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Posted in Wild Heaven Craft Beers, Don't Miss This

Wild Heaven Sunburst IPA is a juicy year-round addition


Wild Heaven Sunburst IPA launches this, marking just the third year-round IPA the brewery has released in 12 years. 

More than a decade ago, Wild Heaven launched with just two beers – Ode to Mercy (Imperial Brown Ale with coffee) and Invocation (Belgian Golden Strong Ale). An IPA release by the brewery was years away from being brewed, even with strong consumer demand. According to co-founder Eric Johnson at the time, “we’ll make one when I think there is a recipe good enough.” 

Finally, in 2016, Wise Blood IPA hit the lineup year-round. A year later, and 100 test batches and water chemistry adjustments, their first imperial IPA – Good Vice hit taps. Wild Heaven initially intended it to be year-round, but the brewery’s passion for that recipe faded fast. Then came Altair IPA in 2018.  Each beer was a stop on a hoppy journey to now.

Wise Blood and Altair are now ghosts.

Here at the brewery, the canning line is busy filling cans of Sunburst IPA – a new and now only year-round IPA the brewery will have for the foreseeable future. It’s aptly named. Sunburst is every bit bright and juicy as it’s billed. A big flavor departure from the brewery’s IPA predecessors, it’s looking to be one of the premier southern IPAs.

That spawned a debate with Josh Franks, head brewer at Wild Heaven. Could Southern IPA be a thing? India pale ale is undoubtedly the style juggernaut of the craft beer world. Going back about 15 years ago you’d find popularity with the English IPA. Soon to be taken over by West Coast IPA. Then a steady sequence of hoppy variants- the Belgian IPA, the Black IPA (aka the Cascadian Dark Ale), the New England IPA, and lactose heavy milkshake IPA. Should The South have its own? 

Maybe they already do. 

It’s not an official style but perhaps it should be. Think of an IPA that’s hoppy and bright. Juicy like a hazy IPA but still fairly clear, still holding on to some West Coast IPA bitterness. A subtle hybrid of two dominant styles. Creature Comforts Tropicalia and Scofflaw Basement IPA would be great examples. A (highly theoretical) southern IPA would be bright and sunny. Just like the sun-soaked, pollen heavy, 3 weeks of cold weather region they were born into. 

Wild Heaven Sunburst IPA hits retailers this week year-round in 12-ounce cans and draft.  

Style: IPA 
Hops: Citra, Talus, Galaxy, Mosaic, Cascade, Chinook, Amarillo

Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. 
Debut: 3/24/22

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Posted in Firestone Walker Brewing, Don't Miss This

Firestone Walker Invitational returns after 2 years, sold out


The Firestone Walker Invitational is a pretty epic festival, held in June each year. It sold out in 2020, and ultimately was canceled due to the growing pandemic. 

After two years, Firestone Walker is ready to host the festival once again, announcing the brewery lineup as well as a own “Ultimate Firestone Walker Experience”

A few brewery attendee highlights include  FrauGruber Craft Brewing from Germany; Brouwerij ‘t IJ from Amsterdam; Casey Brewing from Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Schönramer from Germany; Cerveza Antares from Argentina; Bale Breaker Brewing from Yakima, Washington; Cervejaria Bamberg from Brazil; Cloudwater Brew Co. from England; Urban Roots Brewing from Sacramento, California; Omnipollo from Sweden; There Does Not Exist and Liquid Gravity from San Luis Obispo, California and Great Notion Brewing from Oregon.

Ultimate Fan Experience

The brewery has announced the “Ultimate Firestone Walker Experience” sweepstakes, which is new for 2022. The winner receives two tickets to the Invitational, private tours of both the Venice and Paso Robles breweries,  three nights hotel stays and lunch and dinner at the brewery taprooms.

Fans can submit their entry via the Ultimate Firestone Walker Experience sweepstakes page, now through April 3rd.

2022 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest: Attending Breweries

3 Floyds
Alvarado Street
Bagby Beer
Bale Breaker
Beachwood Brewing
Blackberry Farm
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Casey Brewing
Cervecerìa Antares
Cervejaria Bamberg
Cigar City
Creature Comforts
Crooked Stave
Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker Propagator
Fonta Flora
Garage Project
Great Notion
Green Bench
Green Cheek
Half Acre
Highland Park
Humble Sea
Kern River
La Source
Liquid Gravity
Other Half
Pinthouse Brewing
Pizza Port
Private Landbrauerei Schönram
Russian River
Sante Adairius
Side Project
Sierra Nevada
The Bruery
The Lost Abbey
The Veil
There Does Not Exist
Topa Topa
Urban Roots

Posted in Don't Miss This

Russian sounding vodkas get dumped across America in Ukrainian solidarity

Russian Vodka Dump

Americans are glued to their newsfeeds right now, as Russia continues to invade Ukraine. For most of us, there’s not much we can do, unless you own a bar and have “Russian” vodka sitting on the shelf. Your instinct is to pour down the drain in protest. 

Over the weekend bars did just that. Even state governors of Ohio, Texas, Utah, and New Hampshire got into the action, ordering state retailers to pull Russian-born vodka from the shelves. 

Stolichnaya (aka “Stoli) was a big target this weekend. 

In a video that has since gone viral, the owner of Pine Tavern Restaurant in Bend, Oregon is seen dumping Stoli Vodka down the drain. It’s easy to understand the sentiment as a form or protest. There’s a catch though – Stoli isn’t Russian. It’s produced in Riga, Latvia. Furthermore, Stoli is headquartered in Luxembourg. While Stolichnaya was a Soviet Union-era brand, Russian-born Yuri Shefler who owns SPI Group that owns Stoli moved to Luxembourg when Putin came to power. Shefler was protesting Putin years before Crimea or Ukraine happened.

Smirnoff hit the drain too. 

A good bit of Smirnoff hit the sewers recently too. Smirnoff was founded in Moscow in the 1800s. This popular vodka brand does have Russian origins, but yet again, is no longer Russian. Diageo owns the brand now, and a good bit of the brand is produced in Illinois. 

All in all, true Russian vodka, is a much smaller target if you’re wanting to drain pour any of it. Russian Standard Vodka is actually produced in Russia and is one of the most popular Russian-made in the United States. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine specifically requested Russian Standard Vodka as well as Green Mark Vodka to get pulled off the shelves in Ohio. That number according to the governor is around 6,400 bottles across Ohio’s 487 retailers. 

These nationwide pour protests are largely symbolic, unfortunately, and won’t hit any Russian vodka companies bottom lines. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, vodka sales in America hover around $7 billion dollars annually. True Russian vodka imports, accounts for less than 1.5% of those sales. 

So say you’ve dumped all your Russian-sounding vodka, or better yet, you’re hoping to show your distaste for Russian vodka after the actions of late. There are a few Ukrainian-made vodkas, including Kozak and Nemiroff that are available in small quantities stateside. 

Headline Image: Screengrab from Pine Tavern Restaurant’s Facebook vodka protest, February 24.

Posted in Modern Times Beer, Don't Miss This

Modern Times Beer closes 4 taprooms this week


San Diego-based Modern Times will close four satellite locations by the end of the week citing ongoing financial issues. 

“We wish that there were another way to resolve the financial issues we now face, but we have been put in a position – by the pandemic and global declines in the craft beer industry – from which this tremendously difficult path is the only way forward for us,” Modern Times stated in a blog post. 

After new leadership stepped in over the past few weeks, the financial state of the company is unsustainable. Per the brewery, “We’ve arrived at this current moment as the result of a combination of factors: four straight years of rapid, costly expansion followed by an unforeseen and financially devastating global health crisis, and an industry-wide decline in sales. Taken together, these factors have stretched our finances and company culture to a point that is simply no longer sustainable.”

This means closing Modern Times Portland, Oakland, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles locations by February 19th. The Point Loma, North Park, Encinitas, and Anaheim locations will remain open. 

Smaller, Smarter, Faster.

That’s Modern Times Beer’s approaching in their own words going forward. No more building and expanding what the brewery can’t afford. Distribution will be focused again on Southern California and the southwest. An east coast distribution will wind down immediately. 

To read the brewery’s full letter, click here

Posted in Don't Miss This

Brewers Association says CANarchy still considered “craft”

The Brewers Association issued a statement today after the announcement that Monster Beverage Corp., makers of Monster Energy Drink acquired CANarchy Craft Beer Collective. 

Monster Beverage is a multi-billion dollar mainstream company, boasting more than 3,000 employees and $4.6 billion in revenue in 2020. Does this acquisition strip the 6th largest craft brewery (collective) out of their craft brewer/independent designation? 

According to the Brewers Association (BA), the answer is “no.”

The designation of “craft brewer” and its ever-changing perception lies in the hands of the BA, a not-for-profit trade organization that represents America’s craft and independent breweries.

While the definition has been tweaked over the years, today the BA clarified.  “Based on our current information, CANarchy meets the [Brewers Association’s] craft brewer definition under the ownership of Monster Energy as it is presently constituted,” the association said in a statement.

This determination is based on the fact that Monster was not previously an alcoholic beverage industry member, so this new ownership doesn’t affect how the BA views CANarchy’s independence. 

CANarchy does not exceed 6 million barrels (the association’s defined cut-off) in annual production, which is currently shy of 500,000 barrels annually, as well as meeting the criteria that less than 25% of the ownership or controlling interest is by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. 

CANarchy and the breweries operating as a part of the collective – Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Perrin Brewing, Deep Ellum, Wasatch, and Squatter’s will all maintain “Independent” and “craft” designations by the Brewers Association. 

Most recently, Bell’s Brewery was sold to Kirin which previously acquired New Belgium Brewing. Both breweries lost or will lose the craft brewer status according to the BA. Bell’s production numbers will be included in 2021 ranking reports, but not considered for 2022. 

Posted in Hi Wire Brewing, Brewery Expansions, Don't Miss This

Hi-Wire Brewing begins building new taproom in Cincinnati

Asheville, North Carolina’s Hi-Wire Brewing will soon have a new home in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The brewery has selected a 20-acre redevelopment on the former site of the US Playing Card factory in Norwood dubbed Factory 52. The 5800 square foot taproom will be the first of its kind for Hi-Wire, spanning three different floors. The first floor will be home to a 24 tap bar and large patio, the 2nd floor will have a secondary 12-tap bar, with a third-floor rooftop deck. Family-friendly games including soccer pool, table tennis, and foosball will be found throughout. 

In addition to Hi-Wire Brewing, the Factory 52 campus will house a food hall, boutique retail shops, residences, a dog park, the newly-announced Aces Pickleball complex, and a large public courtyard.

Construction on Hi-Wire Cincinnati has already started, with a target opening date of Fall 2022. 

Hi-Wire currently has taprooms across North Carolina (Asheville, Durham, Wilmington, Charlotte) as well as Knoxville, Tennesee, and Louisville, Kentucky. 

Posted in Guinness, Don't Miss This, New Releases

Guinness releases barrel-aged Mint Chocolate Stout

Guinness Mint Chocolate Stout

Baltimore, Maryland-based Guinness Open Gate Brewery has a new seasonal imperial stout ahead of the holidays – Guinness Mint Chocolate Stout

The imperial stout is brewed with dried mint leaves, then conditioned on pure cacao (chocolate), then aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels.

“Chocolate and mint are a classic flavor combination, and the way those flavors interact with the bourbon character leads to something really special. It’s the perfect beer to sip on after a solid meal with family and friends over the holidays,” says Open Gate head brewer Sean Brennan. 

Guinness Mint Chocolate Stout also compliments recently returning Gingerbread Stout, also brewed in the Baltimore brewery. 

Mint Chocolate Stout is available in 11.2-ounce bottles for a limited time. 

Style: Imperial Stout (w/ Mint. Chocolate. Barrel Aged. Bourbon.)
Availability: 11.2 oz/4pk Bottles. Limited Release. 
Debut: November 2021 

10.8% ABV