Economics

The Friday Mash (Red Cross Edition)

On this day in 1863, a group of citizens of Geneva, Switzerland, founded an organization called the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded–now known as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in England, where festival organizers in two of the country’s most famous beer cities, Norwich and Sheffield, are joining forces to promote their local products and attract beer tourists.

The Norwegian supermarket chain Rema 1000 is feeling the backlash after it took several local breweries’ products off the shelves. Some Rema customers switched to competitors’ stores.

Are you a DIYer who loves craft beer? You might like the Kinkajou Bottle Cutting and Candle Making Kit. You can give the candles to friends—and show off your collection to them.

“Pepper”, a robot from Japan’s SoftBank, has his first job: greeter at the Pyramid Taproom in Oakland International Airport. When not posing for selfies, he’s working on his speech-recognition skills.

A faith ministry in Nebraska has started a fund-raising campaign to buy out four stores that sell millions of cans of beer in a tiny village next to the alcoholism-plagued Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Heroica, a brewery in Brazil, is flavoring its Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA with branches of bonsai trees, brought over by a Japanese family more than a century ago. Some bonsai trees are worth $20,000.

Finally, Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, told a gathering of brewing professionals that it’s still possible for a microbrewery to grow to regional status, but very few will succeed in doing so.

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Forecast for 2017: Craft Beer Turf Wars

The number of craft breweries continues to grow rapidly, while the growth of the craft sector is slowing. Which means something has to give.

Jason Notte of Marketwatch.com predicts that 2017 will be the year of the turf war; there will be less mergers-and-acquisitions activity and more competition among breweries to claim shelf space.

This could be the year that craft breweries lay off workers and make other cuts in an effort to trim costs. Industry leader Boston Beer Company has been hit hard by shrinking sales of Samuel Adams Boston Lager; the company’s shares have tumbled 50 percent from their 2015 high.

We’re also likely to see more breweries bring in private-equity firms. Already this year, Victory Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewing Company have formed such partnerships with such firms.

And we’re likely to see smaller brewers focus on taproom traffic and food sales and avoid the battle to get their products on store shelves and on bar and restaurant menus.

Notte believes that Oskar Blues is the brewery to watch because it has been the craft sector’s trend-setter for years. The brewery was the first to can its beers and the first to build a second facility in the eastern United States. Two years ago, it kicked off the private-equity trend when it sold a majority interest to Fireman Capital. It then used some of that money to acquire craft breweries in Michigan, Florida, and Texas; the latter two states are considered underserved beer markets. Oskar Blues also borrowed from the big national brewers’ playbook. It rolled out more mainstream beers, sponsored sporting events, and put an emphasis on brand recognition.

Notte concludes, “Whether drinkers benefit from [this] turf war or become victims of it remains to be seen.”

The Friday Mash (National Geographic Edition)

On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society was formed. The Society’s logo, a bright yellow box, appears on National Geographic magazine, which is published in 40 languages around the world.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, where the beer police caught up with Travis John Miller, who was selling the contents of his beer cellar on Craigslist. Miller faces a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.

Swedish brewer Fredrik Tunedal, who often came home from work covered in malt dust, has released a Shower Beer. Its flavor profile includes a soapy taste, which Tunedal calls “on-point” for his product.

Keurig Green Mountain has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev to develop a line of instant beers—and other instant adult beverages—that Keurig owners can make at home.

The CEO of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and Modelo beer, said that he doesn’t expect President-elect Donald Trump’s trade policy to raise the price of Mexican brands.

Despite a dismal 5-7 record, the University of Texas finished #1 in the country—in beer sales, that is. By season’s end, Longhorns fans spent $5.26 on alcohol for every fan in attendance.

Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, disputes studies showing that beer sales have fallen in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Watson argues that pot is just one of many variables affecting sales.

Finally, in Adelaide, Australia, the woman-owned Sparkke Change Beverage Company is putting feminist messages on cans of its beer. It’s an effort to start conversations in the country’s male-dominated beer culture.

The Friday Mash (Heisman Trophy Edition)

On this day in 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, later renamed the Heisman Trophy, was awarded for the first time. The winner was halfback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago who, despite being a number-one draft pick, never played pro football.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Wisconsin, where you’ll get a beer chaser with your Bloody Mary. The state’s taverns have a long-standing tradition of serving chasers with cocktails.

The Jewish Museum of Montreal has joined forces with a nearby craft brewery to re-create a beer brewed by brothers Ezekiel, Moses, and Benjamin Hart in 1796.

Is there a beer aficionado on your Christmas list? Forbes magazine writer Tara Nurin can help you. She’s written mini-reviews of 18 worthy beer books.

The latest gizmo for beer snobs is That Ultrabeer Thing, a vibrator that emits ultrasonic waves that break up carbon dioxide bubbles, creating a creamy foamy head.

San Francisco’s ReGrained is collecting spent grain from three local breweries and turning them into susatinable granola bars. The company’s slogan is “Eat Beer”.

A market analysis firm has found that beer sales are “underperforming” in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Recreational marijuana is legal in all of those states.

Finally, the stereotypical craft beer drinker is a bearded white male. However, craft customers are becoming more diverse, and the industry is making efforts to get customers of color to drink their product.

The Friday Mash (Mickey Mouse Edition)

On this day in 1928, The Walt Disney Corporation released the animated short “Steamboat Willie”, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. It was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Disney considers this release to be Mickey’s birthday.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in England, where pub companies warn that the price of a pint is about to jump. Factors include inflation, higher costs of doing business, and the introduction of the living wage.

Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa showed off his axe-throwing skills in an Instagram video. What makes his performance even more impressive is that he drank a beer immediately before he hit the bulls-eye.

FIFA, the world-wide governing body of soccer, is negotiating with officials of host country Qatar over whether beer will be served there during matches at the 2022 World Cup.

Effective January 1, 2019, Labatt will discontinue the 50-year-old tradition of issuing free beer for life to company retirees. The Canadian brewery is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Travel blogger Emmanuel Marshall used Innis & Gunn IPA as currency to pay for transportation and lodging on his 5,000-mile trip from Scotland, the home of Innis & Gunn, to India.

Scientists at Rockefeller University have found that beer pong players expose themselves to numerous icky bacteria. The good news is that college-aged players have strong enough immune systems to cope with them.

Finally, the San Diego Union-Tribune named the five beers that put the city on the craft beer map: AleSmith Speedway Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Le Freak, Karl Strauss Red Trolley, and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale.

The Friday Mash (Blowout Edition)

One hundred years ago today, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University, 222-0, in the most lopsided college football game of all time. Tech coach John Heisman had an incentive to run up the score: back then, football rankings were based on margin of victory, not strength of schedule.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where Catawba Brewing has honored a native son, author Thomas Wolfe, with a beer called Wolfeman Kolsch. Its ingredients include hops grown in western North Carolina.

Even though the economy has improved since the Great Recession, beer sales at bars and restaurants have stayed flat. Factors include competition from brewery taprooms and growlers.

Two more non-beer companies are rolling out their own beers: Vice Media and the clothing company Patagonia, Inc.

In the UK, the brewery count has topped 1,700. An industry analyst says that some of the country’s craft breweries are attractive acquisition targets.

Some in the brewing industry oppose legal marijuana for fear of losing market share. However, that hasn’t happened in Colorado and Washington State, where recreational pot is legal.

Entrepreneur Josephine Uwineza plans to open a brewpub in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It will not only be Rwanda’s only women-owned brewery but also the country’s first-ever craft brewery.

Finally, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raised eyebrows by claiming that beer is healthier than milk. PETA contends that beer can strengthen bones and extend life, while milk is linked to obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

Why Are So Many British Pubs Closing?

More than a quarter of Britain’s pubs that existed in 1980 have closed their doors. Last year alone, the country lost some 1,100 pubs. What’s behind this trend?

One factor is spiraling real-estate prices, which provides developers with an incentive to convert pubs into houses and apartments. In just the last five years, the average house price has risen by 50 percent.

Another factor was a 2007 law banning smoking in public places.

And then there’s cost. A pint of beer is five times as expensive in a pub as it is in a supermarket. The price discrepancy is due in part to Britain’s tax code, which imposes a higher levy on pub revenue than supermarket revenue; and to higher staff costs in the service industry than in retail.

But there’s some good news for pub lovers. It is now possible to list local pubs as “assets of community value”, which makes development more difficult. Parliament recently scrapped an inflation-linked excise tax on beer, providing some price relief for beer drinkers. Last but not least, Britain’s craft-brewing boom has resulted in a more diverse selection of beer at the “friendly local”.

The Friday Mash (Piggly Wiggly Edition)

One hundred years ago today, the first Piggly Wiggly grocery store opened in Memphis. It was the first true self-service grocery store, and the originator of such supermarket features as checkout stands, individual item price marking, and shopping carts.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at sea, where part of the sixth annual Brews by the Bay will be held tomorrow. Festival venues are Cape May, New Jersey; Lewes, Delaware; and the ferry connecting those two towns. It’s the only multi-state beer festival we’re aware of.

Edinburgh’s Innis & Gunn latest release is “Smoke & Mirrors”, whose ingredients are said to make the drinker more likely to tell the truth. The brewery has sent a bottle to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Liquor laws left over from the repeal of Prohibition are a case study in how government regulations can stifle entrepreneurship, then leave entire regions playing catch-up when they’re finally relaxed.

What makes breweries’ flagship beers disappear? The reasons include waning brand loyalty, competition from newcomers, and consumers’ changing tastes.

Researchers at Indiana University found that that if you really want a beer and want it right now, the source of your craving may be a pea-sized structure deep inside the right side of your brain.

English illustrator Tom Ward has created a series of beer mats depicting fictional bars from the movies. The collection includes the Hog’s Head Pub from Harry Potter and The Prancing Pony from Lord of the Rings.

Finally, Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker have found success with Craft Beer Cellar: small, selective stores with hundreds of beers and knowledgeable staff. Schalow and Baker have learned that “craft” and “local” don’t equal quality.

The Friday Mash (”Old Ironsides” Edition)

On this day in 1812, American frigate USS Constitution defeated the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia. That victory earned her the nickname “Old Ironsides”; and an Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s 1830 poem of that name saved her from being decommissioned.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Bosnia, where an online post about homebrewing has, in just five years, grown into a flourishing craft-brewing industry—in a country where fruit brandy, not beer, has been the national beverage.

Pyongyang, North Korea, is playing host to its first-ever beer festival. It was organized to promote Pyongyang-brewed Taedonggang beer, which is named after the Taedong River.

Twenty years after the last shakeout in the craft beer sector, writer Lew Bryson sees another one coming. The good news is that the industry will rebound, and emerge stronger than ever.

The Australian spreads Vegemite and Marmite are made from brewer’s yeast extract. Native Australians are using them to make homebrewed beer in towns where prohibition is in effect.

Stone Brewing Company plans to open a beer-centric hotel across the street from its brewery in southern California. It will offer rare beer tappings along with room-service growlers.

Bob Beamon, whose Olympic long-jump record set in Mexico City still stands, offered a free beer to any athlete who broke his record at the Rio Olympics. No one came close.

Finally, MLS Soccer magazine has the rundown on where beer is sold at pro soccer matches. Germany is one of the beer-friendliest countries; you can drink in the stands at a Bundesliga match.

The Friday Mash (World Elephant Day Edition)

Today is the sixth annual World Elephant Day, an observance created by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark. Its purpose is to increase awareness of these animals’ urgent plight.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Beaver, Pennsylvania, where local officials want to stop a restaurant from selling beer-infused waffles. The restaurant has a license to sell beer, but some believe the waffles abuse the privilege.

Oh no! A shortage of pumpkin puree might endanger this year’s pumpkin beer releases. The culprits are unprecedented demand and drought conditions in pumpkin-growing regions.

Vice.com’s Ilkka Siren, who grew up in Finland, went home to get better acquainted with sahti, a temperamental—and much-misunterstood style—that Finns have homebrewed for centuries.

History buffs in Golden, Colorado, want to convert the Astor House hotel into a beer museum with brewing classes, tastings, food and beer pairings, and a look at Colorado brewing history.

Defying the Standells’ song “Dirty Water”, six Massachusetts and brewing beer from the banks of the River Charles. The water is treated, of course.

Craft beer is getting more expensive, for a variety of reasons: costlier raw materials, such as hops and water; higher wages; and bigger utility bills.

Finally, Alabama’s craft brewers are crying foul over a proposed regulation that would require brewers to collect the name, address, age, and phone number from anyone who buys carry-out beer. The rule is aimed at enforcing the state’s limit on purchases.

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