A Curious Story of Beer & Corporate Social Justice

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headercraftbeerWhen I graduated from the illustrious Syracuse University in New York I had high hopes of becoming a marketing weasel in the publishing industry.

We all have dreams.

But there wasn’t a job to be had in the midst of the worst recession in modern history (the S&L one before the sh*t hit the fan in 2007).

What did I do? Where did I go?

Where every white girl goes with too much student loan debt… to Vermont to live with her ski instructor and run a small independent newspaper!
Sounds romantic right?

Well romance doesn’t pay the bills and apparently neither does writing so I had to get a part-time job.

mayaA friend of a friend worked in this warehouse that sold natural products and they needed a receptionist.


It was 7th Generation. The eco-friendly product company.
Alan Newman was the CEO and Founder.

Even though I had waited tables in college I had never worked in a real company before.

I was the first to greet visitors wrapped up in an organic down comforter as it was -10 when the doors opened.
I would also stay and work a few nights a week lobbying people to support the local dairy farmers fight for BST Free milk.
7th Gen would give their phones and resources to support various local community causes and utilize the office space at night.


responsibilityPioneer in Corporate Responsibility
I had no concept of culture or politics or behavior. I was basically a blank canvas.
There are triangles and ladders but being in Bernie Sandersland, 7th Gen practiced a lattice corporate structure where everyone had a say and everyone switched off jobs. It was collaborative, fulfilling and developed and valued everyone in the organization.

Say what?

This is what I first learned. (I have since unlearned it in a big way).
If the warehouse needed boxes made, then all hands on deck, everybody would head over and make boxes.
If the call center was overwhelmed then they started transferring calls over to other departments.

This was practically unheard of back then.

If you saw the CEO out back making boxes it gave you a sense of pride to see him joking with the warehouse workers.

I worked part-time and only a few months but Alan gave me a Christmas bonus anyway.
It was $109 bucks and it meant the world to me. They had a budget and it was divided among everyone equally. Social democracy at work.

I cried because I desperately needed gas money to make it home to Maine for the holidays and was not expecting it.
There is a saying “you can’t get there from here”, and it comes from the fact that you can’t get from Burlington Vermont to Bangor Maine easily.
There are 3 mountain ranges you need to get through in between, the Western Mountains of Maine, the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Before there was a route that cut through the mountains range people literally could not get there from here.


Magic Hat Brewery
Back then Vermont was known for maple syrup, ski trails and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream… not craft beer.
After 7th Generation, Newman took his sense of righteousness to making beer and founded Magic Hat Brewery in 1993 with home brewer, Bob Johnson.
Newman who is a self-described “classic entrepreneur” but not a beer maker and just said “alright let’s start a brewery”.

And that was that.
His official title was Conductor of Cosmic Symphonies.
Burlington Vermont is a university town nestled along the banks of Lake Champlain that embraced the craft beer movement.
Magic Hat laid the foundation for the state’s now-booming craft beer scene as the brewery got national attention for its dynamic design, bottle-cap fortunes and apricot-flavored beer.

Magic Hat grew to be the ninth largest craft brewery in America and by 2008 the company purchased Pyramid Breweries, makers of the Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s brands and had 129 employees.


magic hat#9
According to the Magic Hat website #9 is an ale “cloaked in Secrecy whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers. A beer brewed clandestinely and given a name whose meaning is never revealed. Why #9? Why, indeed. A sort of dry, crisp, fruity, refreshing, not-quite pale ale. #9 is really impossible to describe because there’s never been anything else quite like it. Fermented with 150 year old strain of top-fermenting English yeast.”

I had the opportunity to drink one of the first batches at a brewery party.


Focus on Giving Back to the Community
Newman’s mantra was always to “give something back to the community and to give back to all the people that had been supporting our business.”
On election years Magic Hat would do a series of bar promotion called “Participation” and get people to register to vote.


Vermont Foodbank
Vermont Foodbank

But by far the most successful socially conscious endeavor is the Magic Hat annual Mardi Gras Parade.
The Mardi Gras parade has raised over $250k for non-profits such as HOPE Works, the Women’s Rape Crisis Center and the Vermont Foodbank over the last 2 decades.
The parade has seen snow storms, crowd surfing blow-up dolls, outrageous costumes, floats, beads, moonpies and, most important of all, the community support for local non-profit groups.
In 2010 Magic Hat (including Pyramid) was acquired by North American Breweries and Newman went on to create Alchemy & Science.


Alchemy & Science and Traveler Beer Co.
In 2011 Alan launched Alchemy & Science with the goal of bringing innovative craft beers to beer lovers near and far.
05bostonbeer_009AWhen Boston Beer chairman, Jim Koch, was finally ready to develop new lines of craft beers he looked to his old rival and friend, Alan Newman.
“Alan (Newman) has some very sound business judgment,” Koch added. “It’s a great opportunity to work together and do things that weren’t going to happen given my focus with the Samuel Adams brand.”
Alchemy & Science is an “independently operating” subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company and run from Burlington, Vermont.
Koch offered Newman the freedom to run the company as he see best but still have the brewers and resources at Boston Beer to call on when needed.
Alan saw that the craft beer community was bursting with darker brews and IPAs but there was a surprising lack of any craft shandys.
So the Traveler Beer Company was born.
According to the Beer Traveler website, the story of the shandy goes way back.
“The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century and is typically beer mixed with a citrus-flavored soda or carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale or cider.”
It’s a blend of traditional English ale with fruit.
Curious Traveler is a malt wheat ale infused with lemon puree and has a bright citrus aroma and taste.
Time Traveler uses fresh strawberries to create a unique and sweet flavor and Illusive Traveler is a grapefruit shandy that has bright citric flavor without bitterness.
The company is trying to get Traveler distributed in all 50 states and is backed by a national television-ad campaign.
According the Alchemy & Science website, the company is a brotherhood of beer companies. “We’ve bought two breweries (on opposite coasts), and we have created two from scratch.
To date the company has purchased Coney Island Beer in New York, Angel City Beer in LA and Concrete

Beach Brewery in Miami.
The Just Beer Project

A few years ago Alan walked into a bar, looked at the draft tower, scratched his head and said, “WTF,” then ordered one of the myriad of beers he knew nothing about.
It was a 70 IBU beer with an ABV of 9%. IBU is an abbreviation for the International Bitterness Units scale, a gauge of beer’s bitterness abd ABV is Alcohol By Volume.
After he finished, he asked the bartender what he had that was not so BIG.
They were all the same big bitter beers with a high alcohol content.
After struggling through his second beer, he decided to switch to… water.
The craft beer industry is growing at a rapid rate and it’s routine for beer bars to have 50, 60, 80, 100 draft lines, most of them old and oxidized.
The Just Beer Project’s mission is to deliver beer drinkers un-complicated, world-class craft brews that are delightful in their simplicity – nothing too complicated or exotic and with all natural ingredients.
The beers are very drinkable and stay within the 5% ABV range, and focus on a great balance between malt and hops.

The Just Beer project is for people who just want a great beer.
“If beer drank beer, this is the beer beer would drink,” preaches Newman.
A great example is the Anytime IPA: “The hops weren’t harvested from the grounds of a temple in the heart of a jungle that you’ve never even heard of.  This beer won’t change your attitude. We’re not trying to scare you or numb your tongue. You just drink it.”


AngelCityBrewingAngel City Beer

You can take the man out of Vermont but you can’t take Vermont out of the man.
Alchemy acquired the Angel City brewery and it’s location in the Downtown LA Arts District in 2012.
What has evolved over the years is a Public House that serves as a community gathering place and a brewery that produces an incredibly diverse portfolio of world-class, award winning beer.
Angel City expanded distribution to Las Vegas in 2015 and to the entire state of California in 2016.
“With Angel City, we embrace the local culture,” Newman said in an interview with BeerHound. “We are part of the renaissance of the downtown community and involved with a bunch of local organizations.

In Los Angeles, Angel City is as local as it gets. Local artists display their work in the brewery and Los Angeles’ finest food trucks routinely park outside and serve food to taproom visitors.
Newman’s vision of Angel City has always been for it to be L.A.’s local craft beer brand. He said he’s often reminded of his early days at Magic Hat.


He has even started an annual Heritage Festival that is reminiscent of the Vermont’s Mardi Gras that gives back  to the community.
“In its heyday, everyone in Vermont was proud to be in the community with Magic Hat,” he said. “We were such a strong member of the community.
That is what we are trying to do here in L.A. We just want to be an integral part of the community.”


Maybe you can get there from here.


NewAir AWB-360DB Dual Zone Craft Beer Cooler
NewAir AWB-360DB Dual Zone Craft Beer Cooler

Beer Storing with NewAir AWB-360DB Dual Zone Craft Beer Cooler
Alchemy creates “home town brews” for three cities and offers a 22 oz bottles that you can take home with you.
Most beers are meant to be drank within a short period of time after being brewed within 2-6 months.
But a surprising number of craft beers can benefit from extended aging, if stored properly.
Aging beer is done for the same reason wine is aged, to bring out flavors that would not be present with initial brewing.
Best beer to age are strong ales, barlywines, lambics and imperial stouts.
These beers have active yeast still present in them and fruit or spices that the alcohol breaks down with time.
Only beer that has some active yeast left will be good for aging. There is no benefit to aging a Bud Light.
The taste mellows gives an amazing drinking experience.
Enjoy your costly collection for all it’s worth and invest in the best storage available with a NewAir AWB-360DB Dual Zone Wine & Beverage Cooler.
Dual cooling zones mean that the cabinet’s side by side storage areas are specialized and independently operated for chilling different craft beers at your desired temperature ranges.
The thermostat ranges from 36-72° F in both zones and it can be adjusted if you want with ready-to-drink pale ale on one side and ageing stout on the other.

Strong beers tend to prefer standard temperatures around 55-60 F. This includes barleywines and other stronger beers.
Standard Ales like IPAs and stouts prefer to be slightly chillier at 50-55 F.
Lighter beers need refrigerator level temperatures of 45-50 F.

For more information on storing your favorite craft beer check out NewAir.com

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