Modern beer's artistry isn't relegated to the liquid alone. No, breweries are enlisting artists to turn cans into visual billboards, a trend I tackled for travel magazine AFAR. Trust me: It's an art to write 30-word blurbs.
Scroll through Instagram, peruse Twitter and tiptoe through Untappd, and you might assume that beer fans have blinders on for everything but IPAs and pastry stouts. Blow hype’s smokescreen aside, however, and you’ll see the light: Americans love low-ABV lagers. In January, sales data revealed that the country’s best-selling beers are Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, the first time the top three were all light. With lower-calorie beers ruling the land, craft and independent brewers are making unlikely moves, especially as conglomerates increasingly encroach on their turf. “They’re firing shots, so we’ll fire shots back,” says Night Shift co-founder Rob Burns.
Enter the era of light lagers, low-calorie craft beers and nonalcoholic sips suited for one and all. My Imbibe feature awaits your clicking finger.
To American imbibers reared on fizz, zero bubbles may seem as off-putting as that forgotten cup of beer found after a party. However, in Belgium still beer has a proud tradition. There, spontaneously fermented lambics are sometimes kegged or bagged bubble free and served as flat as the day is long. It’s not a bug but an appealing feature—without carbonic acid, sour beers are less perceptibly acidic and can make for easier drinking.
Inspired by Belgian brewing customs, a budding group of sour- and wild-focused American breweries are saying sayonara to fizz. Is it good? Bad? Heresy? Heaven? Only one way to find out: Read my story. Or not! It's OK. I write a lot of words.
As consumers turn away from bottles and embrace cans, producers are left in a pickle: How can they compete in this heavy-metal marketplace? Easy: By cracking the code on can-conditioning, packaging volatile sours, super-effervescent saisons, and beers teeming with wild yeast in 16-ounce cans, bringing bottled-beer experiences to the beach koozie. Interested? I was! This was one of those ideas I got from staring at a beer cooler for far too long, till the idea started to coalesce in my hops-addled brain. Curious? Here's the story.
After five years, nomadic brewery Grimm Artisanal Ales has found a permanent perch in Brooklyn, overcoming construction, equipment woes and more. I chronicle their arduous journey for October.
For SevenFifty Daily, I cover how sake has become American brewers’ latest muse. Brewers are collaborating with sake producers, using sake yeast strains, and brewing their own, a move that makes sense when you consider that sake, like beer, is a fermented cereal beverage. “The fact that they have more alcohol than standard beer doesn’t matter,” John Laffler, the co-owner and brewer of Chicago’s Off Color Brewing, says of sakes, which generally have winelike alcohol levels. “It has nothing to do with the ABV. It’s a fermented cereal grain.”
The last decade has witnessed a steady about-face in public perception of sometimes challenging, often misunderstood wild beers. They’ve gone from outcasts to lust objects, bottles of Cantillon revered as the high art of beer connoisseurship. Consumers now worship at the altar of Brettanomyces, flocking to festivals such as Crooked Stave’s What the Funk!?, Upland Brewing’s Sour Wild Funk Fest, and the Funk Collective Sour and Wild Beer Festival, which takes places in Charleston, South Carolina, this summer.
How did this ancient tradition take American take taste buds by storm? I tackle the topic for Good Beer Hunting.
Hazy IPAs may reign supreme these days, but the backlash machine works fast in beer. Today, breweries are tinkering with IPAs as clear as seltzer. My latest for October awaits.
Increasingly today, beers defined, and differentiated, by offbeat yeast strains and bacteria. It’s tough for brewers to stand apart in today’s bustling beer scene, even if they add day-old doughnuts to a brew kettle. Quirky microorganisms, however, can help brewers carve out a flavorful niche without having to resort to gimmickry or a hop avalanche.
I tackle the rising trend for SevenFifty Daily. Also: I seem to never stop writing stories these days.
As a journalist, I try to pay attention to the story behind the obvious story. Sure, dairy farms are becoming breweries. But why? Survival, a way to keep the old traditions alive in the face of economic upheaval. For The New York Times, I investigate how breweries are embracing a different kind of liquid capital to bolster bottom lines.