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.
It has been a longggggggggg time since I’ve bought a beer from a hotel minibar, the land of overpriced mass-produced lager and $8 bottles of water. But! Smart hotels are upgrading the in-room experience with intriguing, locally brewed. For October, I tackle how hotels are giving their rooms an IPA-fueled boost.
As regulations have loosened on marijuana sales in America, brewers have started exploring the fragrant new world of beers that are both inspired by and infused with cannabis derivatives such as THC and CBD. It’s a wild new world of flavor and aroma, buzz delivered in a different package altogether. I look into this burgeoning new world for my latest New York Times article. Curious about a new future for beer?
Beer fads are as sticky as knock-off Scotch tape. Which is a fun way to introduce the brut IPA. Taking its name from brut, one of the driest Champagne classifications, the IPA has become the hottest tinder fanning the hop fires. “This is the latest whack in the volley of style development and reaction of one against the other, and building on what’s come before,” says Brewing Eclectic IPA author Dick Cantwell, Magnolia Brewing’s head of brewing operations.
For Imbibe, I take a deep dive into the the beer world’s lightning-fast trend cycles. I’ve never seen a style adopted and spread as quickly as the brut IPA. Want to know why?
*Writing a best-beer package of any kind is to invite anger and objection. You’re wrong! [Insert any beer] is better! Better! So when Men’s Journal asked me to help put together this package, I took a different approach. I wanted to focus on the stories of people as much as trends, not just rehashing the same ol’, same ol’. Did I do a good job? That’s for you to decide. And to argue about.
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.
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.
For Good Beer Hunting, I take a deep dive into how American brewers are tapping into Belgian farming traditions to create compelling beers that distinctly speak of the land. It’s really interesting! I swear!
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.
I spent my undergrad days at Ohio University, a charming college distinguished by brick streets, big trees and bars slinging numerous drink specials. The Greenery had quarter draft night, while the Union sold Genesee Cream Ale for a buck. One was also the magic number at O’Hooley’s where, for a single glorious hour nightly, the brewpub sold pints of beers such as Scotch ales, pale ales and stout pints for a dollar.
Power Hour might’ve been about pounding pints (my record is five), but inebriation came with a side of schooling. Beyond the buzz, drinking beer during my college years was all about the discovery of flavor—the interplay between grains and hops, water and yeast. Power Hour was the cheapest education in town, in some ways more useful than that journalism degree.
A couple decades later, colleges have caught the craft-beer bug. Not just drinking it—though I’m positive there’s still plenty of that going around—but rather colleges are installing breweries where students can cook up test batches that are served at bars and taprooms right on campus. Whether you’re a curious undergrad or a graduate looking for a liquid refresher course, here are five of the best college breweries where you’ll happily earn extra credit. The rest of my story awaits at October.