The Friday Mash (Night at the Opera Edition)

Fifty years ago today, the Metropolitan Opera House opened at Lincoln Square in Manhattan. The opening-night performance was the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber.

And now…The Mash!

We begin on ESPN College GameDay, where Sam Crowder held up a sign last Saturday asking Vemmo users to send him beer money. Within hours, more than 2,000 people contributed.

BBC correspondent Stephen Evans hopped a flight to make a beer run…all the way to Beijing. His Chinese friends had made a trip to the border to acquire “forbidden” Taedonggang beer, which is brewed in North Korea.

Here’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had. It’s a beer mug that won’t block your view of the TV when you’re drinking.

Pork roll aka Taylor ham, a New Jersey breakfast favorite, is now a beer ingredient. Flying Fish Brewing Company has released Exit 7 Pork Roll Porter as part of its “Exit Series”.

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing has rolled out a beer honoring the stereotypical “Florida Man”. The label for this beer, a double IPA, depicts a man wrestling an alligator—and winning.

Beer is more expensive than ever at NFL stadiums, but there’s one consolation: you can now buy craft beer from breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors recently acquired.

Finally, Nebraska liquor regulators have banned homebrewers from beer festivals. Because homebrewers aren’t licensed, there’s no assurance that they meet health and sanitation standards.

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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 (Votes for Women Edition)

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect. It was ratified 42 years after Aaron Sargent, a Republican from California, first introduced a women’s suffrage resolution in the Senate.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rio de Janiero, where souvenir cups of Ambev’s beer Skol were wildly popular at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Some fans spent hundreds of dollars to get Skol’s complete 42-cup collection.

With The Beer Tie, you can make a fashion statement and enjoy your beer at the same time. The tie is made of the same insulating, waterproof neoprene material as a standard drink koozie.

How much beer must “Bender”, the robot from Futurama, drink in order to keep his battery powered? According to Megan Logan of Inverse magazine, it’s 2.7 million liters. Per day.

The museum store at the Arizona Capitol could start selling local beer this fall. Alcohol isn’t exactly banned at the Capitol. Lawmakers are known to cary red Solo cups during late-night sessions.

The Innis & Gunn brewery offers a virtual-reality trip to Scotland to be enjoyed with a pint. The scientist who helped create the VR says that it connects the brain with the beer’s oak-aged tones.

Twenty-one years ago, Norwegian police ended an airplane hijacking by persuading the hijacker—who had been drinking heavily—to swap his loaded gun for a fresh supply of beer.

Finally, Suicide Squad actress Margot Robbie is a big fan of shower beers. She said that after a tough day of shooting, an ice-cold beer in a boiling-hot shower helps her fall asleep.

Beer Born From Disaster

Draft magazine saluted craft brewers’ ingenuity by listing ten instances where they turned calamity into opportunity. These brewers suffered mislabeled ingredients, severe weather, and malfunctioning equipment, among other disasters. Instead of throwing out the messy ingredients, they improvised; the result was a popular—and in at least two instances, award-winning–beer.

The most interesting story involves Innis & Gunn Original. It began when Dougal Sharp, then the head brewer at Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, brewed a Scottish ale for a distillery, which intended to use the ale to season its barrels. Distillery workers, however, loved the beer so much that they sneaked it home in bottles and empty buckets. Sharp, who knew he’d inadvertently brewed a winner, founded Innis & Gunn, which makes the original oak-aged ale to this day.

The Friday Mash (American Bandstand Edition)

On this day in 1957, the pop music show American Bandstand made its national debut. The show was hosted by Dick Clark throughout its run, which ended in 1989. Clark was also the show’s producer, and eventually became its owner.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Florida, where businessman Sammy Ramos has launched the first craft beer to be marketed to Hispanics. Its brand name is “Boriuca”, which means a person of Puerto Rican heritage—of which there are more than 250,000 in Greater Orlando.

In Kent, England, a Shetland pony named Mocha walked into his owner’s pub and started drinking beer out of stray pint glasses. Feel free to make bad puns on “pony” or “horse”.

This fall, Oregon State University will open a beer garden at its football stadium. Last year the Beavers went 2-10 (0-9 in the PAC-12), so fans might need a few beers before watching them play.

Rupert Stadler, the head of Volkswagen’s Audi division, was forced to repay the company €12,000 ($13,950) for a beer-drinking contest for company managers that he put on his expense account.

The metal band Megadeth has tapped Quebec brewery Unibroue to make a beer called “A Tout le Monde”, named for a song from the group’s 1994 album Youthanasia. It’s a Belgian-style saison ale.

Greene King is brewing “Bobby” beer to honor Bobby Moore, the captain of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team. Its alcohol content—4.2% ABV—was inspired by the score of the Cup final.

Finally, a group of Chicago businesses, including two well-known beer bars, are encouraging the public to patronize establishments on the #11 bus route, which they hope will earn back a permanent spot on the Chicago Transit Authority map.

The Hop Doctor is In

A casual acquaintance with “Dr. Paul Matthews IPA” led writer Russell Shorto to the doctor himself. The man whose brewery made that ale called Matthews “Lord of the Hops”. However, Matthew describes himself more modestly: “I’m a plant engineer and evolutionary biologist.”

Matthews is the senior research scientist at Hopsteiner, a major hops trader and processor in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Hopsteiner is a beneficiary of America’s IPA boom. It has ratcheted up demand for hops but, on the other hand, has kept hops suppliers scrambling to meet changing tastes. And that has kept Matthews—pun intended—hopping around the world in search of new varieties.

Matthews has gone to out-of-the-way places such as Arizona’s Sky Islands, surrounded by miles of desert; and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where for years people have used wild hops to cure their breads and as a folk medicine.

Even though the hop plant is closely related to the cannabis plant, Matthews isn’t interested in psychoactive beer. But, he says, others are looking into it.

Miller Lite’s Inventor Was a Suspected Communist

Miller Lite is an American icon but George Weissman, the man behind its creation, was suspected by the government of being a Communist. For decades, the FBI maintained a file on Weissman. Gawker’s Matt Novak filed a Freedom of Information Act request to access the Weissman file—which had been transferred to the National Archives.

The 26 pages of documents detail Weissman’s alleged associations with the Communist Party in the 1940s, both before and after he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The FBI also followed up in the 1970s when it investigated Weissman’s involvement with an organization called Executives Move For Peace in Vietnam. Novak observes, “It appears that the FBI considered protesting the war in Vietnam to be more dangerous than selling a product that killed tens of thousands of Americans every year”. That product was cigarettes; Weissman also created another American icon: the Marlboro Man.

The last page in the Weissman file suggests that the White House asked about him in October 1973. It in’t entirely clear from the file why the Nixon administration was interested in Weissman, though it was later revealed that he appeared on one of Nixon’s many political enemies lists.

The Friday Mash (Scotland the Brave Edition)

On this day in 1314, Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce scored a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. However, England wouldn’t recognize Scottish independence for another 14 years.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in New Jersey, where the Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company has rolled out an ale that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Matawan Creek shark attacks. A brewery co-owner describes 1916 Shore Shiver as—you knew this was coming—“a beer with bite”.

According to a recent Harris poll, craft beer drinkers consume less alcohol than non-craft-beer drinkers. They also exercise more often and pay greater attention to nutrition labels on food.

Scientists in Belgium have found that the music you listen affects your perception of the beer you drink. For instance, a “Disney-style track” caused people to rate beers as tasting sweeter, while deep, rumbling bass made beer taste more bitter.

ESPN has a video featuring “Fancy Clancy”, who has worked as a beer vendor at Baltimore Orioles games for more than 40 years. Clancy has sold more than 1 million beers, and considers Opening Day his Christmas.

The Lumbee Tribe, the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi, has sued Anheuser-Busch and a local Budweiser distributor. The suit alleges that the distributor used the tribe’s logo and slogan without permission.

If you’re visiting Milwaukee this summer, you can sign up for a Beer Titans History bus tour or a Beer Capital of the World history and beer tour. Or both, if have the time.

Finally, Australian researchers have isolated the yeast from a bottle of beer that survived a 1797 shipwreck, and re-created beers using recipes from two-plus centuries ago. The yeast is the only known strain to pre-date the Industrial Revolution.

Freshness Counts for Breweries, Too

The onslaught of new craft breweries has made it increasingly difficult for existing ones to stand out. To keep up with the competition, older breweries have shaken up their flagship beers, diversified into niche styles, and especially, given their products’ look and feel a makeover.

One brewery that was forced to reinvent itself was the Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado. Tom and Jan Peters took control of it from its original owners in 2004, and ran it as a traditional, German-style brewery. However, the Peterses saw their market share shrink in the face of competitors with more distinctive beers and contemporary label art. In 2014, they rebooted Fort Collins, overhauling its product, refocusing on the local market, and opening an on-premises tavern. The couple also put their daughter, Tina, in charge of the brewery.

Jason Notte of MarketWatch.com sat down with Tina. Among other things she talked about her first beer, moving beyond traditional German styles, and how she coordinated the brewery’s look and feel with its new lineup of beers.

The Friday Mash (Hair Edition)

On this day in 1968, the musical Hair opened on Broadway. Notable songs from the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” include “Aquarius”, “Easy to Be Hard”, and “Good Morning Starshine”.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where a mechanic named Andrey Eremeev persuaded the beer store in his apartment building to let him run a pipeline from a keg in the store’s refrigerator to one of the taps of his kitchen sink.

Theater Cedar Rapids has added beer to its improv comedy classes. According to its education director, beer helps relieve inhibitions that can kill a performer’s creativity.

In Hastings, Nebraska, temperance advocates picketed the Do the Brew beer festival. The protesters, dressed in period garb, were actors promoting the upcoming Nebraska Chautauqua fest.

Israel’s Herzl Brewery made a beer that people might have enjoyed when Jesus was alive. It tasted a bit like honey and berries, but it was flat and cloudier than what we drink today.

Six years ago, Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd. The app now has more than 3.2 million users, and is so successful that both men quit their jobs to manage Untapped full time.

Frances Stroh has written a book about the Detroit-based brewery’s rise to national prominence in the late 1800s and its downfall amid consolidation and the city’s economic demise.

Finally, Utah liquor regulators may revoke a Salt Lake City movie theater’s liquor license for showing the R-rated film Deadpool. State law forbids a licensed establishment to show nudity. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds donated $5,000 to the theater’s legal defense fund.

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