Economics

The Friday Mash (Hubble Telescope Edition)

Twenty-five years ago today, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit. The telescope, which has had five in-space service calls by NASA astronauts, is still functioning and is expected to last another five years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where Krista Dotzenrod caught a foul ball in her beer cup and, at the urging fans, chugged the beer. The hashtag for this is #ChugBall.

“Raising the Bar”, which began last year in New York, is a program in which scholars give lectures in pubs and other venues. Recently, Hong Kong became the first Asian city to stage this event.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott sent a mixed message about binge drinking when he downed a 12-ounce schooner of beer seven seconds at a Sydney bar.

A bar in Maple Grove, Minnesota, must deal with the dreaded Beer Police. Its offense? Buying kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow from a Wisconsin liquor store and bringing them across the state line.

The government of Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has outlawed the sale of beer at convenience stores. Small retailers account for around 60 percent of the country’s beer sales.

Tomorrow is Dark Lord Day, and host Three Floyds Brewery has something new for festival-goers: Dark Lord-infused hot sauce, made with ancho and guajillo chili peppers.

Finally, Brook Bristow, executive director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, was presented with the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference. Working pro bono, Bristow’s law firm successfully lobbied for craft-friendly laws in the Palmetto State.

The Friday Mash (Typhoid Mary Edition)

A century ago today, a cook named Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary,” was put in quarantine after infecting more than 50 people with the disease. She would remain in quarantine until her death in 1938.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in space—well, sort of. Ninkasi Brewing Company has released Ground Control Imperial Stout, brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, cocoa nibs, and yeast that was launched by a rocket to an altitude of more than 77 miles.

Beer and driving usually don’t mix, but here’s an exception: The Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, England, has fashioned “The Beer Engine,” a motorcycle whose sidecar is a beer keg, complete with spigot.

Madison, Wisconsin, entrepreneur Kimberly Clark Anderson has found success making beer jelly. She recommends it as a topping for a variety of foods, from pork chops to pound cake to toast.

Nostalgic “retro” beers aren’t just an American phenomenon. On May 1, United Dutch Brewers will re-introduce Oranjeboom beer, a brand that was taken off the market a decade ago.

In South Carolina, beer tourism is becoming big business. Proximity to brewery-rich Asheville, and brewery-friendly state laws are the main reasons why.

Consumer prices are actually falling in Europe, including including the price of local beer. That’s especially good news for American tourists, as the U.S. dollar is at a 12-year high against the euro.

Finally, “Florida Man,” a less-than-complimentary description of Sunshine State males who behave bizarrely in public, is the name of a new double IPA from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company. The beer might have a built-in market: over 250,000 people follow #Floridaman’s Twitter feed.

Breweries Invest In African Farmland

Giant breweries such as SABMiller and Diageo PLC have invested heavily in African farmland as part of their effort to use more locally-sourced material—such as sorghum, cassava, and yams—in their beer. The good news is that the breweries are guaranteeing small farmers a guaranteed market for their crops, and that beer made from local crops is as much as 40 percent cheaper.

However, not all the news is good. With farmers growing more sorghum, they’re growing less food crops. Shrinking food supplies, in turn, mean higher prices, putting staples out of the reach of many families’ budgets.

The Friday Mash (Dating Game Edition)

Seventy-five years ago today, Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discovered carbon-14, a radioactive isotope. It’s the basis of the radio-carbon dating method that determines an object’s age. However, bartenders still have to use ID cards to determine the age of their customers.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Barlioche, a Patagonian resort town that has become the craft beer capital of the Andes. It’s home to 15 breweries, which join forces for a beer festival in December.

Last weekend, more than 100 people played whiffle ball in the snow in a Milwaukee-area park. Leinenkugel Brewing Company hosted the tournament to promote its Summer Shandy.

Experts aren’t sure why this happens, but recipients spend more on beer when food stamps are distributed on the weekend—even though the stamps can’t be used to buy beer.

The Brew Kettle, a Cleveland-area brewery, is rolling out an ale for Cavaliers basketball fans. “All For One” session IPA will be available at the brewery and at Cavs’ home games.

Hellboy, the character created by comic-book artist Mike Mignola, turned 21, and Rogue Ales celebrated his big birthday by releasing Hand of Doom Red Ale. It sold out in a hurry.

This month’s “Session” asked beer bloggers the question “Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?” Joan Villar-i-Martí, who blogs from Barcelona, has rounded up the best responses.

Finally, thousands of whiskey barrels have found their way to craft breweries. Now, Heavy Seas Brewing Company has returned the favor, sending its brewhouse tanks to a distillery.

Craft Brewing’s Growing Pains

Rich Doyle, one of the founders of Harpoon Brewery, asked his partners to bring in an investor so their brewery could buy struggling competitors. They said no. So, after 30 years, Doyle is cashing out.

Doyle believes we’re in the midst of a craft beer bubble, which like all bubbles, will pop. He told the New York Times, “you have a lot of entrants, with low barriers to entry, chasing a finite amount of growth.” he said.

But Doyle’s partners disagree. They think there’s more room for well-run breweries like Harpoon to keep growing. And many brewery owners elsewhere in the country agree with them.

Private equity groups have been investing in craft breweries. For example, Uinta Brewing, which brewed nearly 150,000 barrels last year and aims to break into craft’s top tier, took on an outside investor to fund the infrastructure it needs to get there.

Other breweries have accepted takeover offers from big breweries. The most newsworthy deals involve Anheuser-Busch, which recently bought 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing.

And some breweries are borrowing to finance their expansion. This raises fears about unserviceable debt loads and overbuilding in general. Benj Steinman of Beer Marketing Insights told the Times, “People have built out way in front,” he said. “They’ve made bets and not all will succeed. It’s pretty likely there will be some that won’t survive. And then there might be some capacity available for cents on the dollar.”

The Friday Mash (”Off With His Head!” Edition)

On this day in 1649, King Charles I of England was beheaded for high treason. His execution ushered in the Interregnum, during which Oliver Cromwell and later his son, Richard, ruled the country.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Colorado, where Oskar Blues has given its session ale a marijuana-themed name: Pinner, which is slang for a joint with low THC content. Above the Pinner logo is the question: “Can I be blunt?”

Carlsberg Group is developing the world’s first fully biodegradable bottle for its beverages. The “Green Fiber Bottle” will be made from wood fiber or paper pulp, and will be lighter than a glass bottle.

Yahoo Food profiles Chris Loring, whose Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing specializes in session beers. Loring reminds us that these beers have existed in America for 100 years.

An unidentified man in Brooklyn has trained his girlfriend’s pet rabbit, Wallace, to bring him a beer. The animal puts its paws on the beer cart, pushing it forward.

A trip to a The Alchemist brewery not only netted MSNBC TV personality Rachel Maddow some Heady Topper IPA, but also revealed how New England’s economy is booming.

Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs’s most impressive statistic might not be his 3,010 career hits. Legend has it that Boggs put away 64 beers while on a cross-country trip during his playing days.

Finally, don’t scoff at the idea of beer brewed with sewer water. Washington County, Oregon’s Clean Water Services claims that its purification system makes sewer water even cleaner than tap water. One homebrewer uses the water, and calls his beer “sewage brewage.”

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.

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.

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.

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