we enter the dens of opportunity, hoping and praying to choose wisely.

When I think of great beer, there are two things that I consider to be of greater importance.
The people I’m with and the surrounding community.

I say this with full conviction - no beer has ever changed my life.  The conversation or experience had with others, possibly with a beer, has changed me.   So, I find it necessary to remind myself of a few things to keep me grounded and aware. 

It is the people, not the place or the beer.

I’ve had some great beer in my life so far.  I’ve also made some great beer as a part of Four Saints Brewing Company (http://bit.ly/K1lPu0). 

Each of those beers drank and each of those places visited really are the most superficial parts of those experiences.  The connections made, renewed, or ended during those times are the essence of what brings meaning to the craft beer experience.

The people we are meeting as we work through our Kickstarter campaign (http://kck.st/LmbeaM) have been some of the most inspiring, caring, intelligent, funny, and genuine people we have ever met.  Our beer has been the beginning of some great friendships and partnerships. And, with success or failure of our brewery, those will last.    

As social animals, we crave the sharing of an experience more than the experience itself.

Ever been drinking a great beer by your lonesome, and thought “I wish so-and-so was here to try this.”?  I have.  It’s a little like riding a roller coaster by yourself.  It may be exhilarating, but it’s lonely.  Our hearts and minds race when we run into someone who knows what we’ve experienced or are experiencing.  We can learn a lot from those around us. 

Craft beer is meant to be a social experience.  Craft beer is a conversational lubricant.  When you sit at the pub, don’t be afraid to engage the stranger to your right or left.  Ready to imbibe that beer you’ve been cellaring for three years?  Call someone to join you.  S/he may be the key to something deep within your heart or psyche.  Or, at least they’ll be one less person to explain the beer’s amazingness (or awfulness) to the next day. 

Recognize the exotic nature of your local community.
While living in Dublin through a graduate program, at first, I walked around the city awestruck – mostly at the fact I was in Dublin.  I wandered streets, some lighted and some not, finding everything exotic – i.e., “I’ve never had Irish milk!  Oh my!”  Day in and day out, I found something new to appreciate.  I drank only Guinness. 

Then, one day it happened.  I found myself in front of the television, watching a rerun of an American show I had already seen.  Maybe I was yearning for home; but it caused an epiphany.

Regardless of where we are, at some point it all becomes mundane and ‘meh’.  At that point I made a conscious decision to make wherever I was, for however long I was there, for whatever reason an exotic experience.  It takes a little work, an open mind, and willingness to truly accept your current place in the Big Picture to do this. 

Craft beer again offers us this chance.  With each local brewery of varying sizes and niches a beer drinker should rarely find him/herself struggling for that exotic experience.  Make the connection with the bartender or actual brewer, talk with the locals and regulars (you can tell who they are), observe the people and place.  Local breweries and brewpubs can be an amazing link to the parts of the community that are unfound as of yet.  You’ll soon find yourself sitting in a jungle with new species of animals sitting all around you.  Hell, you’ll be a new species yourself to some of the other explorers.  Let’s hope they don’t plan to mount you on their trophy wall.

The growth of the craft beer world is sometimes scary; 
hoping it doesn’t implode again. 
Hoping the return to a buy local mentality is real 
and not some manufactured mantra of the moment. 

Buying local isn’t just about a financial reinvestment into communities – it’s a human reinvestment into the one thing that makes everything spectacular. 
Human connection, awareness, and compassion along with great beer and great people can help those great communities revive, resonate, and revel in renaissance.

Too young to die?  Yep. 
I still haven’t met my neighbor across the street.
It’s about time to split a sixer with him (or her).  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Craft Beer is an Investment into the Community

The City of Asheboro is
...growing and thriving...
...no longer a dying community (that's sooo 2008)...
Exactly Where [Four Saints Wants] to Be.

It's taken a little bit of time for this city to begin finding herself again.  It's been eight years since I moved into Asheboro, and she's already become a more interesting, inviting, and inspiring since then.  

Patience is the companion of wisdom.
~St. Augustine of Hippo, a FSBC patron saint

Eight years may seem like a long time; in reality it's a minuscule amount of time.  A lot can change, and a lot can stay the same.  Either way, it's our choice.

That's what our Kickstarter campaign is all about.  It's a way for everyone who wants to see Asheboro continue it's Phoenix rise the chance to back a project that's already getting statewide/national recognition and interest during a time wherein we are not yet fully operational!  Imagine what will happen when we are a licensed operating brewery.

Look at North Carolina destinations like RaleighDurham, Asheville, and Charlotte.  
Craft brewing has brought culture, interest, and progress.  
Craft breweries are good for local economies. They create jobs, contribute to city coffers, are often generous to local charities and causes, and are usually willing to move into areas that are in need of rehabbing. ~ CraftBeer.com (http://bit.ly/N5ZMnq)
Having a craft brewery makes a city even more enticing and adds to a city's signature that it is a place that is growing and evolving.  Craft beer culture is becoming synonymous with the arts and intellectual circles across the nation.  
Why is that so important to Asheboro/Randolph County? 
Connecting the dots between creativity and job creation, [Richard Florida] notes, “The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses and regional growth.”... “Places that succeed in attracting and retaining creative-class people prosper; those that fail don’t.”...it’s about building community, of creating a mindset that places value on creativity, that nurtures its creators and provides them ways and means to polish their respective crafts. ~ YES Weekly (http://bit.ly/LGiKiL)

What kind of impact can a concentration on attracting and maintaining a creative (whether artistic, intellectual, or technological) culture in Asheboro/Randolph County?
A recent yearlong study conducted in Guilford County, the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofits arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States, showed these industries generated more than $118 million dollars annually in Guilford County with $11.3 million dollars in local and state government revenues and supported 4,269 full-time equivalent jobs with more than $70 million dollars going directly back into the local economy.  ~ News 14 (http://bit.ly/LGl7Sy)

Our Kickstarter campaign gives everyone the opportunity to stand-up and support a community initiative.  EVERYONE.  A strong community is supported by both blue and white collars.  

The people and businesses who back Four Saints Brewing Company are doing more than saying they enjoy Great Beer

This is about more than that.

It's about Great People looking towards the future of this area and being ready to take the necessary steps to reach the next milestone.  Four Saints Backers are these great people chipping in to make this happen, and proud of the statement they've made.

It's about Great Community.  It's about moving past the single qualifier -"Oh, that's where the Zoo is!".  Four Saints Brewing Company is about an ascension to more: art galleries, creative business ventures, cultural events, and a community centered brewery.  

Asheboro/Randolph County has the moniker of the "Heart of North Carolina". 

Four Saints Brewing Company wants to be part of this strong heartbeat.  
Be part of this initiative to make this community's heartbeat even stronger by helping FSBC get off the ground.

Thank you for your time, pledge(s), support, and the sharing of our story and vision.
I look forward to pouring you a pint or two in the near future.

Email | joel@foursaintsbrewing.com