SevenFifty Daily

The Rise of the Really Tall Beer Can

SFD_Single_format_beers_1_2520x1420-1536x866.jpg

Large cans of domestic lagers and flavored malt beverages from big beer brands have long been stocked in fridges at gas stations and convenience stores, offering consumers a low-cost, no-fuss cold tallboy to go. Now many craft breweries are going big, packaging robustly flavored IPAs and hop-forward ales in 19.2-, 24-, and 25-ounce cans. They’re typically sold for $2 or $3, encouraging consumer trials and boosting sales. 

But why? Why is one the loveliest number for breweries? I have thoughts.

Putting on the Spritz: Breweries Shake Up Cocktail-Inspired Beers

SFD_Cocktail_Beer_1b_2520x1420.jpg

Brewers have never been bashful about creating facsimile beers, like the campfire-inspired Dino S’mores by Off Color Brewing in Chicago and the popsicle-like Orange Dreamsicle by Great Notion Brewing, based in Portland, Oregon. Of late, cocktails have lent a spirited spark, letting breweries mine mixed drinks’ familiar flavors and rich cultural and emotional resonance. 

For SevenFifty Daily, I dive into the trend to discover how cocktail-inspired beers can create new audiences and spike sales. It’s a fun read. I swear! Or I’ll owe you a margarita-style gose.

A Sunny New Approach to Summer Seasonal Beers

Photos: Courtesy of Boston Beer

Photos: Courtesy of Boston Beer

Breweries have long calibrated their portfolios according to calendars. Core lineups were complemented by quarterly seasonal releases, whose arrivals heralded a change of taste. Nowadays drinkers needn’t wait three months for selections to shift. Each week welcomes new beers, double IPAs, and dessert-like stouts that are divorced from seasonality. We live in an on-demand beer world, with an endless selection streaming onto store shelves and into fridges. Seasonals “used to be where beer drinkers went for variety,” says Jim Koch, the chairman of Boston Beer Company, the maker of Samuel Adams beer. “Now the shelf is laden with variety.”

How are breweries approaching seasonal summer beers? Great question! And one I tackle for SevenFifty Daily, awaiting in the link below.

The Hottest New Hop Varieties of 2019

Photo courtesy of Crosby Hop Farm / Blake Crosby is a fifth-generation hop farmer and the CEO of Crosby Hop Farm.

Photo courtesy of Crosby Hop Farm / Blake Crosby is a fifth-generation hop farmer and the CEO of Crosby Hop Farm.

Each year, farmers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world release the latest and greatest hop varieties destined to change the very aroma and flavor and beer. From the dank, passion fruit punch of Strata to grape-like Zappa, I dive into the latest varieties looking to make a splash in 2019 and beyond. My story for SevenFifty Daily awaits.

Let's Go to the Mall...for Beer

Photo: Explorium Brewpub

Photo: Explorium Brewpub

I spent much of my youth wandering malls, buying cassette tapes and eating McDonald’s burgers in the food court. It was my childhood, no changing that, but I don’t have a hankering to return to a mall anytime soon. But if there’s one thing that could change that, it’s beer. Beer! Taking advantage of ample square footage, affordable real estate and a captive audience sick of Sbarro, a number of breweries have taken root in malls that are trying to re-cast their image for a new generation. I tackle the story for SevenFifty Daily.

How Omega Yeast Is Bringing New Flavors to Beer

Photo: Omega Yeast

Photo: Omega Yeast

Former patent attorneys Mark Schwarz and Lance Shaner have built one of the most forward-thinking yeast labs in the world. The cofounders of Chicago’s Omega Yeast supply amateur and professional brewers with singular yeast strains and souring bacteria, delivered fresh, fast, and healthy. Working one-on-one with breweries, Omega provides its clients both peace of mind and an extensive microbial palette to help them brew beers that are both distinctive and distinctly delicious. Schwarz handles business and sales, while Shaner—who’d previously earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics—leads the lab. Together, they’re on a quest to bring brewers new and unusual yeast strains from around the globe, as well as to engineer hybrids that, in the best possible sense, broaden the boundaries of good taste. 

Here, I take a look at their business for SevenFifty Daily.



With Harlem Hops, the Craft Beer Community Broadens Its Reach

Photo: Harlem Hops

Photo: Harlem Hops

Craft beer is often typecast as the domain of bearded white dudes, a cliché that Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris, and Stacey Lee have detonated with Harlem Hops. The first black-owned craft beer bar in New York City’s uptown neighborhood of Harlem, it’s a welcoming portal to the world of hazy IPAs, tingly sours, and barrel-aged stouts, among others.

The founders, all graduates of historically black colleges and universities, have created more than simply a sleek bar with bare brick walls, beers served in stylish Italian Teku glasses, and harlem spelled out in lightbulbs on the ceiling. Rather, beer curator Bradford and his partners Lee and Harris operate Harlem Hops as an educational platform, with the goal of introducing fresh, local craft brews to customers who may never have met a hoppy beer—or knew how much they’d love one.

For SevenFifty Daily, I take a look at how Harlem Hops is changing New York City’s beer scene.

How Breweries Are Leveraging Popular Spirits Brands

Collage: SevenFifty Daily

Collage: SevenFifty Daily

It’s been an interesting time for beer sales, as volumes are falling for many of the major breweries. In an effort to reach a new audience, breweries such as New Belgium, Ballast Point and Budweiser have started partnering with distilleries to create products that can reach across both sides of the bar.

Bubbling Up? Sort of. The Latest Trend Is Carbonation-Free Beer

Photo: Jester King

Photo: Jester King

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. 

Why Brewers Are Turning to Can Conditioning

Photo: The Referend Bier Blendery

Photo: The Referend Bier Blendery

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.