The Friday Mash (Hair Edition)

On this day in 1968, the musical Hair opened on Broadway. Notable songs from the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” include “Aquarius”, “Easy to Be Hard”, and “Good Morning Starshine”.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where a mechanic named Andrey Eremeev persuaded the beer store in his apartment building to let him run a pipeline from a keg in the store’s refrigerator to one of the taps of his kitchen sink.

Theater Cedar Rapids has added beer to its improv comedy classes. According to its education director, beer helps relieve inhibitions that can kill a performer’s creativity.

In Hastings, Nebraska, temperance advocates picketed the Do the Brew beer festival. The protesters, dressed in period garb, were actors promoting the upcoming Nebraska Chautauqua fest.

Israel’s Herzl Brewery made a beer that people might have enjoyed when Jesus was alive. It tasted a bit like honey and berries, but it was flat and cloudier than what we drink today.

Six years ago, Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd. The app now has more than 3.2 million users, and is so successful that both men quit their jobs to manage Untapped full time.

Frances Stroh has written a book about the Detroit-based brewery’s rise to national prominence in the late 1800s and its downfall amid consolidation and the city’s economic demise.

Finally, Utah liquor regulators may revoke a Salt Lake City movie theater’s liquor license for showing the R-rated film Deadpool. State law forbids a licensed establishment to show nudity. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds donated $5,000 to the theater’s legal defense fund.

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At a Festival, Don’t Be An “Alehole”.

Beer-Simple.com runs a series called “What Brewers Wish You Knew”. The latest installment is about beer festival etiquette. The site asked brewery owners, brewers, and staff what behavior annoys them the most at festivals. Their comments are directed at a small minority—Beer-Simple calls them “aleholes”—and they fall into three categories: “The Beer”, “The Attendee”, and “The Brewer”.

A sampling of comments:

  • “No, I don’t have anything like f***ing Blue Moon…”
  • “Tell me outright if you don’t like my beer.” Smiling politely and saying “that’s great!” before going to dump what, to you, tastes like backwash sweetened with rotten peaches, isn’t helping them (or you).
  • “Don’t just walk up and ask for ‘whatever.’ If you don’t know what I’m giving you, you won’t remember my brewery.”
  • “I don’t need your credentials. Telling me you’re a homebrewer or a judge isn’t really telling me anything. Tell me what you like to drink and why, maybe—at least then I can evaluate your reaction.”
  • “No, I’m not drunk all the time.” Brewers have heard every joke there is about being surrounded by beer all day, but this go-to seems to be a very common one. If they drank all day, when would they brew?
  • “If you’ve just had a cigar, don’t bother me. You can’t taste anything right now.”
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    Goose Island and the Domino Effect

    Five years ago, Goose Island Beer Company announced that it would be acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev. John Hall, Goose Island’s founder, stayed on as an A-B InBev employee. He was put in charge of the company’s craft and import division. That division, now called High End, followed the Goose Island precedent and began buying craft breweries. There are now eight in High End’s portfolio.

    There was another member of the Hall family to Goose Island: John Hall’s son, Greg. He left Goose Island after the sale and opened Virtue Cider on a farm in Michigan. Demand for the cider overwhelmed Virtue’s inefficient packaging equipment. Greg Hall wound up selling a controlling stake in Virtue to A-B InBev. The deal also allows Virtue to save on capital expenses; it uses Goose Island’s bottling and kegging operation in Chicago and thus doesn’t have to buy its own equipment.

    Jason Notte of Marketwatch.com recently spoke with the Halls just a few weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Goose Island sale and discussed “life afterward, the changes that have occurred in both the craft beer and cider markets since and what the sale meant to Virtue Cider and other A-B InBev High End offerings”. The interview is on the lengthy side, but definitely worth reading

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    The Friday Mash (Boomer Sooner Edition)

    One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, at high noon, thousands of people took part in the Oklahoma Land Rush. Within hours, Oklahoma City and Guthrie had instant populations of 10,000.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Tumwater, Washington, once the home of Olympia Brewing Company. Today, it’s the home of a cluster of legal marijuana growers and processors—including one of the state’s largest.

    Peru’s Cerveza San Juan beer brand has replaced the roaring jaguar with barnyard animals on its cans. The reason? The brewery is calling attention to the big cat’s endangered status.

    Officials have reinstated beer at the University of Missouri’s “Tiger Prowl”, where graduating seniors eat barbecue, get free merchandise, and get ready to say goodbye to their classmates.

    Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired its eighth craft brewery, Devil’s Backbone of Roseland, Virginia. Established in 2008, Devil’s Backbone has won multiple Great American Beer Festival medals.

    The Vietnamese love beer, and craft brewers have begun to enter the market. One new craft is the Pasteur Street Brewing Company, whose founders include Vick’s Florida native John Reid.

    Forbes magazine’s Tara Nurin explores “pay-to-play” in beer distribution. Even after a high-profile crackdown in Massachusetts, she says it’s “a common yet whispered business practice”.

    Finally, Don Russell aka Joe Sixpack takes us back to the bad old days of Prohibition’s “needle beer”: speakeasy owners injected alcohol into near beer—which was still legal in the 1920s. One customer, who sampled the stuff, compared it to 44-D cough syrup.

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    Jews and Brewing History

    There is currently a special exhibit, “Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewery Tales” at the Jewish Museum in Munich. The story of Jewish beer culture begins in Egypt, where the enslaved Israelites discovered the beverage and later brewed it when they returned to Israel. For a time, beer was considered a universal remedy that could treat everything from snake bites to leprosy.

    The Jews’ connection to Germany dates back to the Middle Ages, when they were expelled from most of Europe’s cities. Some German Jews cultivated hops, and most of the hop farms near Nuremburg were owned by Jews. During the Third Reich, the farms were acquired by German owners in what the museum’s director called a “friendly Aryanization”; they were given back to their owners after the war.

    Other Jews in the industry weren’t as lucky as the hop growers. One notable exile was Hermann Schülein, who fled to the United States and became the manager of the Liebman Brewery. Its flagship product was a New York icon: Rheingold lager, which was famous for using celebrity endorsers and staging the annual Miss Rheingold beauty competition.

    Rheingold production ended in 1976, but the tradition of Jewish brewing in New York is being carried on by the Shmaltz Brewing Company, whose products include eight beers brewed for Hanukkah.

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    Pabst Brewing’s New Direction

    In 2014, businessman Eugene Kashper and two other investors bought the Pabst Brewing Company for $700 million. Under the previous owners, Pabst was a virtual brewery; it contract-brewed all of its beer—Pabst and a variety of other “legacy brands”–at MolsonCoors facilities and marketed those brands using nostalgia rather than advertising.

    Kahsper aims to take Pabst in a different direction. It will open a microbrewery and tasting room at the site of the former Pabst brewing complex in Milwaukee. The company will also revive more of the 77 brands that it owns. It will also delve into its collection of beer recipes and bring back classic beers, some of which were last brewed before World War II.

    Pabst recently made news by acquiring Small Town Brewery, whose Not Your Father’s Root Beer was the industry’s surprise success story of 2015. The product helped raise Pabst’s overall sales in 2015 by 20 percent and pushed its market share up by a percentage point, even as sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer itself fell off.

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    The Friday Mash (Mickey D’s Edition)

    On this day in 1955, the first McDonald’s restaurant franchised by Ray Kroc, opened in Des Plaines, Illinois. This event is considered the official founding of McDonald’s Corporation, which now has some 68,000 locations in 119 countries worldwide.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Cincinnati, where Queen City Exchanges learned they can’t offer NYSE-like “dynamic pricing” of its beers. Ohio law forbids a retailer to change the price of beer more than once a month.

    Federal regulators ruled that the Indeed Brewing Company’s “Lavender Sunflower Date aka LSD Honey Ale”, wasn’t an acceptable name–even though the beer contains no hallucinogens.

    Colorado has seen a long-running battle over selling full-strength beer in grocery stores. If the stores win, 3.2 beer will likely disappear from the state.

    Author Franz Kafka had a terrible relationship with his bullying father, and the two had almost nothing common–except an appreciation of beer: Czech beer, of course.

    More than 30 North Carolina craft breweries are joining forces to brew a special beer to fight House Bill 2, a new state law that rolls back municipal protections of LGBT people.

    Sterling, a 150-plus-year-old Louisville-brewed beer, is making a comeback. The brand is known for a 1960-70s series of beers named after Kentucky Derby winners.

    Finally, one consequence of the U.S. easing travel restrictions to Cuba has been a run on local beer. Cerveceria Bucanero can’t make enough Cristal beer to keep up with tourist-fueled demand.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • Most expensive beer at a major league ballpark: $8.75 (Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies).
  • Cheapest beer at a major league ballpark: $4 (Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians).
  • Average cost of a beer at a major league ballpark: $5.96 (down 13 cents from last year)
  • Per-household legal marijuana sales in Spokane County, Washington, in 2015: $225.64.
  • Per-household beer sales in Spokane County in 2015: $232.70.
  • San Diego’s brewery count at the end of 2015: 114.
  • Its brewery count at the beginning of 2015: 97.
  • Dollar value of the U.S. beer market: $105.9 billion.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market: $22.3 billion (21.1 percent).
  • Extra large breweries’ (over 6 million barrels per year) share of U.S. brewery population: 0.4 percent.
  • Extra large breweries’ share of U.S. beer production: 84.3 percent.
  • Small breweries’ (under 7,500 barrels per year) share of the U.S. brewery population: 92.8 percent.
  • Small breweries’ share of U.S. beer production: 1.6 percent.
  • Styles in the Brewers Association’s 2016 Beer Style Guidelines: 162.
  • Net change in styles from 2015: +7.
  • Is Competition Hurting “Savor”?

    For years, Savor has been the gold standard of beer festivals in Washington, D.C., and one of the nation’s most important festivals. It attracts some of the biggest names in beer—both breweries and craft beer celebrities—and has consistently been one of the toughest festival tickets. However, tickets for this year’s edition of Savor are moving more slowly. As of last Saturday, general-admission tickets to the June 3-4 event are still available.

    Fritz Hahn of the Washington Post offers an explanation: Competition from other festivals near the nation’s capital. They include last Saturday’s DC Beer Fest at Nationals Park; May’s Maryland Beer Festival in Frederick; and the Americana Beer Fest in Leesburg, Virginia, in June. Those events don’t boast the beer community’s A-listers, but the price of admission is much smaller.

    What can Savor do to remain in the top tier? Currently, Savor uses a random lottery to choose the breweries that will pour. Hahn urges organizers to set aside more invitations to hand-picked breweries. He observes, “As much as a spot at Savor will raise the profile of a tiny brewery in the Great Lakes region, the people buying tickets for the tasting would be more interested in trying something from Minneapolis’s well-regarded Surly Brewing, which was one of the first breweries to run out of beer in 2015 but didn’t get in this year”.

    The Friday Mash (Baseball History Edition)

    On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record for most career home runs; and on this day in 1975, Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history.

    And now…Play Ball!

    We begin in Russia, which is shedding its image as a country of hard drinkers. Younger Russians are developing a taste for craft beer, and an estimated 1,000 breweries have sprung up nationwide.

    George Randall, the owner of several liquor stores in the St. Louis area, drives a real attention-getter: a car in the shape of a giant can of Old Milwaukee Light. He bought it for $2,000 on eBay.

    Two Wichita men found a use for a gutted old food truck they bought. They installed ten beer taps, hooked them up to refrigerated kegs of local craft beer, and roam the city with a “drink truck”.

    Anheuser-Busch InBev faces another consumer lawsuit. It alleges that A-B falsely claims Leffe beer is brewed in a Belgian monastery; it’s produced at the Stella Artois facility in Leuven.

    The New Haven Symphony Orchestra is trying to broaden the audience for classical music by offering “Beers and Beethoven”. The price of admission includes samples of Connecticut-brewed beer.

    Get ready for a superhero comic book about Three Floyds Brewing Company’s Alpha King Pale Ale. The hero brews a beer so good it attracts the attention of a monster-king and his minions.

    Finally, Tom Dalldorf, the editor of Celebrator Beer News, speculates that American beer may go the way of wine: demand for the mass-produced “jug wine” fell, as customers gravitated to higher-quality products from smaller producers. There are some 10,000 wineries in the U.S.

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