Beer…By the Numbers

  • Budweiser’s advertising expenditures in 2012: $449 million.
  • Its rank among U.S. advertisers in 2012: 25th.
  • Decline in Budweiser sales from 1988 to today: 68 percent.
  • U.S. beer sales in 2013: 196.2 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Down 1.9 percent.
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2013: 15.3 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Up 17.2 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market in 2013: 7.8 percent.
  • IPA’s share, by volume, of the craft beer market, in 2014: 21 percent.
  • Increase in IPA sales, by volume, from 2013 to 2014: 47 percent.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. today: 1.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 1870: 9.
  • Winning men’s time at this year’s Flotrack Beer Mile championship: 5 minutes, 0.23 seconds (by Corey Gallagher).
  • Current men’s record for the Beer Mile: 4 minutes, 57 seconds (held by James Nielsen).
  • Current women’s record for the Beer Mile: 6 minutes, 17.76 seconds (held by Elizabeth Herndon).
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    Is the Industry Ready for Concentrated Beer?

    This sounds like something straight out of the Shark Tank television show. Sustainable Beverage Technologies, a Denver start-up, is about to introduce BrewVo. It’s a patented process for brewing beer into a liquid concentrate, then mixing it with water using the same dispensing equipment that restaurants use for soft drinks.

    The company’s founder, Patrick Tatera, believes there’s demand for technology that cuts costs and makes bars’ and breweries’ operations more efficient. Tatera says he has financial backing, and also has partnerships in place with breweries–which have asked not to be named for now.

    Some observers are skeptical of BrewVo. They think the technology is too risky and radical for the brewing industry. Previous attempts to sell concentrated alcoholic beverages also met with resistance from regulators, health experts, and the spirits industry.

    Skeptics mention what happened to Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product that was to be sold to consumers in packets and mixed with food or water. Lawmakers urged the Food and Drug Administration to ban Palcohol because it would be too easy to snort, and could be smuggled into places that ban alcohol.

    Paul Gatza, the head of the Brewers Association, mentions another problem: breweries will have to get a distiller’s license because of concentrated beer’s high alcohol content.

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    The Friday Mash (Boys Town Edition)

    On this day in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan, a Catholic priest in Omaha, opened a home for wayward boys. That home is now a National Historic Landmark; and Boys Town’s slogan, “He ain’t heavy, mister–he’s my brother,” has become part of our popular culture.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Austin, Texas, where Lance Armstrong quit after one lap during qualifying for the inaugural Beer Mile Championship. Armstrong said he’ll never again run a Beer Mile.

    Dave Lieberman of OCWeekly.com got a sales pitch for the “Sonic Foamer,” which creates a 5-millimeter head on your pint of beer. He doesn’t seem the least bit impressed with the product.

    Oktoberfest tops the list of Germany’s beer festivals, but it’s not the only one. EscapeHere.com runs down the country’s top ten, some of which are hundreds of years old.

    A sealed bottle of Samuel Alsopp’s Arctic Ale sold for $503,300 on eBay. It’s considered the world’s rarest bottle of beer because the the original seller misspelled the name “Allsop’s”.

    The Sriracha craze has spread to beer. This month, Rogue Ales will release a limited-edition Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. Suggested pairings include soup, pasta, pizza, and chow mein.

    Last weekend, MillerCoors LLC teamed up with a start-up called Drizly, and offered free home delivery of Miller Lite to customers in four cities.

    Finally, David Kluft of JDSupra Business Advisor reviews this year’s beer trademark disputes. Maybe these cases will inspire someone to host a Disputed Beer Festival next year.

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    Collusion in Ontario’s Beer Market

    This week, the Toronto Star exposed a collusive agreement between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which has a monopoly over liquor sales, and The Beer Store, a privately-owned quasi-monopoly that controls 80 percent of the province’s beer sales.

    In the confidential document from 2000, the LCBO agreed not to compete aggressively against The Beer Store. Specifically, the LCBO agreed not to sell beer in packages larger than six-packs, and to refrain from selling major-brand beer directly to bars and restaurants.

    The Beer Store is a favorite target of criticism by Ontario beer drinkers: beer is expensive; and the stores have a Stalinist look and feel, with service to match. The province’s taxpayers also have reason to complain. The Beer Store currently takes in about $1 billion a year—most of which goes to the big breweries—which could go instead to the provincial government via the LCBO.

    So why hasn’t this 14-year-old collusive agreement been torn up by the current government, which is now headed by a different party? The answer is lobbying. The breweries have lined up an impressive array of lobbyists, many of whom have ties to the party now in power.

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    Bourbon Barrel Stout: Where It Began

    Last week’s Friday Mash linked a story about Black Friday beer releases. Most of those beers are stouts, and many are barrel-aged. Barrel-aged stout, in turn, was created more than 20 years ago at the Goose Island Brewing Company in Chicago. It’s called Bourbon County Brand Stout, and it’s one of the more famous beers in American brewing history.

    Bourbon County was created by brewmaster Greg Hall, who has since moved on to make cider in west Michigan. To this day, Goose Island follows Hall’s recipe faithfully. It uses barrels from six or seven different bourbon distilleries. The brewery requires 3,000 barrels to age a full batch of Bourbon County and its variants. Those barrels have become hard to find because so many breweries are making their own barrel-aged beers.

    Because of Bourbon County’s yeast strain, and the need to ferment the beer inside the barrels, the brewers have found it’s best to start the aging process in late summer. Changing seasons and their often-extreme climates—Goose Island’s home is Chicago–are crucial to Bourbon County’s ultimate taste. Warm temperatures makes the wood expand: beer seeps into the wood, and takes on vanilla and roasted flavors. When cold weather arrives, the wood contacts, and the bourbon is pushed out of the barrel and into the beer.

    It takes at least a full year of changing seasons until the beer matures. Thus August and September are hectic months at Goose Island because brewery staff have to bottle the previous year’s batch while pouring the current year’s batch into the barrels. Just in time for Black Friday.

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    The Friday Mash (Discovery Day Edition)

    On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola. December is celebrated as Discovery Day on the island’s two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Loudoun County, Virginia, where beer tourism is stimulating the local economy. The county has eight breweries, with 16 more in the planning stages.

    Black Friday has become the number-one day for beer releases. As you’ve probably figured out, most of these beers are stouts and many of them are barrel-aged.

    SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewing company, still lacks a global brand. Its launch of Pilsner Urquell was a flop, and Heineken said no to a takeover offer.

    Bottles and Cans, a liquor store in Chicago, is offering an adults-only Advent calendar. It contains 25 beers, each of them to be enjoyed on the weekdays leading up to Christmas.

    European Union officials want Japan to open its market to imported beers. Arcane Japanese rules, such as a ban on ingredients like coriander seeds, act as “non-tariff barriers.”

    Minnesota’s Excelsior Brewing Company has brewed a saison beer with pondweed and zebra mussels. The brewery insists that “minuscule” amounts of the invasive species were added.

    Finally, Shoes & Brews, a runners’ gear store in Colorado, offers an incentive to get into shape. The store, which has a liquor license and 20 taps, bases the price of your first beer on your time in an 800-meter time trial.

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    Beer History on Tap

    What kind of beer did Americans brew 300 years ago? Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond, Virginia, has part of the answer. The brewery found a recipe for table beer in the Virginia Historical Society’s collection. Called “Jane’s Percimmon Beer,” it was brewed by the Randolphs, one of the state’s more prominent families.

    In contrast to modern-day recipes, the formula for Jane’s Percimmon Beer consisted of just a few short sentences, with no detailed instructions or quantities. The brewery’s first trial run used about 17 pounds of persimmons, and yielded only three gallons. What did the beer taste like? “The light peach-colored concoction conjures touches of sweetness and tangerine-like notes from the persimmons and just a whisper of spiciness from the English Golding hops.” It was a table beer, which means it was relatively low—about 3 percent–in alcoholic content.

    Ardent hopes to find more recipes in the society’s collection and create other beers from Virginia’s rich beer history, and to use those beers to encourage discussion of alcohol production and consumption throughout history.

    Family-Friendly Beer Gardens

    During the late 1800s, German immigrants brought the tradition of beer gardens to America. The Germans viewed beer gardens as socially beneficial; they allowed all ages and classes to come together, and drunkenness and belligerence were verboten. However, mixing children and alcohol gave temperance advocates one more reason to lobby for Prohibition. When alcohol was re-legalized, male-dominated bars were far more common than beer gardens.

    But family-friendly beer gardens are making a comeback. Many states allow chaperoned minors in bars, and some establishments are even offering play group and birthday party packages. Moms with children represent a business opportunity, because they come in during working hours when business is slow.

    However, some adults resent the presence, and have complained—often vociferously. One beer garden proprietor, who sides with the parents, thinks the complainers suffer from the Kid Multiplier Effect: they perceive the presence of ten kids for every one actual kid they see.

    The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

    On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

    Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

    The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

    As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

    British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

    An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

    Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

    Did the Pilgrims Really Run Out of Beer?

    You’ve seen this quote from the log of the Mayflower. We’ve even featured it in our “Worts of Wisdom”: “For we could not now take time for further search our victuals being pretty much spent especially our beer.”

    Bob Skilnik, a Chicago-based beer historian, found more to the story while researching his book: Beer & Food: An American History. The Mayflower log said that the next day, the Pilgrims went back ashore and decided what we now call Plymouth was a suitable place: it was on high ground, much of the land had been cleared, and fresh water was available.

    Skilnik explains that in 1935, sales of re-legalized beer were flagging. The brewing industry reacted by putting their beer in take-home containers—and by appealing to patriotism and nostalgia. The strategy worked, even at the expense of history.

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