Drinking Game for Tonight’s Debate

Tonight’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is expected to draw the biggest audience in American debate history. That means an awful lot of drinking games will take place, even though it’s only Monday. And, because both candidates enter the debate with historically high negatives, there’s all the more incentive to drink.

Beer writer Jeff Alworth, who blogs at Beervana, has suggested a drinking game that is out of the ordinary. Starting with the choice of beverage:

This is, however, no time to fool around with dainty potables that have only been lightly fermented. An event like this requires distilled beverages, strong and brutal.

Alworth also suggests not drinking until ten minutes into the debate, to make sure you take in what is actually happen, and then start drinking heavily. He also departs from the usual formula–take a drink if a certain word or phrase is spoken–and instead drink to the awfulness of the moderator’s questions, the candidates, and our two major parties.

Now on a roll, Alworth concludes with this boozy peroration:

Drink when you notice the anxiety that this election seems to be a metaphor for … something. Drink when your mind lapses back to earlier elections (2008 for Dems, 1980 for Republicans) and you remember thinking, “Is America the best damn country in the world, or what?” Drink when you grow irritated they’re not talking about the issues you care about. Drink when you realize they’re not talking about those issues because Americans don’t care about them. Drink to douse your gnawing apprehension, drink to encourage your hope. Drink for liquid courage. Drink for comfort. Drink for good old Teddy Roosevelt–man, we could really use the old Rough Rider right now. Drink to drink.

If you manage to survive tonight’s debate, the second in the series take place Sunday night, October 9. Cheers, everyone!

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The Friday Mash (Neptune Edition)

One hundred and seventy years ago today, astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborated on the discovery of Neptune. Now that Pluto has been demoted, Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Jacksonville, Florida, where an over-eager liquor control officer charged a 17-year-old girl with the crime of underage possession of alcohol. Her offense? Moving a cup of beer on a beer pong table at a Jaguars tailgate party.

Terrorist attacks in Europe have forced Oktoberfest organizers to beef up security this year, and many would-be attendees are avoiding the celebration out of fear of an attack in Munich.

Rutgers University ended its school-sponsored football tailgate parties after athletics director Pat Hobbs was seen chugging a beer onstage. Drinking on the job is a no-no at RU.

The new season of Shark Tank begins tonight. Leading off are the inventors of Fizzics, an in-home tap that re-creates the mouthfeel and aroma of freshly-poured draft beer.

Long Island’s Blue Point Brewery is serving up history in the form of Colonial Ale. It was made using a recipe written by George Washington in a military journal in 1757.

Are you seeing less pumpkin beer on the shelves this fall? It’s because breweries overproduced it last year and demand for the style fell off. Unseasonably warm weather also hurt sales.

Finally, scientists have figured out why the foam on top keeps your beer from sloshing. The answer is “capillary action”, the same phenomenon that enables paper towel to soak up spilled milk and plants to suck up water from their roots.

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Why Are So Many British Pubs Closing?

More than a quarter of Britain’s pubs that existed in 1980 have closed their doors. Last year alone, the country lost some 1,100 pubs. What’s behind this trend?

One factor is spiraling real-estate prices, which provides developers with an incentive to convert pubs into houses and apartments. In just the last five years, the average house price has risen by 50 percent.

Another factor was a 2007 law banning smoking in public places.

And then there’s cost. A pint of beer is five times as expensive in a pub as it is in a supermarket. The price discrepancy is due in part to Britain’s tax code, which imposes a higher levy on pub revenue than supermarket revenue; and to higher staff costs in the service industry than in retail.

But there’s some good news for pub lovers. It is now possible to list local pubs as “assets of community value”, which makes development more difficult. Parliament recently scrapped an inflation-linked excise tax on beer, providing some price relief for beer drinkers. Last but not least, Britain’s craft-brewing boom has resulted in a more diverse selection of beer at the “friendly local”.

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The Friday Mash (Night at the Opera Edition)

Fifty years ago today, the Metropolitan Opera House opened at Lincoln Square in Manhattan. The opening-night performance was the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber.

And now…The Mash!

We begin on ESPN College GameDay, where Sam Crowder held up a sign last Saturday asking Vemmo users to send him beer money. Within hours, more than 2,000 people contributed.

BBC correspondent Stephen Evans hopped a flight to make a beer run…all the way to Beijing. His Chinese friends had made a trip to the border to acquire “forbidden” Taedonggang beer, which is brewed in North Korea.

Here’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had. It’s a beer mug that won’t block your view of the TV when you’re drinking.

Pork roll aka Taylor ham, a New Jersey breakfast favorite, is now a beer ingredient. Flying Fish Brewing Company has released Exit 7 Pork Roll Porter as part of its “Exit Series”.

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing has rolled out a beer honoring the stereotypical “Florida Man”. The label for this beer, a double IPA, depicts a man wrestling an alligator—and winning.

Beer is more expensive than ever at NFL stadiums, but there’s one consolation: you can now buy craft beer from breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors recently acquired.

Finally, Nebraska liquor regulators have banned homebrewers from beer festivals. Because homebrewers aren’t licensed, there’s no assurance that they meet health and sanitation standards.

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Tracing Beer Yeasts’ “Family Tree”

Humans domesticated yeasts long before they figured that yeasts even existed. Now a team of geneticists created the first family tree of those yeasts. They did so by examining samples collected from nearly 100 breweries around the world.

For most of history, people made beer at home. Because beer kept for a long time, it was necessary to brew only once a month or so. The long interval gave the wild yeasts in the beer enough time to interbreed with other strains and stay feral. But with the rise of commercial brewing some 400 years ago, brewers made beer on a continuous basis. In an effort to make the beer consistent, they inadvertently changed the yeasts’ genetic makeup. Brewers “backslopped”—that is, they took the sediment at the end of the brewing process and used it to inoculate the next batch. Over time, the yeasts lost the ability to sexually reproduce and acquired genes that helped them digest maltose, a type of sugar found in backslop.

It turns out that brewing yeasts were domesticated in two separate lineages. “Beer 1” emerged in Germany and Belgium around the turn of the 17th century. Those yeasts spread to the United Kingdom and, from there, to North America. Most of the yeasts used in brewing today belong to the Beer 1 branch of the family tree.

About 50 years later, another branch of beer yeasts, “Beer 2,” arose independently. The geneticists who studied them are unable to identify their place of origin. Beer 2 yeasts evolved from yeasts found in wineries, and generally result in beers with higher alcohol content.

It is almost impossible to distinguish a Beer 1 yeast from a Beer 2 yeast based on flavor alone. Beer yeasts can create such a variety of flavors that even two closely related-yeasts can create beer with vastly different tastes.

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Beer…By the Numbers

  • Number of beers ordered by Bristol Motor Speedway for last Saturday’s Tennessee-Virginia Tech game: 545,000.
  • Attendance at that game: 156,990.
  • Ohio’s brewery count: 180.
  • Percent of Ohio breweries that intend to make 12-percent-plus beer now that the ABV cap has been lifted: 10.
  • Increase in 2016 craft beer sales over 2015 sales: 6 percent (compared to 19 percent the year before).
  • Percentage of top-ten craft breweries with lower sales this year than last: 50.
  • Decline in Samuel Adams Boston Lager sales from 2015 to this year: 13.8.
  • Tsingtao Brewery Company’s net income in the first half of 2016: 1.07 billion yuan ($160 million).
  • Change from the first half of 2015: Down 11 percent.
  • Number of tickets Toppling Goliath brewery issued for its Mornin’ Delight imperial stout: 500.
  • Number of people who logged onto Toppling Goliath’s website to buy Mornin’ Delight tickets: 80,000.
  • Average annual salary for assistant brewers at small breweries: $30,000-$40,000.
  • Average annual salary for head brewers at small breweries: $35,000-$47,000.
  • Style categories in this year’s Great American Beer Festival competition: 96.
  • Breweries expected to compete in this year’s GABF: 1,600.
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    The Friday Mash (Piggly Wiggly Edition)

    One hundred years ago today, the first Piggly Wiggly grocery store opened in Memphis. It was the first true self-service grocery store, and the originator of such supermarket features as checkout stands, individual item price marking, and shopping carts.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin at sea, where part of the sixth annual Brews by the Bay will be held tomorrow. Festival venues are Cape May, New Jersey; Lewes, Delaware; and the ferry connecting those two towns. It’s the only multi-state beer festival we’re aware of.

    Edinburgh’s Innis & Gunn latest release is “Smoke & Mirrors”, whose ingredients are said to make the drinker more likely to tell the truth. The brewery has sent a bottle to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Liquor laws left over from the repeal of Prohibition are a case study in how government regulations can stifle entrepreneurship, then leave entire regions playing catch-up when they’re finally relaxed.

    What makes breweries’ flagship beers disappear? The reasons include waning brand loyalty, competition from newcomers, and consumers’ changing tastes.

    Researchers at Indiana University found that that if you really want a beer and want it right now, the source of your craving may be a pea-sized structure deep inside the right side of your brain.

    English illustrator Tom Ward has created a series of beer mats depicting fictional bars from the movies. The collection includes the Hog’s Head Pub from Harry Potter and The Prancing Pony from Lord of the Rings.

    Finally, Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker have found success with Craft Beer Cellar: small, selective stores with hundreds of beers and knowledgeable staff. Schalow and Baker have learned that “craft” and “local” don’t equal quality.

    The Significance of Snoop Dogg v. Pabst

    The legal battle between rapper Snoop Dogg and Pabst Brewing Company might sound like tabloid material, but the case is putting the spotlight on financing deals that have become increasingly common in the craft beer industry.

    Snoop Dogg contends that his agreement to promote Colt .45 contained a “phantom equity” clause: if Colt .45 were sold, he’d become a 10-percent owner of the brand. Pabst, which owns Colt .45 and numerous other brands, was sold last year. Pabst’s new owners told the judge that the sale changed “control” of Colt .45, but not its ownership—which was, and still is, Pabst. The case will be tried before a jury this fall.

    Marketwatch.com’s Jason Notte urges would-be buyers of craft breweries to do their homework or else face the possibility of a similar lawsuit. He points out that a number of craft breweries, some of them worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have legal obligations to meet in the event of a sale. For example, employees own a substantial number of shares of New Belgium Brewing Company, whose estimated valuation well over $1 billion. If New Belgium is ever sold, its employees are in line for a big payday.

    At least New Belgium’s ownership structure is straightforward. That isn’t the case of some other craft breweries, which are part of larger holding companies, controlled by private equity funds, or both. If those breweries have outstanding agreements like the Snoop Dogg contract, there are tricky questions as to what transactions would trigger the obligation to pay—and who actually has to write the check—after a sale occurs.

    Which brings us back to Snoop Dogg. Notte observes, “Snoop’s case against Pabst could set a precedent for how breweries in those umbrella portfolios are treated, and how they can treat their employees, investors and contractors, in the future.”

    The Friday Mash (Great Fire of London Edition)

    Three hundred and fifty years ago today, the Great Fire of London broke out. The blaze, famously described in the diaries of Samuel Pepys destroyed most of the city’s buildings, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and countless pubs.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Winnipeg, where a man dressed as a hockey goalie broke into a store and made off with some beer. It wasn’t even Canadian-brewed beer; he stole Budweiser. Speaking of the King of Beer, a man wearing a Batman costume swiped two 18-packs of Bud from an Upstate New York store.

    Alan McLeod, the keeper of A Good Beer Blog, found a 200-year-old classified ad for a homebrewing machine that made beer without mashing. That sounds too good to be true, and probably is.

    According to a poll of more than 100 college basketball coaches, Bob Huggins of West Virginia is the coach they’d most like to have a beer with. University of Kansas coach Bill Self finished second.

    Miller Genuine Draft is a dying brand. A Milwaukee Record journalist visited a dozen bars in the city. Nine didn’t carry MGD; one bartender laughed at him, and another was offended that he even asked for it.

    Breweries in Portland, Maine, are asking customers to rank the beers they’ve been served. It’s their effort to promote ranked-choice voting, aka instant-runoff, which will be on the November ballot.

    Stephen Wilmot of the Wall Street Journal warns that the recent slowdown in craft beer’s growth won’t help the big breweries. One major reason is that wine and spirits—bourbon in particular—are growing even faster than craft.

    Finally, a British brewery is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth with a beer brewed using yeasts scraped off of Dahl’s armchair. The beer will be served at the premiere of a stage adaptation of Dahl’s The Twits.

    Beer Museums: A Tale of Three Cities

    A group of aficionados in Pittsburgh are planning to open a beer and brewing museum, which they hope to be the beery equivalent of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The first phase of Brew: Museum of Beer is to open late next year; and eventually, the complex will have a Beer Hall of Fame and a 300-seat brewpub.

    In Chicago, some of the biggest names in that city’s beer scene are behind an effort to build a Brewseum. The attraction will start out as a mobile exhibit housed in an RV, and will be open next year. Ninety miles to the north, efforts are underway to build a Museum of Beer & Brewing.

    There’s no assurance that any of these projects will come to fruition. However, a museum currently exists. It is the National Brewery Museum, a joint venture between the Potosi Foundation and the American Breweriana Association, in Potosi, Wisconsin.

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