In Florida, A Fight Over Tasting Rooms

In recent years, dozens of small breweries have opened in Florida. However, a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Florida Retail Federation could put them in jeopardy.

The suit alleges that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which issues liquor licenses, overstepped its legal authority in allowing breweries to open tasting rooms. Many breweries depend on tasting-room traffic to stay viable.

Currently, there are two exceptions to the three-tier licensing scheme under which a brewery can sell directly to customers. One exception applies to breweries that offered tourist amenities. (The exception was originally create for the Busch Gardens theme park.) The other applies to brewpubs. According to the Retail Federation, some breweries fall under neither exemption but operate tasting rooms anyway.

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The Friday Mash (Liechtenstein Edition)

On this day in 1719, the Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire. A couple of fun facts about this tiny country: it is the world’s leading producer of false teeth; and its capital, Vaduz, is one of only two in the world that ends with the letter “z”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, whose incoming governor turned down an offer of free Yuengling for his inauguration. A state senator says the governor snubbed the brewery because of its CEO’s political views.

MillerCoors plans to offer a gluten-free beer. The beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, will be brewed with brown rice and protein from peas instead of barley.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to repeal a Liquor Commission rule banning pictures of children from beer labels. Founders Breakfast Stout’s label features a baby eating cereal.

The Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater, Florida, wanted a really distinctive tap for its Fowler’s Bluff IPA, so it hired Tangible Labs, a 3-D printing company, to fashion one.

A new South Carolina law that allows breweries to sell pints has given the state’s economy a $13.7 million boost. Twelve breweries have opened in the state since the law took effect.

Grease from that slice of pizza you just ate can kill the foam on your beer. It lowers the surface tension on the foam, which tears apart the structure of the bubbles and releases their gases.

Finally, an outcry from angry beer fans forced Lagunitas Brewing Company to drop its trademark suit against Stone Brewing Company. Lagunitas claimed that Stone’s logo for Hop Hunter IPA was too similar to the Lagunitas IPA logo.

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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.

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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.

The Friday Mash (Double Nickel Edition)

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum speed limit to 55 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline during the OPEC embargo. The unpopular “double nickel” stayed on the books for more than 20 years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hawaii, where Kona Brewing is celebrating its 21st birthday by releasing a series of Hawaii-only beers. First in Kona’s Makana series is Aina Brown Ale, brewed with taro root.

New York City’s two largest beer distributors plan to merge. The merger threatens the existence of the city’s 13,000 bodegas, which are small, mostly minority-owned convenience stores.

Craft beer is gaining ground in South Korea thanks to new laws. For years, the country’s beer market has been dominated by two large brewing companies.

A blog post by Bryan Roth delves into the economics of beer-buying decisions. Roth wonders whether price will become a bigger factor in what craft beer drinkers buy.

Outside the United States, non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity. Reasons include anti-alcohol laws in Muslim countries, fear of a DUI arrest, and better-tasting products.

Is your local beer bar serious about beer? Thrillist’s Dan Gentile tells you what to look for. For example, bubbles on the side of your glass means the glass is dirty.

Finally, Argentina’s Andes Brewery offers a a “Message in a Bottle”. Andes bottles are imprinted with QR codes which, together with a mobile app, allow a person to record a video and assign it to a specific bottle. The recipient scans the QR code and plays the video back.

The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

* Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

The Friday Mash (Boys Town Edition)

On this day in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan, a Catholic priest in Omaha, opened a home for wayward boys. That home is now a National Historic Landmark; and Boys Town’s slogan, “He ain’t heavy, mister–he’s my brother,” has become part of our popular culture.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Austin, Texas, where Lance Armstrong quit after one lap during qualifying for the inaugural Beer Mile Championship. Armstrong said he’ll never again run a Beer Mile.

Dave Lieberman of OCWeekly.com got a sales pitch for the “Sonic Foamer,” which creates a 5-millimeter head on your pint of beer. He doesn’t seem the least bit impressed with the product.

Oktoberfest tops the list of Germany’s beer festivals, but it’s not the only one. EscapeHere.com runs down the country’s top ten, some of which are hundreds of years old.

A sealed bottle of Samuel Alsopp’s Arctic Ale sold for $503,300 on eBay. It’s considered the world’s rarest bottle of beer because the the original seller misspelled the name “Allsop’s”.

The Sriracha craze has spread to beer. This month, Rogue Ales will release a limited-edition Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. Suggested pairings include soup, pasta, pizza, and chow mein.

Last weekend, MillerCoors LLC teamed up with a start-up called Drizly, and offered free home delivery of Miller Lite to customers in four cities.

Finally, David Kluft of JDSupra Business Advisor reviews this year’s beer trademark disputes. Maybe these cases will inspire someone to host a Disputed Beer Festival next year.

Collusion in Ontario’s Beer Market

This week, the Toronto Star exposed a collusive agreement between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which has a monopoly over liquor sales, and The Beer Store, a privately-owned quasi-monopoly that controls 80 percent of the province’s beer sales.

In the confidential document from 2000, the LCBO agreed not to compete aggressively against The Beer Store. Specifically, the LCBO agreed not to sell beer in packages larger than six-packs, and to refrain from selling major-brand beer directly to bars and restaurants.

The Beer Store is a favorite target of criticism by Ontario beer drinkers: beer is expensive; and the stores have a Stalinist look and feel, with service to match. The province’s taxpayers also have reason to complain. The Beer Store currently takes in about $1 billion a year—most of which goes to the big breweries—which could go instead to the provincial government via the LCBO.

So why hasn’t this 14-year-old collusive agreement been torn up by the current government, which is now headed by a different party? The answer is lobbying. The breweries have lined up an impressive array of lobbyists, many of whom have ties to the party now in power.

The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

The Friday Mash (Czech Republic Edition)

On this day in 1918, Czechoslovakia came into existence. Since 1993, after the “Velvet Divorce” from Slovakia, the country is known as the Czech Republic. Different name, but the same great beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Jersey, the only state that bars amusement games in bars. Lawmakers are considering the “Dave & Busters Bill,” which would repeal the 55-year-old law.

Bad news for microbreweries: beer drinkers in their 20s are gravitating toward craft beer. The number one reason is that this age group is bored with the taste of mass-market brews.

They’ve risen from the dead. Schlitz, Narragansett, and four other “zombie” beers are back from “Pabst purgatory”. Interestingly, three of the six are from Greater Cincinnati.

Not everybody loves session beer. Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb thinks the idea is dumb. He insists there’s a reason why you don’t see session bourbon or session wine in stores.

Skol’s new Beats Senses beer comes in a deep-blue-colored bottle, and a Brazilian agency decided the best way to advertise it was to film a commercial underwater–which wasn’t easy.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features the first-ever sea-going gastropub. It will serve a variety of American craft beers, which are still hard to find aboard cruise ships.

Finally, Joe Maddon impressed sportswriters at his first press conference as the Chicago Cubs’ new manager. He held it the The CubbyBear, a ballpark bar, and treated the writers to a shot and a beer.

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