GABF Myths: Debunked

The Great American Beer Festival opens tomorrow, and the folks at Paste magazine have addressed the top ten myths about the event. For those who’ve been to GABF, some of the myths are obvious: volunteers don’t know about the beer they’re pouring; Saturday night’s session is a drunken frat party; and if you don’t have a ticket, there’s nothing for a beer drinker to do in Denver.

Paste also tries to set the record straight about gold medals: “A gold medal means that a particular entry perfectly meets the standard for that style–period. In the 2013 competition, Anheuser-Busch InBev won a gold medal in the American-Style Lager or Light Lager category for Budweiser Select, a technically well-done brew, but not exactly something a craft-beer aficionado would seek out.”

But one myth is true: the Silent Disco is hilarious to watch.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Breweries operating in the United States as of June 30: 3,040.
  • Breweries in planning in the U.S. as of June 30: 1,929.
  • Workers employed by American craft breweries: 110,273.
  • Cost of one (legal) marijuana joint in Washington State: $2.71.
  • Cost of one bottle of Bud Light in Washington State: $0.90.
  • Most overpriced beer in the National Football League: $8.50 (53 cents an ounce) at Ford Field, Detroit.
  • Average cost of a bottle of beer at a Detroit-area grocery store: 98 cents (8.2 cents an ounce).
  • Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) colleges that sell beer in on-campus stadiums: 21.
  • Publicly-owned stadiums that sell beer at FBS games: 11.
  • U.S. craft-beer exports in 2009: 46,000 barrels.
  • U.S. craft-beer exports in 2013: 282,500 barrels (about $73 million worth).
  • Number of beer tents at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich: 14.
  • Capacity of the Schottenhamel beer tent, Oktoberfest’s largest: 10,000.
  • Nepal’s annual beer sales: 84 million bottles.
  • Number of breweries in Nepal: 6.
  • New Belgium: In the Beginning

    New Belgium Brewing Company turns out 800,000 barrels a year at its Fort Collins, Colorado, location. It’s operating at max capacity there, and is building a second plant in North Carolina that will make it a true national brand.

    What makes New Belgium’s story even more amazing is how and where it began. Hillary Jones of Bizjournals.com explains:

    Jordan and then-husband Jeff Lebesch launched New Belgium in 1991 after taking out a $60,000 second mortgage on their home. They brewed the beer in the 12-by-22-foot basement while Jordan raised a baby and worked four days a week as a social worker.

    On the fifth day of the week, Jordan would round up customers’ beer orders, pack up the family station wagon and drive around making deliveries. At night, she finished up the day by making posters to advertise New Belgium.

    Jordan said she wasn’t afraid of taking risks, and if the brewing business didn’t work out, she’d go back to her day job. She never had to.

    New Beer Style Guidelines

    The Brewers Association is out with its 2014 Beer Style Guidelines. This year’s guidelines represent what the BA calls “the largest revision and reorganization to date.” Several new styles join the list, including Australian-Style Pale Ale, Belgian-Style Fruit Beer, Dutch-Style Kuit, Historical Beer, and Wild Beer. A number of other styles have been consolidated or revised.

    How Breweries Survived During Prohibition

    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.”

    A Brewery Run by Those Who Served

    In 2005, Miguel Delgado, a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in while serving in Iraq. The injury forced him out of the Corps and into a situation many veterans face: medical problems and underemployment.

    Fortunately, Delgado was hired by a new Chicago microbrewery, the Veteran Beer Company, as a brand ambassador. The brewery’s policy is to hire as many veterans as possible and provide them with both employment and camaraderie with others who had served.

    The Veteran Beer Company was founded by Paul Jenkins, a retired Navy fighter pilot who also suffers from a disability. Disturbed by high rates of unemployment among veterans, he set out to do something about it–namely, start a brewery. Jenkins assembled a team starting with Eric Rine, a retired Marine Corps officer, as brewmaster.

    The brewery’s Veteran Amber Lager and the Blonde Bomber American Blonde Ale are available in the Chicago area and Indiana. Rine has ambitious plans for the future: from his Chicagoland base, he plans to “advance and hold territory.” And hire more veterans as the brewery grows.

    The Friday Mash (Triskaidekaphobia Edition)

    Today is Friday the 13th, which is bad news for the 20 million Americans who suffer from triskaidekaphobia. Some are so terrified of today that they won’t even get out of bed. But the truly intrepid will celebrate by attending Friday the Firkenteenth, a cask ale festival that takes place at Philadelphia’s Grey Lodge Pub every Friday the 13th.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Toledo, where Tony Packo’s, the hot dog joint made famous by M*A*S*H’s Corporal Klinger, is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a special, locally-brewed ale.

    Two economists theorize that beer was the key to The Netherlands’ independence. Seventeenth-century Dutchmen drank lots beer, and the government gradually hiked taxes on it to finance their decades-long revolt against Spanish rule.

    Budweiser has run afoul of British regulators, who turned thumbs-down on an ad in which a football coach promised success with women to men who drank Bud.

    Add Lagunitas Brewery to the list of western craft breweries planning to open a second plant. It will be located in Chicago, where founder and owner Tony Magee is from.

    San Francisco’s iconic Hamms Brewery sign was demolished long ago, but local artist Dan McHale has brought it back to life with a series of paintings, “36 Views of the Hamm’s Brewery.”

    Could beer be “brain food”? Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that after drinking two pints, men performed better on brain-teasers than those had nothing to drink.

    Finally, Governor Phil Bryant has signed a bill raising Mississippi’s ABV cap to approximately 10.1% ABV. Mississippians can now enjoy 70 percent of the world’s top 100 beers.

    He’s Back!

    Greetings everyone, from the world headquarters of the Beer Festival Calendar! We hope you had a merry Christmas and that your favorite football team won–or, at least, your despised arch-rival lost.

    Early this morning, the lion limo brought Ludwig back home, where he immediately went found the warmest place in the house–underneath the Christmas tree, of course–and went to sleep. If you have cats, you can understand.

    Before nodding off, Ludwig asked us to announce that the 2012 festival calendar has indeed gone live, and that he’s accepting accolades festival submissions.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

    Is it Time for a Beer?

    Find out for yourself with the Internet era’s answer to the Magic 8-Ball.

    Pilsner’s Criminal Element

    We’re all familiar with the story of pilsner, but Jay Brooks adds a detail you might not have known. The style might have been made possible by a yeast rustler.

    The story begins in Plzen, where the townspeople hired an architect named Martin Stelzer to build a brewery. Stelzer offered the job of brewmaster to Josef Groll. Groll was aware that Bavarian scientists were experimenting with different strains of yeast. For obvious reasons, the Bavarians didn’t want to share their secret. Nevertheless, their yeast found its way to Groll’s brewery; and, according to legend, a Bavarian monk smuggled it out of the country and gave it to Groll.

    The legend has never been confirmed, but the yeast was a vital ingredient in making the clear, bright gold-colored beverage that made its spectacular debut in Plzen’s St. Martin’s Market on October 5, 1842.

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