Why Brewpubs Are Giving Way to Micros

In 2005, when Maryanne and Paul toured the state researching Michigan Breweries, most of the establishments they visited were brewpubs. Now a solid majority are microbreweries. It turns out this is a national trend.

Sometime during 2013, the number of micros exceeded the number of brewpubs; and, since the middle of 2012, more than three-quarters of newly-opened establishments are micros. Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, identifies three reasons why this is happening.

  • First, a number of states, such as South Carolina, have passed “pint laws” that allow breweries to breweries to sell full pints of their beer on-premise.
  • Second, the growing popularity of food trucks makes it possible for customers to enjoy something other than salty snacks at their local brewery.
  • Third, a brewery owner doesn’t have to enter the restaurant business, which eats up capital and poses additional challenges. Running a brewery is hard enough.
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The Friday Mash (”No Music Day” Edition)

No Music Day was introduced by Bill Drummond to draw attention to the cheapening of music as an art form. Ironically, it coincides with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph, which made all that music possible, on November 21, 1877.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Seattle, where a local television station claims the Seattle Seahawks are selling watered-down beer. The breweries deny that the beer has a lower-than-advertised alcohol content.

The East Side Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, raised quite a few eyebrows with Sunday Evening Beer and Hymns. Outreach pastor Evan Taylor said, “We like to rattle the cage a little bit.”

Within the MillerCoors LLC’s s State Street complex is a smaller, independent operation whose beer include a chocolate lager and one with pineapple-scentedd hops.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is making a batch of beer with 25 pounds of scrapple. Other ingredients include maple syrup, coffee, and applewood-smoked barley.

Add your liquidity joke here. Bradley Trapnell, a finance guy who’d worked for Fannie Mae, is opening a growler shop in his hometown of Highland Village, Texas. He’ll have 36 beers on tap.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but beer is harder to spill than coffee. According to scientists, it’s because beer contains foam, which acts as a shock absorber: the more foam, the less spillage.

Finally, San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company has released .394 Pale Ale. It honors Padres’ Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who collaborated with the brewery before he passed away last June.

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Widmer Brothers Turns 30

It’s hard to believe that Widmer Brothers Brewery. started by Rob and Kurt Widmer in Portland, Oregon, has turned 30. To their surprise, they’ve become elder statesmen of the craft-brewing movement.

The brewery started out with two beers, inspired by their German heritage. Then something happened: the owner of local pub asked them for a third beer. Not wanting to disappoint a loyal customer, but facing capacity constraints, the brothers improvised. The result was the first American-style Hefeweizen. The beer not only looked and tasted different, but serving it in 23-ounce Pilsner glasses with a lemon on the side made it stand out.

Within 18 months, Widmer Hefeweizen became the brewery’s flagship beer.

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What Did Beer Taste Like in 1832?

That was a question Canadian author Jordan St. John asked–and tried to answer–in a column on Canoe.ca. A great deal of speculation is needed because, as he points out, there weren’t any beer critics back then.

That said, St. John recreated a beer from the 19th-century diaries of a Toronto brewer named William Helliwell. The Niagara College Teaching Brewery provided the equipment for his experiment, and the beer was served to students not far from where the brewery once stood.

So what did it taste like? Glad you asked:

It was monstrous! At 9.1% alcohol, the aroma and body were different depths of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and booze. There was some slight intimation of marmalade from the hops and the smoke did put in a brief appearance mid-palate. Mostly though, it had an enormous round body and was suitable for slow sipping.

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The Friday Mash (Czech Republic Edition)

On this day in 1918, Czechoslovakia came into existence. Since 1993, after the “Velvet Divorce” from Slovakia, the country is known as the Czech Republic. Different name, but the same great beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Jersey, the only state that bars amusement games in bars. Lawmakers are considering the “Dave & Busters Bill,” which would repeal the 55-year-old law.

Bad news for microbreweries: beer drinkers in their 20s are gravitating toward craft beer. The number one reason is that this age group is bored with the taste of mass-market brews.

They’ve risen from the dead. Schlitz, Narragansett, and four other “zombie” beers are back from “Pabst purgatory”. Interestingly, three of the six are from Greater Cincinnati.

Not everybody loves session beer. Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb thinks the idea is dumb. He insists there’s a reason why you don’t see session bourbon or session wine in stores.

Skol’s new Beats Senses beer comes in a deep-blue-colored bottle, and a Brazilian agency decided the best way to advertise it was to film a commercial underwater–which wasn’t easy.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features the first-ever sea-going gastropub. It will serve a variety of American craft beers, which are still hard to find aboard cruise ships.

Finally, Joe Maddon impressed sportswriters at his first press conference as the Chicago Cubs’ new manager. He held it the The CubbyBear, a ballpark bar, and treated the writers to a shot and a beer.

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Does Crowdfunding Work?

Earlier this year, Stone Brewing Company sought $2.5 in capital via the Indegogo website. Some wondered why an established brewery would turn to crowdfunding, but CEO Greg Koch answered critics by spelling out what investors in “beer futures” would receive. Stone met its goal in six weeks.

There have been some 800 beer-related crowdfunding campaigns, and their success rate has been slightly higher than average.

Indiegogo’s CEO has advice for breweries and other businesses that are looking for funds: be honest, communicate regularly with investors, and stay in touch even after successfully raising capital.

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Beer and Trivia

Bar trivia, the American version of the British pub quiz, has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years. One of the more successful trivia quizmasters is Geeks Who Drink, a Denver-born group that was founded in 2006 and now operates in 31 states.

Daliah Singer of 5280, The Denver Magazine, caught up with GWD’s head, John Dicker, to find out how what made the games so popular and what he drinks to jog his trivia brain. It certainly helps that GWD has a full-time editor who’s a six-time Jeopardy champion.

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The Friday Mash (Ludwig Returns! Edition)

Early this morning, Ludwig pulled out his lion phone and texted us. He said he’s on a plane home, and expects us to meet him at the airport. While waiting for his plane, we got caught up on news from the beer world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Detroit, where Shawn and Aaron Gross will open Windmill Pointe Brewery next year. They’ll rely on bicyclists to provide the power in exchange for beer.

Paperwork is a pain, so the Minneapolis-based Colle + McVoy ad agency gives employees an incentive to turn in their time sheets—in the form of a pint of August Schell beer.

Your friends probably believe at least one of the ten persistent beer myths (myth #1 involves IPA’s origins). Jim Vorel of Paste magazine is here to debunk them.

The Force had better be with New York State’s Empire Brewery. Lucasfilm filed a “Notice of Opposition” to the brewery’s application to trademark “Strikes Bock by Empire.”

British public-health experts want alcoholic beverage labels to disclose the drink’s caloric content. They contend that heavy drinking is a major cause of obesity.

Mystery shopper Kyle Taylor says he earned $4,000 a month as a “beer auditor.” His job was to make sure retailers follow ID-checking procedures. And yes, he was over 21.

Finally, Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb reflects on the “dad beer” phenomenon. Brands such as Schaefer and Genesee Cream Ale are enjoying a revival thanks to drinkers toasting their fathers and grandfathers.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Alcoholic content of Guinness’ new Signature Series luxury beer: 9 percent ABV.
  • Cost of a 750-ml bottle of Signature Series: $34.99.
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share of the world beer market: 29.6 percent.
  • Second-place Heineken’s share: 17.7 percent.
  • Average cost of a bottle of Bud in a bar: $3.75.
  • Average amount the bar pays for a bottle of Bud: 85 cents.
  • Vietnam’s annual beer consumption: 3 billion liters.
  • Its annual beer consumption per capita: 33.3 liters.
  • China’s current annual per capita beer consumption: 40 liters.
  • Its annual per capita beer consumption in 2001: 18 liters.
  • Average cost of a small draft beer at a National Hockey League arena this season: $7.45.
  • Cheapest beer in the NHL: 33 cents per ounce, Verizon Center, Washington.
  • Most expensive beer in the NHL: 61 cents (U.S.) per ounce, MTS Centre, Winnipeg.
  • Number of Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores: 639.
  • LCBO’s annual sales: C$5 billion (U.S. $4.5 billion).
  • The Beer Mile Comes of Age

    It began in Burlington, Ontario, on a hot August night in 1989. Conditions were perfect for a group of Canadian runners to devise a new workout: swill four beers and sprint four laps. The Beer Mile was born.

    Several members of the original crew went on to college in Kingston, and there they drew up the official Beer Mile rules: where beer should be consumed; the quantity and minimum alcohol content; proper disposal; restrictions against tampering or drinking aids; and, most importantly, the one-lap penalty for puking.

    Beer Mile organizers also asked competitors to send in the times from their runs—which, due to open-container bans and other laws, often took place in secret.

    As word got around, Beer Milers got serious about the event. And times for the event fell quickly. This April, James Neilsen became the first runner to break the five-minute barrier. (Neilsen believes he can get his time down to 4:25, or even 4:20.)

    The Beer Mile isn’t on the program for the Olympics, although ex-Olympians have taken up the challenge. However, the first-ever world competition is tentatively scheduled for San Francisco next spring.

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