Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ship shape

The ship’s still there, but the hopheads have shipped out.

Until next year.

But we hope no one has to wait that long.

If you went to the Garden State Craft Brewers’ 11th take on their beer festival, you know it was a perfect day for a party: sunny, practically no humidity, plenty of food and – most import – a great cross-section of brews to sample.

And resample.

Like that rauch beer from Triumph. Or Cricket Hill’s maibock.

Those are just a couple of reasons the guild should have another festival this year, say in the fall. (Late September/October anyone? It’s been done, you know. And, say in a different location, like farther up north, for parity’s sake. Yeah, it’s the North Jersey/South Jersey thing. Bombard them with email, we say. Demand your fall festival.)

Save the credential check; we know a maibock isn’t such a reach. Pizzeria Uno, too, had a nice one in tow at the festival, and without trying too hard, we can think of other brewpubs in Jersey that served bock under the sign of the bull.

What we’re saying is that tying up fermenter and other tank space for lagering when you’re a small brewery speaks to some measure of faith in your beer and your public and that what you’re doing is worth the trouble.

And a festival is a great platform to underscore that spirit, that you cover the basics beyond the alphabet soup of ales (ESB & IPA), and can step off the beaten path, like with that rauch beer, or even get funky like that hefeweiss flavored with hibiscus that the Tun Tavern had in a growler.

And if the more cosmic-related arguments aren’t enough, then consider the practical.

Craft beer’s enjoying a bounce right now, says the Brewers Association. Sales growth, double digits, an industry segment to watch, yada et cetera yada …

So strike while the iron’s hot (or make hay while the sun shines, whatever cliché you’re into).

Plus, we’d swear that the crowd at the stern of the USS New Jersey last Saturday skewed toward the younger demographic. Not overwhelmingly, but enough that we took notice. Enough that if you mentioned Buffalo Springfield … well, you get the picture.

Now stir in this variable: We’re talking the gadget/instant message culture. Word of mouth seems to spread at light speed in that world. Word of ur kickin’ beer isn’t 2 B past ^.

But, giving credit where credit is due, that younger crowd plying the decks of battleship last weekend was really into beer.

Take the guy who told us that at home he’d probably be cracking open a Miller Lite. He rattled off a list of brews aboard ship he thought were worth his mug.

We’re thinking that after Saturday, he’s had his last pils-E-ner.


As you can see, the video is up. It's also viewable here at, and here at YouTube. Blip has better image quality – we originally had the blip file posted on the blog, but subbed in YouTube, the more widely known site, and finally swapped in, which became available much later. (By the by, HomerJDoh works for Beer-Stained Letter.)

If you're unfamiliar with, it's the site and cable television channel that Joel Hyatt (of Hyatt Legal Services fame; you have our word on that) and Al Gore (yes, that Al 'Inconvenient Truth' guy) created in 2005. There's some fantastic, very credible and intellectually challenging – even moving – work on Check it out.

The video is also viewable on iTunes – just in time for iPhone!

Thanks to everyone who availed themselves of an interview. Thanks to Flying Fish for some key support; thanks to the brewers guild and the battleship folks.

And thanks to yeast for making beer.

PS: We usually don't do this, but since we got an email from a beer fan in Illinois recently ... DVD copies of the video are available at no charge; just send us an email and we'll oblige.

PPS: Contest! A prize (to be determined eventually; heads up, though, it won't be beer) to whoever can create the most words from these six letters: ESB and IPA. Entries by email throughout July.

Have fun.