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Category: Interview

Drink Better Beer

We recommended our favorite new beer book in the gift guide. Now we’re taking a more in depth look with a discussion with Drink Better Beer‘s author Joshua Bernstein. Joshua is a Brooklyn-based beer, spirits, food and travel journalist, as well as an occasional tour guide, event producer and industry consultant.

Since 2000, he’s written for scores of newspapers, magazines and websites, including The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Men’s Journal, New York, Saveur, Wine Enthusiast and Imbibe, where he’s a contributing editor in charge of beer coverage.

Joshua is the author of five books, including Brewed Awakening, The Complete Beer Course, Complete IPA, Homebrew World, and his newest book Drink Better Beer, published in September 2019. He is an expert on beer, but he highlights a range of other beer experts in this new book including competition judges, beer consultants, and master brewers. Together they’ll help you make sense of the ever changing and expanding world of craft beer.

What’s an experience you had with one of the people featured in the book that stands out?

Hands down, I was blown away by chatting with Dr. Hoby Wedler, a blind sensory specialist. Our eyesight drives so much of what we take in with beer, from the way it looks to how it’s poured, the label, the foam and, well, the Instagram pic. But our eyesight is not our trustiest sense. We can see the moon, Dr. Wedler said, but do we know what the moon smells like? What it feels like to walk there? Same goes for beer. Our eyes might draw us to a beer, but what’s more important is the fragrance we sniff, the liquid that passes over our lips and slides into our stomach. We need to pay attention to all forms of sensory intake.

It’s a gorgeous book. Can you tell us about the design process, and about how you rounded up the great photos?

As I often tell folks, nobody ever picks up a book and says, “My, those are are beautiful words!” I wanted to the book to look as good as it read, which meant a few things. First, I created the book’s text architecture—chapters, sidebars, profiles, boxes, etc.—that the designer used to create a layout. Then I reached out to first-rate photographers to complement the copy with great imagery, a winning one-two-three combo of words, design and imagery.

Has the way you personally see and interact with beer changed since you started writing this book?

I’ve been reminded that no two beer drinkers are alike. We all have different entry points into beer—Busch Light at 17 for me, jumping on a backyard trampoline in suburban Ohio—while other folks might be starting off with a hazy double IPA, or maybe a pastry stout of some sort. Are you happy with the beer you’re drinking? Great! That’s what matters, no need to yuck someone’s yum. We all sit at different points on beer wheels forever spinning around to different flavors, styles and experiences. I might have spun several 360s, but that doesn’t make me any better or worse—or worthy of judging you. And no matter what beer you’re drinking, I’m sure we can find a common ground for conversation.

Drink Better Beer

You worked with loads of beer experts for this book including doctors and master cicerones. Who really blew you away with their knowledge?

Instead of a single person, I was struck by Allagash Brewing’s sensory department. I spent a day at the brewery in Portland, Maine, sitting through Allagash’s rigorous sensory panels that ensure each and every beer tastes great, time and time again, with no off flavors, unwanted aromas, infection or carbonation that’s far too vigorous. As a writer, it’s easy to simply celebrate the brewers, but it’s the behind-the-scenes team team that makes a brewery hum along at a high level.

When talking with the beer experts featured in the book, what was your biggest “ah ha moment”?

Ten years ago, beer drinkers were obsessed with bitterness—the more IBUs the better, double IPAs abrasive enough to darn near scrape the enamel off your teeth. IPAs have since evolved to show their softer, fruitier side, but there’s been another kind of insidious creep: the dry hop. I spoke to Oregon State University’s Dr. Tom Shellhammer, one of America’s top hop experts, about brewers doubling, tripling and even quadrupling their dry-hopping regimen, seeking to boost flavor and aroma. That’s awesome in theory. In reality, adding all that plant material can cause big problems. Did you know that hops contain fermentable sugars that yeast can feast upon, elevating alcohol percentages and potentially creating unwanted off flavors, such as diacetyl? Yeah, me neither. Excess doesn’t always equal excellence, especially with IPAs.

What’s changed in the beer world since you hit send on the final draft of the book?

More breweries closed, more breweries were purchased. Could I have predicted that a Japanese-owned company would buy Colorado’s New Belgium? Heck no. But nothing surprises me, even as hard seltzer continues to bubble across the country, slushy machines slowly churning inside brewery taprooms snuggled inside strip malls, stouts drawing inspiration from the far reaches of dessert menus. Everything is fair game, which makes for a wild, and wildly flavorful, future.

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Behind the Brew with Patrick Morgan

Welcome one, welcome all, to a brand-new interview series we’re starting up here at BeerSelfie. While we’re all fans of beers of many and varied styles, we also like to focus in on the personal aspect of the craft beer scene. To that end, this interview series will be to help learn a little bit more about some of our fellow froth fans. Today, we’re talking with Patrick Morgan, who you may be more familiar with as @BeardedTortuga.

BeerSelfie: Please introduce yourself, and how you find yourself a part of the Craft Beer community.
Patrick Morgan: My name is Patrick Morgan, and I’m a Community Manager for New Belgium Brewing working with the Voodoo Ranger Brand Family.

I found myself in the Craft Community through various ways. I’ve always been a big fan of Craft since my first Fat Tire and Dead Guy back in 2005. From there, my education in craft grew. I have always been a Graphic Designer and worked in the cycling industry which translated well to the cycling and outdoor nature of New Belgium’s ethos, as well as my own personal knowledge as a craft drinker. I was a Graphic Designer at New Belgium for 4.5 yrs until I was moved to a Community Manager role in the Voodoo Family focusing on the Gaming/esports/fandom/eventing and content creation communities.

BeerSelfie: Seems like quite an interesting journey that enabled you to follow your passions. With your focus – today – being on esports and conventions like PAX – how do those differ from the “regular” beer events?
Patrick Morgan: These events differ in a few ways. First of all, the gaming and esports worlds are very leery of advertising., which is totally understandable. These events are not a logo play (which is all many brands look for) but more about making experiences for the community. Things like meetups for content creators, after parties and partnering with other brands like Hyper X and Top Golf to put on unique events and provide a fully baked experience for the consumer. In other words, we just want to party with people who love the same thing as us. Beer, Video Games and the Internet.

BeerSelfie: Up top, you mentioned your first Fat Tire and Dead Guy in 2005 – how did your journey into craft beer get started?
Patrick Morgan: Well, when a mommy beer and an daddy beer get together…

My journey started a year out of college when I finally had a “real” job, so no more Natty Light for me! One of my friends said “Fat Tire is coming to Chicago!” I had no clue what that was but he was insistent that we go to this ONE bar in Chicago, the only bar that served it that first weekend. It was a piano bar that was literally a Bachelorette Party bar, but they were serving buckets of Fat Tire. So my friend and I went, stood in line for about an hour and grabbed a back table at this piano bar and drank our Fat Tires all while Bachelorette parties were singing to the ceiling. From that day, I was on my Craft Beer Journey, trying everything I could get my hands on. That led to throwing parties every other week where everyone brought a new craft beer and played Halo.

BeerSelfie: From buckets at a bachelorette bar to throwing parties at gaming events – quite the journey! What have you found to be the most enjoyable thing about craft beer and the community that has grown around it?
Patrick Morgan: That craft breweries in general are really all a big family trying to figure this all out together. Collaborations run rampant and are a blast. It’s a physical embodiment of – and way to share – this like-minded love for the beer industry.

BeerSelfie: Sort of the “together we stand” approach, which is awesome to see. Since you’ve joined the community, how have you seen it grow and/or change?
Patrick Morgan:The community has changed in various ways, both good and bad for the industry. Growth exploded as we saw an increase in money-making in the industry, which brought craft and local to the forefront.

On the other hand, growth explosions always have a downturn at some point. We’re also currently see the climate of the industry starting to run a bit flat. On top of that, the breweries have a new problem to handle – craft drinkers have SO many options these days that the general craft drinker tries everything, is very curious and can have a hard time sticking with just one beer or brand.

Back on a more positive note, we are seeing a great movement in the industry, really trying hard to be more inclusive. It’s historically had the stigma of it being all bearded white dudes -and the bearded white dudes are actively trying to change that for a much more inclusive and better community.

BeerSelfie: As a member of the “bearded white dude” group, I for one have been very excited to see how welcoming the community has been, and meeting (at least, digitally) a wide variety of folks I would have never otherwise met. How do you see social media playing into (and influencing) the craft beer “scene” ?
Patrick Morgan: Social Media in the craft beer scene plays a massive role. It’s really the only way that breweries can get new beer info and events out to the public when you consider that we don’t play in traditional media.

The approach to social media in craft has also been changing drastically in the last year or two. No more are the glamour beer shots – it’s all about being a lifestyle and telling your story of the beer.

Looking more inward to the industry itself, social media has created some – if not most – of the collaborations we have today, since that is where employees, brewers and marketers connect.

BeerSelfie: Yeah – like it or leave it, social media is definitely a large part of the craft beer scene. For one, it’s a great way to learn about stuff you’ve never heard of, and get recommendations. What is your “Go To” brew that you reach for?

Patrick Morgan: I know this might sound biased but it truly is not: Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze. I find it goes with every food I could put it with, easy enough to drink on the couch while chilling or hanging at the pinball arcade on the weekends. Light enough to not feel full like most and laid back enough on the hops that I don’t have a pucker face.

BeerSelfie: Hey, no harm in loving the products from your own brand. Frankly, I’m a big fan of the Voodoo Ranger lineup myself. So, you’ve got yourself covered, you know what you like. When you’ve got someone asking you for a recommendation, what’s the first one that comes to mind?
Patrick Morgan: When it comes to New Belgium. I think everyone should try Voodoo Ranger Imperial. Sounds intimidating but its crazy far from that. In fact most people prefer it to a normal IPA even though it technically is hoppier and higher in ABV. If you can get your hands on Oakspire and/or La Folie, those really show our range.

As far as other beers. I’ve been loving Ommegang’s Three Philosophers (a Belgian Quad), as well as Elevation Beer’s Apis IV (Honey Quad) and last but not least a classic Coors Banquet.

Internationally, ANYTHING from De Koninck, Rodenbach and a St Bernardus Prior 8 (this was the first beer that opened up what the world had to offer for me)

BeerSelfie: Ok, you’re showing some range there! Let’s stretch things out a little bit more – you’re mixing up a sweet 6-pack for a trade – what’s going in the box that you’re sending out?
Patrick Morgan: I’m gonna be wicked biased here:

BeerSelfie: No problem with that – and if you want to send me that sixer, just let me know! You’ve been around the craft community for quite awhile now. If you had one piece of advice to someone jumping into craft beer community – in whatever capacity – what would it be?
Patrick Morgan: Go in to learn. It’s ok to not know things. Even brewers who have been in this their whole lives are still learning. It’s what craft was made to do: learn, experiment, collaborate, play, teach, and make a product and community they love and are proud of.

BeerSelfie: Solid advice for us newbies. Now, what about you – who would you go to for advice? In other words, if you could sit down and share a beer with anyone – who would it be?
Patrick Morgan: Barack Obama – and I’d bring along Coors Banquet (cause it just feels like the right type of beer). I just want to hear him talk about his family, dog and sports.

BeerSelfie: I like it – totally down to earth (in multiple respects). Last, but not least – what’s in your glass today?
Patrick Morgan: I truthfully have a taster of Atomic Pumpkin right here! It’s snowing today, need to make things warmer.

And with that, Patrick Morgan made me very envious, as I never found the Atomic Pumpkin here locally. That aside, I’m super thankful to him for taking the time to work through the interview questions with me, and help to get this new series kicked off. If you’ve got any reccomendations for who we should talk to next, hit us up on the contact form and let us know!

Yes, I want those VR Club patches!

Patrick is a big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find his work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile ; you can find him on Twitter and Instagram as @PatrickWatches.

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Beerhind the Scenes: IDOL Beer Works

Written By: Jordan Perkins

Greetings fellow comrades in craft. Welcome to yet another installment of Beerhind the Scenes with Beer Selfie and Traveler’s Beer Log. For this take, I once again decided to play it close to the vest and visit another (VERY) local brewery here in my hometown of Lodi, CA. I was thrilled that a hometown kid like myself could sit down with Grant, the owner of IDOL Beer Works and talk about all things beer related under the sun. The things I learned from him were incredible and his perspective on beer, not only in our region, but across the globe made me that much more excited to do this brewery justice in this article.

The Hazeelicious in all of it’s hazy glory

To understand IDOL’s beginning we need to go back before they opened their doors to the fine folks of Lodi. Grant owned a business called Flight Lounge in the city of Woodbridge (basically a little mini city within Lodi). It was a nice spot that specialized in good eats and even better craft beer options. At the time, it was really the only place in town you could go and find an extensive selections of good local brews. This was the first time Grant could display his true passion for all things beer. Being born and raised in Scotland, he joked with me and said this long love of beer started very young and could be credited to “Always being around Rugby clubs growing up”. He knew that he wanted to start pushing the beer (more importantly CRAFT beer) scene into the city of Lodi. What he didn’t know was if the people here would be accepting of it.

Clearly hard at work. Nothing goes better together than beer and writing!

It goes without saying (but G dangit I’m going to say it anyways) that opening up a place that centralizes it’s drink offerings around craft beer took guts. We are in the heart of wine country out here after all. My city alone is home to some of the best grown Zinfandel in the world (no that is not an exaggeration). So it’s safe to say that Grant’s hesitation about the reception of beer here was warranted. However, the beer was welcomed with open arms. So after owning Flight Lounge for a while he started to think about how to take this beer passion even further. He had been homebrewing and studying beer for quite some time, so he felt the only natural next step would be to open up a legitimate craft brewery here in town. So that’s exactly what he did.

The Founders Wall is what you see when you first walk in. It displays all of the people who helped the dream of IDOL Beer Works come true!

Not only was Grant born and raised in Scotland until coming to the states at the age of 23, but he also lived in Austria for 10 years. Gee, rough life. It was here where he began to realize something very important about the beer industry: Germany knows what the heck they’re doing when it comes to making beer. While living in the land of hops and dreams, he became even MORE smitten with beer (somehow his smitten meter wasn’t already full) when he got more involved with the German processes of making beer. We’re talking about a country with a 1,000 year history of this beautiful fermented beverage. He fell head over heels for their scientific, precise approach to brewing that – in Grant’s opinion – has allowed their styles and breweries to remain unflappable and stand the test of time. You can see a lot of German influence in Grant’s beer at IDOL from a lot of the beer being unfiltered to the fermentation times and lengths he goes to for certain styles. There is a lot of passion, and a WHOLE LOT of commitment, research, and experimentation put into his hopped up babies. And boy howdy does it all pay off in the end result.

I have a face made for radio but I still had to throw a selfie in there. Peep the Scottish flag in the background!

When I got to the brewery, I wasn’t quite sure where the questions and conversations were going to lead us. I try to ask more general, open ended questions and hope that through those more poignant, specific questions will come out as we talk more. This was certainly the case with Grant’s and my conversation. After warming up, we got further and further into the idea of where the craft beer movement is heading. How he believes that small (and sometimes not so small) craft breweries are seen as “piranha that the big domestics are scared of and will do anything to keep them at bay”. He then told me about the principles he based his brewery off of. He calls them the 3 C’s: Craft, Community, and Culture. All of these areas are covered extensively with this place. He’s opened up a brewery that is so involved with our community that I can only liken it to him having his hands in the dirt of our town. His tilling is bringing out the best and shows just what this little place has to offer to the world. If I can be frank, I suggest that he adds another C to that vision. It stands for Charity. IDOL has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities across the board. Most recently, he raised funds for the Operation Restored Warrior Project. His goal for his brewery is to always do things right and that goes for the execution of his beer as well as the engagement within the community. Speaking of beer, that’s what we got to talking about next. I asked him what his initial goal was for IDOL and it’s beer. His answer was simple yet sincere: “I just had the goal that when you taste my beer, I want it to be an excursion. I want all of the flavors to hit you in a way that you don’t see them coming”. Well, speaking from personal experience with his brews he accomplished that and then some. While we’re were on subject… Let’s talk about the BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER.

In order: Ballistic Leprechaun, Dragon My Ass, Double Image

I tried 4 beers brewed by Grant and his right hand brewer James themselves. Each one was better than the last and the first was pretty dang great to begin with! To start off I tried the Hazzelicious, a 7% NEIPA with a little extra haze thrown in there. Incredibly refreshing with the up-front bitterness being matched with a lighter haze that makes you want to keep tipping your glass to your mouth till there’s nothing left but the faint memory of a great beer. It was smooth, well rounded, and delicious. Seeing that my glass needed some liquid rejuvenation. Grant then poured me a couple tasters to wet my whistle while I was choosing my next full glass. One of the tasters was the Ballistic Leprechaun. This is one intense Irish Strong Red Ale, but not in the way that you’d think. At 12.3% you’d assume it’d feel like getting smacked by a shillelagh stick square in the noggin, but instead it comes off as an unbelievably smooth ride. My first question to Grant was if it was barrel aged because it has this amazing caramelized malt forwardness and was a just a touch sweet so I assumed it had taken a nap in some type of barrel at some point. Nope. Just an extremely well executed, unfiltered red ale that pours a beautiful deep copper color. No boozy heaviness. No cloying sweetness. The second taster had the acclaimed Double Image DIPA in there. It’s basically like IPA candy. A smooth, thick-ish body is accompanied by a surprising – yet very welcomed – light sweetness on the back end. Let’s not forgot how well those hops work off of everything! Bitter and biting in the best kind of way. I finished my drinking excursion with a full cup of the Dragon My Ass. A dragonfruit cream ale that has a really neat backstory to it. I won’t fill this paragraph up with that, but if you’re ever in the brewery you can try your luck and ask Grant about it. The beer itself is pretty unique. I told him it was so balanced I couldn’t tell when the floral hop profile stopped and when the foloral-er, sweet dragonfruit began! Plus it had that textbook, palate coating body that all Cream Ales should have. It was like I was caught in some amazingly twisted twilight zone episode about beer. And I would’ve stayed there forever had the beer in my glass not run out. The color is also GORGEOUS. I wrapped up the interview with my thirst quenched and my head full of ideas for the article.

I wanted to get a picture of the brewery at night to show how great it looks all lit up! Check out that space too. It’s in an old auto garage!

As I walked away from the brewery I was a little nervous about doing this man and his brewery justice with my writing. I mean, I have so many paragraphs to fit all of this into. He had so much knowledge to drop and my fingers could only type so fast (especially when delicious beers are involved). With everything I learned from Grant I was worried I’d be unable to put all those things into words and that his true intentions and sincerity would get lost somewhere between the tips of my fingers and the keys on my laptop. I can only hope that I’ve recounted what an awesome, informative experience this was for me and how grateful I am to Grant and the folks at IDOL for having me. I can’t wait to see what they have cooking for the next couple months. Grant did tell me about a few new beers they’re working on. When I asked him if he could tell me anything about them he smirked and swiftly replied, “No”. Alright then… keep your secrets. As soon as I get word of those new beers dropping I’m heading over there ASAP. If you’re ever in our small town and are looking for some gooooood beer, you have to make a stop at IDOL. Come inside, enjoy good company and get the chance to talk with Grant. He’s quiet and humble but is passionate enough to let his genius slip through the more you talk with him (the more beer he drinks also helps). Thanks for tuning it! Till next time y’all, cheers and onward for beer!

Jordan works in the alcohol distribution industry and has a passion for family, writing, and all things beer (both drinking and brewing it). You can find him on Instagram: @travelersbeerlog

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Micro Bros Pilot

I went looking for interesting beer related projects on Kickstarter and, it turns out, there isn’t much going on right now. Have you seen that Hand Keg thing? Wow…that doesn’t seem like something the world needs.

There was one project that really piqued my interest though. Jared Michael Cramblet and Jarrod Michael Moxley are planning a pilot episode for a show titled Micro Bros. Jared filled me on what the show is all about and what they have planned for the pilot and beyond.

How did you become interested in craft beer?

I became interested in craft beer around the year 2005 when I got my first bartending job at a place called Mellow Mushroom in Destin, FL. They were the first place in town to have a draft wall with a significant number of taps, which has now become commonplace. Prior to that, I would go the import route (Newcastle, Stella, Smithwicks etc.) because I was never really a fan of big American Beer. The first American craft-brewed beer I had was a SweetWater Blue. I couldn’t get enough of it! Until about six months later, when we got the SweetWater IPA in from our distributors. That’s when I became a super fan of craft beer.

How did Micro Bros get started?

Once again, this can be traced back to Mellow Mushroom in Destin, FL around 2007. I was a bar manager at the time and Jarrod Michael Moxley was the kitchen manager. Anyone who has ever managed a restaurant knows there’s nothing like it. Sixty-hour weeks become the norm, it’s hot, it’s physically and mentally draining, and both Mox and I would find ourselves at the end of the night discussing the job over a few pints. Somewhere in there, we started talking about a show we would like to see, involving craft beer and the culture surrounding it. We came up with the name Micro Bros, as a play on words plus the similar names (Jared Michael Cramblet and Jarrod Michael Moxley) but had zero clue what to do with it. We were restaurant managers with zero experience in the entertainment world. We went and toured a local brewery for about an hour or two, and found ourselves in the parking lot like “now what.”

Since then, I’ve started my own entertainment booking agency and I’ve been booking and managing bands for roughly six years. Over that period of time, I’ve been on several music video shoots and developed a strong relationship with one particular video production company, Lensea Film. I’ve recently taken a role as Producer with Lensea Film and shared my decade-long show concept of Micro Bros with the director, Destyn Patera. He said that perhaps we should explore it in the future and we didn’t make much of it – until he started sharing the idea with some of our peers. The response from everyone we mentioned the concept to was “how the hell does this show not exist yet?” So we started the development process and almost immediately caught the attention of some investors who have big experience in the world of beer, so to speak.

Once we were properly funded, we reached out to SweetWater, almost thinking they wouldn’t even respond to our email, but it was the exact opposite! A week later, we found ourselves in Atlanta at the brewery discussing how we were going to shoot this show. We plan to shoot in mid-November. The amount of support and interest we’ve already experienced has been nothing short of amazing, and we’re ready to make this show!

What strengths do each of you bring to the show?

We both host our own Podcasts, but with totally different concepts. My show (Whatever it Means to You) focuses on spotlighting creative individuals and digging into authentic storytelling. Whereas Mox’s podcast (A Weird Time Recorded) is basically him and his buddy drinking Two Hearted Ale and talking comedic nonsense, it’s out of control, hahah. But that will be similar on the show as well. I will be the more informative and inquisitive host, while Mox will be the comedic element. Although we have similar names, we’re very different people. I was concerned at first since we’ve never really been on camera together, how the chemistry would be, but after a few test shots, it all worked out pretty well, but I contribute that to the talent of Destyn Patera and the rest of our crew. They make us look and sound way better than we should.

What makes Micro Bros different from other shows?

There are literally hundreds of shows centered around food and travel, but almost zero around beer! With 7,000 breweries in the US alone, that’s a disservice to the community of beer lovers. We hope to take elements from the explorative nature of Bourdain, the comedic genius of Attell, and the beauty of the way Chef’s Table both shows and tells their stories. Basically, we want to create our dream show – and job, of course.

What do you have planned for after the pilot? Do you know where your next stops after Sweetwater will be?

We’ve had some conversations and interest from some network and streaming industry people, but there’s really not much we can do on that end until we complete the pilot. After SweetWater, we’d like to hit the west coast and the mid-west, maybe around the Grand Rapids area. A lot of great beer coming out of Michigan! But more importantly, a few episodes in, we’d like to feature some smaller breweries around the panhandle of Florida. It’s crazy how much good beer is just everywhere now, and we want to highlight that.

Who’s the target audience for the show?

I’m glad you asked this question. Although the show is centered around beer and breweries, we want to focus on the way culture is influenced by it. We’re going to these breweries to learn about beer, of course, but more so, we want to hear stories outside of that. We have some really great stories coming into this pilot centered around Atlanta! Hopefully, the show will resonate with craft beer lovers, but we’d like to tell enough of a compelling story that even people who aren’t into beer, enjoy the show as well.

How’s the Kickstarter going?

I’m glad you asked this as well. Speaking honestly, the Kickstarter is a disaster. We created several really fun events centered around beer, but Kickstarter doesn’t like beer! They wouldn’t let us offer half of our rewards and it was super confusing to our audience. So I had to improvise. We had some rewards like a multi-course multi-beer dinner and a brew tour that didn’t move at all on Kickstarter – because I wasn’t allowed to tell people we were including beer, so I teamed up with a local ticket broker and we sold the tickets ourselves and sold out very quickly. So, yeah, although Kickstarter appears to be a gigantic failure, we still raised our goal by selling tickets ourselves to our own events. Which is fucking wonderful because Kickstarter doesn’t get to take 8-10% from us. Definitely won’t be working with them again.

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South Lake Brewing’s Nicole Smith at CCBA Summit

Calirornia Craft Beer Summit

It’s a long drive from Tahoe to Long Beach, but South Lake Tahoe Brewing hasn’t missed a California Craft Beer Summit since their inception in 2017. With the Summit kicking off this week they’ll be making the trek again soon! Co-owner Nicole Smith chatted with us before she hits the road.

Have you been to the CA Craft Beer Summit/Festival before? What were some highlights?

Yes I’ve been to the summit and festival since it first started I believe in 2015! A highlight for me was pouring our beer for the first time at the festival in 2017!!

What summit speaker are you excited about?

I’m most excited to listen to Virginia Morrison of Second Chance and Lynn Weaver of Three Weavers during the Pink Boots/CCBA inspiring women leaders session on Friday afternoon! I’ve personally met both women and have been so encouraged by them to keep crushing it in the beer industry!

Which summit educational sessions are you looking forward to?

The educational session on Thursday morning about setting the scene and Leveling Up your tasting room through design and customer experience sounds fantastic and super useful for my role at our brewery. I also think this is a new seminar for the summit or any CCBA conference so I’m excited to learn something new!

What do you hope to learn at the summit?

How to do my job better. How to be a better leader of my business and bring new ideas, tips and tricks of the industry back to my brewery to improve it!

What do you have planned for the fest?

I was pregnant during the last festival and both my husband and I are excited to enjoy ourselves and try super yummy beer during the festival this year. Especially since it’s in so-cal for the first time, we are looking forward to trying breweries that we do not normally get to experience.

What brewery are you excited to check out at the fest?

Beachwood Blendery! We have a friend that works there 🙂

How does this event compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

Besides CBC… the summit I think is the best networking, educational, and uniquely craft beer event to attend!! It’s not as crazy as GABF and it’s a 100% california craft beer festival. I think it’s the best festival in the nation for craft beer enthusiasts to attend.

What’s unique about the California craft beer scene?

The demographics and variety that’s offered. Over 700 craft breweries in the state – we have to differentiate ourselves. There are so many different styles and great beers being brewed by CA Brewers, it’s truly a scene that steers the industry as a whole.

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CA Beer Fest Preview with Smog City’s Laurie Porter

The California Craft Beer Summit and Festival is quickly approaching! Before heading south I checked in with Smog City‘s Laurie Porter to get her take on this exciting event.

Have you been to the CA Craft Beer Summit/Festival before? What were some highlights?

I have been attending the Summit since its inception. I was actually on the original CCBA Summit Steering Committee to decide if the inaugural event was a success (it was!) and if we should continue to grow the Summit (wholeheartedly said YES) and now here we are, in Long Beach celebrating CA craft beer!

As for what Im looking for, I’m a huge fan of the Tap Talk- industry people sharing their experiences and knowledge always gets me excited. I also love the Saturday beer festival. An entire beer festival dedicated to California craft beer is like a dream come true.

What summit speaker are you excited about?

I have not had a lot of opportunities to hear Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery speak plus craft beer icons David Walker(Firestone Walker) and Kim Jordan(New Belgium) always have words of wisdom to walk away with!

What do you have planned for the fest? What will you be pouring?

We have a beer and food pairing that is really exciting. We’ve partnered with Chef Minh of Porridge and Puffs to showcase our love of fruit, smoke, and alternative approaches to beer and food reuse. We’re bringing Echo Echo Echo, a foudre aged sour blended with second use peaches and culinary lavender. Chef Minh created an Echo of our Echoes beer using the peach pits from our beer, smoked lardon, black eyed pea miso with ginger and negi, cinnamon-basil pickled peaches with a lemongrass porridge and seasonal flora…now that’s a mouthful! 

For the Summit beer festival, we’re bringing California Love, an Imperial Red brewed with ingredients showcasing the best of NorCal and SoCal, From LA Wit Love, Better Weather Sweater South Bay IPA and Night Howler, a blend of dark saison aged in puncheon barrels with Brettanomyces blended with a yearling sour brown and a late black cardamom addition- it’s an exquisite beer from our Wood Cellar and I’m confident festival goers are gonna be super excited to try it!

What brewery/beer are you excited to check out at the fest?

I’m sure there will be a ton of lagers, so I’m going to work my way through all of them! We’ve been brewing Little Bo Pils for nearly 8 years now but this year we’ve seen a huge increase in “lager love”. We brewed 5 unique lagers over the summer and they have been very popular! Can’t wait to see what lagers CA breweries are brewing up too.

How does this event compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

The CA-centric approach to the Summit makes this a truly unique event. I love the focus on our industry and especially love highlighting CA beer. We’ve have such diversity of beers across the state and the Summit really showcases that!

What’s unique about the California craft beer scene?

The shear size of California lends itself to diversity of tastes plus we’re the nation’s agricultural center so many breweries in California love playing around with fresh fruits, herbs and food friendly beers. I’ve always enjoyed how wide ranging the craft beer palates are across the state and our breweries are a direct reflection of that range.

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Craft Beer Summit Preview with Moksa’s Derek Gallanosa

CA Craft Beer Summit

Beer Selfie will be at the California Craft Beer Summit and Festival in Long Beach this September! We’ve never been so we checked in with Derek Gallanosa, head brewer for Moksa Brewing, to find out what to expect.

This will be my first time at the CA Craft Beer Summit/Fest. What should I expect?

Be prepared to meet a lot of people in the industry. The majority of craft breweries will be in attendance so create a wishlist of who you would like to meet.

What are some highlights from past CA Craft Beer Summit/Fests for you?

I haven’t been to the seminars but the festival is definitely worth your time. You get to try breweries that normally do not travel outside of their areas.

What does Moksa have planned for this year’s Summit/Fest? Why should people stop by the Moksa booth at the fest?

We will be sending beer to the Long Beach Beer Lab for Thursday night and then Beer Belly on Friday. As far as our booth we always try to bring the best stuff we have. It’s no use attending a festival if you’re not trying to stand out.

How does the CA Craft Beer Summit/Fest compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

It’s more education and networking focused.

What do see as Moksa’s place in the California craft beer scene? How does California craft beer relate to the rest of the beer world?

Moksa is quite different from a lot of breweries in the fact that we receive over 90% of our revenue from our taproom sales allowing us to have more capital to put back into the business. Also the marketing plan is to “Market Globally, Sell Locally.” I travel to beer festival invitationals all around the world to promote Moksa and Sacramento and California. Basically I am using our platform to promote the beer communities that we are a part of.

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Pales in Comparison

Kim and Jeff Jaxon have been taking epic road trips across the country and back each summer for the past few years. Dubbed Pales in Comparison, in homage to their favorite hometown craft beer, they’re visiting dozens of breweries along the way. I checked in with them as they head east on this summer’s journey.

Kim and Jeff

Tell us about Pales in Comparison. What are some highlights from past trips?

In July 2015, we meandered across the U.S. in search of good beer, kitsch locations, and beautiful vistas. Our main goal–and the inspiration–was to go from Sierra Nevada Brewery in our hometown of Chico, California to Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. But we got there via Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia…you know, the directionless route. We created Pales in Comparison as a site to share our road trip adventures and to create a hub for video blogs, Instagram, and other social media so we could more easily share with friends and family. We had such a great time and learned so much, we knew we needed to head out again. We’re now on our third cross country trip, increasing the travel time to 6 weeks on the road. 

Our favorite breweries in 2015 were Blacksmith Brewing Company in Stevensville, Montana and Laughing Sun Brewing in Bismarck, ND. Both places started as a labor of love, have deep ties to their community, and make great beers. 

In 2018, we stumbled upon an incredible nano brewery in Darby, Montana called Bandit Brewing. They didn’t have a bad beer in the list, and they are making clean, hoppy, delicious beer.

route map

What are some of the highlights of this trip so far?

By far, Palisade Brewing Co in Palisade, CO has been one of our favorite stops so far. We were able to sit with both brewers, try beers right off the line, including a farmhouse ale brewed with beets, which was so much better than it sounds. We also found Lost Cabin in Rapid City, SD and they had one of the best Pale Ales (Bruce Banner Pale Ale) on the trip so far. Just last night, we were at Devil’s Kettle in Athens, Ohio and had some amazing sours and an Imperial Blonde called Spider Silk that was full of honey-flavored goodness. 

What are you looking forward to on this trip?

As always, we’re looking forward to a return to Sierra Nevada in Mills River and trying out a few more of the 60+ breweries in Asheville. If you could only drive to one place in the USA and wanted the most beer selection, Asheville should be top of the list. 

What are some of the challenges of a long road trip and visiting so many breweries?

You really do have to do your research: there are a lot of variables like making sure the one brewery in a small town is open on the day you’ll be there (Mondays and Tuesdays are challenging). Finding a brew pub that’s the right driving distance, with a place you can stay nearby, and a brewery that is open and has beers you want to try can be a fun puzzle to solve. We start planning months before with multiple windows open: brewery map (which lets you search a route), google maps, Airbnb, hotel sites, camping sites, and of course, brewery sites. And the weight gain struggle is real; we try to walk or hike each morning, but when you’re drinking beer for 6 weeks with a side of cheese curds…you know, pounds. 

How can people follow along?

You can find links to Instagram, our YouTube channel, and Vlogs from each year on the website: palesincomparison.com

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