Press Clips: Steve Hindy Hosts Reddit AMA; BA Revises Style Guidelines

Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Steve Hindy yesterday took to the social networking and news site Reddit to answer questions from beer enthusiasts on myriad topics ranging from why he quit journalism to what he eats for lunch.

During his AMA — shorthand for “Ask Me Anything” — Hindy also touched on a number of issues facing the beer industry, at times offering candid insight into some of the most significant concerns and points of consternation from craft brewers.

Hindy conducted the question and answer session to promote his new book, “The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink,” an excerpt of which was published by Brewbound on Tuesday.

Asked what he considers the biggest opposition to the brewing industry at this time, Hindy stated simply, “Disunity.”

When pressed to elaborate further, the former journalist dug in a little deeper.

“Craft brewers and large brewers need to work together on the big issues facing the industry,” he wrote. “There are plenty of people out there who want to limit the way we sell our beer and who want to pile on more regulations.”

Hindy used the opportunity to communicate his frustrations on the recent attempts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce stricter regulations on spent grain disposal.

“The FDA recently proposed that brewers dry and package their used grain before giving it to farmers for use as feed,” he wrote. “Brewers have been giving beer to farmers for centuries, and to my knowledge there have never been any adverse effects. In Brooklyn, we have no room to dry and package. We would just have to throw the spent grain away instead of giving it to farmers.”

Hindy also chimed in on the increasing popularity of session-strength India Pale Ales (IPAs), lower ABV versions of craft’s most popular style. While recognizing their popularity, he also suggested drinkers are promiscuous by nature, which leaves room for other styles to front the craft movement in the future.

“I think Tony [Magee] at Lagunitas declared that IPA was the new pilsner,” he wrote. “I don’t think any one style of beer is going to dominate the craft beer revolution. Craft brewers and craft beer lovers are just too curious to settle on one style.”

Some other noteworthy remarks:

Regarding the competitive nature of the industry, Hindy said, “It can be cutthroat on the street, fighting for a draft line. But the craft industry is incredibly collegial. I have learned much from my fellow brewers and I always make time for newcomers.”

On the biggest obstacle to getting your beer to market, Hindy said, “Distribution is definitely the biggest challenge, no matter the market. We do not advertise, but we do donate beer to good causes. Builds good will and gets out beer into good hands.”

Explaining how Brooklyn built its consumer base, Hindy added, “Many brewers sell beer. Our goal was to develop relationships with customers. I would rather have 10 good customers than storm a market and get 50 draft lines. Good, loyal customers are invaluable.”

If you’re looking for more formal reading, the Brewers Association just conducted its annual revision of its beer style guidelines and announced the changes therein.

“All guidelines were rewritten to follow a standard format of appearance, aroma, flavor, body, etc.,” wrote Charlie Papazion for Papazian compiled the new guidelines for the Brewers Association. “This format follows the sensory experience.”

As such, a number of new style categories were created. The Australasian-style pale ale was split into two categories, for one, meaning Australian and Asian-style pale ales are now separate in style. Additionally, Belgian-style fruit beer, Dutch-style kuit, historical beer, and wild beer all constitute new style categories, according to the Brewers Association.

“The task of creating a realistic set of guidelines is always complex,” according to the guidelines’ introduction. “The beer style guidelines developed by the Brewers Association use sources from the commercial brewing industry, beer analyses, and consultations with beer industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as resources for information.”

One style no one seems to need to be educated on is IPA, as seemingly every brewery in the country offers one — to great success at that. Lawson’s Finest Liquids of Warren, Vt., however, touts one of the most celebrated in Double Sunshine, which stands among some of the more revered brands in the craft beer landscape. That said, it’s another IPA in the brewery’s portfolio that has Lawson’s looking outside its home state for help increasing its production.

Earlier this month, the brewery announced a contract partnership with Two Roads Brewing to produce its Sip of Sunshine IPA at Two Roads’ facility in Stratford, Conn. The partnership, Lawson’s posted to its website, will enable the company to offer more on tap with increased regularity.

“Our partnership with Two Roads will enable me to brew this beer on a regular basis.” brewery founder Sean Lawson wrote on the site. “They have a beautiful new facility in Stratford, CT, a fantastic crew of staff and owners, and a highly esteemed brewmaster, Phil Markowski with decades of experience.”

Lawson added that for now, the beer is only available on draft in the brewery’s home market, but the company “will look into packaging in bottles and maybe even cans” in the coming months.