Highland Brewing Company is closing their doors this week. For four days. When they open again on February 23rd, Highland will look a little different.
For multiple decades now, Highland Brewing has sported a kilted Scotsman holding a pint, with the tagline “just a wee bit different”. This week sadly, the Scotsman is retiring.
Leah Wong Ashburn, the president of Highland Brewing and daughter of founder Oskar Wong knew a little while ago that Asheville, North Carolina’s first craft brewery needed a branding change. “Over two decades, we led with beer, and in recent years, we developed our beer portfolio significantly with fresh new styles and our innovative spirit is firing,” Ashburn says. “I love that we are now aligning the message.”
Highland spent most of 2017 collaborating with Austin, Texas-based Helms Workshop on the refresh. The entire beer lineup will still be labeled under the Highland name, but will now depict the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the brewery calls home. The pioneer compass you see is a reminder that Highland was Asheville’s first craft beer.
” We believe in authenticity…You act the same way when no one else is looking. You deliver the same level of quality every time that only you could notice. You are authentic when your actions align with your words. And when our brand aligns with our beer. This refreshed brand is who we are.”
Highland will host a launch celebration in their taproom on February 23rd. Look for the refreshed look on all Highland bottles, cans, and tap handles hitting shelves in the near future.
Popular beer check-in and rating app Untappd has suspended check-ins and comments following social media failure by the Tacoma, Washington based brewery.
You’ve got to have some thick skin to be a brewer. Especially in a social media-driven world. Everyone’s opinions regardless of how expert or novice, can be thrown out at near the speed of light, thanks to the magic of the internet and smartphones.
Of the hundreds of brewers we’ve interviewed here at Beer Street Journal, most take the critiques with a grain of salt. Some folks can be really hurtful, and most are smart enough to let it go. The owner and head brewer of Dystopian State Brewing Company did the opposite. Dare we say – completely off the rails.
A brewery visitor by the name of Gus Erikson was not a satisfied drinker of Dystopian State. He voiced his opinion on Facebook: “Only place I have spit beer back into a glass.“
This is where the story would have ended if owner and head brewer Shane McElwrath and co-owner Lana Adzhigirey had just let that comment go and moved on with brewery operations.
Co-owner Lana Adzhigiery didn’t take to kindly to his thoughts on their beer and voiced them immediately (She called him a fucktard in one of the exchanges). McElwrath privately messaged Erikson a string of expletive-laden comments that of course, didn’t stay private very long. Erikson shared the exchange and the social media backlash has been strong.
Members of the Untappd community started logging .25 stars on Dystopian State beers and destroying the brewery in the comments. Untappd has disabled check-ins and comments as of 1 pm this afternoon.
Additionally, the brewery’s Facebook rating was 4.8 stars and as the comment string and fall out started to build, that rating had dropped to 2.1. McElwrath has been suspended from his duties at Dystopian State. The brewery posted this on Monday evening stating they have been in contact with Gus Erikson over the messages:
“We really screwed up. We lashed out to one of our customers who made a negative comment about our beer on a beer group on social media. We made it personal. And have sent him messages in very poor taste. This is unacceptable and it was wrong.
“This is unprofessional and we take full responsibility. Gus Erickson – thank you for giving us a chance and please accept our deepest apology for sending you hateful messages.
We would also like to reassure you that we accept people from all walks of life, any and all sexual orientation, color, gender, opinion.”
Safe to say, this is the very definition of a brewery’s public relations nightmare.
Ed. Note: An email to Dystopian State Brewing Company was not immediately returned.
Heavy Seas AmeriCannon Pale Ale kicks off the Baltimore, Maryland brewery’s 2018 lineup.
“I’m not sure I can describe how excited we are about this beer,” says Heavy Seas Brewmaster, Christopher Leonard. Pale ale is the figurative “meat & potatoes” of American brewing. Almost every brewery has one, but thanks to dank new hop varieties and Lupulin powder, the American pale ale has been reborn.
Heavy Seas AmeriCannon is the first full production beer to use lupulin hop powder, specifically Simcoe hop powder. Think of it like uber dank dust that will have you burping hops after each sip. Centennial, Citra, and Palisade are the hop stars in AmeriCannon, which has also been dry-hopped Centennial and Simcoe hops.
“Ultimately, we’ve chosen a heavy dose of Simcoe Cryo pellets – pelletized lupulin powder – along with Centennial, Citra, and Palisade pellets in our double dry-hopping process. This follows Centennial, Cascade, Palisade, and Simcoe whole flower hops in our hopback; Warrior, Cascade, Amarillo, and Centennial pellets along with even more Simcoe Cryo pellets in the kettle.” – Chris Leonard
Heavy Seas AmeriCannon Pale Ale is a year-round offering, available nationally starting in January 2018.
Style: Pale Ale
Hops: Centennial, Citra, Palisade, Warrior, Amarillo, Cascade
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft. Year-Round
Debut: January 2018
Madtree Are You Ready For Some Darkness
Trillium Miles Away
This release is actually the second of three installations in an on-going collaboration with Blackberry Farm. The base beer is a saison brewed with North Carolina barley and spelt, Saphir hops, and fermented on a mix of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus bacteria.
Secrets are hard to keep and jealousy has no bounds. Part 2 of the story told with our good friends at Blackberry Farm Brewery is a mixed-culture saison make with NC barley and spelt, hopped with Saphir hops and aged with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.
Burial Beer Jealousy & Murder is available at the brewery starting September 30th. Limited distribution to follow.
Style: American Wild Ale
Availability: 750ml Bottles
Almost overnight, Scofflaw Brewing has taken Atlanta by storm. This month the brewery happily filled their first printed cans of Basement IPA. No more stickers. This beer is here to stay. It’s been a crazy first year.
We are sitting at a table on a hot Georgia afternoon waiting for the canning line to crank up. Minutes later a fresh can of Basement IPA is in our hands and co-founder Matt Shirah sits down on the bench.
“Well? How is it?” he asked. Despite telling him it’s fantastic, Shirah states “It’s good, but it needs to be fucking better. I’m never done with it.”
That never satisfied attitude is probably what made Scofflaw a household name among beer drinkers in Georgia so quickly.
Shirah and co-founder Travis Herman started Scofflaw Brewing in his mother-in-law’s basement. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, that’s where Basement IPA gets its name.) “She thought we were fucking nuts with what we were doing down there, always wondering if she was going to go to jail for all the beer in her basement.”
The basement setup was a far cry from a few carboys too. The setup entailed five 1-barrel tanks (160 gallons) full of test batches of Basement. Over time Basement IPA came into its own and really started speaking for itself. Shirah was leaving growlers of the IPA for his neighbors to try. Soon, the neighbors came knocking looking for more. Today they still do.
Basement IPA commercially turns one this month; now over 60% of the brewery’s sales. The first weeks and months of Basement IPA were brewed at a 7 barrel pace. These days Herman is brewing it at 200 barrels a week. Less than 100 independent stores in Georgia receive shipments of Basement IPA. “We could brew more, but we have other beers we want make too. I get hate mail all the time about it.” Shirah added.
Despite adding fermentation tanks over the past year, the big move is coming at the end of the year. Scofflaw has ordered a new 50-barrel brewhouse. The goal is to be ahead at home in Georgia. “Not California or Texas,” he says.
“We want to be Atlanta’s beer. I love the community connection when I walk into a local bar. It’s not just beer, it’s a connection to people.”
Right now, Scofflaw’s biggest challenge is maintaining batch consistency. They’ve been buying “spot hops” on the open market to keep up with demand. The brewery’s hop contracts finally kick in in 2018, which is great timing considering the bigger brew setup.
At the one year mark, Shirah has learned a lot of lessons. The hardest – holding back from “going big”. “That wouldn’t have worked for us. It’s ok to grow slowly and at your own pace.” With Scofflaw’s 1st anniversary party looming, Shirah and Herman have stayed true to their original vision.
Basement IPA is designed for a broad audience, not a select few. Shirah believes the beer’s approachability is how it became so popular. “I didn’t need it to be something people had to stand in line for,” Shirah said.
While “hype” might be helping Scofflaw grow, neither Shirah or Herman wanted it that way. The brewery does very little marketing, simply letting the beer speak for itself. “Folks feel a part of the brewery, instead of it being pushed off on them.”
The tasting room was expanded earlier this year, helping Scofflaw financially break even. Georgia laws haven’t always been in favor for craft breweries, so financially selling tours has been a big help. Every weekend the team looks out over hundreds of locals drinking at the source. The community has embraced Scofflaw, and vice versa. “It’s a great feeling,” says Shirah.
The future is indeed looking bright at year one. On September 1st, Georgia will finally allow breweries to sell beer directly to their patrons. That ability will give Scofflaw some financial breathing room. The first 365 days saw a little over 20 different beers, and Herman says they have 20+ more rolling around in their brains. After collaborating with nearby Monday Night Brewing on Westside Funk, a brettanomyces heavy IPA – a wild ale program isn’t out of the question either. “Unfortunately, there’s no place for funk in this brewery right now.” says Shirah.
Scofflaw’s expansion will take them to 25,000 barrels annually. Shirah is really excited and hopeful to find a Georgia home for their current brewhouse, stating he wants It to be a Georgia heirloom. Right now he seems more excited about finding it a home then the new system.
Besides fresh Basement IPA in painted cans, look for a experimental honey beer, a few collaborations, and barrel-aged releases in year 2. You’ll finally be able to buy a pint at the brewery starting September 1st. Probably from Shirah’s mother-in-law who works the door every weekend, and constantly gives Herman and Shirah advice.
“Community drives us and inspires us. Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood is a strong part of our success. Always surround yourself with the best people.”
We’ll drink to that.