The Friday Mash (NBA Edition)

On this day in 1946, the Basketball Association of America, the ancestor of today’s National Basketball Association, was organized in New York City. Fun fact: the first basket in league history was made by Ossie Schectman of the New York Knickerbockers in a game against the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Asheville, North Carolina. The big craft brewers building plants there are trying to be good neighbors to the home-grown breweries, who have welcomed the newcomers.

Beer will be brewed in the Bronx—New York City’s only mainland borough—after a nearly 50-year absence. The Bronx Brewery, which currently contracts out its production, will bring its operations home sometime next year.

The “Bottle Boys,” who play cover songs on beer bottles, are out with their latest: the 1982 Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean”. Previous covers include Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

Jacksonville, Florida, is the latest American city to create an Ale Trail for tourists. The trail includes a number of area micros, along with the Anheuser-Busch plant, which offers tours and a beer school.

The Boston Herald profiled Todd and Jason Alstrom, two guys from western Massachusetts who founded BeerAdvocate.com and organized the American Craft Beer Fest. Their motto is “Respect Beer.”

Dr. Paul Roof, a professor at Charleston Southern University, was fired by the school after his hirsute face appeared on cans of Holy City beer for a fund-raiser. CSU found that inconsistent with a Christian university.

Finally, a New Year’s resolution paid off for Justin “Bugsy” Sailor. Four years ago, Sailor resolved to have a beer with Sir Richard Branson. The two entrepreneurs finally clinked glasses last month.

The Friday Mash (Happy New Year! Edition)

It’s been a horrible winter in much of the country, but take heart: today is the first full day of spring. Today is also the first day of the astrological year, being the first full day under the sign of Aries. So break out the noisemakers and funny hats, and order yourself a beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bend, Oregon, which has 80,000 residents and 11 breweries. The breweries issue visitors a “passport” that they can get stamped as they sample their way through town.

Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs are trying to brew the world’s most caloric beer: an imperial stout made with maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of beer ice cream and a sliver of bacon. It weighs in at over 525 calories.

According to Outdoor Life magazine, empty glass beer bottles may help you survive in the wilderness. You can make sharp tools out of them, and even use them to start fires.

The Session #86, moderated by “Beer Hobo” Heather Vandenengel, will focus on beer journalism. She invites you to discuss the role of beer writers and talk about your favorites.

In Boise, fans filed suit against the city’s minor-league hockey team after seeing a YouTube video showing that a $7 large beer contained the same amount of beer as a $4 “small” beer.

The environment is a high priority at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new North Carolina plant, whose interior decor will reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Finally, conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has asked federal trademark regulators to deny Schlafly beer a trademark because she doesn’t want her family associated with beer. Her nephew Tom’s Saint Louis Brewery has brewed Schlafly beer since 1989.

April 20 (4:20 Edition)

Today is 4:20, an unofficial holiday celebrating the use of marijuana. Legend has it that 4:20 originated with a group of California high school students in the early 1970s. Why do we mention marijuana on a beer blog? Because Paul is old enough to remember signs in college-town bars that read “Keep Off the Grass…Drink Schlitz.” And he still prefers beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Monmouth, Oregon, which was dry from its founding in 1859 until 2002. A local minister warned of disaster if townspeople allowed alcohol to be sold, but little has changed in the past decade.

An infographic making the rounds of the Internet makes the case (no pun intended, really) for craft beer in cans. (Hat tip: Jack Curtin.)

Evan Benn, who writes about beer at, among other places, Esquire magazine, has hit the stores and lined up the best beers of 2012. These are definitely not the same-old, same-old.

The May edition (number 63!) of The Session will be hosted by Pete Brown. This month’s topic is open-ended: “The Beer Moment”. Brown asks, “[W]hat comes to mind? Don’t analyze it–what are the feelings, the emotions?”

Cor blimey! “Exclusive pouring rights” at the London Summer Olympics have been awarded to Heineken, which forked out £10 million ($15.6 million U.S.) for the privilege.

Joe Stange, the Thirsty Pilgrim (and the author of Around Brussels in 80 Beers) has an update on the beer scene in the Belgian capital.

Finally, a brewery in Calgary is taking advantage of the Canadian government’s decision to phase out the penny. It’s offering to exchange a growler full of beer for a growler full of the soon-to-be-obsolete one-cent pieces.

The Friday Mash (Dr. Seuss Edition)

On this day in 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born. His imagination gave us characters like the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. To honor the good doctor, Ludwig suggests a dinner of green eggs and ham. With a glass of ale, of course.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Denver, where J. Wilson, the Iowa man who lived on a diet of doppelbock last year during Lent, was named Beerdrinker of the Year at Wynkoop Brewing Company.

It’s the first Friday of the month, so it’s time for The Session. Matt Robinson, who blogs at Hoosier Beer Geek, hosts the discussion titled What Makes Local Beer Better?. Feel free to join in.

Job fair alert: New Zealand’s Boundary Road Brewery is looking for 500 “beer intellectuals” to evaluate its new IPA. Applicants must be at least 18 and and demonstrate “a sound knowledge of beer.”

Not only have traditional ales made a comeback, but traditional pub games like darts, skittles, and dominoes are returning to British pubs.

This was bound to happen: a reality show featuring a brewers’ competition. “The Next Great American Brewer” is produced by Main Gate Visuals, which also worked on the “Top Chef” and “Project Runway” series.

Calling Sam Calagione. Construction workers in Ecuador discovered a tomb, dating to pre-Inca days, which contained a previously unknown species of yeast used to brew chicha.

Finally, in Germany, a waiter identified only as “Martin D.” spilled five glasses of beer on the back on Chancellor Angela Merkel. Fortunately, Merkel was a good sport about it.

Dogfish Head CEO Bites Back at Critics

Fair warning to those who post on online beer forums. The target of your snarky comment could be following the discussion–and might jump into the fray. Earlier this week, on BeerAdvocate.com, “HawksBeerFan” started a discussion of overrated breweries with a swipe at Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, arguing that the brewery’s big beers “aren’t anything special and some are downright bad.” Several other posters agreed that Dogfish Head belonged on the most-overrated list.

It didn’t take long for Dogfish Head’s CEO, Sam Calagione, to fire back with the following defense of all the allegedly overrated breweries: “[S]o many folks that post here still spend their time knocking down breweries that dare to grow. It’s like that old joke: ‘Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded. Except the ‘restaurants’ that people shit on here aren’t exactly juggernauts.” Calagione went on to say, “This thread is hilarious. Seriously, Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated?…Hopefully soon we will have every craft brewery in the US on the list.”

How Three Floyds Became Number One

How did Three Floyds Brewing Company, a micro located in an industrial park in Munster, Indiana, make it to the top of RateBeer.com’s “best brewery in the world” ratings? One major factor was RateBeer.com itself–or, more precisely, the beer geeks who inhabit sites like that and supply the ratings.

Five years ago, Eric Clemons, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a journal article that examined how beer ratings predict sales growth. (Yes, business profs seriously study this.) By analyzing hundreds of thousands of reviews, Clemons found that breweries with the biggest gaps between their highest and lowest ratings were more likely to experience sales growth. He concluded, “It is more important to have some customers who love you than a huge number of customers who merely like you–even if your beers are so intense that they turn off a lot of potential customers.”

The Friday Mash (Standard Time Edition)

On this day in 1883, American railroads replaced sun-based local time with four time zones, which survive to this day. Time zones have strange boundaries, which often divide states in two, because they once connected railroad stations in major cities. But wherever you live, it’s Ludwig Standard Time. Which means it’s time for a beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chesterfield, England, where the local constabulary caught 19 wanted criminals with a sting operation that offered them a crate of free beer.

Our friend Lew Bryson, who began the “Breweries” series published by Stackpole Books, is now going on television. His new series, “American Beer Blogger,” is a half-hour series dedicated to all facets of the craft beer market.

Christian Moerlein was the first person inducted into Cincinnati’s Beer Barons’ Hall of Fame. It’s located at the brewery named for Moerlein, which will open on the riverfront in February.

Did you miss this year’s Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas? The annual celebration, which began 50 years ago, has grown into a ten-day, German-themed “Salute to Sausage.”

In Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, national brands Anchor and Angkor have been joined by newcomer, Kingdom Pilsner. Kingdom brews a Continental lager adapted to local tastes.

Session #58 has been announced. Its theme is, appropriately enough, A Christmas Carol–you get the idea–and it will be hosted by Phil Hardy of Beersay.

Finally, a Phoenix-based company has come out with a beer made for dogs. Bowser Beer is non-carbonated, contains no hops, and (sorry, Ludwig) is non-alcoholic.

The Friday Mash (Will Rogers Edition)

On this day in 1879, Will Rogers was born. He was a cowboy, actor, and humorist, and one of the biggest celebrities of the Jazz Age. Rogers once said that “Communism is like prohibition, it’s a good idea but it won’t work.” Both the Great Experiment and the hammer and sickle have vanished, which is a good reason to have a beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Mozambique, where SABMiller has introduced Impala, a beer brewed with a mixture of cassava and barley. The beer will be about 25 percent cheaper than traditional lagers in hopes of getting drinkers to switch from homebrew to a commercial beer.

Those hard-to-find beers might be easier to get if legislation designed to save the U.S. Postal Service becomes law. One provision of that legislation would allow shipments of beer and wine.

No, it’s not too late to join The Session #57, which is titled “Bless Me Father, for I Have Drank”. You don’t even have to be Catholic to offer up your contribution.

Despite a world-class lineup of contributors, the Oxford Companion to Beer isn’t free of factual errors. Blogger Alan McLeod has created a wiki where readers can flag and those errors for possible future editions of the book.

March 5, 2012, will be Kate the Great Day at the Portsmouth Brewery. Next year’s edition will come in smaller (330 milliliter) bottles to allow more fans to bring some home.

At this year’s World Beer Awards, the judges named Weihenstephan Vitus, a strong wheat beer, the World’s Best Beer. Other winners were Rodenbach Grand Cru (Best Ale), Samuel Adams Double Bock (Best Lager), Deschutes Hop Henge (Best Pale Ale), and Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (Best Stout and Porter).

Finally, beer gardens are flourishing in southern California, but with American touches like food from all over the world on the menu and local micros on tap. And in Detroit, the Christmas Wonderfest will include a Hofbrauhaus biergarten.

The Tuesday Mash

Can’t wait for Friday? We can’t bring Friday to you any sooner, but we can bring you a bonus edition of The Mash!

We begin in Witney, England, where British Prime Minister David Cameron quaffed a couple of beers at the Charlbury Beer Festival and played the traditional pub game “Aunt Sally.” Ludwig wonders if the PM reads his blog.

Looking for something different in a summer beer? Andy Sparhawk of CraftBeer.com has some recommendations. His list covers a number of styles and all regions of the country.

Circle August 4 on your calendar. In the meantime, head straight to your favorite beer store to get ready for the inaugural International IPA Day.

Martin Luther, who was known to enjoy beer, certainly would approve of “Beer and Hymns” at a Massachusetts brew pub. It’s a chance for Lutherans to meet in an environment less formal than church.

Ashley Rouston, The Beer Wench, asked her readers an intriguing question: Would you drink beer if it didn’t contain alcohol? She got plenty of responses, yes, no, and in between.

Things are looking up for baseball fans in D.C. Not only are the Nationals playing .500 ball, but the National Restaurant Group plans to open a brewpub near Nationals Stadium next year.

Finally, why did lager conquer northern Germany? According to an anonymous Englishman who visited in 1859, it was became pre-lager beer was sehr schlecht. (Hat tip: “Barm” at I Might Have a Glass of Beer).

The Friday Mash (New Albion Edition)

On this day in 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast of what is now northern California. He called the land “New Albion” and claimed it for England. Four centuries later, Jack McAuliffe resurrected the name New Albion as the name for his microbrewery. It only lasted five years, but it changed American beer forever.

And now…The Mash!

We begin near Aix-en-Provence, France, a region we nowadays associate with wine. Scientists have also found evidence that the locals brewed beer 2,500 years ago.

The Heights in Houston, Texas, is the home of Live It BIG’s Beer Camp. Nicholas L. Hall of the Houston Press came home a happy camper, thanks to all the great beer he sampled.

What is “the mysterious Australian Ale”? Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, concludes that it was most likely “No. 3 grade” Burton Ale, a sweetish, high-gravity beer exported to Australia during the late 19th century.

Dan, who blogs at The Full Pint, runs down the current trends in craft beer. Topping the list: 750ml corked and caged bottles.

Charlie Papazian revs up his time machine and travels back to 1980, where he unearths a Zymurgy magazine article about the Boulder Brewing Company. It’s part of the Small Breweries Revive series at Examiner.com.

In New York City, bars are earning the Good Beer Seal. Participating establishments must be independently owned, have 80 percent of its beer consist of craft domestics or special imports, employ a knowledgeable staff that’s committed to presenting beer properly.

Finally, Session #53 has been announced. This month’s host is John Holl, and he’d like to hear from about Beer Redemption–that is, beers that with which you once had a bad experience, but later came to appreciate.

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