There are so many great things going on in the American Craft Beer industry. I am always looking at ways that allow me to get the word out. Stumbling on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) site was a process of stumbling around due to an idea that came from looking elsewhere (see the Why American Craft Beer Label? section).
The American Craft Beer labels are a cool segment of the industry. After all, they are the visual portion of the fruits of a breweries labor prior to seeing the beer. Flashy labels, in a very crowded craft beer section of the beer store, can mean the difference between sitting on shelf and being purchased. Especially when most people are visual.
Now that I have a process in place to quickly get the monthly approved Illinois Craft Beer labels, I will be back filling to the beginning of 2020. If time permits, I may begin to list other states as well.
The goal is to have a list of Illinois craft beer approved labels early the month after they are approved. June should be out soon.
Why American Craft Beer Labels?
I am late to the game, but I just started playing around with the Untappd app on my phone. They have a ton of nice features (no I am not sponsored by them). In looking at some of the features, I noticed that the pictures for their beers are the labels, not actual photos. The pictures of the establishments (they call them breweries/venues) are typically the logos for the establishment.
On top of that, they use the same size for all logos: beers, breweries, and venues. This makes display on the web or the application damn easy. Very smart!
Thinking on my toes, I determined there had to be a way that they get all those labels. I had to search, that’s when I happened upon the TTB site.
May 2020 Illinois Craft Beer Approved Labels
Below are the May 2020 Illinois craft beer approved labels. Some statistics to start:
There were a total of 64 approved labels for Illinois Craft Beer in May.
46 of those labels are below as the others were considered to be keg labels, making them somewhat boring, and, as a craft beer enthusiasts, I don’t think we see many kegs.
Why does the American craft beer makers insist on giving me a best by date? That is an industry just not understanding the consumers of their product.
There are a plethora of reasons why American craft beer makers shouldn’t partake in this practice. Let’s take a look at my rant!
Best by date my vary by American craft brewery. How long is that from the canning date? 2, 4, 6 or more months? Depending on the style, for example a NEIPA, that best by date should be 2-4 weeks and 4 weeks is push it. I may have a fresh beer in the American craft brewer’s sense but my sense and opinion is what matters. Don’t try to trick me.
Until American craft breweries come to a standard, then I will not be able to calculate the approximate can/bottle date.
If an American craft brewery has the ability to do this labeling, then make sure that it easy to read. Do some type of R&D to determine if you machine is calibrated correctly. If the ink is smudge or readable. If they ink runs or rubs off easily once the can has condensation. These are easy things to manage in order to make sure your consumer is not being tricked.
If you have the technology to place a best by date you have the technology to do a canned date. I feel it is trickery.
Don’t play games with stupid/crazy codes that I have to go to the website to lookup. Are you kidding me? I have to pull out a computer, laptop, or phone, go to their site and hopefully be able to find the page for a specific beer that has the codes?
American craft beer is all about the consumer. If brewers have the consumer’s best interest at heart, then a canned date is a must as is throwing about the best by date. I feel the best by date is a why to fool and trick the consumer into purchasing a beer long after peek consumption period. It also seems that is used by bigger American craft breweries as well as those that have been gobbled up by macro breweries/corporations. This practice will begin to erode the trust that important to American craft beer sustaining growth and loyalty. The days of brotherhood among the American craft breweries is waning due to overcrowded shelves.
I will only purchase American craft beer that has a canned date that is easy to read. Next, if it is a normal IPA, it can’t be more than 2 months old. If it is a NEIPA, it has to be within in a week. Other styles I am a bit more loose on dating. But, the fact has to be that the date is there. The above purchasing practices are scrutinized even more by me when I am at a beer store that I do not normally visit.
I hate to say this but this could be one that Budweiser had right a long time ago. I don’t know if they still carry out the practice but they not only had a born on date but they also had that the beer was best within 110 days of said date.
You cannot ask for more transparency than that. Let the consumer make up his/her mind what they determine to be fresh. This is what I want and what the American craft beer drinking public needs! Stop feeding us a line of crap. Enjoy!
American craft beer prices continue to climb. There seems to be no stop in site. It drives me to home brew more often in spite of a crazy busy day-to-day schedule.
This most recent rant on American craft beer prices was brought out by the purchases I recently made at the local box beer store. Severn different American craft beers were purchased with an overall cost of $96.93 (excluding tax). Side note: this was the first American craft beer purchase in several months. Below is a list of the purchases:
Only one beer under $10.00. And, that beer, when I originally had it was only $6.99. That is a $2.00 price hike or, more meaningful, a 28.6% price hike. Other beers, on the list above, that I have reviewed on Two Beer Dudes, have had similar price hikes (why logging this crap is so important).
According to the graphic (huffingtonpost.com) some 52% of the cost of American craft beer comes from the distributor and retail markups. Never thought it was that much. Wait. Why does beer still cost so much when purchased directly from the brewery?
This isn’t my first rodeo discussing (complaining) about American craft beer prices…
Some of the articles above were speculative. Surprisingly, possibly not, but some of those have come true. Especially the post on American craft beer limited lease price increases.
What is next?
The only way that change will occur: people have to stop paying the rising prices for American craft beer. But, the fever is on, it is the in thing. This is scary similar to the wine industry some 15 – 20 years ago.
Prediction: I think that the American craft beer bubble is going to burst in the next three to five years.
In the meantime, make mine a home brew. Enjoy!
Useless Fact: There are 318,979,564,000 possible combinations of the first four moves in Chess.
A visit to New Glarus Brewing Company is always a welcome event. Before the kids got active, we made multiple 2+ hour trips to the brewery each year. Typically our weekends are abuzz with trips to the gym, soccer field and/or basketball tournament.
This past Sunday was special: it was my birthday.
The wife asked me multiple times what I wanted to do for my birthday. I gave little input. Finally she mentioned New Glarus but only because she really wanted to go and has been talking about it for a month ago. She is a Spotted Cow super fan.
In the four or more since we have visited New Glarus, the drive hasn’t changed but the brewery has. It is bigger, with multiple additions: one on the west side, one on the south-west and possibly more. One of which is near the bottling/kegging area that includes the ability to can their beers. Probably the biggest change: the common area on the north-east side of the brewery. Now there is more and nicer seating, there are trails in the woods, there are a bunch of partially built structures surrounding the area that look more like bombed out Germany during World War II. Tons of new and interesting sites and places for the kids to play. There was live entertainment, see video above. Sausage on wheels was served from a food chuck. The man serving food had a mustache worthy of 20th century Germany.
They still only have four beers on tap for tasting. The price for the tasting has increased while the serving size has not. My only complaint of the day.
The brewery was crowded with people and dogs but the improved family feel made us feel welcome for a lazy October afternoon. We will be back again, just hopefully not for so long. Enjoy!
Useless Fact: If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.
It’s that time of year again: family vacation. Destination Florida. As always my wife allows me to plan many American craft beer stops. This year I stacked up, hitting all the two heavy hitters that I had planned: Cigar City and Funky Buddha.
Since the last time I was in Florida, many new American craft breweries have opened. I had 12 or so on the list. I hit 7: St. Pete Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, Cycle Brewing, Bury Me Brewing, Point Ybel Brewing, 26 Degree Brewing and Riptide Brewing. We also stopped at Chattahoochee Brewing Company in Phenix City, Alabama.
Instead of telling a long story intermixed with pictures, I have decided to tell the story with pictures with a few words attached to each image.
The time off from work was well needed. Rest, stress release and, most importantly, time to regroup with the family was most appreciated. Enjoy.
Cigar City Tap Handles. Welcome to a slice of craft beer nirvana.
It’s noon somewhere. Good thing Cigar City opens early. Jai Alai White Oak was no longer available in the bottle. On tap isn’t a problem.
Cigar City Brewing 2014 Hunahpu, 5 ounce pour. Kidding with the tour guide about the beers we were served on the tour, he said that if asked at the bar, these were flowing. Lucky me.
The first stop on the Beercation: St. Pete Brewing. Plenty of seating, in and out. Some great locals gave us the low down.
St. Pete Brewing is completely open, especially in late July. Cool games make it welcoming to a family with kids.
Throat Punch IPA, which hurts in real life, was average, at best. St. Pete lagged behind the other breweries I visited in the area.
Green Bench Brewing Company, easily my favorite stop of the day in St. Pete’s. Very interesting lineup of sours.
Raspberry Saison aged in wine barrels, sparkles. Complex with a great balance of raspberries.
Cycle Brewing Company. So many breweries in such a small area in St. Petersburgh.
Time was running short, as Cycle was my the last stop before continuing down the coast. A long 24 hours from Illinois, time for Crank IPA.
Stillwater Grill was about the best place in the area that had a solid beer line up and food.
Prairie Birthday Bomb, on tap, along with my salad. Bomb was $6.75 for 10 ounces, but it was happy hour: $5.75.
Stillwater Grill grouper wrap. Darn tasty.
Bury Me Brewing was one of three breweries visited on the way to pick up the in-laws from the airport in Ft. Myers.
Bury Me Brewing, like many of the small breweries in Florida, has the brewery right next to the tasting area. Amazing what these places fit in such a small area.
Bury Me Brewing flight. Starting from top right: Jasmine Tea IPA, Creamation, Bone Biter Oat DIPA, and After LIfe Dark Sour.
Point Ybel Brewing was the last stop before the Ft. Myers airport. My wife karaokeed while I had a flight. From left to right: Snook Bite, Dwarf Galaxy, Blow to the Head, and No See Um Saison.
Funky Buddha Brewing Company. This was the one place that I was really hoping to get to since we were staying across Alligator Alley on the gulf side.
My first beer, ever, from Funky Buddha Brewing: Barrel Aged Clockwork Orange. Awesome!
Flight of Funky Buddha Brewing that my wife put together. Starting with the bottom left: Raspberry Berliner (great beer), Blueberry Cobbler Wheat Ale (had the flavor but too sweet), Pineapple Pilsner, and 3rd Year Anniversary IPA (solid).
Regrettably, my second and final beer, at Funky Buddha Brewing. Nikolai Vorlauf is a stout that was probably best served before Clockwork Orange.
IPA1a from 26 Degree Brewing. A solid beer that was enjoyed over a great conversation with a fellow craft beer enthusiast from New York.
Second offering from 26 Degree Brewing: Ziko’s Rage. An imperial stout that helped me weather the gaming room that was part of the actual brewery. Hot.
Riptide Brewing Company is right around the corner from my favorite Naples restaurant: Grouper and Chips.
Kraken DIPA from Riptide Brewing. Not a great DIPA but good enough, while it monsooned at noon in Naples, to have two.
Families first stop in Alabama: Phenix City for Chattahoochee Brewing Company. Odd set of circumstances but they did not have any of their own beer on tap. It felt like that scene from Animal House.
Useless Fact: All numbers from one through nine hundred ninety-nine does not have the letter “a” in it.