It is common for breweries to start out just kegging their beer. It can be cost prohibitive to buy a bottling or canning line right off the bat, not to mention having the space to dedicate to equipment and empties. Bottling or canning also requires the ability and time to get that beer from the loading dock to the store and then into your shopping basket.
As breweries grow and expand, you start to see tentative steps into packaging. King Harbor Brewing Company at the age of one has bottled its IPA and lately it’s excellent Abel Brown coffee beer. Beach City Brewery has a similar duo in their Hang 10 IPA and their Sweet Crude Stout.
Two other breweries will be placing their beers on store shelves in the future. One has been bottling already and will test out cans. The other brewery is brand new to bottles. Both have shown glimpses into their designs via Facebook.
MacLeod Ales will emblazon “Van Nuys, Ca” on bottles. The distinctive bagpiper look will also grace the label for their range of British-style beers. You won’t get to see the bartender pull on the cask lever and bring over a pour of The Little Spree but you will be able to pair it at the dinner table with friends.
Strand Brewing in Torrance will move into the realm of cans. Now you will be able to take Atticus IPA and the overlooked but great 24th Street Pale Ale in bright gleaming silver cans. Beach House Amber and White Sand Imperial IPA round out the quartet of cans.
Lastly, you have probably noticed the new look of El Segundo Brewing Co. labels. Brighter and bolder colors and design look great in a store cooler or ‘fridge. But what is more important is there initiative for fresh delivery. The hop driven selections like the award winning Hammerland and my favorite Mayberry are crisper and filled with aroma because they are getting to stores much faster.
Buying local is getting easier and easier.
George R.R. Martin may be falling behind the popular TV show that his books inspired, but the brewers at Ommegang are keeping up quite nicely. They are up to five “Game of Thrones” beers now to match the five seasons of treachery, war and dragons in the mythical realm of Westeros. Their latest beer is a dark saison with the mysterious Three Eyed Raven on the label. You don’t have to drink it while watching the show or drink it from a flagon but you should give it a try.
This week’s craft beer Homework is to ask why old beers are still on the shelf. I have written about the need for fresh IPAs and I have written about the importance of brewed-on dates on packaging, but the last piece in the puzzle is to ask why some beers aren’t pulled. I have actually seen, this month, six-packs of Anchor Christmas Ale on a shelf. Now don’t be an ass about it. Just ask why? It might be enough to provoke action or at least the management can explain why a fall seasonal IPA is on the shelf the following spring and not in a cooler marked “old.”
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.