Sake is sliding from the sushi bar to the dinner table. The Japanese sake industry is exporting more of the popular rice wine to America than ever before. More sake brands are putting English descriptions on their labels, which has surged sales growth. Kristin Breshears, a Certified Sake Professional and distributor for Vine Connections, says most Americans drink sake hot, served in a small ceramic cup along with sushi or dropped in a beer. Breshears, though, says sake is “a really beautiful beverage that should be served chilled and hopefully out of a wine glass so you can smell the aromas.”

Read more (New Orleans Gambit)

Could a cork-topped wine bottle become a thing of the past? Use of cork closures are down compared to 10 years ago as more brands opt for alternative closures. But bottle closures influence a person’s perception of a wine, according to three separate studies. Natural corks are still the preferred favorite and glass stoppers are considered an adequate replacement for luxury brands. Despite, more wine brands are using screw top closures – they’re on average .95 cents cheaper a bottle compared to cork and, after years in the cellar fermenting, show better than a cork-topped wine.

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There are beer wars over fermentation practices between two of the country’s biggest beer brands. MillersCoors is suing Anheuser-Busch over a Bud Light Super Bowl ad that shamed Miller Lite and Coors Light beers for using corn syrup during their brewing process. The controversial ad shows the Bud Light King trying to figure out what to do with a giant corn syrup barrel delivered to their castle by mistake. The Bud Light knights attempt to deliver the barrel to both the Miller Lite and Coors Lite castle, since both beers have corn syrup in their ingredients. MillersCoors says the ad is false advertising. The brand says corn syrup is used in brewing to aid the fermentation process, but their final product does not include corn syrup. MillerCoors also alleges that Anheuser-Busch is playing on consumer’s fears of corn syrup. Focus groups show consumers view no difference between corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. Dietitians say corn syrup is not unhealthy in brewing, but high-fructose corn syrup is an additive linked to obesity. The lawsuit also alleges Anheuser-Busch also uses corn syrup as a fermentation aid in some of the brand’s other drinks (Stella Artois Cidre and Bud Ice). MillerCoors is asking Bud Light to stop the ad immediately and pay all of MillerCoors’ legal fees.

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Craft beer sales increased 8% in 2017, up to $26 billion. Craft beer now accounts for more than 23% of the $111.4 billion U.S. beer market. – Brewers Association

Female leadership is sparse in the craft beer industry – just 17% are CEOs and 21% are executives. Tanisha “T” Robinson talks about breaking the glass ceiling as the female CEO of BrewDog’s U.S. operations. Robinson says there is a huge demographic opportunity to draw in more women and people of color to the industry. “If craft brewers could figure out how to authentically connect to women and people of color, they could sell a lot more beer,” she said. “That’s something that I highly doubt most craft brewers are talking about or thinking about, but it’s something that is important to me — that craft beer should be open and accessible and authentic and approachable for everyone.” She says partnerships, events and collaborations are a great step.

Read more (MarketWatch) (Photo: BrewDog)

Two scientists have a patent pending on a brewery invention that detects the wild yeast contaminant Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus. The wild yeast causes secondary fermentation in beer production, fermenting unfermentable sugars and overcarbonating brews. A contamination costs brewers millions in recalled product, lost sales and decreased market share. The patent is by a University of Sciences director and his 20-year-old undergrad researcher. The microbiological medium would be marketed for professional and home brewers.

Read more (Philadelphia Business Journal)

The latest special edition of TIME magazine featured a familiar cover star: beer. In “The Story of the World’s Most Celebrated Drink,” TIME attributes the drink’s popularity largely to a social factor. People like to drink beer in social settings – it has far less alcohol, it’s a staple at sporting events and people who frequent pubs have a wider social circle. And great news for local, craft brewers – today, beer drinkers prefer local breweries over bars. (TIME) https://goo.gl/ra98Bk

Are brut IPAs a trend that will fade or a movement that will stick? Started in San Francisco, brut IPAs are a beer style that is dry, crisp and heavily carbonated like champagne. The unique flavor is thanks to the fermentation process, where an amyloglucosidase enzyme is used to “ferment sugars that wouldn’t break down with yeast alone, which leaves them totally dry,” according to the LA Times. Brewers and hopheads are excited about brut IPAs, leading to many breweries offering brut IPAs on their menu.

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Should big beer brands be allowed to patent barley? In Europe, a major win for a group of small brewers who were suing Heineken and Carlsberg. The European Patent Office allowed the brewing giants to patent several kinds of barley. Heineken and Carlsberg say they invented the barley strains. Critics of the patent, though, say the barley naturally occurs and it’s based on fermenting science that brewers have used for thousands of years. In the first of three hearings, the patent office says the big beer brands could only have patents to barley with a specific genetic mutation.

Read more (The Times)

“The world’s oldest alcoholic beverage has suddenly become new again,” the New York Times writes of mead. The fermented honey drink (also known as honey wine) is featured in a new book “Mead: The Libations, Legends and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink.” According to the American Mead Makers Association, mead is more popular than craft beer, with a new meadery opening in the U.S. every seven days.

Read more (The New York Times)