Tag Archives: Rogue Ales

Start-up beer exporter shipping East Coast craft beers to the UK

Bringing coals to New Castle? Not exactly, says the founder of newly launched Crafted Exports, which is shipping kegged craft beer to London pubs.

Bartender at London's Hop & Berry pub pours a glass of  American craft beer

Bartender at London’s Hop & Berry pub pours a glass of American craft beer, Haproon UFO

By Alan J. Wax

A Brooklyn, New York, entrepreneur and his partners are attempting to capitalize on surging UK interest in American craft beer with a start-up business that is exporting U.S. craft beers and ciders to England.

Crafted Export's Peter Schneider

Crafted Export’s Peter Schneider

Peter Schneider, a former sales rep for Brooklyn-based Union Beer, and his partners in Crafted Exports Inc.   have sent their first shipment to London, where the beers are being distributed by UK importer Euroboozer Ltd.

Schneider’s partners in Crafted are Qurban Singh Walia, Schneider’s former colleague in a consulting business and an executive at a brewery in India, and Peter McNulty, a manager at a New York City marketing firm and former operations manager at Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewing Co.

Now four years out of George Washington University, where he received a BA in economics, Schneider began formulating plans for the beer export business some 18 months ago.

Craft beer, he said, “has always been an interest of ours. We like the way that craft beer … helps people become more thoughtful about what they’re consuming.”

The company’s initial shipment, which reached pubs last month, included such brands as Harpoon from Boston and Bronx Brewery, Captain Lawrence, Butternuts Beer & Ale, and Doc’s Cider, which are all from New York. “We wanted to bring over beers we liked and were geographically together,” he said, “We wanted to keep a reliable, fresh supply chain. We wanted a portfolio that cut across boundaries a little bit.”

A second shipment already is at sea. “We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback,” Schneider noted.

Crafted Exports' current beer export portfolio

Crafted Exports’ current beer export portfolio

Crafted’s East Coast-oriented portfolio made it possible to ship beers more quickly to the UK, Schneider said. “Our main focus to get beer to the consumer as fast as possible.” That meant, he said, “changing the supply chain. “

Crafted leases 30-gallon steel kegs from a third-party logistical provider, which delivers them to the breweries and then recovers them in the UK, where they are cleaned, refilled with different product and shipped back to the U.S. Crafted buys the beer from each brewery, aggregates the kegs at a New Jersey warehouse before shipping them in temperature-controlled containers to the UK, where importer Euroboozers takes over.

The beers are being poured strictly at bars and restaurants. The brews were launched on July 22 at the Hop & Berry, a pub that hitherto offered only beers brewed in London. Pints of the American beers at the Hop & Berry sell from £5.20 (about $8) to £6 (about $9.35). Other pubs offering the beers include the well-known White Horse at Parson’s Green and the Draft House mini-chain.

The American brewers are excited to enter these new markets, Schneider said, noting that brewers often receive requests to export their products, but ignore them due to logistical issues. Schneider said Crafted’s platform got the brewers’ attention to ship to such markets such as London, which offer new growth.

“For a couple of young enterprising guys it was quite refreshing to see the level of drive and effort they put in prior to pitching their proposal,” said Chuck Williamson, owner/operator at Butternuts in Garrattsville, New York.

As for having his beer in the UK, Williamson said, “I think it is a great thing for Butternuts Beer & Ale. I have for years had requests from UK consumers that have come to New York City and had the Pork Slap in particular and wanted to know if they can get it when they get home.” Williamson said “It was good timing really for me,” he added, noting that he’d talked exporting with other firms, “We will see where the next few years takes us, but I think in general U.S. export of beers, done right, will be a great thing for our industry.”

And while bringing beer to the UK, where in 2014 there were 1,285 breweries—more breweries per person than anywhere in the world, may seem like shipping coals to Newcastle, Schneider says there’s keen interest among British drinkers in American craft beer. “This is an exciting new opportunity.”

Added Euroboozer founder Martyn Railton, who already imports Rogue Ales: “America has some of the most unique craft beers, breweries and beer characters in the world so it’s great to be working with some of the best of them. Our American range has been seeing double digit year-over-year growth and with the trend for American food booming within the pub, restaurant, casual dining, street food and wider foodservice sectors, to use an American saying – I expect all these beers will knock it out of the park!”

The beers being marketed in the UK include:

Harpoon IPA, a 5.9% ABV New England-style brew.

Harpoon UFO, a 4.8% Belgian-style wit.

Bronx Session IPA, a 5.0% ABV brew.

Bronx Rye Pale Ale, a 6.3% brew produced with malted and flaked rye.

Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale, a 5.5% ABV West Coast-style brew.

Captain Lawrence IPA, a 6.5% brew.

Butternuts Pork Slap Pale Ale, a 4.3% beer brewed with a touch of fresh ginger.

Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout, a 4.9% ABV milk stout that pays tribute to the Butternuts Brewery’s former life as a dairy.

Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider, a 5% ABV semi-dry, effervescent cider.

Doc’s Draft Dry Hopped Hard Cider, a 5.5% ABV dry-hopped cider.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Taps - Beer

Tasting notes: The ‘Odds of March’

Beware the Ides of March. These words from a soothsayer to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with a slight twist may be appropriate for beer drinkers as well.

Today, for this Ides of March, I’ve put together tasting notes on some recently sampled brews that I’ve dubbed “The Odds of March,” because of the unusual ingredients that the brewers have chosen to include in their recipes, among them bacon, chili peppers, coconut, garlic, hazelnut flour, wattle seeds and an entire rack of spices.

These are the odds of March,

These are the odds of March,

You’ve got to hand it to American brewers for their willingness to experiment. But why must they foist these brews on us in large bottles that are sold at outrageous prices? Some the brews in this tasting are available only in 750 ml bottles that cost around $20 each — some more.

A few of these beers were enjoyable. Others were difficult to either swallow or to even overcome the notion of putting a glass to one’s lips.  But I did—with some friends in a tasting group known as Long Islanders for Fermentation Enjoyment.  Many in the group found the tasting altogether interesting, but some of the beers less than enjoyable.

Here are my tasting notes:

Fantastic Voyage from Perennial Artisinal Ales, of St. Louis, Mo., an 8.8 percent imperial milk stout brewed with coconut. A mellow, creamy smooth, opaque dark brown brew with chocolate on the nose and notes of roasted coffee mingling with hints of coconut.

Maracaibo Especial by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales of Ann Arbor, Mich. Is this 7.5% brew an American brown ale or an abbey brown ale?  I’d have to go with the latter, given the Belgian-style flavorings – cacao, cinnamon and orange peel used in this oak-aged brew. Cloudy amber in color with notes of cinnamon and apple on those, it comes across as yeast, spicy and extremely tart.

Birra Etrusca Bronze, a Dogfish Head collaboration with Italy’s Birra del Borgo and Birrificio Baladin.  This is an herbed, spiced beer brewed using a recipe based on the analysis of residue recovered from drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs in Italy. Its ingredients include raisins, hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops were added, but Dogfish Head attributes the bulk of the bitterness to gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.  This copper hued brew offered up aromas that first suggested bubblegum, but soon turned to Patchouli, the musty scent popular in the Hippie era. On the palate, I can detect some sweet malt, but overall this is more like sipping dry, liquid incense.

Urkontinent, also from Dogfish Head, is an 8.1 percent Belgian-style dubbel based on Pilsner, Munich and chocolate malts and Belgian dark candi syrup. But any similarity to a Belgian dubbel ends there. To the grain bill, Dogfish Head has added wattle seed, toasted amaranth from South America, green rooibos from Africa, myrica gale from Europe and Hiveplex Honey from California. Quite a mix, but somehow it works to make a pleasant brew that’s medium brown with a mocha-colored head. There’s chocolate on the nose and a creamy nuttiness on the palate and flavors that recall chocolate-colored cherries.

Smoking Wood, an imperial, smoked, barrel-aged rye-based porter from The Bruery, of San Diego, Calif. This 13 percent brew, was concocted with malt smoked over beech and cherry woods and was aged in rye whiskey barrels. This is a dark opaque brown brew with a smoky, somewhat medicinal nose. Hints of vanilla and strong alcohol notes.  I’d love to revisit this after a few years of aging, when I believe it will mellow out.

Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Porter from Rogue Ales, Newport, Ore.  Reviews elsewhere give this beer either raves or rants. I’m with the latter group.  This 5.6 percent smoked beer named for the bacon maple donut popular at an Oregon donut chain is made with Briess cherry-wood smoked malt, Weyermann beech-wood smoked malt, house-smoked hickory malt, Great Western 2 Row, Munich, C15, C75 malts; apple wood-smoked bacon, pure maple flavoring and Rogue’s homegrown Revolution & Independent hops. Copper colors, there are aromas of French toast, bacon and maple.  Suggestive of a Denny’s breakfast in a glass, only one word comes to mind: Ugh!

Mama Mia Pizza Beer, a sessional 4.6 percent brew made with oregano, basil, tomato and garlic by Sprecher Brewery, Milwaukee. Appropriately named, this golden brew reeks of oregano, garlic and spicy tomato sauce.  It finishes dry. I doubt I could sip too much of this, but it’s okay as far as novelty beers go.

Ghost Face Killer from Twisted Pine Brewing, of Boulder, Colo.  If you can remember Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer from the 90s, this is nothing like it.  Ed’s had a simple jalapeno character.  This 5 percent beer, however, is brewed with six peppers: Anaheim, Fresno, Jalapeno, Serrano, Habanero and Bhut Jolokia. The last also is known as the ghost pepper; it offers 200 times the heat of jalapeno. The brewers say they had to wear masks and gloves to cut the peppers up for the mash. Pale gold in color, there the scent of raw peppers hot the nose. On the palate, this is a beer with hot sauce lighting up your mouth from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat. It’s a heat that lingers and lingers.  For those game enough to try it, small sips only are recommended.

Have you tried any of these? What do you think?

Leave a Comment

Filed under Taps - Beer