How the Civil War Affected Beer

The American Civil War, like many wars throughout history, proved to be longer than anyone imagined.

By mid-1862, the war had become one of attrition, and the United States needed money to win it. One way of raising it was to impose the first-ever tax on beer. The tax was $1 a barrel, or about $23.40 in today’s money. In 1865, the last year of the war, the U.S. took in more than $3.7 million ($865 million in today’s money). The war ended, but the beer tax lived on—except during Prohibition—and, since 1991, has stood at $18 a barrel.

The beer tax led to the formation of the United States Brewers’ Association, a powerful trade group whose number-one priority was to keep the tax as low as possible. The USBA’s influence diminished after the war, and disappeared altogether in 1986. However, it provided the template for the modern-day Brewers Association, the craft brewers’ trade association.

The Civil War came on the heels of heavy German immigration to the U.S. The Germans brought with them a love of lager beer; and they started dozens of breweries, especially in the Midwest. During the war, many German and German-American men joined the Union Army, where they introduced their fellow soldiers to the joy of beer-drinking. Increased demand for beer, combined with greater automation in the industry, led to the a wave of brewery openings after the war. In 1873, the U.S. brewery count peaked at 4,131.

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You Be the Judge

Once in a Blue Moon, lawsuits like this get filed. Evan Parent, a San Diego man, has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing MillerCoors of false and deceptive advertising—namely, by holding out Blue Moon as a “craft beer.”

Much of Parent’s argument rests on Blue Moon being brewed by MillerCoors, which is too big to meet the Brewers Association’s definition of “craft brewery.” Further, Parent contends that the big brewery fails to identify itself on Blue Moon products. He also attacks the MillerCoors trademarked term, “Artfully Crafted.”

The Brewers Association has stayed out of this litigation, emphasizing that it only defines “craft brewers,” not “craft beers.”

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The Friday Mash (Coke No Pepsi Edition)

On this day in 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton first sold a carbonated beverage named “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine. Pemberton, a wounded Confederate veteran who became addicted to morphine, developed the beverage as a non-opium alternative.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rochester, New York, where North American Breweries is putting Genesee beer, Genesee Cream Ale, and Genesee Ice in retro bottles. The packaging hearkens back to the 1960s, the heyday of the “Genny” brand.

Sad news from North Carolina. Dustin Canestorp, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps, has closed his Beer Army Combat Brewery. He blames state franchise laws that effectively tie a brewery to a distributor for life.

Executives of the nation’s big breweries are getting worried about the amount of discounting going on. The beers you’re most likely to find on sale include Bud Light, Budweiser, and Shock Top.

Craft beer has been susceptible to “the next big thing” mentality. According to Allen Park of Paste magazine, trends that “have more than overstayed their welcome” include waxing bottles, session IPAs, and adjuncts.

Craft brewers are scrambling to comply with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” which requires breweries and restaurants to disclose nutritional information, including the caloric content of their beers.

City officials aim to make Toronto the world’s craft beer capital. Measures include creating a craft brewery culinary trail and lowering regulatory barriers to brewery start-ups.

Finally, a growing number of craft breweries are making their recipes available to the public. Some, such as Russian River Brewing Company and Rogue Ales, are working with supply shops to develop kits for homebrewed versions of their beers.

The Friday Mash (Hubble Telescope Edition)

Twenty-five years ago today, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit. The telescope, which has had five in-space service calls by NASA astronauts, is still functioning and is expected to last another five years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where Krista Dotzenrod caught a foul ball in her beer cup and, at the urging fans, chugged the beer. The hashtag for this is #ChugBall.

“Raising the Bar”, which began last year in New York, is a program in which scholars give lectures in pubs and other venues. Recently, Hong Kong became the first Asian city to stage this event.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott sent a mixed message about binge drinking when he downed a 12-ounce schooner of beer seven seconds at a Sydney bar.

A bar in Maple Grove, Minnesota, must deal with the dreaded Beer Police. Its offense? Buying kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow from a Wisconsin liquor store and bringing them across the state line.

The government of Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has outlawed the sale of beer at convenience stores. Small retailers account for around 60 percent of the country’s beer sales.

Tomorrow is Dark Lord Day, and host Three Floyds Brewery has something new for festival-goers: Dark Lord-infused hot sauce, made with ancho and guajillo chili peppers.

Finally, Brook Bristow, executive director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild, was presented with the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference. Working pro bono, Bristow’s law firm successfully lobbied for craft-friendly laws in the Palmetto State.

Florida Craft Brewers Win Some, Lose Some

Legislation dealing with the brewing industry is inching closer to passage in the Florida legislature. It will ease some restrictions on Florida’s craft breweries but, at the same time, will impose new ones.

It explicitly allows breweries to have on-premises taprooms. Some in the industry contended that the “tourism exemption” under which taprooms operated wasn’t intended to cover small breweries. In addition, the it legalizes beer sales in 64-ounce growlers. On the other hand, the legislation limits the amount of beer breweries can move among breweries, and caps the number of taprooms at eight per brewery.

Josh Aubuchon, the head of the Florida Brewers Guild, says the legislation is “not perfect but pretty darn good.” He points out that no brewery is even close to the taproom limit. However, some breweries are afraid that the restrictions could be tightened by future legislatures. They’re also disappointed that lawmakers haven’t address other restrictions, including the ban on self-distribuition and franchise laws that favor distributors.

Why the South Has So Few Breweries

The nine states with the fewest breweries are all in the South, and there’s an explanation for that: the Baptists.

Steve Gohmann, a professor of economics at the University of Louisville, recently published a paper in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice about why the South is less hospitable to small breweries.

Across the country, big brewers contribute to political candidates who support restrictions—such as bans on self-distribution–that make it difficult for small breweries to compete with them. What makes the South unique is that it has a high concentration of Baptists, who support restrictions on alcohol on moral grounds. (The same is true of Methodists, who are also well-represented in the region.) Thus pastors and big breweries are unlikely political bedfellows.

But what about the Kentucky-based whiskey industry? Gohmann observes that micro-distilleries are not taking much market share from the big producers, which means Baptists don’t have as much influence when it comes to regulating spirits.

The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

No, this isn’t an episode of Bizarre Foods. The Diet of Worms was an assembly that, on this day in 1521, put Martin Luther on trial for heresy. After the trial, a supporter offered Luther a silver tankard of Eimbeck beer, which he gratefully drank.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Durham, North Carolina, whose minor-league stadium, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will soon have a brewery. Fans will be able to buy beer and watch the brewing process.

Delaware’s liquor store owners are worried about losing business if Pennsylvania loosens its restrictions on beer sales. As it is, the Keystone State offers a wider selection of beer.

Carlsberg Breweries, which is known for offbeat advertising campaigns, put up a giant beer-dispensing billboard in London’s Brick Lane. Stay tuned: the brewery is planning more promotions.

Despite heavy taxation and domination of the market by the Singha-Chang duopoly, craft beer is making inroads in Thailand. However, home brewing is still against the law.

Sexist marketing isn’t just an American phenomenon. A Japanese brewery has it marketing a beer called Precious to women. It contains two grams of collagen, a protein that makes skin look younger.

If your beer is boring, a company called Hop Theory is here to help with flavor-enhancing teabags. Their first product, Relativity, contains orange peel, coriander, and Cascade hops.

Finally, Tricia Gilbride of Mashable.com picks the best beers to drink in the shower. She prefers IPAs because “it makes sense to select a hoppy beer when you hop in the shower.”

The Friday Mash (Great Gatsby Edition)

Ninety years ago today, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby, was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. The novel about the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, painted a picture of America’s “Jazz Age,” a phrase that Fitzgerald also made popular.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Minneapolis, where Finnegans beer is celebrating 15 years of feeding the hungry. Profits from the sale of Finnegans—half a million dollars since 2000—have been used to buy fresh produce for those in need.

Four of the world’s biggest breweries announced they will disclose calorie counts of the beers they sell in Europe. Americans might soon see calories and other nutritional data on the beer they buy.

Baseball season began this week, and the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and friends marked the occasion by choosing their top ten American lagers from a field of 20.

Friday happy hour will be part of Anheuser-Busch’s interviewing process for its new marketing office in Manhattan. It’s part of an effort to find out how well candidates handle social situations.

Maine governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would require a pint of beer to contain 16 ounces. The governor says Maine’s deceptive-practices laws already protect customers from short pints.

Mark Hunter, the new CEO of MolsonCoors, told Wall Street analysts that his company will focus more on craft beer, and that it has a desire to acquire craft breweries.

Finally, Kit Lab hopes to provide homebrewers what Hello Fresh provides home cooks: exact portions of ingredients. The recipes for each kit are supplied by homebrewers, who’ll get a cut of the profits.

Vermont Was Once a Dry State

Nowadays, Vermont is a craft beer mecca, a state where one can buy growlers of local micro products in gas stations. However, The Green Mountain State was dry for much of its history. A year after Maine passed a law barring the sale of alcohol, Vermont followed suit in 1852 and kept the ban in place 50 years. Less than two decades later, the 18th Amendment imposed prohibition nationwide.

Vermont’s original prohibition law has its roots in a temperance movement that began in New England in the 1820s. There was strong opposition to the law—it passed the legislature passed by just one vote—and enforcement was inconsistent. The law also contained a very large loophole. Alcohol used for medicinal purposes was still legal, and the manufacturers of patent medicines put plenty of alcohol in their products. Whether they made anyone healthier is debatable.

One of the last vestiges of prohibition ended in 1988, when state lawmakers repealed the ban on buying and consuming alcohol at the location where it is made. That enabled Greg Noonan to open the Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington, the first of the state’s 40 craft breweries.

Indiana Beer Bar Owner’s Support for LGBT Rights

Last week, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 101, which would prevent state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest and is doing so in the least restrictive means. Critics contend that the law gives business owners a license to discriminate, especially against gays and lesbians.

Businessman Scott Wise, who owns the Scotty’s Brewhouse chain in Indiana, wrote an open letter explaining his opposition to the law. After identifying himself as a born-again Christian, Wise went on to say, “Several of my employees are openly gay, proud and happy” and that “I consider all of them my colleagues and even more so, my friends.” Wise called his guests’ sexual orientation “utterly unimportant in running a business, nor any of my personal business.”

Cyd Zeigler of OutSports.com has asked supporters of LBGT rights who’ll be in Indianapolis for this weekend’s Final Four to join him at Scotty’s downtown location Friday evening at 7 pm. The establishment is just a few blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the games will be played.

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