I'm Sam Cruz, Co-Owner of Against The Grain Brewery in Louisville, KY. Ask Me Anything!

Discussion in 'Ask Me Anything' started by scruz, Apr 22, 2020.

  1. sefus12

    sefus12 Aspirant (213) Sep 7, 2006 Virginia

    One of the absolute best English Barleywines out there and a top-5 from AtG for me every day of the week, maybe top-3. Absolutely amazing beer.
     
    chrismattlin likes this.
  2. augiecarton

    augiecarton Initiate (196) Oct 22, 2010 New Jersey
    Brewery

    believe there is one, and i believe if you ask me anything there i will get an email. right @Todd ? and obviously we all know i will answer, just look at carton 2020

    @scruz how are you enjoying AMA?
     
    AlcahueteJ, scruz and JackHorzempa like this.
  3. JuliusPepperwood

    JuliusPepperwood Aspirant (220) Jul 21, 2013 North Carolina

    @scruz I have to know, did anyone at ATG Google "Bloody Show" before you named a beer after it?

    Bloody show - a thick vaginal discharge that contains mucus and blood from the cervix. It usually occurs in late pregnancy as the body prepares for labor.
     
    scruz likes this.
  4. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    Thanks for the kind words! I completely understand. Thanks for supporting us otherwise! :beers:

     
  5. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    Auigie, I love hearing myself talk! This is a blast! lol


     
  6. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,309) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    @scruz, it seems like you guys have been expanding your All Funkd Up series a bit, is this true or just a perception of mine? Are you seeing growth in the mixed fermentation/sour ale space generally? Also, do you think that the average craft beer consumer is more or less adventurous than when you started AtG?
     
  7. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    Absolutely did not google it! lol... I have 3 kids, my biz partner Jerry has 3 kids. We were having these kids around the same time and both of us learned a lot of things about the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. Some of those things are taboo to talk about and you bet we were talking about them! I brought it up one time and he said he had heard of it too. I mentioned it would be a great beer name... long story short, we decided it was best to use this in conjunction with a collab. So one of our collabs was with Mikkeller years back. You know there is a slight language barrier sometimes and folks from other countries are not really keen on how we describe things. We took the opportunity to name it that because Mikkeller was oblivious to the actual use of the phrase in English. lol... Thus our collab blood orange pilsner was called Bloody Show! We have since removed the association with Mikkeller, as its a beer we make independent of them.... It's actually quite popular with nurses! :sunglasses:

     
  8. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    We have seen a decline in the consumption of mixed ferm beers in our market sphere. However, we really enjoy making them and there is a market (however smaller) for them. So we have metered our production to get the brands out there that make sense for where they are going.
    As for the consumer, I think they are way more adventurous, but also way more educated. The internet has made a huge impact on how consumers pursue the brands they want based on the information available. it has also deepened the customer pool substantially. So we see a lot of different kinds of consumers engaging in craft beer consumption. Its really a great time for both consumers and producers, in that we can connect easier and learn what to brew, as well as communicating more about why we do what we do. Great question!

     
    #128 scruz, Apr 24, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
  9. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,309) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    One more question from me, were you guys packaging at all before you started canning? Why did you choose the 4x16 oz canned format for most of your stuff? Why do you think that format has become fairly ubiquitous in a relatively short time in the craft beer space? Oh, and are you ever going to do a collaboration beer with Sergio?

    Thanks again, for your time, and for the beer.
     
    AlcahueteJ and scruz like this.
  10. Grackos

    Grackos Disciple (331) Sep 6, 2014 Florida

    Thanks a bunch!
     
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  11. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    Initially we did package our 'core' lineup in 22oz bombers. This included CItra Ass Down, Rico Sauvin, The Brown Note, and 35K Stout. All were contract produced at Pub Dog brewing in Maryland. We had formed a relationship with George there through a friendship with Tony Russomano and Noah Hopkins of The Local Option (Chicago) and Brian Strumke from Stillwater. The beers produced there were fantastic, George was very fair on pricing and always able to meet expectations. The other, more specialized offerings, like Bo & Luke, 70K, and a litany of other barrel aged or mixed fermentation products came directly out of our brewpub (where we hand bottled most of those). As to why 16oz cans... We had always had the intention of operating a production brewery. To be honest, our brewpub operation was born out of necessity, rather than desire. So when we were setting up our plan to build the production brewery, we wanted to be on the front side of packaging trends. Cans seemed like the obvious move for a multitude of reasons, definitely quality, but also value, and ultimately the appearance was more appealing in our eyes. The 16oz can was a natural choice for a couple of reasons. Namely the fact that it was 16oz, which in my mind translates to a full beer. This way we could be sellable in can format in many different segments of the market (stadium, venue, restaurant, outdoor facilities). It was our belief that the 16oz can was the perfect vessel to sell in all those segments and the perfect serving to ensure a customer got the value. Also, let's face it, when does anyone ever just have 12oz of beer? Not in my world, lol.
    I think the writing is on the wall with a 16oz can. As we predicted, its the right size for more occasions, if the consumer took a deep dive into the actual value of the liquid in the can relative to price, I think they would find its a better value than 12oz cans (fewer package costs). Case sizes are 3gal versus a standard 24 x 12oz can case, which is 2.25gal. Lastly, it just comes down to having a beer....like a whole beer. There is something to the Brits and their whole proper pint thing. People prefer a whole beer.
    Sergio, you know, I think the world of that guy. So if the opportunity arises, Id gladly do a collab with him!

     
  12. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,503) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
    Society

    Ever been to the Czech Republic and had the unpasteurized/unfiltered version? Still on my bucket list...

    Are you implying styles like the New England IPA aren’t real beer? Those are dangerous words around here...:wink:

    Yeah, but an imperial pint is 19.2 oz. :wink: (Ok I’ve reached my allowable limit for winky faces for a post)

    In all seriousness, I’ve actually never had any of your beers. I clicked on this thread simply to see if someone would ask about The Brown Note and the story behind it. Then I was hooked on your answers, you seem like a cool guy. I think you distribute to MA?

    As a lover of “classic” styles, I’m intrigued by the Brown Note, I’m always in for a good brown ale.

    Cheers!
     
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,486) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Do you think he will wink :wink: back atcha!?! :wink:

    Cheers!

    P.S. I am guessing that two winks is the BA prescribed limit!?!:thinking_face:
     
    scruz, AlcahueteJ and dukeandduke like this.
  14. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

     
  15. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,503) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
    Society

    @scruz

    Thanks for the thoughtful answers! I'll be on the lookout for both Brown Note and 35K!

    Well if you ever head back here, I highly recommend you head to Salem, MA and go to Notch.

    If you dig Pilsner Urquell that much you won't be disappointed with what Notch is doing here in the Northeast.

    Here's a description of their latest beer, "Desítka":

    Desítka is Czech for “tenner” and the most widely consumed beer in the Czech Republic...
    .
    Desítka, a Czech Pale Lager at 4.2% ABV (10P), uses floor malted Czech barley and Sladek hops from Žatec...
    .
    Process wise, this beer is as traditional as it gets in the Czech Republic; triple decoction, open fermentation, naturally carbonated and lagered forever. It’s these extra steps that make a 4.2% pils something special enough for a 10 year anniversary beer...
     
    dukeandduke likes this.
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,989) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    The first successful beer cans, from the American Can Co., were 12 ounces because that was the standard "Export" beer bottle size, both before and after Prohibition (with some west coast brewers using 11 oz'ers). According to the Glass Container Association of America, in 1936 all 613 "packaging" breweries used "Export" bottles of those sizes, 139 used Stubbies or Steinies (also 11/12 oz.) with only 158 using Quarts and 85 Half Gallons. (The 12 oz. bottle was often even referred to as "pint" in the trade.)

    Some of the early cans and ads even stated as much.
    [​IMG]
    Not sure how much influence Anheuser-Busch had on that decision - even though they were the one of the largest US brewers, they even admitted they held back and let other brewers make the costly experiment. Coors and Miller were much smaller (around 500k and 100k bbl., respectively) and would likely have even less say so in choosing the can size. All three would be listed as among the many American Can Co. brewery customers by the manufacturer in an October 1936 press release - buying the same standard 12 ounce sized cans.

    The US pint/16 oz. flat top can - usually called a "Half Quart" in the early years - wouldn't take off until the mid-1950s, introduced by the #2 brewer at the time. The following two years ('55 and '56) would be their last two years at #1.
    [​IMG]
     
    #136 jesskidden, Apr 27, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2020
  17. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,989) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Correcting a typo :astonished:...
     
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  18. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    I totally get this, but I think profitability was/is always a consideration when we are talking about which package is/was used by any brewer. Those volume production sizes are nothing to scoff at, neither then or now. 100K and 500K bbls of production is a significant business, then and now. I can't identify any fact that would indicate my assumption of the influence AB would have on container trends, but I say without a doubt that the largest brewer has a profound impact on all trends in modern brewing and packaging. So its a reasonable assumption they would then. One thing we have had to deal with that would give that assumption credence is the availability of package sizes. The larger market has a profound impact on the available supply and price of our 16oz cans. Oddly enough, Monster has been a big one for us. They use base coated cans, we use base coated cans...guess who has priority? I can only assume that the same would hold true at that time. Whoever was creating the most demand for package time, would be the meter for what package time was most widely available and what value that package type would have. Definitely an interesting subject to look into though!
    Love that Schlitz ad!

     
  19. VAcrossr

    VAcrossr Zealot (548) Jun 12, 2009 Virginia
    Society

    This is great reading, and a big thank you for the insight and fun discussion. I can get some of the ATG selections in Central VA, and hope sometime to get my hands on London Balling. Also have met some of cyclists at mountain bike races sporting Against The Grain uniforms, really cool people, and wanted to say thanks for supporting that endeavor. The team's motto is "We at Against the Grain believe in people and what they can do. We value and encourage the individual. We also care about winning!" Kudos for supporting local sports and getting your beer and branding out there!
     
    scruz and AlcahueteJ like this.
  20. scruz

    scruz Devotee (409) Aug 8, 2006 Kentucky
    Society

    Thanks! This was a blast!