The Friday Mash (Bonfire of the Vanities Edition)

On this day in 1497, in Florence, Italy, Savonarola presided over history’s most famous “bonfire of the vanities.” Anything he considered a temptation to sin went up in flames. That’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Grand Rapids, home of HopCat, America’s top-rated beer bar. Owner Mark Sellers plans to open 12 to 15 more HopCats throughout the Midwest over the next five years.

Gotcha! Firas Habli, a beer store owner in Ohio, was shamed on social media after he was seen trying to buy a grocery store’s entire allotment of Bell’s Hopslam.

In Maine, liquor inspectors are telling bars that it’s agains the law to post the alcoholic content of beer. The law was passed in 1937, long before the arrival of high-gravity craft beer.

In Washington State, Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a beer-themed whale-watching cruise. The itinerary includes two brewery tours, and beer experts will be pairing craft beers with dinner.

Researchers in Spain have created an electronic “tongue” that can recognize beer styles and differences in alcohol content. It’s said to be accurate more than four out of five times.

Instead of shelling out millions for a Super Bowl ad, Newcastle mocked the big game’s hype in a stealth campaign that featured Anna Kendrick in a “Behind the Scenes” YouTube video.

Finally, the early favorite for Beer Trend of 2014 appears to be beer-focused cocktails. To get you started, the Food Network staff has put together a 13-drink slideshow, complete with recipes.

The Friday Mash (Cream City Edition)

On this day in 1846, Juneautown and Kilbourntown, Wisconsin, combined to form the city of Milwaukee. One of Milwaukee’s nicknames is “Cream City,” given in the late 19th century when millions of cream-colored bricks were made there.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Northlake, Illinois, where Bill Diamond, a train conductor at a distribution plant, is protecting beer from the polar vortex, which has driven temperatures well below beer’s freezing point.

Ever heard of the Andy-Oza Line? Created by Andy Sparhawk of CraftBeer.com, it’s the average ABV of the beer on tap at your local beer bar, divided by 5.9%, the average ABV of American craft beer.

These cases are getting more common. Illinois’ Rockford Brewing Company filed a trademark suit against Michigan’s Rockford Brewing Company. Both claim to they were the first to use the name.

Beer, then whiskey. MillerCoors is rolling out Miller Fortune, a golden lager that gives off a taste of bourbon. It’s aimed at 21- to 27-year-old men, who have gravitated to spirits in recent years.

Heretic Brewing Company responded to California’s new growler law by providing customers with the most detailed instructions we’ve ever seen for keeping growlers clean.

What did James Grant, a New Zealand doctor, do when a shark attacked him? He drove off the shark with a knife, stitched up his wounds, and went to the pub for a beer with his friends.

Finally, umami is a savory flavor at the heart of Japanese food. Now there’s a beer to pair with it. It’s called Wazen, which will be released this spring by Suntory, the Japanese beverage company.

The Friday Mash…on Monday!

I’m back in town after spending some quality time with my pride and fighting a snowstorm. This weather is enough to drive a lion to drink. Speaking of which, I think I need another Lion Stout.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Davis, California, where Professor Arthur Shapiro has a pitcher of beer waiting for you if you collect 2014’s first cabbage white butterfly in the Sacramento area. Be aware that Shapiro himself is looking for this creature.

In England, pubs continue to close despite the popularity of Real Ale. Reasons include cheap carry-out beer, smoking bans, and “pubcos” that profit at the expense of pub operators.

In Egypt, researchers discovered the 3,000-year-old tomb of Khonso-Im-Heb, who apparently was the royal court’s head of beer production. He brewed in honor of Mut, Egypt’s mother-goddess.

The Seattle Seahawks’ winning season was good news for Hilliards Beer. The Seattle micro made more than 10,000 cases of “12th Can,” a beer named after and brewed for the team’s noisy fans.

HuffingtonPost.com has posted a time-lapse video of 400 barrels of Sierra Nevada beer fermenting over a six-day period in one of the brewery’s open fermenters.

In 1866 David Yuengling, the founder’s son, opened a brewery in Richmond, Virginia. The state is trying to add his James River Steam Brewery to the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, Garrison Brewing Company of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is using discarded Christmas trees to brew spruce beer, which was once so popular that even George Washington brewed it.

The Friday Mash (Wicked Wind Edition)

We’ve had nasty weather this week, but it pales in comparison to conditions atop Mount Washington, New Hampshire, on this day in 1934. The world’s strongest-ever wind gust, 231 miles per hour, was recorded there.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Oregon, where lawmakers may designate Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the official state microbe. It’s also used to make bread, cheese, and craft distilled spirits, all popular Oregon products.

Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, Massachusetts, is honoring Red Auerbach, the legendary Boston Celtics basketball coach, with–what else?–a Rauchbier. Back in the day, Auerbach lit up a cigar to celebrate a Boston victory.

The Sly Fox Brewing Company is the first American brewery to use topless cans. Just pull the tab up, then then peel the lid away, to expose a 1.75-inch-wide opening that allows you to enjoy the beer’s aroma.

Many craft brewers have branched out into spirits, and some familiar names–including Ballast Point, Rogue, and Dogfish Head–have been awarded medals by the American Distilling Institute.

English transplant Adrian Dingle got himself banned from BeerAdvocate.comfor his outspoken opinions. Dingle’s rants about beer and culture now appear on his DingsBeerBlog.com.

The Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colorado, has joined forces with Crazy Mountain Brewing, a local micro, to offer “Brew and Renew” treatments. They include foot soaks, body wraps, scalp treatments, and full body scrubs.

Finally, Paste magazine has compiled a list of ten music-inspired beers. It includes “Brother Theloneous” Belgian-Style Abbey Ale; “Smoke on the Water” Porter; and–wait for it–”Dark Side of the Moose,” a dark ale brewed in Wales.

The Friday Mash (Berlin Wall Edition)

On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. The wall’s demise led not only to the reunification of Germany but also to the fall of Communism in eastern Europe. Feel free to celebrate with a continental Pilsner.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Ulm, Minnesota, where a local theater company is putting on The History of Beer, Part I. It’s heavy on audience participation, including traditional German beer-hall songs.

Many beers are aged in bourbon barrels, but New Holland Artisan Spirits has reversed the process. Its Beer Barrel Bourbon is aged in barrels that once held the brewery’s Dragon’s Milk Stout.

Matt Dredge, at Pencil and Spoon, believes that IBUs are not the best indicator of how bitter your beer will taste. Instead, he recommends BU:GUs (Bitterness Units: Gravity Units), a ratio first introduced by author Ray Daniels.

Brewing’s Busch family continues to fascinate authors. William Knoedelseder’s new book, Bitter Brew, was written with the family’s cooperation. Meanwhile, Terry Ganey and Peter Hernon have written an updated version of their 1991 unauthorized biography.

Another reminder that time flies. Samuel Adams Utopia is celebrating its tenth birthday. Only 15,000 bottles of this year’s extreme (29 percent ABV) beer will be produced.

Circle next Thursday on your calendar. Belgophile bars, restaurants, and stores across America will take part in the Coast to Coast Toast. November 15 is the 30th anniversary of Vanberg & DeWulf, the New York-based importer of Belgian beer.

Finally, you missed the ultimate release party. Last Friday evening, bars across Denmark poured free glasses of Julebryg, Tuborg Brewery’s extra-strength Christmas beer.

Beer, Then Whiskey

The Boston Beer Company has recently gotten considerable media coverage of its planned acquisition of a distillery in Vermont, which will create two whiskies literally made from Sam Adams beer.

However, beer writer Bryan Yaeger puts the story into perspective, pointing out that a number of craft brewers have branched out into distilling. (On our own Michigan brewery travels, we ran into several establishments that were experimenting with spirits.) Yaeger adds that this trend is older than you might think. In 1993, the Anchor Brewery added a distilling operation, making it a pioneer in that field as well as brewing.

Beer, Then Whiskey

Why not? Plenty of craft beer fans, not to mention beer writers, are into whiskey; and a growing number of many craft breweries have expanded into distilling. One of them is Rogue Ales, whose wire service announced the Great American Distillers Festival.

This year’s festival will take place at the Tiffany Center in Portland, Oregon, a city that is home to at least eight distilleries. A total of 38 distilleries, the most in festival history, will pour more than 70 whiskeys, gins, vodkas, and rums. The festivities will also include distillery tours, educational seminars, and a cocktail competition.

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle Batch of Rum

This is a beer site, but Maryanne and Paul enjoy other adult beverages, including spirits. And, by happy coincidence, many craft brewers have started micro-distilleries.

One of the best-known is Rogue, whose distillery is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. Today is Monday, which means it’s Rum Day at Rogue Spirits. See how this beverage is made:

Need more inspiration? Here you go. Today is National Rum Day.

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