Craft beer drinkers in Chicago are getting a treat from Michigan, while beer festival attendees are spending big in Oregon. Craft beer made specifically for air travel may soon be a thing and AB InBev acquires a share of the homebrew market. Also, we break down the top five rated pumpkin beers in this week’s craft beer news roundup.
While baseball fans in Chicago are eagerly anticipating a World Series title for the first time since 1908, craft beer fans are similarly excited about Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales announcing plans to open a brewpub in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Known for their wild and sour barrel-aged beers, the new Jolly Pumpkin outpost will feature a one or two barrel brewing system and also serve spirits and wine produced by parent company, Northern United Brewing Co. The 30+ taps could also see offerings from other Northern United properties such as North Peak Brewing Co. and Nomad Cidery. This will be the first such expansion outside of the Mitten State for Jolly Pumpkin, and offer devotees of the brand selections not usually available out of state.
There’s no doubt that the craft beer industry is impacting local economies, but pinning exact dollar amounts to that assumption can be difficult. Not so at this year’s Oregon Brewers Festival, which hosted around 80,000 craft beer fans in July. Students at Eastern Oregon University conducted 901 on-site interviews, concluding the total economic impact on the local economy hovered around a healthy $29.3 million. On average, attendees spent $561 and nearly half traveled from out of town to the Portland gathering. Accommodations ($9.5 million) and the food and drink industry ($7.6 million) experienced the greatest windfall.
Thanks to the disinterest in pumpkin beers this year, the entire “seasonal” beer category has taken a hit according to Brewers Association economist, Bart Watson, in his Q3 update. Google Trend data indicates that searches for “pumpkin beer” are down significantly in 2016 when compared to 2012-2015. But, if you must celebrate this season with one pumpkin beer, here are the top five “pumpkin ales” with at least 500 reviews at BeerAdvocate.com: 1) Pumpkinator, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., 2) Good Gourd Almighty Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Cigar City Brewing, 3) Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, The Schlafly Tap Room, 4) The Great Pumpkin, Elysian Brewing Co., 5) Pumpkin Ale, AleWerks Brewing Co. Want more options? Check out our massive blind pumpkin beer tasting.
Travelers flying JetBlue already have the opportunity to drink craft beer inflight thanks to the airline stocking Harpoon’s UFO White. Now, they may get the chance to try a specialty brew not widely available on terra firma. The two companies are testing several recipes to create a sessionable beer perfect for sipping above the clouds. Some possibilities include a pina colada Hefeweizen, a huckleberry beer, a session IPA and a golden ale. Once developed the beer could be available at JetBlue Park in Florida (home of the Boston Red Sox spring training facilities) and in Harpoon taprooms with some proceeds going toward the airline’s charitable pursuits.
Earlier this month, The Growler broke the news that AB InBev acquired Northern Brewer Homebrew Supplies and its sister company Midwest Supplies. AB InBev purchased the two largest homebrew supply companies through ZX Ventures, the global beer behemoth’s “Disruptive Growth Unit.” Last year the American Homebrewers Association estimated that 815 homebrew shops sold nearly $764 million in products to 1.2 million homebrewers in 2015. In a statement on the Northern Brewer website, founder Chris Farley explained, “this partnership with ZX Ventures is about growing our company and providing our customers with unparalleled opportunities. This deal will make us stronger and able to pursue our passion with even greater focus, better tools and ingredients.” He also apologized for not sharing this news, “with you the way we should.”