Chattanooga Craft Beer Week

WHY IS CRAFT BEER WORTH CELEBRATING?

American craft beer is the best beer in the world. American craft beer is the most creative, most innovative, and most dynamic beverage in the world. American craft beer has enjoyed ~17.5% growth by volume every year for the last five years: the best and most consistent growth for any beverage in the United States over that period of time. The Brewers Association recognizes some 125 different styles of beer, 20 of which were conceived in the United States. But most importantly, American craft beer is the product of groups of men and women who harness the elusive American Dream and ride it toward a lifetime of work-pleasure symbiosis: a balance so difficult to find, so specific to attain, so satisfying when one does. And we get to experience that Dream with them. If opening a craft brewery is the dream then craft beer is the physical expression of that Dream: the answer to the question, “Was it worth it, after all?”

American craft brewers are pioneers, transforming beer from a recreational beverage to a sophisticated spirit. American craft brewers are courageous, opening a small business that challenges the Brazilian-Belgian powerhouse, InBev (makers of America’s beloved Budweiser, Bud Light et al). American craft brewers turn a passion into a profession. And that passion trumps all. They don’t take shortcuts. They don’t use adjuncts and fillers. They don’t compromise flavor for profit. They brew with the ambition of putting in front of the Beer Drinker the most delicious brew ever tasted. They brew for us. American men and women crafting a uniquely American product for global beer drinkers.

So begins Chattanooga Craft Beer Week. May 4 through 9. So we celebrate American craft beer. And you’ll have plenty of chances to do just that this week. But the biggest celebration of American craft beer is on Saturday, May 9th, from 12pm-5pm at the First Tennessee Pavilion. The Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival. $50.00 for a souvenir festival glass and UNLIMITED samples. Forty-five breweries. One hundred and forty beers. Rare, small-batch, specialty brews, plus a bottle share featuring hard-to-find craft beers. No token exchanges, no gratuitous pours, no lines. Free water and some of Chattanooga’s best food trucks round out an incredible afternoon of celebrating craft beer.

And if you feel like celebrating craft beer once or twice this week, here’s what Heaven & Ale has going on…

TUESDAY 5/5: Cinco de Mayo con Lagunitas!: As a budding self-taught mixologist, I concocted three different Michelada recipes using Lagunitas IPA, Dogtown Pale Ale, and Wet Hopped Fusion 26 (American IPA)! Try spicy, citrusy, or roasty! 16oz Micheladas will come with a souvenir Lagunitas glass (while supplies last) and 9oz cocktails will be available. 20oz Lagunitas pours for $5 with souvenir Launitas glass! Twenty seven draft beers, niterider nitro cold coffee, kombucha, cold brew cocktails, and beer-buchas too! Rolling J’s Mobile Bistro will be featuring a $3 taco menu, a signature nacho dish, as well as some additional treats! Chattanooga Craft Beer Ticket Giveaway at 9pm!

WEDNESDAY 5/6: Alpha Ale Challenge: Did you know that the IPA is America’s favorite style of craft beer? At a 21% share by volume, one in every five craft beers consumed in America is an IPA. So let’s celebrate what we love most! Tonight we feature twelve of Joe’s favorite IPAs available in Chattanooga. All IPAs will be $3 and will come with a souvenir pint glass where available. Specialty glasses by Lagunitas! Terrapin! Dogfish Head! And more! Cast a vote for your favorite on Wednesday and have a chance to win one ticket to the Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival on May 9!

THURSDAY 5/7: Back Forty Beer Co. Launch Event: Try the latest brewery to bring beer to our fine city! We will feature four brews from Gadsden, Alabama’s Back Forty Beer Co., including Naked Pig Pale Ale, Kudzu Porter, Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale, and Fence Post Session Ale. Meet the brewers, Luke and Tripp, and expect swag giveaways. Low&Slow Food Truck will be here too! Alabama craft beer and BBQ? Let’s raise a glass to Back Forty Beer Co.! Chattanooga Craft Beer Tickets Giveaway at 9pm!

FRIDAY 5/8: Tennessee Takeover: Get up close and personal with an arsenal of amazing brews from Tennessee’s craft breweries. $3 pints of all Tennessee beers! Enjoy five Cool Springs craft beers, including Nice Rack Mango IPA, Conan the Brewbarian APA, Franklin’s First Kolsch, plus a Pomegranate/Fennel Seed Sour Saison and a Cucumber/Jalapeno Wheat, plus a huge variety of other Tn beers from Calfkiller, Jackalope, Blackstone, Turtle Anarchy, Black Abbey, Tennessee Brew Works, Wiseacre, CBC, MBBC, McHale’s, and More! Double Barrel BBQ food truck will be here too. BBQ & Beer? Can we get any more Tennessee? Chattanooga Craft Beer Fest tickets giveaway at 9pm!

SATURDAY 5/9: Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival: Our Northshore location will be closed, but you can find us at CCBF 2015. Heaven & Ale’s Bottle Share will feature approximately 100 bottles of craft beer with a focus on rare, hard-to-find, cellared, outside-of-our-region brews. Each our for the first four hours of the festival, Heaven & Ale will open 25 bottles: Hour 1: Meet & Greet: an assortment of mixed styles Hour 2: Hoppy Hour: Monster IPAs. Hour 3: Sour Hour: Highlighted by an assortment of Wicked Weed bottles Hour 4: Dessert Hour: Stouts, Barleywines, and other barrel-aged goodies. Don’t miss out on the best beer festival in Chattanooga!

Awesomeness Aside

My rant was a product of watching too much election coverage with my brother-in-law. I didn’t tune in until late. Winners were already being announced. We split a 12oz New Holland Dragon’s Milk, and he caught me up on the outcomes and projected outcomes. I considered the implications of the results, determined and pending. A second beer, this time a couple of Terrapin Hi-5 IPAs, brought us to wine in grocery. Winning resoundingly in all counties. No surprise. A third beer, we split a Terrapin Rye Cubed, and I was fired up about wine in grocery, and then waxing poetic about the state of the beer culture in Chattanooga. So for this inaugural blog, I’m gonna see what I can piece together from my Tuesday night rant. I am confident that somewhere in there was a nugget of info worth sharing, so here goes.

Wine in grocery, overall, is a win for Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga. It loosens restrictions on breweries, it loosens restrictions on liquor stores, and it loosens restrictions on grocery stores. Furthermore, it redefines beer as a malted beverage with an alcohol by volume of 10.1%. Awesome so far.

But not awesome. Here’s why. Under the new law, breweries no longer need special licenses to make and serve for on-premise or off-premise drinking, and liquor stores get to sell all beers, low-gravity and high-gravity, in bottles and growlers. This went into law on July 1, 2014. It’s happening now. In liquor stores all over the state. But everyone else…EVERYONE…grocery stores, gas stations, and craft beer markets, like Heaven&Ale, Sturmhaus, the Growler, Sigler’s, has to wait until July 1, 2017 to sell those same beers. Two-thousand and seventeen. For three years, liquor stores get to be the only destination for high-gravity beer (and wine and spirits) outside of the brewery itself.

And that stinks. Breweries wanted this so badly that they overlooked an emerging small-business segment (craft beer markets) that specializes in selling their beers, and the liquor lobby used that desire as leverage to strangle an emerging small-business segment (craft beer markets) that competes too directly with them.

And that realization got me thinking about the state of the craft beer culture in Chattanooga. It dawned on me that the success of a city’s craft beer culture is determined by similar factors to that of a successful governing body. As it stands, representatives of craft beer, primarily owners of liquor stores and craft beer markets, fight too much. We secretly, if not blatantly, compete too directly with stores who do similar things to what we do. We compete for beer, especially small batch, one-off releases. We compete for events. Most importantly, we compete for market share. The existing market share. In the case of the liquor lobby regarding wine in grocery, we compete to monopolize wine and beer sales. We’re like members of different political parties fighting for the values of our base, and like political parties, we do this to a paralyzing effect. We let this short-sighted competition hinder the bigger issue, address the bigger question. And that is…

What are we doing collectively to make the market share grow?