The Friday Mash (Stanley Cup Edition)

On this day in 1892, Lord Stanley, Canada’s former Governor-General, pledged to donate a silver challenge cup to the best hockey team in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, nine more than the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Silver Bay, Minnesota, where the city council banned a local microbrewery’s products from the municipal liquor store after the brewery opposed against taconite mining in the area.

Hops have been used in folk medicine for centuries. Today’s scientists have been working on harnessing hops’ anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

Releases draw big crowds of beer geeks. Unfortunately, some of them behave badly, pushing and shoving, cutting in line, and abusing breweries on social media when the beer runs out.

The pace of mergers and acquisitions in the brewing industry is picking up, and now craft breweries are taking one another over. Recently, Oskar Blues Brewery has bought Cigar City Brewing.

Tom Osborne and Mike Robb appeared on the television show Shark Tank to pitch The Beer Blizzard, a freezable product that fits on the bottom of a beer can, keeping it colder longer.

A craft brewery in London is attacking the problem of food waste by salvaging heels from bread loaves. The heels—which normally go to waste—are made into a beer called Toast Ale.

Finally, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Sam Calagione says he got his first taste of the beer business waiting tables at a Manhattan bar. That inspired Calagione to buy a homebrewing kit. On a whim, he added overly ripe cherries…and the rest is history.

The Friday Mash (Divestiture Edition)

Thirty-four years ago, AT&T agreed to be broken up into seven regional phone companies. Over the years, the “Baby Bells” recombined; and Southwestern Bell, the last surviving Baby Bell, renamed itself—you guessed it—“AT&T.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Walgreen’s sells Big Flats 1901 for $2.99 a six-pack. The contract-brewed beer has an overall rating of “Poor”—along with some funny reviews—on BeerAdvocate.com.

Kefir beer might be a healthier option for those with stomach ulcers. Scientists in Brazil found that rats that were fed kefir beer were less prone to inflammation than those that were fed regular beer.

Glassblower Matthew Cummings thinks beer deserves better glassware than the shaker pint. His Pretentious Beer Glass Company turns out odd-looking vessels designed for particular styles.

Vilde Haye, an Israeli boutique brewery, has launched a series of beers inspired by an imaginary klezmer orchestra. Each beer in the series has a “mascot,” a shtetel musician with a back story.

Mexican beer is growing faster than craft beer, thanks to America’s growing Latino population. There’s room for more growth as Anglos become aware of brands like Modelo and Tecate.

Brewbound.com lists the top ten craft beer stories of 2015. They include mergers and acquisitions, veteran craft-brewing figures stepping down, lawsuits, and the popularity of hard root beer.

Finally, Frank Winslow, Yards Brewing Company’s Director of Quality Assurance, explains why most beer bottles are brown but some are green, and why Corona might contain hop extract rather than actual hops.

The Friday Mash (Xanadu Edition)

On this day in 1271, Kublai Khan of “stately pleasure dome” fame renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. The yuan is modern-day China’s monetary unit.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in Japan, where a local firm has teamed up with an Amsterdam-based renewables company to develop eco-friendly plastic beer bottles. They’re made from plant sugar rather than fossil fuels.

As competition grows more fierce, breweries are hiring artists, graphic designers, and even branding firms to create packaging that wins shelf space and attracts customers.

“Beer before whiskey” is risky, but not for the reasons you think. People drink faster as intake increases, whatever the beverage; and whiskey’s higher alcohol content compounds the effects.

Last weekend, Vancouver’s Storm Brewing unleashed its Glacial Mammoth Extinction beer. It’s Canada’s first beer above 25 percent ABV, and it isn’t cheap: a bottle will set you back C$1,000 ($730 U.S.).

Craft brewing’s success has created a problem: a shortage of cans, especially the 16-ounce cans that many crafts prefer to distinguish their product from national-brand beer.

Debrett’s, a British etiquette authority since 1769, has published a guide to proper beer-drinking. Among other topics, it covers proper pouring and tasting and how to behave decorously at the pub.

Finally, James Grugeon of Brisbane, Australia, is crowd-funding a brewery with a social purpose. Half the profits of his Good Beer Company will be donated to a conservation society trying to save the endangered Great Barrier Reef.

Genetically Modified Yeast: Brewing’s Future?

Five centuries ago, German brewers used a hybrid strain of yeast, and wound up making lager beer—which attracted a world-wide following. They didn’t know it was a hybrid because they didn’t know what yeast was, let alone what role it played in the brewing process.

Today, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are developing hybrid yeasts. They accomplish this through the use of plasmids, or circles of DNA that can manipulate DNA in cells. The plasmids express a natural protein that allows two different species of yeast to “mate.” (This isn’t possible with industrial yeasts, which are incapable of producing spores that can be bred into new hybrids.)

The UW scientists believe they can produce a large amount of hybrid yeasts, which in turn will produce new flavors of beer. And, they say, they can generate new hybrids within a week.

The Friday Mash (Wednesday Edition)

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, which means that Ludwig, our beer-drinking lion, is spending quality time with his pride. His first stop is, of course, the Detroit Lions game at Ford Field. Then, after he and the other lions feast (on zebra and all the trimmings, of course), he’s going to take a long nap. He’ll be back next Friday with the regular edition of…

The Mash! 

We begin in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where The Field hosted its annual Pub Debate over whether marijuana should be legalized. The debate was conducted under British parliamentary rules, and both drinking and heckling were encouraged.

Chris Bosh of the NBA’s Miami Heat hosted a block party for his neighborhood. Bosh, an avid homebrewer, included a growler of his beer with each invitation.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has launched the Alpha Hops Society. For a $250 annual fee, members will receive a quarterly release of small-batch experimental brews.

Last month’s mega-merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller has put midsize brands such as Carlsberg and Heineken in a squeeze between a goliath with one-third of the industry’s market share and a growing craft sector.

The “Flux Capacitor” is back from the future. Treadwell Park, a beer hall in Manhattan has installed the device, which lets bartenders control the carbonation and temperature of each beer.

Here’s evidence that beer pong can be educational. Alex, from QuickSolar.com, hosts a two-minute video in which he uses the game to explain the solar photovoltaic effect.

Finally, beer, then whiskey. Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of the Boston Beer Company and a craft beer legend, has started a new venture, the Boston Harbor Distillery. It makes whiskey out of—you guessed it—Sam Adams beer.

The Friday Mash (College Football Edition)

On this day in 1869, host Rutgers College defeated the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University), 6-4, in the first-ever intercollegiate football game. How much beer was consumed before and after the game is lost to history.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Richmond, Virginia, which is floating $23 million in bonds to finance the construction of a second plant for Stone Brewing Company.

Pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who chugs cans of beer in the ring, has teamed up with El Segundo Brewing Company. The new beer is called Broken Skull IPA.

A start-up company in Belfast has invented a a beer-making machine called the BrewBot, which takes care of temperature and liquid pumping on its own.

Statistician Dr. Nathan Yau, using the website Flowing Data, figured out the most efficient route for taking a beer-tasting road trip around the continental U.S. The itinerary is 12,299 miles long.

Cara, a Canadian beer bar chain, has rescinded a dress code that forced Bier Markt’s female servers to wear revealing dresses. Some believe Cara was violating Ontario’s civil-rights laws.

South Korea’s exports in general have fallen but its beer exports are strong, partly because Iraqi Kurds and young Chinese drinkers prefer a beverage with a lower alcoholic content.

Finally, struggling presidential candidate Lindsey Graham flubbed his stint tending bar before taking part in a debate in Colorado. Graham, whose father tended bar, served up a pint with 15 ounces of foam.

The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

The Friday Mash (World Anesthesia Day Edition)

On this day in 1846, William T.G. Morton first demonstrated ether anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Each year the medical community honors this breakthrough with World Anesthesia Day. If ether “isn’t right for you”, we suggest having a beer instead.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Iowa City, where the informal University of Iowa “Beer Band” has suspended itself—at least for the time being—after townspeople complained abou X-rated song lyrics.

Beer author John Holl interviewed Dr. Chris White, the founder of yeast provider White Labs. Topics include sour beer, brewer education, and White’s new facility in North Carolina.

Chicago restaurateur Rick Bayless is introducing genuine Mexican-style beers. He’s opened a brewpub, and has also formed a brewing partnership with Constellation Brands .

Years ago, graphic designer Harvey Shepherd fell in love with beer packaging. He’s turned his avocation into the recently-published Oh Beautiful Beer: The Evolution of Craft Beer and Design.

Business consultant Chip Martella has good news and bad news for craft brewers. The dreaded industry shakeup has arrived, but a scrappy craft brewer can still succeed in this environment.

Carla Jean Whitley of AL.com details the revival of brewing in Alabama. Now that lawmakers have eased many Prohibition-era restrictions, the state’s brewery count has risen to 28.

Finally, declining sales of American light beer have forced breweries to rethink their advertising strategies. Their new ads will stress product quality, and will carry more woman-friendly messages.

“Ask Your Doctor if Beer is Right for You”

Most news stories about beer and health emphasize how unhealthy beer is. But for most of human history, that wasn’t the case. In fact, our ancestors used beer as medicine. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology found that before modern medications were developed, the sick were treated with beer and alcohol-containing herbal cocktails. He points out that alcohol relieves pain, stops infection, and kills bacteria and parasites in contaminated water. Alcohol also helps the digestive system break down food.

McGovern has found ancient texts that describe therapeutic cocktails. Prescriptions in ancient China and Egypt medical papyri called for wine or beer as a “dispensing agent,” with a varying mixture of herbs depending on the patient’s ailment. In addition to dissolving the herbs, alcohol made the mixture more palatable. Then, as in Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down.

Whether these ancient remedies actually worked is still up for debate. However, the bark of certain trees has yielded the key ingredients in aspirin, the anti-malarial drug quinine, and the cancer drug Taxol. And scientists are investigating substances in modern-day beer that might be valuable sources of medicines.

The Friday Mash (Peanuts Edition)

Sixty-five years ago today, the Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles Schulz, was first published. Peanuts became one of the most popular and influential comic strips in history.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Philadelphia, the final stop of Pope Francis’s American visit. Local writer Don Russell, aka “Joe Sixpack,” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the history of papal influence on brewing.

Israel now has 32 craft breweries. One of them, located in the hills of Galilee, uses chickpeas and dates in its recipe for a gluten-free beer.

Eastern Michigan University can’t win for losing. It latest effort to draw fans for its struggling football team—beer sales—resulted in a $3,000 loss. And yes, EMU lost the game.

After “some extensive field research,” Brent Nunn of the Dallas Observer has compiled a list of ten dumb things light beer drinkers say about craft beer.

Samuel Adams announced that it will introduce a series of nitro-conditioned beers early next year. The first three nitro offerings will be a white ale, an IPA, and a coffee stout.

Two Belgian scientists are making lager beers more diverse by cross-breeding yeasts. The new strains not only ferment more quickly than commercial strains, but are delicious as well.

Finally, blame global warming for pumpkin beers showing up on shelves before Labor Day. For example, persistently hot weather forced Rogue Ales to harvest its pumpkins weeks earlier than last year.

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