5th Anniversary Tasting May 30 2017, 0 Comments
On June 2, Bier Cellar officially turns 5 years old. It's been a fun, crazy and delicious 5 years of curating a selection of what we consider to be the best beer, wine, cider and mead that we can get our hands on to offer to you. Five years is a big milestone for us, and so we decided to throw a party for you guys to thank you for your support since we opened our door.
So on June 10th from 12-6pm we are hosting a tasting. The premise is simple, we made a list of the breweries, importers and distributors who have been a big part of our first five years, and those we think will be a big part of the next five years. We have broken the day up in to hour long segments, with a couple tastings going for each hour. Here is the tentative schedule, which is subject to change/get shifted around a bit, but as we get closer it will get locked down 100%:
Allagash Brewing (Pouring Avance, Emile, Little Brett, Map 40 & Dawnlander)
Bissell Brothers Brewing
Foundation Brewing & Cascade Brewing & Almanac Brewing
Austin Street Brewery & Orono Brewing
Mast Landing Brewing
Shelton Brothers Importers (Pouring Grimm Double Negative, Prairie Spaghetti Western aged in Grappa Barrels)
Some breweries will be bringing beers for sale, some just to sample. This will be the release of the 2017 batch of Tropical Storm, our collaboration with Liquid Riot we originally did for our 4th Anniversary that was such a wild success that it had to come back for another year. This beer is a kettle sour that is fermented with guava, passionfruit and mango puree. This year the beer will be packaged in 16oz four packs for Summer time crushing.
Mast Landing will also use this party as the retail launch of their Wessie IPA. Never before canned when it was brewed twice last year, this is a West Coast Style IPA that fits in with the rest of the amazing IPA's coming out of that brewery.
Allagash Brewing is digging some sours out of their cellar for sale including Avance and Emile.
Shelton Brothers has provided us with some Grimm and Prairie beers for sampling and some Cantillon Classic Gueuze for sale.
So like we said, we planned a party for you guys as a thanks for supporting our little shop for 5 years. We hope you get a chance to swing in a try some world class beer.
Cheers from our whole staff.
Best Sellers of 2016 January 11 2017, 1 Comment
As 2017 begins we wanted to take a look back at the year of 2016. A fun way to capture an entire year at a retail store is to take a look back at the top sellers. This was a year of canned beers, beers with tons of hops specifically. It was a tighter race this year for best sellers, with more beers packed together and without a dominant winner. Without further ado, here are our 2016 top sellers:
1. Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale
2. Liquid Riot Headstash IPA
3. Bissell Brothers The Substance
4. Foundation Epiphany
5. Foundation Afterglow
6. Banded Horn Daikaiju
7. Bunker Brewing Cypher
8. Lord Hobo Boom Sauce
9. SoMe Apostrophe
10. Liquid Riot Kash Money IPA
There is only one beer on this list made outside of the State of Maine, Lord Hobo Boom Sauce, produced only a couple hours away in Massachusetts. In case you think that is a fluke, the next 17, yes 17, beers were made in Maine. (Reminds me of a review we got once where a guy said we didn't focus enough on local ;)) Only one beer in our top 50 sellers is made outside of New England, and that is Hoof Hearted, who get's an honorary New England badge for how fresh their beer is shipped, arrives and is sold.
So there you go, another year in the books. Turns our you guys like hoppy beers in cans, who knew?
BCU: Bier Cellar University October 20 2016, 7 Comments
The last ten years I have spent obsessing about beer. Homebrewing it, drinking it, analyzing it, talking about it, reading about it, living it. Four years ago we opened Bier Cellar, and our mission was to share all that info with you, our friends and customers. We attempt to impart some of what we learn through our email blasts, shelf talkers and most of all, in store interactions. But we have decided to formalize that learning for those of you who want to dive a bit deeper in to the world of barley, hops, yeast and water.
What we are proposing is informal classes, with a small group, where we talk about, taste and analyze a topic with a group of like minded people. Some of the topics can be pretty advanced and hardcore, different brettanomyces strains and their impact or tasting off flavors, but we also would like to hit on some more basic topics, such as country/style topics, to lay the groundwork for advancing your knowledge in the hobby.
Here's what we need from you. We have some topics in mind, but would love to hear from you on some topics you might be interested in. We would love to build this to the point of bringing in guests to talk about topics, but we need your help. So in the comments, or by email, let us know what class you would be interested in attending.
Thanks and we hope to see you at school.
From Away: Non Local Beer In Maine August 02 2016, 0 Comments
I recently read a great article on GoodBeerHunting.com entitled "You're Not From Around Here Are You? -- Imports In The Age of Local" that was an analysis of how imported beer has fared in the current locavore movement in craft beer. It got me thinking about imported in another way, just just from another country, but from even another state. Here's my $.02 on how that's playing out in our little shop.
Maine has always been a Buy Local state, it's one of the things I love the most about my home state. The support of locals during those cold non-tourist months help breweries, restaurants and shops survive, and those businesses in turn help make Portland and Maine a destination for beer, food and shopping. But the past couple years has seen that Buy Local ethos shift in to overdrive within beer. We hear from sales reps from other states that Maine is a tough market if you aren't from here, akin to Vermont. Part of that is intuitive, with the craze of drinking IPA's that are minutes old, those IPA's can't be shipped across the country. But for styles like sour/wild ales and other beers that can handle some age, something else is at work.
Since March of this year, only 2 beers out of our top 25 best sellers didn't come from the State of Maine. The sole outlier was Lord Hobo, located about two hours south in Woburn, Massachusetts. So clearly, at least in our four walls, customers have a local preference. I know most of you are yelling, "because we have great beer in Maine", and we obviously do. Bier Cellar has been a champion of local brewers since we opened our doors in 2012. But does this explain 100% of these trends? There are styles/beers produced outside of Maine that are superior to those being produced inside our border. I know, blasphemy, right?
What does this mean for brewers from outside (and inside increasingly) the Maine market in 2016? You better have your game on lock. You better make a world class example of your style. Your quality control, marketing, packaging, social media better be on point. The classics (Orval, Saison Dupont, Rodenbach) and our shop favorites (De La Senne, Kerkom, Blaugies, Trou du Diable, and more) all have a place on our shelves. But every other inch is being fought for every day. Everytime a new brand launches, or we bring in new beer, another beer or brewery loses it's spot. It's great for the consumer, because as that happens, and we bring in better beer and other beers don't make the cut, the quality just goes up. Curating a beer store in 2016 means painting with much higher quality brushes and paint then we did in 2012.
Never has there been a better time to be a beer drinker than in 2016. We just gently suggest that every once in awhile, let your palate leave the borders of the great State of Maine, you might find a higher appreciation for the beers produced within those borders.
Wine Boxes for Bier Geeks (and Wine Geeks) July 27 2016, 0 Comments
I came to love wine from the beer side. Walking in to a wine store was overwhelming, styles and varietals and wildly different price points. It was like being a novice beer drinker and walking in to a shop like ours and trying to figure out how a Gose is different than a Geuze. Walking in to a wine store and trying to understand how a red Burgundy differed from a California Zinfandel, what is a Sancerre and why is Champagne so expensive?
But slowly, by opening lots and lots of bottles of wine, we became comfortable buying wine for ourselves. Then we opened Bier Cellar, and became comfortable buying and recommending wine for others. Now we want to pass on what we have learned and start offering boxes of some of our favorite wines at a big discount to you.
We have put together two different offerings, the 4 for $45 box and the 6 for $80 box. These are boxes of some of our favorite wines, complete with tasting notes at a 10% discount off the shelf price. They are meant to be grab and go boxes, you simply pick one up, take it home and start enjoying wine. We have taken away the pressure of picking good wines and have done that work for you.
The 4 for $45 box is very seasonal, and will shift often with the seasons. For example, right now in the Summer, it is filled with white wine and rose, perfect for hot weather. The 6 for $80 box has a bit more of a variety, with a couple red wines tossed in for either more substantial food pairing (like barbeque) or for the cooler nights. Both prices include tax and deposit, that is your price out the door.
This is our attempt to make wine buying have less pressure, and give you some cost savings while we are at it. We have selected our best quality to price ratio wines that work with the season and are drinking great right now. There are links to both of the packages below, or stop by with any questions:
Some Weeks July 19 2016, 0 Comments
One of the core tenants of Bier Cellar is to carry beer as fresh as possible. Now, sometimes we are constrained by wanting to carry a beer that comes from far away, and obviously it takes some time to get that beer to Maine. Let's be honest, Maine is the center of our universe, but not the center of THE universe. We have to make some concessions to have beer from other places.
That being said, we try our hardest to carry little to no back stock. Our backroom is barren compared to other beer stores. It would be heretical at your average big box liquor store to run out of products, but we would rather run out with lean inventory, then have old beer sitting in our back room. Doing things this way puts us at the mercy of our distributors and breweries to keep the supply chain filled. Some weeks that doesn't happen, and things can get a little lean. Then there are weeks like this week. I sat down and was planning out the week and was blown away with what will be coming in.
Yesterday, Monday, we got the first batch of Long Trail Space Juice we have seen in awhile. If you haven't had this beer before it is a juicy, piney Double IPA that was canned less than a week ago.
Now today, the onslaught continues with drops from Bissell Brothers of The Substance, which will last it's normal five minutes on the floor (just kidding, a couple hours), as well as resupply of Allagash's James Bean, a limited run of Curieux brewed with coffee.
Wednesday will see drops from Oxbow (Saison dell'Aragosta, their Saison collaboration with Italian brewery Del Ducato that features lobster and got huge press when it was released the first time). Wednesday will also see drops from Foundation (Zuurzing and Afterglow) and Marshall Wharf (Cant Dog). We will also see a Shelton Brothers delivery Wednesday, with beers from De La Senne, Anchorage, Trou du Diable, Lervig, Siren/Cigar City and more.
Finally, Thursday we will see the first monster drops of cans off Liquid Riots new 30 barrel fermenters. Hopefully Headstash and Primus for weekend crushing.
Now, all of these deliveries are contingent on canning lines, trucks, how the wind blows, so are subject to change. But weeks like this are like an avalanche of good beer, so get while the getting is good and fresh and we will do our best to make sure it stays that way.
Bier Cellar 2016 July 14 2016, 0 Comments
What we are good at:
- Selling ridiculously good beer to people
- High fives
What we are bad at:
- Updating our blog
- Pretending bad beer is good beer
So, as I write this, Bier Cellar is four years old. Four years of bier, and my has the world changed. When we opened in 2012, there were no canned craft beers available outside of Baxter. Now, who doesn't can? If you don't can, you don't sell beer pretty much. Beers with the word sour and wild in the description were a rarity, now it is rare to see a week that doesn't see new sours and wild ales in the market.
It's been a crazy year this last year. It was incredibly fun/rewarding to cap it off with the third beer in our anniversary beer series. The first two were done with Austin Street, who this year expanded, along with lots of other breweries in Maine. This year's anniversary beer, Tropical Storm, was done with our friends at Liquid Riot. Liquid Riot is, in my humble opinion, the most underrated brewery in our State of Maine. Tropical Storm was a kettle soured wheat beer brewed with mango, guava and passionfruit. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, that beer disappeared quickly, with us selling our 50 cases in under a week. Hopefully we can talk them in to a second batch :)
We just unrolled our new loyalty program, which has replaced our old email list loyalty program. It follows the same formula, spend 100 dollars, get a 5% off coupon. But now you can get points for things like social media follows, birthdays, and for just signing up. You can join the email list at http://biercellar.com/pages/email-list., you can join the loyalty program by just clicking on "Rewards Program" at the bottom of our homepage.
We have brought on new staff and said goodbye to some familiar faces, as is the way with retail. We thank all of our former employees for the way they have uniquely shaped Bier Cellar, and we are super excited to see what the new employees will bring to the shop.
We had a new record sales year in year 4, and we thank you for that. We thank you for the positive outpouring of love when we were attacked by a social media wielding douchebag who hides behind a keyboard, and his boss who decided that was how he wanted to compete with the rest of us in the Portland beer scene. I honestly believe the public can sniff out authenticity and true love for the scene, and those who see good beer as a quick buck.
We are always open to feedback to what we are doing right and what we could do better as a beer and wine store. We so appreciate when customers reach out to us personally and engage in a conversation. Send me an email at greg at biercellar.com, I always love to chat.
New Rewards Program June 23 2016, 0 Comments
Update: A few people have asked if balances for members reset to zero. Yes they do, unfortunately it is not possible to import any balances to the new program, but any coupon codes earned in the past few months are valid and we will issue June coupons as soon as the month ends.
Following our switch over to our new Point of Sale system in March 2016, we were forced to change our loyalty/rewards program. We looked long and hard for a solution that rewarded our customers for their repeat business in a way that was meaningful and convenient. Finally, we have found our solution. By partnering with Sweet Tooth Rewards, we will be able to reward not only purchases in store and online, but also through your interaction with our social media, through telling friends about Bier Cellar and several other ways. We have a step by step below to walk you through either adding the loyalty program on to your existing BierCellar.com account, or creating a new one. Even if you are an existing BierCellar.com customer, or are/were a member of our email list, you must signup for the new program to gain/use points.
Points can be redeemed in the following ways:
- 100 Points for a 5% off coupon
- 500 Points for a 10% off coupon
You can earn points in the following ways:
- 100 Points For Creating Rewards Program Account
- 1 Point For Every Dollar Spent
- 100 Points For Referring A Friend
- 200 Points On Your Birthday
- 50 Points For Liking/Following Our Facebook/Instragram/Twitter Account
So now that we covered what the account entails, here is how to get started:
Go to http://www.biercellar.com, click on the Rewards Program Tab. This will be where you will control your rewards program account from:
A small screen will appear, where you can either log in to your existing BierCellar.com account if you have one, or create a new BierCellar.com account:
Once you either log in to your existing BierCellar.com account or setup a new one, you should be brought to the following screen showing your rewards balance, as well as giving you the opportunity to redeem any earned points. On a separate tab, where it says "Earn Points", you can find out how to earn additional points.:
If you wish to redeem your rewards in store, we will do that at check out. If you wish to redeem the points on our online store, simply click on the "Redeem" button next to the reward you wish to redeem. You will be given a coupon code to use at checkout for your discount. The same code will be emailed to you:
We hope you enjoy the new loyalty program, and we again thank you for your patience while we transitioned.
Top Sellers 2015 January 02 2016, 0 Comments
2015 was a great year at Bier Cellar. We experienced double digit growth this year, meaning more of you out there are digging what we are doing and we thank you for allowing us to do what we love for a living. December was our busiest month on record, with back to back weeks breaking our busiest week record. We owe a great 2015 to our customers, and I have to thank our staff as well for working hard this year to try to make everyone who walks through our door a happy customer.
Before we get to the top ten best sellers this year I want to thank the people who make and deliver the beer, because without them we would all go thirsty. The beer scene in Maine received lots of national attention this year, and for good reason. Our brewers are among the best in the country and world. It is a great time to be a beer lover in Maine.
The story of 2015 at Bier Cellar had two major themes. The first is that as far as producers go, sales greatly diversified this year. Although our top seller remained the same this year, the gap's between each top beer narrowed considerably. Last year Bissell Brothers Substance sold four times as much as the second place beer, Rising Tide MITA. This year, 1 and 2 remained the same, but the gap has narrowed to a very slight amount.
The second major theme was IPA's once again dominating sales, especially IPA's in cans. 8 of the top 10 beers were IPAs in cans and all of the top 10 beers could be considered IPAs of some sort. But without further ado, here are our top sellers of 2015. The previous rank is listed in parentheses beside the current rank. New beers that weren't on the list are abbreviated (NB):
1 (1). Bissell Brothers Substance
2 (2). Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale
3 (NB). Foundation Epiphany
4 (NB). Lord Hobo Boom Sauce
5 (NB). Ballast Point Sculpin
6 (NB). Bissell Brothers Swish
7 (NB). Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
8 (NB). Banded Horn Veridian
9 (6). Maine Beer Company Lunch
10 (12). Bissell Brothers Bucolia
Hoof Hearted Q&A October 17 2015, 0 Comments
On Thursday, 10/22 from 5:30-7:30pm, we will host a tasting/launch of Hoof Hearted Brewing from the Columbus, Ohio area. Because the guys can't make the tasting (don't worry, they will be here for an event at Nosh in early November), we wanted to ask them a few questions to introduce them to the Portland area.
As you quickly get the idea from their brewery name, their label art and their general ethos, these guys clearly take their beer seriously, but not themselves.
This will be the first time cans have been available outside of the Ohio area. The beer we will be selling will be Roller Blabe Double IPA, which has been getting ridiculous buzz online. Thanks to Trevor at Hoof Hearted for taking the time to answer a few questions:
With your beer being so highly regarded (great ratings and reviews) and only available in Ohio, why are you sending us beer here in the backwoods State of Maine? Do you have a thing for moose or lobsters? We purchased our brewhouse & fermenters from Tigpro in Portland. Last Dec. we came up to check out their progress and had an insanely great time annihilating Poutine & Oxbow FPA at Nosh, hanging with the Bissell Brothers, & eating pizza in a greenhouse at Funky Bow. So basically we were looking for any excuse to come back to eat killer food & party.
Lazy question: how did you guys decide to enter the beer business? What's your backgroud? We had all been traveling a lot and drinking killer beer everywhere else except for Columbus where there had been the same 3 breweries for the last 20 years. We knew we had to make a vow of dankness. Flash Forward there are now a shit load of breweries here. I (Trevor Williams) was a wine sales rep for a wine distributor in Columbus and I have two partners Jarrod Bichon is welding engineer/automation specialist and Ryan Bichon was a Web Developer.
History of Best Sellers Through April 2015 May 13 2015, 0 Comments
The following is the top seller (in dollars) for each month going back to our opening in June 2012. We are happy to see that most month's winners are made right here in the 207.
Spring Happenings February 25 2015, 0 Comments
I criminally underpost to our blog, and it is not for lack of topics as those who know me know I am a very opinionated and loud person. But it is something we will work on.
Despite what it looks like outside, Spring actually will be coming, and with that comes some of our favorite beer of the year. Bocks from Germany will start hitting the shelves and Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits will make an appearance. We decided Spring was a great time for an update to our logo and to most of our branding. When we first opened, we had a logo designed using the website 99 Designs. Not an ideal method, but when you are opening on a budget, we decided to put our money in to our inventory and store, rather than the logo. But coming up on our 3 year anniversary this Summer, we decided it was time to change. We put out a call to local designers, and got some incredibly cool responses. We ended up choosing to work with a great local designer, Trey Allen, who has given us some great looks that we have used on hats, hoodies and wall vinyls for in the store also produced by local companies. We made sure to keep our dollars local as we all know how important that is to the diversity and economy of the Portland area. Below is one look on the new logo:
This logo will compliment the logo that is on our sign at the shop, and is meant as a shorthand that we have used on our hats and hoodies. The chalice has always been the most important part of any logo we have used, for many reasons. Working on our chalice as part of The Uprising at Novare Res taught us a lot about styles of beer, about world class producers and by watching Shahin and staff at Novare, about how to educate customers without being stuffy and snobby. The chalice is also a great commonality amongst the world class fermented beverages we sell, beer, wine, cider and mead. All are drank from a cup, and we love the idea that no matter what you are in to we can all share a glass of whatever that may be.
We are also kicking the tires on our third anniversary beer with Austin Street Brewery. They killed it last year with Bier 2 Cellar, so we are incredibly excited to get to work on Bier 3 Cellar. Think brett, citrus and deliciousness. Hopefully will be ready for our third anniversary in June.
Just a heads up, tomorrow night, Thursday, we will be hosting a cider tasting. Before you shut your brain off, these aren't the sicky sweet ciders being cranked out by massive American producers. Three of the four are from the Basque region of Spain, fermented with indigenous apples and wild yeast, so they are dry and pretty damn funky. The fourth is from a traditional cider producer in Vermont, Eden. For fans of funky beers and ciders, this is a can't miss. Totally free, from 5:30-7:30pm.
2014 Recap February 04 2015, 0 Comments
So we are about a month late talking about 2014. First we want to thank all of you who support us day in and day out for making 2014 such a great year for us. We grew over 40% in 2014, and being that we don't advertise in traditional channels, that's all thanks to word of mouth from you guys. I honestly thank you for letting me do what I love every single day. 2014 was a crazy year, with a huge rise in the quantity and quality of beers available to us from local breweries. Seems hard to believe but 2014 was the first time we saw breweries like Bissell Brothers, Austin Street, Foundation, Funky Bow, Banded Horn, SoMe and others in package form.
Now comes the fun part, our top sellers of 2014. Here they are, and these are all in dollar value, to even out six packs versus bombers and such:
1. Bissell Brothers The Substance
2. Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale
3. Lagunitas Sucks
4. Marshall Wharf Cant Dog
5. Maine Beer Company Lunch
6. Founders All Day IPA
7. Lagunitas Little Sumpin Sumpin
8. Stone Enjoy By IPA
9. Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter
10. Bissell Brothers Bucolia
I am incredibly happy/proud to see 6 out of 10 on this list come from my home state of Maine. Everyone that works at Bier Cellar was born and raised in this state, so while the quality of the beer is always our foremost concern, it makes us happy to get to deliver world class beer to people that is from these 16 counties.
The other thing that pops out to me is that every single beer on this list falls under the IPA umbrella, or at least the hoppy beer umbrella. That's not a shock as that style is by far the most popular in beer right now, but it would make me very happy to see some of my personal favorite styles like Gose, Berliner Weiss and Saison sneak in that top 10. Allagash Saison almost snuck in, maybe they can make a run in 2015.
So here is to 2015, I'm sure it will be an exciting year for breweries from Maine, and we will see some world class beer come in from outside the state. One thing you can be sure of is we will continue to be the first line of defense, doing the incredibly difficult job of tasting all of these beers to decide what makes it on the Bier Cellar shelves.
Happy New Year.
Why Don't We Stock XYZ Brand Beer September 27 2014, 0 Comments
One of the most frequent questions we get at Bier Cellar is if we have a certain beer, and if not, why. We thought we would write a blog post to try to cover the most frequent reasons.
1. It Isn't Distributed to Maine - This knocks out most of the white whale beers that we get asked about most often. For us to carry a beer as a licensed retailer in Maine, the beer either has to come to us through a licensed distributor, or from a small brewery within the State of Maine. There are a few reasons a beer may not come in to the State of Maine through a distributor, the most common is that the brewery doesn't have the capacity to come to Maine, for some reason doesn't want to come to Maine, or can't find a distributor who wants to bring them in to Maine. So, Heady Topper, Pliny The Elder, Hill Farmstead, Three Floyds, Lawsons and so on, just don't have the capacity or desire to distribute to Maine. Therefore, we can't legally get them to sell them. There are some bullshit bottleshops who will purchase beer and sell it illegally, but we refuse to go against the wishes of the brewery, if they don't want to be in Maine, then there is a reason. We also don't want to break any laws and endanger our license.
Another reason is that no importer or distributor thinks they could sell enough of Brand XYZ to bother bringing it in to the State of Maine. So I apologize in advance I can't get that beer you had in that tiny town in Bulgaria when you were backpacking through Europe, but not every beer can be brought in to Maine, and I am 100% positive we can find you something you like as much, if not better.
2. It Doesn't Fit In To What We Are Trying To Do - I don't want that to come off as snobbish, because when we pass judgement on a beer, it isn't passing judgement on you for liking it. Rather, we just don't think it fits in to what we are trying to do here. Our hopes are to carry a cultivated selection of beers. We aren't trying to be Beers of The World and carry every since beer produced. Our goal is that every beer on our shelf fits our vision of what Bier Cellar is. So just because we don't carry a specific beer, doesn't mean we think we are better than it. We hope more often than not you come to Bier Cellar looking not looking for one particular beer, but looking for a great beer or wine that fits your mood and are open to a surprise or allowing us to open your mind or palate a little bit.
3. It Is A Crappy Beer - Okay, this one can come off as a little snobbish, I'm fine with that. We don't carry mass market lagers from Bud, Miller or Coors. We don't carry sicky sweet mass market ciders. We don't carry industrial wines. We respect your palate more than that. At the same time, we aren't a slave to black and white definitions of what craft beer is. We love us some Narragansett, we carry Goose Island, because they are good beers. No lobbying group definition of craft tells us what beers we are going to carry. We met the brewmaster from Goose when he was here for Migration Week, that man is a craft brewer, no matter who owns his company, and he is doing things the right way.
So we hope that answers a few questions as to why a certain beer isn't on our shelves. But always feel free to ask, sometimes we can special order a certain beer, or it may be coming in soon. We carry as many beers we love as we possibly can, and we always hope we have one that will hit the spot.
No Man Ever Steps Foot In The Same River Twice September 17 2014, 0 Comments
I was reading a collection of essays about wine this morning that are collected in the book "The Juice: Vinous Veritas" by wine writer Jay McInerney. He was arguing that drinking the same wine (and I believe we can swap in beer here) twice would be a different experience each time. He uses the famous quote from Greek philosopher Heraclitus, simplified down to "no man ever steps foot in the same river twice", to prove his point. The concept that when recrossing a river, either the river will have changed, or the person stepping in it. This got my brain spinning off in a million directions, but a recent experience came back to me.
Recently I sat down with a bottle of Orval, a Trappist beer brewed by Cistercian monks within the walls of the Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval in the Gaume region of Belgium. Orval was the first beer I ever drank that (intentionally) contained brettanomyces. Brettanomyces has been classified, I would argue wrongly, as a "wild yeast". The beauty of Orval is that it is constantly changing, as the beer is dry hopped and bottled with a dose of Brettanomyces. When young, the brett hardly expresses itself, and you get a beautiful dry hop character. As time goes on that balance shifts as they dry hop goes away and the brettanomyces comes on stronger. This is why most Orval fans have a certain age they prefer the beer as different flavor profiles will exist throughout the aging process.
But Orval is only one example of how tasting experiences change. I have found that going back to a beer, something as straightforward and timeless as Schneider Weiss, a classic German wheat beer, my palate has shifted each time. With seasons, with age, with differences in the age or storage conditions of the beer itself, a beer flavor profile we take for granted can be radically altered. Taste buds are constantly regenerating and changing, new experiences in food and drink can shift our preferences so don't take the beers that aren't the new kids on block for granted. Vinnie Cilurzo, brewer/owner of Russian River, argued that people undergo "Lupulin Threshold Shift", or basically as you drink more bitter beers, your tolerance for bitterness shifts. So while Sierra Nevada Pale Ale may seem incredibly bitter to a Bud Light drinker, to someone who drinks Double IPA's all day, SNPA can seem pretty benign.
This is a long winded way to say, in a rapidly growing industry, where new beers and breweries appear seemingly every day, it is worth going back to those old favorites, or even beers you didn't like the first time, now and again. They may have changed, you may have changed, and your new favorite beer may be an old favorite, or even a beer you didn't appreciate the first time around.
Austin Street Bier 2 Cellar Release July 29 2014, 0 Comments
The day has finally arrived. When we last left our little collaboration with our friends at Austin Street Brewery (you can catch up on the back story in this previous blog post) we were letting the little Brettanomyces Claussenii yeast do their funky little magic in the bottles. Well, the time has come, the Azacca hopped IPA that was bottled with Brettanomyces is ready to greet the world to celebrate two years of us getting to be your local bottleshop.
We are incredibly excited to share this beer with you. The Azacca is giving the beer a great pineapple/fruit juice aroma and flavor, and the brett is just beginning to express itself. This is a beer that will drink great fresh, but will also age and develop in the bottle. We are setting a sale cap at two bottles per person, so you have the opportunity to age a bottle and drink one fresh to compare the difference. We would like to set bottle limits higher, but we are only looking at a release in the 200 bottle mark.
Bottles will go on sale Saturday both at Bier Cellar and at the brewery at 1 Industrial Way. If you haven't gotten out there, do yourself a favor and try some of Jake and Will's delicious beers. Jake is brewing some amazing beers with mixed fermentations that need to be tried. You can even visit Bissell Brothers, Foundation and Allagash as well, all without moving your car.
These will be priced at $14.99 for a 750ml bottle. Members of our email list will get an email on Friday night with the opportunity to hold a couple bottles. If you aren't a member of the email list you can join at biercellar.com at the bottom of the page.
Once again, we want to say thanks to our collaboration partners at Austin Street Brewery, but also to you, our customers and friends who have given us the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful 207 bier scene and the opportunity to do what we love for a living.
Reflections on Two Years July 16 2014, 0 Comments
Now that we have been open for two years, we can't help but reflect on over 700 days of being your local neighborhood bottleshop. We have been thinking back now on how and why we got started and how you, our customers, neighbors and friends, have helped shape what Bier Cellar has become.
I grew up in Buxton, about half an hour outside of Portland. Portland was always the big city to me, and when I moved here to go to USM in 2000, I knew I wouldn't leave. The vibrancy and culture of this city, while somehow still feeling like a small town, are the perfect combination to me. I have worked in Portland for over 14 years now, but before we opened Bier Cellar one thing missing for me was a bottleshop that loved beer as much as I did.
I have been a homebrewer for about 5 years now, and through that scene I got to meet many of the people who make up the Portland and Maine beer scene, and I was hooked. Both Katie and I completed the Uprising at Novare Res (greatest beer bar on Planet Earth), drinking 230 beers on their list as a palate education. I worked on and got certified by the Beer Judge Certification Program and then got certified as a beer server in the Cicerone program. The people, the beer, the passion, I knew that I wanted to be part of this world. I also knew I wanted to build a business here, to be part of this neighborhood and give back to the city that I called home. So we opened Bier Cellar in 2012, as a way to give back to the beer scene we love so much.
There is not much better than turning a new customer on to a new favorite beer, it is one of the best feelings on Earth. Seeing a new customer become a regular, and interacting with our customers on a daily basis is what keeps this job so fun, interesting and rewarding. We love the trust a customer puts in to us when they ask for a recommendation for a beer, wine or cider. We take that seriously and take great pride when that recommendation nails it.
We have never been bent on world domination. We just want to be your local bottleshop. We work hard to help every customer find something they will love, to make their day just a little bit better. We love to tell the brewer's stories, and be the craft brewer's advocate to get people to drink beer made with purpose.
We didn't get in to this business to be rich, we knew better than that. We didn't get in to this business as a retirement plan. We figured we would figure that stuff out later, we just knew we wanted to talk about beer all day, to help our friends/brewers get their beers in to the hands of our friends and neighbors. We aren't in this industry because we thought it was just a good business move, we are in this industry because I realized I had to be, it was an itch that needed to be scratched.
So we are two years in, and we plan on many more years of being your locally owned bier store. We love this city, our neighbors and our beer scene. Thanks for your support.
Bier 2 Cellar Collaboration May 31 2014, 0 CommentsI first met Jake Austin, brewer and co-owner of Austin Street Brewery, at Novare Res a few years ago when my wife interrupted the anniversary celebration of Jake and his wife Catherine. I was embarrassed, but it forced two anti social homebrewers to start a conversation. Luckily they didn’t hold it against us, and since that date we have been friends discussing homebrewing and beer on a nearly daily basis. Over the years of tasting each other’s batches of homebrew, I have watched Jake far eclipse my homebrew abilities and just brew better and better beers. I think we both realized a while ago that beer would become our livelihood, I went the bottleshop route and now Jake has gone the brewery route with the opening of Austin Street Brewery. Jake was instrumental in opening Bier Cellar and I can safely say we wouldn’t have opened our doors if it wasn’t for Jake’s help. Amazing to think of all the conversations we had being beer geeks on the outside looking in we are both now part of this world that we love so much.
So naturally when we went looking for a partner to help us brew a beer to celebrate our second anniversary I humbly begged Jake to brew one with me. I am happy to announce Austin Street Brewery and Bier Cellar are collaborating on Bier 2 Cellar, an IPA that will be bottle conditioned with brettanomyces, a yeast near and dear to both Jake and my own drinking heart. Our goal is to create a beer that is delicious fresh, but if aged will express more dry, funky brettanomyces character.
So beer geeks, you want the beer geeky details? The grist will be made up of Pilsen malt and White Wheat malt to give a bit more mouthfeel. It will be hopped with a bit of Nugget hops for bittering, but the star of the hop show will be the boatload of Azacca hops giving aromas and flavors of pineapple, orange, grapefruit and tropical fruit. When Jake asked what hops I wanted to use I didn’t hesitate, Azacca is the dominant hop in both Victory Hop Ranch and Oxbow Grizacca, both beers I absolutely love. The beer will be fermented with American Ale yeast but then bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces Claussenii, my favorite of the brett strains. Yup, I have a favorite brett strain, don’t all 7th level beer nerds? Brett C. is known for its pineapple, fruity notes, which should compliment the Azacca hops beautifully. We are shooting for around a 6.5% abv.
We are hoping for this to be ready for around our anniversary on June 2. Bottles will be available through our bottle shop and at Austin Street’s tasting room. I personally cannot wait to pop a bottle to celebrate two years of getting to work my dream job, bringing good beers to my favorite people, our customers.