Pretoria Fields Presents: The Futurebirds at The Ivy

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August 5, 2018

We are thrilled to be presenting THE FUTUREBIRDS this Saturday, August 11 at The Ivy Buckhead in Atlanta. The only thing better than watching an incredible live band is doing it with good company and a good beer in hand. Our Pretoria Fields Collective team will be in the house to hear this talented group, and our beer will be available throughout the evening for your (and our) enjoyment. Take a moment to check out their video below, and then follow this link to grab tickets and enjoy the evening with us!

Cans of Shoalie and Skywater

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July 27, 2018

We are up and running smoothly on our Wild Goose Canning Line! Our first run was smooth, but we had Wild Goose technician by our side to walk us through the process and navigate any hiccups along the way. Our brewers, Eric and Kevin, have now studied every square inch of the equipment and are smoothly canning every other week to keep our local package stores (and our tasting room) stocked with 6 packs of our two most popular beers: Skywater Golden Ale and Shoalie IPA.

At the front end of the canning line is a depalletizer that’s made by an innovative company called SkaFab. From the SkaFab website: “Matt Vincent, the third partner in Durango’s largest and most award-winning craft beer brewery, invented and built dozens of devices over the years to help Ska Brewing achieve efficiencies in the brewing, packaging and distribution of their beer. But the strong demand for one of those machines, the can depalletizer—a steel framed machine that automatically lifts layers of empty cans from the pallets they arrive on and feeds them onto a canning line’s conveyor belt—inspired Vincent to start a new company.”

This essential piece of equipment feeds the cans smoothly into the canning line automatically, so that an 8 foot tall pallet of stacked cans can seamlessly enter the line of filling production without concern. After the cans enter the canning shoot, they are purged with CO2 to eliminate oxygen presence inside of the can, and then perfectly filled (4 cans at a time) and prepared for sealing. The lids are placed atop each can, and then they are moved into the seamer to be completely sealed. The brewers continuously check individual cans for proper weight to ensure that the carbonation of the liquid is dialed in and that there isn’t any headspace in the cans. Along the conveyor belt, the cans receive a date stamp on the bottom to note their “Canned on” date, and then get fed into a final machine which lines up 6 cans to receive their “Paktech” topper.

Eventually, we plan to can other styles of beer. As of right now, with the amount of fermentation vessels that we have and our brewery’s capacity of production, we want to be sure to keep all beer in kegs for our draft accounts. This means that we are choosing to release only the Skywater and Shoalie into the market for the first few months of can sales. Have no fear, Stout fans, you will one day be able to purchase 6 packs of Walkers Station Stout.

No Dams Given: Albany’s Newest Podcast

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July 16, 2018

We are thrilled to announce that we will be working with The Levee Studios to produce a podcast titled No Damns Given.  Where does the name come from? Let us tell you… We first jotted this tagline down when we were in the early stages of designing our logo for Shoalie IPA. Our good friend Eric Belusko drew an awesome comic of a Shoal Bass blowing up a dam. The problems with dams for this species is that they eliminate rock shoals and riffles, which is where these bass love to ambush their prey. Although the drawing eventually turned into a beautiful image of a bass – we kept the phrase “No Dams Given” as part of the logo because frankly it’s a great pun.

Our podcast, however, is centered around current affairs and events in our community that we most definitely “give a dam” about. Our tasting room is often buzzing with conversation and some of the greatest – and most entertaining – discussions happen with a beer in hand. We decided to invite some of our community’s leaders over to hold conversation about what they are doing to create change and build a better Albany for future generations. We want to spread their message about what we should care about changing in our community, what we can do to help their cause, and to put it in simple terms… why we should “give a dam.”

Once our podcast is edited, we will release the audio segments here on our website. If you have someone in mind who is a mover and shaker and would contribute to the theme of bettering Albany: please send your suggestion to jharris@pretoriafields.com!

 

Independence in the Brewing Industry

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July 10, 2018

This Independence Day, we want to highlight something that we are very proud of: The Independent Craft Brewer’s Seal. “In an effort to educate beer lovers about which beers are independently produced, the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—launched a new seal touting independent craft brewers.” (brewersassociation.com) So what exactly does all of that mean? And why should we care as consumers?

Before Prohibition, our country’s landscape of breweries was very different than it is today. To start the conversation, the supply chain was extremely limited and ingredients were far more regionally sourced. On the other side of the supply and demand comparison, the sales territory was also far more localized. As more Europeans immigrated to the United States, the beer market grew (even beyond the spirits market in sales) and small, local producers were supported by their communities. (Another fascinating rabbit hole to go down is the relationship that local brewers developed with Saloon owners, forming the first exclusivity contracts in the US’s brewing industry.) Eventually, the technological changes – namely the railroad, telegraph, and mechanical refrigeration – enabled the growth of “shipping brewers” with capabilities to produce greater volumes and achieve wider distribution than ever before. The first of these being Pabst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri.

Naturally, the Prohibition period negatively impacted – note that I didn’t say ended – beer consumption. Today, historians estimate that beer consumption dropped as much as 50% during these 13 years, but certainly not entirely. Speakeasies and underground connections kept beer brewing in the country, but it was certainly a detriment to the growing popularity of beer.

Fast forward to 1933 when Good Ole’ FDR signed the Cullen–Harrison Act in March, allowing the manufacturing and sales of 3.2% beer (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) – and then later in December, repealed the Eighteenth Amendment with ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment. But, before the American beer industry could attempt to re-establish itself, World War II began. This further inhibited the re-emergence of smaller breweries because much of the grain supply was rationed due to the war, forcing the breweries to use adjuncts such as corn and rice alongside the barley traditionally used in brewing. By the 1970s, consolidation and dominance by the country’s major brewers led to the fewest number of breweries in the country’s modern history. Despite this, the period also saw the beginnings of the country’s current craft beer movement. In 1976, optical engineer and homebrewer Jack McAuliffe founded New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma County, California, becoming the nation’s first microbrewery since Prohibition. New Albion ignited an interest in craft beer and set a precedent for a generation of craft brewers, including Ken Grossman and the owners of Mendocino Brewing Company, the nation’s first brewpub. By March 1986, five brewpubs had opened in the United States. The total number of breweries rose from 42 in 1978 to over 2,750 in 2012, reaching or exceeding the number of breweries estimated to have existed during the colonial period. Virtually all of this growth is attributable to small, independent breweries. (wikipedia) 

So, if you’re still with me, you know that our beer industry is what it is today because of the small guys. The creativity, the pursuit of ecological advances, the community involvement – these are all things that Independent Craft Brewers bring to the table. Larger producers haven’t had the opportunity to experiment with styles and push the envelope of style standards like the craft brewers have. As the craft brewers began to take a larger slice of the market, the mega-corporations began to notice. In the past 10 years – and especially in the past 5 years – the giants have been doing their best to blur the lines of craft and corp. The Craft Brewer’s Associate has rallied together more than ever in recent years to defend the name of Craft. The Independent Brewer’s Seal is one of these tools: as you must be a registered Craft Brewer to use it on any of your collateral. Requirements to being a Craft Brewer:

  • Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less
  • Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled or equivalent economic interest by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer.)
  • a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored Malt Beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

 

Choose Craft to support Independent Brewers!

New equipment to meet market demand!

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June 15, 2018

After our first 6 months of being open and distributing kegs throughout South Georgia, we are humbled and grateful for the incredible support that we have received. We have tons of gratitude to the entire team at United Distributors who have been representing our brand to their accounts. We knew that our brewmaster, Eric Kirchner, had designed and crafted some incredible craft beer, but you just don’t know how the market is going to respond until pints are being poured throughout the region. Our sales haven’t slowed down yet, and we’ve received requests from all over the state of GA and even outside of our state to get our beers into new taps. And so, it was inevitable that we brought in a few more fermentation tanks and another brite tank to make sure we could get Pretoria brews to the people asking for them! 

In addition to more fermentation vessels, part of our plan for our year open included the move into canning. After hours of research, we decided that a Wild Goose Canning line was our dream machine. Once we contacted their company and learned that there was an opportunity to purchase the system that would be set up for display at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Nashville, TN, we decided the stars were aligned.

In addition to the canning line equipment, we needed a specialty de-palletizer which would feed the empty cans into the system. SKA Fabricating has ingeniously designed a great machine which works efficiently with our Wild Goose Equipment, and so we scheduled technicians from both of these companies to join us at Pretoria Fields the first week of June to get it all up and running. For our first run, we decided that we should start with Skywater as it is the perfect beer to take along for a hike or trip to the shore. On June 6, the first cans of Pretoria Fields beer were filled, sealed and packaged.

Update: Check out the local coverage in the Albany Herald here!