This month's Session is hosted by Beer and Firkins asking the question: "What will you miss about 2008 and what are you looking forward to in 2009?" Big questions with no small answers.
2008 was in my opinion not a great year. YES, there was great beer made and I certainly enjoyed my fair share, but as a producer it financially sucked the life out of you. 2008 was the year that Nico and I started up our beer packaging enterprise and it was a rough. We started this past May and everything was looking rosy. I had contracted the pre-requisite hops matching up our forecast for the year and subsequent years and at the very least had the supply, but paid dearly for them. With fuel surcharges on shipping, the rise in raw materials and the economy taking a big hit, 2008 was reminiscent of when we opened the doors at 21st Amendment. Back in 2000 with the dotcom bomb fallout, 9/11 and the economic downturn it created some hard times for us. It was probably the worst time in the city of San Francisco to open a brewery/restaurant. But we weathered that storm and have become the wiser for it.
As far as 2009 is concerned, I personally have hung the possibilities that the new president might be able to inject at the very least some stability into our economic situation and maybe make it a little easier for the small business owner to flourish and succeed. With those two things comes opportunity. And as I turn this off-topic rant back toward beer, I think 2009 will be better for us beer producers and the beer drinkers as well.
Looking ahead to 2009 and Beer I am excited about something that we are seeing more and more of in the beer community, particularly the craft beer world, the Collaboration Beer. At the 21A we started what I affectionately refer to as the "Brewer Outreach Program." In 2008 we had Mitch Steele from Stone Brewing come to the 21A and brew the Transcontinental IPA, a version of a beer that he brewed in England at the Shepard Neame Brewery in Kent as part of a collaboration between those two breweries. The Brewer Outreach Program was really conceived years ago with the great iconic brewer Scott Turnidge. Scott was brewing at Wynkoop and the now defunct Broadway Brewery in Denver, Colorado. He went on to start the brewing program at Beach Chalet Brewery in San Francisco and since he was new to the bay area, invited brewers in the City to come into the Beach Chalet and brew their beer on his system. It was a great way to ingratiate himself to the community and I personally have a great memory of the sun setting over the pacific when I brewed out there when I was brewing at Steelhead Brewery. Good times.
Flash forward to the Craft Brewer conference in San Diego this past year, late night beers with Mitch and Chuck from Green Flash Brewery and the idea was reborn. In this day of brewery and distributor consolidation and the ever changing market place it's nice when brewers from different breweries can get together and produce some great beer. This year Gabe Fletcher from Midnight Sun Brewery is coming in and maybe Chuck Silva from Greenflash. The collaboration idea is not new for 2009 and we have seen it with the folks at Stone Brewing and their joint effort with Mikkeller Brewing and Alesmith Brewery on a Belgian Tripel. Then there was a group effort with the Belgo-American Rat Pack, Sam-Vinnie-Rob-Ken-Tomme, put out in 2007 the Isabelle Proximus. Melissa Myer's, a long time bay area brewer just came into the 21A and brewed her Scotch Ale. Plenty of inspiration to draw on.
Collaboration = Inspiration.