With so much going on, I’m cramming as many items as possible into this space.
Let’s start with the biggest news in beer. Heineken buying up the remainder of craft beer superstar Lagunitas? No. Bud Light, the beer that capped off a health care revolt. At least that’s what we were told.
It has been widely reported that House Republicans celebrated the 217-213 vote for a health care overhaul by chugging cans of Bud Light. Whether it happened or not isn’t important when it comes to an issue as critical as health care. But for the purposes of this beer column, it’s worth noting that many were quick to make the connection with gently flavored Bud Light and out-of-touch lawmakers. Had they been celebrating with something amazing like Heady Topper from The Alchemist or Congress Street IPA by Trillium Brewing, maybe it would have just seemed too weird.
In the interests of equal-opportunity beer offenses, we’ll watch for the next Democratic filibuster capped off with swigs of Shock Top.
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Beltway insiders would do well to consult with Dave Prillwitz about what kind of beer to drink. He knows his stuff. On Wednesday, Prillwitz sat down at Capitol Beer and Tap Room, took a few sips of a triple IPA by Claimstake Brewing called The Marcus, and promptly rated his 10,000 beer on RateBeer, the website and app for serious beer enthusiasts. On RateBeer, his handle is “Marcus” and his ratings are known throughout the world.
Prillwitz, who lives in Sacramento and is a wealth of information about the world of beer, is a frequent source for this column. It was great that many well-wishers were there to mark the milestone with good beer and big cake.
Also on Wednesday, the California Craft Beer Association announced tickets are going on sale for the third annual California Craft Beer Summit, Sept. 7-9 in Sacramento. The three days of hands-on education sessions, seminars, tastings and the big Brewers Showcase will be bigger and better than before, with 160 craft brewers pouring at the beer fest.
For more details about tickets and the all-star line-up of speakers, go to the CCBA’s website. This event has been huge for Sacramento’s beer community and the city as a whole, drawing new attention to the region and, no doubt, further bolstering Sacramento’s standing as a serious beer town.
One of the breweries that likely won’t be pouring at the Showcase will be Lagunitas. Given its ownership by a Dutch brewing behemoth, the Petaluma-based brewery has relinquished its “craft beer” card. No word on whether Hop Stoopid and Little Sumpin will be sold in those ghastly green bottles. How you feel about the acquisition and how you respond as a consumer is up to you. All I know is that with 74 craft breweries in the Sacramento region and 700-plus throughout California, I probably don’t have the time to visit Lagunitas again any time soon.
With Fort Rock now open and thriving just off Highway 50 at Hazel Avenue, and Waterman Brewing up and running in Elk Grove, the next launch will be in Placerville, where Solid Ground Brewing already has beer in its tanks. I spoke at length with co-owners K.C. Sare and Scott Johnson and was impressed with the game plan. They have a surprisingly large 30-barrel brew house and big ambitions for their beer. Watch for a soft opening in the about three weeks.
What comes after that? King Cong Brewing is expected to take delivery of its brew house this month. Founder Cong Nguyen says he could be open on Del Paso Boulevard as early as July.
It seems like only yesterday that I visited Device Brewing in its first week of operation. That was, it turns out, nearly four years ago. Device recently penned a distribution deal with Markstein Beverage Co. Device owner Ken Anthony told me the deal will trigger rapid expansion and more brewing capacity. Track 7 is also distributed by Markstein.
“It means we were self-distributing about 250 accounts, and now we’re with a distribution partner that has over 4,500 points of distribution,” Anthony said.
What it doesn’t mean? Device can rest easy like those folks in Petaluma. Anthony still starts his workday at 3:30 a.m.