We’ve done it. We have finally rolled out of bed after almost of year of hitting the snooze button to sign 2 Brewths up for a proper college education. OK, so it isn’t matriculated, or on the roster, or even capable of attending classes, but a blog can dream, can’t it?
And what better way to realize your dreams than through obtaining an education, especially a free one in the form of an interview?! This week, 2 Brewths went to College. What we learned might, or might not surprise you, depending on how big your beer brain is.
Kendall College Assistant Professor John Laloganes, from the School of HospitalityManagement, not only shared with us his program’s attractively displayed infographic on craft beer (pictured below) but also took the time to answer some questions for us. Professor Laloganes gave us insight on the current and future craft beer environment, Kendall’s Beverage Management program, and what the professor has been recently drinking. Let’s see how 2 Brewths got schooled:
2 Brewths (2B): First, the infographic is great, but let’s talk about the definition of craft beer. Many people use different definitions. Some concern quality while others concern the size of a brewery and its ownership. How exactly would you define craft beer?
Professor Laloganes (LP): The term craft beer is not legally defined, but it is generally considered to be made with an annual production of less than 2 million barrels. However, craft brewers can arguably be any size of production but, more importantly, with a definite devotion to the integrity of their product. The industry has been evolving and even though overall sales decline, the craft segment has risen significantly along with an increasingly growing number of new breweries. According to the Beer Institute, at the end of 2012, there were more than 2,751 breweries operating in the United States—more than at any other time in American history.
2B: The infographic shows a growth in the market, as do other reports, but are there any worries that craft beer might be a bubble? If it were a bubble about to pop, what would be the best way for brewers and pub owners to be ready for that?
LP: Most everything will pop at some point. However, the growth of craft beer will continue to grow as Americans are learning to appreciate what "quality" beer or beer that reflects personality is about. High quality beer—which includes import, craft and specialty beers—have emerged from being nonexistent in the 1970s to now comprising up to 23% of the marketplace (Beer Institute, 2013). Despite craft beer’s unprecedented growth—high quality beer is not a fad, but a fundamental change in how people view and enjoy the beer category. The brewing industry originally began (and has recently been rediscovered) as a very local business; beer brands are deeply rooted in local communities—something craft brewers have been able to grasp from their early embryonic stage of development. Important for the beverage manager, and something we teach in Kendall’s Beverage Management program, is to gain some insights and practices on how to safeguard beer’s profit margins through introducing some key standards of revenue and cost control.
2B: The infographic also points out the division between a younger and older generation of beer drinkers. What kind of advice would you give to business owners looking to attract both age groups? Should they attempt to satisfy both, or try to turn older generations to the ‘craft side’?
LP: The venues that emphasize solid fundamentals in beer service are few and far between, particularly when taking into consideration the infinite outlets where beer is being sold and consumed. Beer-centric operations are ones that manage and sell beer with integrity—beginning with the development of an appropriate company culture that promotes a respect and natural curiosity for this adored beverage. Regardless of age, the desire to consume quality beer is associated with exposure. Venues should help customers understand what they like and guide them into available options. So, having options and some breadth of beer styles is important!
2B: How much of the brewing process do your students get involved in?
LP: Theoretically how to brew...a ton, but practically speaking very basic fermentation and beer production will take place. We are not trying to create brewers, but having them understand the management and service side of it. We spend more time tasting the different styles and ultimately being able to intimately understand them. They will learn how to properly serve, describe styles (as well as blind taste styles), and plan appropriate menus given the types of food being served.
2B: What was the last beer that you drank and what did you pair it with?
LP: The last beer I drank was today! It was a Two Brothers Domaine Dupage (Bière de Garde) served with a prosciutto club sandwich and cream of smoked tomato soup.
So there you have it, straight from the educated horse’s mouth. Craft beer looks like it is here to stay for the foreseeable future and we should hit the books to keep up with it. But what are your thoughts? We want to know how you read all the numbers, educated guesses, and pretty designs. Is craft beer a safe bet? Can an older generation be persuaded to try a new beer? Did the professor make the right choice with the smoked tomato soup? Let us know what you think about any of it and don’t forget to check back to see where 2 Brewths goes next.
A big thanks to Professor Laloganes for his time and to Digital Third Coast for getting us enrolled into Beer College, at least at the pseudo-journalist beer blog level.
|Info picture magic brought to you by Kendall College and Digital Third Coast|