Identity Crisis: The Rita-ization of Heineken

heineken blurWhile beer enthusiasts the world over this week may have been decrying the threat of an AB InBev takeover bid of its main rival, SABMiller, a secondary detail to this story seems just as important.

An AB InBev buy of SABMiller, the first and second-largest beer companies in the world, respectively, has been rumored for what feels like years, but it was SABMiller’s attempt to takeover Heineken (#3 in the world) that kicked off this latest round of “will they or won’t they” between AB InBev and SABMiller. As the Wall Street Journal reported, SABMiller wanted Heineken in an attempt to bolster their company’s size and become an even major player globally.

So as people may wonder what will happen between the two biggest Big Beer players of them all, I’m left thinking … why did Heineken spurn the advances of SABMiller?

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How Does Boston Beer Like Them Apples? Just Fine, Thank You.

apple-ciderWhen researching for my series on the “personality” of Boston Beer Company, there were many little facts or insights that I decided to leave out, mostly for the sake of post length or flow of the text.

There was one nugget I really wanted to include, but decided not to because it simply didn’t seem to fit perfectly in any of the posts.

In my piece about Boston Beer’s innovation practices, I briefly noted the massive growth of hard cider brand Angry Orchard:

Boston Beer launched Angry Orchard hard cider in spring 2012, which became the county’s most popular hard cider brand in 2013 with nearly 40 percent market share. By 2015, Angry Orchard is expected to take up 20 percent of Boston Beer’s total sales volume.

Why is this important? Because one of the savviest things Boston Beer has done for its Sam Adams beer brands is take a long-term approach to production costs.

You may have heard about the coming hop apocalypse and what may be a lack of lupulin for breweries. Lucky for Boston Beer, they have long-term contracts with maltsters for their barley and hop producers for the wide collection of hops they use in their matrix of beers.

Up until now, they never took that approach with their need for apples for Angry Orchard, but it seems like its wild popularity has forced their hand.

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The Six-Pack Project, Revisited

six-pack project logo 6Over a year ago, I started an effort called the Six-Pack Project. It’s purpose was simple:

…bring together writers from all over the country (and maybe world)  to highlight a six-pack of our home’s native brews that best represent what our beer culture has to offer. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we want to share?

I had lots of success early on, recruiting friends and beer lovers from afar to help in my quest of finding special “six-packs” to represent the culture of their home state. But in recent months, my luck has run out.

Part of it has been time spent with some in-depth reporting and part of it has simply been  failed attempts to bring people on-board. So, I’m starting a renewed effort to bring some attention to the project and I’d love your help.

I’m starting by revisiting my own contribution, focusing on North Carolina. I’ve updated selections from my original piece, mostly thanks to the burgeoning craft beer industry in the state. I’m also on the lookout for new contributors, so you’re welcome to see the archive to help fill in blanks from around the U.S. or the world. Contact me on Twitter or leave a comment below to discuss some more.

Need a refresher on the Six-Pack Project? Here are the rules:

  1. This isn’t simply a “best of” list. The goal is to pick a collection of six beers that represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred. Specialty or one-off brews are not allowed.

With that said, let’s see what you need to check out next time you’re in North Carolina.

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Goodbye, Summer: August 2014 Beertography

bud_cameraIt’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for my regular roundup of beertography from the last few weeks.

Below you’ll find some of my recent shots, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. If you like these, you can find all of my beertography shots on Instagram or in my running archive.

All my shots are taken with my iPhone 5 unless otherwise noted. The space where I shoot my photos – around the house – offers somewhat limited opportunities for pretty backdrops, which is why I try to get inventive with my photo ideas.

Let’s see what August had to offer…

Cigar City Jai Alai – Juiced

cigar city-jai alai-beer-beertography-ipa-india pale aleTroegs Sunshine Pils – Waning Days of Summer

troegs-sunshine-pils-pilsner-beer-beertographyBlack Raven Wisdom Seeker – Thirst for Knowledge

black raven-wisdom seeker-ipa-india pale ale-beer-beertographyGuinness – A Perfect Pint

guinness-beer-beertography-stout-irish-ireland-pubHardywood Capital Trail – Let’s Go For a Ride

hardywood-pale ale-capital trail-beer-beertography

As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

The Language of Beer: Going Hyperlocal

map pinFirst we looked at the changing vernacular or beer, then analyzed what “cheap beer” meant to people.

Today, however, we go from a national look to a local one.

The best part about the recent Yelp Trends posts is the ability to hone into specific locales to gauge the potential for bias or interest within a specific metro area. So while we originally looked at broader topics that relate to craft beer, I love the fact we can also go micro and investigate unique aspects of beer that are local.

And there are a lot.

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The Language of Beer: Recession, Spending and Waning Interest in ‘Cheap’ Brews

450038_stock-photo-will-work-for-food-cardboard-signA penny saved is a penny earned.

Except when it comes to craft beer, for which it’s clear people are willing to spend a little extra, as evidenced by craft beer’s 20 percent growth in dollars sales last year or the fact dollar sales have nearly doubled in the last four years.

Passion for craft beer is at an all-time high, but when did this spending trend take off? We’ve got a pretty good idea, but with some help from Yelp Trends, we can have some fun looking into public perception of this change.

Much like our other look at the vernacular of “craft beer” and “microbrew,” a dissection of results from Yelp adds another layer to our understanding of the growth of craft beer.

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The Language of Beer: Is it “Craft Beer” or “Microbrew”?

brew edu_bookworm_beerWhat’s in a name?

A lot, really.

Our language has amazing duality, both steadfast in its origins and fickle in its expanding lexicon. When it comes to beer and wordplay, it’s much of the same.

I’ve done previous research on the vernacular journey of beer, from the use of the phrase “craft beer” to how it spread and when grammar changes took place.

It’s a fascinating topic and mirrors our country’s growing interest in beer and what beer can be for people. But it’s also only part of a larger story to tell, which is why I’ve reopened that book with the help of review site, Yelp.

Yelp recently released 10 years of data as part of its new “Yelp Trends,” which searches through the platform’s user reviews to show “what’s hot” and reveals word-use habits. Even better, you can narrow searches to a collection of nearly 100 cities, honing in on geographical biases from people around the country.

Putting this in relation to beer, there’s some fun to be had with Yelp Trends and how they reinforce our evolving language and interests in beer.

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Advice for a Craft Beer Newbie: The Complete Series!

Over the past two weeks, I joined a collection of Mid-Atlantic beer bloggers to share our insight into what kind of advice we would pass along to someone starting a journey into craft beer. The results were a lot of fun.

My advice – to live fully – can be read here.

Everyone put a lot of effort into the project, so I wanted to highlight these posts once again and encourage you to check them out:
  • Doug from Baltimore Bistros and Beer – Craft
  • Jake from Hipster Brewfus – Patience
  • Oliver from Literature and Libation – Reciprocate
  • Andrew from Das Ale Haus – Drink
  • Josh from Short on Beer – Journey
  • Liz from Naptown Pint – Relax
  • Sean from BrewKeep – You


Programming note: I’ve got a new layout for the blog, one that I hope will appear cleaner and offer better use of photos and content. I haven’t changed the look of my blog in a couple years, so a little upkeep will do me good. Hopefully you, too.

Thanks again for sharing in this blog with me and joining my journey through beer.

Coming Attraction: Taking Beer from Glass to Screen


Like any good man, Mike Sills has a good woman alongside him.

But when it came to bringing him into the fold of craft beer, Mike’s wife, Jenna, led the way.

“Give Mike a glass of whiskey – almost any whiskey,” Jenna recalled, “and he was a happy man.”

mike and jenna-edit

Jenna and Mike Sills, enjoying more than beer.

But that was before the couple made a brief weekend getaway from Boston to travel to Vermont. It was before Jenna suggested they stop at Waterbury’s The Alchemist during their trip, after a serendipitous sample from a friend of the famed Heady Topper.

All that was before they walked into Blackback Pub one night, having left their car parallel parked in what felt like the middle of a snow-covered street.

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One Word of Advice for the Craft Beer Newbie

word cloud-live-beer

We’re all on the clock.

The Great Inevitability of Life – it’s own end – ticks away, but still ignored by our inclination to rarely check the minute and hour hands to deal with that truth.

But ever so often, our ears are retrained to hear the staccato of their machinations, usually when some tragedy has affected us or, even worse, it’s Too Late.

We hold tight to the thought that there will always be more time, simply because we believe so. But whether we have religious tendencies or not, we are still left at the mercy of some variable outside our reach. It could be Fate or it could be the fact we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

This is the kind of existential quandary that has picked at my brain recently, a byproduct of unfortunate circumstances chipping away at my consciousness.
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