On this day in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Ironically, Bell considered the phone a distraction from his real work as a scientist and refused to have one in his study.
And now…a busy signal!
Almost 600 types of barley seeds have been added to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This ups the chances that survivors will be able to enjoy a post-apocalyptic beer.
In India, architecture students from Bangalore and Spain used thousands of beer bottles to construct a classroom. The bottles eliminate the need for artificial light inside.
Stone Brewing Company plans to open a second brewery in the eastern U.S., and it appears that Greensboro has been found worthy as a site to brew Arrogant Bastard and other ales.
A London-based start-up company has a remedy for job stress. Desk Beer offers Friday deliveries of local craft beer–provided, of course, the boss approves.
If you plan on some beer hunting, Lindsey Grossman of Paste magazine suggests eight beer-related apps for your phone. They include a “fairly addictive” game called Micro Caps.
Finally, after being served three ales he couldn’t stand, Johnny Sharp unleashed a rant titled “Am I The Only Man in Britain Who Hates Craft Beer? You may find his writing an “acquired taste.”
Most companies cut back their lobbying budgets but according to Aimee Duffy of The Motley Fool, Anheuser-Busch InBev is spending heavily in favor of two tax measures currently before Congress.
Readers of this blog are probably aware of the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act of 2013, which would cut the federal beer tax in half, and give small brewers an even more generous tax break; and the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce (Small BREW) Act of 2013, which would reduce the beer tax by 50 percent on the first 60,000 barrels and by 11 percent on each barrel beyond that.
According to the website govtrack.us, the BEER Act has zero chance of getting through Congress, and the Small BREW Act has only a 2-percent chance. In spite of those odds, A-B spent $4.3 million on lobbying, most of it to make sure these bills pass.
Duffy finds method in A-B’s madness. If the BEER Act passes, the company’s tax bill would drop by around $500 million a year–more than a 10,000 percent return on a $4.3 million lobbying investment.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, only a handful of breweries in the United States were still operating. Nick Green of MentalFloss.com explains how these breweries survived a 13-year period during which their main line of business was illegal.
To begin with, brewery owners knew well in advance that Prohibition was coming, and thus had time to think of alternatives. The most common was “near beer,” which the Volstead Act defined as having less than 0.5 percent alcohol. Brewers had experience with low-alcohol beer, thanks to a World War I emergency measure that outlawed beer with an alcohol content higher than 2.75 percent.
Breweries got into numerous other lines of business. Ice cream was one. Anheuser-Busch owned a fleet of refrigerated trucks, and put them to work carrying a different product. Adolph Coors mass-produced ceramic tubes and rods for the military, along with lines of dinnerware. Many of the big breweries sold malt extract “as a cooking product” which was in fact used for homebrewing, then prohibited by the Volstead Act. Other breweries converted their equipment to dye-making: the transition was easy, and a shortage of imports created a postwar “dye famine.”
On this day in 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated. Can you name the other railroads on the Monopoly board? Time’s up. They’re the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Railroad, and the Short Line.
We begin in Brazil, where the Polar brewery has an invention that will make it easier to converse in bars. It’s a beer cooler that cuts out GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and 4G signals.
California’s drought could make your Lagunitas IPA will taste different. The Russian River, which provides Lagunitas with its water, is drying up, and brewery might have to find another source.
Beer was the headline ingredient in last Sunday’s “Chopped” competition on the Food Network. The show, with Stone Brewing Company’s Greg Koch as a judge, airs again on Sunday evening.
Higher zymurgical education awaits in the form of Joshua Bernstein’s new book, The Complete Beer Course. It contains a series of “classes” devoted to families of beers.
On Tuesday, when he was in Chicago to announce the award of a federal manufacturing grant, President Obama put in a plug for Goose Island Brewing Company’s “superior beer.”
A Korean romantic comedy in which the female lead makes chimek to celebrate winter’s first snow has Chinese viewers clamoring for the dish, which is Korean for “fried chicken” and “beer.”
Finally, a gathering of 490 Yelp members at Santa Anita Race Track might set a new Guinness record for beer tasters. We hope they bet on Ambitious Brew, who won the $100,000 Sensational Star stakes race.
- U.S. brewery count at the end of last year: 3,999 (948 more than a year earlier).
- California’s brewery count (number one in the nation) at the end of last year: 508 (145 more than a year earlier).
- Mississippi’s brewery count (someone has to be last) at the end of last year: 6 (3 more than a year earlier).
- Bottles of Deal With the Devil produced by Alaska Brewing Company: 1,000.
- Bottles allocated to Alaska retailers: 336.
- Deal With the Devil’s alcoholic content: 17.6 percent.
- Signature Copper Lager’s alcoholic strength: 5.7 percent ABV.
- Busch Signature Copper Lager’s alcoholic strength: 5.7 percent ABV.
- States where Busch Signature Copper Lager is being test-marketed: 12.
- Germany’s annual per capita beer consumption today: 28 gallons.
- Its annual per capita consumption in 1978: 40 gallons (43 percent higher).
- Hours an American minimum-wage employee has to work to afford a beer: 0.4.
- Hours a Russian minimum-wage employee has to work: 1.6.
- Hours a minimum-wage employee in the Republic of Georgia has to work: 15.1.
- Calories from alcohol in a typical 12-ounce serving of beer: 100 (alcohol has 7 calories per gram).
- Calories from carbohydrates in a typical 12-ounce serving of beer: 50.
Wine lovers are familiar with the word terroir, which roughly translates into “expression of a sense of place.” The main ingredient in wine is, of course, grapes, and most good wines are made with grapes from a particular region. But is that possible with beer? There are breweries in all 50 states, but most hops are grown in the Northwest and most barley is grown on the Great Plains.
Erika Szymanski, a science writer at Palate Press, contends that terroir is possible in beer. For example, she found that a Guinness served in a bar in Rochester, New York, tasted different from one served in County Clare in Ireland. Same recipe, slightly different ingredients. Szymanski says that a brewery doesn’t have to stick to ingredients grown in its backyard–though Rogue Ales does a marvelous job in that department–so long as the ingredients give its beer what she calls “sensory characteristics that uniquely identify a beverage’s origins.”
Szymanski goes on to say that beer today is like wine was in the 17th century. In time, she believes, breweries and beer drinkers will draw greater distinctions among grains, just as today’s wine community distinguishes among grapes. It’s even possible that 200 years from now, beer drinkers “will be comparing exquisite estate-bottled Hefeweizen from neighboring wheat fields.”
Sixty-six years ago today, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was formed in Daytona Beach, Florida. Today, NASCAR is second only to the National Football League in television ratings and has more Fortune 500 corporate sponsors than any other sport.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in western North Carolina, where the new Sierra Nevada brewery has started brewing IPA. It will start shipping to distributors this spring, and open to the public in August.
It looks like a stout, but Morning Beer by a Sacramento roaster is actually a nitrogenated coffee. It’s alcohol-free, so you can enjoy it on your way to work.
Think you’re the ultimate beer geek? If so, send a video to the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. The lucky winner will get four VIP tickets to the sold-out Invitational Beer Festival.
The All-American Food Truck & Craft Beer Rally took place in Huntsville, Alabama, on Wednesday. Food trucks are showing up at more and more festivals on our calendar.
Your purchase of Flying Dog Ales’ Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout helps fund the brewery’s effort to plant oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Flying Dog expects to plant two million this year.
It’s almost Mardi Gras season in New Orleans. If you’re going, local writer Nora McGunnigle tells where you can find good beer in the Crescent City.
Finally, we recently told you about beer concentrate. Now the folks at Gizmodo.com have tried it straight, and say it “bombards your taste buds with a rotting symphony of flavors not meant for consumption.”
California is suffering one of the worst droughts in memory and, as Claire Leschin-Hoar of Voice of San Diego explains, the state’s craft brewing industry is feeling the effects. Brewers in the San Diego area are taking steps to conserve water in the beer-making process. The first step is finding out where it’s being wasted. The next is to find ways to use less water and to re-use it–for example, by using reverse osmosis to purify wastewater.
It takes more than three gallons of water to make one gallon of beer, and even more at small breweries which can’t take advantage of economies of scale. However, other beverages have much bigger “water footprints.” It takes 880 gallons of water to make one gallon of milk or one gallon of coffee, and 1,008 gallons of water to make a gallon of wine.
Shortly before the 2008 election (more about that in a moment), beer writer Rick Lyke wrote a column about the best and worst beer presidents. The folks at All About Beer, where the column originally appeared, tweeted it earlier today in honor of Presidents Day.
Heading the “Best Beer Presidents” list is Franklin D. Roosevelt, who campaigned against Prohibition. He’s joined by Jimmy Carter, who signed a bill legalizing homebrewing; James Madison, who promoted beer as a healthier alternative to hard liquor; and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom brewed their own. Barack Obama, who won the 2008 election, revived the tradition of homebrewing in the White House.
Warren G. Harding, who supported Prohibition but flouted the law in private, tops the “Worst Beer Presidents” list. Others on the list include Rutherford B. Hayes, whose wife, “Lemonade Lucy” Hayes, banished alcohol from the White House; George H.W. Bush, who doubled the excise tax on beer; Woodrow Wilson, who was against Prohibition but failed to stop it; and Abraham Lincoln, who signed legislation creating the federal beer tax to raise revenue during the Civil War.