Breaking Brews is an advocacy site for craft beer and is designed to celebrate the craft beer revolution and those part of said revolution. The goal is to provide educational and informative content about craft beer in a fun atmosphere.
In today’s noisy online environment, it’s important for breweries to create multiple avenues and channels through which consumers can discover their brand. A strong social media presence is a tremendous first step and imperative for all breweries to have.
But outside of what they do through their own networks are the external forces that help elevate the beer scene. Blogs, websites, podcasts, video series, newspapers, influencer accounts…there are a plethora of viable platforms that have woven themselves into the tapestry of the craft beer industry and breweries who join forces with these entities open up additional channels for their brands to flourish.
In this session of the Breaking Brews Podcast, Jason Cercone is joined by Russ Krause, Co-Founder of PA Brew Review. This website keeps tabs on the 300+ and counting breweries across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by showcasing daily events and giving users an opportunity to not only read reviews from consumers who have visited these destinations, but provide reviews of their own. The PA Brew Review website is a useful resource for beer drinkers within the borders of Pennsylvania, as well as for those who may be visiting the Commonwealth. It brings info about PA’s thriving beer scene to one easy-to-access online location.
Jason and Russ discuss the importance of external marketing strategies for breweries and explain why they help cultivate the craft beer industry. With so many breweries on the scene, not to mention bars and restaurants doing a fantastic job featuring craft beer in their rotations, providing additional avenues for consumers to find you only helps in getting them to your front door to patronize your taproom.
The overarching theme in this conversation was the importance of breweries creating an experience for their consumers – a subject that’s come up on past episodes of the show. As little as 10 years ago, a “brewery experience” consisted of an open garage door behind a production space that maybe had 3-4 beers you could try. Now, taprooms feature a wide variety of options + food prepared in-house or served via food truck, live music, special events, and much more. The game has changed…and delivering a complete experience for consumers all but guarantees they’ll file you under the “must visit again” breweries in their personal Rolodex.
Jason and Russ also tap into the subject of influencer marketing. Can it help breweries thrive? Will influencers continue to play a critical role in the world of craft beer? This is a topic that will be covered in more detail on the podcast in the future, but today’s session features some influencer chatter to get the engine revved.
Catch up with PA Brew Review on the World Wide Web:
With the beer industry thriving, many events have surfaced that help celebrate the scene and its dynamic culture. Craft beer is all about community and those responsible for producing the liquid that makes it all possible are always at the core of events designed to raise money for charity, bring awareness to specific causes, and provide a tremendous alternative to beer tents with $1 drafts of domestic light lager…all while helping elevate the profile of craft beer and introducing new enthusiasts to diverse, innovative products.
The generosity of the beer industry has led to the creation of many events. Most of them are planned well and support a great cause. Others, unfortunately, fall short. The object of today’s show is to pinpoint some of the aspects of good events and bad events and help anyone who is planning out a beer festival get started on the right foot.
In Session 19 of the Breaking Brews Podcast, Jason Cercone is joined by Meg Evans and Lauren Baker. Lauren made her first appearance on the show back in Session 3 while this is Meg’s Breaking Brews debut. If you listened to Session 3, Lauren talked about her role as Production Manager at North Country Brewing Company. Since then, she has transitioned to General Manager of The Harmony Inn (a bar and restaurant also owned and operated by North Country Brewing) and Meg has picked up where Lauren has left off, vacating her role as Head Brewer at Rock Bottom to make the jump to North Country as Production Manager.
Both have experience running events small and large in their beer industry tenure. Most notably, Meg was one of the brain trust behind Brewtal Beer Fest, Pittsburgh’s first beer and heavy metal festival. For the past two years, Lauren has been at the helm of organizing and executing North Country’s annual Brewfest. Those events, plus a LOT of other in between, make these two ladies the perfect guests to tackle the subject of planning a kick-ass beer event.
If you are thinking about putting a beer event or beer festival together, what should you consider? This episode goes into great detail about many aspects, including but not limited to:
What is the purpose of your event?
Have you scouted out the location of your event?
How big of an event do you want to host?
Do you have enough bathrooms for your guests?
How do you plan on taking care of your vendors?
What are some of the common mistakes event planners make when executing their event?
Do your vendors have everything they need (instructions on when and where to unload, ice, dump buckets, water for glass rinses, etc.)?
How do you ensure the best experience for vendors? For guests? For sponsors?
How do you acquire sponsors?
Does your event have a charitable aspect to it?
How do you properly stipend a brewery to have their beer poured at your event?
How will you ensure safe, responsible drinking at your event?
What do you do when months of planning go haywire day of your event and you need to think on your feet to make it all work out?
What steps can you take to ensure your event will return for a 2nd year and beyond?
Planning a beer event, big or small, needs to deliver something unique and memorable. If you plan your event properly, you can ensure things flow more smoothly. This session of the Breaking Brews Podcast dives deep into tips and strategies you should always have front of mind when putting together a beer event, no matter what size you have in mind.
In case you were not aware, one of the most popular forms of beer packaging is the keg, which is a pressurized metal barrel with a valve on the top end. Kegs can also contain carbonated beverages, such as soda. Original kegs were wooden and made by a cooper to transport items such as gunpowder, nails, and various liquids. Modern innovation saw the shift to stainless steel and its most common use being the storing, transporting, and serving of beer.
A barrel (or Bbl) is the standard method for measuring volume in kegs of beer, with a barrel holding 31 gallons. For ease of transportation and use, three smaller barrels are utilized for commercial use:
1/2 Barrel, or Full Size Keg – Holds 15.5 gallons of liquid and will pour 124 pints (considering yield is 100%)*
1/4 Barrel, or Pony Keg – Holds 7.75 gallons of liquid and will pour 62 pints (considering yield is 100%)*
1/6 Barrel, or a Sixtel – Holds 5.2 gallons of liquid and will pour 41 pints (considering yield is 100%)*
*- Yield is how much liquid you get from your keg. 100% yield is not common, but you can get as close to that number as possible if beer is pressurized properly and stored at the proper temperature (42-48° Fahrenheit).
Once a keg is completely dry (or “kicked,” if you’re into beer slang), it must be replaced with a brand new keg. In order to do this correctly, you must detach the coupler from the empty keg, determine which keg you will be tapping next, then re-attach the coupler to that keg.
To remove the coupler:
Pull the handle outward and away from the center of the keg.
Lift up on the handle to disengage the coupler, then twist it a quarter turn counter-clockwise.
Lift the coupler away from the keg.
When selecting your new keg, be sure to check the “best by” date and tap the keg with the oldest date to ensure you won’t have beer going bad on you over time.
Be sure to position your new keg so the coupler can reach the valve with plenty of slack remaining in the hoses for the attachment.
Be sure the keg you are tapping has been stored in your cooler at the proper temperature for at least 24 hours.
Allowing the keg to store in the cooler for at least 24 hours will allow it to “rest” or “settle” in case it was jostled in any way during transportation.
To attach the coupler to the new keg:
Ensure that the coupler handle has been pulled out and up. The handle should stay in this position by default.
Position the coupler on the keg valve and turn it clockwise until the threads, or “teeth,” on the coupler and keg valve lock in place.
Push the handle down firmly until it clicks into the engaged position.
Below is a video demonstrating how to tap/change a keg, courtesy of Bartending Pro:
The craft beer industry is comprised of many brave men and women who weren’t afraid to throw caution to the wind and take a gigantic leap into the unknown when they decided they wanted to open a brewery. It’s this type of dedication to one’s vision that has helped this industry grow, survive, and thrive.
With the launch of 7,400+ breweries and counting in the United States are the many ancillary businesses that not only promote the craft beer scene, but help entrepreneurs with all manner of wild ideas start successful enterprises as well. Platforms such as blogs, books, websites, podcasts, documentaries, and educational services…as well as companies offering products like bottle openers, can coozies, t-shirts, hats, and huge varieties of beer swag all have a chance to play a factor in the evolution of craft beer culture.
One company doing just that and more is First Sip Brew Box. First Sip is a monthly subscription service where beer-related goods are delivered right to your door. Each box contains anything from t-shirts, glassware, chapstick, BBQ sauces made with beer, and much more. Today on the podcast, Jason Cercone sits down with one half of the First Sip power team, Dennis Guy.
Dennis shares how he and his wife Samantha came up with the idea for First Sip Brew Box and how it came after a journey down the path of opening a brewery. When they realized it wasn’t going to be financially feasible to bring a new brewery to the market, they pivoted and created a service that allows them to partner with breweries and promote all the good they’re bringing to the scene.
Dennis is one of the most positive people you’ll ever encounter and the conversation throughout this interview dives deep into entrepreneurial mindset, what it takes to keep that positivity when negative energy beats down your door seemingly every day, and why it’s important to embrace every step of the process it takes to build a successful small business.
A great deal of Dennis’s motivation comes from the values his mother instilled in him throughout his life. You’ll hear the story of how he and his wife received a small business loan, an accomplishment that took place just days before his mother passed away. It’s truly an inspirational story that all of us can relate to in some way, shape, or form.
Dennis is a veteran of the US Army and recently participated in a Pennsylvania Commonwealth-wide collaboration beer that saw 20 veteran-owned breweries come together as one. The beer went live on Memorial Day Weekend 2019 at each of the participating breweries.
The US Army also filmed a short video about Dennis, the values he gained from his mom’s strong will, and the growth of First Sip Brew Box. You can check out that video below:
Fearless - YouTube
If you are looking to start a project of any size, whether it be a bar, a brewery, a podcast, a blog, or anything else that requires entrepreneurial mindset, this is a podcast you don’t want to miss.
If you’d like to learn more about First Sip Brew Box, here are the links:
With new breweries opening seemingly every day, the number of destinations consumers have to choose from when looking to enjoy a high quality beer is abundant. Combine this with the number of other activities looking to capture entertainment dollars and you may find yourself looking for new ideas that will help you stand out and keep patrons flowing through your doors.
One of the best ways to ensure you built loyalty in today’s competitive, crowded marketplace is by delivering an experience that truly resonates with your guests. An experience that makes them feel welcome, makes them happy they decided to visit, makes them feel a ‘WOW’ factor that leads them to tell everyone they know about you, and ensures they’ll be back to frequent your establishment again in the future.
In today’s session of the Breaking Brews Podcast, Jason Cercone is joined by Andrew Coplon, Co-Founder of Secret Hopper. Based in Virginia, Secret Hopper is a service created by Andrew and his wife that sends mystery shoppers into brewery taprooms to evaluate a thorough, diverse list of criteria. Their findings help brewery management and ownership evaluate their staff, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and discover areas where they can generate more revenue for their business.
Throughout the show, you’ll hear how Secret Hopper has helped breweries across the United States take positive strides towards cultivating a better customer experience. Data the secret hoppers collect can aid in developing and implementing new strategies for keeping customers, staff, management, and ownership happy. Win-win for all!
This information is powerful for an established brewery looking to take their experience to new levels as well as for a brand new brewery who has yet to open their doors and wants to start off on the right foot.
Loyalty is a different animal in today’s business world. With options galore, consumers will naturally frequent all sorts of establishments in search of a memorable experience. Deliver that memorable experience and chances are excellent they’ll be back in the future. But deliver a bad experience and the likelihood of these customers returning is extremely low. It’s easy to write you off when there’s another brewery just down the street ready to serve their needs.
Andrew shares strategies he’s helped his client base utilize, including the power of a server introducing themselves by name to their customers to how much additional revenue can be generated when a server asks their guests “Would you like to take a growler, 4-pack, or t-shirt home with you?”
There are many ways to cultivate a tremendous customer experience. And today, we’re going to begin exploring some of those directives on the Breaking Brews Podcast.
If you are interested in learning more about Secret Hopper or joining forces with Andrew to build on the experiences unfolding in your taproom, here’s where you can connect:
Pouring a beer properly is a point of pride, whether you do so professionally as a beer server or recreationally as a beer enthusiast. No fan of quality beer hasn’t taken a moment to gaze and appreciate a perfectly poured beer before taking in its aroma and flavor. Of course, beer doesn’t need to be poured perfectly to deliver the desired results. But pouring a beer properly leads to a much more enjoyable experience.
The goal with pouring a beer properly is to produce an attractive, good looking final product. Today, beer drinking is all about the experience and a properly poured pint can amplify said experience. A proper pour in a beer clean glass will produce an adequate head that will produce flavors and aromas that give you a more well-rounded take on your beer. These characteristics can be muddled if a glass is dirty or if beer is poured improperly.
The general rule of thumb, whether pouring your beer from a bottle, can, or draft system, is to start by pouring beer down the side of the glass to start, then down the middle to finish.
And, do not pour into a frosted glass or mug. The intense cold can destroy the flavor and aroma of your beer.
Here are the basic steps for properly pouring a beer:
Hold your glass at a 45° angle
Pour beer so it hits the midpoint of the glass
Bring glass to upright 90° angle as you reach the midway point of your pour
Complete your pour with a 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ of head with your bottle also at a 90° angle
When pouring from a tap:
Grab the base of the tap handle, not the end. Pulling the end can cause undue stress on the faucet and lead to damage over time
Open the faucet all the way
Do not touch faucet to your glass
Do not allow faucet to touch beer or foam
Do not overflow foam into the drain
Follow Steps 1-4 above
When pouring from a bottle:
For any filtered beers, follow Steps 1-4 above
For bottle conditioned beers, manage the yeast that’s in the bottle.
Be sure bottle has been resting for a period of time, allowing yeast to settle at the bottom.
When you see yeast reach the neck of the bottle, slow down your pour so yeast doesn’t enter the beer. It won’t harm you, but it will alter the beer’s flavor.
When pouring from a can:
Follow Steps 1-4 above.
You can choose to pour vigorously with the can turned completely upside down while holding your glass at a 45° angle. This will force any sediment that may be resting at the bottom of the can (depending on the style) out.
Proceed with caution. Pouring vigorously can lead to spillage if you’re not careful.
If your pour results in too much foam:
You did not hold your glass at the proper angle to start. Holding it upright from the beginning of the pour will lead to excess foam.
Too much foam may have nothing to do with your technique. Be sure you are not dealing with too much warmth in your beer or a C02 pressure issue (if pouring from a tap).
This video from Gear Patrol is a great demonstration of a great pour, including tips for pouring nitro beers, as well as bottle-conditioned hefeweizens where you want to incorporate the yeast in the bottle.
Stylin’ & Profilin’ is a brief look at different beer styles that will help you learn whether they’re right for you. Ultimately, words can’t truly turn you on to a solid craft beer. You have to smell, taste, and savor each sip to truly discover if it’s one you’ll come back to in the future. But the background info obtained in this post won’t hurt anything either. In addition, Stylin’ & Profilin’ takes a glance at various elements of craft beer culture to further enhance your knowledge and know-how!
What is a Fruited Sour Beer?
Black Currant Fruitition by Four Points Brewing in Charleroi, PA is a single fruit Berliner Weisse made with black currant.
Several years ago, an ad campaign courtesy of AB InBev took several shots at craft brewers for their use of fruit in beers. One ad saw a burly, curmudgeony old salt flick an orange slice from his beer glass. Another said we craft beer drinkers can fuss over our Pumpkin Peach Ales while they enjoy their mass-produced…sigh…suds. Another told us no one likes the person who brings a watermelon beer to the party.
But, you know…Bud Light Lime is OK.
Despite ABI’s best efforts, craft brewers kept innovating because they’re nothing if not rebellious, right? In actuality, they’ve done nothing but continue to build on practices that date back as far as the earliest days of fermentation: incorporating fruit and beer. And, as is tradition when good liquid is produced, beer drinkers have responded by drinking up every drop and waiting on the edge of their seat for the next fruited creation to hit the taps at their favorite breweries and watering holes.
Fruit has found itself into many different beer styles. You may have stumbled upon Blueberry and Watermelon Wheats, Raspberry and Cherry Porters, Blood Orange IPAs, and Pineapple Ales in your recent beer travels. But fruit truly takes center stage when it finds its way into sour beer styles, such as Goses, Lambics, and Berliner Weisses. Fruits, by nature, are acidic. And those characteristics shine through brightly in sours as opposed to being more a distant flavor in other beers where hops or malt flavors steal the show.
Sours, or Wild Ales, are a beer style characterized by an intentionally bold, acidic, tart, and, just like the name says, sour taste.
How is this sour flavor accomplished? In a removal from standard brewing practices which are performed in a sterile environment to guard against the intrusion of wild yeast, sour beers gain their tart flavor profile by allowing the wild yeast strains or bacteria into the product. This practice was utilized by Belgian brewers who allowed the wild yeast to enter naturally through the barrels, but many brewers of today tend to avoid this process due to its unpredictability and risk of producing an inadequate finished product.
Brewing practices have evolved to include the process of kettle souring, meaning that beer is soured in a stainless steel mash tun and fermented in a similar tank the same way stouts, IPAs, and pale ales are done. This approach eliminates the dangerous, unpredictable nature of wild yeast that could potentially contaminate other batches of beer in the production space.
This same approach allows the addition of fruit (not that traditional means do not, but this method produces the end product in a much tighter timeframe). Many brewers have utilized fruit puree to accomplish the profile they desire. Others use actual fruit. The result is a tart, tangy, and, in most cases, refreshing beer option that lends itself perfectly to outdoor drinking activities and satiates the palates of new and experienced sour consumers.
Due to the aggressive sourness found in some offerings, many beer drinkers have not been able to adjust to some of the most traditional wild offerings. However, the addition of fruit flavors has introduced new layers of complexity, subdued the sour flavor to some degree, and helped more beer drinkers broaden their horizons regarding this historic style.
Depending on the brewer, kettle souring may be a welcomed approach to achieving a popular end product while others refuse to implement it into their routine, choosing to embrace traditional brewing practices for sours and other styles instead. Regardless of which side you take, there’s no denying the quality and overall flavor this traditional beer style with a modern twist brings to the table.
Podcasts have become one of the most popular and consumed methods of media in today’s on-the-go world. Many folks have replaced radio shows and music with podcasts covering a plethora of subjects while listening in the car, at the gym, or sitting at their desks at home and/or work. It’s a tremendous way to learn, grow, and be entertained. No matter what subject matter you’re most passionate about, chances are excellent you’ll find a podcast dedicated to it if you search hard enough.
Doug Derda has been doing a beer podcast since…well, pretty much since the beginning. His show, Should I Drink That?, first hit the podcast waves on Cinco de Mayo in 2006…a time when podcasting was in its infancy. Today on the Breaking Brews Podcast, Doug joins host Jason Cercone to talk about the evolution of podcasting, the many directions his show has taken, Doug’s take on the beer industry today, and much more.
The show starts with a look back at early podcasting technology and what it took to get Should I Drink That? spread around the Internet. You’ll also hear the legendary story of how a YouTube video (also a new platform when SIDT first started) of Doug chugging a beer helped put their show on the map and how it’s remained popular to this day. Doug also shares his opinions on ‘beerholes.’
Throughout the session, Doug and Jason dive into what it takes to put together a good podcast and how much it’s changed since 2006 when Doug first cut his teeth in the medium. They discuss how much is involved with the entire process – from recording to editing to adding music to publishing to marketing and everything in between. They also share some tips and pointers you can utilize if you’ve been considering starting a podcast, whether it be about beer or any other topic you’re passionate about.
They also discuss how much can be learned by listening to other podcasts and absorbing how other hosts deliver their content. In addition, Doug and Jason share realistic expectations you should have when getting a podcast off the ground.
You can check out what Doug is up to with Should I Drink That by clicking the links below:
In today’s beer market, there’s no excuse for serving beer from a dirty glass. None. Serving beer in a dirty glass is the same as serving dinner on a dirty plate. It’s just…gross. A dirty beer glass will negatively impact the flavor, aroma, and appearance of a beer, thus diminishing your overall experience with your beverage. Plus…it’s just gross.
There are several more reasons clean beer glassware is important. From the overall experience of beer enjoyment:
Beer served in a clean glass is more aesthetically pleasing – no bubbles, no film, no oil, no lipstick on the rim.
A beer clean glass generates better head retention. Appreciation of a good beer comes from the aroma (which is delivered through the head) just as much as it does the flavor.
A beer clean glass leaves lacing around the glass from the foam. Foam dissipates quickly in a dirty glass, thus indicating residues clinging to the glass
Serving beer from the proper, clean vessel cultivates the type of experience necessary to bring consumers back to your establishment time and time again.
From a marketing standpoint:
If you are using social media and/or your website to showcase your beers for promotion, doing so in a dirty glassware shows a complete lack of care, detail, and respect for your product. ALWAYS post images using beer clean glassware.
Treat every pint that crosses your bar as something that will end up on the Internet. Consumers love to take pictures with their beers to post on social media, Untappd, etc. Be sure your glassware is beer clean and Internet ready.
As a consumer, if you’re at home posting an image of a beer poured into a glass next to a brewery’s can or bottle, you are second-degree representing this brand. Be respectful of this brand and use beer clean glassware when posting images to your favorite social sites.
The Beer-Clean Glassware Poster, designed by Cicerone, is a visual reference to help you learn the telltale signs of a beer-clean glass and be able to spot a dirty glass from across the room. Click the photo to purchase this poster to display at your establishment.
To ensure the perfect draft beer is poured every time, beer clean glass is imperative. Here is how to know your glass is beer clean:
Always wash glassware separately from plates, utensils, or any other item that may have residue and/or particles that could find themselves clinging to a glass.
Be sure your washing station is kept as clean as possible (pretty good rule of thumb for your entire establishment as well).
Use a non-petroleum based detergent that is designed specifically for cleaning beer glasses. Proper detergent will be odor-free and low on suds. Typical at-home detergents will not get the job done as effectively.
Dry cleaned glassware properly. Place upside down (NEVER STACKED) on a corrugated surface or mat that will allow air flow to circulate throughout the inside of the glass. Placing a glass on a towel where air cannot penetrate will cause residue to build throughout, thus affecting your next pour negatively.
Do not dry glassware with a bar towel. It’s hard to tell what surface your towel has touched, so having whatever contents that towel contains touch your beer glass could lead to the spread of germs. Plus, lint from towels will stick to the sides of your glass.
Store dry, clean glasses upside down at counter height or lower to prevent potential hazards to cleanliness (smoke, cooking odors) in the air to negatively affect your glass.
Serve only beer in beer glasses to avoid residue from other products damaging your glassware.
Before pouring beer, give the inside of your glass a good rinse with clean water.
This video, courtesy of FromTheBarVideos, further emphasizes the importance of beer clean glassware and demonstrates the best way to achieve desired levels of cleanliness, as well as how to test to ensure same.
As has become the routine on the Breaking Brews Podcast, we aim to deliver content that can help in all aspects of beer marketing. From social media to email marketing to event management to everything in between, the goal of each session is to provide some tips, strategies, and knowledge you can implement into your own practices – no matter where you’re listening to this podcast from.
In today’s session, host Jason Cercone is joined by Bailey Allegretti, Marketing Manager for Grist House Craft Brewery in Pittsburgh, PA. Bailey has been working with the brewery in this position for over a year as of the release of this podcast and has helped implement several strategies and initiatives that have helped solidify Grist House as one of the most popular breweries in the Steel City.
Bailey shares some background about her experience in the beer industry, starting off with obtaining some well-rounded experience in organization, social media, and brewing in her role at Copper Kettle Brewing Company, an on-premise brewing facility that once functioned in Pittsburgh that allowed individuals to schedule appointments to make their own small batches of beer, then package and take home their finished liquid upon completion. After a brief stint outside the beer world, Bailey knew she wanted to be in the industry and the role she earned at Grist House helped her do just that.
Since taking over the role of Marketing Manager, Bailey has helped streamline Grist House’s online approach and has added consistency to all initiatives. She has utilized each network to communicate with the thirsty beer community in Pittsburgh and also shares relevant content about the brand, including their expansion project that will see the brewery renovate and move their beer production to a former Nike missile control center in Collier Township in the near future.
Bailey and Jason discuss many facets of beer marketing throughout this session, including:
Ways to build an effective newsletter that people will want to read
The power of Facebook’s event management platform and how a well-managed event entry can not only lead to a successful event, but help your brand visibility overall
The importance of appealing aesthetics in can art
Why clean glassware is important (yes, this topic came up again)
Things to do and things not to do with your social media accounts
Other areas where you can effectively build your brand presence besides the popular social media networks
If you’d like to check out Bailey’s work via the Grist House digital presence, the links to do just that are right here: