Things you’ve been hearing a lot about lately: Mikkeller, the seemingly omnipresent brand powered by one nomadic Dane. New York City’s Birreria, the rooftop Italian beer garden brewing with Dogfish and Italy’s Baladin and Del Borgo. And CBD’s sodding, continual coverage of hot pockets of these “crafty” imports, or the growing cadre of (at least comparatively) smaller-batch imports that are at least seemingly driven by consumers that also drink American craft. (Whew.) Consumers looking for something more obscure. But you want numbers and quantification. You want to know what so-called crafty import brands are hot, and why, not just big-picture stuff. So here’s the deal.

The formation of CraftWorks last fall brought Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Old Chicago Grill under the same roof, simultaneously creating one of the largest beer-centric casual restaurant chains in the nation. The system has close to 200 units altogether; Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch brew most of their beer in-house, while Old Chicago Grill is famed for having 110 worldwide beer brands. Each concept has new locations slated for this year. But what we’re more interested in is the treasure trove of on-premise intel that must be behind this system. So we picked the brain of Stuart Melia, CraftWorks’ vp of beverage, on this roughly 40%-60% (bev-food breakdown) chain. The highlights in his words:

Can a big company learn to act more like a small one? The formation of MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake venture about a year ago seemed to assume it could, with a proclaimed mission to innovate in the craft segment. And yet, no new Blue Moons have yet churned out of the spinoff company. To that end, your editor has even asserted that the big brewers might find it more efficient to acquire rather than innovate. Perhaps Tenth and Blake’s latest will prove that wrong. (Of course, there’s always acquisition and innovation, but I digress.) Tenth and Blake spokesman Tom Ryan and Tenth and Blake director of strategy Jeff White just let CBD in on what the

Oftentimes distributors get a bad rap in the craft brewer world. But “we are good people,” said World Class Beverages’ Jim Schembre in speaking to the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. Interestingly, he encouraged distributors to defend and describe the three-tier system to consumers and suppliers: how much it costs to ship beer, pay drivers and buy trucks, etc. For “if you don’t know it, you’re getting pounded” on social media, he warned.

It’s June 16. That means you may have just missed this month’s issue of Wired. But just in case, run to the nearest slow-turn grocer and try to five-finger it, because there’s an article on page 130 called

For those wary of that amorphous, juggernaut class of 600+ new breweries coming online, consider exhibit A: Larry Sidor. He’s the guy that worked for Olympia 20+ years before helping define the style and flavor of Deschutes as brewmaster, engineering sales-driving flagships like Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale and Inversion IPA and big beer benchmarks The Abyss and The Dissident. On his watch, the company has grown from 118,000 barrels to 208,000, making them craft brewer No. 5…

CBD has learned that New Belgium will hit the Washington DC area with a motley crew of distributors: Reyes Family are in for Northern Virginia and D.C. (Premium Beverage) and in 49 counties in Central and Southwestern Virginia (Blue Ridge Beverage Co.) according to a Truth Squadder. But they didn’t only stay with MillerCoors houses, for A-B house M. Price Distributing confirmed that they’ll bring the item in around Hampton, Newport News, and Williamsburg toward the end of August. We’ve heard whispers of independent houses too in the area, but no confirmations. There have gotta be some overlapping territories. An interesting strategy for sure that will be explained come official announcements. BBD broke news of NBB being Eastern Seaboard-bound in January…

The small brewer excise bill is heating up, and it’s not even on the floor. Friday Nick Matt and Sam Calagione responded to Larry Bell’s BA posting from Tuesday, countering his argument that small brewers shouldn’t be fighting for tax rollbacks for brewers at the 2-to-6 million barrel mark (see “Philly’s On-Premise Animal”). Their core points:…

We’ve heard a lot of concern about craft consumers’ promiscuous palates this week, and industry consultant Bump Williams’ latest client letter just sharpens them. Some of the top craft brands seem to be losing a bit of share — Bump pinpointed Fat Tire shrinking in core markets in particular. And Boston Lager may be going through a “maturity cycle more than anything else,” though Boston is doing well with their seasonals and Brewmaster’s Collection. When these big craft guys lose brand share, where does it go?…

Certain names are recurring darlings for Philly’s craft beginnings. Ed Friedland is one of them. Ed is the craft specialist for Origlio’s separate and dedicated craft division, responsible for landing most of its 47 craft brands by way of his original namesake distributor, which Origlio eventually purchased. His dad was the first to import Guinness and Bass in Pennsylvania, and brought in Carlsberg and other European imports. The area had a thirst for then-unconventional beers even that generation or two ago, but “a few passionate customers back in the day really helped,” he says. Like curious palates and forward-thinking tavern owners. In fact, the case state largely driven by the on-premise…

The crowning jewel of 4-year-old Philly Beer Week? Possibly yesterday’s inaugural Forum of the Gods, which saw Ale Street News’ Tony Forder and Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell grill Larry Sidor (Deschutes), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River), Carol Stoudt (Stoudt’s), Brian Grossman (Sierra Nevada), and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) on industry thoughts and trends…

At late May’s California Small Brewers Association meeting, the “crystal ball” panel fielded a question on private label beers. It’s interesting that would even be on the radar of craft suppliers – after all, private label is less than one percent of the entire beer category, and less than that for craft, according to Nielsen’s Nick Lake. It has no on-premise opportunities. And, as big brother publication Beer Business Daily reported last week, private label had been declining for years before the Summer 2010…

Your editor was among the sampling and Savor-ing at the National Building Museum Friday. Perhaps the event offers some lessons for craft brew positioning – how often and where else do many non-core craft consumers dress up to taste expertly made food and beer together? The special salons were packed with all the erudite knowledge – with perhaps a fraction of the snobbery – that often characterizes the wine world. Such “table theater” should continue to help elevate craft’s image as multi-occasional and sophisticated to the mainstream drinker…

In St. Louis, “the number of consumers that think about ‘craft’ beer, you can count on one hand,” says Dan Kopman, who runs Schlafly, the oldest craft game in town. So what about them? “That’s different. That’s local beer … the small or local brewery.”…

Yesterday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed SB 754 into law. So now, in a state where self-distribution was the taken-for-granted norm, there’s a 7,500-barrel cap. We probably don’t have to tell you how that strikes fear into the hearts of many a watchful small supplier around the nation….