The Friday Mash (Aspirin Edition)

On this day in 1899, Bayer AG trademarked the name “Aspirin” for its synthetic version of salicylic acid. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory drug, is one of the world’s most widely-used medications: 40,000 metric tons are used each year.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Kentucky, which is best known for snow bourbon. However, a lively craft beer scene has emerged. Fourteen breweries have opened in the Bluegrass State since 2011.

CNBC is bringing back its Most Loved Beer Label contest. For the next week, citizens can nominate labels. The network will reveal the finalists on March 23, and voting will wind up two weeks later.

In Malaysia, non-alcoholic beer for Muslims is unacceptable to the chief halal certifier because he objects to the word “beer” to describe the drink.

Jay Brooks has published an ale-themed parody of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. The closing lines are, “I do so love craft beer at home! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!”

CoolMaterial.com created a flowchart to guide people who can’t decide what their next beer should be. The first question is, “Are you looking to get drunk and don’t care about taste?”

Beer festivals attract people dressed as court jesters, ballerinas, superheroes, and even giant chickens. MLive.com’s John Serba offers five ridiculous, but practical costume suggestions.

Finally, Eleanor Robertson stirred up a hornets’ nest with an op-ed condemning craft beer. Robertson hates its taste, can’t stand beer snobs, and would rather talk to her friends than her beer.

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The Inspiration for American Saison Beers

In an All About Beer article titled “The Most Influential Brewery You Probably Never Heard Of”, Jeff Alworth introduced his readers to a French brewer named Daniel Thiriez, who has been making farmhouse ales since 1996 at his brewery in Esquelbecq, France. Alworth credits Thiriez’s version of saison as the inspiration for those brewed in America.

First, however, Alworth discusses Dupont, which he says is to saison what Pilsner Urquell is to pilsner. Dupont, which was instrumental in reviving the style, made its version with “a finicky strain of yeast” that most other brewers don’t want to deal with. The beer has “a stiff mineral profile, strange esters, herbal hops, explosive effervescence and a desert-dry finish.”

Even if they could replicate Dupont–a fiendishly difficult job–American brewers wanted something different. They preferred versions with less assertive, more familiar esters. That is the kind of beer Thiriez makes. The yeast he settled on is Wyeast 3711, the “French Saison” strain. It’s a strain well known to American brewers, who began using it in their saisons.

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The Friday Mash (Not Mr. Met Edition)

On this day in 1872, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in Manhattan. With more than two million works in its permanent collection, “The Met”—not to be confused with baseball mascot “Mr. Met”—is one of the largest art museums in the world.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Turkey, where security guards red-carded a fan for trying to smuggle beer into a soccer stadium. A whole case of bottles, in an outfit he’d designed for that purpose.

The latest trademark fight pits New Belgium Brewing Company and Oasis, Texas Brewing Company, both of which brew a beer called “Slow Ride”. New Belgium filed its mark ahead of Oasis, but Oasis’s beer hit the market first.

Vietnam’s robust drinking culture—there is no word for “hangover”—is raising concerns about health as citizens grow wealthier. A glass of beer costs just 30 U.S. cents.

Screenwriter and director Matthew Vaughn says that Guinness provided the inspiration for Kingsman: The Secret Service. Over pints, Vaughn and comic book maestro Mark Miller came up with the idea of an old-school spy movie.

The popularity of IPA and other craft beer has forced Iowa lawmakers to revisit the definition of “beer”. Beverages with 5 to 8 percent ABV currently exist in a legal twilight zone.

An Austin, Texas, company has developed a product called Kube, which combines a high-quality portable sound system and a beverage cooler. It’s designed to be used at parties and outdoor events.

Finally, Empire Brewing Company is collaborating with China’s Jingwei Fu Tea Company to brew Two Dragons beer. It starts out mellow and woody, and finishes with a sweet tea-like taste. Empire hopes to export it to China.

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The World’s Youngest Cicerone

Angela Steil is only 21 years old, but she’s earned certification as a Cicerone and will be working as the in-house beer sommelier at Gravity, a beer-focused restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Steil is the world’s youngest Cicerone. Attaining that status is no easy task, regardless of one’s age. Only half of those who take the exam pass it. It requires memorizing a huge material of material—the syllabus is 19 pages long—and includes tasting portion in which one has to identify specific off-flavors of beer. Steil’s test preparation included marathon flash-card sessions, videos, “every book they mention,” and innumerable blind flight tastings.

Steil’s next goal is to achieve Master Cicerone status, which is so difficult that only seven people have qualified so far. However, she has plenty of time to acquire the knowledge needed to get there.

When Brewpubs Were a Novelty

In the current All About Beer, historian Tom Aciatelli takes us back to 1986, when recently-laid-off geologist John Hickenlooper drove to Berkeley, California, to visit his brother. The two paid a visit to Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, and Hickenlooper realized what his next career would be.

Two years later, Hickenlooper and his partners opened Wynkoop Brewing Company in what was then a gritty section of Denver.

A quarter century ago, brewpubs outnumbered microbreweries by a substantial margin (the opposite is true today). Brewpub owners faced serious challenges, including finding the money to get started, overcoming Depression-era liquor laws, and persuading customers to pay more for a product they were not familiar with.

Hickenlooper was a notable success in his industry. He started or invested in 11 brewpubs. Later, he embarked on yet another career, that of a public official. He got elected mayor of Denver, and is now governor of Colorado. When he first took office in 2011, he made sure the craft beer flowed at his inaugural party.

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.”

Guinness Blonde: Made in America

Guinness Blonde has been on the shelves for several months, and there’s an interesting story behind its creation. To begin with, it isn’t brewed in Dublin but in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The brewmaster, Joe Gruss, is American; the hops are Mosaic, Mt. Hood, and Willamette; and the crystal malt is domestically sourced as well.

The yeast, however, is from Dublin, and that leads to another story. The first attempt–fermented at 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest temperature lager yeast is typically subjected to—resulted in bad-tasting beer. The brewing staff did something counter-intuitive: they raised the fermentation temperature another three degrees C. (5.4 degrees F.). Even though the higher temperature was above lager yeast’s comfort zone, somehow it worked.

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 Fight to Legalize Brewpubs

Charlie Papazian, who writes about beer on Examiner.com, resurrected a 1982 article from Zymurgy magazine about early efforts to legalize brewpubs. It was written by Tom Burns, then at the Boulder Brewing Company. Burns moved to Michigan, where he fought to change that state’s restrictive laws. Unfortunately, Burns passed away before Michigan became the “The Great Beer State” with more than 150 microbreweries and brewpubs.

At the heart of Burns’ article is America’s three-tier distribution system. He conceded that legislators had reasons to ban “tied houses”—they didn’t want breweries to monopolize the retail market—but argued that the laws were so inflexible they made impossible for a small brewery to sell its beer at retail.

Burns, who was an attorney, urged the craft-brewing community to lobby state legislators. He argued for a narrow exception to the three-tier system—allowing breweries to sell their product, on premises, at retail–and offered some useful talking points. Brewpubs are local businesses, which hire local people. They counter the trend toward industry concentration. They help preserve traditional beer styles, and led to the creation of new ones. And they encourage the consumption of beer, a beverage of moderation.

The strategy worked. A generation later, brewpubs are legal in all 50 states.

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.

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