In This Issue
- Liquor Laws are In the News Again
- Word From the Korean Peninsula
- Guinness Beer Dinner, BJ's Brewhouse NLR, February 27th
- United Cerebral Palsy Putt Putt Pub Crawl, Multiple Locations, March 4th
- Block Party, 3rd Street Neat Dugan's, March 11th
- Argenta Irish Festival, Argenta District NLR, March 11th
- Guinness Beer Dinner, BJ's Brewhouse LR, March 6th
- Brews & Barks for Humane Society for Pulaski Co., Diamond Bear, April 29th
- If you know of a beer related event you'd like to see listed here, email me -JohnTheBeerSnob@Hotmail.Com. It's free free free!
- Food & Foamfest, Dickey Stephens Park NLR, April 14th
- Taste the Rarity, Wiseacre Brewing, Memphis, April 29th
- Arkansas Times Spring Firkin & Craft Beer Festival, May 19th (tentative)
- Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival, HS Convention Center, May 20th, 2017
- Great Arkansas Beer Festival, aka GArBF, Statehouse Conv Cntr, July 22nd
- Block on Rock, Rock Street Near Stone's Throw, July 29th
- Little Rocktoberfest, Dickey Stephens Park, NLR, September 23rd
- Arktoberfest, Downtown Arkadelphia, fall 2017
- Arkansas Times Fall Craft Beer Festival, Argenta Market, October 27th
- Frost Fest, Next to Washington County Fairgrounds, Fayetteville, Winter 2018
Just a Few Thoughts
Paul, Our Former Ward of the State, comes this week with a Washington Post article reporting on a lawsuit filed against Walmart regarding the marketing of its 'craft' beer brand. These beers have the trade name Trouble Brewing, and hail to be from Rochester, NY. That said... no such brewery actually exists. The beers are produced at Genesee Brewing, in Rochester. Genesee is based in Costa Rica and its holdings include LaBatt, Magic Hat, Portland Brewing, Pyramid and others. Many of these lawsuits have come as a result of craft beer drinkers wanting to be able to trust that the beer they buy, that is labeled craft beer, is actually craft beer... in other words... to meet the definition of craft beer as defined by The Brewers Association. These do not. The nerd term for this type of beer is Crafty Beer, beer being crafty trying to get us to try it.
And speaking of big-guy laws and politics, please pay particular attention to today's first feature.
There are several interesting events being planned for our near future...
March 4th there is the UCP Putt Putt Pub Crawl, which looks to be a lot of fun. Diamond Bear is the beer sponsor. Nine bars in downtown Little Rock will create their own putt putt hole and there will be a DB beer partnered with each hole. Participating venues are: Dugan’s Pub, Flying Saucer, Stickyz, Gusano’s, Stratton’s Market, Damgoode Pies, Rev Room, Willy D’s, Big Whiskeys. All proceeds benefit United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas. $100 per four person team. Shotgun start. Event goes from 11:30 - 4:00. For those non-golfers, shotgun start means all venues will start at the same time, and you'll be assigned as to where your team will start. Then everyone rotates at the same time.
On March 11th, there will be a block party in the River Market area on 3rd Street near Dugan's Pub. On the same day there will be doings happening in the Argenta District, in the guise of The Argenta Irish Festival. This the season...
I found out about an interesting festival over in Memphis. Taste the Rarity is put on at the Wiseacre location on Broad Avenue in Memphis. The fest, a is a celebration of one-of beers, beers you won't be able to taste anywhere but at the festival. For ticket information click here. To experience a VERY cool web page, and get details regarding the fest, click here.
As reported last week, Sweetwater out of Atlanta, is coming to our fair city. Within the next 2 weeks or so (1st week in March) we'll have several of their great beers here on our shelves. 420 Extra Pale Ale (64/58)* is the most popular in the lineup, we'll also be getting Hash Session IPA (86/85) - a low alcohol IPA , Goin' Coastal IPA (90/83) w/ Pineapple, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (99/85) 11.2% ABV, and The Pit & Pendulum (93/63) a sour/wild ale,
Other beers to be on the lookout for...
Diamond Bear Imperial Stout (NR), small batch, one-of. Might hold out through Sunday?
Diamond Bear Kölsch-Style (NR) - A 'sparkling beer. Available Friday. From the brewery:
Name: Stripper Sweat
Style: Kolsch Style
ABV: 4.8 %
Special Additions: Tangerine and food grade glitter
Brewed as a Kolsch style beer it is low in alcohol with low malt and hop character. It is a pleasant and easy drinking beer with a subtle hint of tangerine. Then comes the fun part which is the glitter. Dont worry, the glitter is food grade and perfectly safe for human consumption. It tastes just as great as it looks.
Food Pairing: Chicken, mild cheeses, and cheap buffets.
Water Buffalo's brewing efforts are expanding ... Larger, better brewing equipment is arriving as we speak to allow them to expand their lineup, and to have the really great ones survive for more than a day. I'm all about bigger batches, especially when it comes to the good stuff.
Speaking of the really great ones, one of my favorites is on tap there now. The brewery's own Jack Higgins' has his Blood Raven Dark Chocolate Raspberry Porter (NR) on there at the brewery... it is quite good. And as he does at competitions (which he's won several), he pairs it with chocolate. Nice.
Several educational opportunities coming up out at the Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts school. This Tuesday, there's a class on Beer Styles & Tasting, great for those in the industry or those who just want to learn more about beer. Registration ends Monday. March 2nd, and 4th there will be a class on all grain brewing, and demonstrated on a small scale professional grade system. Again, great for pros and ams. March the 30th, there will be a class on winemaking.
I also got an email recently from our long-lost international correspondent, Dr. Jeff of Korea, this past week. First time in a while that I've heard from him.... great to know he's still out there and kickin'. Jeff was one of the early subscribers, and lives vicariously through our great beer tales from the West. See more in the second feature article.
Don't forget to visit the downtown/Argenta area NLR breweries and bars. The Broadway Bridge closing is most likely impacting their businesses. Show some love...
Beer Follows Wine
I am watching with some interest in how a proposed new 'wine' law is going to pan out. It could dramatically affect our convenience to buy the beers we love, and where we want to buy them. This is a wine law, but the chain reaction might affect us beer nerds as well. Allow me to explain...
Non-liquor-stores that sell adult beverages are currently limited in what kinds of beverages they are legal to sell. Beer marketed in Kroger's, for example, cannot be high alcohol. If you want the new version of the Diamond Bear Presidential IPA (NR), you can buy it at the liquor store, or you can buy it at the brewery.... or perhaps you can get a growler from the local pub. But you can't buy it at Walmart.
There are similar restrictions on wine. Grocery-like stores can sell wine, just as they can sell beer. They just can't sell ALL wines. They are currently limited to small wineries. This is a win-win for both the stores and the small wineries. The even bigger winner here, the local liquor stores.
In Arkansas, it is not at all practical to try and set up a chain-store-design for liquor stores. The laws favor small business models. One person, cannot legally own more than one liquor license, solely in their own name. This all but guarantees that our local liquor stores are locally owned by small business folk from the community.
For these stores to be viable, they must have at least some section of the market all to themselves. I mean (with a VERY few exceptions) ... they can't sell groceries... they can't sell toilet paper... under their current licensure, they can only sell items related to adult beverages. If I need toothpaste and whiskey, I will need to plan two stops.
The new law, would enable big-box stores to carry ALL wines. No need to make two stops when your favorite wine company is available at the grocery store.
And as convenient as that is, my fear?... Next it will be high gravity beer... and then liquor. Then we'll be like Louisiana, where everyone sells liquor, wine and beer, and it is harder to find anyone that specializes in any of it. If you're in New Orleans, for example, the best craft beer selection to be found... is in a deli.
A large number of our local liquor stores will be snuffed out by the Walmart-sized retailers, if this bill becomes law. We will no longer be able to count on our favorite little liquor store staying in business.
In a recent Demozette article, they interviewed some of our local retailers ... from the paper:
Thomas Wilson Smith Jr. told the Senate committee that he, his wife, and mother-in-law own the Spirits Fine Wines liquor store at 2516 Cantrell Road in Little Rock. They purchased the store about two years ago.
"We bought this store with the idea that we would differentiate ourselves with our service and our selection of wines, and we have a nice clientele and we have grown the business," he said. "We are in the Wal-Mart parking lot. We are 100 yards from Wal-Mart.
"This bill is a dagger in the heart of the independent liquor stores," Smith said. "They are going to put us out of business. ... We just cannot compete with the big guys."
Smith worried that Wal-Mart will want to sell liquor next.
And ... from one of our new liquor stores in the newly wetterized county of Saline:
John Kelly, owner of Longhills Wine and Spirits liquor store in Benton, said wines comprise about 25 percent of his sales.
"I agree this is going to provide better consumer access, but consumer access does not increase demand and, therefore, it does not increase revenue," he said. "This bill favors big business. No doubt about it."
The bill is likely to force him to lay off employees and possibly shut down his liquor store, Kelly said.
In other words... no new demand, means there will be no new customers who will be attracted to the market due to this new availability of wine... it will simply mean that Walmart sized stores will take a bigger bite out of the market, and there won't be enough market left to support all of the local liquor stores as we now know them. The bigger ones will survive, as will the ones that aren't close to a big-box store. But the small ones, particularly like Sprits (who by the way have a great beer selection), are doomed. They'll either have to move, or fold. No one is going to walk across the parking lot to buy a wine they can conveniently buy it alongside the cottage cheese.
With those small businesses gone, you can bet, the Walmarts of the world won't give two hoots about the true craft beers that are out there, as noted in Paul's article above. Nor, I suppose, will they care about the small wineries they now are compelled to support.
Note that, in writing this article, I intentionally did not discuss any of this with any of my sponsors. The opinions expressed here are mine, and mine alone. Note that there have been many occasions where my sponsors made it quite clear that they did not agree with me on a particular subject. In fact it has been less than a week since I've had such a discussion.
That said... mark me down as being against Senate Bill 284, presented by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs. If it's bad for local liquor stores, it's bad for craft beer.
Dr. Jeff in the Land of the East
What follows is an email from our good friend Dr. Jeff, a longtime subscriber and contributing author to the newsletter. Hadn't heard from him in a while, turns out there was glitch that, thank goodness, isn't there any more. How great to know we'll be hearing from the doctor again. Here's the latest on the craft beer scene in South Korea.
Yes, I'm still in Korea. I've tried to contact you previously to report on the changing beer situation here in Seoul, but my emails were rejected as spam. I'm glad finally to have gotten through.
The good news is that good beer has finally come to Korea. Many imports and a growing local craft beer scene.
The bad news is that I have to watch my alcohol consumption. Why? Same reason. Many imports and a growing local craft beer scene.
The doctor advises me to drink moderately, and I can, but I also discovered on my own that a moderate beer or two daily isn't a good idea in my case (I must be aging!), so I've cut back on drinking and let the doctor's advice do what it's supposed to do, namely, prevent me from having a good time.
I do get together with other folk who like good beer - a group of us, including the Canadian ambassador, get together once a month or so to drink beer and talk politics. We have noticed that the Korean peninsula produces more tension than can be consumed locally. The man up north seems to like things that way . . .
I read your beer circular every week, so you needn't tell me how good the Arkansas craft beer scene is.
By the way, I don't know if you ever saw the finished literary product, but if not, here's the link to my Bottomless Bottle of Beer tall tale:
I've included you in my acknowledgements - due to the "no nick" [Nonic, a beer glass style] pint glasses and the Belgian tulip [likewise] - so let all your beer friends know that you've been acknowledged in a book that will save Western Civilization.
Great to hear from you Dr. Jeff... keep them cards and letters coming.
That's all for now. See you next week, I'm off to the kegerator.
Your (self-proclaimed!) Beer Snob,
John 'The Beer Snob" Wells, CBS, BCoLR-CDC, MoA, OCP&SI
Facebook-John The Beer Snob
Twitter - @johnthebeersnob
* The Beer Ratings Explained:
All ratings listed in parenthesis are from RateBeer.Com.
This is a great place to read (or even write your own) reviews of any beer in the world. The ratings are designed to rate beers relative to all other beers, and then to measure them against all beers within the specific style.
At RateBeer.Com, reviewers not only describe, but also score the beer on appearance, flavor, smell, etc. Upon completion of the scales, the site converts the rating into a calculated score. Once enough scores are entered, two 'stratified' scores are displayed. I show those scores in parenthesis i.e. (55/66) If there aren't enough ratings to establish a calculated score, I'll indicate by (NR)
To understand the resulting scores, imagine stacking all the beers in the world on top of each other in order of the scores. You begin stacking the lowest ones then save the highest scores for last. You would then mark off 100 equal lines as you worked your way up the pile. The beers within each of these lines would represent that score/percentile. Those on top, down to the first mark, are the 100’s. When you get to the next line down, those are the 99’s and so on. The same number of beers are in each group. If there are 500 beers rated 100, then there will be 500 beers rated 99, and so on.
There is a significant difference in the two scores shown on the RateBeer pages. The first is a competition/comparison of all beers. The second number is actually more important in my mind. It is a competition of beers within that style. Imperial Stouts dominate the top of the pile, summer’s refreshing lagers don’t stand a chance against them. So if you want to buy a great lager, the second score is much more important.
Example: New Belgian Shift, listed as a Premium Lager, scores (74/97). In the all-beer pile it rises only to the 74th percentile. In the Premium Lager pile it rises way up to the 97th percentile, making it a World Class Premium Lager. When I come in from a bike ride, I’d much prefer the 74 rated Shift to the 100 rated Prairie Bomb!
The RateBeer.Com scores are quantative percentiles (measurable scales) which is quite different from qualitative (not measurable, but based on expert opinion) scoring. In qualitative scoring, there is no limit to how many beers are rated 100. It is a matter of subjective opinion of the small group of tasters (think Parker wine ratings). The RateBeer.Com quantified percentile rating is statistically measurable, averaged out over what a large population of beer drinkers score... geeks like you and me... The result is more of a comparison, a competition if you will, between beers. The beers are measured relative to each other using a precise scientific method. It is a much more valid and reliable way to rate beer than any other rating service I have seen.
Since it takes several folks rating a beer for a score to be established, and even then sometimes the scores are skewed from such a small sample size. In those cases the score will appear as (NR).
Write for Us!:
Report what you see. Express yourself. Find your muse. Tell us what is happening out there. Even if you don’t want to write an entire article, at least keep us posted as to what you know about activities and products coming into the market.
The opinions expressed in this newsletter, unless directly quoted, are mine alone and do not necessarily (and often are the polar opposite) of those of the sponsors. On more than one occasion they've dusted off my britches, so please don't necessarily assume that they agree with my ramblings.
If you’re out and about, and you realize you’ve had a beer or two too many, remember that there are several choices to keep you out of trouble. Call a taxi, call a friend, but please don’t ever drive drunk.
Research for articles almost always include a refresher course via Wikipedia and RateBeer.Com