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.

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Beer Tailored to Your DNA

If you have an extra $30,000 lying around, the Meantime Brewery in London will custom-brew a batch of beer that literally matches your DNA. Interested? The first step (assuing you’ve got the money), is to provide a saliva sample to be analyzed by the company 23andMe. The analysis focuses in particular on the gene TAS2R38, which contains oral taste receptors.

The next step is an appointment with Meantime’s brewmaster Ciaran Giblin, who will work with you to perfect the beer. An awful lot of beer—some 2,000 pints worth. Optional add-ons (you’ve got plenty of money, right?) include ad agency time to design your packaging, kegs to send to your local pub, and pint glasses molded to your hand.

Forbes magazine correspondent Leslie Wu, who wrote the article about the brewery’s “Meantime Bespoke” beer, has misgivings about it. She wonders who, even in a highly-competitive craft beer market, would pay that much money for beer. And she warns that personalized beer can lead to a “beer dystopia” where people are unwilling to try anything new.

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The Friday Mash (Hail Fredonia Edition)

One hundred and ninety years ago today, Benjamin W. Edwards rode into Mexican-controlled Texas and declared himself ruler of the Republic of Fredonia. Edwards is not to be confused with Rufus T. Firefly.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Bayern Munich football team treated Ingolstat’s players to sausages and beer. Ingolstat upset Leipzig, enabling Bayern to move into first place in the Bundesliga.

A former NASA biologist has developed a genetically engineered strain of yeast that makes beer glow under a black light. His “fluorescent yeast kit” contains genes from a jellyfish.

MobCraft Beer, a Milwaukee brewery that lets the public vote on new products, was was heavily criticized after “Date Grape” was one of the finalists. The brewery has apologized for the sexual assault reference.

Writer Jay Brooks tells the fascinating story of the Americas’ first Western-style brewery. It opened near Mexico City in 1544, with a team of brewers imported from Flanders.

Country music artist Sunny Sweeney’s song “One More Christmas Beer” celebrates family dysfunction. Sweeney says that the lyrics are inspired by actual events.

Next month, Chicago’s Field Museum will start serving PseudoSue, a pale ale brewed by the Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. The ale celebrates “Sue”, the museum’s beloved T-Rex skeleton.

Finally, Colorado’s craft brewers are engaged in soul-searching. This year, they’ve had to contend with Anheuser-Busch’s takeover of Breckenridge Brewing Company and a legislative battle over selling full-strength beer in grocery stores.

The Friday Mash (Mickey Mouse Edition)

On this day in 1928, The Walt Disney Corporation released the animated short “Steamboat Willie”, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. It was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Disney considers this release to be Mickey’s birthday.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in England, where pub companies warn that the price of a pint is about to jump. Factors include inflation, higher costs of doing business, and the introduction of the living wage.

Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa showed off his axe-throwing skills in an Instagram video. What makes his performance even more impressive is that he drank a beer immediately before he hit the bulls-eye.

FIFA, the world-wide governing body of soccer, is negotiating with officials of host country Qatar over whether beer will be served there during matches at the 2022 World Cup.

Effective January 1, 2019, Labatt will discontinue the 50-year-old tradition of issuing free beer for life to company retirees. The Canadian brewery is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Travel blogger Emmanuel Marshall used Innis & Gunn IPA as currency to pay for transportation and lodging on his 5,000-mile trip from Scotland, the home of Innis & Gunn, to India.

Scientists at Rockefeller University have found that beer pong players expose themselves to numerous icky bacteria. The good news is that college-aged players have strong enough immune systems to cope with them.

Finally, the San Diego Union-Tribune named the five beers that put the city on the craft beer map: AleSmith Speedway Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Le Freak, Karl Strauss Red Trolley, and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Counterpoint: Quitting Drinking is Not Healthy

Paul Mulshine, who loves both a good beer and a good debate, contends that abstaining from alcohol is an unhealthy decision. He cites a study published in the journal Health Psychology which found that physical activity and drinking alcohol—beer in particular—complemented one another.

Stanton Peele, the psychologist who sent Mulshine a copy of the study, cited the example of Cy Young-winning pitcher Bob Welch, who gave up drinking and wrote of his recovery in the book Five O’Clock Comes Early. Welch died of a heart attack at age 57. Peele contends that the only worse decision Welch could have made would be to take up smoking.

Peele also told Mulshine of studies showing that even heavy drinkers have lower heart-attack rates than abstainers. “The reason is not hard to deduce. There are just four sources of calories for the human body—protein, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol. Of the four, only alcohol has a positive role in the prevention of heart attacks”.

The Friday Mash (Strait and Narrow Edition)

On this day in 1520, Ferdinand Magellan discovered a navigable sea route separating South America and Tierra del Fuego. The treacherous body of water is now known as the Strait of Magellan.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Columbus, Ohio, where Scotland-based BrewDog will have a brewery up and running late this winter. BrewDog is also raising capital by crowdfunding: you can buy shares for $47.50 each.

It took him 16 tries, but reddit user “boomboomsaloon” finally succeeded in buying beer using a Blockbuster Video membership card as proof of age.

“It’s like a death in the family”, said Revolution Brewing Founder Josh Deth after he recalled more than 10,000 barrels of beer that didn’t meet his brewery’s quality standards.

Kirin Brewing Company, Japan’s second-largest brewery, will buy a 25-percent stake in Brooklyn Brewing Company. Kirin will introduce Brooklyn’s beers in Japan and distribute them in Brazil.

Food blogger Kyle Marcoux aka The Vulgar Chef found a new way to pair beer and pizza. He made a koozie by rolling a square pizza base with pepperoni and mozzarella around a beer can.

Engineers at University of Colorado have developed a process to make lithium-ion battery electrodes from the sugar-rich wastewater created in the beer-making process.

Finally, beer writer Josh Bernstein says these six trends will be the talk of 2017: Marzen beers in the fall, the revival of Kolsch beers, juice-like IPAs, milk stouts, coffee beers, and fruited sour beers.

The Friday Mash (Cubs Win! Edition)

On this date in 1908, the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. Managed by Frank Chance of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” fame, they beat the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 1. Cubs fans are hoping their team can end their 108-year drought in this year’s playoffs.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Detroit, where Ludwig’s beloved Lions will sell $3.50 beers during Sunday’s game against the L.A. Rams. The way the Lions are playing, fans need a few to get them through the game.

D.G. Yuengling & Son is waging a last-ditch fight against the pending merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. Yuengling argues that A-B is trying to keep it out of new markets.

German scientists have found that beer causes less liver damage than hard liquor. The reason? Hops may inhibit the formation of reactive oxygen species, which can damage cells in the liver.

Ken Pagan, the Toronto-area man accused of throwing a beer can at a player during a baseball game, better have his lawyer warming up. A Canadian attorney discusses Pagan’s legal problems.

Two Copenhagen men have taken the idea of freeze-dried coffee and applied it to four of their craft beers. They’ve created instant versions of a coffee beer, a fruity IPA, a wild-yeast IPA, and a pilsner.

After a church in Canyon, Texas, ran an anti-alcohol ad in the local paper, an establishment called the Imperial Taproom offered a discount to customers who brought in a copy of the ad.

Finally, Fat Head’s Brewery had a very short reign as “Mid-Sized Brewing Company of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival. Officials revoked the award after concluding that Fat Head’s, which has three locations, had been misclassified.

Is Hangover-Free Alcohol Coming?

David Nutt, a British professor, has invented a synthetic alcohol that allows people to enjoy the sociable effects of drinking without the hangover that often follows. Nutt calls his invention “alcosynth,” and hopes that it will completely replace normal alcohol by the middle of the century.

Advocates of alcosynth believe that it could greatly reduce the social costs of drinking, which is the third-leading risk factor for death and disease in the UK, after smoking and obesity.

Professor Nutt contends that the beverage industry knows conventional alcohol will disappear, and have been planning for it for years, but doesn’t want the change to happen soon because companies are making so much money from conventional alcohol. He thinks that a health-conscious public will demand a no-hangover alternative.

Neil Williams, from British Beer and Pub Association, claims there’s no need for alcosynth, pointing out that there are other ways to avoid a hangover, such as limiting consumption and sticking to lower-strength beverages.

The Friday Mash (Neptune Edition)

One hundred and seventy years ago today, astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborated on the discovery of Neptune. Now that Pluto has been demoted, Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Jacksonville, Florida, where an over-eager liquor control officer charged a 17-year-old girl with the crime of underage possession of alcohol. Her offense? Moving a cup of beer on a beer pong table at a Jaguars tailgate party.

Terrorist attacks in Europe have forced Oktoberfest organizers to beef up security this year, and many would-be attendees are avoiding the celebration out of fear of an attack in Munich.

Rutgers University ended its school-sponsored football tailgate parties after athletics director Pat Hobbs was seen chugging a beer onstage. Drinking on the job is a no-no at RU.

The new season of Shark Tank begins tonight. Leading off are the inventors of Fizzics, an in-home tap that re-creates the mouthfeel and aroma of freshly-poured draft beer.

Long Island’s Blue Point Brewery is serving up history in the form of Colonial Ale. It was made using a recipe written by George Washington in a military journal in 1757.

Are you seeing less pumpkin beer on the shelves this fall? It’s because breweries overproduced it last year and demand for the style fell off. Unseasonably warm weather also hurt sales.

Finally, scientists have figured out why the foam on top keeps your beer from sloshing. The answer is “capillary action”, the same phenomenon that enables paper towel to soak up spilled milk and plants to suck up water from their roots.

Tracing Beer Yeasts’ “Family Tree”

Humans domesticated yeasts long before they figured that yeasts even existed. Now a team of geneticists created the first family tree of those yeasts. They did so by examining samples collected from nearly 100 breweries around the world.

For most of history, people made beer at home. Because beer kept for a long time, it was necessary to brew only once a month or so. The long interval gave the wild yeasts in the beer enough time to interbreed with other strains and stay feral. But with the rise of commercial brewing some 400 years ago, brewers made beer on a continuous basis. In an effort to make the beer consistent, they inadvertently changed the yeasts’ genetic makeup. Brewers “backslopped”—that is, they took the sediment at the end of the brewing process and used it to inoculate the next batch. Over time, the yeasts lost the ability to sexually reproduce and acquired genes that helped them digest maltose, a type of sugar found in backslop.

It turns out that brewing yeasts were domesticated in two separate lineages. “Beer 1” emerged in Germany and Belgium around the turn of the 17th century. Those yeasts spread to the United Kingdom and, from there, to North America. Most of the yeasts used in brewing today belong to the Beer 1 branch of the family tree.

About 50 years later, another branch of beer yeasts, “Beer 2,” arose independently. The geneticists who studied them are unable to identify their place of origin. Beer 2 yeasts evolved from yeasts found in wineries, and generally result in beers with higher alcohol content.

It is almost impossible to distinguish a Beer 1 yeast from a Beer 2 yeast based on flavor alone. Beer yeasts can create such a variety of flavors that even two closely related-yeasts can create beer with vastly different tastes.

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