Sometimes a microbrew can’t keep up with demand, or it wants to expand its operation but doesn’t have the space.
Taking its recipe to another brewer, and allowing the larger brewer to produce product under the smaller brewer’s name, is known as contract brewing.
It used to be a dirty secret, but now it’s an accepted path to survival and growth. Some larger facilities even act as incubators for start-up breweries.
When "beer experts and guides" adopted the word sommelier, it seems it didn’t fly with the wine industry.
So, beer crafters adopted another word with a rich history: cicerone, "a person who conducts sightseers, a guide." It is thought that tour guides had the knowledge and eloquence of Cicero, the Roman statesman and orator.
If the beer world was looking for a term as classy as sommelier, we think they found it.
Your local brewpub is probably home to a handful of passionate beer geeks, who might not only delight in what is being brewed on the premises, but know a great deal about the process.
These folks have no trouble standing in line when limited-release packs are available to take home, and might even dabble in a little questionable behavior, which we’re about to go into next. (Boy scouts may want to click elsewhere.)
Beer Black Market
It exists! Small, craft breweries are limited in space, and therefore produce less.
When a small batch of Sweet Nuthin’ Cherry-Mesquite-Pecan Ale (we made that up, but it probably exists) becomes a sought-after commodity, a black market develops.
There are intricate networks of beer geeks who work together, skirting shipping laws and purchase maximums in order to get their hands on specialty beers.
As it implies, beer muling is the act of collecting, moving, or storing bottles of limited-batch brews—a metaphorical mule.
There are elite clubs and networks that enable the process, which can be complicated when thousands of miles might separate the geek from the brewery.
On beer-specific websites and blogs, and on rabbit holes like Reddit, beer geeks find trading forums, where they can trade that four-pack of rare suds for something they haven’t yet tasted.
Not a way of secretly moving precious suds. Beer runners are athletic runners who typically belong to running clubs that follow a good workout with some premium brew, combining two passions into one event.Beer runners happily point to reportedly legit studies that claim post-run beer—in moderation—is as effective as water in rehydration.
A bottle share is a gathering of beer geeks who may barely know each other’s names, but that’s OK, because all they’re really interested in is getting a sip of some rare brew in exchange for sampling the bottle they brought.
A bottle share is actually a smart way to taste a wide range of interesting beers without spending a lot of money.
Vinous refers to a beer that is crafted to reflect some of the rich qualities of wine. There are barrel-aged, complex beers that are upwards of $200 a bottle and that compare to port.
From apricot to cherry to bananas, beer geeks are expanding the flavor profiles of beer into unusual places, and fruity (or fruity-sour) beers are extremely popular.
Zymurgy is the applied science of fermentation’s biochemical process. It applies largely to wine, beer, cider, and fermented foods. Zym- is from a Greek root meaning "leaven" and -urgy, "work."