Texas brewmaster headed back to PA

Jaime Jurado  
(William M. Dowd photo)
JENKINS TOWNSHIP, PA -- Jaime Jurado is headed back to Pennsylvania.

Jurado, who had been the master brewer at the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre from 1985-91, is joining the startup Susquehanna Brewing Company, located at 635 South Main Street in this community northeast of Wilkes-Barre.

The site is the former warehouse of United Beverage, the wholesale beer distributor.

Since his Wilkes-Barre days, Jurado has developed a reputation as one of the nation's top brewmasters while he plied his trade in San Antonio, TX, where I first met him, with the Gambrinus Company. (See "Beer Dinner in the Texas Hill Country.")

Jurado has been director of brewing operations at Gambrinus since 1997. His new gig becomes official on January 1, 2012, as operations manager and master brewer.

Gambrinus is the sixth-largest beer company in the nation. Its portfolio includes the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX, the Bridgeport Brewing Company in Portland, OR, and Trumer Brauerei of Berkeley, CA.

The new Susquehanna brewery was founded by Ed Maier, great-great-grandson of Pennsylvania brewing icon Charles Stegmaier, son Fred Maier and partner Mark Nobile. Their initial investment in the craft brewery will be $8 million to $10 million, they said. The German firm BraKon GmbH is the designer and builder of the brewhouse. Plans are to produce four or five year-round beer brands as well as seasonal beers.

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Resurgent Genesee eyes restaurant next

A vintage print ad.
ROCHESTER, NY -- The Genesee Brewing Company has a long and storied history. It also has received a $20 million investment in upgrades over the past two years by its comparatively new owner, North American Breweries.

So, what next? How about a place to dine?

The company, established in 1878, has decided to convert one unused building on its manufacturing to a two-story bar/restaurant and visitors center to be called the Genesee Brew House.

The $2.6 million project would also see demolition of a cluster of two other unused buildings at the St. Paul Street site, according to a report from WHEC-TV.

Rich Lozyniak, CEO of North American Breweries, said that while North American has invested heavily in the once-struggling brewery, that spending has largely been on efficiency and product quality upgrades and the Genesee Brew House project would be the first "serious investment in connection with our consumers."

Under North American, Genesee has returned to its roots with its iconic “glass can,” the stubby bottle it made famous decades ago.

It recently released the Genesee Heritage Collection, a limited-edition pack featuring Genesee Beer, Genesee Cream Ale and 12 Horse Ale. The latter is the brewery’s most requested legacy beer. It was first brewed in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition. It has not been brewed for years.

“We’re seeing all generations responding to the nostalgia and tradition,” said Janine Schoos, brand manager. “Genesee is taking off all over the country. We hope to be where we were back in the ‘80s when we were synonymous with good times and great American traditions.”

Genesee Cream Ale, also in the Heritage Collection, was first brewed in 1960 and has won numerous awards, including two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. All three beers in the Heritage Collection are embossed with a signature letter “G” for Genesee, and adorned with classic labels reminiscent of the packaging used at the height of the beers’ popularity.

The Genesee family of beers has the highest growth rate among the Top 10 selling brand families in its category between 2010 and 2011.

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Insider research: Spirits are kicking beer's butt

Frank Coleman, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), passed along this article from Beer Business Daily -- and, given his affiliation, who could blame him?

Spirits Taking Us for a Ride More Than You Think

"Wine and particularly spirits have been kicking our tails. And they have done it by a systematic strategy of increasing its availability in accounts, by investing much more as a percentage of revenue than beer has in its marketing, in growing all of their price segments, in consistently and constantly coming out with new flavors, brands, and packages, and in creating a cocktail culture that appeals to a very broad base.

"That was the intuitive findings of Heineken USA (HUSA) chief Dolf van den Brink at the California Beer and Beverage Distributors annual convention yesterday.

"Dolf had sobering news for beer guys: Through HUSA's proprietary internal research, which he was good enough to share, he showed that we as an industry simply haven't kept up with wine and spirits, particularly when it comes to young Millenials, ethnics, and women. And until we rectify this disparity, it will be difficult to get beer growing no matter what the economy is doing.

"First, Dolf showed that wine and spirits' growth has come almost entirely through getting new drinkers entering the market at the 21-29 age. Over the last seven years, spirits has gained 4.1% of consumer penetration points in the 21-29 age group, coming ominously close to beer's penetration. But the really scary metric is the 2001-2011 percent change in the preferred drink:

"For Millenials, beer is down 14% and spirits is up 13%. In other words, spirits have picked up nearly all of beer's slack. It's a direct trade off.

"Beer lost drinkers in all other age groups to spirits and wine as well, but it was most pronounced in young people. Since in the past young people drink beer and then switch to wine and spirits as they get older, this doesn't bode well, since they are already starting with cocktails. And don't get me started with African Americans. Beer penetration has lost 15 points of penetration while spirits has gained 15%.

"In the general market, beer has lost 8 points while spirits has gained 6. As for gender, beer has lost 13 points for males while spirits has gained 9, and with females spirits has gained 4 points while beer has lost 4 points. This metric, as Dolf said, is very indicative of  "intent to purchase" and so is very distressing to see.

"Across occasions, beer is now only the preferred drink in one occasion: pub/dining with food. In all other occasions, wine or spirits is the preferred drink. What's the world coming to?"

There's a lot more, but you get the idea.

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Tweeting office beer machine a hit

Ordering a beer from Arnie.
BOSTON -- The advertising agency Arnold Worldwide has an employee perk a lot of people would like to have in their workplace.

It's called Barnold, an in-house bar where employees can socialize and share ideas.

Recently, several employees decided to build on that idea by creating a beer vending machine stocked with agency-brewed and -themed beers that staffers 21 and older can access with a swipe of their key fobs.

They call the machine Arnie, and have given him a touchscreen interface, temperature awareness and a Soundtube speaker.

Arnie also talks, addressing the user by name recognized when the key fob swipe is made. Arnie's touchscreen also handles Twitter communication -- Arnie can tweet you -- and data such as how much beer was consumed each day of the week.

In addition, there’s an "Alepedia" that provides information about six different beers the agency has created, including Arnold Pilsner. According to a spokesperson, the agency "also has experimented with a variety of ale styles, and will be able to brew beer styles specific to seasons, events, people and even clients."

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NE Hop Alliance gathering in Troy

Tending hop vines.
 TROY, NY -- Things will be hopping at Brown’s Brewing Company this Saturday. That is when members of the Northeast Hop Alliance (NeHA) will gather for their annual meeting and fall conference in Revolution Hall.

The conference, which will begin with a "Hoppy Hour," is for current and prospective hop growers. It  will focus on re-establishing commercial specialty hops production in New York State and other parts of the Northeast. according to Gregg Stacy, Brown's director of marketing and sales.

Topics will include planting, growing and harvesting as well as financial and scientific resources to support growers and local craft brewers like Brown’s who grow some of their own hops.

NeHA’s overall mission is to enhance the cultural heritage of hop production through education, agritourism, and architectural preservation.

Speakers include hop researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oregon State University, the University of Vermont Extension, and Cornell Co-op Extension as well as hop growers and craft brewers interested in expanding the use of locally-grown hops.

Western New York was the largest hop producing region in the world until the early 1900s when a mold and aphid blight destroyed the crop and hop growing. Growing in the U.S. moved to the Pacific Northwest thereafter. NeHA is dedicated to the rebirth of this profitable agricultural segment that thrived in this area for nearly 150 years.

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