Archives for December 2013

Do it the right way

“Do you like being lied to?” No hands went up. “Are you sure?” This is how Greg Koch, CEO & Founder of Stone Brewing Company, opened his talk about innovation this morning. He went on to talk about the moment, at a dive bar in LA back in the late ’80s, when he realized that he’d been lied to: that the fizzy, yellow stuff couldn’t be considered beer because he’d finally tasted something real (and he’s a Metallica fan, who knew?!).

Greg 5Greg went on to talk about starting Stone, the months of more red in the ledger than black. But you know what? He didn’t sell out – he didn’t decide to just make something that fit the mold, just to make money. He stuck with what he knew was the right way for him. To make a great tasting beer. And he was right – Stone Brewing is the 10th largest craft brewery in the nation, the only craft brewery with consistent, double-digit growth every single year since they opened.

When the only distributor in San Diego that had initially agreed to add Stone to their book eventually called, after months of putting them off, and politely declined, how did he keep going? I asked him how he got through those months of “bleeding money”, as he put it. He simply said, “White knuckles”. No magic wand, no fairy godmother – just good old-fashioned determination. The stuff entrepreneurs are made of, whether they brew beer or distill spirits.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait – isn’t this a craft liquor site? What’s Stone got to do with it?” Greg not only successfully brews a damn good beer (with no plans to get into distilling – sigh), I think his story is a great example of doing what you love, and sticking to what you know is right. Which is the story of craft liquor – people that pour their hearts and souls into these spirits, staying true to what they love.

For the record, when he’s not drinking beer (maybe 2 out of 100 times), Greg enjoys a single malt Scotch – I think he just hasn’t met the right craft liquor yet.

Greg 1

5 holiday gift ideas for the craft spirits lover on your list!

In case giving  someone a bottle of craft spirits isn’t quite enough, check this stuff out.  (Feel free to mail me any of this stuff you’d like to!) Happy gifting!



Top 4 ways to give craft liquor for the holidays

It’s that time of year again, with the holiday party season in full swing.  Everyone has likely been to a party where the bar features that bottle of rum with the pirate on it, or knows someone who fancies themselves a whiskey connoisseur.  So, why not try something new this time?  Craft liquor can be the hit of any party – here’s how:

BYOB and be the hit of the party

The type of party will tell you the type of bottle to pick up.  Cocktails?  Grab a bottle of Ballast Point’s Barrel Aged Three Sheets Rum or Dogfish Head’s Brown Honey Rum.  Save the pirates for the Caribbean! Dinner? Take dessert in the form of a super- smooth bourbon like Angel’s Envy.

As a gift

Hopefully you have some idea of your intended recipient’s favorite bottle. If he (or hopefully she!) is a Scotch drinker, while you can only get Scotch from Scotland, there are other craft spirits that may fit the bill.  Rye is making a comeback, so there are a few to choose from. It has a bit of bite, rather than say a smoother bourbon, which could be more up the alley of your Scotch drinking friend.  Try Corsair’s Ryemageddon or Templeton Rye.

Pick a simple drink recipe, take it alongHoliday-Cocktails-2012-Holiday-Rum-Punch

To me, the majority of the craft liquors I’ve tried are so good you don’t want to mix them, but not everyone likes neat or on the rocks.  Pick a 2 (or at most, )3 ingredient recipe – just add glasses (and maybe ice) for an instant cocktail hit!  Maybe try a Whiskey Ginger.

Host your own tasting

A small group of friends, some food to nibble on, and a couple bottles of craft liquor – all you need for your own tasting event! Take your  time – this isn’t about doing shots!  I’d also suggest making sure you have the right glassware – I’ll cover that in the next post, but for now, I’ll say that I was skeptical, too.  How could a glass make that much of a difference?  But trust me – it does!

Stay tuned for my next post – more on doing your own tastings, your choice of glassware – I’m also working on lining up a guest blogger or two.

And please make sure that whatever you choose, you and your guests celebrate responsibly!!


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