Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
We all have moments in our lives where a heretofore unrecognized pattern suddenly reveals itself; a blurry vision becoming clear, or a tiny voice screaming at the back of your head stepping forward and calmly explaining itself. A number of news items recently appearing on various beer-centric websites knocked something loose in my head, and when I managed to put it back in place I had to stop and ask myself, “what exactly is happening here?”
What’s happening are deals like the recently announced partnership between Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg to open New Carnegie in Stockholm, Sweden early next year; Duvel-Moortgat’s purchase of Boulevard Brewing Company; and the announcement of America’s first officially-sanctioned Trappist brewery — Spencer Brewing Company based out of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass.
For an industry whose devotees cling tenaciously to identities — be they brand, local, style, etc. — this sudden embrace of the values of globalization presents as many opportunities to alienate craft beer drinkers, and in turn the general public, as it does to offer great new beers.
The biggest concern with a world of “beer without borders” is the cheapening of what makes certain names and styles special. This is a phenomenon that we’ve seen grow in the wine industry over the past ten years or so: you can go to your nearest specialty supermarket and buy a bottle labeled Barolo or Barbaresco, for less than $15, that is made to the letter of the law, but in a factory winery rather than an estate or cooperative.
There’s nothing “wrong” with that wine, and it may fulfill the legal requirements necessary to label it as being from a particular place, but it ignores the meticulous attention to detail, the craft, of the family-owned and operated vineyards and wineries that made these regions great in the first place.
It’s a classic debate: if Stone Brewing ever goes through with its desire to open a facility in Europe, does that not make them just another international corporation, turning out the same product in multiple countries like the makers of the “fizzy yellow beer” Stone CEO Greg Koch has railed against over the years? What does “Trappist” mean if you can just build a brewery onto any existing monastery of the Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance and bring in a local craft brewer to get the suds flowing?
Despite the rant at the end of that last paragraph, I’m not as apprehensive as most of my fellow beer geeks about these developments. American craft brewers are simply responding to growing overseas demand for their beers. Brooklyn’s expansion into Sweden is no accident; its export business is growing by 25 percent annually, and Sweden is Brooklyn’s top foreign market (Scottish craft brewer BrewDog opened its first non-U.K. bar in Stockholm earlier this year). Brooklyn CEO Steve Hindy said the brewery is “the biggest exporter of craft beer, bigger than Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada.”
The New Carnegie project will produce new recipes developed in collaboration with the crew at the original Carnegie brewery, produces of the excellent Carnegie Staark Porter. Brooklyn Brewery beers will continue to be brewed in the U.S. only. New Carnegie’s beers should eventually make their way here to America as well, and I always welcome good new beers.
As far as the American Trappist brewery goes, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for one to emerge. There has been more than one effort to get the Trappist Order’s seal of approval for beer over the past few years, and with the growing influence of Duvel-Moortgat in the U.S. and projects like the Ovila line of beers made by California’s Abbey of New Clairvaux, it was only a matter of time before there was an American Trappist brewery.
Also, with the addition of Austria’s Stift Engelzell as the eighth Trappist brewery last year, we may just be seeing the beginnings of an expansion of the Order’s influence in the beer business. I’m excited by the apparent involvement of Dann Paquette from the outstanding Pretty Things Beer in Spencer Brewing Company. Everything I’ve been fortunate enough to try from Pretty Things has been great, so my hopes are high for the Spencer Brewing beers.
It’s easy to get worked up about companies “selling out”, or becoming “fake” because they’re expanding and opening new facilities. As long as these breweries produce good beers that don’t purport to be anything they’re not, I don’t see the problem. If Stone ever gets to open its European brewery, it’s going to make some of the best and most arrogant beer in the world, just like it does now in San Diego.
Some companies are going to falter for sure, and some are going to get worse, not better. Such is the way of the world. The good news is that more and more craft breweries are springing up not just in America, but all over the world, and as long as there’s something new, there will be something new to try. Also, it means I’ll still have a job. Until next time.
Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
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In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village