We.re on a quest for transparency in our industry because if we can.t be honest with you, the consumer, about the products we sell, then we’re no better than the big companies that are trying to secretly trick us into buying products made by brewing companies that don.t exist. (Think Shock Top Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO, which is actually brewed by Anheuser Busch.)
Yeah, we know, wordy stuff . brewing companies that don.t exist. Lots of serious beer lovers are starting brewing companies without their own brewery. How? By using contract facilities (breweries that utilize a portion of their space to make beers for other people) to make beer and get it onto store shelves. Most people know or have heard of Ipswich Ale Brewery, formerly Mercury Brewing Company, in Ipswich. They’re known as much for their contract operations as they are for their own line of beers, Ipswich and Stone Cat. Brewers using their facilities include Clown Shoes, Cisco Brewers, The Alchemist, Slumbrew, Cambridge Brewing Co, Notch, and the newest member of the team, Battle Road Brewing. This is becoming more and more common as the craft beer segment grows.
Does this mean we.ve been selling you unworthy products? Absolutely not! But through our travels and conversations with one another, customers, and brewers alike, we still find ourselves slightly confused from time to time about who makes what beer and where. And when we got different answers from different people, we began a quest for the whole truth. In doing so we’ve found even more confusing information and definitions that don’t quite make sense . we assumed if we were scratching our heads that you would be, too. We genuinely want to understand who makes the beer we sell and where they make it, and if they don’t make it, who does.
We suppose this is all coming to light now due to the growth of the craft beer segment, especially in Massachusetts, a state long thought to be way behind on the great beer curve. Since opening in 2010, we’ve added at least a dozen new breweries to our shelves from Massachusetts alone. This is great for the state, especially at a time when fuel costs are up, which means the price of beer from faraway places is also up. There’s some amazing beer being made right here in our own backyard and fortunately, we don.t usually see higher prices as a result of shipping costs. Heck, we even have a local maltster (Valley Malt, Hadley, Mass) and a ton of local breweries that are using their grains. It.s a fantastic time to love beer in Massachusetts and an even better time to drink local.
That being said, now more than ever we want to know where the beer we buy and sell you is coming from. And to tell you the truth, we want to know who put their hands on it before it went into the bottle. We assume you want to know this too, which is why we are working to get those answers. In our research, we.ve come across brewing companies that call themselves .brewers. but don.t actually formulate recipes . they have a contract facility that takes care of everything for them. Hmmm. We.re not sure this is a bad thing, but we wonder why then, do they refer to themselves as a brewer? Or perhaps they are home-brewers so it seems fitting?
With new breweries emerging all across the country, and more specifically New England, we want to stay on the cutting edge of what we need to get our hands on so we can get it into your refrigerator. And with everything we do, there.s education involved: about the beer itself, the brewing company, where it came from, who’s behind it, where they came from, and so on . because we want to sell you amazing beer brewed by awesome people.
In the coming weeks, we.ll be blogging about brewers that don.t have their own facilities and refer to themselves as contract, tenant, or gypsy brewers. We.ve worked hard to redefine these terms for ourselves and for you, our customers and consumers. We look forward to your feedback and discussions!