Saturday, March 30, 2019

Is Karaoke recreation? Beer license for new Salt Lake singing room hinges on the answer

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Mar 27th, 2019

Members of the Utah alcohol commission are wrestling with that question as they decide whether to grant Heart & Seoul Karaoke a license to sell beer at its new downtown location.
Brody Horton, co-owner of Heart & Seoul, made his case before the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Tuesday, but left without a permit, at least for now. A Provo location has been open for 18 months, but its proximity to the Provo City Center Temple precludes it from having a liquor license.
Commissioners expressed concern about opening the door to other businesses seeking a recreational beer license and weren't sure how or if karaoke fits under the law.
"I'm having some trouble," Chairman John T. Nielsen said.
State liquor law defines a recreational amenity as a billiard parlor, bowling facility, golf course, miniature golf, golf driving range, tennis club, sports arena, concert venue or "substantially similar" activity.
Horton argued Heart & Seoul, patterned after Korean singing rooms, qualifies. Customers, he said, are coming for an activity.
"They're not paying to drink and also sing karaoke. They’re not paying to drink and also bowl. They’re not paying to drink and also throw an ax across the room," he said.
Ax throwing raised an interesting point.
Last March, the commission approved a beer license for Social Axe under the "substantially similar" clause, making it the first establishment in Utah where it's OK to hurl a sharp blade attached to a wooden handle at a target while downing a cold brew.
"If we can approve axe throwing, karaoke seems safer with alcohol than axes," said Commissioner Sophia DiCaro. "If we have flexibility to call it recreational, I think it's one where call a spade a spade. It looks recreational to me."
Horton and co-owner Matt Smith explained that alcohol would be served only in singing rooms where everyone is 21 or older. Drinks would be limited to three per person and tallied on a wristband. Large windows in each room would allow staff to monitor the activity, Smith said.
Whether it's an ax or a microphone, people are paying for an experience, renting a room or renting an alley, as is the case for bowling, Horton said.
"You’ve done your homework. Are you in law school? You ought to go to law school. That’s pretty persuasive," Nielsen said.
Commissioner Thomas Jacobson told Horton he liked his argument, but said recreation involved physical activity and karaoke is stationary.
Horton begged to differ. The definition of recreation, he said, doesn't include anything about physical activity. Rather, it's activity done outside of work.
"I would love to put a heart rate monitor on you for billiards and karaoke and compare the two," he said.
Jacobson said allowing karaoke would set a precedent for allowing reading clubs seeking alcohol licenses.
"My concern is how far people will take it from here. Where do we go next?" he said.
Horton said Heart & Seoul shouldn't be affected by the fear of future businesses that may not have their things "buttoned down or as secure as we have presented it."
Jacobson said commissioners were inclined to turn down Heart & Seoul's request for a beer license. But after listening to Horton's arguments, "instead of no … we want to try to help you and we need to find the proper category to put you in, assuming there is one."
The commission voted unanimously to defer a decision until its April meeting.

Friday, March 29, 2019

7-Eleven's new 'Lab Store' features taqueria, craft beer station


7-Eleven became the latest retailer to experiment with a new convenience store format this month, unveiling a “Lab Store” in Dallas, Texas that features everything from street tacos to a craft beer refilling station.

Dubbed an “experimental testing ground” by 7-Eleven officials, the lab store debuted on March 22. The location features indoor and outdoor seating and a streamlined checkout process that allows customers to pay through their phones.
The store’s food and beverage options include a coffee and smoothie bar, a station called “The Cellar” selling wine and craft beers, a frozen yogurt and ice cream bar and various baked goods that are made on site. In addition, the experimental format includes alcohol beverages on tap and a Laredo Taco Company counter, featuring handmade tortillas and various Tex-Mex offerings.

“Convenience retailing is light years away from the days of bread and milk being sold from ice docks in 1927, and the industry is changing at a faster rate than ever before,” said Chris Tanco, 7-Eleven executive vice president and chief operating officer. “7-Eleven stays at the forefront by pushing the boundaries and being unafraid to try new things. This new lab store will serve as a place to test, learn and iterate new platforms and products to see what really resonates with customers and how we can use those learnings to influence future store designs.”Click the link to continue reading

Thursday, March 28, 2019

No kids allowed: Key Largo welcomes first adult-only resort

KEY LARGO, FLA. (WSVN) - Bungalows Key Largo, an adult-only resort, is offering a one-of-a-kind experience in the Keys.
Vacationers are able to choose from a waterfront or garden bungalow that sleeps up to four people.
Each bungalow comes with two bicycles for easy access around the property and semi-private beach.
Not in the mood to bike? The resort offers a golf cart pick up and drop off service to all guests.
According to the company’s website, the resort is offering a limited time rate starting at $399 per person, per night for a 2-night minimum stay throughout 2019.
Paddleboards, snorkeling equipment, kayaks and other water sport equipment are available for unlimited use.
Leave the kids at home, as this resort only allows guests ages 18 and over on the property and has a minimum check-in age of 21.
To book a reservation, click here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

16 Tips on How To Run A Bar Successfully

Learning how to run a bar is not an easy task. Although there are many schools that teach people how to bartend, there aren’t any that teach people how to run a bar successfully. Most people learn the hard way – by jumping in with both feet and making a ton of mistakes along the way (and hopefully learning from those mistakes).
This article is not written for people deciding about whether to open a bar or not and does not get into the aspects of bar ownership like finances and legalities, but instead takes the operational approach, focusing on what a bar owner or manager needs to do to ensure long-term success.

How to Run a Bar – Tip #1
Start Décor-ating

The first thing you’ve got to look at is the first thing your customers look at when they step into your bar. Give your customers something to see and talk about when they come to your bar. People go to bars for relaxation and entertainment. And part of that can be achieved simply by the way your bar is decorated. In addition to ensuring that your establishment is always clean, make sure that your décor matches with the theme of your bar. If it’s a country bar, would someone know by walking in and looking at the walls?
Make sure everything from the color of the paint to the pictures and other paraphernalia adorning the walls of your bar are in line with your theme and the customer you’re trying to attract. Give your customers some eye candy by hanging interesting things on the wall, painting the walls an inviting color, hanging mirrors in the right place, putting up vertical blinds or curtains or blacking out the windows – as long as it fits with your theme.

How to Run a Bar – Tip #2
Create an Eye-Catching Menu

Your menu is your bar’s resume – it tells the customer what kind of experience they are going to have when they order. When it comes to menus, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Take the time to have your menu professionally made – both your drink and food menus. Your menu has to have pictures and it should highlight high-profit items. It should be easy to read and easy for customers to locate items but it shouldn’t be too crowded. A professionally designed menu can increase profits all by itself. After you get your menu designed, post it outside so passers-by can see all the wonderful items your establishment offers – even when you’re closed.

How to Run a Bar – Tip #3
Set the Right Prices

Both food and drink prices should be in line with the experience that your customers get from ordering said items. Stay away from the mentality that you can simply increase profits by increasing your prices. This is a short-term fix at best and it will likely leave you with less and less customers as time goes on. Look at it is from your customers’ perspective. When they wake up and count their cash the next day after partying at your bar the night before, will they be pleasantly surprised or floored at how much it cost them? You don’t want your prices too low as people tend to associate low quality with low price. And you don’t want your prices too high either – as you’ll get people in the first time but you won’t get them back.

How to Run a Bar – Tip #4
Get Your Managerial Hands Dirty

As a manager or owner, you’ve really got to know what you’re doing. From how to cook each and every dish in the kitchen, to how to bartend with speed and efficiency during the busiest of times. If you don’t know how to do something in your bar, how are you going to train your staff to do it? And if it’s not you training the staff, how are you going to know what procedural changes and systems to implement if you never get your own hands dirty? A bar manager or owner has to lead by example. This is not a job where you get to sit in a glass office and watch over the little mice working below you. Earn your staffs’ respect by doing their job better than they do it. If you aren’t familiar with some area of your bar – schedule yourself shifts in that area until you become proficient. The best way to know what works and doesn’t work is by jumping in and experiencing it firsthand.

How to Run a Bar – Tip #5
Hire Top-Notch Staff

It is absolutely essential for your establishment to have good staff if you want to achieve lasting success. People visit a bar as much for the people behind the bar as for the bar itself. Start off by hiring personable, outgoing, professional-looking staff. You’re looking for someone who has the ability to entertain people – someone who is easy to talk to and quick to smile. Whether they have experience or not is secondary. Bartending skills can be taught on-site but social skills can’t.

Your guide to opening a beer bar: From creating a business plan to financing

Creating a business plan

craft beer business plan
Summarize your concept in a few tight sentences that you can eventually use as the starting point of your pitch to investors.
What are you going to name your bar? This is the beginning of your dream becoming a household name. It’s more important than you may think. Be creative, steering clear of the generic, let it espouse your vibe and make it catchy and memorable.
Determine how much initial capital do you need: However much initial capital you think you will need — you need about 20 to 40 percent more than that … SERIOUSLY, 20 to 40 percent more — when in doubt, round up.
Be sure to include the amount of initial capital that you have in personal funds and how much money you will need to raise from outside sources.
Solidify your first hires: Everything from whether or not you’ll have a manager or you’ll be managing the bar yourself, to your bouncer and security needs, to how many bartenders you plan to hire should be laid out in your initial business plan so that when you begin your search for your opening staff, you know who you’re looking to hire. Here are a few staff members that current bar owners say are absolutely essentially (and they may surprise you):
  • A really good bookkeeper: Your finances are going to overwhelm you. When I asked the owner of Summers, Chris Taha, for something he’d do differently he quickly responded, “Have a good bookkeeper from day one.”
  • “An accountant with a backbone who will make you do what you need to do — like pay your taxes.”– Scott Perez, Walkers
  • A liquor lawyer to negotiate the liquor license.
  • A lawyer who will first help you negotiate the terms of your lease and who will then serve to handle your legal needs (you are opening a bar).
  • A plumber you can count on, consistently, all the time (again, you are opening a bar).
  • If you’re choosing to hire a manager, they will be your eyes and ears, choose wisely.To continue reading the article, click the link below

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Best Ingredients and Equipment Make the Best Beer

March 26, 2019 
“I like beer!” Whether this truism was uttered by Homer Simpson or a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States it echoes the 43% of Americans who list beer as their preferred choice when selecting an adult beverage. This has given rise to a phenomenal increase in the number of breweries around the world and in the U.S. There are currently over 7000 breweries in operation in the U.S., the vast majority of which are described as microbreweries or craft breweries. Over the past decade the craft beer industry has burgeoned to a $23.5 billion annual market.
As with any fast-growing marketplace the quality of the product can vary dramatically. Enter Aegir Brewing Systems of Menomonee Falls, WI. The company was named after the Norse god Aegir, who according to mythology was known for hosting elaborate parties for the other gods where he supplied ale in giant pots or cauldrons. When the company began operations in 2012, Aegir found the industry lacked the availability of high-end, fully automated brewing systems, sized for smaller craft brewers. According to Jason Platek, brewing engineer at Aegir, marketplace, “If you want to make the best beer you have to use the best ingredients and the highest quality production equipment.”
Aegir set out to locate the best possible equipment to fill this void. The company now successfully manufactures, integrates, installs, and provides startup for the most efficient and complete brewing systems serving the craft brewing industry.  
Central to the process is the employment of the Belgian-manufactured Meura mash filter which is used in lieu of a Lauter Tun commonly used in the craft brewing industry. The Meura filter offers many advantages over the Lauter Tun, leading to more efficient and higher quality beer production. Included among them are higher throughput capacity, higher grain extract efficiency, and the capability to use a more diverse grain bill. As a result, the overall cost per barrel is reduced, the quality of the product is superior, and the consistency from batch to batch remains intact. Equally as important, the ability to use certain unconventional grains with the Aegir-Meura system gives the brewer more flexibility to create more complex, unique, and sophisticated flavors.
For the Meura mash filter to be utilized a significantly finer grind was required of the grain itself. Typically, the industry primarily employs roller mills to create the desired size distribution for the Lauter Tun process. The typical roller mill and Lauter Tun realizes about an 80-85% extract yield, and the best roller mill and Lauter Tun equipment is capable of a maximum of a 92% yield. Simply put, between 8% and 20% of the grain extract is not being fully recovered with the employment of a roller mill leading to additional amounts of grain being required for the production of every batch.

To continue reading the article, click the link below.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

This St. Patrick's Day, Sip On The World's Most Expensive Irish Whiskey

Throughout the 18th and early 19th Century Irish whiskey was the most consumed spirit in the world. After a long period of decline it has reemerged to become the fastest-growing global liquor category. It's universal appeal is largely owed to approachability. Liquid from the Emerald Isle is as warm and inviting as the folks who make it; sweet, smooth, and rounded. The fact that it's relatively inexpensive certainly doesn't hurt either. Look at the most popular examples on the shelf today. Jameson retails at around $20 a bottle. Entry-level Bushmills is $16. Conor McGregor's headline-grabbing Proper No. 12 fetches just under $30. Slane is a triple-casked blend for just around the same. All of them well-crafted, well-matured, and priced less than a pint and a burger at the pub.
Then there's Teeling. Last September, the Dublin-based producer sold a bottle of three year old whiskey--aged in ex-Muscat wine barrels--for a staggering $13,000 at auction. If it sounds like a large number, that's because it is. In fact, it broke the world record for most expensive bottle ever from a new distillery. Why the stately sum? This was the first commercial release distilled in Ireland's capital since the early 1970s. The brand subsequently released 6,000 more bottles later in the year, none of which made it to American shelves.
But even if you could find it...Is it worth it? That depends on how much of a premium you place on history. The liquid inside the bottle comes from a recipe of 50% un-malted and 50% malted barley, made famous by the dozens of distilleries that once populated this part of Dublin. Owning it is a great way to celebrate a spirit that was reborn from the ashes, as the phoenix on its label suggests.

For the more modest sum of $2500, you could track down a 29-year-old bottle of Teeling, released earlier this year. It aged in a combination of ex-rum casks and sherry butts; less than a hundred bottles washed ashore in the US. If you're doing the math, you'll note that this juice could not have been produced at the Dublin Distillery, which only fired up in 2015. It was sourced from a 1989 run at Cooley, a high-volume distillery that the Teeling family sold to Jim Beam in 2011 for a reported $95 million. Unlike the world-record setter, this stuff offers more than just history. It's filled with the sort of dark and leathery complexities that only time in the barrel can provide.
And that's not even the oldest one on the market. In 1987, Knappogue Castle bottled a whiskey that sat in ex-sherry butts for 36 years. Today it is considered to be among the rarest releases from this part of the world. As recently as last year, it's been spotted on Irish and UK shelves at the relative bargain price of $2000. If you find it on pour at your local pub this St. Paddy's Day, you must truly have the luck of the Irish.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Tour a Distillery This Spring Break For an On-Theme (Yet Highbrow) Experience

Distillation is the process that converts the sugars from grains or fruit into alcohol by way of evaporation using metal columns or pots known as stills. Spring break is the process that converts otherwise fine, young people into somewhat unrecognizable party demons by way of sun and alcohol. For a spring break experience that is both on-theme (i.e. alcohol-based), yet educational (i.e. “how does a blade of wheat become this potent, mind-altering elixir?”), a distillery tour is one way to beat the ennui of treading the same path between the pool, beach, bar, and hotel all week, without wreaking the kind of havoc that would surely ensue should one suggest anything so revolutionary as a visiting a museum. Distillery equals booze museum. Highbrow, yet on-theme. Fun to be had. Everyone wins.
The idea of touring a distillery is not exactly a modern invention, as many of the world’s finest spirits have been crafted for centuries in locations that were at least occasionally accessible to the public. However, small-batch, craft spirits are now on the rise, so much so that just about any given component of a Long Island Iced Tea—vodka, rum, gin, tequila—can be found in local distilleries who offer tours or tasting rooms within striking distance of the most popular spring break destinations.

South Florida Distillers

Where: Fort Lauderdale, FL
South Florida Distillers
If you’re spring breaking in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or otherwise Atlantic coast Florida, contact South Florida Distillers about a private group tour. On offer are a variety of rums to sample under the FWAYGO brand, including a grilled pineapple rum (ummm, daiquiri potential, hello?) as well as several agave-based spirits. (Can’t call it tequila unless it’s from Jalisco, but I imagine you still know the drill.)For full list of destinations, click the link

Thursday, March 14, 2019

St. Patrick's Day 2019 events in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Naples, SWFL

Looking for something to do this St.Patty's Day weekend? Irish bands. Corned beef and cabbage. Parades. Irish dancers. Bagpipes. And gallons and gallons of green beer. That’s how Southwest Florida celebrates St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Here are our picks for fun events happening Friday through Sunday, March 15-17. This isn’t a complete list, though. Many other local bars and venues are planning green beer, live bands and other St. Patrick’s Day events. Check the websites and Facebook pages for your favorite local haunts.

Cape Coral

  • St. Paddy’s Day at Nevermind: The Cape bar and restaurant kicks off a three-day celebration with Irish food, 12 Irish and rock bands and host Shamrock Shannon from Friday through Sunday. Admission is $5 Friday after 8 p.m., $5 Saturday during daytime, $10 Saturday night and $5 all day Sunday. Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, 927 Cape Coral Parkway E., downtown Cape Coral.
  • Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration: Small kids can celebrate the holiday early at Four Freedoms Park with holiday-themed crafts, games, snacks, a scavenger hunt and a leprechaun goodie-bag station. For ages 1-7. 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday. $12. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. Call 574-0804 to register.
  • Shenanigan’s Wake: The local “Celt-rock” band brings its St. Patrick’s Day weekend tour to Cape Coral, including a countdown to St. Paddy’s at 10 seconds til midnight. Shenanigan’s Wake plays a rowdy version of traditional Celtic songs. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. Free. Rack’em Spirits & Times, 1011 S.E. 47th Terrace, downtown Cape Coral.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Trolley: This fifth annual pub crawl lets you ride trolleys throughout downtown Cape Coral and stop at 12 different places for holiday-themed custom drinks. 3-9 p.m. Sunday. $17 plus $2.50 for each drink. Check-in happens at Big John Plaza and in front of Dixie Roadhouse, downtown Cape Coral.
  • St. Patrick’s Day in the Bavarian Beer Garden: Drink German and Irish beers and eat German and Irish food at this event that also includes live music. Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. $3 admission (Free for ages 12 and younger). German American Social Club, 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road, Cape Coral. 283-1400 or
  • PaddyWagon Irish Pub: This party includes drink specials, games, giveaways, The Doghouse food truck and live music from Will Kaiser (noon to 3 p.m.), Deven Starr (4-7 p.m.) and Shaun Miller (8-11 p.m.). Noon to 2 a.m. Sunday. Free. PaddyWagon Irish Pub, 1431 S.E. 16th Place, Cape Coral. 800-4867 or

Fort Myers

  • St. Patrick’s Day Block Party: The annual block party includes live bands, deejays, games with prizes, food and drink specials, and lots of cold beer. Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Free. Downtown Fort Myers.
  • City Tavern St. Patty’s Day Bash & Street Party: Chef Brian Duffy will cook up corned beef & cabbage cheese steaks for this 20th annual event. Plus drink specials and live bands Faded Roots, Red Hannah, The Freecoasters and Guilty. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday. Free. City Tavern, 2206 Bay St., downtown Fort Myers. 226-1133 or
  • Clancey’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration: The party includes green beer, live bands, bagpipers, Irish dancers, face painting and a St. Patrick’s Day menu with shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, and other Irish dishes. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Clancey’s Restaurant, 11481 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. 482-3241 or
  • Shamrock and Roll Party: This Irish-themed bash features prizes, green beer, giveaways and local rock band Red Hannah. Starts at 10 p.m. Sunday. Free. Buddha Rock Club, 12701 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. 482-8565 or

North Fort Myers

  • Johnny & Patti Revue St. Paddy’s Day Party: Singing couple Johnny and Patti Russo sing pop, rock, country and dance hits from the 50s to today at this holiday dinner party. The restaurant will be serving up corned beef and cabbage, fried fish and more. 6-10 p.m. Friday. Free. Victory Lane Café, 4120 Hancock Bridge Parkway, Cape Coral. 995-0340
  • St. Patrick’s Day Bash: This free event includes live Irish music by Chuck Peterson, Irish food, green beer, Irish music and dancers, bagpipers, an Irish adult costume contest and more. Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. 995-2141 or

South Fort Myers

  • Second annual St. Patrick’s Day Mall Crawl: Bell Tower Shops and iHeartMedia join forces for two hours of revelry, food, drink and music. Radio personalities from four Southwest Florida radio stations will play music and meet with fans at World of Beer, Bistro 41, Cru and Society. DJ Ramo G from The Beat will be spinning music in Center Court. Participating restaurants will offer Irish-themed food and drink specials, raffles and giveaways. 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Bell Tower Shops at U.S. 41 and Daniels Parkway, south Fort Myers. 489-1221 or

Fort Myers Beach

  • Fort Myers Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The annual parade travels along Estero Boulevard from Santini Marina Plaza North to the Church of the Ascension. The boulevard will be closed for about one hour, starting at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. The parade starts at 10 a.m. Free. NOTE: The parade was originally scheduled for March 17. Takes place on Estero Boulevard in Fort Myers Beach. 591-8803 or
  • St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Dance: Celebrate the holiday with dancing, raffle prizes, a traditional Irish menu and live music from the 17-piece dance band Memory Makers. Purchase a shamrock and write a message to be delivered to a veteran. The event is a fundraiser for the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida. 5-10 p.m. Saturday. $35 (or $65 for two). Cash bar. Fort Myers Beach Shrine Club, 19171 San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. 652-1613, 541-8704 or
  • For full list of events please click the link

Instacart’s alcohol delivery is now available in 14 states, including Florida

Instacart has expanded its alcohol delivery to now be available in 14 states and Washington, DC from nearly 100 different retailers.
With the roll-out, Instacart alcohol delivery is currently available to 40 million homes in the U.S., and the number of alcohol deliveries on the platform has more than doubled since the same time last year.
Partners who participate in alcohol delivery on Instacart include Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Schnucks and Stater Bros., alongside wine and liquor stores such as BevMo!, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Total Wine & More.
The list of states where Instacart offers alcohol delivery include California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Washington, DC.
Instacart started rolling out alcohol delivery a year ago, and has quickly become a competitive player in the space. Postmates introduced alcohol delivery in 2017, whereas strictly alcohol delivery services like Drizly, Minibar and Saucey have been around for a while.
Here is what Instacart’s chief business officer, Nilam Ganenthiran, had to say:
Part of grocery shopping for many people goes beyond getting fresh produce, meats and pantry staples, and includes picking up the perfect bottle of wine for a dinner party or their favorite beer to sip while watching the big game. By working alongside our retail partners to add alcohol to the marketplace, we’re offering customers more choice and making it easier for Instacart to be their ‘one-stop-shop’ to get the groceries they need – including beer, wine and spirits – from the retailers they love.
When Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, some speculated that Instacart might be hit hard. But the deal also represented the digitization of a massive, traditional industry. Considering Instacart’s retail partner growth over the past year, it seems that the Whole Foods acquisition might have made Instacart an attractive platform for some retailers.
The company now serves more than 80 percent of U.S. households, which was Instacart’s stated goal for the end of 2018. Across its 300 retail partners, Instacart now delivers from 20,000 grocery stores across 5,500 cities in North America.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1988 Was the Most Important Year for Craft Beer

Thirty years ago, Gary Fish walked into a bank looking for a loan. He told the banker about his plans to build a restaurant with a brewery in Bend, Oregon. The banker, confused by the very concept, shut Fish down, saying, “We don’t loan to restaurants.” Fish tried to explain the brewery aspect, but was met with “We don’t know beer.” “We went back and forth a while,” Fish said. “Eventually, it was, ‘All right, thanks for your time.’ Banks didn’t want to talk to us. At that time, there wasn’t a marketplace, no industry, no one knew how to make beer.” Looking back from the present era where San Diego's Ballast Point sold to Constellation Brand for $1 billion and craft beer is omnipresent, the bank sounds crazy. But 30 years back, few people knew anything outside the macro lagers. Fewer still would lend money to upstarts seeking to make their own weird beers. Fish eventually did secure enough for his little brewery. He opened Deschutes Brewery in 1988. The brewery has grown into one of the largest and most influential breweries in the US on the strength of well-respected flagships like Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, an experimental barrel-aging program, and newer additions like Fresh Squeezed IPA. 
Deschutes made its debut in a small and stagnant beer world. Yes, there was craft beer out there: Appliance heir Fritz Maytag had purchased San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing in 1965, which is widely seen as the starting point for the modern era of craft brewing. But not many people followed suit: fewer than 90 breweries opened their doors between 1965 and 1987. The breweries that did make waves -- like Bell’s Brewery in Michigan, Sierra Nevada in California, Boston Beer Co. -- certainly helped pique interest and started the heavy lifting of making people rethink beer, but they were bright sparks on wet tinder. 
In 1988, that tinder exploded. 
Fish, way out in Bend, had no idea he was part of a burgeoning revolution, nor did the nearly 60 other independent breweries that would open during the course of that year, many of which helped shape the industry into the powerful force it is today. 
The list of so-called Class of ’88 breweries includes plenty of familiar names. In Cleveland, Great Lakes Brewing was restoring the brewing history of the Rust Belt town, while in New York Brooklyn Brewery started distributing a caramel-colored lager. In Oregon, several Nike executives branched out to brew up quirky beers at Rogue Ales & Spirits, while in Chicago, Goose Island Beer Co. started its Windy City legacy. In northern California, North Coast Brewing gained a foothold, and in Denver,Wynkoop Brewing helped lay the foundation for an all-out craft takeover a mile above sea level.