There’s no doubt that 2012 was a big year for Drink Craft Beer! Last year was the year that we really took the bull by the horns and decided to see how far we could really take this company we started from meager beginnings back in 2006. Just how big did we go? Well let’s take a quick walk back through time and we’ll paint you a picture.
OK, we admit, we got off to a seemingly slow start. But we took a lot of meetings, talked with a lot of people (read: pestered a bunch of brewers) and this is when the groundwork for the year was laid. It’s not the fun part, but it’s necessary.
That said, January was the month we started writing about craft cider, and we even brought on a dedicated writer: Sarah, our cider writer! Since then, we’ve deepened our affection for this historic beverage and have had ciders at both of our festivals.
In February we held our biggest event to-date at that point! Over 550 people came out to the Taza Factory Store in Somerville for our craft beer and chocolate pairing event, “Can’t Keep ‘Em Apart: A Beer & Chocolate Love Story." With Taza donating chocolate and space and Slumbrew, Narragansett, Peak Organic and Sixpoint donating beer, we raised over $1800 for the Great Boston Food Bank - about 4,570 meals worth of donation! It even got covered on Boston.com!
March...well March was a prep month. Plus it was St. Patrick’s Day. We were busy. Let’s leave it at that.
In April it was up to Maine, something we would end up getting quite used to, to brew a collaboration beer with one of our favorite local brewers, Chris Lohring of Notch Brewing Co. After weeks of brainstorming and testing ingredients, we brewed and casked our true breakfast stout: a coffee milk session stout on cask! Coming in a little under 4% abv, this was truly one that you could have a couple pints of and not ruin the rest of your day. We launched it to a packed house at Lower Depths in Boston’s Kenmore Square and kicked the cask in just over an hour. We even had awesome coffee/beer mugs made up for the occasion! Chris said it would never be brewed again...but maybe if we all bug him enough it’ll make another appearance?
In May, we made some new friends in the form of the folks over at Grand Ten Distilling. If you’re not familiar, Grand Ten is a new distillery over in South Boston. It’s run by two cousins, one is a chemistry PhD and the other is an MBA. The split the work as you’d expect two people with those qualifications to. Spence, the distiller, is heavily influenced by time he spent in France and loves the tradition of their liqueurs. And their product shows it. They make possibly the best gin we’ve ever tasted (seriously, we use it a lot...especially in craft beer cocktails).
We hung out with them one night and worked (which I use in the lightest sense of the word) to pair their Wire Works gin with craft beer, doing a new take on the ancient practice of Kopstootje, or a shot of gin with beer. Check it out for yourself!
They’re great guys and we’ve since been back many times, including to make 2 hop liqueurs with Spence. One used an obscene amount of Sorachi Ace hops, the other had a dangerous amount of Chinook!
In June, while it may not seem huge, we had a revelation, and it’s name was Shandy! Take about equal parts craft beer and quality lemonade, combine and (if you’ve picked the right beer) you have a delicious sessionable concoction perfect for the hottest of days and the longest of all-day barbecues!
This made a huge difference in our summer as we were able to drink great beer, and still last all day as more and more of our friends seem to be getting yards...which inevitably means cook outs. Also, it helps that we can drink and it doesn’t hurt our skills at baggo, a favorite summer pastime of ours.
Nothing big really happened in July...oh, except that we launched our first craft beer fest! Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ales was a huge success, thanks to our volunteers, the brewers and all the awesome folks that came out. We had 25 brewers, all from New England and all of them brought at least one farmhouse ale or saison! All three sessions sold out and we had 1200 attendees drinking awesome summer beer on Friday night and all day Saturday. We also had B. Good and Culinary Cruisers serving up awesome grilled burgers and hot dogs, as well as Taza Chocolate and Quinn Popcorn on hand sampling. Damn this was a great event!
In August we launched a post about our five rules to rare craft beer that generated a lot of discussion on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and elsewhere. While not everybody agreed with us (and that’s fine, we don’t pretend to be the autocrats of craft beer), many did on many points. The idea was to get a discussion going as it seems a portion of the craft beer audience is moving more into a ticker mentality of chasing down everything new and hyped. We just wanted to remember that beer is supposed to be fun and social. To recap, Drink Craft Beer’s 5 Rules to Rare Beer can be summed up as:
- Don’t be greedy
- Don’t sell it
- Drink it now
- Share it
- Beer should be fun
In September we made another new friend, Chris Olds bar manager at Park Cambridge. After Devon had a couple great experiences with their beer cocktails he was a convert to the idea of craft beer cocktails. The folks on bar there told him there were a whole bunch of off-menu beer cocktails available and, resultantly, our curious nature took over. Next thing we knew, we were hanging out with Chris at Park before opening, mixing up cocktails so that we could tell the world about the awesomeness available here.
In October, Devon and I used Columbus Day to go up to Portland, ME to check out the growing scene up there. We ended up hanging out with the folks at Urban Farm Fermentory for the morning and saw the great set up that they have over there. They’re turning out some awesome spontaneously fermented cider and doing all sorts of neat stuff to it. They also make some killer kombucha!
After a delicious lunch of burgers and beer at Nosh, we met up with Heather and Nathan from Rising Tide Brewing and checked out their new brewery, which is huge. It’s a good thing their new space is so big, because the beer rocks and we see big things for this husband and wife team!
We did a quick stop at Allagash Brewing to pick up some of their new House Beer, which unfortunately was sold out, but we ended up capping off the day by grabbing dinner with Heather and Natchan at Novare Res Bier Cafe, a joint that never ceases to amaze us, and even had a surprise chance to finally meet Craig, proprietor of the Pour Farm Tavern in New Bedford, MA. Great trip all around!
November was a busy, busy month! First, we went up to Maine again (we’ve been in Maine a lot this year it seems) to brew the Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest official beer with Peak Organic Brewing. Nut Your Average Ginger, a harvest brown ale with local ginger, hops, malt, honey and then some France-sourced chestnut puree, turned out great and was a hit at the fest. Not to mention we had a great time with Jon from Peak Organic as well as Josh from Puritan & Co. (the chef there, Will Gilson, supplied the honey for the beer from his family farm) and his girlfriend Stevie, and Brooks, the head brewer at the brewery we used to make the beer. Check the video:
Later in the month was our second beer fest ever, Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest. We again featured 25 New England brewers who this time each brought at least one beer featuring a fall or winter seasonal ingredient. The diversity of offerings was incredible, with fresh hops, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, Christmas spices, cider, rosemary, nuts and so much more all used to brew beers or ciders. Again, we couldn’t have done it without our awesome volunteers, the brewers or the 1500+ attendees that came out. These things just seem to keep growing!
As December just wrapped up, we look back at it and are just trying to get ready for 2013! We hit 200,000 followers on Twitter. We announced our next fest, Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops. We’re lining up some other great stuff for the coming year.
So we hope you all enjoyed 2012, we know we did! And, also, let’s look forward to what 2013 has coming for us. It’s going to be a big one! Thanks to everyone who helped make 2012 such a banner year for Drink Craft Beer. When we launched this thing in 2006, we never thought it would grow so big, but we’re stoked and flattered and, honestly, just overwhelmed by the support we’ve gotten. Thanks again, keep reading and drinking craft beer, and we hope to see you at Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops in April!
We here at Drink Craft Beer would like to thank everyone who came out to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest on November 30 and December 1, 2012! The volunteers, the brewers and, of course, the attendees, thanks! You made it all possible!
1500 awesome attendees, 25 craft breweries, 75+ brewery representatives, 80+ amazing brews, 67 volunteers, 6 food vendors, 1 venue and several great security professionals working the door helped to make the first annual Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest a total success and a weekend to remember! Come April 5 & 6 there will be another fest from us, Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops...but there will never be another first Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest. And we’re running out of first fests to have...or are we?
See pictures from throughout the fest on our Facebook page. But first, check out these highlights right here (photos by Amie Fedora Photography):
Drink Craft Beer & Peak Organic Collaboration Beer: Nut Your Average Ginger Brown Ale.
Devon and Jeff, founders of Drink Craft Beer, hanging out at Fall to Winter Fest.
Our awesome brewers and volunteers from Fall to Winter Fest!
Attendees on Saturday night at Fall to Winter Fest.
We couldn't make these things work without our wonderful staff of volunteers. Thanks, girls and guys!
Finally, are you ready for Drink Craft Beer Springfest: A Celebration of Hops?!
For Fall to Winter Fest we've teamed up with Peak Organic Brewing Company to create something very special. We knew that, following Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale, we had to step it up a notch and we think we did just that. With Fall to Winter Fest focused on seasonal ingredients, we knew that Jon and Rob from Peak Organic were the perfect partners for our project to create a beer just for this fest. They are very supportive of local, seasonal ingredients and work very closely with farms throughout New England to get a lot of their ingredients. They take it one step farther, even, and keep it all organic. Plus, they are absolute wizards at sourcing hard to find ingredients. When they were enthusiastic about the project right off the bat, we knew we'd found the right team!
One night, over a couple of beers, we threw around concepts and missions for the beer and all went off to think. Over the next couple weeks we went back and forth, trying to come up with something that we thought really told the story of the fest while also showcasing great local and seasonal ingredients. We wanted to show that fall is more than pumpkin...we wanted to use ingredients that were locally sourced...we wanted to do something that would make you think both "fall" and "winter"...and all the flavors had to fit together just right! The final product, now known as "Nut Your Average Ginger," is made of:
- Organic barley malted at Valley Malt in Hadley, MA.
- Organic Cascade hops from Blue Heron Farm in Lincoln, MA, actually picked in part by Rob from Peak Organic.
- Honey from Chef Will Gilson's farm in Groton, MA. Chef Gilson is opening Puritan & Co. in Inman Sq.
- Freshly picked organic Massachusetts-grown ginger from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, MA.
- Pureed chestnuts*
*(Chestnuts were historically grown in New England but a blight killed nearly the entire population in the first half of the last century. Despite this, we searched all over for a local chestnut supplier and found one. Unfortunately, the one grower we found had lost his entire crop this year due to bad weather last year. So, we ended up getting them from Baldor, the only distributor of non-sweetened chestnut puree.)
With a test recipe in hand, we set off for suburban Massachusetts to brew a 5 gallon homebrew batch (none of use had ever brewed with ginger or chestnut puree before). Once the recipe was vetted (and it's delicious, we've got to say) it was time to trek up to Maine to brew the batch that you'll all drink at Fall to Winter Fest this weekend (November 30 and December 1, 2012). Or, you can check it out at our fest pre-party on Thursday, November 29 from 6-9pm at Stoddard's Pub! If you can't make the fest, rumor has it that many of the kegs we don't use at the fest will be heading to Puritan & Co. when it opens.
This is the story of the brew day:
We'd like to thanks Brooks for having us into his brewery. Rob and Jon of Peak Organic Brewing Company for working with us on this beer and for sourcing all the wacky ingredients. Josh from Puritan & Co. and his girlfriend Stevie for coming up to Maine and helping us brew this beer...especially big thanks to Josh for shredding four lbs of freezing cold ginger with us!
For Fall to Winter Fest we're going to step it up a bit for the fest beer: we're brewing a beer especially for the fest! With the focus on local and seasonal ingredients that this event has, we wanted to work with people who had a similar ethos and could help bring a great, seasonal brew to life. Luckily, we had just the people in mind! We sat down to beers with Jon Cadoux and Rob Lucente, the founders of Peak Organic Brewing and long-time Drink Craft Beer friends, to pitch our idea.
After that meeting, and several emails between the four of us, we had our idea in place and the ingredient-sourcing magicians that are Peak Organic Brewing Company were on the job of locking down what we needed. The thought was to brew a beer that would showcase seasonal fall and winter ingredients in a drinkable beer that wouldn't kill your palate after one sip. After all, we're brewing this beer for and releasing it at the fest, but beer isn't meant to only be sipped in two ounce samples; it's meant to be enjoyed by the glass as well. And, in that spirit, this one will be on tap around the area afterwards.
What We Need From You: It's All In The Name
If you don't know it already, you can read below for the story. But now we need you to help us pick a name! We've solicited names for a while now from all of you, and we've picked five finalists who are in the running to win a pair of tickets to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest! Vote now to name the beer. Voting will be open until November 14th at 11:45pm. The name that gets the most votes will be the winner!
And The Winner Is...Nut Your Average Ginger! (Read for details below)
As some of you noticed, our polling service had some problems last night that caused the poll to go on for several extra hours after the 11:45pm ET cut-off time that we set up. The good news is, we were up and saw the results at 11:45pm ET. The bad news is, we saw the poll continuing and that people were still voting, which has caused the results to materially change since the stated end time. The effected names in this are "Nut Your Average Ginger" and "Bee Nutty Brown Ale."
At 11:45pm ET, "Nut Your Average Ginger" was in the lead. Unfortunately, the polling didn't shut off as it was supposed to and, over the next few hours, "Bee Nutty Brown Ale" re-took the lead and was ahead when the polling system shut down (which is reflected in the results below).
As a result, we're giving a pair of tickets to both "Nut Your Average Ginger" (@JennyFukumoto) and "Bee Nutty Brown Ale" (@jlbeerssf323) as we feel like this is the only fair thing we can do. We can complain about broken software all we want but, in the end, this was our contest. We'll be in touch with both of you shortly to get your contact information.
That said, we still need a name. As the rules clearly stated that the contest was over at 11:45pm ET, we're going with the name that was ahead at that point, rather than the name that one in voting after the contest was over. So "Nut Your Average Ginger" will be the name of the Peak Organic Brewing/Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest beer! Check out this great picture of our winner:
With Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest getting closer every day, we've been getting more and more requests on how people can be involved. If you want to be a part of the Drink Craft Beer community we're building and help put on a great event, then we'd love to have you. One of the most important parts of a fest is having great volunteers, and Drink Craft Beer wants you! This year, we're doing it a little differently. We want to spread the craft beer love as much as we can, so we've reserved 25% of volunteer spots this fest for new volunteers. So if you've wanted to volunteer, but haven't been able to get in, now is your chance!
Fall to Winter Fest is being held in Boston, MA at the Space 57 in the Revere Hotel (200 Stuart Street, Boston, MA) on Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16. We need volunteers for the following sessions (times are when we need the volunteers for, not the actual session times as we'll need volunteers there early and to stay a little late):
WE ARE CURRENTLY FULL FOR VOLUNTEERS. THANKS TO ALL WHO GOT IN CONTACT!
NOTE: All volunteers MUST be 21+ with a valid ID. Nobody will be allowed into the fest without proper ID.
Volunteers will get:
- Admission to the session that you're volunteering at
- Tasting cup
- Staff meal from one of the food vendors
- Staff t-shirt
- Chance to meet the brewers
- Meet other craft beer drinkers
What will volunteers do?
How do you sign up?
Email WE ARE CURRENTLY FULL FOR VOLUNTEERS...THANKS TO ALL WHO GOT IN CONTACT! with the following info (we need ALL of this information to process you sign up):
- Cell phone #
- Who you are and why you want to volunteer
- Past experience (Have you volunteered at other fests? Are/were you a bartender? Anything you think makes you especially qualified)
- Which sessions are you available for? (Please note, in an effort to let more people volunteer, you can only volunteer for 2 of the 3 actual fest sessions)
- T-shirt size (we have men's and women's sizes)