Yankee Brew News June/July 2012 : Page 1
APP-RECIATE CRAFT BEER CAN D ATTITUDE At Baxter Brewing Co. Baxter Brew Crew L-R: Assistant Brewer Geoff Newman, Cellarman Jon Green and President Luke Livingston. PHOTO BY: HOLLIE CHADWICK By Hollie Chadwick At just 26 years old, Luke Livingston estab-lished Baxter Brewing with two goals. First, to found New England’s first brewery to package all of its beer in cans, and with a fixed secondary objective of providing a tremendous amount of accessibility for this canned beer. Taking a leap of faith and building a business plan, Luke began renova-tions at the Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine. In a 5,500-square-foot corner of an old electrical storage room, he created a fun and vibrant brewery that breathes new life into the historic build-ing and into the twin cities — Lewiston and Auburn — the second largest community in the state, just 40 minutes from Portland. Luke had strong ties to Lewiston, having Even More A T By Jen Harmon hese days, there really is an app for just about anything. Enter the word “beer” into the search bar of the mobile application (app) store, and an overwhelming number of results appear. Some, like Beer Drop, Beer Pong and iBeer are silly games that might kill a few bored minutes before your friends arrive at the pub, but several mobile apps can be assets in enjoying the vast world of craft beer: they can help keep track of the beers you drank and what you thought of them; they ILLUSTRATION BY; HANS GRANHEIM can help you find craft beer bars and specific brews; they can link you to other craft beer lovers to discuss beer; and they can recom-mend beers based on what you’ve liked in the past. There is no one app that is the “best.” It all depends on what you want from it. Tracking & Reviewing been raised in neighboring Auburn. After grad-uating Edward Little High School, he set off to get a BA in communica-tions and film from Clark University in Worchester, Mass. For a short time, he sold advertising for the local arts-and-entertain-ment paper, The Portland Phoenix. From there he went to work for a private co-ed liberal arts college as an admissions coun-selor. It wasn’t long before he would grow bored and become smitten with the beer bug. “It wasn’t the right fit for me. I like what I did a lot. That aside, it was a very small, very conservative Catholic school. I’m neither of “Anyone know what I drank last night?” Most craft beer drinkers have been in this posi-tion, whether the evening was spent at a bar or a beer festival. Drinking several craft beers is not the best way to remember much about those beers. Beer apps like BrewGene, Pintley, Beer Cloud, The Beerdog, Untappd, Beerby, Brewski Me and Rate Beer Scores can help. BrewGene stores beers a user tracks in a Beer Cellar and recommends other beers the user might like based on ratings of the cellared beers. See Baxter p. 4 INSIDE Letters to the Editor ........ 2 Event Calendar ................ 3 Tasting Panel................... 8 The Alehouse .................11 Homebrew ......................12 Beer Cooks .....................13 Maps/Directory ..........18-23 State by State News DREAMSTIME See App-reciate p. 6 E. Massachusetts ....................14 Boston ......................................16 W. Massachusetts ...................24 Maine ........................................26 New Hampshire .......................28 Connecticut ..............................30 Vermont ....................................32 Rhode Island ............................34 NYC/Long Island ......................36 Upstate NY ...............................38
App-Reciate Craft Beer
These days, there really is an app for just about anything. Enter the word "beer" into the search bar of the mobile application (app) store, and an overwhelming number of results appear. Some, like Beer Drop, Beer Pong and iBeer are silly games that might kill a few bored minutes before your friends arrive at the pub, but several mobile apps can be assets in enjoying the vast world of craft beer: they can help keep track of the beers you drank and what you thought of them; they can help you find craft beer bars and specific brews; they can link you to other craft beer lovers to discuss beer; and they can recommend beers based on what you've liked in the past. There is no one app that is the "best." It all depends on what you want from it.
Tracking & Reviewing
"Anyone know what I drank last night?" Most craft beer drinkers have been in this position, whether the evening was spent at a bar or a beer festival. Drinking several craft beers is not the best way to remember much about those beers. Beer apps like BrewGene, Pintley, Beer Cloud, The Beerdog, Untappd, Beerby, Brewski Me and Rate Beer Scores can help.
BrewGene stores beers a user tracks in a Beer Cellar and recommends other beers the user might like based on ratings of the cellared beers.
"The recommendations are generated from BrewGene's extensive database that totals over 45,000 different beers," said BrewGene cofounder Connor Tyrrell.
BrewGene also allows users to keep lists of beers they want to try and submit beers that aren't in the database.
"In addition, location-based features allow users to receive notifications while at a bar or liquor store if that location's 'beer menu' contains any recommendations, beers within the (user's) Cellar or Watch List beers, allowing users to receive on-the-spot recommendations," Connor said. "It's a first of its kind function for a beer recommendation app."
Pintley has a Track & Rate feature that allows users to log what beer was consumed, where they drank it and how they rate it. It also offers recommendations based on what the user prefers.
"That's why both the New York Times and Beer Advocate have called Pintley 'the Pandora of Beer'," said Pintley founder Tim Noetzel, referring to the popular online music service that creates playlists based on user preference.
Beer Cloud has an interesting feature that allows users to scan the barcode on their beer bottle or can. If the beer is recognized, a page comes up containing detailed information about the beer, the brewer and where to buy it. There's also an option to add tasting notes and select whether or not the beer was "Liked." If it's liked, it's added to the "Favorite Beers" page.
"The ever-growing database, which is hosted by GreatBrewers.com, now includes more than 6,600 beer descriptions and 700 brewery bios," Beer Cloud's Dave Mevoli said. "Everything you create with Beer Cloud is actively synched with your 'Beer Cloud' on GreatBrewers.com."
Beer Cloud also features a Sommelier tab that helps users pair beer and food by selecting a broad food category such as cheese and then getting more and more specific. Beer Cloud will then suggest a beer style to pair the food with. After a style is chosen, specific beers are suggested. Users can then read more about the selected beer
Another app that uses a smartphone's camera is The Beerdog. The user takes a picture of their beer, and their Beerdog "finds" it for them. The app keeps track of the beers that the user's Beerdog finds. Users can follow other dogs to see what they've found and engage in real-time chats with them. The GPS in the app logs where the beers were found and reports back what other beers were found nearby. The site's mascot is Kenny the Beerdog, a cartoon dog that "runs" the site. There are no beer rankings or ratings on The Beerdog.
"Kenny has no opinion," said creator Kevin Bradshaw. "It's all about community opinion."
The Beerdog's ability to recognize a beer through a photo is an easy and convenient way to enter it.
"No one else has anything close to that technology," Kevin said.
Upon opening Untappd, the user sees Recent Brews and a tab for Suggested Brews based on reviews of past beers. There are also tabs for Trending beers, grouped into Micro, Macro and Local. A beer or brewery is entered into the search bar, and the user can "Check-in" to the beer. The user may then add a location, photo, comments and a rating out of five bottle caps.
"You can also use Untappd to learn more about beers and styles and see which ones match your tastes with our recommendation engine," said co-founder and lead developer Greg Avola.
On Beerby, a beer is tracked and then rated on a scale of five stars. Users may add a location, comment and photo. Previously tracked beers are stored on the home page.
The large "Drink!" Button on the home page of Brewski Me takes users to a Drink Details page. Users enter the beer, the serving method (can, bottle or draft), photos and tasting notes.
"Brewski Me was built from the ground up with the user experience as our foremost concern," said co-founder Brian Knowles.
Users can search beers from the Beer Garden and rate them (out of five stars) whether or not they are actually drinking them and logging them as "Drinks." The beer can also be added to the Beer Cellar or Wish List or as a Favorite.
Rate Beer Scores is one of the few apps that allows users to rate beers on specific criteria and not just by stars. Beer characteristics such as aroma, appearance, taste, palate and overall are rated out of five stars, and a combined score is given. Users can also make tasting notes, see other user's scores and link to ratebeer.com to read other user's specific reviews.
Finding Beer & Bars
Some beer apps are focused solely on helping users find a place to buy or drink craft beer.
Taplister allows users to choose their city from a list. They may then search for all bars in the city or by the nearest bars. Selecting a particular bar displays the bar's information and a list of what is on tap. Liquor stores are also included in the list. Taplister is powered by Taplister.com, a crowd-sourced database that lists what beers are on tap. This could be a great app if more establishments were listed and if more of the tap listings were entered. The most interesting part of the app is the 3DAR Map feature. When the mobile device is horizontal, a map of nearby bars and liquor stores is displayed. When the device is picked up and moved around, it shows what places are in the direction the device is pointing and the distance to them.
Findmytap is very straightforward. The homepage allows users to search either Bars Near Me, Beers Near Me, All Beers or Beer Festivals and Events. There are also My Favorites and Add a Bar options. When a bar is chosen, it displays information about the bar, the draft list and the bottle list. It also tells the user whether the listing was added by the bar owner or a visitor. At this time, no events were listed under Beer Festivals and Events. This could be a valuable resource if event planners begin using it.
Ratebeer.com has a separate beer app called rb Places. Users can search Breweries, Bars, Stores or Restaurants that feature craft beer that are either nearby or in a particular city. Users can also search all at once. The results can then be sorted by rating or distance. When a location is selected, information about it is displayed. Some places have ratings based on scores for things like Ambiance, Food and Overall experience.
What's on Tap? Is a New York-based app that lists bars by neighborhood and is also searchable by specific beer or bar. Draft lists and events, called Beer O'Clock, are managed and updated by the craft beer bars themselves
Points for Pints
Some beer apps award users points and achievement badges for drinking certain beers or accomplishing challenges.
Untappd awards badges based on various things. Some are based on how many different beers a user has tried since joining Untappd. The Legendary badge is awarded to those who have tried over 500 different beers. Other badges are unlocked by drinking certain types of beer. The Rising Sun badge is awarded when a user tries 10 different Japanese beers. The Playing the Field badge goes to users who drink 10 different beers in a row. Beerby, whose mascot is a badger, naturally awards badgers instead of badges. Users click on the Achievement tab to see specific challenges. To earn the Fruit Loop Badger, one must drink six different lambics. The Silver Mullet badger requires 24 Coors Light beers be consumed.
Pintley and The Beerdog have taken the award concept a step further by offering actual prizes for accumulating points. There is a Points & Prizes button on Pintley that shows users how many points they can acquire from doing things like Tracking and writing Taste Notes for specific beers. There are several other ways to earn points as well. The more a user does on Pintley, the more points they can acquire. Both random point earners and top point earners can win prizes.
"Pintley gives away free beer, including a gift card for Craft Beer for a Year, every month," Tim Noetzel said.
The Beerdog is in the early stages of incorporating gaming and point gathering into the app. Users can already earn points by collecting beers.
"Points will get you things later on such as VIP chats with brewers and beer merchandise," said Kevin Bradshaw.
With so many apps to choose from, it really comes down to what a craft beer drinker wants from the app. The right app can replace that tattered notebook of beer reviews. It can help pick the perfect beer to go with dinner. It can pinpoint the location of that elusive local IPA. It can even win free beer. Picking the beer app that's right for you might not be easy, but it can take your appreciation and understanding of craft beer to the next level.
Jamie Magee assisted with this article. This issue of Yankee Brew News (and back issues) will be available via an app sometime this summer.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/App-Reciate+Craft+Beer/1087861/114980/article.html.
Can Do Attitude
At Baxter Brewing Co.
At just 26 years old, Luke Livingston established Baxter Brewing with two goals. First, to found New England's first brewery to package all of its beer in cans, and with a fixed secondary objective of providing a tremendous amount of accessibility for this canned beer.
Taking a leap of faith and building a business plan, Luke began renovations at the Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine. In a 5,500-square-foot corner of an old electrical storage room, he created a fun and vibrant brewery that breathes new life into the historic building and into the twin cities - Lewiston and Auburn - the second largest community in the state, just 40 minutes from Portland.
Luke had stong ties to lewiston,having been raised in neighboring Auburn. After graduating Edward Little High School, he set off to get a BA in communications and film from Clark University in Worchester, Mass. For a short time, he sold advertising for the local arts-and-entertainment paper, The Portland Phoenix. From there he went to work for a private co-ed liberal arts college as an admissions counselor. It wasn't long before he would grow bored and become smitten with the beer bug.
"It wasn't the right fit for me. I like what I did a lot. That aside, it was a very small, very conservative Catholic school. I'm neither of those things," Luke chuckled. "While I was there, I was writing my blog and really getting into that and just learning more and more about beer. It was definitely taking over - at first my hobby time - and started trickling into all the time."
Blog about Beer was successfully launched in 2007 and was received by a wide following. The blog allowed him to get his foot in the door of the brewing industry and watch the market in other regions. Luke realized New England had a void in readily available canned craft beer. The website still exists today, but was sold in 2010 as the plans for Baxter Brewing started to unfold.
It wasn't until after an indelible event that the dream of building a brewery took priority. In January of 2009, Livingston's mother passed after a long battle with breast cancer.
"She battled it for four years. And she was young, 62 years old. It was one of those cliché, life's too short kind of moments. I left my job. I wasn't at the time necessarily planning on the brewery."
With support from his father, Luke started putting the pieces together for Baxter.
"I actually still owe it all to my Dad," Luke said. "Through running the blog, I learned a lot about not only the industry but the canned movement in general that was a big deal with Oscar Blues, Surly and 21st Amendment - some of the big guys around the country that had been making names for themselves. And I learned about the benefits of cans and realized nobody in New England really was doing it. New England Brewing was doing a little bit, hand-canning some of their beer in New Baxter continued from cover Haven. And so my marketing light bulb went off. That's a great idea, somebody really ought to do that. I definitely didn't think it was going to be me. Even after I left my job, I didn't think it was going to be me."
After talking it over with his dad, Rich Livingston, a strategic planner and business consultant by trade, he was given a parental nudge.
"Eventually, after I left my job and he saw me kind of treading water, he said, 'Why don't you write your business plan?'"
Luke then started raising capital and "met with anybody that would take my call."
Location, Location, Location!
In the beginning, the thought was to set up shop in South Portland, where Luke resides with his wife, Chelsea. But when Rich told two of his closest friends at a Fourth of July dinner in Lewiston about his son's plans for a new brewery, things took another turn.
"He told them about my plan, and they thought what a great idea, Lewiston/Auburn needs something like that. If Luke would put the brewery in Lewiston/Auburn, we'll help make it happen. In the end they invested 100 percent of the private equity and private debt financing that we have. The entire project before our expansion cost $1.3 million."
A $250,000 line of credit was taken, and a $50,000 grant from the city of Lewiston was received for refurbishing the historic Bates Mill building. Currently Baxter employs 10 people. Luke's wife, Chelsea, works full-time as Operations Manager. The couple met during freshman year of college at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Penn., in 2003. At the time, Chelsea was dating Luke's friend across the hall.
"It turned out we were both from Maine, so we started spending a lot of time together."
They began dating during winter break of their junior year after Luke had transferred to Clark University.
"I was homebrewing in my dorm room junior year until they took all my equipment away from me," Like said. "I had left my equipment, went home for Christmas break and the RA's came through for inspection. I didn't get in trouble because there was no policy written stating that I couldn't be doing what I was doing."
When he returned for senior year, he found the university had rewritten the Student Handbook with a specific policy against dorm homebrewing.
Give the People What They Want
By offering the local market a product with high accessibility and portability, Baxter has quickly become one of the fastest growing craft breweries in Maine. In a landscape where the big guys fight hard to keep their share of the marketplace, Luke figured out how to lower the barrier of entry to convenience and grocery stores. It's not just about getting the beer on the shelves. It's about getting it in a place where people can see it and where they can buy it. The business model was focused on accessibility.
"My goal was to make big American-style ales with an incredible amount of accessibility," Luke said. "It was my goal from day one to get chain authorizations to be in convenience and grocery stores."
Currently, Baxter brews four beers. Nearly 70 percent of production is dedicated to the flagship brand, Stowaway, (6.9% ABV). This cold-conditioned India Pale Ale - a West Coast-style IPA with a big hop taste, crafted on the East- Coast - was one of the two original beers Baxter debuted with in 2010.
Palmola Xtra Pale Ale was the first beer to be released, intended to be a good transition to craft beer for light beer drinkers.
Amber Road, a maltaccented amber ale, was the third beer to be added to the year-round lineup.
The three original brews were formulated by Baxter's original brewmaster, Michael LaCharite, a fourth-generation brewer and Beer Judge Certification Program judge.
Just after Amber Road was released last November, Luke turned to veteran brewer, Benjamin Low, who brewed for Gritty McDuff's in both Freeport and Portland, Maine, to head brewing operations. Geoff Newman holds the assistant brewer role, and Jon Green watches product as the cellarman.
A series of seasonal varieties are planned for 2012. A welcome addition will be either a porter or stout, two of Luke's favorite styles. The first beer in the seasonal rotation is Celsius Summer Ale, accented with lemon and lime peel.
The current canning line is interchangeable between 12-ounce and 16-ounce cans, and a larger format can is a possibility.
"In the future, they could be big 24-ounce single-serve Stowaway's, who knows," Luke joked.
"Because of the current size of our system, juxtaposed to our place in the market, we can't really afford to do new one-off batches of anything quite yet, because we can't make batches that are smaller than 60 barrels," Luke said. "For the time being, it's much easier and more affordable for us to do something like take a current beer - Amber Road, for instance - and age it in some brandy barrels."
Elements of Success
The availability in recreational outdoor venues, post-packaging environmental benefits, unique brand identity and easily reached product make for the hottest packaging trend of the last couple years: cans.
Baxter doubled its production capacity in just four months and continues to grow. The mill location offers an opportunity in both space and capacity for expansion. Plans to add two 60-barrel fermenters and one more conditioning tank will increase capacity to 13,000 barrels in 2013. Current office space will be converted into either fermentation space or cold storage. To keep the cans going down the track, two part-time positions will become full-time, and additional shifts will be added to the canning line.
While New Hampshire will be the next state to see distribution, Baxter beer is being heavily pursued by wholesalers in states outside of Maine and Massachusetts.
"We're starting to get our projections from our current distributors for this summer, and they already exceed what we can do," Luke said, so at this point we're not ready to move in New Hampshire. With more fermentation space, it will allow us to expand into New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island by the first quarter of 2013. Its becoming apparent that we need to get there pretty quickly."
130 Mill Street, Lewiston
Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m.
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Can+Do+Attitude/1087880/114980/article.html.