Archive for the ‘ Reflections ’ Category

A Little Ode to the Man Behind the Biggest Apple in the World

Steve Jobs In Your Face!Very seldom, I like to use this soapbox for something other than discussing beer. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 was one of those things; another such event happened tonight.

Today, at the young age of 56, the world’s most famous tech geek passed away. I’m sure there are already hundreds of people writing articles and blog posts about Steve Jobs. And 99% of them will be better than mine.

But for some unknown reason, I feel compelled to write.

Tons of thoughts are swirling in mind and I have a feeling that no matter how many times I edit this post, I will never quite get it right. Yet I feel the need to write about Steve Jobs.

When I first heard that Steve Jobs passed away, I was immediately saddened. I wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t a family member or a friend. I never met him. I wasn’t close to him but I was sad.

I even remember over the years hearing tough to swallow things about Jobs – things like he was a hardass, prone to fits of rage, an instant yeller, and someone whose mind could never be changed. Despite remembering all of these things, I was still sad.

Various iPodsThen I started thinking about what Steve Jobs meant to a substantial portion of the human race (feels weird to write that). He was an innovator and an artist that touched billions of people throughout the world. How often can you say that about a single human being?

His products were creative, smart, fun and always kept the end-user in mind. They revolutionized how people interacted with machines and gave birth to GUIs that could be used by both a baby and an 80-year old geriatric.

The products that he created resonate throughout our society and personal lives. Between the six of us, my immediate family members and I own:

  • 5 iPhones
  • 5 iPods
  • 4 iPads
  • 2 MacBooks

That’s a total of 16 Apple products – guess what was a distant second with three? Sony: two TVs and a Playstation. Wow.

This is the reach of Steve Jobs – his unique combination of product creativity and business intelligence turned Apple into a $300B+ company rivaling the GDP of most countries (Apple Nation). In a ten year span, Apple stock rose from trading at $8 to over $370 per share. This happened in 10 years!

MacWorld 1984 - Steve JobsTo me, this was the coolest thing about Steve Jobs – his ability to relate to everyone. Hipsters and techies loved him – who else unveiled the next multimillion dollar product in jeans and sneakers? Investors and bankers loved him – he turned a company that was barely surviving to the giant it is today.

I’m curious where Apple goes from here. I wonder how the company is going to react and if there will be a somber mood in the air at all Apple stores tomorrow.

Regardless of what happens, I know he will be missed by many. And I’m very happy to have lived in the Steve Jobs era – an era that I’m sure my kids will some day learn about.

Be good Steve! Thanks for everything.

Picture Courtesy of apple.com

Picture Courtesy of apple.com - Edited by Z

Advertisements

Founders CBS Acquired – What More Can You Say?

Founders Canadian Breakfast StoutYup! You read it right. I am now the proud owner of a bottle of CBS – one of the lucky few in NYC.

I was debating exactly what to write in this post, but I can’t settle on anything thoughtful. I was going to share exact details of how I came to acquire this very sought after craft beer, but I don’t want to bore you with lengthy details.

A quick recap for those that are curious: after some online research, a couple of phone calls, an attempted bribe or two, and two visits to Whole Foods by my amazing little sister who completely supports my craft beer hobby, I am now in possession of this sweet, sweet nectar.

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout - One Tall DudeWhat’s funny is that since I’m away from NJ until Thursday, I have not yet held the actual bottle – I just know that it’s patiently waiting for me at home. Here’s to family members – people you can always rely on.

When Magda sent me these pictures of the bottle, I felt like a 60s kid at Christmas who just got a wooden horse. After all, kids now are brats and nothing is good enough – but man, a wooden horse in 60s, now that was a present worth getting excited about.

People in the craft beer community have been chatting about what they should do with their bottles of CBS – drink them or age them. Being that this is a special beer for me, it’s going right into the back of the aging fridge to hang for a few months.

I already have an idea of the special occasion when I’d like to open it — but that incredible day won’t come until next year!

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout

What’s your take on CBS and the buzz it has created?

A Journey to the Last Tap at the Airport

This evening I walked a distance that can only be described as the length of two football fields. Trust me, it’s a lot when you’re lugging a carry-on and laptop bag.

But see – when you’re on the prowl for a pint of craft beer, no distance is too great.

There are five different bars at the Buffalo airport, four once you have passed through security. All four bars seem to be stocked by a distributor that macro breweries keep on retainer.

Every single adjunct domestic and importer lager that you would expect was available. It was a craft heads worst nightmare. As I posted on Twitter, I was half expecting Freddy to show up and shake me out of a dream with metal claws.

A funny thing happens when someone like myself is placed in a situation like this – I try to trick myself into thinking a beer is not what it really is. Persuading myself that some creative aspect went into making that “beer”.

Sam Adams Light becomes “the new offering”, Guinness is a “rare ale” from the Isle of Eire, and Bud Light Lime … Ugh, I can’t keep this up. Bud Light Lime tastes like lime flavored sugar water – disgusting.

There’s gotta be something better.

I finished half the bottle before I said no more (masochistic much?). I got up and looked down the terminal where I knew the remaining three bars stood. I started a walk that I thought ended in a place I’ve already been to – macro hell.

As I walked past the first stop I glanced at the bottles and saw the same as before. But the taps proved different – something caught my eye.

I wiggled up to the front of the bar and did one of those awkward shoulder, neck, head reaches to get a better view over the guy sitting right next to me. He looked right at me, they always do, with a look saying “what’re you doing weirdo?”. Whatever – back to the taps – false alarm. Sam Oktoberfest – better, but still not good enough.

The second stop was worst than the first. One final bar left – literally at THE OTHER END of the airport. I start the walk.

As I approach the bar, it feels different. I don’t know why – I sense… craft beer optimism in the air. I glance at the tap handles.

Bud Light. LaBatt. Sam. Dundee?

Um, kind sir, Mr. Bartender – WTF is that at the end there?

Dundee Oktoberfest?

Wait, is Freddy playing a trick on me? When Daniel the bartender pours it, will cockroaches spill from the copper handle into that frosted (I know, right) pint glass? Is it a mislabeled tap that actually pours Bud?

Alas, it’s none of those. It’s actually the best Oktoberfest I’ve had all year. No lie. Of course, I’m not a huge Marzen fan so I can’t pretend to give these beers a shot – but I really enjoyed this one.

Malty, just the right amount of spice, and almost creamy and oily in feel – it really hit the spot. What a find.

Daniel explained that this singular tap handle is rotated with Rochester, NY’s own J.B. Dundee Brewery offering up IPAs, wheats, and stouts to those willing to try something different.

It was quite literally THE LAST tap in the airport. Amazing. Moral of the story, never give up. I certainly won’t in the future.

After I polished off two pints, I jumped in line to board my 4.5 hour delayed flight home. Mostly every other passenger looked frustrated, yet I sat with a look of content.

I found today’s holy grail.

Too Big To Fail.. in the beer market?

An article titled “8 beers Americans no longer drink” published on September 9th by 24/7 Wall St. (and republished by msnbc.com) opens as such:

Some of America’s most famous beers have lost a tremendous amount of their national sales over the last five years.

Rest assured friends, these are not beers that the craft beer community is worried about not being around.

However, as consumers of the American culture, these are beers that we all have been exposed to. The article highlights the enormous sales decreases of America’s most popular beer brands over the past five years.

http://americanpatrol.com/REFERENCE/Bustamante-Cruz.html

Say NO to Bud!

As you can probably imagine, the likes of Budweiser, MGD and Michelob can be quickly found sprinkled throughout the list. The article attributes the large sales decreases (in most cases over a 50% decrease, with Michelob reaching an astounding 72% drop in five years) to the popularity of light beer, imports, and .. wait for it .. craft beer!

Although the brewing companies responsible for these eight products are threefold (Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company, and Pabst Brewing Company), combined these companies hold a staggering 60-70% of the American beer market share.

Combined with the article, these types of figures make my mind start wondering in all kinds of directions – but it instantly started harping on the words: “Too Big to Fail“.

Does “Too Big To Fail” exist in the beer world? Would a company like Anheuser-Busch, who owns 50% of the US market share, ever be allowed to fail (naturally or through regulation)?

Certainly not. Afterall, the beer market is not “the market”. However, one can always wonder what it would be like to walk into your local bar, order your favorite craft draft, and listen as the guy that just ordered a “Bud” is politely made aware that the bar no longer serves Budweiser “because the company invested poorly and went out of business”.

We still have a long way to go to contemplate the possibilities of that scenario.

But here’s the good news: In 2009 and 2010, growth of the craft brewing industry was 10.3% and 12% respectively.

It is exciting to hear that macro brewery sales are being impacted by a movement supported by amazingly creative and genuine people. People who put product above all else by bending traditional rules, trying new ideas, and reviving old ones that were long lost with the sands of time.

Pumpkin is king! Time for Fall and Winter seasonal beers!

Pumking! Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale! Isn’t that just the coolest name for a beer? One word comes to mind – badass!

Brewed by Southern Tier (@stbcbeer) in Lakewood, NY, the company touts the product as:

Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let its deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun.

AWESOME.

Pumking!I picked up a bomber (22oz bottle) of this dessert like spicy brew mostly as a result of the hype that I’ve been hearing amongst some of my favorite craft beer bloggers. The beer does not disappoint! Check out the review at beeradvocate.com.

In addition to my mouth watering from the thought of flavor, picking up this bottle brought back memories of posts that I read over the past month.

There has been a number of discussions about seasonal beers being available too early. More often than not, Oktoberfest editions are available in August (I checked into a Saranac Pumpkin during the first week of August on Untappd) and funky Christmas beers in late October to early November.

drinkcraftbeer.com ran a poll of its readers and asked “Are seasonal craft beers being released too early now?” 68% of the responders noted that, in their opinion, seasonal beers are available too early.

On the other hand, Food Republic posted an article titled “It’s Never Too Soon for Pumpkin Beer” where Joshua Bernstein noted:

For purists who pray at the altar of seasonality, this may seem like heresy. I call it a return to form.

In addition, the article included five great pumpkin beers to try (including the aforementioned Pumking).

Although I enjoyed my first pumpkin beer in August, it seemed odd (maybe even a bit wrong) to be drinking it. Call me a heretic, whatever! Now that the weather has started to cool down and the scent of Fall is in the air, I say “Bring on the spice, cloves, and of course, pumpkin seeds!”

What are some of your favorite seasonal beers?

“Chick Beer” – Two Sides of the Coin

Chick Beer Six-Pack“Chick beer” – I’m not the only guy that finds this term extremely patronizing, right? Over the past two weeks, there has been a ton of twitter and blog activity about the introduction of a beer specifically marketed to women.

Chick: Premium Light Beer (website, twitter) has been touted by its creators as “the only American beer created just for women.” The light lager clocks in at 97 calories and carries 3.5 carbs (on par with other light beers like Miller Lite).

What separates Chick from other light beers is that its goal is to capitalize on the female beer drinking market share which the company claims is at 25% across the US. Currently only available in Maryland, the product that was two years in the making has quickly made headlines and sparked debate.

Putting my opinions aside for a minute, I ventured out to gather feedback from two very close women in my life whose opinions I value greatly.

I connected with Kelly, who is as devout a craft head as I am and knows more about great beer than 90% of the guys I know, and Magda, who enjoys her beer but stays within the realm of macro breweries and prefers Stella Artois over Southern Tier.

I sent them this email and patiently waited for a response:

Hello ladies — random question … Would u drink this stuff?  http://chickbeer.com

The devout craft beer drinker Kelly noted:

Maybe if it’s tinted pink. And glitter popped out of the carbonated bubbles. That would make me giggle with girl delight. But for real, I find this highly sexist and would be offended if someone offered me one. I actually just wrote them and email stating how i found ‘chick’ to not only be offensive as a woman who enjoyed beer, but how overly disgusting and immature their product packaging and marketing direction is for this! What the f were they thinking??

While Magda, the Stella woman, noted:

I would try it for the low calories. I read yesterday that by drinking two light beers instead of two regular beers you can save between 100-200 calories at happy hour. Also yes this is marketed for girly girls which may not get offended by it because its just SO GIRLY AND CUTE (!)…but there is a huuuuge market for girls like that. Esp in early 20s. Lots of money from daddy to spend on a pink beer.

There you have it – very interesting responses.

Despite it’s rather patronizing methods and self-proclaimed sexist title (see the answer to the question, “Is Chick Beer Sexist?”, on the Chick Beer FAQ website), I find the marketing campaign (after all, they’re selling Miller Lite in a new bottle and box) interesting. It certainly has sparked a lot of conversations and opinions – and you can’t deny that any publicity, even bad, is good.

Chick Beer Fishing Team

Chick Beer Fishing Team

Moreover, with a promise to donate 5% of net profits to charities that empower women, the idea can’t be all that bad.

Overall, I believe this beer has a very small limit to the amount of barrels that it can produce yearly and still make a profit – therefore, I don’t foresee it becoming extremely popular.

Despite this fact, you have to give it up to the company that is a) sparking up discussions within the craft beer world and b) is exposing women to alternatives to Bud, Miller, Coors and Michelob.

If you’re curious what others are saying about it, take a look at these articles:

Time News Feed: New ‘Chick’ Beer Is a Lady-Catered Brew in a Girly, Pink Package
Pedestiran.tv: ‘Chick’: How Not to Market Beer to Women
Social Images: Guy Wine and Chick Beer… When Will It End?

Perhaps we should view it as a potential friend – snagging away devout female “light” drinkers, and showing them that there are other options. Only time will tell.

How do you think chick beer will impact the female beer market share in the US?

News, Reviews, and Opinions – What’s your role?

Sample Stash

We all have a purpose – how many times have you heard that statement? Whether it’s at our day job, in an extra curricular activity, or at home – we all try to find a reason for being involved.

Being a part of the craft beer community is no different. Since I started following people part of this movement, started reading their blogs, and ultimately started my own, I noticed a clear delineation in roles.

We have reviewers, news spreaders (local and national), brewery representatives, home brewing advocates, brew pub event promoters, blog readers, and my favorite: opinionators. (I hope that’s a real word).

Although some cross the lines at times, majority of participants stick to the role they enjoy the most. Those that don’t like to write, typically follow and read. Those that focus on the product, typically write daily reviews. Those creative enough to create, home brew and tell the world about their experiences.

We all have our calling – no single one being more important than the next.

As I’ve been deliberating the direction of my blog over the past month, I’ve tried to determine my role. After some brainstorming sessions and although it’s not set in stone, I’m not surprised about my personal craft beer role discovery.

Similar to my personality (I’m frequently known as the guy that knows a little bit about everything), I believe my role here is that of someone that dabbles in a little bit of everything.

I won’t write the best review – but I’ll do some (detailed ones for other blogs and one-liners for mine). I’ll do what I can to spread news – mostly local but worthwhile national information too. I’ll have an opinion – maybe not one that sparks month long conversations, but one that is my own.

Not all of us will have a clearly defined role (as you can see by my self discovery). But it’s interesting what you find out when you spend some time reflecting on what you can bring to help expand an extremely diverse and robust community.

What is your role and how have you taken part in the craft beer community?