Alex Chesbro's Blog

Summertime, and the Living is Easy…

August 1, 2009
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So I just got done mowing the back yard, and like a real man, I craved a nice crisp beer after being in the 97 degree sun for 2 hours.   I reached into my fridge and grabbed a Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager.  Against my will, really.  I’ve got some Widmer Drifter Pale Ale in there as well, but I wasn’t feeling “fruity” at that moment.  I was thirsty.

I like this beer, I really do.  But I’ve got my qualms about it.  3436902288_9f1d917a39Let’s start at the beginning though…

I love Lagers.  Love them with all my heart.  That said, I love Pilsners just as much, possibly more, especially Budvar (Czechvar for you US people).  I don’t know what Sierra Nevada was trying to pull here, though.  Well, I do really; they were trying to make a European Pilsner, as evidenced by their inclusion of the Perle and Saaz hops and Munich malts.

Someone forgot to show up to the party though.  They were Mr. Saaz, Mrs. Perle, and the mayor of Munich.  Seriously, this tastes like a slightly-better Miller High Life.  Ok, it’s not that “bad,” but it’s no Premium Lager. I’ll drink a Becks import over this any day of the week.

But that’s not to say it’s not refreshing.  Sierra Nevada is known for its copious amounts of hops that they use, always well-balanced.  I don’t know if they used American Saaz and Perle hops or what, but the true colors of those flowers sure didn’t shine through.  It has more a citrusy, floral nose than it really should.  And the taste, the taste is “American Pilsner” all the way.  It’s an expensive Miller Lite, and it’s priced accordingly at “1/2 a kidney.” 

Ok, this beer is good, not Sierra Nevada’s best by any means, but it’s not Lager Good.  I could go so far to call it “American Pilsner” good, but I’m not going to.  I don’t know if they continuously ferment, skip kraeusening, or what, but Summerfest Lager taste just like a beefed-up macro brew lager/pils.  Not good enough for me to drink all summer, but good enough for me to enjoy once in a while.  Maybe as a 6-pack that I bring to a BBQ, or want to chill out on the porch when I want something tasty and decent.

I remember when I was still living in Dusseldorf, Germany, sitting outside one day concepting with my Art Director partner.  We were at a bar, sitting outside, the sun blaring at us.  2pm or something like that.  We drank lagers the whole day, and that’s how I like to remember lagers.  Eminently drinkable.  Smooth.  Crisp finish, thanks to Czech Saaz hops, German Perle hops, German Munich malts.  Everything from where it’s supposed to be.  

Thats what we want to be able to do.  Brew America the first Great American Lager.  Ales are great and all, but you can’t exist on bread and water alone.  We want to bring you the “Fluessiges Brot” of Germany, and let you drink it ’till your gullets explode.  

More coming soon…..


Brewing Up Some Dreams

July 28, 2009

I figured I should let y’all know what I’m actually doing.  For those who have already donated to the brewery fund, thank you.  For those who plan on it, get your ass in gear.  And for those on the fence, read on.  No, this isn’t a scam.  I’m not trying to take your money.  Although, that’d be awesome.  Instead of just blabbering, I’m going to write down our goals and our plans.  I’m writing up the business plan this weekend; I’m gathering all the data this week, so we can have something professional for when/if we go to a bank and a loan officer.

“Imagine drinking your favorite beer.  Now imagine paying $6 for that six-pack.”  That is our short pitch-line.

The purpose of our brewery is to “provide the American people with something that they deserve, but that they have been lacking: a beer that deserves the name ‘craft brewed’ or ‘import,’ but one that doesn’t empty the wallet.  A true Value for Money brand.”

Our goal is to bring this to the American people.  We want to give them an honest choice in the supermarkets, in the bars, in their home.  As it stands now, they can pay $3.50 for a 6-pack of Miller High Life, or pay almost $9 for Sam Adams, Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA, and more.  Or spend even more on specialty brews, seasonals, et cetera.  The time has come to change this structure.  While I respect all those expensive beers, and will buy them, it’s not something I like to do all the time.  So how about this.  A beer priced a between Miller and Sierra Nevada.  But a beer that’s quality reflects craft brewing, while it’s price reflects the Values of America.

So tell me, is there some Craft Brew Excise Tax?  Nope, there isn’t.  But most Craft Brewers don’t produce enough product to drive their prices down.  Sam Adams is the largest Craft Brewer, and I believe they come in a little shy of 2 million barrels per year.  Their goal is to be the 1st craft brewer to get to 3 million barrels a year, and I applaud them.  But their prices are still too high for their, in my opinion, mediocre products.  Most craft brewers, on the other hand, rarely brew more than 400-500,000 barrels a year (I could be wrong, though).  

My personal goal is to be able to sell our beers for 6 dollars a 6 pack.  Just think about it.  We’d be producing enough product that it would let us lower the prices while still covering our overhead and creating profit.  Lower prices overall mean lower prices in the bars too.  Imagine paying $2.50 or $3 for a pint of your favorite craft brew.  Blows your mind, huh?

In the Declaration of Independence, does it say that for every person who wants to pursue their happiness, that if their happiness requires something of exquisite quality, they have to pay hand over foot for it?  No sir, it does not.  I’m writing my own Declaration of Independence.  A Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of craft brewers who keep their stocks low and their prices high.  This isn’t war profiteering.  They’re not selling you a missile launcher.  

In Europe, in Germany especially, beer is cheaper than water, literally.  Each 500mL bottle costs anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 in the supermarket, and 6-packs are rarely over $4.  And this is the good shit we’re talking about.  There’s no Bud Light equivalent.  We’re talking Sam Adams for 60 cents a bottle.

And that’s how it should be.  And that’s what I’m planning on.

So now that you know a little about the plans, maybe you’ll consider donating.  Any little bit helps.  $10, $5.  $100 if you’re feeling generous,  but I don’t expect that much, nor am I asking for it.  Every little bit really does help, and by helping us, you really are investing in a little help for yourself.  Because you’ll know when you see us in the store, or on tap at the bar, that you helped us get off the ground.

And it goes without saying, for those who donate, if you come to the brewery when it’s open, a few beers are on the house.

For anyone who wants more detail before donating, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me.  I won’t attach our business plan (proprietary information), but I will go in-depth and answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you.

Alex Chesbro