Beer News

News by | Jun 2013 | Issue #77

Flying Care Packages: Drone to Drop Beer to Thirsty Concertgoers

Music festivals are a highlight of the summer. This year, some lucky campers at South Africa’s OppiKoppi Festival will be the recipients of free beer, which will parachute down to their sites from a specially modified octocopter drone.

The drone was customized by South African cinematographers Darkwing Aerials Group. Dean Engela, co-founder of Darkwing Aerials, tells BA, “We came up with the idea of using a parachute in order to keep the drone at [a high enough altitude] to avoid obstacles and inebriated people from flinging bottles and things at the drone … which from previous experience of shooting festivals, we’ve had.”

The beer of choice is the Namibian brand Windhoek, which is also sponsoring the festival.

Engela explains, “Once the festival goer has activated the app, they will be notified that a beer is on its way to their coordinates, and to stay there and watch out for their delivery. Wind will always be a factor, but that’s part of the fun. After all, the beer is free.”

The drone is still currently operated via remote control, but after a bit more testing, will deliver its precious cargo using GPS coordinates.

Darkwing is also researching ways to seal draft beer in plastic cups and how to rig drones to be capable of dropping multiple beers per flight, Engela says.

The drone remains exclusive to the OppiKoppi Festival for now. However, Engela has received several inquiries from other festivals, so it may simply be a matter of time before beer starts falling on a drum circle near you.

Alabama Senate Passes Bill Legalizing Homebrewing

On May 9, after years of organized grassroots efforts by concerned citizens and groups like Right to Brew and Free the Hops, Alabama has become the final US state to legalize homebrewing.

American Homebrewers Association director Gary Glass states via press release, “We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw.”

Modern Times Brewing Sets Kickstarter Record

While setting up his San Diego brewery, founder Jason McKean had grand plans for his nondescript warehouse behind an adult superstore. As he discovered after launching his Kickstarter campaign on March 28, others wanted more for Modern Times, too.

“I was stunned. [Even] up until the minute I hit ‘Launch,’ I was second guessing the $40,000 goal,” McKean says. “ So when we broke $20,000 on our first full day, I was completely and utterly floored.”

What started as a fun alternative to what he calls the “dreary, tiring work” of raising money eventually became symbolic of Modern Times’ community-centric attitude.

“Crowdfunding made so much sense to me, in part because it’s a continuation of our open-source approach to brewing. All of our recipes are—and will be, forever—published for everybody to see,” McKean says. “Launching a Kickstarter campaign was just a natural extension of that philosophy.”

Modern Times’ campaign ended on May 1, with a grand total of $65,471 pledged from 645 backers—breaking Kickstarter’s previous brewery record by over $20,000 and 100 backers.

McKean’s plans have already been set in motion. “Once we hit our funding goal, I began upgrading our plans for the tasting room, sourcing … amazing barrels for our sour program, and ordering lab equipment. The funding has already made a tremendous difference, and I can now confidently say that we will have the most [staggering] tasting room imaginable.”

Seeking Differentiation, Freshness, More Breweries Switch Up Containers

This summer, a bevy of packaging changes are hitting some of the industry’s most established breweries.

Two of New England’s oldest craft brewers are making the jump to cans this year—D.L. Geary Brewing Co. (Geary’s) and Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams).

When Geary’s Summer Ale hits shelves, it will mark the first time the 27-year-old brewery has canned. Kelly Lucas, of Geary Brewing, says, “With our size and equipment, it’s difficult to do [unique] small batch items that can add to our lineup, so this was one way to do that.”

Samuel Adams in a can will be a first for the US market, although their flagship Boston Lager was once sold in the UK in nitro widget cans (under the name “Samuel Adams Boston Beer”). According to Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, the can design—which sports a number of aesthetic adjustments that set it apart from standard beer cans—was the result of a two-year, million-dollar engineering and testing process. Koch promises “a subtle but noticeably better drinking experience than the standard beverage can.”

Coors’ latest marketing tactic advertises a “double-vented wide mouth can.” This adds two small grooves to the area above the mouth of the can to increase air flow, and promises to be the “world’s most refreshing can.”

Not to be outdone, Budweiser is also introducing a new 11.3-ounce bowtie-shaped can, as well as the “Buddy Cup,” a pint glass containing a QR code and RFID chip that can link your Facebook account to the cup, and automatically “friend” anyone at a bar you clang Buddy Cups with—prompting comedian Stephen Colbert to remark, “I always felt the solution to my loneliness was at the bottom of a beer glass … turns out, I was right.”

77News3Oregon House Votes to Designate Brewer’s Yeast “Official State Microbe”

Oregon’s House of Representatives has formally recognized brewer’s yeast—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—by naming it the official state microbe of Oregon.

Republican Rep. Mark Johnson proposed the bill, after hearing the idea from a homebrewing constituent. Johnson explains via press release, “In recent years, the craft brew industry has experienced exponential growth while our state has been experiencing a prolonged recession. Craft beers, craft distilleries, wineries, and gourmet breads and cheeses all use yeast to make their products. HCR 12 is about celebrating products that Oregonians enjoy and are proud of, and that are providing great benefits to our state’s economy.”

If the measure passes the Senate, Oregon will be the first state with an official microbe.