This week in beer, wine and spirits news: Beer becomes an arcade game (and the winner gets ... beer!), beer trading cards and — yeeeeeeeeeehaw! there's beer in them thar hills! — Gold Rush beer.
1. A Special Glass for That Special Beer: As craft beer continues to expand its reach, beer consumers are more frequently reaching for a special glass for their special beer. Recognizing the popularity of the innovative and hoppy IPA style they have both become known for, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. have collaborated with Spiegelau to create what they are calling a "new standard for IPA glassware."
Among the design features in the glass: "a slender, bow shape to amplify hop aromas", "wave-like ridges to aerate IPAs on their way in and out of the glass", "a wide mouth, allowing drinkers to comfortably nose the beer" and a "laser-etched logo on the bottom of the bowl to sustain carbonation and head." The idea behind it all is to enhance the taste and experience of the beer. Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione and Sierra Nevada Ken Grossman discuss the new glass in this video:
The brewers have partnered on more than just the IPA glass, they have collaborated on an IPA to put in the glass. The result is Rhizing Bines, an "east-coast-meets-west Imperial IPA" with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 8%.
2. Gold Rush Lager: Anchor Brewing's roots go back to the Gold Rush and they're tapping into those roots by recreating the first California-made lager that was originally brewed in 1876 by the now-defunct Boca Brewery. The new Anchor California Lager has 4.9% ABV and is "crisp, clean, and refreshing…rich golden [in] color, distinctive [in] aroma, [with a] lingering creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and incredibly smooth finish…like no other lager today," Anchor says. "It's like a time machine," one employee says in this video tribute to the beer and that intoxicating time in history when it seemed like "anything was possible." Sorry, lager lovers in New York, Florida, Iowa and the other 49 states -- this beer is only available in California.
3. The Beer Economy: Craft breweries provide an estimated 104,000 full-time and part-time jobs to the U.S. economy, according to data provided by the Brewers Association. Approximately 70 of those come from New Glarus Brewing in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Though the beer is only sold within the state of Wisconsin, it has developed a cult-like status in the beer community. It has even captured the attention of the White House. Co-Founder Deb Carey was one of 15 small business owners who met with the President in November to discuss the impact of the then looming "fiscal cliff," when tax increases and spending cuts were set to kick in at the end of 2012, on small businesses. On Tuesday night, Carey returned to Washington to sit in First Lady Michelle Obama's box for the State of the Union address. Carey told WISC-TV: "To represent small businesses is a big honor for me. Small business is the engine of our economy. I'm really proud of what (Co-Founder & husband) Dan and I have built. I love Wisconsin, and so I'm also proud that Wisconsin is getting a little bit of national stage here."
4. To the Victor Goes the...Pour: With more than 2,000 breweries in operation, the competition to capture consumers attention can be tough. Big Boss Brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina has created a unique way to entice consumers to sample its beer and have some fun while doing it. It's called "The Last Bar Fighter", a Mortal Kombat-style arcade game where players face off using characters named after Big Boss beers. After a winner in the game has been declared, the machine dispenses a pour of Big Boss beer for the winner.
5. Craft Beer Trading Cards: Craft beer is a small percentage of the overall beer market, but the consumers who buy it are loyal group who often bestow "hero-like" status to the men and women who brew their beer. Now, thanks to a site called Craft Beer Cards, consumers will be able to collect and trade baseball-like cards of their favorite brewers. Each pack comes with a random assortment of 5 trading cards which feature a full-color illustration of the brewer, along with their name and current brewery. The back of each card has "brewer stats, including some facts, past brewing career,style and ingredient preferences, and a quote."
6. BrAngelina Wine: Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are used to making headlines. Now, they'll be making something else: wine. According to Decanter.com, the pair have joined with well-known winemakers, the Perrin Family, to produce wine from the couple's Provence estate, Chateau Miraval. According to Decanter.com the first "Perrin-made Miraval rose" should be on the market next month, March 2013, with the white wines arriving at the end of the summer."
-By CNBC's Tom Rotunno; Follow him on Twitter @TomRotunno