The Friday Mash (“Long Live the King” Edition)

On this day in 1603, James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England and Ireland upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The kingdoms of Scotland and England remained sovereign states, with their own parliaments, but both were ruled by James in personal union.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Vancouver where last week, the Railtown Pub advertised its St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a Guinness glass filled to the brim and literally losing its head. That caught the attention of the Irish Independent newspaper, which called the pour “sacrilegious”.

Now that the Chicago White Sox’s partnership with MillerCoors has expired, the ballclub has formed a new partnership with Constellation Brands, which will open “Casa Modelo” at the ballpark.

While on spring break in The Bahamas, a frat boy used the teeth of a beached shark to puncture a beer can so he could “shotgun” it. His video of the stunt prompted a swift—and angry—backlash on social media.

Portland, Oregon, is about to get a beer bar devoted to session beers. Its name, naturally enough, is Sessionable. The bar will pour 30 beers, all with ABVs ranging from 2.5 to 5 percent.

Neil Patrick Harris, who the spokesperson for Heineken beer, says that he has a Heineken Light tap in his bar at home. He adds that unlimited beer at home “is as awesome as it sounds”.

According to a recent survey, one out of four beer drinkers said they would switch to marijuana if it became legal in their state. If they do switch, brewers will suffer $2 billion per year in lost sales.

Finally, MLive.com asked eight brewery owners in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area whether the craft beer industry is in a bubble. They don’t think so, but some admit that the market is getting tougher for new entries.

No comments

Iconic Chicago Beer Bars Turn 25

Hopleaf and The Map Room, two of Chicago’s most beloved beer bars, celebrate their 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Chicago Tribune beer writer Josh Noel sat down with Hopleaf’s owner, Michael Roper, and The Map Room’s owner, Laura Blasingame.

The establishments that Roper and Blasingame acquired to turn into “good beer” bars were Chicago taverns’ equivalent to Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue.

Blasingame describes she started out with:

When my husband, Mark, walked me up here to show me the building, there was this little window on a door facing Armitage, and I saw somebody’s bloody hand going down it. Literally. There was a fight going on in the back over the pool table. I was appalled. Fighting, smoky, a drop ceiling—just disgusting. All men. No women.

And there were problems outside the bar, too:

We had a part-time gang in the neighborhood, which apparently had one gun among them. They insisted that we “pay rent”—they wanted a case of Miller High Life or something every time they came in. We didn’t want them to feel like they had a piece of the place and intimidating people. So we said, “No, we’re not paying rent.” One day these guys pulled up in a car and got out with baseball bats and banged out all our windows. We got our punishment, but then it was over.

Yikes. But Roper topped Blasingame with these stories:

We bought the place stocked with all the stuff we would never want to sell. There were cases of Boone’s Farm, Ripple and Everclear. One of their most popular things was Everclear in plastic half pints. We ran it like that for a while, opening at 7 in the morning. I didn’t even tell my friends we bought the place because I didn’t want anyone to see it. It was so horrible….

There was a line every morning. It wasn’t people that wanted to drink. It was people that needed to drink. There were a lot of panhandlers in the neighborhood, and the bar sold those little airplane minis for a buck. So anyone who could come up with a buck on the street would come in, down one and go back out.

The kind of people that came in were fairly nasty. Every day at noon—they had a TV and VCR built into the wall—a guy from a video store dropped off a porno movie and picked up yesterday’s. So the old guys would sit there and watch a porno. There were several traditions that ended when I took over. I took the poker machines out—the main revenue source of the place. Some lowlifes came in to sell stuff they’d stolen—like steaks from Jewel.

Slowly but surely, Blasingame and Roper upgraded their bars and the beer they poured. Eventually, they became destinations for beer lovers from Chicagoland–and later, from places farther afield.

“Old school” is the term both owners use to describe their bars: they keep prices reasonable, and attend to details such as keeping beer menus current. They’re single-location establishments in an age where hospitality companies and pub chains are opening beer bars. Now that craft beer has filtered down to bowling alleys and VFW halls, the way to stay ahead of competition is “to be a good bar first and then to have interesting beer.”

Cheers, Michael and Laura, and best wishes for another 25!

No comments

Celis Beer to Return

Christine Celis, the daughter of the late Pierre Celis, can finally brew beer under her family name. In 1992, Pierre opened a brewery in Austin, Texas, which produced his eponymous Belgian white ale. Three years later, he sold an ownership stake to the Miller Brewing Company. The rights to the Celis name and beer recipes changed hands several times over the years, and most recently were owned by South Carolina-based Total Beverage Solution and Craftbev International Amalgamated, Inc.

Earlier this month, Celis reached agreement with Total Beverage to buy back the Celis name. Now that all the pieces are in place, she plans to reopen the Austin brewery this spring. She plans to use the same recipes and proprietary yeast strains her father used, and is recruiting members of her father’s brewing team. Celis’ 22-year-old daughter, Daytona Camps coming on board as a brewer.

Celis expects to produce 10,000 barrels in the first year of production. For now, distribution will be limited to Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio.

The Friday Mash (“Don’t Cry for Me” Edition)

On this day in 1946, Colonel Juan Peron, founder of the political movement known as Peronism, was elected to his first term as President of Argentina. He and his wife, Eva Duarte, would later become the subject of the Broadway musical Evita.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Maryland, where craft brewers are concerned about Guinness’ plans to open a taproom at its new brewery. At the same time, retailers worry that raising the cap on how much breweries can sell on-premises will hurt their business.

This year’s beer trends include the “haze craze”: unfiltered and unpasteurized IPAs aka “New England IPAs”. These beers have a shorter shelf life, but are richer in both flavor and aroma.

Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company is paying off a Super Bowl bet by releasing 100 cans of SB51 beer. It’s described as “a soul crushing pale ale that will leave you deflated”.

Tomorrow, Cleveland’s Slovenian community celebrates Kurentovanje, its version of Mardi Gras. Festival-goers will dress up as giant fuzzy animals to scare winter away, and drink beer at the newly-opened Goldhorn Brewery.

Three machinists and designers are about to launch the Kramstein beer stein. This metal stein, which comes in two sizes, is designed to keep the drink cool and the drinker’s hands dry.

Martin Roper, who’s been CEO of the Boston Beer Company for 16 years, plans to step down next year. TheMotleyFool.com speculates on whether Roper’s successor can arrest the company’s recent sales slump.

Finally, the BrewDog brewery offers an unusual perk: a week’s “paw-ternity” leave to employees who adopt a new dog. It also allows employees to bring their dogs to work. The company’s founders worked under the watchful eye of their “brew dog”, Bracken.

Don’t Try This in Your Home State

Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb’s adventures in stunt drinking include bar crawling an airline terminal and downing the contents of a hotel mini-bar. His latest adventure was drinking at every brewery in the state—in one day. The only state where that’s possible is Rhode Island—it’s the smallest in area and has 16 breweries—so Goldfarb hopped a train to Providence, where his designated driver was waiting.

Here are the stats for Goldfarb’s day:

  • Beers sampled: 97.
  • BONUS! Whiskies sampled: 7.
  • BONUS! Rums sampled: 3.
  • Miles driven: 93.1.
  • Steps walked: 3,617.
  • Hours spent drinking: 14.
  • How did Goldfarb feel after finishing his odyssey? “I’m surprisingly not too drunk, not even too tired. I’m just really [expletive deleted] sick of beer. It feels like I will never get the taste of beer out of my mouth.”

    The Friday Mash (Gold Record Edition)

    Seventy-five years ago, the first-ever gold record was presented to Glenn Miller for “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. The song was originally featured in the film Sun Valley Serenade (1941).

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Cincinnati, where Urban Artifact is brewing a beer made with yeasts from the historic Union Terminal, which is now a museum complex. The brewery added sour cherries to add tart fruitiness to the beer, a 7% ABV bock.

    If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Brewery Ommegang has you covered. It will release three beers whose labels bear the sigils of the Houses of Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen.

    Alex P. Davis, who runs the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, doesn’t think beer lovers should stand in line to taste rare beers such as Pliny the Elder IPA because so many world-class beers are available without the wait.

    Despite being the capital of one of Mexico’s poorest states, Oaxaca City has become destination of hipster tourists—many of from other Mexican states. And it’s developed a lively craft beer culture.

    TheMotleyFool.com explains how Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors are exploiting the three-tier system to keep craft products out of bars and stores. Rather than fight A-B, Craft Brew Alliance entered into in a production and distribution deal with the brewing giant.

    Rochester, New York, is the nation’s unofficial Tater Tots capital. Local journalist Will Cleveland has a few pointers on pairing beer with the tots—and yes, any beer from the Genesee family is a good choice.

    Finally, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has appointed Theresa McCulla as historian to oversee its American Brewing History Initiative. McCulla, who will receive a Ph.D in American Studies from Harvard, also holds a culinary arts diploma.

    The Friday Mash (Georgia Bulldogs Edition)

    On this day in 1785, the University of Georgia opened its doors. UGA is the first state-chartered university in the United States, and is the birthplace of the American system of public higher education.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Massachusetts, where the state’s top liquor regulator is “ready to put everything on the table” in an effort to modernize the liquor code. That includes lifting Draconian limits on the number of licenses a community can issue.

    Craft beer—sort of—is on the shelves at Wal-Mart. Its brand name is Trouble, it’s apparently contract-brewed by Genesee Brewing, and it got panned by a panel of Washington Post staffers.

    Jake Tuck of Eater magazine explains “beer poptimism”: a growing appreciation of beers that are “unassailably popular, widely accessible, and highly quaffable”. Yes, that means macro brews.

    In Bishkek, the capital of Krygystan, two women have opened a craft brewery called Save the Ales. Much of the beer sold in that country consists of bland imports and watery local products.

    A startup called Colorado Craft Distributors aims to serve “small but special” breweries looking to get their beer into liquor stores, bars, and restaurants along the state’s Front Range.

    Brooklyn Brewery has made a beer using Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, the lager yeast isolated in 1883 by Emil Christian Hansen, a researcher at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen.

    Finally, actor Matt Damon, the co-founder of Water.org, has joined forces with the brewer of Stella Artois beer to bring clean water to people in developing countries. Every pint of Stella sold in Britain guarantees someone a month’s supply of water.

    The Friday Mash (Inauguration Day Edition)

    Eighty years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, beginning his second term as president. Roosevelt was first the president to be inaugurated on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. Previously, presidents were sworn in on March 4.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where scientists have found that brewers “tamed” beer yeasts by reusing them until they adapted to the brewery environment. In fact, brewery yeasts couldn’t survive if reintroduced into the wild.

    At age 87, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke drank a beer while watching the Aussie cricket team take on Pakistan. In college, Hawke set a world record by drinking a yard of ale—that’s three pints—in 11 seconds.

    John Laffler, the co-founder of Off Color Brewing, has a confession to make. He’s a fan of Miller High Life, which he describes as light, crisp, technically perfect, and very consistent.

    Singer Ed Sheeran dropped 50 pounds in 12 months after giving up beer. Beer is back in Sheeran’s diet, but perhaps he’s switched to these low-calorie offerings.

    This year’s 10th annual Philadelphia Beer Week will be part of a year-round celebration called “Philly Loves Beer”. Organizers hope the new format gives local breweries greater exposure and draws more visitors.

    Refocusing on daytime business, Starbucks has dropped evening beer and wine sales. However, alcohol may eventually return to the chain’s high-end “Roastery” locations.

    Finally, bad craft beer is becoming more common. Reasons include lax brewing standards, under-trained brewers, and intense competition that tempts breweries to bring faulty beer to market rather than dump it.

    Pabst’s Unusual Business Model

    Pabst Brewing Company has 2 percent of the American beer market, which puts it in a class with Boston Beer Company and D.G. Yuengling & Son. But under Eugene Kashper, Pabst’s busimess model is much different than that of Boston Beer and Yuengling.

    Jason Notte of Forbes magazine, who recently interviewed Kashper, writes that Pabst’s CEO is “also digging into corners of the beer industry where the competition hadn’t tread and using its strengths in marketing, production and scale to take on the big brewers on a much smaller budget”.

    Kashper told Notte that his portfolio was “kind of in a sweet spot between big beer and craft” because his legacy brands not only have a following, but also own a library of recipes for craft-like beers that he can sell for less than the going price of craft. Kashper’s success stories include Stroh’s Bohemian, Old Style Oktoberfest, and Rainier Mountain Ale, all of which have strong regional ties.

    In addition, Pabst has entered into partnerships with craft and import brewers to enable it to penetrate those segments of the market. Those partnerships emphasize the strength of Pabst’s distribution and grassroots marketing, which Kashper hopes will give it a fighting chance against brewing giants Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

    The Friday Mash (Epiphany Edition)

    Today, Christians celebrate The Feast of the Epiphany. In Louisiana, this means Carnival season is underway. The local tradition is to bake King Cakes; and the person who finds the doll in his or her slice must bake the next cake.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in France, where the Benedictine monks at the 1,367-year-old Abbey of Saint-Wandrille are back in the business of brewing. They’re the country’s only producers of truly monastic beer.

    In an interview with Paste magazine, 21st Amendment Brewery’s Nico Freccia talked about the fine art of naming beers, and how the brewery’s odd names has become mainstream.

    When Tim Kliegl turned 65, he celebrated in unusual fashion—namely, by running a mile, and trying a new beer, every day for an entire year. And he’s got the notes to prove it.

    Staffers at Amazon.com’s Christmas party in Dublin were treated to a special beer from local micro Metalman Brewing. Grainne Walsh, Metalman’s founder, once worked as an engineer at Amazon.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended lowering the DUI threshold to .05 percent, and a Utah lawmaker wants his state to be first. The current threshold in all states is .08.

    Rick Astley, whose song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was part of a popular Internet prank, plans to “roll” out a beer. The lager, which will be brewed by Mikkeller, has yet to be named.

    Finally, the The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company will celebrate its 150th anniversary by joining forces with the famous Hofbräu München. The amber-colored, Marzen-style will be introduced in April.

    Powered by WordPress