“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
― His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama
As we move beyond the now defunct Mayan apocalyptic prediction, we reflect on what came before our world was to end and what is still to come. In the daily effort of the employees of Schlafly Beer we encounter challenges and successes that are part of the connections we make with each other, colleagues at other breweries, the farmers that grow our barley and hops, our many other suppliers, our distributor and retail partners and most importantly the consumers of Schlafly Beer. The life blood of Schlafly Beer is our consumers trust and dollars that they put in our hands in order to brew their Schlafly Beer. The beer is then part of any number of great moments that leave behind great memories. It is the memories that make the relationships special and I want to thank our employees and customers for another great year, full of great memories.
A few highlights from this past year:
- Implemented our plan for succession by bringing in additional St. Louis-based owners, including 28 Schlafly employees.
- By the time we reach the end of 2012, nearly 50,000 bbls of Schlafly Beer will have been brewed and consumed.
- Our Head of Brewing Operations, James “Otto” Ottolini was awarded the prestigious Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing from the Brewers Association.
- Our two home market distributors, Major Brands and Koerner have each reached new milestones in 2012. Major Brands has delivered over 400,000 cases of Schlafly throughout Missouri and Koerner has delivered almost 55,000 cases in Southern Illinois.
- We began or expanded distribution in Iowa, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
- Throughout 2012 we brewed over 50 different styles of Schlafly Beer. New styles like Tasmanian IPA and Single Malt Scottish Ale remind us every day of the commitment and passion that our brewers have; the very same commitment and passion that is present in every bottle of Pale Ale and Kölsch.
- In 2012 we also re-invested in our buildings and equipment. Our team built a new permanent, heated outdoor pavilion at Schlafly Bottleworks. 2012 also ushered in the installation of an incredible solar array on the roof of Schlafly Bottleworks to offset some of our energy usage. Our brewing team also began the process of making further improvements to add brewing capacity at Schlafly Bottleworks, The Schlafly Tap Room and our partner brewers in TN, IA and WI who will provide much needed additional capacity for the next 5 years while we continue to consider a new Schlafly brewery and what our needs might look like.
- As noted above, Schlafly Beer is only as strong as its relationship with its customers. In the past year we have connected with Schlafly Beer fans at the Breweries, at tastings an events across 14 States, as well as online every day through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Over 20,000 people either attended one of our free public brewery tours at Schlafly Bottleworks or private VIP tours of the Schlafly Tap Room in 2012 and we’re looking to continue to grow that number in the coming year. We have organized and participated in almost 400 events from St. Louis to Kansas City, from Louisville to Nashville, from Iowa City to Peoria, from Memphis to Little Rock, Indianapolis, and in our Nation’s Capitol, Washington DC.
Looking into 2013 we see:
- A continued focus on the quality of the Schlafly beers that are enjoyed every day. We believe that it is important to get as close to the source of the brewing materials as possible. From the many visits to farmers in the US, Europe and elsewhere we find new materials and new ideas. In 2013 we will bring new varieties of barley, specialty grains and hops to make some existing beers even better and brew up some entirely new beers.
- Schlafly Pale Ale will continue to be part of my daily life as I continue to push our team to improve this classic English Style session Pale Ale. A Belgian Golden Ale, brewed with a German Hallertau hop grown in the US, will arrive in late March as part of the Special Release Series.
- A new series of session beers, under 5% abv, will appear in six pack cans and draft in April. The first to appear will be an IPA and a Brown Ale. Many of you have enjoyed a myriad of draft only beers that have led up to this. There are new hops from America and elsewhere that will appear in these beers. We will announce this on launch.
- 2013 will be the first full year for the Special Release IPA series. American IPA, packed full of fresh Amarillo, Simcoe and Centennial hops, will make a triumphant return in late January. In late May or early June, English Style X (Export) IPA will return with a new look and some malt and hop changes. Our English hops growers are a tad jealous of their American and Antipodean cousins and their big flavor, big aroma hops. We have purchased lot of Target hops from England to accompany the EKGs, Pilgrim and Northdown for the 2013 XIPA. And there will be other new varieties coming from England in the future. Then in October will come the return of Tasmanian IPA. Based on the early response we were able to increase our allocation of Galaxy hops from the 2013 crop year and beyond. And that is what we know. We have yet to have a year in which we did not “pull a fast one”. I expect 2013 to be no different.
- The search for a site for a future brewery will go on. We see the need for a minimum of 40 acres. The search is limited to St. Louis City and County.
- Exploring the idea of a small brewhouse, on site tap room and store in Chicago. As many of you know Schlafly Beer is not available in Chicago and we see a store front as a way in which we might introduce Schlafly Beer in the Windy City.
- Schlafly Beer will continue to be found in the DC Metro area. We need to do everything we can to ensure that our elected officials can craft solutions to help the nation. There is nothing better than a fine Schlafly Beer to assist in the process.
- A bit of Schlafly Beer will be found in 2013 in the NY Metro area. The national media in NY tends to forget that some of the best and most innovative beers are actually being brewed in the Midwest and they need to check it out. It’s up to you, New York.
- Our Dedicated Distribution Area is 300 miles from St. Louis, and in 2013 we will finally get to a few more areas and a few more Cardinal fans including those in most of Arkansas and Mississippi. We will also work harder in our existing markets to ensure that those who often can’t find a particular style of Schlafly Beer will find it easier to get their favorite Beer.