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Hops Wars & Alchemy Business
February 22, 2014 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley among divorced parents, Grossman developed the characteristics of a proto-entrepreneur–inventiveness bordering on larceny. He stole the motor out of a neighbor’s lawn mower to build a go-kart, used a rudimentary plastic explosives recipe to blow up every mailbox on the block and dropped homemade stink bombs in his junior high. The day before his 12th birthday he was caught shoplifting a small bag of circuit board clips from the local RadioShack. Then he started channeling his creative urges toward photography, bike repair and (pre-legal drinking age) distilling. His first batch used a gallon jug of Welch’s grape juice he hid in the closet. Forbes profiles 'The King Of Craft Beer', Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman.
posted by mannequito (22 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
How about a link to beer camp:
beer camp
posted by benk at 6:59 PM on February 22


Hops Wars

I'm a Conscientious Objector.

But I'll be first in line to spread the word once the Malty Reformation begins.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:28 PM on February 22 [10 favorites]


circuit board clips.
posted by werkzeuger at 4:59 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


But I'll be first in line to spread the word once the Malty Reformation begins.

Amen to that. I hadn't really realized that Sierra Nevada was the major early vector of grapefruit-flavored beer.

It's a pretty standard business gloss. Young man is a rebel, dabbles a bit, has an idea he perseveres at despite the doubts of others. Early success, then complacency. Market passes him by, he doubles down with the support of his family and adapts to market contraction.

It sounds like they do some very cool things with renewable energy, which I hadn't known about.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:10 AM on February 23


The hops war has destroyed much of the beer experience for me. Ten years ago I knew exactly what style of beer I liked...India Pale Ales. I could walk into any store or pub and order whatever IPA was available and enjoy a flavourful ale with a hint of hoppiness.
Today anything calling itself an IPA is almost sure to be a super-bitter abomination of pure hop juice that has no business calling itself beer. Most are undrinkable.
posted by rocket88 at 7:11 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]


I just finished reading my signed copy (*swoon*) of Ken's book Beyond The Pale where he goes into detail about how Sierra Nevada got its start. It's not a super complex book or anything but a pretty good story about a small town and person with a never ending quest to maintain quality over all else, even the business. The company itself is quite progressive too, not only where they one of the first large scale fuel cell installations in the US but they also have onsite day care and a medical center. Ken was a super nice guy when I met him, and I hope that his family continues the tradition of producing extremely high quality brews.
posted by Big_B at 9:26 AM on February 23


Great profile. People occasionally bag on Sierra Nevada for resting on their laurels and not being as inventive as, say, Stone, but they still brew Torpedo and that's a hell of a beer.

rocket88, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man. :)

West Coast IPAs have spoiled me, and lesser IPAs just taste like water. I have Grossman and Sierra to thank for being my first gateway into California pales and IPAs ten years ago.

But if you love a mellower or more floral IPA, there are tons of flavorful brews that come to mind... I like Uinta's Hop Notch, which is tasty and much more sessionable that most one-and-done San Diego style stuff. Firestone makes a couple of good pales and IPAs that are mellower too, like their Pale 31.

The beauty of what guys like Grossman did by turning craft beer into an industry is that there is so much to choose from these days. If you can't find a good IPA you like, then you must not be looking hard! (Or you must live in a state with awful liquor laws and those terrible state-owned stores, in which case, that's a bummer, man.)

Cool article. Thanks for the post, mannequito.
posted by Old Man McKay at 2:25 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Drinking a Torpedo right now. I was in Vegas several years ago and everywhere it was yellow fizzy ice cold brews. But if you pushed it at a casino and looked like you were serious about dropping some money (although I never did) you could get a bottle of SN Pale Ale. That's the thing about SN, always consistent, always drinkable, always available.

If I drive 200 some miles from oil country to Bismarck ND, I know of a pub that has had Beer Camp brews on draught. Sweet mercy, those are some tremendous ales. Last time I had one I took a sip and then slapped the car keys down in front of my wife because there was no way I was going to have just one.
posted by Ber at 2:59 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


If you can't find a good IPA you like, then you must not be looking hard!

The problem, at least in my city, is not that one can't find a good IPA; it's that in order to find a beer that isn't over-hopped - regardless of style - one has to look pretty hard.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:03 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Exactly. IPA was extra-hopped to survive shipping to India. It's not like a beer lover would choose to have their beer extra hopped to hide the malt flavor.
posted by surplus at 4:54 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Well, there ARE the occasional times, usually a hot summer day, when even I'm willing to allow that an ice-cold IPA really hits the spot and can quench a thirst like nothing else. BUT...variety is the spice, hey? All hops all the time gets monotonous. Balance in all things, is all I'm sayin'.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:29 PM on February 23


Exactly. IPA was extra-hopped to survive shipping to India. It's not like a beer lover would choose to have their beer extra hopped to hide the malt flavor.

Actually, it's kind of exactly like that. Maybe not hide, but "be considerably more dominant than". I like hoppy beers, a lot. The problem that American micro/craft/home/etc. brewing culture has gotten itself into is that we're way past "extra hops" into SO MANY HOPS THAT YOU MIGHT DIE territory (combined with SO MUCH ALCOHOL THAT YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY DIE). And even though you can tell that people have started to recognize this, and a lot of the trend-setting breweries have started to invest serious effort into, like, making a real good pilsner, this has been such a dominant element of the culture that the wave is still sort of cresting.

There's going to be a lot of really good beer made in the immediate aftermath of the hop bubble, I suspect. I'm not, however, looking forward to the Belgian-inflected cough-syrup-flavor bubble which is its inevitable (and already flourishing) echo boom.
posted by brennen at 7:01 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


I just wish the porter/stout boom would hury up and get here. Unless I missed it, in which case I'm a sad, sad man, whose tears must be drowned in dark, deep flavored deliciousness.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:36 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Ghidorah, if you have a good chunk of February free some year, maybe you should visit Boulder for the Mountain Sun's Stout Month. It is usually enough to tide me over for the rest of the year.
posted by brennen at 8:54 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I just wish the porter/stout boom would hury up and get here.

I feel like lots of stouts are around these days but always "imperial" i.e. lots of overlap with the ABV arms race.
posted by atoxyl at 10:09 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


> "I'm not, however, looking forward to the Belgian-inflected cough-syrup-flavor bubble which is its inevitable (and already flourishing) echo boom."

Personal taste varies. If I were able to order a fruit lambic with any regularity, I might start drinking beer again.
posted by kyrademon at 5:09 AM on February 24


I've almost stopped drinking beer, so enamored am I with all the craft ciders I'm discovering.

I loved the hop wars for a long time. And then suddenly a few years ago I found my palate bored by almost every over-hopped IPA I tried. When I even drink beer anymore, it's pale and yellow from a can because it's going with Mexican food. Otherwise I'm head over heels with apple and pear ciders (and have a lifelong love of Syrah and Mourvèdre that has yet to be satiated, although I am otherwise mostly bored by wine obsession too, having once worked in the trade and seen how much of that is marketing status symbolism).

I credit the craft beer and wine movement with a lot of valuable influence. But sometimes I think beer culture is getting a bit too much like wine culture.

OMG just wait for the pot snobbery we are in for when it's finally fully legal. It's already started.
posted by spitbull at 7:01 AM on February 24


There's so much great beer out there in so many styles that any complaints in not being able to get a great drinkable beer in the style you want just seem like petulant whinging. The only valid complaint I've heard in this entire thread is that there's not enough good fruited lambics available.
posted by nulledge at 7:12 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


I'd settle for more moderately-hopped beers with less than 7% ABV. Space Monkey is my current favorite, but they seem to be few and far between with most of the craft beers gone to Double IPAs and Imperial Stouts and whatnot.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:19 AM on February 24


OMG just wait for the pot snobbery we are in for when it's finally fully legal. It's already started.

This has been in full swing in Colorado for so long that I actually think full legalization, and the concomitant era of "your mom buys pot at the store now too", might represent a de-escalation.
posted by brennen at 10:55 AM on February 24


spitbull: "OMG just wait for the pot snobbery we are in for when it's finally fully legal."

This has been going on in Cali since I knew pot existed. We just have to keep the hipsters from discovering it.
posted by Big_B at 12:15 PM on February 24


There's almost no place left in the US where you can't find at least a few craft beers, but if your selection is limited, or you've just not satisfied, I highly recommend Craft Beer Club. You can't control what types you get (yet), but you're guaranteed to get a variety, and you and probably your snobbish or merely less worldly friends will find some they like every month. Just saying.
posted by espressivist at 1:49 PM on March 5


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