Putting Local Beer on the Map

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post has a way for you to misspend even more of your time: looking for the brewery closest to you. Ingraham started with the work of the community, who maintain a list of North American breweries and their GPS coordinates. Ingraham took all the listings for the lower 48–4,750 in all—and plotted them on a map, then overlaid a grid on the map called a Voronoi diagram.

Voila! For any point in the lower 48, it shows you which brewery is the closest. You can either use your mobile phone to pinpoint the closest brewery. Or, if you’re not on a mobile device, you can mouse-over find a given location’s “home” brewery.

Cells that “belong” to breweries vary in size. They’re incredibly small in cities like San Francisco, but take up hundreds of square miles in sparsely-populated regions of the country. In southwestern Utah, for instance, the Zion Canyon Brewing Company is the only one for hundreds of miles around.

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The Friday Mash (Black Sox Edition)

On this day in 1919, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Chicago White Sox 5 games to 3, in the World Series. Eight members of the White Sox were later accused of intentionally losing games in exchange for taking bribes from gamblers. All eight were banned for life.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Boston, where an Israeli company’s water purification technology is converting the Charles River’s famous “dirty water” into a new pale ale by Harpoon Brewing Company.

Some establishments are trying to cut costs by replacing bartenders with self-serve taps. However, human beings are still needed to check IDs and make sure intoxicated patrons don’t get served.

Anheuser-Busch has invented the Bud Light “Bud-e Fridge”. This wi-fi-enabled appliance will provide your mobile phone with real-time updates on your beer supply.

In an effort to attract moms in their 20s and 30s, Chuck E. Cheese is adding beer and wine to the beverage menu. The chain is also offering thin-crust and gluten-free pizza.

Raleigh television station WRAL interviewed Rodenbach Brewery’s Rudi Ghequire, the “father of sour beer”, about the style’s growing popularity in the U.S.

Authorities in Casablanca have canceled a beer festival because it violated local laws and customs. Morocco is a Muslim country, but tourists and non-Muslims are allowed to drink.

Finally, the Straight to Ale brewery in Huntsville, Alabama, honors the city’s NASA heritage with a “space beers” series. Its ales have honored the International Space Station, Laika the Soviet space dog, and even unobtanium from the movie Avatar.

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The Friday Mash (L.A. Edition)

On this day in 1781, forty-four Spanish settlers founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola) in southern California. The settlement eventually acquired the friendlier name, “Los Angeles.”

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Colorado, where two men got into the beer business without brewing. Last year they formed Inland Island Yeast Laboratories, whose customers include three dozen local micros.

Japanese beer taxes are steep, but the government is about to give brewers a break. It will also change the century-old definition of beer, which requires it to contain at least two-thirds malt.

Darrin Wingard, of West Caln, Pennsylvania, has drunk a new beer on each of the last 1,100 days. You can follow his beer adventures on his Instagram account, newbeeraday.

Synek, a packaging company, has unveiled a self-contained countertop tap system that dispenses 128-ounce cartridges of beer that will stay fresh for a month. A home version retails for $289.

Aficionados keep rare beers in their cellar, sometimes for years. However, cellaring might be the wrong thing to do with hoppy beers because hop flavor is the first thing to fade as time passes.

Last weekend, Brian Harman became the third golfer in PGA Tour history to shoot two holes-in-one in the same round. He celebrated by treating the media to $3,000 worth of beer and whiskey.

Finally, British writer Pete Brown laments his government’s failure to grasp that people drink to achieve a state somewhere between sobriety and drunkenness. The English language doesn’t even have a word for that state.

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.

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.

A Short History of the Beer Can

In the past few years, hundreds of craft breweries began canning their beer. It wasn’t an easy decision because canned beer was associated with national-brand lagers, and canning equipment was an expensive investment for small breweries.

Even though canned foods date back to 1813, it took more another century, and then some, for a brewery to successfully put its beer in cans. In 1933, the American Can Company invented a can that was strong enough to hold a pressurized carbonated liquid lined with a coating that prevented metallic tastes from flavoring the beer. Two years later, the Kreuger Brewing Company test-marketed two of its beers in Richmond, Virginia.

Kreuger’s cans were a success, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The early cans were made of heavy steel coated with a thin layer of tin to prevent rusting. Those gave way to aluminum cans, first used by the Hawaii Brewing Company in 1958. Nowadays, cans are made out of an aluminum alloy, which is even lighter weight and more resistant to rusting.

The beer can’s shape also changed over time. Early cans looked like cylinders with flat tops and bottoms. The next generation of cans had cone tops, which became popular with small breweries because they were easier to fill and could be sealed with the same crown caps as glass bottles. By the late 1950s, however, cone-top cans were replaced by cylindrical cans with flat tops and bottoms.

Opening canned beer has gotten easier as well. The original flat-top cans required a device called a “church key”, which punctured a triangular hole at the top of the can, out of which a person could drink, and a second, smaller hole on the opposite side to let air into the can and allow the beer to flow. In 1962, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company released a can with a “zip top,” a small flat tab riveted to the center of the can’s top that could be pulled back to puncture the can. Three years later, a pull ring, similar to those used in cans of pet food, replaced the flat tab. However, the discarded tabs created an environmental problem. In 1975, Reynolds Metals Company solved it with a “stay-tab,” which is now standard technology in beer and pop cans worldwide.

Canned craft beer has several advantages: it can be hermetically sealed; it cools faster than bottled beer; and it’s friendlier to outdoor activities. As for the belief that canned craft beer tastes of metal, that has long since been debunked.

The Friday Mash (Lamont Cranston Edition)

Eighty-five years ago, the radio drama The Shadow debuted. The title character, who know “what evil lurks in the hearts of men,” became a major influence on later comic book superheroes, Batman in particular.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Kabul, Afghanistan, where non-alcoholic beer is popular, and costs only 30 cents a can. Alcohol is banned in this Muslim country–but there’s a thriving black market in beer and spirits.

Lululemon, the yoga pants company, is using beer to attract male customers. Curiosity Lager, which features hints of lemon drop and Chinook hops, will soon be available at select locations in Canada.

Heavy Seas Brewing Company will mark the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken, Jr., setting a new Major League Baseball consecutive-games-played with a retro lager called Fielder’s Choice.

Vault Brewing Company invented a new way of canning nitro-conditioned beer. Vault adds the nitrogen when the beer is canned, bypassing the famous Guinness “widget.”

“Session beers”—those with less than 5% ABV—have gained a following among Colorado drinkers. The trend has spread from India pale ales to other styles, such as sour beers and saisons.

Producers of the zombie drama The Walking Dead have teamed up with Terrapin Brewing Company to make the show’s official beer: a Red India pale ale brewed with blood orange peel.

Finally, not all Utahns are Mormons, and some stage an alternative to the Pioneer Day state holiday. It’s called called “Pie and Beer Day,” and celebrants are invited to gather friends and family. Beer is optional.

The Friday Mash (Very Endangered Species Edition)

On this day in 1844, the last two known great auks were killed. These large flightless penguin-like birds, which lived in the North Atlantic, were hunted to extinction because their down was in high demand in Europe.

And on that auk-ward note…The Mash!

We begin in China, where designer Li Rongjun has built an office out of 8,500 empty beer bottles. Rongjun has a degree in construction from the Inner Mongolia University of Science & Technology.

Lagunitas Brewing Company will build a third brewery in Asuza, California. The new plant, with a projected capacity of more than 400,000 barrels a year, is expected to open in early 2017.

Molson’s Beer Fridge will make an appearance at this month’s Pan-American Games in Toronto. The latest edition will dispense a free Molson to those who say “I Am Canadian” in any of 40 languages.

Anita Brown, an artist in Los Angeles, has designed beers for each of the books in the Harry Potter series. They include Pilsner of Azkaban, Amber of Secrets, and Deathly Hops (h/t Jay Brooks).

Queen is the latest rock group to release its own beer. It’s a pilsner that will be called—what else?—Bohemian Rhapsody. The bottle’s design features a crest designed by Freddie Mercury himself while he was in college.

5 Rabbit Cerveceria has pulled a custom-brewed batch of ale from Chicago’s Trump Tower in protest of Donald Trump’s comments about Mexico. 5 Rabbit’s founder, is a native of Costa Rica.

Finally, New Orleans is rarely associated with German culture, but Tchoupitoulas Beer Garden, a year-round, Oktoberfest-inspired beer hall, will open this summer in the city’s Warehouse District.

The Friday Mash (UN Edition)

Seventy years ago today, representatives of 50 countries meeting in San Francisco signed the Charter of the United Nations. The UN’s original five Security Council members were the U.S., Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China (Taiwan)–which shows up in this week’s Mash.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Goose Island Brewing Company is launching a series of beers brewed by its alumni. First up is Greg Hall, who returned 27 years after his first day on the job.

Duquesne Brewing Company is rolling out a beer honoring Joe Paterno. Part of the proceeds from the Vienna-style lager will go to charities chosen by the late coach’s family.

Carlsberg Brewing, with 8 percent of the world beer market, is pitching a line of grooming products to the men who drink its beer. The product line includes shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.

Beer has been linked to “man boobs”. But even though hops contain phytoestrogen, it’s found in many other foods. The real culprit is calories, not beer itself.

Chestnuts aren’t just for roasting on an open fire. Dennis Fulbright, professor emeritus at Michigan State University, says they make for sweeter, smoother beers—which are also gluten-free.

A Portland, Oregon, a beer hall that opens next month will pay its workers at least $15 an hour, and will enforce a no-tipping policy. Beers, sandwiches, and sausages will cost $6 apiece.

Finally, the Wunderman Taiwan brewery gave a new meaning to starting a “buzz.” It dressed up drones as bees to deliver its new Honey Beer to office workers.

The Friday Mash (Juneteenth Edition)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom–which actually had been granted more than two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. The anniversary, known as “Juneteenth,” is officially celebrated in 42 states.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Mystic, Connecticut, where members of the StoneRidge retirement community are brewing their own beer. Why not? It’s educational, it’s fun, and it’s beer!

Massachusetts has strange liquor laws, one of which bans breweries from donating beer to charity events. Oddly, the ban—enacted by the legislature in 1997—doesn’t apply to wine donations.

“Sweet Baby Jesus” is DuClaw Brewing Company’s flagship beer. However, an Ohio grocery chain has pulled the beer from its shelves after customers complained about the name.

The New York State Brewers Association has created Statewide Pale Ale. The beer, made entirely with in-state ingredients, is projected to raise $20,000 for the association.

What is the link between Magna Carta and the English pint? According to Britain’s Communities Minister, the “London quarter” mentioned in the 800-year-old document is equivalent to two imperial pints.

There are hard-to-find beers, and there are truly rare beers, which make “Pappy Van Winkle seem as easy to find as a can of Coke.” Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb acquaints you with ten of them.

Finally, DNA meets IPA. Gianpaolo Rando, a European chemist who loves beer, wants to sequence the DNA more than 100 different beers in the hopes of producing an app that will match beers to drinkers’ own hereditary makeup.

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