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Reliable Churchill, LLLP, has opened the doors at their new operations and distribution center in White Marsh/Middle River bringing over 500 jobs to the area. The company’s office and warehouse have consolidated in a 449,200 square foot facility built by Chesapeake Real Estate Group LLC and Industrial Income Trust in the Baltimore Crossroads business community.

“When you get to welcome a new company to Baltimore County with 500 jobs, it’s a great day to be County Executive,” said Baltimore County Executive Kamenetz. “Reliable Churchill adds to Baltimore Crossroads’ success as a significant employment center for eastern Baltimore County.”

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Before Dante Datta got into the bar and restaurant business, and way before he became bartender extraordinaire at Rasika West End, he led a very different life.  "I had a nearly 10-year career in finance before this!" he exclaimed, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My last job in that field was actually working for the Washington Nationals.  I would write a sales report for the ownership each week."

So, what made him leave the world of numbers and number crunching?  "I turned 27 years old," he recalled.  "It was my birthday, and I went to New York City to celebrate.  A friend of mine asked me, 'If you could do anything, what would you do?'  And like many other guys, I answered, 'Well, I'd open a bar!'  So, I started mopping floors in a restaurant while I was working during the day.  As far as the restaurant business is concerned, I guess you can see I got into it a bit late in life."

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Posted by on in October 2014 Editions

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As summer comes to its end, beer lover’s thoughts turn to Octoberfest.  It’s a time for sharing good food and drink with friends old and new.  It is also a good time to enjoy a seasonal style of beer known as Marzen.  Harpoon Octoberfest is a fine example of the Marzen style.

The Harpoon Brewery was founded in Boston in 1986 by two old friends, Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary.  Four years later, they held their first Octoberfest as a means of selling more beer, generating cash flow and gaining additional notoriety for the brewery.   It is commonly acknowledged that this festival and others provided additional profits necessary to keep the fledging company alive.  Since then, both Harpoon and its Octoberfest celebration have grown and prospered.  Last year eighteen thousand people enjoyed the festival in Boston, while another seven thousand had a great time at the company’s other location in Windsor, Vermont.

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You know you are talking to a person who has found his or her true calling in this world when you ask them: "What do you consider to be the hardest part of your job?" and the answer is: "Going home!  When you are doing something that you love, it can sometimes be so hard to go home and just turn your brain off.  You want to be back THERE!"

That "there" is Lincoln Restaurant in Washington, D.C.  That happy employee is lead bartender Rachel Sergi, who has been in the business for nearly two decades now. She started her career in the nation's capital at New Heights Restaurant before eventually hooking on with Lincoln, an American small plates eatery that focuses on organically sourced menu offerings with a heavy emphasis on its fresh cocktail program, as well.

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Country music fans often sing of having a "hometown honeymoon."  Those who like to strap on the old feedbag and stuff their faces with fried chicken, pizza, and pasta will tell you there's no better place for that than the Hometown Buffet restaurant chain.  But Baltimoreans looking for a hometown beer?  More and more are gravitating to Union Craft Brewing.

Founded by three local friends -- Adam Benesch, Kevin Blodger, and Jon Zerivitz -- this growing operation is quickly becoming a hometown favorite to locals and Marylanders alike.  Benesch, who recently sat down with the Beverage Journal on the eve of Union Craft's two-year anniversary, stated, "Being that all three of us are hometown guys, a lot of our passion for what we wanted to create here revolved around community.  We really wanted to be a community-based brewery.  What that means to us is hosting community-type events at the brewery, but also being very involved out in the community, whether it's partnering with local charities or coming up with ways to connect with other people in Baltimore doing great things.  That could mean restaurants holding various events or local causes that we connect with.  And beer is just that great thing everyone loves having around."

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The Devil’s Backbone Brewery of Lexington, VA, currently Virginia’s largest craft brewery, has won many awards for its beers over the years.  In 2013 the brewery was named “Small Brewer of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival and its flagship brand “Vienna Lager” has won both Gold and Silver awards at GABF and a Gold award at the 2012 World Beer Cup Championship.  Most recently, the brand won The Washington Post’s “Beer Madness” award after five rounds of tasting. 

Vienna Lager, a new style of beer, was first brewed in Austria in 1830 by Anton Dreher a brewmaster at Vienna’s Schwechater Brewery.  It was his goal to create an alternative to Germany’s popular Oktoberfest and Marzen beers. Stylistically, Vienna Lager is similar to both of them, but is lighter bodied and has less alcohol. 

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Historians often urge caution when interpreting current events as being important and permanent because in the larger scheme of things, these events often play only a minor role.  With the passage of time, a longer view can provide interesting and different perspectives.  The changing face of the U.S. beer business is an example.

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Posted by on in August 2014 Editions

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Never have more wines been so eco-friendly. So proudly, consciously, strategically eco-friendly. But before we all hop on this presumably-biodiesel-fueled bandwagon, it is important to ask: What is organic wine, and who cares? Does green-ness even factor in to people’s drinking thinking?

The topic is at once quite simple, and surprisingly complicated. Who doesn’t want to live greener, cleaner and more naturally? At the same time, the devilish details—of certification, and even definitions—make the entire concept slippery. And on top of the real deal, so to speak, the greenwashing in wine can get laid on pretty thick.

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Posted by on in August 2014 Editions

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“What’s more important, having a good product or having good marketing?” This rhetorical question is worthy of academic debate, but Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery has hit both sides of the question with their latest offering, “Dead Rise Summer Ale.”

This beer’s key “marketing hook” is a lesson in local marketing.  Deadrise Summer Ale is a celebration of Maryland’s cultural icons - blue crabs, a Bay built deadrise boat and Old Bay seasoning.  The beer is brewed in collaboration with Maryland based McCormack Spice, the makers of Old Bay Seasoning, to celebrate the spice’s 75th Anniversary.  And  to give consumers another reason to buy the beer; they are donating a portion of each sales dollar to “True Blue,” a program that benefits the Chesapeake Bay’s professional watermen. That’s for the good marketing part, now for the product.

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can't write about Tino's Italian Bistro with Wine Bar in Columbia without acknowledging that in a couple of days, or at most a week, I'm going to break down and go have dinner there.  It's that kind o' yummy!  But while it may be the authentic Italian recipes that lure customers there in the first place, most likely return for its impressive beverage selections that complement such dishes as Ravioli Chesapeake, Tortellini Bolognese, and Seafood Mare Bella. 

And those who do return often come back on a Sunday for what may be Howard County's best beverage promotion. Free Wine Sundays!  For every entree order, owner Chris Infantino and his staff take 25 percent off a bottle of wine from a list of 25 bottles to choose from. So, if there is a table of four and they all order main courses, they get a free bottle of vino. 

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One of the highlights of the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) conference was the recognition of twenty-one beverage licensees for their success in, and dedication to, the retail beverage alcohol industry with the 2014 Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards.  This is the twelfth year that the distilled spirits company has sponsored the honor. “Thanks to the support of Brown-Forman, we’re able to honor the best bar, tavern and package store owners in America,” stated Bodnovich.  “Independent beverage licensees, both on- and off-premise, are where customers discover the brands they love in settings that foster a sense of community, responsibility and hospitality.”  

Among the 21 recognized were Maryland's own Ashish Parikh, proprietor of Kelly's Liquors in Ellicott City; and David Dent, proprietor of WJ Dent & Sons/Chief's Bar in Tall Timbers. Eligible retailers had to be members of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), and they had to be nominated by its members.

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One might describe Garrick Lumsden, bar manager at the Passion Food Restaurant Group's popular Acadiana eatery, as a "company man."  Sure enough, he started in the hospitality business in the late 1980s on the corporate side, serving first as a corporate trainer for the Houston's restaurant chain.  After five years in that position, he moved over to the P.F. Chang's chain to serve in that same capacity.  

In those early years, he stuck close to his home market of Chicago.  "I did some traveling and opened up a few restaurants," he recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I got tired of Chicago and decided to move to New York City.  But I stopped in D.C. for a year and fell in love with it.  I never made it to New York!"

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Caitlin Love has definitely found both her love and her passion working for Passion Food Hospitality.  She is a seven-year company veteran and has served as bartender at the firm's District Commons eatery since its September 2011 grand opening.  Located on Washington Circle, it's basically a 21st century take on the traditional American tavern.  In terms of food offerings, customers love the huge raw bar and the open-hearth oven where everything from flavorful tarts to tasty flatbreads are baked.  But Love believes it is the drink selection that gets so many customers coming back for more, especially those who like to sample from District Commons' 99 Beers on the Wall.

"District Commons and Burger Tap and Shake are conjoined restaurants," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "We are the sixth and seventh restaurants the company has opened.  District Commons is American-themed, so we have an all-American wine and craft beer list and lots of American spirits, as well."

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aged beer.jpg - 106.34 KBOn the first morning of beer school many years ago, the instructor boldly stated, “Nothing good happens to beer once it is put into a bottle, can or keg.” Freshness fades and beer quickly deteriorates once it is put into any kind of container.  And while pasteurization might slow the process, the original taste is changed and the deterioration process from aging continues unabated until beer has lost its freshness, its flavor and its taste. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, the country’s largest domestic brewers spent millions of dollars studying the effects of aging on beer freshness. They concluded that after heat, light, oxygen and dirt, beer’s greatest enemy is time. Preservatives are one way to prolong the shelf life of beer, however, during the past thirty or so years, the use of preservatives has become unacceptable and most, if not all, brewers have discontinued using chemical preservatives. The brewers’ collective answer to prolonged shelf life was to store beer at lower than ambient temperatures, i.e. the temperature surrounding beer. 

Each brewer followed its own approach to address the aging problem only to arrive at a similar but temporary solution. At Anheuser-Busch, brewing chemists experimented with the effect of lower temperatures on beer aging. They concluded temperature played a very important role in the aging process, and was the one element that could be controlled throughout the manufacturing/distribution process. As a result, Anheuser-Busch wholesalers were mandated to either build expensive climatized/refrigerated warehouses or to retrofit existing facilities.  Each wholesaler plan had to be approved by AB prior to construction. The Coors Brewery approach not only involved a similar warehouse solution, but took the extra step to require its beer be shipped  in refrigerated trucks from its brewery in Golden, Colorado. It also required its wholesalers to deliver Coors products in insulated and refrigerated trucks. Miller imposed its own policy on air conditioned warehouses with temperature set points that vary throughout the year. Currently, Sam Adams and Pilsner Urquell amongst other brewers have adopted their own cold storage policies. Without a doubt these approaches have helped slow the aging process, but the overall effect is muted as a large percentage of beer is delivered and stored at retail locations in warm, unfriendly conditions.

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Posted by on in July 2014 Editions

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Milk stout takes its name from the milk sugar that is added to a stout to sweeten its taste.  As a style of beer, milk stout was developed more than one hundred years ago as an alternative to the ales, stouts and porters of the time. In those days, milk stout was promoted as having nutritional value and was frequently prescribed to nursing mothers.

The Left Hand Brewery of Longmont, Colorado has made classic milk stout uniquely its own with the infusion of nitrogen directly into the bottle without using a widget.  The combination of nitrogen and a low level of carbon dioxide together with flaked oats and flaked barley gives the beer its creamy texture, smooth body and almond colored collar of foam. 

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Michael_Cermatori0006.jpg - 93.16 KBMichael Cermatori, bartender at the Frisco Taphouse & Brewery in Columbia, has a pet peeve.  "I do not like a sticky bar top!" he declared, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "That's just lazy bartending.  If you go in someplace and it's sticky, it's not some place you want to go back to.  Now, if you work in a dive bar, I don't want you serving me with white gloves and your pinky in the air.  But have some pride in what you're doing."

Cermatori will only turn 29 in July.  But he already sounds like a longtime veteran of the business.  "I would tell anyone new and young in the beverage industry to know your product, know your clientele, and be aware of your surroundings," he said at one point.  "Things can happen pretty quick in the bar business.  I am lucky because Frisco is a great place.  But I've worked at some other places where things would get out of hand real quick.  So, keep your head on a swivel and know what's going on."  

In truth, Cermatori has been in the industry for a decade, having started as a barback and a bartender in fine dining in Long Island, N.Y.  "That's where I'm from," he said.  "I moved down here in the summer of 2005 to attend college." 

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Posted by on in June 2014 Edition

rum.jpg - 34.51 KBFrom its balmy Caribbean cradle, where it was consumed in copious amounts by seafarers, to the blenders of every beach bar in America, rum has ably fulfilled its calling as a fun-loving, tropical spirit.

But in a category as diverse as rum—which can be white, gold, spiced, flavored, overproof or aged—the frolicking frat boy persona that makes rum such a mixable and loveable spirit also means rum has occasionally struggled to be taken seriously, failing to realize the prices and sipping prestige that other spirits categories include. However, a current wave of super-premium rums and upsell options, hailing from both small entrepreneurs and category leaders alike, suggests that rum, as a whole, may finally be getting some overdue respect.

“Rum is the last category to premiumize,” says Tom Herbst, Vice President Marketing for Rum, Diageo. “Rum has characteristic challenges and opportunities, driven by its easygoing vacation values. We love those values because they make rum what it is. What we are trying to do across many of our rum brands is take that spirit, the exotic and fun side, and export it into more occasions.” Diageo’s portfolio includes spiced rum juggernaut Captain Morgan and Guatemala’s Ron Zacapa, as well as Pampero and Myer’s.

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FOR BOTH ON- AND OFF-PREMISE, CREATIVITY GIVES HEINEKEN USA AN EDGE IN AN INCREASINGLY COMPETITIVE MARKET

As an international beer leader, Heineken has always looked to project quality and consistency as core values in their flagship product, especially when it comes to the lucrative draught sector. Of all the tradewinds now buffeting the giant brewers of the world, draught quality is among the most problematic for a variety of reasons but hasn’t always received the attention it deserves. That is, until now, as Heineken USA is set to start the roll-out of what potentially could be a breakthrough in quality, consistency and environmentally sound beer delivery.

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Posted by on in June 2014 Edition

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There are some new features at our web site that are worth checking out.  Not only can you obtain all the information necessary to set up a subscription, get advertising information, pay invoices and renewals, and read all the articles as well as our subscribers being able to access their subscription information and search the monthly Price List as a PDF; but NOW the Maryland edition has an added function: a sort-able/searchable version of the Price List … we are calling it a Dynamic Search.  As I type this we have over 20,000 products up on this service.  We are adding products constantly.  The unique search ability and access to family plan discounts within a distributor make this new online service an incredible added value to your already indispensible Maryland Beverage Journal.   Accessing this added service is easy.  Simply, go to www.beveragejournalinc.com and then click the Login Here tab.  If you are a first time visitor, use the Customer Number option to Login (your customer number can be found on the top line of the mailing label of your hard copy Maryland Beverage Journal). In addition we are also able to offer downloadable data versions of the prices to marry-up with your POS systems. 

I hope you take the time to visit our web site and check out this new service.  Feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email with any questions.

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Adam Carolla is a man known for wearing many hats.  Comedian, author, actor, talk-show host, podcast host,... and now beverage biz mogul.  The third of his highly successful Mangria products recently launched and is now available in our market via Atlantic Wine and Spirits.  A Brand Profile is running in this month's edition of the Beverage Journal complete with a few quotes from Carolla himself.  As a Web edition extra, here is the full Q&A:

BEVERAGE JOURNAL: Every brand has a story behind it. What is Mangria's?

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"I love taking care of the guests.  I like judging how their day has been going and what might make their evening better.  That's always been what I have loved about bartending.  When you get somebody who has clearly had a bad day of work, and they have that first sip and you can see their shoulders just -- ahhhhhh -- relax.  In those moments, I think, 'OK, I'm helping.'"

Those are the words of Amy Russell, bar manager at Casa Luca.  This popular establishment on New York Avenue, is one of Fabio and Maria Trabocchi's most popular dining concepts.  Russell is just proud to be a part of the couple's legacy.  "Casa Luca is Chef Fabio's more family-style restaurant," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My understanding is a lot of his regulars kept saying to him at his other restaurants, 'We love this place, but we'd also love some place where we can bring our kids.  That was the inspiration for Casa Luca."

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Some say that whiskey is in the blood of any true Irishman. Well, it's positively surging through Stephen Teeling's veins.  Teeling comes from a long line of 

whiskey makers, as far back as the late 18th century, in fact.  He cut his teeth in the business working at Ireland's Cooley Distillery, which was founded by his father, John, in 1987.  Beam Inc. acquired Cooley in early 2012, and Stephen briefly stayed on as global marketing manager for Irish Whiskey.

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Posted by on in June 2014 Edition

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The Netherland’s Heineken Brewery has added a new product called “Amstel Radler” to its portfolio of world class beers.  

The radler style of beer has been around since 1922 when a Bavarian tavern keeper named Franz Xavier Kugler created a beverage to serve a group of cyclists participating in a local event. His creation married fresh lemon juice with a local beer in roughly a 50/50 ratio. 

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Posted by on in June 2014 Edition

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Major changes to the industry in Worcester County will take place July 1, of this year when licensees in Worcester County will be allowed to purchase product from private wholesalers. This has been a long time coming and most agree this is a good thing.

According to Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) Lobbyist Steve Wise, “The licensees of Worcester County mounted a major effort to take down the County’s Liquor Control Board (LCB or Dispensary) beginning in the summer of 2010. The difficulty came in getting the County’s Commissioner’s to part with the sometime significant revenues that the County and its municipalities derive from alcohol sales.”

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Samantha Withall, Beverage Director at The Hamilton on 14th Street, has certainly bounced around the biz locally.  She has been a chef for nearly a decade, having worked at such venues as Cafe Atlantico and Restaurant Nora and helping to open Minibar on E Street and Oyamel Cocina Mexicano.  At one point, she got out of the kitchen and served as Purchasing Director for the Park Hyatt Hotel.  "After that," she said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "I did some restaurant consulting work before jumping into a wine and beer buyer position for an all-natural, organic market in Olney, Md."

That job ended up stoking her passion for the beverage side of the business, and she eventually accepted her current job at The Hamilton.  "The Hamilton is the cruise ship of restaurants!" she proudly declared.  "We are very large.  We have a lot of square footage.  In fact, the actual space that we are in used to be a Borders bookstore.  Before that, it was a Garfinckel's department store.  We have six bars and a live music venue in our basement. We offer a ton of all-American cuisine, but we also have our own sushi bar in-house that is manned by a full team of sushi chefs.  We're owned by the Clyde's Restaurant Group, and we're very eclectic in what we offer."

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Posted by on in May 2014 Editions

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Twenty nine years ago the Blue Point Brewing Company, Long Island’s first significant microbrewery, was founded in Patchogue, New York by two old friends - Mark Burland and Peter Cooper. Unlike most microbreweries, Blue Point’s first beer was a lager rather than ale.  This was risky business as lagers require much more care throughout the brewing process than your typical ale.  Darker color or additional hopping cannot mask flavor flaws and other mistakes.  But Burland and Cooper’s risk paid off.  Toasted Lager became the brewer’s flagship brand, and a Gold and Silver Award winner at the World Beer Cup competition.

Blue Point’s “Toasted Lager” takes its name from a brewing technique that uses the direct application of flames to heat the brew kettle. This is in contrast with the usual method of heating the kettle with steam.  The long used “Fire Brewing “method has been around for a long time and provides a hint of toasted flavor.  It was used and highly touted by Detroit’s famous Stroh Brewery. 

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Beer marketing practices have changed rapidly in recent years and continue to evolve. It wasn’t long ago that local beer marketing consisted of the “beer man” bellying up to the bar and buying a couple rounds. While bar nights and trade spending still exist they have been eclipsed by other practices, but the one element that hasn’t changed from those bygone days is the firm belief in the popular slogan “Making friends is our business.”

The reach and power of personal marketing has now become more important than ever, and the majority of craft brewers “get it.” They have rediscovered what industry veterans have known for years that a friendly approach, knowledge about one’s product and providing honest recommendations go a long way in the brand building process.

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Posted by on in May 2014 Editions

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Benchmark London Dry style

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Posted by on in May 2014 Editions

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No longer simply juniper, this spirit can be classic or creative, modern or mystical

According to conventional wisdom, and to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, gin is a distilled spirit with its main flavor derived from juniper berries. That leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

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Posted by on in May 2014 Editions

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… Aims for Mucho Success In Maryland and D.C.

In early March, Beso del Sol Sangria expanded distribution to 10 states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia. The product is a joint venture between Arctic Beverage LLC and L&B, LLC, which have endeavored to bring a premium product in the high-growth sangria category to market. Arctic Beverage, importer of Beso del Sol, is partnering with Prestige Imports in Maryland and D.C.

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Whenever an Industry Snapshot subject tells me he is gotten into boxing in his spare time, I have to fight the urge to frontload the article with all sorts of fight cliches.  "When he got into the beverage business, he had the eye of the tiger ... and he still does!" "He's been punching and counter-punching in our industry for 10 years now."  "His company went 15 rounds with the last recession and was still standing at the end."

That's why I had to chuckle when Tim Schestag recently revealed: "I've taken up boxing.  I got tired of the monotony of being in a gym, and I can't stand running.  It was something different, something unique.  And believe it or not, it keeps me level on the job."

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Posted by on in May 2014 Editions

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American Beverage Licensees (ABL) will return to Washington, D.C. for the 2014 ABL Conference from June 8th through the10th. The 2014 conference will mark ABL’s 12th anniversary and brings together beer, wine and spirits retailers from across the country as well as representatives from all three tiers of the beverage alcohol industry. 

ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich recently stated, “ABL members will have a great opportunity to flex the retail tier’s grassroots muscles on Capitol Hill while also learning about the issues affecting their businesses from a range of industry leaders, elected officials and policy experts.”

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It's been eight years since Lauren Lowe made the move from the wilds of Michigan to Washington, D.C.  A part of her is still getting used to the transition.  "I lived in Michigan until I was 22," she stated.  "Needless to say, there is a thriving city life here in comparison to where I'm from."

Lowe has been part of that thriving city life for eight years now, specifically its bar scene.  Her first job behind the taps was at Chef Jeff's on 13th and F Streets.  She left there after about a year and a half to take a job at DC Coast.  She's been head bartender there for nearly six years now.

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Posted by on in April 2014 Editions

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Mosaic Red Rye IPA is a euphonious name for a beer. The name is quite a mouthful, and so is the beer.  This Rye based IPA is brewed by the award-winning Terrapin Brewery located in Athens, Georgia, which began brewing operations in 2002.  Terrapin brews a wide range of full flavored ales that are well balanced and not over the top in any way.

Much of Mosaic Red Rye IPA’s character is based on the use of Mosaic Hops – a new variety of hop. An offspring of Simcoe and Nugget hops, Mosaic derives its pleasant aroma and bitterness qualities from each of them. This new hop from the Northwest United States has a bright future and likely will become widely used in very short order.  

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In the 1987 movie "The Untouchables," Sean Connery's Irish beat cop famously instructed Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness on the "Chicago way" to get Al Capone and his notorious gang: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun.  He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!"

Well, if it had been Keith Kerkoff in that scene, he would have told the Prohibition-era enforcement agent, "Just offer 'em a bottle of Templeton Rye!"

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The appeal of premium spirits cuts across age and cultural demographic lines. The spirits industry has done a marvelous job positioning premium brands with contemporary consumers. Their allure is undeniable. They’re marketed in attention grabbing packages and offer people a lot of bang for the buck. That’s an unbeatable combination.

As with most high-ticket items, premium and super-premium spirits don’t sell themselves. Convincing a client that a $60 bottle of Russian vodka, a $200 American alembic brandy, or a 750ml of tequila retailing for $250 is a warranted and informed purchase requires technique and ready information. Considering that your staff will have little time to close the sale necessitates providing them with a viable strategy.

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Posted by on in April 2014 Editions

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Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, which resembles a cactus but is actually a member of the lily family. At the heart of the plant is the “piña” (similar in appearance to a pineapple), which produces the aguamiel (“honey water”) that is fermented and distilled.

Tequila may only be produced in designated areas of Mexico, most notably the state of Jalisco; the spirit takes its name from the town of Tequila.

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Posted by on in April 2014 Editions

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In a bigger, faster world, tequila expands to higher price points and showcases innovations.

Innovation can mean many things, but for spirits retailers, innovation in tequila has delivered a growing business with a much more lucrative ring.

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Frank Jones, bartender extraordinaire at The Gibson in Washington, D.C., is quick to list star mixologist Gina Chersevani among his first mentors in the business.  Chuckling at the memory of her early tutelage, he recalled, "Gina would always tell me that I was messy and slow!  What she was trying to get me to see was, as a bartender, you are constantly on display.  You don't really think of yourself as being part of the atmosphere, per se, but you are.  Unlike a server at a table, you can't leave your post.  You're stuck there, you're in a fish bowl, and they're watching you.  So, in turn, I've learned to be much more neat.  It's very important to always be aware of the fact that you are being watched and to bring some degree of elegance to the job."

Winner of last year's Artini competition at the Corcoran Gallery, Jones has been tending bar in the Washington metro area for a decade now. He started at the Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco.  From there, he went to Ardeo + Bardeo, the Belga Cafe, and the Jack Rose Dining Saloon.  "Now I am very happy to be at The Gibson," he stated, "where I pretty much manage the cocktail program."

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Spitfire Kentish Ale has an interesting back-story.  During World War II, Messerschmidt fighters from the German Luftwaffe dominated the air war over Britain until the Spitfire, a new Rolls Royce powered airplane, entered the fray and changed the outcome of the Battle of Britain. In 1990, fifty years after the battle, Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer (1698), brewed Spitfire Kentish Ale in a onetime effort to commemorate the success of the airplane in saving Britain and to raise funds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.  An unplanned success, Spitfire became popular and has remained in production since then, and during the past two years the brand has become the fastest growing bottled ale in Britain.

When poured into a wide mouthed pint glass, the beer is the color of blood orange and sports a thick off white head. As the beer is consumed, traces of foam lace remain while small bubble carbonation continues to rise in the glass.

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Over the years, there have been several retailers and wholesalers who have served in the Maryland Legislature.  Names like Pete Bozick, Jim Simpson, Cas Taylor and former Delegate James King come to mind, but very few have had such diverse experience in business, the legislature, government agencies and the alcohol beverage industry as Van Mitchell.

If asked about his widely diverse work history, Van might joke and say something like, “This guy you are talking about must have had a hard time keeping a job.”  The fact is, his varied and cumulative job experience make him ideally suited for his current job as a lobbyist in a firm that represents the alcohol industry.  When Van speaks with legislators, he doesn’t speak in theoretical terms, he speaks with the authority of someone who has actually been there and done it. As the popular 1960s saying goes, “He can talk the talk and he can walk the walk.” And, in his numerous careers we can see examples of his use of best practices in running a business.

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On Friday, Jan. 31, Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) held a luncheon at its Jessup headquarters in honor of salesman Mitch Laziuck, who has retired from the company after 42 years of service.  The event started at 11:30 a.m. and drew at least 200 RNDC staffers; customers; vendors; Laziuck's wife, Patty; and his daughter, Heather, and her husband.

RNDC Executive Vice President Gary Herd served as the emcee.  "It goes without saying that Mitch has had a tremendous impact on our company throughout the years," he stated, while at the podium.  "When you think about 42 years, that's a lifetime, and he's seen a lifetime of change at this company.  He has seen brands grow, and those are brands we all reap the benefits of today."

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Joe Bozick owes pretty much everything he has to the beverage industry.  He currently serves as Vice President of Bozick Distributors, the Waldorf-based beer distributor his father, Peter, founded in 1959.  The job has brought him closer to his brother, Brian, who serves as company President.  Joe even met his wife, Cheryl, through the industry as she was a longtime employee of Boston Beer.  They've now been married for 21 years.

Bozick Distributors serves the Southern Maryland area of Prince George's, Charles, St. Mary's, and Calvert counties.  Among the major suppliers and brewers the company represents are MillerCoors, Heineken USA, Brown Imports, Boston Beer, and Pabst.  "I love working with everyone here," Bozick declared during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "When Brian and I were growing up, everything was a lot more challenging in the sense that it was a struggle through the '80s and '90s.  We were in survival mode.  Back then, I really didn't have time to enjoy the people, because every day was a grind.  But now, everything runs smoothly and everybody does their job."

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In January, Krug National Brand Director Dorothy Bakker visited Baltimore in advance of the much-anticipated release of the Champagne house's new vintage.  But Bakker was in town to do more than just pour bubbly and hobnob with the local beverage elite.  Charm City was her latest stop on a tour she has undertaken to spread the word that champagne should be regarded as so much more than just a special-occasion drink one has on New Year's Eve or after a best man's toast.

"Champagne is actually a great and incredibly personable wine," she declared, during a special luncheon at the Capital Grille's Inner Harbor location.  "It's no longer just something with bubbles for weddings or for toasting someone's retirement.  At Krug, we want champagne to be more than just a compulsory thing.  I think you can have it every day whether it's with a good burger and French fries or with a richer pairing like Parmesan Reggiano."

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Posted by on in March 2014 Editions

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While bourbon and Scotch get more press, Irish whiskeys have quietly become the fastest growing, barrel-aged spirit in America. So what’s the attraction?

It may be no more complicated than Irish whiskeys are exceptionally easy to drink. They’re accessible, highly aromatic and loaded with palate pleasing flavors. Equally tempting, years of steadily increasing popularity hasn’t significantly driven up their price making them relative bargains. For a category long existing with nary a pulse, these are heady days.

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If you’re looking for bright spots in the world of Irish whiskey, it’s hard not to find them. The question is where to start.

For example, ground has recently been broken in County Carlow for the new 25 million pound Walsh Whiskey Distillery, a venture backed by the Italian makers of Disaronno Liqueur. Meanwhile to the northwest, William Grant & Sons, owner of Tullamore D.E.W., will fire up the stills next fall at their new distillery, the first in a generation for the brand. Those two are just part of the unprecedented Irish whiskey distillery boomlet, to be followed by other new facilities including one at a former Diageo brewery site in Dundalk and another right in Dublin.

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Posted by on in February 2014 Editions

Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery refers to its “Honker’s Ale” brand as an English style bitter, but don’t be fooled by the name. This fine beer is anything but bitter. What then is an English Bitter?  Simply put, it is a style of ale in which the brew master uses ample amounts of aromatic hops and sweet malt.  The result is a beer with a strong hop presence but a pleasantly drinkable taste.

The brew master at Goose Island uses an interesting mixture of grains including: two row barley malt, wheat malt and roasted barley.  This hearty malt combination produces a bread like aroma with a sweet malt flavor, strong enough to balance out the Stryrian Golden and Super Styrian hops. Although both hops types have mild bittering and aromatic qualities, Super Styrian hops is known especially for its dual flavor and scent characteristics.

When held to the light, a brilliant coppery gold color shows through the glass.  A tight off white head forms as it is poured and quickly dissipates into a nice band of lacey foam around the inside of the glass. An abundance of small bubble carbonation gives the beer a pleasant feel in the mouth that carries through in the aftertaste as a pleasant mix of hops and malt lingers at the back of the tongue.

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Maurizio Farro, founder of Cantiniere Imports & Distributing Inc., is a true American success story.  He even talks like a proud American, albeit with a way-cool Italian accent. He doesn't refer to the year he came to the United States as "2002."  He describes it as "the year after the Towers fell."  He didn't let the language barrier stop him from prospering.  He went to community college in Towson to improve his English ("I realized I had to not only learn the language, but be able to hear the people").  And when asked what his secret is for becoming his own boss, he answers: "If you come here to this country, you must come to work hard.  Otherwise, there is no reason to be here."

Farro indeed came to America in 2002.  "I come from a winemaker family in Naples," he said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My family has been making wine for decades.  Both of my grandfathers made wine, my father made wine, and so did my uncle.  There was always wine on the table.  . . . My father eventually didn't want to do the job anymore, and my brothers and I didn't follow in his footsteps.  It was my cousin, who was working for my father's brother, who kept the family business.  Today, I purchase his wine." 

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In every profession, there are some projects you work on that are just more "important" than others; projects that become less of a work task, and more a responsibility.  Into my lap a couple of weeks back fell a story about Reliable Churchill funding a new PSA (public service announcement) video for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Commonly known as "Maryland Shock Trauma," it's the place on the news where you hear people taken to or flown to when they have been in very bad accidents.  It's also the place where you as a parent do NOT want to get a call from in the middle of the night or anytime of the day or evening.

The executives and employees of Reliable Churchill know that.  In fact, management had been looking to do something along the lines of a video that was dramatic and immediate and real for some time.  The result is "Someone Like You," a 12-minute presentation that the company and Shock Trauma are hoping gets seen at every high school and in every Driver's Education class in the state.

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This 2014 Maryland General Assembly Session is underway and retailers have two options: sit back and watch and hope all turns out well, or be actively engaged and impact the outcome in a way that helps your business.  Please make it a top priority to join with members of the Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association (MBWA) and the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) on the morning of February 13th to meet with legislators from your district in their Annapolis offices.  The day will start in Annapolis at 7:30 am at the Governor Calvert House for meeting assignments and a briefing on the issues.  The group will then head over to the state house to meet with our elected representatives to voice the concerns of the industry on potential and proposed legislation.  The group will then meet back at the Governor Calvert House for a debriefing followed by MBWA and MSLBA association meetings.  Following these meetings there will be a luncheon ... all wrapping up by 1:00 pm.  

This is a great opportunity to meet your elected officials and let them know what is important to you and your business.  If you have questions or just want to register, call the MSLBA at 800 921-1381.

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