The Beverage Journal Blog

This is a place to read articles found in the Maryland and Washington DC Beverage Journals as well as thoughts on current issues from our staff. If you would like to be a registered BJ Blogger, contact Stephen Patten.

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What's Up in Worcester?

Posted by Stephen Patten
Stephen Patten
Steve is the Publisher of the Maryland & Washington, DC Beverage Journals (trade
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on Monday, 19 May 2014
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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Withall Finds a Home at The Hamilton

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
in May 2014 Editions

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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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Blue Point Toasted Lager

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
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 Festivals: A Recent Marketing Initiative

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
in May 2014 Editions

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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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GIN 101:The Many Styles of Gin

Posted by Beverage Network
Beverage Network
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
in May 2014 Editions

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Benchmark London Dry style

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GIN ReimaGINed

Posted by Beverage Network
Beverage Network
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
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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Beso del Sol Sangria

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
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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Tim Schestag: Making a Fist at Palm Bay

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
in May 2014 Editions

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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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2014 ABL Conference

Posted by Stephen Patten
Stephen Patten
Steve is the Publisher of the Maryland & Washington, DC Beverage Journals (trade
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on Thursday, 17 April 2014
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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DC Coast Enjoys the Highs With Lauren Lowe

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
in April 2014 Editions

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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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Terrapin’s Mosaic Red Rye IPA

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
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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Keith Kerkoff: How Templeton Rye Went Legit

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
in April 2014 Editions

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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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Up-Selling: A Practitioner’s Guide To Selling the Good Stuff

Posted by Robert Plotkin
Robert Plotkin
Roberto is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
in April 2014 Editions

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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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Tequila 101

Posted by Beverage Network
Beverage Network
The Beverage Network publications have been providing beverage alcohol licensees
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
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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Tequila To the Max

Posted by Beverage Network
Beverage Network
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on Wednesday, 19 March 2014
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: Front and Center at the Gibson

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Wednesday, 26 February 2014
in March 2014 Editions

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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 “The Bottle of Britain”

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Thursday, 20 February 2014
in March 2014 Editions

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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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Van Mitchell: Retailer-Legislator-Administrator and Lobbyist

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Thursday, 20 February 2014
in March 2014 Editions

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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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Longtime RNDC Salesman Mitch Laziuck Retires After 42 Years

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Thursday, 20 February 2014
in March 2014 Editions

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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: Bringing Up the Beer

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Thursday, 20 February 2014
in March 2014 Editions

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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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