Taking Stock of Beer Lands at Outside Lands

Craft beer milestones are usually marked with dollar signs, percentages and the number of new breweries. We have the Brewers Association to thank for collecting and dispersing this data in shiny pie charts and graphs. They illustrate a great story in simple, straightforward terms, but they don’t tell you where craft beer is finding new niches, broad exposure and courting new fans.

In San Francisco last weekend, while serious beer fans were toasting Toronado’s 25th Anniversary, an even bigger event for local craft beer, in the grander scheme of growth, was taking place in Golden Gate Park. Organizers of the Outside Lands music festival finally carved out a place for craft beer at the event. Heineken’s exclusive contract was over and Beer Lands was born. It was the last piece in a puzzle of San Francisco centric gourmet food and beverage options for thousands of attendees, and by the end of the three day festival, it was clear that demand wildly exceeded expectations.

Dave McLean, brewmaster and owner of Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, was tasked with organizing the details of Beer Lands in partnership with festival organizers and Best Beverage Catering. In addition to the main beer sponsors, Heineken and Sierra Nevada Brewing, McLean invited 13 other breweries to pour alongside his own: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, Bear Republic Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Firestone Walker, Iron Springs Brewery, Linden Street Brewery, Lost Coast Brewery, Mad River Brewing Company, North Coast Brewing Company, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and The Bruery.

Beer Lands was located at Lindley Meadow, right next to the festival’s entrance, near three food trucks, the Sutro Stage, and The Barbary, which featured comedy and variety acts. Overall it was a good spot for festivalgoers to grab a beer upon entrance, or to hang out during lunch or a dinner break, but if you needed a quick beer during a big show, it was a hike to get there. Heineken and Sierra Nevada occupied key locations near the big stages. That’s what you get for six figure sponsorship deals.

The Beer Lands t-shirt made for servers. Brewers couldn’t serve the beer due to CA ABC regulations. Once it’s sold to a distributor it can’t touched by the manufacturer, but a few brewers and representatives were in attendance talking to customers.

If you’ve never been to Outside Lands, then you should know that the main organizers place a high priority on event staging (making the whole place look cool), and the Beer Lands tent was no exception. Reclaimed barn wood and sheets of polished copper trumped ugly jockey boxes, typically used for serving beer at festivals. Signage was also carefully crafted to look sharp and professional, which displayed the brewery names and festival prices.

Dave McLean standing in a sea of kegs. A large trailer was set on the ground and covered in reclaimed wood. Holes were made for tap lines.

The beer wasn’t cheap, think baseball park prices, but that’s to be expected at a major festival serving above average beer. One-dollar tickets had to be purchased first, then exchanged for beer. Attendees could buy one ticket, or packs of ten, which they used to get a 4 oz taste or a full pint. Most of the beers were priced at $3 for 4 oz pours and $9 for a pint. The Bruery’s Mischief and North Coast Brewing’s Pranqster were the only exception. Mischief was priced at $6 for 4 oz and $15 for a pint, while Pranqster was $6 for 4 oz and $12 for a pint. The two-tier pricing structure allowed people to try new beer without the burden of high cost.

Here’s what the breweries offered:

Sierra Nevada Brewing

Outside Lands Saison
Kellerweis

Heineken

Newcastle Summer
Amstel Wheat

Pacific Brewing Laboratory

Squid Ink
Nautilus

Drake’s Brewing

1500 Pale
Amber

21st Amendment

Hell or High Watermelon
Back in Black

Linden Street Brewery

Urban Peoples’ Common
Burning Oak

Mad River Brewing

Extra Pale
Jamaica Red

Lost Coast Brewery

Great White
Downtown Brown

Anchor Brewing

Steam
Summer

Bear Republic

Racer 5
El Oso

North Coast Brewing

Scrimshaw Pilsner
Pranqster

Firestone Walker 

Pivo
Double Barrel Ale

Magnolia Brewery

Proving Ground IPA
Kalifornia Kolsch

Iron Springs Brewery

Chazz Cat Rye
JC Flyer

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Big Daddy
Payback Porter

The Bruery

Mischief
Humulus APA

Although the prices may have turned some people away, consumption was off the charts compared to what organizers expected. At the start of day two, Dave McLean said they already poured 75% of the beer they expected to serve during the entire three-day festival. A massive pile of empty kegs was waiting to get picked up and a few breweries were rushing to supply more. By Sunday afternoon, most of the beers mentioned above were gone or replaced by others. A few breweries were completely wiped out, including Pacific Brewing Laboratories and Anchor Brewing.

Empty kegs at the end of Beer Lands Day #1, estimated at over 100.

Beer Lands is a clear example of craft beer’s surging popularity and growth. It also represents a big milestone for craft beer on a local level. Dave McLean use to hang out in parking lots before Grateful Dead shows drinking craft beer served by underground merchants on skateboards. It’s where he acquired a taste for good beer and was inspired to brew. That’s when mega brewers dominated music venues. Now they’re using noisemakers to attract people to their booths (no joke), because craft beer has crashed the party and people are demanding it.

The downside of corporate sponsorship is that all beer had to be served in Heineken cups.  

Pacific Brewing Laboratory Poised to Sell Beer

 

Occasionally big news arrives in small packages. In this case, three words and a single photo via Twitter, courtesy of Pacific Brewing Laboratory co-founder Patrick Horn. The tweet was simple and to the point, “Here we go!,” with an image of Horn standing alongside a notice of application to sell alcoholic beverages.

With little explanation the message left some avid followers with more questions then answers, but it’s clear they’re moving forward with business plans.

Pacific Brewing Laboratory Patrick Horn

Patrick Horn. Photo provided by Pacific Brewing Laboratory.

As it turns out, Horn and brewing partner Bryan Hermannsson have begun the stressful licensing process and signed a contract brewing agreement with Devil’s Canyon Brewery in Belmont, which is where the photo was taken. This method will allow Horn and Hermannsson to establish their brand in the marketplace without having to build their own brewery from the ground up at tremendous cost. “If everything goes well, we hope to be selling kegs in October,” according to Horn.

Since March of 2010 they’ve been hosting bi-weekly brewing parties in their SOMA garage that have become increasingly popular. Guests come for free beer and get up close and personal with the brewing process. In recent months the crowds have swelled making it hard to keep the beer flowing. It’s a good problem and a source of confidence they’ll need for this big leap.

So what beer can we expect if everything goes as planned? At the moment they’ve decided to brew their popular Hibiscus Saison and Squid Ink Black IPA.

Little Breweries Draw Big Crowd

When the staff opened Social Kitchen & Brewery on Sunday night the line waiting to get in stretched for nearly a city block. Nine up and coming hombrewers, looking to make the professional leap, managed to draw an insatiable crowd for the Breweries of Tomorrow, Nanobrewery Festival in San Francisco. The turnout and feedback left the organizers stunned and brewers ecstatic.

The doors opened up at 5:00pm and the Social Kitchen staff moved festivalgoer’s inside as fast as possible. Once they swapped $15 for a commemorative glass they tore into the wide range of beer from 510 Brewing, Beltane Brewing, Bosworth Brewery, Elizabeth Street Brewery, Local Brewing Company, Orange & Black, Pacific Brewing Laboratories, Petaluma Hills Brewing Company and Van Houten Brewing. Attendees also received tickets for two pours from the Strong Beer Social menu offered by Rich Higgins, the Social Kitchen brewmaster.

The breweries were spread out in groups of three near the front door, by the kitchen and up on the mezzanine, which kept the crowd moving and wait times for beer minimal. Brewers were able to field questions from inquisitive drinkers who had a lot of beer to choose from.

  • Bosworth Brewing had Redwood Best Bitter, Mish Mash IPA & Pond Hopper Brown ale.
  • Orange & Black brought a firkin of Bitter.
  • Elizabeth Street Brewery offered a stout called Daddy’s Chocolate Milk.
  • Van Houten Brewing poured a California Common.
  • Local Brewing Company tapped a corny of Sutro Tower Stout.
  • Pacific Brewing Laboratories brought a Hibiscus Saison.
  • Beltane Brewing went with an Imperial IPA, Belgian Strong & Dubbel.
  • Petaluma Hills offered a Porter, Belgian Blonde, a Honey Nut Brown, and a Stout.
  • 510 Brewing poured an Imperial Red (IRA) and a Peppermint Porter.

Left to right: Travis Smith, Dean Hoffman & Xon Cisneros of 510 Brewing with Bryan Hermannson & Patrick Horn of Pacific Brewing Laboratories.

Left to right: Alan Atha of Beltane Brewing, Regan Long from Local Brewing Co. & JJ from Petaluma Hills Brewing.

Left to right: Richard Brewer-Hay of Elizabeth Street Brewery with the Bosworth Brewing crew, Antony Field, Caroline Field & Justin Lokitz.

James Davids & Kim Sturdavant of Orange & Black.

Johnny & Creek of Van Houten Brewing Company.

The beer supply lasted into the evening in light of the huge demand and generous pours. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the 200 pieces of special glassware that disappeared by 6:00pm, when the price of admission dropped to $10 as a result.

Due to the tremendous turnout you can expect this event to continue in 2012. The need for advance tickets and a larger venue will be evaluated. In the meantime, organizers want to thank attendees for their patience and for coming out to support your Bay Area brewers.

The Bay Area’s 1st Nanobrewing Festival

(Event Recap on BACB)

Nine homebrewing operations from across the Bay Area are converging during SF Beer Week to serve craft beer and launch small businesses during the Breweries of Tomorrow Nanobrewing Festival. It’s the first festival, co-sponsored by Social Kitchen & Brewery and BayAreaCraftBeer.com, designed to feature and support homebrewers with entrepreneurial aspirations. The event will take place on February 13, from 5-9pm at Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood (1326 9th Avenue).

Admission to the event is $15 at the door. Attendees will receive a commemorative glass, two tickets for beer produced by Social Kitchen & Brewery, and unlimited samples from 510 Brewing, Beltane Brewing, Bosworth Brewery, Elizabeth Street Brewery, Local Brewing Company, Orange & Black, Pacific Brewing Laboratories, Petaluma Hills Brewing Company and Van Houten Brewing. Food will be available for purchase from the Social Kitchen & Brewery menu.

Breweries of Tomorrow is a unique opportunity for beer lovers to sample the work created by the Bay Area’s next generation of professional craft brewers.” – Brian Stechschulte, editor of BayAreaCraftBeer.com

About the sponsors:

Social Kitchen & Brewery is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood at 1326 9th Avenue. Rich Higgins is the brewmaster and certified master cicerone who believes that beer plays a role in the kitchen and deserves a place at the table. He brews accessible beers that are food-friendly and full of flavor.

BayAreaCraftBeer.com is a guide and news source created for Bay Area citizens and visitors that was launched at the dawn of 2011. The site features maps, an event calendar, news and info about the breweries and brewpubs who make beer, the bars, stores and restaurants who lovingly serve it, and the local beer bloggers who absorb and document the foamy landscape.

About the brewers:

510 Brewing was founded by three friends in Fremont, CA: Dean Hoffman, Sam Cisneros, and Travis Smith. 510 Brewing will be Fremont’s first production brewery and aims to have a production warehouse in southern Fremont’s industrial area. They have a tendency to create big beers and experiment with fruit beer, spiced beer, sour beer, and wood aged beer.  Their flagship beer will be an Imperial Red and a Porter that will be supplemented with seasonal selections throughout the year.

Beltane Brewing is based in Marin and was founded by Alan Atha, the current President of the Sonoma Beerocrats home brewing club. Beltane Brewing aims to bring old-world style into the new world via the art and science of brewing techniques learned from both. The current beer lineup: Rumplestiltskin Double IPA, Black Moria Double Black IPA, Luminesce Belgian Style Triple, Automne Eve Belgian Style Double and Ode to Oud Bruin

Bosworth Brewery is an Anglo-American craft brewery focusing on British style ales with a West Coast influence. Their beers are subtle yet complex session ales intended for the social drinking style of a traditional pub. Their team of 2 Brits and 2 Americans has been developing, learning and drinking their way towards opening a nanobrewery in the Bay Area. Antony has been a home brewer for nearly 20 years and for the last 5 has been developing and refining the recipes. In addition to lots of hands on practice they’ve all studied at the Siebel institute and Antony also completed the Brewing and Packaging course at UC Davis. They’ve been holding beer tasting &
pairing events for friends as well as collecting ribbons at state and
National homebrew competitions.

Elizabeth Street Brewery is the residence of Alyson and Richard Brewer-Hay located in the family-oriented San Francisco neighborhood of Noe Valley. The Elizabeth Street Brewery is a brewpub in planning that’s for the people and by the people. They continue to build out a business plan, determine locations and work on recipes. Their dream is to open a full-scale family brewpub/restaurant in the Noe Valley area in the near future.

Local Brewing Co. was founded by Regan and Sarah. They’ve been homebrewing for six years and are currently making the first step toward opening a small brewery and taproom in San Francisco. Local Brewing Co. specializes in session beers with character – the kind of brews you can enjoy more than one of, and won’t get bored with. Designed for drinkability, their beers are tailored to people who want something outside the norm, but not too extreme. Each recipe is an SF original, fine-tuned with feedback from SF locals. Their tanks might be small, but their passion for craft beer is huge.

Orange & Black currently brews in the Inner Richmond District of San Francisco.  James Davids is a wine maker and works at San Francisco Brewcraft and Kim Sturdavant is currently a brewer at Marin Brewing Company. Their goal is create California beer inspired by the beers of England and Belgium. They mix and match ingredients while keeping focus on traditional styles such as bitters, pale ales, porters, and Belgian singles. They see no reason to remain completely faithful to tradition, however… just to be inspired by it. They brew on a one-barrel set up and use open top fermentation.

Pacific Brewing Laboratories was founded by Bryan Hermannsson and Patrick Horn in 2010 on Clara St in San Francisco. They pursue their love of craft beer by brewing 10 gallon batches at a time, which allows for experimentation with unique and exciting ingredients, such as hibiscus flower, szechwan pepper corn, lemon grass, and chamomile. They’re currently working on plans to open a local SF brewpub.

Petaluma Hills Brewing Company was founded by JJ. He’s been homebrewing for almost 20 years, moving from extract to all-grain only 10 years ago. For the past several years he’s developed eight recipes for ales that are very drinkable, ranging from a mild Northern English Brown and ESB to a Porter and a Stout with a couple of Belgian styles thrown in. A few years ago, people started asking him when they could buy beer, so it seemed the sensible to start a brewery. When he’s not brewing he’s working on computer-animated films.

Van Houten Brewing (say “van-HOW-ten”) is a family owned and operated small artisan brewery Based in the town of San Anselmo that will soon be serving San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Founded by a husband and wife team, Johnny is the head brewer and Creek is the CEO. Johnny started home brewing with his dad in 2001. In the process of trying to recreate some of their favorite hard-to-find English ales using clone recipes – they discovered the joy of making their own beer and drinking it fresh from the cask.  It’s their Dutch and British blood that informs their philosophy of innovation on traditional styles
and original beers brewed by simple, honest means. Their current
selection includes British and Belgian Ales, German Lagers and a
California Common.