The Friday Mash (GW Bridge Edition)

On this day in 1931, the George Washington Bridge opened to traffic. This double-decker span over the Hudson River connects Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey–a town now famous thanks to “Bridgegate.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kansas City, where Boulevard Brewing Company will kick off its 25th anniversary celebration with the release of a special ale brewed in collaboration with Odell Brewing Company.

Chef David Chang made enemies thanks to a GQ magazine article declaring his hatred of “fancy beer”. Chang contends that craft beer has too intense a flavor to pair with his food.

Two hundred years ago, in London, eight women and children were killed by a flood of beer caused by an explosion at the Henry Meux & Company brewery. The disaster was ruled an “act of God.”

Why not turn your Halloween jack-o-lantern into a beer keg? All you need is a carving knife, a pumpkin carving kit, a Sharpie, a spigot, and beer—which need not be pumpkin beer.

William Bostwick, the Wall Street Journal’s beer critic, has written a book titled The Brewer’s Tale. In her review, Amy Stewart calls Bostwick “the very best sort of literary drinking buddy.”

In Papua New Guinea, which suffers 1.8 million cases of malaria every year, a brewery packs its beer in a box that contains eucalyptus, a natural mosquito repellent.

Finally, should the Great American Beer Festival give medals for best beer puns? CraftBeer.com’s Atalie Rhodes found these doozies on the list of medal winners. Our favorite is “Dubbel Entendre.”

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Educate Your Palate

The October 10 Friday Mash contained an item about a new beer and food pairing course offered by the Brewers Association. The course, which you can download for free, co-authored by chef Adam Dulye, the Association’s culinary consultant and Julia Herz, the Association’s craft beer program director.

It’s constructed as a five-day-long introduction to craft beer, pairing beer with food, and how to pour and present beer at the table. In addition to lectures and suggested readings, instructors guide students through two tasting sessions of beer styles and a food pairing session.

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Beer in the Carolinas

Daniel Hartis, who lives in Charlotte, is the author of Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing In The Queen City and the recently-published Beer Lover’s The Carolinas. Last week, he talked beer with fellow blogger Jim Dedman. Hartis credits the grass-roots Pop the Cap movement in North Carolina, which successfully lobbied state lawmakers to lift the 6-percent ABV limit, for the growth of craft beer in that state. Later, South Carolina passed similar legislation, and amended its liquor code to allow breweries to serve pints.

The author admits that his first experience with craft beer didn’t go so well. When he moved to Asheville to go to college, he asked the server at a pizzeria to bring him a pint of the establishment’s most popular beer. It was, of course, an IPA. He said, “I’d like to tell you it opened up a whole new world for me, but I thought it was disgusting and abrasively bitter.”

Hartis also said that breweries and beer bars are opening so fast in the Carolinas that he’s already thinking of a second edition of the book. It might hit the shelves as early as a couple of years from now.

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The Friday Mash (Earthquake Edition)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed more than 60 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because it occurred minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, it became the first major earthquake to be broadcast on national television.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where a house inspired by beer bottles is on the market for $2.95 million. And it’s built to withstand hurricanes.

Louiville mayor Greg Fischer wants beer to join bourbon as a tourist attraction. He’d also like a bourbon-barrel beer festival and the revival of Kentucky common beer.

Are you a beer aficionado? James Grebey of Buzzfeed.com has compiled a list of 21 warning signs. Warning sign #6: You have a very, very deeply held opinion about pumpkin beer.

Now that legal marijuana is gaining momentum, economists are looking at legalization’s effect on the beer industry. Some think higher spending on pot will mean less spending on beer.

The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is blowing the whistle on Boston-area bars that take bribes from breweries. The practice is illegal, but violators are rarely punished.

Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, wants to brew beer in Detroit. He bought a 100-year-old former General Motors building, part of which will house his own brewery.

Finally, scientists have discovered that fruit flies love brewer’s yeast. A gene in the yeast releases a fruity smell that attracts the flies which, in turn, spread the yeasts to new habitats.

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Grand Rapids is the “Best Beer Town”

The votes have been counted, and USA Today announced the winner of the “Best Beer Town” competition. The winner, as determined by online voting, was Grand Rapids. The surprising runner-up was Tampa. Rounding out the top ten: Asheville, Bend, Fort Collins, San Diego, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Denver, and Burlington

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John Barleycorn Must Die

Jay Brooks recently wrote a column in the San Jose Mercury News about the season we refer to as “fall.” That word is a short form of the 17th-century English phrase, “fall of the leaf.” Fall is also the harvest season—Germans call it Herbst, a derivative of the Old Norse word for “harvest”—and it’s the time of the year to bring in the hops and barley crops.

This is where where John Barleycorn takes the stage. During the 16th century, a folk tale about him made its way around England. Brooks describes it as “an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking. The main character, the eponymous John Barleycorn, is the personification of barley, which is attacked, beaten and eventually dies–or as we prefer to think of it, grown, reaped and then malted.”

The most famous modern version of this song was recorded by Traffic, co-founded by Steve Winwood and Dave Mason and featured on their 1970 album, John Barleycorn Must Die.

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GABF Medals: Behind the Numbers

Breweries from western states, Colorado in particular, win a disproportionate number of Great American Beer Festival medals. Some observers believe western breweries win more medals because they make better beer. Others believe that their proximity to Denver gives them an advantage: it’s a lot easier to ship beer from Boulder than, say, New Jersey.

Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, offers a different explanation: Western breweries simply enter more beers. Watson calculated the number of expected medals per state, which is determined by both the number of beers entered and the categories in which they competed. (The second factor is important because it’s much harder to win a medal for an IPA than for a less-popular style such as dark lager.) He then compared the number of medals actually won to the expected number.

Watson discovered was that the actual medal count was very close to the expected number. From that, he drew two conclusions. First, no region of the country can claim it makes significantly better beer than others. And second, distance from Denver doesn’t keep states from winning medals; however, it does limit the number of entries. Which gets us back to the argument about proximity to Denver.

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It’s Official: Stone Picks Richmond

Yesterday, Stone Brewing Company announced that it has signed a formal letter of intent with the city of Richmond, Virginia. Subject to local approvals, Stone plans to invest $74 million to build a production brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, retail store and its administrative offices. Stone anticipates that the brewery will be operational in late 2015 or early 2016, with Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens opening a year or two after that.

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe said of Stone’s decision, “This competitive, high-profile project really puts Virginia on the map and cements our standing as a serious player in the craft beer industry.”

The Friday Mash (Anchors Aweigh Edition)

On this day in 1845, the Naval School–later renamed the United States Naval Academy—opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with a class of 50 midshipman students and seven professors. Since then, the entire campus has gained recognition as a National Historic Landmark.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Australia, where a feral hog stole three six-packs of beer, got snorting drunk, and got into an altercation with a cow. The hog was seen the next morning sleeping off a nasty hangover.

It’s October, which means the pumpkin beers are flowing. If you like them, Playboy magazine has done you a favor. After tasting a slew of them, they’ve ranked America’s best pumpkin beers.

At last week’s Great American Beer Festival, the Brewers Association unveiled its beer and food pairing course. The five-unit course is free of charge, and you can download the course materials.

Watch out for yellow jackets. This is the time of the year when they feast on anything sweet—including your half-finished can of beer. Swallow one, and you’ll be in a world of hurt.

Sometimes distribution can the a bane of craft brewers. On its website, Clown Shoes Brewing tells a horror story about its relationship with its distributor in Georgia.

There’s a YouTube video of Alfred the cat, who appears to be polishing off a beer. Experts caution against serving beer to felines—unless, of course, they’re beer-drinking lions.

Finally, even though beer consumption at this year’s Oktoberfest was down 15 percent from last year’s, everyone had a good time in Munich. The Daily Mail has a photo essay of the festivities.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Top ten breweries’ share of the world beer market in 2004: 48 percent.
  • Top ten breweries’ share of the market in 2013: 65 percent.
  • Barrels of Castle, SABMiller’s biggest-selling beer, sold in 2013: 17.68 million.
  • Barrels of Carling Black Label, SABMiller’s second biggest-selling beer, sold in 2013: 17.59 million.
  • Average cost of a beer at a National Football League stadium: $7.53.
  • Increase over last year’s average cost: 23 cents.
  • Survival rate for microbreweries that opened in 1980 or later: 76 percent.
  • Survival rate for brewpubs that opened in 1980 or later: 51.5 percent.
  • Share of the sale price of a craft beer that goes to the retailer: 31 percent.
  • Share that goes to the distributor: 21 percent:
  • Share that goes to industry workers: 1 percent.
  • Beer’s share of alcoholic beverage consumption in 2001: 59.6 percent.
  • Beer’s projected share of alcoholic beverage consumption in 2015: 50.1 percent.
  • Size of a “crowler,” a metal beer container pioneered by Oskar Blues Brewery: 32 ounces.
  • Cost of a “crowler starter package”: $3,000 (machine, cans, and lids).
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