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Have we got great news for you folk out there living with crippling student loan debt! Your friends at Natural Light® have announced their 2019 #NattyStories #Contest, a college debt relief national campaign to help U.S. residents over the age of 21 pay down their student loans! Yes, no scholarships, no grants, just free money to help ease your burden.
Besides the eligibility requirements above, current and former students who have attended an accredited college or university within the last 10 years are eligible to participate in the national contest. The deadline is Saturday, May 18, 2019 at exactly 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. That means that if you live in El Paso and Roswell, you’ve got to submit your Natty Story by 9:59 p.m. Mountain Time. And if you’re in all other parts of Texas, your deadline is 10:59 p.m. Central Time.
Sounds a little complicated, but you have a little more than four full months to submit your story! Let’s get you better informed:
In order to qualify as a successful contest entry (after you verify meeting the above eligibility requirements), the official rules require you to upload a video of yourself to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter in which you tell the Natural Light® team what your inspiration is for going to college, and—this is important—while holding the Natural Light® Green $ Tab.
Where do you find this tab thing? There are two ways. First, you can find it inside the specially-marked Natural Light® can packs at your nearest grocer or convenience stores. Second, you can download and print a paper copy of it from the Natural Light website here.
The post should be public, tag @Natural Light® and include the hashtags #NattyStories and #Contest on the caption. If you’re in El Paso, you must also add the hashtag #ElPaso. Alternatively, the contestant can send the video to Natural Light® via a direct message to their social media pages. Other forms of entry and detailed official rules can be found here.
Oh, yes, did we mention what the grand prize is? $10,000! Yes, that’s four zeroes behind that 1…
Deservedly or not, millennials get blamed for a lot of things, not least of all the slow demise of the flagship beer. Called everything from fickle to promiscuous, millennial craft beer drinkers stereotypically flit between the newest, hottest, rarest releases with no regard for the workhorse core brands that, to apply the most common cliché, “keep the lights on” for brewers who bank on their steady sales for sturdy ongoing revenue.
Beer writers like me do a lot of hand wringing over this, particularly as it pertains to the old classics–Sierra Nevada Pale Ale gets mentioned most often–that built the craft beer industry in the first place. Our laments are more than sentimental. The nation’s most pioneering and influential old craft breweries, all of which built their businesses on a flagship or two, are struggling mightily – and not so successfully — to compete in a world where a decent number of upstarts don’t even craft a core beer.
“A lot of beer drinkers have developed a sort of ADD with respect to the beers they drink, so going for a glass of beer at the bar or pub becomes less a pleasant distraction and more a relentless search for what’s new and exciting. In this mad rush towards the unusual and unknown, we tend to forget the great, familiar and still-wonderful beers that guided us all along the path to the craft beer renaissance,” emails globally renowned beer journalist Stephen Beaumont, who’s authored 13 books on the subject.
On Tuesday, Beaumont decided to officially do something about this important but admittedly first-world problem. He’s launching a campaign called #FlagshipFebruary, a month-long international celebration of flagship beers. So far, The Olympic Tavern in Rockford, Illinois, has committed to sell Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Anchor Brewing Steam, Samuel Adams Boston Lager and New Belgium Brewing Fat Tire for $5 a pint all month long. In Seattle, the Beveridge Place Pub will showcase flagships on draught throughout February, Portland, Oregon’s Belmont Station will devote a tap or two to the cause, and Philadelphia’s Memphis Taproom has agreed to participate somehow. There’s already a pledge to spread the word in South Africa and social media conversations are taking place in New Zealand.
Beaumont says he’s not planning to set any standards for the events. He just wants to raise awareness and spending on these oldies but goodies, and maybe set a few millennials straight in the process.
“ Just because a beer is new or unusual doesn’t mean that it’s good , and in my non-professional time I’ve found myself retreating more and more to proven greats rather than the ballyhooed unknowns of the ‘special release’ world,” he writes. “Of course, as a beer writer focused on new releases, I have to take my share of the blame for the current state of affairs, so I guess this is part of my penance.”
Beaumont, who’s been pondering the idea for a while, got lovingly bullied by colleagues (including myself) into finally taking this on after he tweeted a comment in response to an article posted last week about another year of drastically declining sales of stalwarts like Anchor Steam. Despite a pressing deadline for his next book, Beaumont has enlisted beer historian Jay Brooks and Toronto creative agency Porter Hughes to develop a website that will list worldwide events and showcase a daily paean to flagships written by a cast of 28 noted beer writers.
The project has theoretical precedent. Lew Bryson, a beer and whiskey writer who used his now-defunct blog, The Session Beer Project, to help promote low-alcohol beers and launch a global Session Beer Day in 2012, succeeded in making “session beer” a household word. Bryson, a longtime friend of Beaumont’s, says he’s “all in” on #FlagshipFebruary.
“I’ve got a case and a half of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale cold in my garage right now that I’m working on, what’s left of a case of Great Lakes Ed Fitz Porter, and some Guinness Draught. I drink Allagash White, I drink Victory HopDevil, and I drink a LOT of Bells Two Hearted. I would hate to see those beers dry up and blow away,” he says, listing a few famous flagships. “I remember some beer snob bartender telling me ‘I don’t think Sierra Nevada Pale has much to say anymore.’ Yeah, actually, it does. And one of the things it’s saying is ‘Shut up and drink me.’”
Though much attention will likely be paid to those longstanding legends of craft brewing, Beaumont invites any brewery with at least one flagship to take part any way they want.
“I think that it’s a matter of intent rather than age,” he says.
That means an eight-year-old brewery like Kane Brewing in Ocean, New Jersey, can join in by featuring its flagships Head High IPA, Overhead DIPA and Sneakbox pale ale in its taproom if it so wishes. Whether Kane decides to or not, the philosophy is one that Vice President of Operations Glenn Lewis understands and appreciates.
“I think as a brewery starting out small and growing slowly and carefully, your flagship is your reliable source of production and sales volume week in and week out,” he says.
It’s exhausting to write enough recipes and keep up with a production schedule that has to adjust to an ever-changing bevy of beers, not to mention time-consuming to seek approval for each beer from the federal government. It’s expensive to design and order hundreds if not thousands of unique labels and laborious to convince wholesalers and retailers to take in an untested package every week or month.
That said, most breweries enjoy some degree of experimentation, and Kane makes a few limited beers that attract massive lines to the brewery on release days. #FlagshipFebruary will hopefully appeal to young peripatetic beer drinkers as much as the old guard because as Lewis explains, without a flagship, most breweries couldn’t afford to put out exciting experimental styles.
“Strong flagship sales open the door for experimentation – small batch beers that might have less commercial appeal but are important to us, or for barrel aging, where you’re spending a lot of money and time and taking up valuable square footage on beers that might not generate revenue for two years,” he says.
Speaking of time, Bryson warns that it may take a while for #FlagshipFebruary to fully catch on. The session beer “thing,” as he calls it, took four years to gain enough momentum to reach a mass craft beer audience, and he suggests that brewers should take it over once “this freebie proof of concept run happens.”
But he feels strongly that it should happen before it’s too late.
“Save the great beers we have,” he says. “Don’t let them be buried under a wriggling mass of mayfly beers that will be beautiful for a day…and then gone.”
A creative partnership between Mikkeller and AleSmith Brewing Company, here’s a profile of the (once) gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø.
World-traveler Mikkel Borg Bjergsø built a different pathway to brewing success, partnering with creative brewers around the globe, rather than building his own brewhouse, and keeping “beer geeks” happy with a non-stop supply of one-off releases. But recently Mikkel and AleSmith Brewing Company’s Owner and Brewmaster Peter Zien announced the opening of a Mikkeller brewery in San Diego in the current home of AleSmith Brewing Co. Instead of traveling to brew with others, it seems Mikkel will be inviting them to come brew with him. Says Alex Barbiere, marketing specialist at AleSmith, “Mikkeller and AleSmith Brewing Co. have officially joined forces to transform the original AleSmith brewery location into one glorious, creative workshop. These two legendary brewers will formulate entirely new recipes with some of the world’s finest breweries. Expect to see the liquid results of this creative partnership summer 2015!”
Mikkel’s reputation generally proceeds him, but for those unfamiliar, he’s a former high school chemistry teacher from Denmark who used to teach his students how to brew in the school kitchen. He began these lessons in 2003, and by 2006 when he launched Mikkeller, it was named Brewery of The Year by the Association of Danish Beer Enthusiasts.
Mikkel’s journey has been fast and furious, just like he is. He began homebrewing out of a desire for better beer than he could find locally, and when he decided to turn his hobby into a business, it seemed too expensive of an endeavor. He didn’t want to take out loans, nor did he want to compromise the quality of his beer to pay for those loans.
So instead, he made friends with brewers across the globe and used their breweries to brew his beer. Since he launched Mikkeller, he has brewed in more than forty countries with internationally acclaimed breweries such as Three Floyds Brewing in Chicago, de Stuise Brouwers in Belgium, and Alesmith Brewing Company in San Diego. Although the decision not to open a brewery of his own was financially motivated, Mikkel stuck with that decision (until now) because he wanted to learn from other brewers.
“I could take advantage of the forces at each brewery,” says Mikkel, who chose the breweries he worked with out of respect for their brewers. “When I brew Mikkeller beers, I choose a brewery based on what they brew best,” Mikkel told Beer West Magazine in 2012. “I mean, if a brewery makes excellent stouts, why not brew my stouts there?”
One of Mikkeller’s best-known stouts is the beer that put him on the map. Beer Geek Breakfast is an imperial oatmeal stout brewed with French-press coffee. But it’s not just any kind of coffee. Beer Geek Breakfast contains Civet Coffee, a Vietnamese delicacy for which weasels ingest and digest the coffee beans before people consume them. “I got the idea for the coffee when I tasted it the first time. The low bitterness is perfect for beer brewing,” Mikkel says.
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What began as an experiment to brew stout with a controversial, even taboo, ingredient turned into a movement. Beer Geek Breakfast received the best notes at an international ratebeer.com forum, and the next thing Mikkel knew he was entering beer competitions and meeting distributors all around the world.
“We fail to slow down,” the Mikkeller website says. “We are always thinking in new ways and ideas, always working on the next project. Sometimes it’s hard for people to keep up.”
Mikkel’s homebrewing came full circle in March 2013 when he and his two homebrew students, Tore Gynther and Tobias Emil Jensen, opened Mikkeller & Friends in Copenhagen, a 40-tap bar with an attached bottle shop. The new bar has an exclusive cooperation with Chicago’s 3 Floyds, making it the only place outside of the United States that serves 3 Floyds’ draught beer.
Still forging ahead, Mikkeller also launched a line of dry-hopped small-batch spirits. Included in the brand are Dry Hop Simcoe Vodka, as well as three versions of the distilled Mikkeller Black imperial stout: aged in a rum cask, aged in a bourbon cask, and aged in Orloroso wine barrels.
“Yeah, a lot of stuff going on here,” Mikkel wrote in a quick, almost cryptic email. Undoubtedly he’s got an inbox full of mail from folks across the globe to keep up with. “On a daily basis, I mostly work at the office communicating with the breweries where we brew our beer, making sure labels are done on time, checking up on accountings, and corresponding with customers,” he wrote on his website. “[I also] clean the espresso machine, take out the trash, pay the bills. And then sometimes I have time for brewing.”
We all hope that with this new partnership with AleSmith Brewing, he’ll have more time for creative brewing.
Beer Geek Breakfast (stout) is the most well-known Mikkeller beer, but their single hops series is a fascinating way to develop a sense for the flavor of different hops varieties.
Currently, Mikkeller beer is available in forty countries. It’s on sale at liquor stores in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.