Malt Supply for Craft and Home Brewers

In my last article, I looked at the giant corporations of the malting world.  Now I’ll examine the mid-sized malting companies that supply today’s craft and home brewers, focusing on their local sourcing and global reach.


Between the repeal of prohibition and the 1980’s, the American brewing industry experienced a period of tremendous consolidation and homogenization.  By the mid 80’s, an industry that a century earlier had been regional and diverse had shrunk to only a few companies, with global reach but limited variety and questionable quality.  In 1983 – the low point of American brewing – the largest five American brewing companies controlled 92% of all beer production in the country.   Those top five were Anheuser-Busch (Now AB-Inbev), Miller and Coors (now MIiller-Coors), Pabst and Stroh (both now owned by Pabst, which was just last week sold to the Russian company Oasis), and Heileman (now City Brewing Company, makers of Sam Adams).   So the five largest beer companies from 1983 are now four much larger companies.

Active Breweries Prohibition to 1983

These brewing companies (I’ll refer to them as “BMC” from now on, short for “Bud-Miller-Coors”) all primarily make very pale lagers with high percentages of adjuncts in their Continue reading

Caramel Malt Tasting

Aimg_caramels part of a Homebrew Tasting/Judging Circle I’ve been organizing, we recently did a tasting of an array of different Caramel malts.  The goal was to identify the differences between these malts, other than color.

For each malt, I did a small mash of 6% crystal, 84% Briess Pale Ale malt.  All of the Caramels were also made by Briess.  The mash temp was 154 degrees.   Continue reading

A beer back through time in lower Manhattan

The Dead RabbitWe recently visited The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, a historical-revivalist taproom and parlour on Water Street in Lower Manhattan.  While TDR is just a short walk from Battery Park and other tourist attractions, it is a destination worth traveling to in its own right.

The whole joint is thoroughly infused with the Gangs of New York – era, 1850’s Irish gangland NYC theme.  The ground-level taproom is an honest recreation of a period Irish pub, complete with sawdust on the floor.  The bar servers a good selection of craft beer, with a focus on local selections (Sixpoint, Bronx, Ommegang) and Belgian styles (Ayinger, DuPont, Ommegang).  Most notable is their house ale,

brewed by Sixpoint, a cask-conditioned Mild with tons of brown malt (which fits the period theme nicely). Tasty. Continue reading

NHC 2013

Here’s a post that’s a few weeks overdue: the 2013 National Homebrew Convention in Philadelphia was awesome.

NHC 2013

As a native Pittsburgher and a long-time resident of the NYC area it pains me to say this, but Philly didn’t suck.  Actually, it was kind of awesome.  The Reading Terminal Market is Continue reading

RFK 3-Boro Beer Tour

Some Gluttony Titlerecent out-of-town guests allowed me to spend some time being a tourist in my home city, something I love doing.  Our adventures included a tour of awesome beer spots spread across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.


poopinIt all started just before dusk on July 4th.  In need of a quick pre-fireworks snack, we hit up Pioneers Bar.  The atmosphere was laid back (the joint was almost empty) and the beer selection was decent.   Everyone who went into the restroom pooped.



Continue reading

Key West Beer Spots

Key WestLike Miami, Key West has a bad reputation when it comes to beer.  However, we found it to be quite good in variety, selection, pricing, and overall enthusiasm.

It must first be said that there is no shortage of interesting, fun bars in Key West, but they do vary widely in terms of their beer esteem.  Traditaional on-Duval spots like Fat Tuesday and Cheeseburger in Paradise don’t offer much at all in the way of beer, but are  nonetheless worth checking out (it is Key West, after all).  Continue reading

Miami Beer Spots

Abbey Brewing CoWe recently went on vacation to Miami and Key West.  Miami especially has a reputation for not being a great beer town, but we found a few winning spots that deserve to be mentioned.

The Abbey Brewing Company was a nice little brewpub in South Beach.  It’s a little bit off the beaten path (a.k.a. it’s more than a block from the beach) but well worth the trip. (have dinner at Yardbird on the same block and you’ve got yourself a pretty fantastic evening.  Make a reservation).   They Abbey has about a dozen house beers, made at a production brewery Continue reading

Back On the Horse

Somebody bet on the bay

Somebody bet on the bay

This is the only website on the internet featuring a picture of a horse that does not contain a discussion of Transylvanian horsemeat.    You’re welcome.

Once again, I have gone for an extended time without blogging.  However, this time I have also gone for a long time without brewing, a sorry state of affairs, to be sure.  Things have gone so far that I have nothing planned or near readiness for the National Homebrew Competition, which starts accepting entries today.  Bummer. Continue reading