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Beer Logistics – Getting it to the Glass!

Around 100-150 years ago, finding a craft beer in the United States was relatively easy – with thousands of thriving breweries, it was a simple matter to head to your local and have a pint or two, then head home.  The downside?  Finding a great craft beer could be a little harder. 

Any local brewery might produce at best 2, or at most 3 different beers, and most stuck with a single brand!  With the lack of national infrastructure, modern packaging or refrigeration, and a transportation industry that revolved chiefly around waterways, horse and wagon, and a fledgling railroad system, travel from one area to another could typically be measured in months.  Also many breweries of the time attempted to recreate the styles of beer that the various growing immigrant populations remembered “from the old country”, but they were constrained by using the raw materials available locally – and somehow that Vienna Style lager or German Altbier just didn’t taste quite the same when it was brewed with local New England hops, Appalachian spring water or Great Plains malts.  If you didn’t care for the quality or styles of your local brewery, then you probably went thirsty, because being able to ship beer even a few miles to the next town or village was at best impractical, and in most cases impossible.  Beer from the “old country” – with the exception of a few singular styles in very specific circumstances like IPA and Russian Imperial Stout – forget about it!

Jump ahead to 2011. With one of the most sophisticated infrastructures in the world, huge fleets of trucks, efficient rail systems, and mammoth container ships that transverse the oceans, it is truly a great time to be a beer lover in the United States.  At BJ’s we are proud to be able to offer some of the greatest beers from around the globe alongside our own creations.  Many of these beers are the very same ones with rich traditions that inspired those immigrant brewers over a century ago. They arrive in our restaurants in such a condition to bring back fond memories to our guests of that trip years ago to England, Bavaria, Belgium, or Czechoslovakia.  And we give many of our own BJ’s beers their unique, distinctive characters by using imported malts, hops and yeasts that were unobtainable in the US even a decade ago.

Great beers from the next town or state?  We are truly proud to be able to serve the products of our fellow craft brethren that we admire and respect such as Sierra Nevada, Stone, Red Hook, Widmer, Sam Adams, alongside up-and-coming locals such as Green Flash or The Bruery.
Yes, managing one of the most complex brewing and distribution systems in the country presents it’s challenges, but what makes us unique at BJ’s is that every one of our own handcrafted beers travels in the best possible fashion, cold, from it’s origin directly to any one of our restaurants to be enjoyed whether it’s California, Washington, Florida, or any one of our restaurants in between.  No pasteurization, no artificial preservatives, no sterile filtration and no sitting warm in some unrefrigerated container truck in the middle of summer means that when you taste one of our BJ’s beers in your local restaurant, you are tasting the same Fresh and Flavorful beer that the brewers are tasting back at the brewery it came from.  The way it is meant to taste.

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