Rocky Mountain Brewing News April/May 2015 : Page 1
APRIL/MAY 2015 VOL.13/NO.2 From Single to the A Majors : Infiltrates the Old Ballpark By Amy Moses Baseball is a sensory experience. We listen to the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, smell the grilled onions and peppers piled on the bratwursts, watch in awe at the hanging curveball that handcuffed the batter and see the outfielders shift on the carefully mani-cured glass. As the sun beats down on our glistening skin and the humidity envelopes us, we grasp a cup of frosty beer in our hand, and then absent-mindedly bring it to our lips to quench our thirst – all the while keeping an eye on the runner leading off first. Drinking a cold one (and munching on peanuts and Cracker Jacks) has long been an integral part of taking in nine innings of America’s pastime. Beer wasn’t always offered in the ball-park. The St. Louis Browns were trendsetters – they began offering Sunday games and serv-ing beer at those games to draw the working class to the park on their day off for some rest and relaxation. In his book The Beer and Whiskey Circuit , Edward Achorn delves into the vicissitudes of this decision…and how many Americans (and team owners) weren’t sure that the ballpark was an appropriate place to drink beer in the 1880s. Flash forward 135 years and many can’t imagine their game day experience without it. Several major league teams have strong affiliations with the macro breweries as Coors Field, Miller Park, and Busch Stadium are all named after the big boys. But as of late, craft beer has been edg-ing into the nooks and crannies of every stadium in America – major league, minor league, and spring training. And the beer Ballpark continued p.3 Shades of Pale brewer Trent Fargher behind the unfinished bar in the unfinished tasting room looking forward to serving up their first pints. P HOTO BY B RIAN M ANTERNACH In the Beginning A Brewery on the Move By Brian Manternach O ne of the hardest decisions brewer Trent Fargher faced in starting his new brewery was coming up with the right name. Wanting something that would reflect the myriad varieties of the beer he would brew, as well as the diverse crowd of people within the community he hoped to serve, he decided on Shades of Pale. Looking back on the business model that has resulted since he first began distributing his beer in 2011, he could just as easily have called the brewery Shades of Patience or even Shades of Persistence. Initially operating out of Park City, it quickly became apparent that the space limita-tions of the first location would not allow the brewery to grow enough to meet demand for the product or the lofty goals he had for the future. So, along with his wife, Alexandra Ortiz de Fargher, they packed up shop and moved to South Salt Lake. All of their equipment came down the canyon, and thanks to some additional purchases Shades continued p.4 INSIDE Calendar of Events ....................15 Craft Beer Directory ................ 8-10 State by State News Utah.................6 Montana..........6 Wyoming.........7 Idaho.............11 Colorado Denver..............................12 Central Peaks..................13 Western Slope.................14 Four Corners...................14 Front Range................... 15
From Single A To The Majors: Infiltrates The Old Ballpark
By Amy Moses
Baseball is a sensory experience. We listen to the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, smell the grilled onions and peppers piled on the bratwursts, watch in awe at the hanging curveball that handcuffed the batter and see the outfielders shift on the carefully manicured glass.
As the sun beats down on our glistening skin and the humidity envelopes us, we grasp a cup of frosty beer in our hand, and then absent-mindedly bring it to our lips to quench our thirst – all the while keeping an eye on the runner leading off first.
Drinking a cold one (and munching on peanuts and Cracker Jacks) has long been an integral part of taking in nine innings of America’s pastime.
In the Beginning
Beer wasn’t always offered in the ballpark. The St. Louis Browns were trendsetters – they began offering Sunday games and serving beer at those games to draw the working class to the park on their day off for some rest and relaxation. In his book The Beer and Whiskey Circuit, Edward Achorn delves into the vicissitudes of this decision…and how many Americans (and team owners) weren’t sure that the ballpark was an appropriate place to drink beer in the 1880s. Flash forward 135 years and many can’t imagine their game day experience without it.
Several major league teams have strong affiliations with the macro breweries as Coors Field, Miller Park, and Busch Stadium are all named after the big boys. But as of late, craft beer has been edging into the nooks and crannies of every stadium in America – major league, minor league, and spring training. And the beer isn’t always shipped in. Coors Field houses the only brewery within a major league stadium – the award-winning Blue Moon Brewing Company at the SandLot.
However, drinking craft beer at a stadium isn’t always easy. First you need to find it. That requires getting to the game early to scope out the beer scene or researching choices online ahead of time. Then, when you want another craft beer, you’re not going to find the vendors who call out “beer here, get your cold beer here!” schlepping it up and down the stairs. Thus, you’ll have to interrupt your game-viewing to venture back to the location where you nabbed the first beer. And finally there’s the cost, as it isn’t cheap to drink good beer at the stadium.
Regardless of all these potential obstacles, fans still drink as they cheer the strikeouts, homeruns, and doubles stretched into triples, and they proudly hold their beer up and sway while singing the seventh inning stretch.
Busing Around the Minors
While at a cavernous major league stadium one might have to traipse all over to find a craft beer, they’re usually close at hand at a cozier minor league park. Most of the teams in the Rocky Mountain region indicated that a shift occurred about four to five years ago, as fans started asking for (or demanding) more craft beer to be sold at the park. This coincides with the “buy local” campaign that has recently swept across America, encouraging folks to embrace their local breweries, wineries, distilleries, farmer’s markets and more. And what better way to be a locavore than to support your local minor league baseball team while drinking a beer brewed in the city you live and love?
Most of the teams in the Rocky Mountains are part of the Pioneer League, a short-season, professional minor league classified as rookie advanced where players begin their professional careers.
Let’s take a look at what our fellow mountaineers are drinking while watching these young guys develop.
Treasures Close at Hand
We’ll lead off with the Helena Brewers, rookie affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, who play in historic Kendrick Legion Field, built in 1932 and one of the few remaining wooden ballparks in America.
Dylan LaPlante, Director of Group Sales & Marketing for the Brewers, excitedly explains, “We actually sold 19 beers on tap this past season with a big portion of that being microbrews from Montana.”
The local beers are those brewed right there in Helena by Lewis & Clark Brewing and Blackfoot River Brewing These two give back to the team through a sponsorship that includes an outfield
billboard (the trademark of minor league stadiums) and an ad in the game day program.
LaPlante shares, “We do sell a few other Montana craft brews like Cold Smoke® [from Kettle House Brewing in Missoula], Salmon Fly Honey Rye from Madison River Brewing Company and a few from Big Sky Brewing and Harvest Moon Brewing Company.”
If you’ve been to a minor league game, you know there are a lot of promotions such as spin the bat or dig for a diamond ring in the infield dirt…but the Brewers tailor theirs to craft beer fans with “Micro Monday” (discounts on Montana brews) which LaPlante says is very popular.
Hit the road, head southeast out of Helena, and land in Billings, home of the Mustangs, the 2014 Pioneer League Champions, and rookie affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. General Manager Gary Roller shares that they have traditionally sold Montana craft beers, which are a significant portion of overall beer sales. Three Billings breweries all had tap handles in the past at Dehler Park - Angry Hank’s, Uberbrew, and Carter’s Brewing. Local distributors show their support of the Mustangs with sponsorship dollars.
Serving Some Gems
While watching the Idaho Falls Chukars, a rookie affiliate of the 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals, grab a cold one from Idaho Brewing Company and Grand Teton Brewing Company. These local brews comprise a significant portion of the beer sales at Melaleuca Field. If you’re not from Idaho, you’re probably still hung up on what a chukar is, right? It’s none other than a partridge!
Paul Henderson, Assistant General Manager, throws down a challenge: “I dare you to find something on our menu that doesn’t go well with beer.” This could potentially be said for most stadium fare as hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and nachos all pair quite well with beer, but in Idaho there’s something special. When asked about a menu item that I was unfamiliar with, Henderson exclaimed, “The Chukar Clukar is the best chicken sandwich this side of the Mississippi. It contains a salt and pepper specialty bun and blackened chicken breast and is topped with American cheese, bacon, French fries, and jalapeno ranch coleslaw.” How could that not pair well with a beer?
Colorado is home to two minor league teams, along with, of course, the big league Colorado Rockies. The Rockies’ rookie affiliate, the Grand Junction Rockies, is sponsored by Budweiser and Central Distributing, but also offers their fair share of crafts. “The Grand Junction area is rich in craft breweries,” Mick Ritter, Food and Beverage Director, expresses. He adds, “We currently sell Dirty Hippie from the local Palisade Brewing Company.” It’s a dark wheat beer brewed with chocolate and caramel malts and is “one of our top five in beer sales each season,” states Ritter.
We’re advancing from the Rookie League and jumping all the way up to the Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees, affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Utah beers are strongly represented at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, as they offer Wasatch, Squatters, Uinta, and Bohemian.
Squatters representative Heather Lee explains, “We have been around 25 years and have supported local organizations in many ways. The Salt Lake Bees have a long history in Salt Lake and help foster an image of fun, adventure and culture. It makes sense to sell our beer at our local baseball team and participate in America’s favorite pastime.”
Coming Up Dry
Unfortunately, not all fans at every baseball game can partake in imbibing. Justo Vazquez, General Manager of the Orem Owlz in Orem, Utah, a rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels explains, “We do not sell any beer of any kind on property. We are on a public university campus which is a dry campus and bars us from any sale or promotion of alcohol.”
Vazquez explained that no advertisements for alcohol are even allowed within the stadium – not even national minor league baseball sponsors.
Although he can’t sell beer, Vazquez understands that minor league baseball is about the overall entertainment experience – he compared it to going to a fair or a bar with a group of friends for an affordable evening of fun. This fun is just confined to peanuts, hot dogs and…soda.
Cactus League Finds
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to attend Cactus League spring training games in Arizona or Grapefruit League games in Florida, you’ll know that finding craft beer at these stadiums can be a bit like geocaching…follow a clue and maybe you’ll get the goods.
I’ve always (logically, I thought) wanted to drink beer made in Arizona when I’m visiting Arizona…but if I’m watching the Royals play in Arizona, I’d also expect to be able to enjoy a Boulevard to make it a true Kansas City experience. However, oftentimes, no such luck.
Enter Peoria Sports Complex. This gem of a stadium, spring home to the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, introduced a new – and totally genius concept where you can grab a beer from the region of either of the home teams – or a local one!
Blake Englert explains, “For the 2015 season, we have branded all of our concession stands after Arizonian, southern California and Northwest Pacific regional hallmarks. We had six different craft beer brands specific to our MLB team regions as well, plus a few more that are just popular in general. We think it is important to cater to our MLB teams’ fan bases and give them a taste of home for spring training.”
That kind of philosophy shows that they’re listening to their fan base and catering to their needs! Last year was Peoria’s first year to make a concerted effort to offer more craft beer.
Remember earlier, how we mentioned the expense of purchasing a craft beer at a game? Peoria addressed that issue as well. Englert shares, “Our philosophy here is that we want our fans to be able to purchase beers based on the taste of their palate, not the size of their wallet. So, all of our beers, from traditional domestic stalwarts to the innovative craft flavors are priced exactly the same. The choice for the fan is left purely to their taste.”
Fans of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds head to Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona, for their spring baseball fix, but unfortunately, while there, aren’t able to enjoy any Ohio craft beer. However, they will be able to try beer from Saddle Mountain Brewing Company, located right there in Goodyear – the initial offering of this brewery’s beer at the stadium.
Goodyear is the only park in the Cactus League that doesn’t sell beer from local Four Peaks Brewing, Arizona’s oldest craft brewery. Four Peaks’ aptly-named Short Hop Session IPA, their award-winning Kilt Lifter and more were sold in the nine other Cactus League stadiums this year.
If You Build It They Will Come
Based on the plethora of ales and lagers offered at all levels of play, we’re moving past the days of people just ordering a “a dog and a beer" at the ballpark as Terence Mann did at Fenway Park in Field in Dreams in the late 80s. This mindset of “just give me a beer – any beer” – has persevered into this century, but lately you - the beer drinkers - the fans, have demanded a more unique experience and your local teams are listening.
Let’s play ball! Hand me a craft beer and I don’t care if I ever get back.
A Brewery On The Move
By Brian Manternach
One of the hardest decisions brewer Trent Fargher faced in starting his new brewery was coming up with the right name. Wanting something that would reflect the myriad varieties of the beer he would brew, as well as the diverse crowd of people within the community he hoped to serve, he decided on Shades of Pale. Looking back on the business model that has resulted since he first began distributing his beer in 2011, he could just as easily have called the brewery Shades of Patience or even Shades of Persistence.
Initially operating out of Park City, it quickly became apparent that the space limitations of the first location would not allow the brewery to grow enough to meet demand for the product or the lofty goals he had for the future.
So, along with his wife, Alexandra Ortiz de Fargher, they packed up shop and moved to South Salt Lake. All of their equipment came down the canyon, and thanks to some additional purchases
along the way, they now have more than doubled their previous capacity while also leaving plenty of room to grow.
The new home of Shades of Pale, at 2160 South West Temple, has 13,000 square feet of space. A former meat processing plant, it allows for a larger bottling machine, a cold room to hold finished products, and plenty more space to move around. “We’ve only really touched on the tip of the iceberg,” Fargher says.
Those familiar with Shades of Pale have undoubtedly seen their 22-ounce bottles in Utah grocery and convenience stores. While the bombers will still be available, they are also preparing to release 6-packs of 12-ounce bottles. The 6-packs will eventually work their way into the grocery stores as well as give them more of a market in restaurants and pubs.
In order to make the 12-ounce bottles available, Fargher bought a used bottling machine that required a near full refurbishment. Since the machine was built according to the metric system, many of the worn-out parts had to be ordered from Italy. Once up and running, though, the fully automated system will fill, label, and crown 40-60 bottles per minute—much more efficient than the hand labeling they had used up to this point.
Long-term plans for the brewery, even back in Park City, have always included a tasting room for customers to sample the house beers. The recent acquisition of a package agency license has finally allowed that dream to become a reality, and the grand opening of the tasting room last St. Patrick’s Day ushered in the new era.
While exciting, to Fargher, the opening of the tasting room is just one more step along the way to further establishing the product and its place in the community. “Our first priority is to be a packaging brewery,” he says. “That’s what we are. This [tasting room] is secondary to that to be able to help us build our brand. Our primary business isn’t to serve beer over the counter. Our primary business is to make beer, put it in the bottle, and ship it out the door.”
The new license will allow Shades of Pale to sell directly to bars and restaurants as well as to the general public. “Without the package agency, we could always make the beer, but we didn’t have an outlet to be able to sell it,” Fargher says. “We’ve always been able to sell the 4% stuff here; we just hadn’t been able to do the high point stuff yet. But now we can.” With a laugh, he adds, “It’s just a matter of me now brewing some.”
While it was always part of the plan to add high-point beers to their lineup, Fargher insists on going slowly to get it right, rather than rushing into something that may not meet his criteria for quality. “You don’t just want to brew it and say, ‘Hey, come and get it,’ if it’s not up to our standards,” he says. “There’s a process of weeding out the good stuff from the bad stuff.”
Operating from the “when in doubt, throw it out” philosophy, he is willing to take his time in the process. “We take that seriously,” he says. “If it doesn’t pass muster, we’ll flush it before we’ll give it to the public.”
Fargher continues to brew his initial three varieties: Jack Wagon Wheat, 4-Play Porter, and Publican Pale Ale. He later added Ready to Fly Amber Ale. The most recent beer is Misdirected IPA. He is currently working on an espresso stout for this spring and a radler for the summer. “Everything we put out there is going to be very drinkable,” he says. “People are going to like it, and that’ll only get better over time.”
The brewery, however, is committed to more than just beer. Fargher’s original vision was for a company that would be equally committed to its neighbors and the greater community.
The neighborhood surrounding the brewery has been the focus of recent revitalization and redevelopment. Dubbed “SoDo” for south downtown, the area has already seen quite a pickup in business. “We have ourselves right here,” Fargher says, “and then the Sugar House Distillery is right around the corner from us, within walking distance, and then a block down is Kiler Grove Winery. So we have a winery, a distillery, and a brewery all within a few thousand feet of each other.”
Other local businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs are discovering the potential the area has, including being near the Central Pointe Trax Station, which connects it to the greater Salt Lake Valley. This growth has Fargher thinking even further down the line to potentially buy surrounding structures to “build a whole campus down here.”
This was part of the impetus for leasing the adjacent 3,000-square-foot building. That “flexspace” can serve as an event center for weddings, parties, and meetings. He hopes it will be used by local businesses, homebrew clubs, or just about any group looking for a place to meet. “We want people to be able to utilize it, come down and see the brewery, and be part of what we’re trying to do down here,” he says. “Our whole goal, even up in Park City when we started the business, was to build a community, to build something more than ourselves and to give back. We’ve always wanted to do that and we’re starting to be able to get there.”
Of course, for Fargher, community begins at home. Throughout the process, his wife Alexandra has been intensely involved. “She plays a big part, actually,” he says. “Not only is she the breadwinner at this point in our family, paying for our living—because we are still at a point where we can barely keep our heads above water paying the bills—but she also comes back and ends up spending her time in the evenings and weekends working as hard as I do.”
Besides handling all of the social media for the brewery, Alexandra also handles a lot of “the miscellaneous stuff,” like making calls to distributors, handling the sales force, and other day-to-day operations that allow Fargher to focus more on brewing. “She definitely does a lot,” he says. “It’s all kind of behind-the- scenes stuff, but all necessary.”
“At this point, she tells me ‘I’m doing the work of five people in addition to my full-time job...and I’m not getting paid!’ That’s what she keeps bugging me about. She’s like, ‘When am I going to get paid?’ Well,” he says with a laugh, “when I get paid.”
Though it has been a steady, methodical process, Fargher can find some satisfaction in how far the brewery has come from its humble beginnings. Remembering the early days in Park City, it can be astounding to think how close they are to achieving many of the goals they initially set. “We were kind of in the darkness of the tunnel up there, saying, ‘This is what we want to do but we don’t see a light,’” he says. “Now we’re starting to see that light.”
Committed to continual investment, even as the brewery starts to turn the corner and make more of a profit, Fargher is ready to put that money right back into more equipment, buildings, and ideas. “That’s the neat part about this business,” he says. “As the revenues grow, my ideas are easier to come to fruition because you have the financial wherewithal to be able to invest and do those things that will help you do other things. My brain’s always turning. I’ve got lots of ideas!”
Given the community-minded, quality-driven, beer paradise Fargher is building, it may be fortuitous that the street behind the brewery is called Utopia Avenue. Thanks to his insistence on doing things the right way and his patience to see things through,South Salt Lake’s beer utopia may not be far off.
Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/A+Brewery+On+The+Move/1974571/252827/article.html.
National IPA Winners Celebrate The Talent Of Brewers Nationwide
The 8th Annual National IPA Challenge wound up Monday night with winners from New Mexico and Montana, indicating the breadth of brewing talent across this country. The competition pits 128 IPAs and 96 Imperial IPAs in head to head competitions over the course of a one month playoff period. It begins in mid-February and ends in March, with a weekend of final four hoppiness.
Winning the 2015 National IPA Challenge was Bosque Brewing Company, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their Scale Tipper IPA is a 6.4% IPA that uses Mosaic, Eldorado and Simcoe hops. Scale Tipper beat another Albuquerque-brewed IPA, Exodus in the final round. Also reaching the final four after six preliminary rounds were Morris, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming's Melvin Brewing, and SAM, Boise, Idaho’s Ten Barrel Brewing location.
The 2015 Imperial IPA winner was Headwall Double IPA, from Tamarack Brewing in Lakeside, Montana. Going against Headwall in the final round was Hubris, from Raleigh, North Carolina's Lynnwood Brewing. Also making the Final Four for the second year in a row were Hop Juju, from Fat Head's Brewery in Cleveland, and Lupulo Libre, from Brewkettle Brewworks in Strongsville, Ohio. Lupulo Libre won the Imperial IPA competition in 2014.
The National IPA Challenge is an annual event that matches the best IPAs in the country head to head. Panels of three judge choose the better of two beers which are served in blind trials. For more information on contestants and results from previous years, visit brewingnews.com/nipac.
Brewers get ready for this summer's Global Warming Open, when judges will choose the most refreshing beer in the world!