Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘Alcohol by volume’

Belgian Beer 101 – For People who Love People who Love Belgian Beer

Ideas to Help with Holiday Giving…

Every year when holiday season rolls around and I’m browsing my local craft beer aisle for new brews, I watch nervous parents, grandparents, husbands/wives, and other adults aimlessly scanning beer labels in hopes of choosing just the right combination of beers for their loved ones who love Belgian craft beer.

Harried sales clerks are often too busy to repeat their picks to yet another clueless customer whose son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend loves specialty beer.  While it’s easy to pick up a six-pack of something local, many are looking for an introduction to Belgian Beer so that they can make informed choices.

Note that beer drinkers are like art lovers or foodies!  There are often style/flavor preferences that differ between friends and family members about their beer preferences: the light beer drinkers who buy whatever is cheapest in the 24 can pack (stop reading now,) those who prefer Belgian beer (this is for you and yours,) those who are American craft beer lovers (see my next blog post,) while some are just getting into the “beer world.”   

For those who love Belgian beer and those who love them, I compiled Belgian Beer 101 – for yourself (if you want to know more) or print out for a loved one who simply isn’t as knowledgeable or passionate about Belgian beer as you are.  (You can thank me when you finally get a delicious gift of good Belgian Beer !)

One point to note – if you or your recipient is into BELGIAN BEER – buy Authentic Belgian!  

Don’t be swayed by a bottle or package of Belgian-style American craft beer (unless you’re really on a budget.)  Belgian imported brews have unique flavors that come through generations of pride, tradition, barrel aging and often wild Belgian (in the air) yeast.  It’s like being transported to Belgium and living the good life!  For me, the
deep richness that comes with my favorite Belgian brews are worth the extra couple of dollars I might spend.  (It might sound snobby, but I like what I like.)

Still stumped?

petrus-aged-red1Create a gift basket or 6 pack of several different Belgian beers:  For starters choose different styles that show the diversity of Belgian beers:

  1. One bottle of Lambic (you probably won’t think it is beer because it tastes more like a fruity champagne-style drink than a “traditional” U.S. style beer.  This is a great choice for anyone who might have to share their gift with someone who “isn’t really into the taste of beer” (we ALL know people who say this!)  Brouwerij  (Brewery) Van Honsebrouck N.V. brews St Louis lambics:  Framboise (French for Raspberry) and Kriek (French for Cherry);
  2. A couple of barrel-aged  brews such as the Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Petrus suite of beers including  Petrus Oude Bruin, Petrus Aged Red (my favorite – it’s deep  amber color and sweet) and Petrus Pale ale.  If you or your recipient are a bit adventurous, you might want to take a look at the combination “Sour Power 6-pack” (it comes with instructions on how to blend the brews to get your perfect taste!);
  3. One bottle each of a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Quad.

This would give you a nice varied six-pack of small (11.2 oz) bottles. If you want to create a basket – 2 or 3 of the larger 25 oz / 750 ml (wine bottle sized) bottles or a large and a couple of small bottles, together with a couple of Belgian beer goblets or flutes that match the brewery (or blank ones) makes a great gift. (I’d choose one of the Brewery De Bradandere’s barrel-aged brews, plus a Dubbel and a Quad for variation.)

Happy holiday season, and please share, like, comment – and let me know if this has helped you with your holiday giving !  If you’d like me to send you a copy by email, send me a note at caroldekkers@gmail.com with the subject Belgian Beer 101.  I’ll also be doing a Craft Beer 101 in the next couple of weeks.  Are you interested?

As the Belgians would say:  à votre santé (to your health) or Proost! (cheers!)

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 1

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Belgian Beer 101 – Page 2

There’s nothing like Speed Dating with Breweries (I think I’m in Love)

One of the most popular sessions at the annual Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference   is called Live Beer Blogging, (this year #BBC16 was the 7th conference,) during which attendees sample tastes of a dozen brews in rapid succession over the course of an hour.  Described affectionately as ‘speed dating with breweries’ (without the obnoxious nature of regular speed dating,) we sample a variety of beers introduced and poured by local brewers/brewery reps in 5 minute increments.

Live Beer Blogging creates memories that stick.  I remember my first meeting with Night Shift at BBC13 in Boston – it was a love at first taste experience!  Now, when someone brings a Night Shift brew to a bottle share, I’m taken back to that night in Boston 3 years ago.

This year’s conference just finished two days ago here in my home city of Tampa, FL, with JJ Taylor Distributing hosting the Live Beer Blogging.  10 regional and national brews waltzed across our table hoping to find favor with bloggers and writers alike.  (This year it was interesting that my table was entirely women, save for one brave male…)

Want to experience Live Beer Blogging vicariously (albeit second-hand?)  Using newly released Facebook Live (with apologies to professional videographers) – I present to you, the #BBC16 Live Beer Blogging experience:

  • First up:  Local Brewery St Pete Brewing with Casey Cothran introducing The McCracken (a Scottish Ale named in honor of head brewer Jon McCracken)
  • Next up is Safety Harbor’s Crooked Thumb Brewery (on the NW side of Tampa Bay) with owner Travis Kruger pouring their Florida Gose. (Apologies for my random cameos. I’ve since learned that the zoom button is different from the “swap camera” button!)
  • Local favorite, Cigar City Brewing brought limited edition bottles of Decoherence, which was released solely as part of the (private club) Catador series.
  • This was followed by California (and North Carolina) brewery, Sierra Nevada, featuring their new  Otra Voz, a Gose Style Ale brewed with Grapefruit and Cactus.
  • Sarasota brewery J Dubs made a splash entry by having brewery owner Jeremy (the J in J Dubs) in a bovine costume pouring his Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter.
  • New Belgium Brewing of Colorado (and North Carolina) poured samples of their Citradelic IPA.
  • Cape Canaveral located Florida Beer Company featured representative Seth Kapp pouring their Florida Lager (sidenote: notice how crowded the table is started to get?)
  • Up next was California based Lagunitas Brewing Company whose principals brought with them their signature brew, Lagunitas IPA.
  • Miami based Saltwater Brewing (who gained recent global attention with their biodegradable six-pack can holders) was up next with their Screaming Reels IPA.

Rounding out the 10 featured breweries was Georgia based Terrapin Brewing whose representative poured their refreshing Watermelon Ale.   On request of the representative, I have not included the video in this post.  Nonetheless, the beer was refreshing and tasty on the hot summer day!

That’s it for 2016 – and with the 2017 conference in Milwaukee, WI, I’m looking forward to another great adventure in Live Beer Blogging.  Whew… 10 brewing samples in less than an hour!  A feverish pace, lots of tasting (and discarding!) but thankfully, I’m blessed to be one of the someone’s who simply… has to do it.

Slainte!

Carol

 

A typical Beery Saturday in Tampa Bay… May 14, 2016

It’s an epic time to be a Floridian with a burgeoning craft beer scene and lots of events going on every weekend.  In fact, it’s been stated that on some weekends, there’s simply TOO MUCH going on, making it hard to choose where to go.

Today is no exception – there are three notable events happening and I’d love to be able to attend all three. Two are charity events and one is an out-of-state brewery event:

1. Barns and Beer Craft Beer Festival – Old McMickey’s Farm, Odessa (just north of Tampa)

**** TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR ****barns and beer updated may 14

This is the second craft beer event for the farm (a 501c3 charity) to raise money for their charitable programs including military weddings, children’s camps, and a host of other worthwhile endeavors for the community.

In addition to unlimited tastings, entertainment will be provided by the Black Honkeys (a celebrated local band!) and there will be mechanical bull rides, egg races and more.  Professional brews from around Florida are the focus of the tastings.

I still need a few more VolunBEERs (you get in free in exchange for working 1/2 the festival to pour beer, work the gate, etc.) – here’s the link if you’d like to sign up:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084da5af2caafa7-barns

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/barns-beer-may-2016-tickets-22499606930

2. St Pete Beach Beer Festival

St pete beachThis is the second charity beer fest this weekend – this one focuses on homebrewers and their wares plus local breweries in the bay area.  A growing community festival worth checking out if you’re close to the beach.

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/st-pete-beach-beer-festival-tickets-24607898888

3. Blue Point Toasted Tour

blue point

Blue Point Brewing is bringing their Toasted Tour (based on their flagship brew: Toasted Lager) and will feature entertainment and beer in downtown Tampa at Waterworks Park.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154253177946609/ 

General admission – No charge to get in, Blue Point beer available for $5.  – VIP Tickets available (includes beer.) but I couldn’t find a link to the ticketing site.

Enjoy your weekend responsibly!  I hope to see you out and about enjoying the best brews Tampa (and beyond) has to offer.

SLAINTE!

“The Festival” 2015 Florida – Thank you to all VolunBEERs!

Having just returned from the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC15) in Belgium at the end of August, 2015, I was excited to be coordinating volunteers for “The Festival” presented by the Shelton Brothers in St Petersburg, FL.

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Now in its 4th year, The Festival brings in specialty craft brews coveted by beer geeks everywhere with a personal presence by some of the world’s finest brewers and brewery representatives for brands imported by the Shelton Brothers. Two of my favorite Belgian breweries,  Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen and Brouwerij Cantillonwere well represented, along with an entire St Petersburg Coliseum full of famous notables from the international, U.S., and local brewing scene.

Sidenote:  If you are purely interested in the array of brews, the brewers, and the breweries involved in the festival (or photos thereof), please visit www.sheltonbrothers.com to see coverage of The 2015 Festival. From my perspective it is  suffice to say that it was one of the most diverse, well-organized, and friendly festivals I’ve ever seen, thanks to the people involved.

After three well-attended sessions this past weekend, I’d like to shout out and give my thanks to a few people who made The Festival so incredible this year.

This post is a tribute…

20151017_231227-1To the thousands of hours invested by Shelton Brothers staff, international brewery reps, and local beer ambassadors whose passion to high quality craft beer made this a once-in-a-lifetime, international event a reality for us in St Petersburg, FL.

Among the locals who stand out are Bob Sylvester, owner and head brewer at St Somewhere Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs, FL and JB Ellis, owner of Mr. Dunderbak’s Craft Biergarten in Tampa whose love of Tampa Bay culminated in The Festival being in St Petersburg this year.  Thank you Bob and JB.

20151017_191436-1Thank you also to Joel and Dan (Shelton Brothers), Jordan DeFrank  and everyone else at Shelton Brothers importers whose efforts brought European, Canadian, Australian, NZ, Japanese and other brewers to The Festival and graced our shores with heaven-sent beverages (or at least they tasted that way!)

Thank you also to my team leads:  Tim Bennett of Armon Events, Robert and Lisa Bandl, and Mike Thompson, head brewer at Brewer’s Tasting Room. I couldn’t have done it without your energy, advice and support.

And, finally, THANK YOU! to my army of close to 300 VolunBEERs, whose enthusiasm, flexibility, courtesy and boundless energy went above and beyond to make this year’s festival the best ever.  Hopefully, this is the start of many Shelton Brothers festivals and other notable brewing events in our area!

Sidenote: VolunBEERs are needed to several more upcoming events – please check out our Facebook Page for Carol’s VolunBEERs or our master sign-up page for opportunities to help out!  (Yes, even if you fly in to VolunBEER, we want you!)

Hopefully, this gallery of photos helps to convey a bit of the spirit, friendliness, personality, diversity and vibrancy of our VolunBEER community.  THANK YOU all for your service!

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p.s., This weekend (Oct 24, 2015) in St Petersburg is Keep St Petersburg Local week with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon event called “In The Dip” – I still need Localicious_IN_THE_DIP_FB_CoverVolunBEERs to pour beer!

 

 

Come out and have fun with us!

Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) Mar 7-15, 2015 – Shortcuts, Fun Events and VolunBEER Opps

tbbw 2015

Throughout the U.S., (and increasingly in other countries as well,) full-scale regional BEER WEEKS are becoming the norm.  With over 3000 operational craft breweries, Beer Weeks are definitely becoming TOURIST DESTINATION WEEKS!

Our local Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) is imminent (Mar 7-15, 2015) will again be a celebration focused on local Tampa Bay (30+) and Florida breweries (close to 100!) with a few notable anchor festivals on the first and second #TBBW weekends:

All told, if 2015 is anything like years before, you’ll be able to select from close to 300 events on both sides of Tampa Bay (and north and south to Bradenton, Sarasota, Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, and beyond) – visit the #TBBW website for up-to-date listings and  links about 2015 events.

VolunBEER (volunteer) Opportunitiessignup genius

If you’re short on cash or simply want to donate your enthusiasm and energy to making local craft beer events run smoothly (volunteer tasks range by event and can include registration help, checking identification, selling tickets, pouring beer, fetching ice, emptying dump buckets, door security and other jobs,)  you may want to join my VolunBEERs database (simply email your name, email and cell number to me:  caroldekkers at gmail dot com!)

 

What’s New for #TBBW in 2015DIPA TBBW 2015

For the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Beer Week board has commissioned a special beer to commemorate craft beer in Tampa Bay.  Brewed this inaugural year by Cigar City Brewing, the Double IPA (DIPA) is already available by the bottle at Cigar City’s Tampa tasting room, and will be available throughout the bay area at local #TBBW sponsors, bars and establishments (distributed by J.J. Taylor.)

Carol’s Event Recommendations for #TBBW:

  • Sat Mar 7, 2015: Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest (see links above) – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 8, 2015: Best Florida Beer presents Brewers Ball (see links above) – Tampa
  • Wed Mar 11, 2015: TBD. Recommendations to come!
  • Fri Mar 13, 2015:  Friday the 13th!  Recommendations to come!
  • Sat Mar 14, 2015: Hunahpu’s Day – Cigar City Brewing Company (see links above) – sold out! – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 15, 2015:  Recommendations to come!

Drink responsibly – designate a driver to get you and your friends home safely!

Cheers,
Carol

Hey Bartender, Real Women Drink Craft Beer

I love craft beer and the craft beer community – it’s uniquely optimistic, positive, creative, social, family oriented, pet friendly, gender-neutral, and open-minded. On average, craft beer drinkers are upwardly mobile (two-thirds earn over $75K a year, are between 26 and 54, and almost 50% are women.)

Certainly craft beer drinkers are no different from mainstream society: we face challenges with career, jobs, family and finances like everyone else, but one of the best parts about our community is that the quest for great brews, new tastes, loves and life dominate our gatherings!

Unsurprisingly, the craft brewing industry (breweries, brewers, distribution, retailers and bars) is dominated by men, but the latest statistics also show that a staggering 44% of craft beer drinkers nationwide are women!  And bartender, we’re knowledgeable women at that!

Bay Area Barley's Angels

It might come as a surprise to you to know that female craft beer drinkers are regularly “dissed” at craft beer establishments (all the above) by both men and women alike.  By “dissed” I mean disrespected, discounted, and disregarded as if we negligently ended up in craft beer places.

Two years ago when this started happening to me, I chalked it up to my superpowers of invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female with all-my-own-body-parts.  I was so frustrated that I even wrote a blog post about it:  “IWF (Invisible White Female) – The forgotten demographic.”

So, I was a bit surprised to discover,  via a Facebook discussion in a craft beer group, that the issue is widespread among women who are experts in craft beer.  Throughout the country, and across the world, we are often treated as if we don’t have a brain (or rights to be served,) – yet our money spends equally well.  And, even more surprisingly, craft beer men sometimes face similar treatment AND see what we go through.  It’s the beginning of a solidarity movement of sorts, but I digress.

real women craftReal Women Drink Craft Beer…

More women are moving into drinking beer, especially craft brews, at a faster rate than men, and are also becoming home brewers and cicerone trained.

Perhaps our quest for knowledge is because we don’t like to be told what to drink or feel overwhelmed at a craft beer bar.  The intimidation factor from male bartenders asking us “what would you little ladies like to try?” is part of the reason that women’s craft beer groups like Barley’s Angels and Girls Pint Out exist.

So, here’s what happened on Facebook

A friend (female) posted about her experience at a local liquor store.  Within minutes, a handful of responses came in with accounts of disrespect and dismissal by bartenders, clerks and others in the craft beer industry.   While I feel a sense of relief that my earlier findings weren’t personal, it was disheartening to find out just how widespread is the problem.  (And it’s not universal – there are bar owners who DO respect us, and retail outlets that treat us well… it’s unfortunate that there’s even an issue.)

The original post:

This one is for my fellow female fort members: I randomly stopped at ABC Liquors at <xx location> on Sunday just to grab something quick, nothing fancy, and as I was perusing the cooler a jack ass male employee sauntered up to me and said, “It’s quite the intimidating selection, let me help you.” I held back the urge to drop kick him in the chest and tried to politely brush him off but he kept on insisting and when he seemed to disregard my, “yeah, I’ve had that…I’m just gonna grab this Invasion and gose and be on my way..” response to all of his suggestions I finally, somewhat politely, told him to shut the eff up and walked away. Do you ladies get this a lot when you’re beer shopping? It happens on occasion but this bro caught me on a really bad day, so it stands out.

Can you imagine anyone treating a guy this way?  It’s hardly an isolated incident based on 75 comment responses… including:

I usually get shown all the new ciders they just got in. 

Happens to me all the time. I get– what kind of beer do you usually like and I want to say— F-er- I probably know more about beer than you do and I have had all your lame ass stuff here which is why I am looking for so long…..HATE that.

If a dude told me that, I would have laughed. Intimidating. I’ll show you intimidating.

It’s only happened a couple of times to me. Most places around here know me by now though. The last time it happened was at the ABC in <local community>. He was impressed that I knew what a west coast IPA was. Really? Sir, you have no idea who you’re dealing with now so just step aside and let me do my thing.

I’m usually standing there for so long trying to figure out which stand-by to go with or choose the lesser of all the evils. Male clerk described Invasion as “good for someone who likes IPAs but wants something a little ‘less'”. Da fuq does that even mean? And I have pretty good resting bitch face, especially that day. He must not pick up on social cues.

Male or female, no salesperson with half a brain should approach a consumer with such an assumptive attitude. “Can I help you find anything” “What do you have a taste for today” or even “What’s your level of beer knowledge” would be better openers, brah.

I hate the question– well- what type of beer do you normally like? Ummm…. Good beer….??? I am glad this thread was posted because I feel like this happens to me a lot. Maybe I look ‘beer dumb’.

I got it from a chic bartender at some dumb brew house restaurant. The kind where the beers are in categories that they don’t quite meet the expectations of.

My point was I was at a liquor store looking through their selection to FIND what I wanted to buy. I KNEW what I WANTED, as you just said, and I was looking for it. I don’t need someone to approach me and make a comment suggesting that their “intimidating” selection was too much for me to handle. It wouldn’t have annoyed me had he not been a douche bag about it. Yes, employees at liquor stores and bartenders are there to help you make a selection when you need help, but there’s an appropriate, not shitty way to inquire as to whether someone needs help or not.

Omg… Still better than in London UK when a male bartender responded to me when I asked about the cask brews saying “oh… these are much too strong for you … they go up to 7.2%… you’re going to want to try those blond ones at the other end of the bar” When I ordered the 7.2% plum porter he had a female serve it to me. Ugh. Yes, happens here in Tampa too, all the time, that is when I can actually get served. Bartenders are judgmental… And it’s part of why I won’t go to WOB , my invisibility powers are too strong there.

All.the.time. When I have my work shirt on(I work for a distributor) it totally flips the script. Then it’s a different type of attitude. Both are frustrating. It is what it is. The look on their faces when they have been “beer schooled” is and always will be priceless. I’m not a damsel in distress, I’m just trying to decide. Thanks for your concern!

OMG DON’T GET ME STARTED ON FEMALE INVISIBILTY POWERS AT WOB. 15 minutes, FIFTEEN MINUTES and 4 female WOB servers saw right through me one of the first times I went in there. They were eager enough to cash me out, though, and I said “No, thanks, this $10 tip is for Josh who was the one who actually waited on me.”

WOB is the worst for that. Happened to me tonight at xxx Brewery, too, though. Four chicks behind the bar, three people (including me) sitting at the bar. Ten minutes to get acknowledged.

From a male:  I am just being a a-hole all over this thread but as a guy, I have been in some craft beer bars whee I am invisible to wait staff too. It’s not always just a gender thing, just poor service .

It definitely depends on the bar. The female bartenders at WOB locations, in my humble opinion, seem to fit a certain physical stereotype, and typically fawn very obviously over the male customers and have zero craft beer knowledge.

Bottom line of my post <from the original post>it’s annoying when dudes in craft beer establishments/liquor stores automatically treat me (and other female customers) like they need to talk to me like I’m an idiot and think they need to hold my hand through the aisles and point out the “good beers” because I’m a chick. I am far from intimidated by ABC’s beer selection.

Another male response:  Barside invisibility can definitely strike across gender boundaries, yeah. In the sort of establishments that are most prone to that sort of behavior from the barbacks, I think it has more to do with whether or not you look like you have more money than sense. I’m a 6’4″ ginger dude, not exactly tough to spot in a crowd, and I’ve been ignored plenty of times. I must not look desperate enough to buy half a dozen Red Bull and vodkas for all the mad hawt chixx I’m totally gonna score with tonight. One time, I got so fed up that I pulled out the biggest bill I had in my wallet and waved it at one of the barbacks to get his attention…so that he could see me slowly put it back in my wallet, and slowly flip him the bird as I turned and left.

That said, it is absolutely positively 100% worse for women than men. Unfortunately, there are far too many servers who still assume that women are there to have drinks bought for them, not buy their own. And there’s no way any guy would be the lucky recipient of anything remotely like the persistent, condescending, and ham-fisted “assistance” of that ABC muppet.

Another male:  I’m really happy to see this conversation happen here! imo, this is exactly what the beer scene needs. up with inclusivity and respect, down with douchebaggery!

Stopped in at a pizza place in Dunedin that had recently remodeled, put in a bunch of taps, and was advertising craft beer, just to see what they had on tap (I was early for a hair appointment nearby). Walked in, was greeted nicely, and I replied that I just stopped to check out what they had on tap. Got the “Well, what kind of beer do you usually drink?” as the two of them stood there blocking my view of the taps. “I just want to take a look and see what’s on tap,” I said as I shifted to try to see the tap handles. “What’s your favorite beer?” “Really, I’m not staying right now, I’m just checking to see what you have on tap.” “Oh, so I stumped you. You can’t even tell me your favorite beer? Do you like light beers or dark beers?” “Can I just take a look at the taps?” “You don’t have a favorite beer?” “Yes, I do. The beer I brew…”as I walked out.

Totally different talk show, but that happens to me more than anything else. Even worse are the ones who tend to the male you’re with (if you’re with one) but ignore you completely. That happened at Revolution Brewing when I was in Chicago recently.

There was a female bartender at a place I used to hang out. This happened all the time. She would check all the males at the bar, make sure their drinks were full, then walk over to her phone and start texting or face booking or something. I’d have my empty glass right there. THE PHONE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. THIS CHICK LITERALLY STOOD ACROSS THE BAR FROM ME AND WOULDNT SERVE ME. I pointed it out to the owner one night. He said something so I got beer with attitude. She messed with the wrong ginger. She doesn’t work there anymore.

Something similar happened to me yesterday at Total Wine, which I’ve never ever had a problem with before and maybe after reading your post now I’m more aware of LADY BEERS and ‘little ladies who can’t figure out what they want must need my help!’ mandrome. I’m staring at the seasonal releases, trying to determine “Which Dogfish Head do I get? They are all sounding fabulous…” To which of course a gentleman employee comes over to ask “Do you need help?” “Nope, just trying to decide what I want. I want them all.” “What do you normally drink?” “…..sigh…..All of them.” “Oh, do you like pumpkin beers?” and points to the other side of the aisle. “Lots to choose from, I’ve seen other women pick this one…..” to which the buzzer went off inside me and I just laughed a ridiculous cackle and I kinda yelled “I’M OVER PUMPKIN BEERS!” and laughed. He gave me a kinda ‘oh shit now what’ kinda look and said “It sounds like you know what you are doing. Holler if you need help.” and swiftly walked away. Ha! I may be short and blonde, but quiet and in need of beer help I am not.

Bartenders and others related to the craft beer industry are the worst offenders towards female patrons of any age, personality or looks.  Certainly discrimination occurs in other industries based on judgment of race, creed, color and gender, but in the craft beer industry – with almost half of imbibers being women – this is abysmal.

If this happened to men, I think it might be enough to raise network TV attention.

Just being female who drinks craft beer somehow signals us as being inept or stupid… and it’s simply not true! Despite the stereotype that women don’t know anything about craft beer, the service industry involved has no excuse for treating women badly.  We’re not hapless little ladies (or even a “baby girl” – that was the worst I’ve been called to my face!) – we’re craft beer drinkers who happen to be female!

“Wake up Bartender – Real Women Drink Craft Beer!”

What do YOU think?  Comments?

Ale and the Witch’s All Local Brewfest a Winner

local 662

“Wow, oh wow!”

That was the anthem resonating about the brews on tap for the inaugural Ale and the Witch’s All Local brewfest Saturday night at Local 662 in downtown St Petersburg.  Specialty collaborations and rare bottles were on hand from many of the 25+ local St Petersburg/Tampa area breweries – some never to be seen again.  Brett Andress, owner of The Ale and The Witch in St Petersburg put together a stellar line-up of brews and entertainment (The Applebutter Express) in an art nouveau space.

As often goes when I’m multi-tasking (coordinating volunteers, taking photos, networking and whatever else,) I don’t remember the specialty one-off brews I sampled.  But, I didn’t taste anything I didn’t like or want more of (which is rare.)

Nonetheless, between the Chocolate Peanut Butter offering from Sea Dog and the Green Bench Oude Bruin and the collaboration between Pair O’ Dice and Green Bench and the Cigar City specialty bottles, I was left with good taste, better times, and happy thoughts.

If you attended, please comment on your favorite brew!

Enjoy the photo montage below and until next time… be safe!

If a Beer Pic is worth 1000 words, How about 400 from Halfway There?

Looking to do something grand and beer-related on a sultry Saturday evening in downtown St Petersburg FL?   Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) and our supporters definitely did it up in grand style this past weekend!

halfway there logoSaturday, Sept 6, 2014 at the historic St Petersburg Coliseum marked the second annual #TBBW Halfway There Rare Beer Festival.  With the event capping attendance at 1000, we’re making our mark on the Florida beer scene.

It was an incredible event thanks to the #TBBW board and legions of others who donated time, beer, enthusiasm, and planning.

A big thank you to all my VolunBEERs who came out and donated their time, energy and heartbeats to make this an incredible festival for everyone!

VolunBEERs

With Tampa Bay Beer Week slated for Mar 7-15, 2015, we’re Halfway to incredible times ahead…But that’s still 6 months away, and we’re just getting started.

Saturday’s Halfway There fest featured rare and little seen (in these parts anyways) brews – local and international. This fest had over 60 confirmed breweries, 8 local home brew clubs, vendors, volunteers, and paid attendees who sampled, swirled, drank, and enjoyed what is fast becoming an incredible craft beer community in Tampa Bay.

Photo credits go to Tom Scherberger, Tiese Melton, and myself.

With close to 400 pics from the event itself, you can get a sense of the merriment and fun we had.

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While I don’t have pictures from The Ale and The Witch’s pre-party, I do have some from Hops and Props after-party:

Next up is The Ale and The Witch’s Local Fresh Brew Fest THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13, 2014) featuring live music, local brews, and lots of new friends.

See you there or at another upcoming St Pete/ Tampa area brewfest!

p.s., If you’d like to be added to my VolunBEER database (in case you live here OR you’re going to visit FL in the future and might want to volunteer) for future brew events in Florida, send me your name, email address, and cell number. It’s a great way to celebrate that Brews and Florida and Friends go together!

Cheers!

Carol

#BBC14 in a NY minute… plus more

Picture if you will: 150 craft beer drinkers with a writing problem getting together for a weekend of lectures on brewing history, branding, photography, blogging, and especially beer. Got it?  That’s the essence of the 5th annual #BBC14 (Beer Bloggers Conference 2014) in San Diego, CA.

#BBC14 in a NY minute…

Who blogs about Beer?

Drawing a picture of the typical beer blogger (there are several thousand) isn’t something I can easily do, but I can say that our #BBC14 microcosm would fit in at a tasting room on a Friday night: beer geeks… young to seasoned, novices and pros, industry reps and enthusiasts. And like a typical Friday night, we arrived to sample great brews and at closing time, we really didn’t want to leave.  Through the course of 48+ hours, California and its craft brews stole a piece of my heart.

What’s #BBC about?

#BBC14 was 1/3 beer pilgrimage, 1/3 tasting adventure, 1/3 techniques/blogging… all of it amazing!

We rubbed shoulders with and heard stories from the greats of the craft brewing and blogging industries, visited tasting rooms, and sampled some of the finest brews available (and not) on the market.

From the first sip of Cigar City’s Invasion IPA at the airport in LA on Thursday to the last drops of WA state shared brew on Sunday morning in San Diego, it was a memorable (and to some, exhausting) weekend.  Along the way, I met friends and we shared pints, laughed (a lot) and bonded through our passion for beer. Some of us even registered and made road trip plans for next year’s #BBC15 in Asheville, NC.

For me,  craft beer is all about building a creative, fun-loving, grassroots community that supports the craft brewing industry and loves beer. Finding others who are equally passionate and who are leaders in the industry is simply, at the risk of sounding trite, pure bliss.

As I scribe this post en route from LAX to Tampa, I am grateful to CA brewers, fellow bloggers,  strangers, organizers, and friends whose generosity and hospitality enriched my life.

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THANK YOU

From my hometown breweries in Tampa Bay, I’d like to give a shout out to a few people who gave me swag or beer to share the Florida beer love in San Diego including:

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To so many who donated time, energy, beer, food, hospitality and friendship to make our CA beer experience so incredible, including (a full list of sponsors are listed at beerbloggersconference.org):

2014-08-23 12.36.23Happy and safe imbibing!  Hope to see you at a beer fest in Florida or around the country, and until then… wishing you health and happiness and…

 

P.s. Here’s a few of my colleagues/friend’s blog reports from #BBC14:

THANKS Fcindy and meOR THE MEMORIES!
Carol Dekkers

My 2014 Summer of (Craft Beer) Love… Dublin, Edinburgh, Toronto, Las Vegas, Calgary

Growing up in Canada (where the drinking age remains 18-19) gave me the opportunity to experience fine Canadian craft beer before the term was even coined (it was always called “Microbrewery beer” way back then!)  Calgary’s Big Rock Brewing is over 30 years old, and continues to expand with their signature “TRAD ALE” still holding court among craft beer aficionados.  Getting my tongue wet by craft brews at such a young age might forge one into a beer snob, but I attest that even back then, craft beer was all about spreading beer love (and friendship) – one pint at a time!

Craft beer today is a culture, a grass-roots movement that spreads good taste, passion, and beer love across the globe.  Its fuel is creativity, passion, recipes, innovation, collaboration, good taste and the pursuit of the perfect pint (either 16 or 20 oz) – and supported by a growing community of positive people. 

.facebook_-149164741From my experience… When craft beer people get together (anywhere I’ve been in the world!)  boundaries, politics and negative talk simply melt (or are imbibed) away!

My 2014 Summer of (Craft Beer) Love… Dublin, Edinburgh, Toronto, Las Vegas, Calgary

For me, craft beer is a community of new friendships and tasting adventures that further my passion for fine beverage sensations worldwide.

With this in mind, I planned, for the first time in years, a true vacation (no work!) – and in 23 days I visited craft breweries and pubs in 4 countries:  Ireland, Scotland, the U.S., and Canada.

The centerpiece (and the main event of my trip) was the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) in Dublin Ireland June 25-26, 2014 – which I will get to shortly – but the overall four country adventure had many, many highlights:

  • PROMOTING FLORIDA BREWERIES: Introducing foreigners (strangers who become friends!) to Florida craft breweries and brews.  I took 50 koozies (thank you Six Ten Brewing) and 2 bombers of St Somewhere’s Lectio Divino Belgian brew (thank you Bob Sylvester!) with me to Dublin – the thank yous and accolades from #EBBC14 attendees were well worth the added weight!  I took advantage of a few photo ops (below.)
  • COLLABORATION BREWING OPS:  Meeting and proposing collaborations with brewers outside of Florida, and sharing creative marketing ideas I’ve discovered in my travels. Craft beer is (IMHO) an international wave that unites people with great taste and community – and collaboration brewing (brewing beer with multiple brewers and dispensing it where it’s brewed) gets the marketing message out without having to worry about import/export and distribution.  I’ve met many brewers who are waiting to connect to Florida brewers (ready to travel?) and who might come over for Tampa Bay Beer Week (Mar 7-15, 2015!)
  • CRAFT BEER LOVE: Spreading the “craft beer love” on planes, trains and automobiles (actually with people in the breweries and pubs I frequent – not in my car because it’s a 2 seater… just saying);
  • STORY TELLING: Sharing craft brew stories (the brewers, the creativity, the tastes, the  places, the challenges, and especially the positive, optimistic people behind the brews) with like-minded travelers;
  • BEER TOURISM: Spreading the word about Tampa Bay Beer Week (Mar 7-15, 2015!) to everyone I meet and raising excitement (and anticipation) of a stellar week of craft beer experiences (guarantee to be frost-free) – with so many activities here in the Tampa/St Petersburg/Clearwater area (Florida);
  • TASTES AND TRENDSDiscovering the similarities and differences with the craft brewing industry on both sides of the pond (see previous post); and mostly…
  • FRIENDSHIPS: Making new friends from all over who are as passionate as I am about craft beer (and who also, like me, don’t yet have day jobs in the industry.)
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Here’s a run down of my trip… country by country… hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  (Yes, next time I might need a bottle carrier – send me a note if you’d like to join in!)

Stop #1 – #EBBC14, Dublin, Ireland

I had a great time from the minute I joined in on the pre-conference Thursday night podcasts (3 of them) convened by Google Hangouts expert Ian Bergin (11 pm somewhere), together with Wayne Dunne (Irish Beer Snob,) Eric and Flo (#brewsweplate) and a few others who drifted in for part of the broadcasts.  We met up at Brew Dock where I also met Dorthe Woltermann (Dublin Ladies Craft Beer Society), Rachel Colgan (BrewDock Dublin) and others who were so friendly, they convinced me I was definitely in the right place at the right time!

11 oclock somewhere podcast

Two further installments of the podcast are available at 11pmsomewhere.com (thank you Ian Bergin!)

After an informal pub crawl through some of the best craft beer haunts in Dublin (thank you to Reuben Gray: Tale of the Ale for organizing,) the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) began on Friday and ran through late Saturday night.

By the time we finished on Saturday night, beer bloggers were rife with knowledge from lectures, lunches/dinners, excursions, Guinness, Pilsner Urqell, Irish craft beer, tastings of craft beer from abroad and legions of new friends. (The invitation to visit Florida is sincere – don’t forget to follow-up with me when the cold weather looms in your area!)

(Thank you to Allan and Cindy of Zephyr Adventures and the many sponsors, brewers, speakers, distributor reps, and others who made the weekend so memorable.)

 

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Stop #2: Scotland – Edinburgh, Sterling, Skye, Perth

The highlight of my Scottish stop (1 week) was the beer and the 700th anniversary (and re-enactment) of the Bannockburn battle (focus of the movie Braveheart!)

The cask beers I sampled at every city and the bottled beers I tried were all excellent (save for one that was mediocre on the train!) – here’s my photo gallery.

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Stop #3:  Toronto, Canada en route to Las Vegas, Nevada

The third stop was actually more of a drive-by (a 10 hour stopover in Toronto)  but there was still enough time to sample brews at a couple of craft beer bars.  My friend Ralph Robinson, of Barrie Ontario (home of Barnstormer Brewing which I’ll feature in an upcoming post) met me and was my tour guide.  Did you know that there are more than 25 craft breweries within the Toronto Metropolitan area alone?

We enjoyed two stops over lunch and dinner and met some delightful Torontonians (who were of course non-natives), great brews (I’ve been searching for Caffrey’s Irish Ale on tap for several years!) – and a world cup broadcast (Netherlands and I can’t remember….)

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Stop #4:  Las Vegas, Nevada

This stop was a 4 day whirlwind (late July 4 – July 8) mostly to unwind and relax poolside (Planet Hollywood) with my Florida friend Dawn (whose family lives there!)

Of course, I was compelled to check out Sin City Brewing Company (great craft brews with two tasting rooms right on the strip) – where I hung out one evening and then met the brewer/owner Rich Johnson the next day.  Nice to know that even in Sin City you can find good Double IPA’s on tap!

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Stop #5:  Calgary, Canada – Stampede Week, Family and more Craft Brew Love…

I love that Big Rock Brewery always has innovative beers of the season (they are expanding now into British Columbia and are the oldest truly “craft” brewer in Canada) – including last years Rosmarinus Ale (with Rosemary!) plus an array of ever-expanding craft brewers.

I found myself drooling (again) as I browsed the shelves at Calgary liquor stores (privatized and no longer government-run!) and picked up several limited edition brews.  Highlights included Stampede week (the 10 day “festival” with ample beer flowing, wannabe cowboys everywhere, and entertainment – front row standing watching Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20!) – and a visit to Canmore (in the Rocky Mountains) Grizzly Paw Brewing Company.  (Coincidentally, the bartender Megan there knew my friend Ralph from Toronto and the brewmaster at Barnstormer Brewing in Barrie Ontario – small, small world!)

It’s great to visit family and be able to spread craft beer love north of the border too!

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Home again… Until August and #BBC14, San Diego

3 days, 4 countries, weight gain, fabulous memories, and so much craft beer adventure.  The next excursion is San Diego in late August (2.5 more weeks!) to the Beer Bloggers Conference where it will be a homecoming of sorts with U.S. based peeps.

Meanwhile, sunsets and suds prevail…  I love my life – and I love craft beer!  Thanks for reading!

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Have an awesome week and be safe!

Cheers!

Carol

Similar and Different – Beer is Blog-worthy Both sides of the Pond

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full 3 weeks since I had the privilege and the luxury of attending the 4th Annual European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) in Dublin Ireland, arranged by Zephyr Adventures (June 25-26, 2014.) While I more regularly attend the Beer Bloggers Conference in the U.S., this was my first venture to the European conference.

Other attendees already provided great recap blog posts about the events and breweries featured at the conference (see the Facebook Beer Bloggers Conference Alumni page and the listing at the end of this post.)

So as not to repeat my colleagues, I decided to focus on similarities and differences based on observations (and drinking experience) across the pond.

Thank you to Guiness, Molson/Coors, Pilsner Urquell and the many other sponsors, brewery owners, the Church Restaurant and Bars (our host venue), and everyone who made the #EBBC14 experience one to remember.  (Watch for more photos in the next blog post here!)

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Why I blog…

For me, the passion about beer comes from the people, the tastes, the stories and the community created by beer, and increasingly so, craft (or in the old school vernacular, “microbrew”) beer.

There certainly was no lack of passion at this year’s EBBC. Beer bloggers in attendance (around 70 or so) hailed from varied backgrounds, which is similar to those who attend in the U.S.  Beer bloggers (and craft brewers!) seem to attract a preponderance of technical professionals (IT and engineering) mixed with banking/business and beer industry representative.  We all have one thing in common – we share a passion for beer, which may be THE world’s oldest drinks.

Beer is a source of Cultural Pride no Matter How Old the Country…

As I am reminded every time I visit Europe, 100 years is recent history. Our conference venue, The Church in the heart of Dublin was hundreds of years old and hosted the wedding of Arthur Guinness (the patriarch of the Guinness Brewery) among others.

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Today, the structure is home to The Church bars and nightclub – an inventive recycling of a historic site and not a tear down/rebuild so common in the U.S.

I could sense bygone pomp and pageantry accompanied by reverberating organ chimes when I sat down at the bar the day before the conference began. It might seem to some to be bit irreverent to my religious upbringing, but I see it as a celebration of freedom and homage to the human spirit to imbibe a pint where the walls eek of stories and the full range of human emotion.

And, this weekend was one of celebration and coming together to feed our passions about beer.

Beer Opportunities (and Challenges) on Both sides of the Pond

The weekend posed a few good surprises and learnings compared to what I’ve experienced with craft beer, conferences, drinking habits and the craft brewing industry compared to the U.S.:

Concept Topic Europe (Ireland, other) – EBBC
U.S.  – BBC Observation/comments
Gender Bloggers and craft beer drinkers 10% female at EBBC   conference 1/3 female at BBC conference Not sure if this is a general trend based on consumers. In the U.S., I’ve observed an almost even split (40% female, 60 male) of craft beer drinkers at festivals and brewpubs. Based on bartender response, men are still the majority of craft beer consumers in the UK and Ireland.
Serving   preference Cask vs Keg for Craft Beer Keg dominates in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe except for the UK (due to the Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA) Keg dominates – cask is a rare specialty. Cask is a rare specialty in the U.S., less so in Europe. Brewpubs/tasting rooms and bars in the U.S. may feature a single cask beer if any, and craft beer lovers will remark about the specialty beers on cask.
Beer temperature Beer temperature    and servings Temperatures ranged from room temperature to chilled.   No clear difference in professed temperature preference between various European countries. Pilsner Urquell catered to ensuring beer was colder by using ice chilled glassware The U.S. market prefers cold beer and will discard ½ pints that grow warm in the glass.  Koozies are popular (especially in southern states) Koozies are not common in Europe.   I handed them out to attendees from a local Tampa brewery (Six Ten Brewing) thinking they would be popular (they are in the US to keep beer cans/bottles/pint glasses cool.). A few attendees had never seen a koozie (more than one) and others said they’d only use it in the two weeks of summer. Warm beer doesn’t seem to raise an eyebrow here.
Innovation Emerging styles and flavors    – ABV Lager still appears to prevail over ales, but increasingly IPA’s, Oatmeal Stouts, and Saisons are becoming mainstream offerings of Irish craft brewers. ABV range typically from 3.8% to 7% Styles are all over  the map with ales leading the charge and sour beers, double IPAs and imperial stouts on the rise. ABV range typically 5% to 11% A reason for lower ABV could be taxes (one London brewer noted that brewery taxes increase per liter for every ABV above 5%.) This wasn’t the case in Ireland, but ABVs were typically less than 6%.Style variations are emerging on both sides of the pond.
Post-production Using Randalls (Hopinators) to instantly infuse kegged beer On the rise – positive response from beer bloggers On the rise – positive response from beer bloggers I’ve seen this in Florida, London, and Dublin, with different hops or fruit in the randall. In Germany (and in isolated instances in the U.S.) I’ve also seen syrups (especially fruity ones) added to beer
Cross pond  interest Interest in global beer market Lots of interest in U.S. craft beers (aka microbrews) – specialty brews (such as Dark Lord and Imperial Stouts) were common both sides of the pond Introspective except for Belgium brews. Not much knowledge (or interest) outside the US craft brewers (which given 2900+ brewers in the US might account for some of the attention) Craft beer lovers seem to be the same on both sides of the pond – fueled by the pursuit of great creative tastes and experiences. In the U.S., there isn’t too much known about the craft industry (in general) in Europe aside from Belgium. The U.S. seems to be looked at as the current leaders in the craft brewing industry.
Fresh beer to go Take out draft beer (growlers) Not yet too popular in Ireland. I rarely saw growlers for sale in bars. In the UK, I’ve seen a range (still not prevalent) of take away containers ranging from disposable plastic milk-containers to stainless steel growlers for beer Popular at craft beer bars nationwide but legislation limits the sale and distribution by state (including size of growler, who/where they can be filled, and if they are allowed at all) “Pub culture” is more prevalent in the UK and Ireland than in the US. Pubs are filled with suits stopping by for a pint after work (en route home.) Dublin is home to close to 10K pubs/bars.In the US market, many people stop off for “Happy hours” where draught beer may be discounted (5-7 pm typically), but not to the same extent.  Growlers seem to be a way of extending the U.S. social experience to home.

 

These were just a few observations…

and having not been to every country in Europe or every state in the U.S. to verify my observations, I leave it up to you to correct/challenge/add your comments. In the words of U.S. entertainer Dennis Miller “This is just my opinion and I could be wrong…”

Additional posts from #EBBC14 attendees: (partial listing)

It was a cultural and friendship growing experience to meet so many great beer bloggers and new friends at #EBBC14, and I hope we continue to stay in touch.

Your comments are welcome – I’d love to hear from other attendees (and the general craft beer community) about what you think!

Happy and safe imbibing!

Carol

Pinch me! Ales and Tales of Dublin and Edinburgh and Toronto Await…

One more day… and then I am off to a three-week adventure involving beer passion, friends and family (in that order!)

I feel truly blessed to be able to attend the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Dublin, Ireland this coming weekend with an agenda that rivals none, followed by a few nights outside Edinburgh, Scotland (for the 700th anniversary of the Bannockburn battle!), followed by a stopover with a good friend (and more craft beer) in Toronto, followed by a few more nights in Las Vegas with friends, followed by a week up in Alberta with family (and a few craft brewery visits.)

bbc europe I get asked weekly why beer is my passion and how I’m earning from the pursuit of fine craft ales, and the short answer is that I love the taste of craft beer and I love the community of entrepreneurs and inventors behind it, and to-date, it’s a pursuit for the sole interest and joy of the craft.

I am fortunate to have a solid career in software consulting (enabling me to work anywhere -home or away), that allows me to pursue my hobby worldwide.

BrewStat

BUT, I would love to parlay what I’ve done for years in the software industry (speaking at international conferences) into a career in the craft beer industry on behalf of a Brewers Guild or the American Craft Brewers Association or a similar group in Europe, Asia and North America.

Where we’re at in the U.S. with Craft Beer…

Our domestic craft brew industry is, as you already know, exploding with flavor, innovation, and creativity, and it’s a beautiful thing.

At home in Florida, challenges emerge with legislation, funding, and big beer domination, but the tide is turning.  We have passionate brewers, consumers and a cast of workers bringing it all together.  As a nation, craft beers fuels a proud and emerging community that contributed over $10.2Billion to the U.S. economy in 2012/13.  And we are leading the world in a way unseen since the wine revolution propelled Napa Valley to stardom.

I can’t Wait for the Weekend…

The U.K. and Europe face different issues that we do in North American, CAMRA has emerged as a 170,000 member force in U.K. legislation, and brewers are taxed based on the ABV %.  But, the quest for good taste, creative recipes, community and innovation pervades the issues – and this weekend’s lineup of events and lectures is inspiring.

Watch this space for updates, photos, comments, and links… I’ll take you along on my journey and pursuit of fine brews across 4 countries in as many weeks (and have a happy, safe, 4th of July!)

Cheers,
Carol

A shout out to Florida VolunBeers…

I have a confession to make… I love the emerging craft beer industry in Florida, I love craft beer, and I love our volunteers.

Florida VolunBeers”…

are a team of volunteers (thanks to Josh Smith for coining the name!) who, IMHO, are everyday heroes.  They are craft beer aficionados who willingly give up their nights, weekends, and free time to create an enjoyable craft beer experience for craft beer lovers in Florida.

Florida VolunBeers are the lifeblood of our emerging industry and I am grateful, (and no, I don’t get paid for this!)

Certainly, there are lots of different types of volunteers —

There’s the boards of Tampa Bay Beer Week (TBBW), Florida United for Craft Brews (FUCB), and other not-for-profits…  and there are lots of volunteers at private festivals…

There’s also the many up-at-the-crack-of-dawn Craft Brewers and their families, AND the reps and distributors whose job is to bring craft beer to the masses, AND the home-brewers who craft recipes and boil and mash in their garages — all of whom are integral to Florida craft beer!

…BUT

I am thankful for those who volunteer with and for me – it’s you who are the wind beneath the success of so many events. I hope that the benefits (new friends, events, fun times, free admission) are a good enough enticement for you to continue!

Something new… VolunBeer meet-and-greets

Last evening we had our first (of many) ad hoc volunteer meetings at The Amsterdam in St Petersburg.  Owner John Cullen and bartender Bruce Jones led us on an international journey through craft beer styles and tastes – it was an enjoyable way for us to learn together.  I plan on having a monthly meet-and-greet across the bay area.

Are you interested in becoming a Volunteer?

It’s a fun way to meet new people, try new beers, and lend a hand at local events.  You join in as your schedule permits and the demand arises.  We’ve helped out at Localtopia, Brewers Ball, Foeder for Thought, Florida Brewers Guild (FBG), Halfway There, and others… with many more to come.

If you’re interested, please send me an email with your name, email address and cell phone number And I’ll add you to my VolunBeer database.  When the next craft beer event comes up, I’ll send out a call for volunteers – and include you.

All I ask is that

you be at least 21 years old, fun-loving (no Debbie Downers please!) and flexible to pitch in as the need arises… we do whatever is needed — from pouring specialty draughts to checking ids to delivering ice to brewers — it all depends on the event.

Will you join us?

Cheers,
Carol

The FL Craft Brew Smackdown… You GOTTA make the call

I’m not a WWE fan, but for some people watching the Smackdown wrestling shows is the height of entertainment. I’ll give fans that right, except when it involves real life, Florida lawmakers, and the craft brewing industry.  And that’s exactly what came to mind as I was thinking about how our Florida Senate is treating our Craft Brewers. It’s a Smackdown of epic proportions along the lines of David and Goliath – complete with senate comments befitting such an event.

If you’re like me and think Smackdowns and grandstanding belong elsewhere, you GOTTA make calls to your senators on April 29. (Scroll to the end of this post for details.)

If you frequent social media (Facebook or Twitter) you may already know about the nearly dozen Craft Beer (labeled “malt beverages”) bills working their way through the Florida legislature.  Rather than taking the lead to inspire, encourage, and motivate this burgeoning industry in Florida, we’re the laughing stock of the nation as “Big Beer” lobbyists stage a season long, series of Smackdowns against Florida’s craft brewers.

Today’s episode “Mother Stargel” vs “Anarchy Brew Kids”

Today Senate Bill (SB) 1714 was read, amended, debated, and ultimately advanced to the third reading in the two hour match-up.  In a way-too-typical fashion, senators debated and tossed out brewing terms: keg, barrel, gallon, container, growler, as if doing so imparted knowledge.  Finally the bill sponsor Senator Kelli Stargel, admitted that she didn’t have numbers to support her bill’s language (2000 kegs as a brewery size limit,) but knew how many million barrels of beer Anheuser Busch brews.

The Smackdown ramped up when Senator Stargel argued for a mountain of regulations to reign in illegal behavior of craft brewers, currently operating under the decades old tourism exemption law used by Anheuser Busch theme parks. Not doing so, she continued, could create Florida lawsuits in our highly litigious world.

She charged multiple times at craft brewers by asserting they want to do whatever they want without any regulations whatsoever.  Wow – score one for Mother Stargel against the Anarchy Brew Kids.

(Sidenote:  It’s curious to note that since AB was bought by InBev and no longer runs Sea World or Busch Gardens, such laws no longer serve their best interests!)

Not satisfied to call out their rogue behavior, Senator Stargel went on to call craft brewers the “little guys,”  who are brewing “itty bitty bits of beer,” and saying that the 2000 keg ceiling would help them “while they’re little and growing.”  Bam! (I almost waited for the refrain “Kids, go to your rooms right now without dinner!”)

The final blow came when Senator Stargel professed that after listening to everything the craft brewers had to say, she crafted a bill amendment that would somehow rescue the fledgling industry (“not even one Florida brewer would go out of business”) Furthermore, she stated, the amended bill would NOT CAUSE ANY HARM TO ANYONE IN THE INDUSTRY; it would actually benefit them.

Program over, smack – down!  Next up, the vote for SB1714 followed by many other episodes.

Your turn – You’ve Gotta Call…”National Call-in to Senators Don Gaetz, Kelli Stargel, and Your Senator” April 29, 2014

A few of us created a Facebook page called Florida United for Craft Brewers -FUCB – and a first National Call-in event.  Here are the details:gaetz
The Malt Beverage Senate Bill (SB 1714) was amended, but it will still cause harm to craft brewing in Florida. Senator Stargel stated that the bill is needed because Florida craft brewers want to operate freely without any regulations, and that the bill will not cause harm to anyone in the craft brewing industry. We DISAGREE so we’re targeting a phone-in campaign for TOMORROW April 29.
We’re targeting Senate PresidentDonGaetz,SenatorStargel, and your local senator with this call-in to urge them to vote NO toSB1714.Call-IN and make sure SenatorGaetz, SenatorStargel, and your senator support small business by defeating SB 1714.
1. Senate President Don Gaetz
Phone#: (850) 487-5001
Script:
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senate President Gaetz to ask him to vote no on SB1714. It WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. In the past, he said he was pro small business and pro free market, so I urge him to follow through on those promises by voting NO to SB1714.”
—————————————————————–
2. Senator Kelli Stargel (Sponsor of SB 1714)
Phone#: (863) 284-4430
Script:
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senator Kelli Stargel to ask her to vote no on SB1714. It WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. Craft brewers are responsible parents, husbands, wives, and fellow voters who respect regulation of the industry, but this bill will hurt us all. I urge her to reconsider the importance of growth and respect in this industry by voting NO to SB1714.”
—————————————————————–
3. Your own senator (here is the link to the senate listing):
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/#SenatorsScript:
“Hello, my name is _________ and I’m calling Senator __________ to ask his/her position on the upcoming vote on SB1714.

If the answer is that the Senator will vote no, thank him/her and say that you are proud that they will vote No.

If the answer is undecided or they plan to vote yes, tell him/her that senate bill 1714 “WILL cause harm to the craft brewing industry in Florida AND create unnecessary regulation. Craft brewers are responsible parents, husbands, wives, and fellow voters who respect regulation of the industry, but this bill will hurt us all. I urge him/her to recognize the importance of growth and respect in this industry by voting NO to SB1714.”

It’s up to you!  If you support small business – join us and make the calls.

If increased regulation in business and unregulated Smackdowns in the Florida legislature go on, we’re going to need more craft beer than ever, that is if we can find one still in business in Florida.

One final note, I’m wondering how Senator Stargel will feel if her bill becomes law and the first craft brewer to go out of business sues her for the false promises she made today…  Oh, but this isn’t real life and WWE Smackdown is just pretend… or is it?

Wow, enough said – I need a beer.

To your safe imbibing!

Carol

The Health Benefits of Beer – Let’s Drink to your Health Florida!

There’s no question that anything used in excess or irresponsibly such as coffee, alcohol, pills, or even grapefruit juice (contraindicated with particular prescriptions) — or even sunshine (!) – can be deadly.  Irresponsible use (abuse) is never a good idea, no matter what.

BUT, there are proven health benefits to some of controlled substances such as those going through various legislatures (such as the medical marijuana) and to freely available products such as BEER.  And it doesn’t have to be a Craft Brew either… (even though I’d profess that a craft beer drinking experience involves more tasting and savoring that ever does with mass-produced volume beers.  But that’s a matter of opinion.)

health benefits

Perhaps some of the states with Aging Populations and Health Problems, such as FLORIDA, might want to consider encouraging moderate beer consumption as a holistic way to health? (Seriously!)

Here’s a sampling of recent media releases (there are MANY more) about the Health Benefits related to Beer.

NOTE: I have not researched the medical validity of said claims or whether the studies are funded by alcohol distributors – maybe one of my readers knows?)

10 surprising health benefits of beerhttp://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/10-surprising-health-benefits-beer

health benefits2http://www.care2.com/causes/6-health-benefits-of-drinking-beer.html

health benefits3http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/16/surprising-health-benefits-beer/

health benefits4http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/0315/tap-into-beers-health-benefits.aspx

If we have legalizing medical mary jane on the slate for health benefits, why wouldn’t we be encouraging the responsible (read: MODERATION!) consumption of readily available, and now tastier than ever, CRAFT BEER?

It’s cheaper than many prescription drugs, has less side effects with moderate consumption (I’ve never heard of someone dying by negligently mixing two different craft beers in an evening!) and IS LEGAL.

Perhaps craft beer could be a low-cost, tasty, and healthy way to improve the lives of our overall population and improve longevity.  I’d like to say it would also improve the overall mood of many (seniors and others) on a given Florida day, but I also know  people with horrible “alcohol” personalities who would negate this statement.

For everyone else, perhaps drinking a beer a day could be a diet change – with long term benefits that truly makes sense!

To your safe imbibing!

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