Economics

The Friday Mash (Liechtenstein Edition)

On this day in 1719, the Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire. A couple of fun facts about this tiny country: it is the world’s leading producer of false teeth; and its capital, Vaduz, is one of only two in the world that ends with the letter “z”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, whose incoming governor turned down an offer of free Yuengling for his inauguration. A state senator says the governor snubbed the brewery because of its CEO’s political views.

MillerCoors plans to offer a gluten-free beer. The beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, will be brewed with brown rice and protein from peas instead of barley.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to repeal a Liquor Commission rule banning pictures of children from beer labels. Founders Breakfast Stout’s label features a baby eating cereal.

The Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater, Florida, wanted a really distinctive tap for its Fowler’s Bluff IPA, so it hired Tangible Labs, a 3-D printing company, to fashion one.

A new South Carolina law that allows breweries to sell pints has given the state’s economy a $13.7 million boost. Twelve breweries have opened in the state since the law took effect.

Grease from that slice of pizza you just ate can kill the foam on your beer. It lowers the surface tension on the foam, which tears apart the structure of the bubbles and releases their gases.

Finally, an outcry from angry beer fans forced Lagunitas Brewing Company to drop its trademark suit against Stone Brewing Company. Lagunitas claimed that Stone’s logo for Hop Hunter IPA was too similar to the Lagunitas IPA logo.

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The Friday Mash (Noble Experiment Edition)

On this day in 1919, the 18th Amendment, which ushered in national Prohibition, became part of the U.S. Constitution. The 14-year-long ban on “intoxicating” beverages, which meant anything with more than 0.5 percent alcohol, had a profound effect on the United States—an effect that persists to this day.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Rhode Island—one of two states that didn’t ratify the 18th Amendment—where Narragansett Beer has launched a four-beer series honoring H.P. Lovecraft, the master of horror fiction who lived in Providence.

In the San Francisco Bay area, the latest trend is “activity bars”, which offer giant basketball Plinko games, oversize Jenga sets, and bowling alleys along with local craft beers.

According to CBS MoneyWatch’s Kim Peterson, plunging gas prices is good news for breweries. The average motorist stands to save $700 this year, some of which might be spent on beer.

Newcastle Brown Ale is back at it, sponsoring a Super Bowl “ambush ad” and inviting other non-“official” brands to join in. Last year’s ad featured an extended rant by actress Anna Kendrick.

Caveat emptor. Fortune magazine’s Brad Tuttle names five “imported” beers that are brewed in the United States: Kirin, Beck’s, Foster’s, Killian’s, and—believe it or not—Red Stripe.

Pennsylvania’s Snitz Creek Brewery is incorporating a local specialty—Lebanon bologna—into one of its beers. Snitz Creek has also brewed beers using local pretzels and opera fudge.

Finally, Anheuser-Busch offers another reason not to over-indulge. In this year’s “Up for Whatever” Super Bowl ad, a Bud Light drinker gets pulled into a life-size Pac-Man game after a night out. Imagine running from Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde while fighting a hangover.

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The Friday Mash (Constitution State Edition)

On this day in 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to be admitted to the United States. The long list of famous residents of the “Constitution State” includes P.T. Barnum, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and Eli Whitney.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Belgium, where traditional brewers are foaming mad about “beer architects” who create recipes, then contract with other brewers to make the final product.

Mea culpa! The New England Brewing Company has apologized for putting Mahatma Gandhi on a beer label. Gandhi, “the father of India,” abstained from alcohol.

Soweto, South Africa, is synonymous with poverty. However, a microbrewery there is turning out “Soweto Gold”. Ndumiso Madlala, the owner, is targeting his country’s growing black middle class.

Heavy rains in the West resulted in a smaller-than-expected barley crop. But that won’t make your beer more expensive because today’s breweries anticipate shortages.

How did BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie become so successful? One reason: when they needed funds, they “lied through their teeth” to the bank. And yes, they got the loan.

Ttrademark battles rage on in craft brewing because “virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America” has been trademarked by someone.

Finally, Adam Hartung of Forbes magazine sorts out America’s beer market. He notes that Baby Boomers have forsaken Bud and Miller, and that Hispanics are a powerful but overlooked constituency.

The Friday Mash (Double Nickel Edition)

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum speed limit to 55 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline during the OPEC embargo. The unpopular “double nickel” stayed on the books for more than 20 years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hawaii, where Kona Brewing is celebrating its 21st birthday by releasing a series of Hawaii-only beers. First in Kona’s Makana series is Aina Brown Ale, brewed with taro root.

New York City’s two largest beer distributors plan to merge. The merger threatens the existence of the city’s 13,000 bodegas, which are small, mostly minority-owned convenience stores.

Craft beer is gaining ground in South Korea thanks to new laws. For years, the country’s beer market has been dominated by two large brewing companies.

A blog post by Bryan Roth delves into the economics of beer-buying decisions. Roth wonders whether price will become a bigger factor in what craft beer drinkers buy.

Outside the United States, non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity. Reasons include anti-alcohol laws in Muslim countries, fear of a DUI arrest, and better-tasting products.

Is your local beer bar serious about beer? Thrillist’s Dan Gentile tells you what to look for. For example, bubbles on the side of your glass means the glass is dirty.

Finally, Argentina’s Andes Brewery offers a a “Message in a Bottle”. Andes bottles are imprinted with QR codes which, together with a mobile app, allow a person to record a video and assign it to a specific bottle. The recipient scans the QR code and plays the video back.

The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

* Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

Collusion in Ontario’s Beer Market

This week, the Toronto Star exposed a collusive agreement between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which has a monopoly over liquor sales, and The Beer Store, a privately-owned quasi-monopoly that controls 80 percent of the province’s beer sales.

In the confidential document from 2000, the LCBO agreed not to compete aggressively against The Beer Store. Specifically, the LCBO agreed not to sell beer in packages larger than six-packs, and to refrain from selling major-brand beer directly to bars and restaurants.

The Beer Store is a favorite target of criticism by Ontario beer drinkers: beer is expensive; and the stores have a Stalinist look and feel, with service to match. The province’s taxpayers also have reason to complain. The Beer Store currently takes in about $1 billion a year—most of which goes to the big breweries—which could go instead to the provincial government via the LCBO.

So why hasn’t this 14-year-old collusive agreement been torn up by the current government, which is now headed by a different party? The answer is lobbying. The breweries have lined up an impressive array of lobbyists, many of whom have ties to the party now in power.

The Friday Mash (Discovery Day Edition)

On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola. December is celebrated as Discovery Day on the island’s two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Loudoun County, Virginia, where beer tourism is stimulating the local economy. The county has eight breweries, with 16 more in the planning stages.

Black Friday has become the number-one day for beer releases. As you’ve probably figured out, most of these beers are stouts and many of them are barrel-aged.

SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewing company, still lacks a global brand. Its launch of Pilsner Urquell was a flop, and Heineken said no to a takeover offer.

Bottles and Cans, a liquor store in Chicago, is offering an adults-only Advent calendar. It contains 25 beers, each of them to be enjoyed on the weekdays leading up to Christmas.

European Union officials want Japan to open its market to imported beers. Arcane Japanese rules, such as a ban on ingredients like coriander seeds, act as “non-tariff barriers.”

Minnesota’s Excelsior Brewing Company has brewed a saison beer with pondweed and zebra mussels. The brewery insists that “minuscule” amounts of the invasive species were added.

Finally, Shoes & Brews, a runners’ gear store in Colorado, offers an incentive to get into shape. The store, which has a liquor license and 20 taps, bases the price of your first beer on your time in an 800-meter time trial.

The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

Why Brewpubs Are Giving Way to Micros

In 2005, when Maryanne and Paul toured the state researching Michigan Breweries, most of the establishments they visited were brewpubs. Now a solid majority are microbreweries. It turns out this is a national trend.

Sometime during 2013, the number of micros exceeded the number of brewpubs; and, since the middle of 2012, more than three-quarters of newly-opened establishments are micros. Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, identifies three reasons why this is happening.

  • First, a number of states, such as South Carolina, have passed “pint laws” that allow breweries to breweries to sell full pints of their beer on-premise.
  • Second, the growing popularity of food trucks makes it possible for customers to enjoy something other than salty snacks at their local brewery.
  • Third, a brewery owner doesn’t have to enter the restaurant business, which eats up capital and poses additional challenges. Running a brewery is hard enough.

Does Crowdfunding Work?

Earlier this year, Stone Brewing Company sought $2.5 in capital via the Indegogo website. Some wondered why an established brewery would turn to crowdfunding, but CEO Greg Koch answered critics by spelling out what investors in “beer futures” would receive. Stone met its goal in six weeks.

There have been some 800 beer-related crowdfunding campaigns, and their success rate has been slightly higher than average.

Indiegogo’s CEO has advice for breweries and other businesses that are looking for funds: be honest, communicate regularly with investors, and stay in touch even after successfully raising capital.

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