The Friday Mash (Henry Hudson Edition)

On this day in 1609, explorer Henry Hudson became the first European to discover Delaware Bay. If you live near Cape May, New Jersey, or Lewes, Delaware, you can celebrate on Saturday at a beer festival held in two different states, but on the same bay.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in North Carolina, where festivals have been the target of a summer crackdown on liquor code violations. Organizers contend that the rules are obsolete and confusing.

Mitsubishi Plastic has overcome a major obstacle to putting beer in plastic bottles. The company added a thin carbon film, which greatly reduces the loss of oxygen, to the inside of the bottles.

Joe Stange of Draft magazine has a word of warning: American “session beers” are much stronger than their British counterparts, which means they’ll make you drunker than you think.

When California’s She Beverage Company applied for a trademark for the “Queen of Beers,” Anheuser-Busch InBev filed a notice of opposition. A-B claims She’s marketing is almost identical to its marketing of the “King of Beers.”

A Denver-area brewery will serve “marijuana beer” at next month’s Great American Beer Festival. It doesn’t contain THC, which is against federal law, but does include cannabis oil.

Venture capitalist Robert Finkel has made an unusual career move. His brewery, Forbidden Root, specializes in beer made with botanic ingredients, including lemon myrtle which costs $75 a kilo.

Finally, a Detroit Free Press correspondent went to a festival where the taps are open all night and attendees can walk to bed. It was the sixth annual Michigan Homebrew Festival, which continues the brewing competition once held at the Michigan State Fair.

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The Heyday of Genny Cream Ale

Fifty years ago, there were Americans who drank ale, and there were breweries that catered to their thirst for that style. For a while, the top-selling ale in the U.S. was Genesee Cream Ale. Rochester New York-based Genessee Brewery introduced it in 1960 as a middle ground between two other “Genny” products: Dickens Dry Ale, which proved too dry for most beer drinkers; and the more-robust 12 Horse Ale.

At one point, Genny Cream Ale accounted for one-third of the brewery’s production, about 1 million barrels in all–quite an accomplishment for a brand distributed almost exclusively in the Northeast. Before it faded, Genny Cream Ale set the standard for cream ale, which is one of the few beer styles that originated in the United States.

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The Friday Mash (Captain Cook Edition)

On this day in 1770, sea captain James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia for Great Britain, calling it “New South Wales.” Cook’s fleet carried four tons of beer, which were gone within a month of heading out.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin on U.S.-Canadian border, where Detroit’s Batch Brewing Company and Windsor, Ontario’s Motor Craft Ales are collaborating on Canucky Common, a Kentucky common ale.

The beer fad of 2015 is alcoholic root beer. Products such as Not Your Dad’s Root Beer look and taste much like the soft drink, but the leading brands carry close to a 6-percent alcoholic punch.

Blue Bell ice cream, beloved by southerners, is about to go back on the market. Carla Jean Whitley of AL.com recommends five pairings of Blue Bell and Alabama-brewed craft beer.

South Korea’s parliament has made it easier for craft breweries to enter the market, but those breweries still struggle to comply with a host of other regulations.

In addition to carnival rides a parade of presidential hopefuls, this year’s Iowa State Fair featured subfreezing draft beer. Air bubbles keep the liquid moving to keep the beer that cold.

New Jersey-based Cape May Brewing is making a beer to celebrate Pope Francis’s visit to the United States this fall. It’s an India pale ale called YOPO (“You Only Pope Once”).

Finally, the slogan “breakfast of champions” takes on a new meaning. General Mills, which trademarked it, is collaborating with Minneapolis’s Fulton Beer to create a beer called HefeWheaties.”

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Comic Book History of Beer

Comic books have become mainstream, even for those over 21. That trend inspired three men—illustrator Aaron McConnell, writer Jonathan Hennessey, and professional brewer Mike Smith—to write The Comic Book Story of Beer.

This 173-page book covers 9,000 years from the beginnings of agriculture—necessitated by brewing, they maintain—and explains the economic, cultural, and scientific facets of beer. There are factoids you might not know, such as covered beer steins were invented during the Black Death, when piles of bodies on the streets attracted flies, or that the Vienna Lager style of beer was born out of a 19th-century act of industrial espionage.

Although the authors want to educate their readers, they also want the learning to be fun. They use little Lego men breaking things apart to explain how enzymes break up sugar molecules and little “yeast-bots” to depict fermentation, and their depiction of the malt-roasting process is based on a story by Dr. Seuss.

The Comic Book Story of Beer will be available next month.

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The Secret of Westvleteren’s Success

It was something that the monks at The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, Belgium, had never expected. About ten years ago, RateBeer.com named their dark, quadrupel-style ale, “12”, the best beer in the world. Demand for the beer skyrocketed, and that created a problem for the monks. They brewed beer, but strictly to cover the expenses of running the abbey. They weren’t in the brewing business, and had no intention of doing so.

Westvleteren 12 is still highly regarded—it currently ranks second on RateBeer.com—and it remains hard to find. Annual production is just under 4,000 barrels. The beer’s scarcity is a major factor in its appeal. Not only is it rare, but there are only two places to get it legally: at the abbey’s cafe, or at the abbey’s drive-through pick-up gate, provided you’ve made a reservation at least 60 days in advance—and good luck getting through. The only practical way to get to the abbey is to rent a car; it’s a 90-minute drive, provided you don’t get lost on the country roads leading to it.

A case of Westvleteren 12 sells for 40 euros (about $45), or less than $2 a bottle. Some customers resell it on the black market, and get $50 or more per bottle. The monks discourage this practice, and RateBeer.com polices its user forums and shuts down illicit sales.

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The Friday Mash (Social Security Edition)

Today is the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act. More than 50 million Americans, most of whom are retirees, receive Social Security benefits. That number will grow as members of the Baby Boom generation reach retirement age.

And now (can I see some ID, please?)….The Mash! 

We begin in North Korea, whose government is looking for foreign investors for a brewery in Wosnan. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, wants to turn the port city into a tourist attraction.

Jim Koch, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, blames high U.S. corporate taxes for acquisitions that have left foreign firms in control of 90 percent of America’s brewing industry.

The oldest known receipt for beer is a more than 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet in which a scribe acknowledges receiving approximately 4-1/2 liters of Alulu the brewer’s “best beer.”

At New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan is turning over her CEO duties to another woman, Christine Perich, the chief operating officer. Jordan will head the brewery’s board of directors.

The Los Angeles Times’s John Verive decodes seven words—clean, dry, phenolic, creamy, hot, soft, and light—that are often found in reviews of craft beers.

White Bull beer, a symbol of South Sudan’s independence, is on the endangered list. Armed conflict has left White Bull’s brewer short on foreign currency it needs to import fuel and materials.

Finally, “Biscuit,” who works at the Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis sneaked “Tom Brady Sux” next to the “born-on” date on 20,000 cans of Wee Mac Scottish Ale. His future work will have to be approved by his higher-ups.

“Pop the Cap” Turns 10

Ten years ago today, North Carolina’s then-governor Mike Easley signed House Bill 392, which did away with the state’s 6-percent ABV limit on the alcoholic content of beers. The antiquated ABV cap was repealed because of a grass-roots lobbying effort called “Pop the Cap”.

Since 2005, the number of breweries in North Carolina has almost quadrupled. The craft brewing industry has an estimated $3.8 billion impact on the state’s economy, and employs more than 26,000 workers. Beer drinkers can also enjoy doppelbocks, double IPAs, and imperial stouts which formerly couldn’t be sold because of the cap.

Fred Eckhardt, RIP

Yesterday, Fred Eckhardt, the dean of American beer writers, passed away at his home in Portland, Oregon. He was 89.

In the 1960s, Eckhardt inspired thousands of beer lovers with his pioneering “A Treatise on Lager Beer.” Years before it became legal in the United States, he wrote about homebrewing and inspired many Americans, including some prominent craft brewery owners, to take it up. At a time when breweries were consolidating and almost all domestic beer was light lager, Eckhardt wrote about better beer—and challenged his readers to make something better.

Eckhardt’s writing style was legendary. Tom Dalldorf, the editor of Celebrator Beer News, said of him, “I’ve pretty much given up on giving Fred assignments, because he writes on whatever interests him and ignores the tedious requests of unenlightened editors. That’s why we call his column ‘Fred’s World.’ He’s comfortable in it, and you can only hope that some day he invites you in as well. It’s a pretty cool place to be.”

The word “unique” is badly overused, but Eckhardt truly was. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, under a sergeant who kept a still going, even in combat zones. Later he became a Buddhist but defied that faith’s disdain of alcohol. During the Cuban missile crisis, when nuclear war seemed imminent, he decided there were more important things to do in life than take pictures of children and teach people to swim. He decided to brew beer and teach others how to do it as well.

If ever there was the proverbial life well lived, it was Fred’s.

h/t: John Foyston of The Oregonian, for his wonderful remembrance of Fred Eckhardt.

The Friday Mash (Merry Pranksters Edition)

Fifty years ago today, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters invited the Hells Angels to Kesey’s California estate. The party introduced psychedelic drugs to biker gangs, and linked the hippie movement to the Hell’s Angels. The Pranksters could have avoided this had they served beer instead.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Englewood, New Jersey, where Agnes Fenton became of the few people on Earth to celebrate a 110th birthday. Her secret? Three cans of Miller per day.

Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields is not only a Pro Bowler, but he’s also an all-Pro homebrewer. Fields, whose wife bought him a kit seven years ago, recently took up all-grain brewing.

Five weeks after a tornado devastated the town, the residents of Portland, Michigan, came together at a beer festival. The logo for one beer, Portland Strong Strawberry Stout, featured a red tornado.

Svalbard, an island in the Norwegian Arctic, is now home to the world’s northernmost brewery. Last year, the island lifted a decades-old ban on brewing.

The Fat Cat Pub in Norwich, England, has named a beer in honor of Cecil the lion, who was killed by an American dentist. Its name, “Cecil’s Revenge,” was chosen by the pub’s customers.

Last Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Fritz Maytag’s acquiring majority ownership of the Anchor Brewing Company. Tom Rutonno of CNBC recaps this now-famous brewery’s history.

Finally, technology and the growing popularity of craft beer has created new legal issues. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange has filed a trademark infringement suit against the developer of an app for beer collectors. The parties use the same handle on social media.

Beer….By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count as of June 30, 2015: 3,739.
  • Increase over the year before: 699.
  • Full- and part-time workers employed by U.S. breweries: 115,469.
  • Premium beer’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. sales: 63 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. sales: 2 percent.
  • Shock Top’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. craft beer sales: 50 percent.
  • A-B InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market: 45 percent.
  • MillerCoors’s share of the U.S. beer market: 26 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market: 11 percent.
  • Beer drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County, California, in 2014: 361.
  • Wine drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County in 2014: 114.
  • Tap handles at the Raleigh (North Carolina) Beer Garden: 366 (believed to be the world’s most).
  • Locally-brewed beers on tap at the Raleigh Beer Garden: 144.
  • Percent of the price of beer attributable to taxes in Mississippi: 60 (highest in the nation).
  • Percent attributable to taxes in Montana and Oregon: 32 (lowest in the nation).
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