The Friday Mash (“Rhapsody in Blue” Edition)

On this day in 1924, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered in New York at a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” Paul Whiteman and his band performed the work, with Gershwin playing the piano.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Zalec, a town in Slovenia’s hop-growing region. The city plans to spend €170,000 ($190,000) to build Europe’s first-ever “beer fountain”. For €6, visitors will be able to buy samples in a commemorative mug for three 10.5-ounce samples.

Craft beer is hard to find in Las Vegas. The reason? State laws which, until recently, allowed brewpubs only to sell directly to customers and imposed hefty license fees on brewpubs.

David Forde, a UK-based executive of the Heineken Company, thinks we should be drinking less because excessive drinking will create a backlash. Heineken’s latest ad campaign is “Moderate Drinkers Wanted”.

Some scientists believe that beer was the reason why our ancestors switched from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural existence. Beer was more nutritious than beer and, unlike water, was free of pathogens.

New Belgium Brewing Company has narrowed its list of sites for a second brewery to two: Asheville, North Carolina; and the Philadelphia area. The final decision should be made by June.

USA Today’s panel of beer experts have chosen 20 cities for its America’s “best beer scene” competition. Until February 29, you can vote for your favorite—but only once per day.

Finally, Forbes magazine’s Breanna Wilson went to the 16-room Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. The inn doesn’t sell Dogfish Head beer onsite because it wants guests to wander the town’s restaurants—one of which is Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats.

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Making Sense of the Reinheitsgebot

The Reinheitsgebot, aka Germany’s beer purity law, turns 500 in April. The law is familiar to beer lovers but, according to Joe Stange of All About Beer magazine, is widely misunderstood. To begin with, it wasn’t the first German law that regulated ingredients. It wasn’t called a “purity law” until 100 years ago, and it was more concerned with keeping beer and bread affordable—and curbing brewers’ use of wheat, which bakers needed—than with keeping beer pure. It didn’t apply across Germany until 1906; and when it did, the law killed many regional beer styles. And the law has been tweaked since 1516.

All that said, the law remains on the books, and is known in English as “The Provisional Beer Law”. Even though it no longer bans the importation of non-Reinheitsgebot beer, thanks to various free-trade laws and treaties, a German brewery still can’t market non-compliant products as “beer”.

On a recent trip to a Munich beer bar, Stange deliberately ordered a non-compliant beer, a milk stout brewed by the bar’s parent company, a brewery called Camba Bavaria. The barman explained to Stange that it wasn’t available due to “legal troubles with the Reinheitsgebot”.

Stange contacted the brewery for an explanation of the “legal troubles”, which began with the milk stout. According to the brewery: “officials told them (1) they can’t call it beer, since it has lactose (milk sugar); (2) they can’t call it ‘milk’ anything since there is no milk in it; (3) they can’t call it Klim Touts [‘milk stout’ spelled backwards] either, by the way, because don’t be cheeky; and oh (4) you’ll have to go ahead and pay taxes on it as if it were beer, even though we say it’s not beer, because ‘milk stout’ is clearly an established international beer style, even though you can’t call it that.”

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The Friday Mash (Luxury Car Edition)

One hundred and thirty years ago, German engineer Karl Benz patented the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. He and his wife, Bertha, founded Mercedes-Benz, now a division of Daimler AG, headquartered in Stuttgart—the home of Germany’s “other” famous beer festival.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Flint, Michigan, whose water supply in contaminated with lead. Flint’s aptly-named Tenacity Brewery, assures that its beer is lead free—and is donating $1 per pint to the city’s children.

Here are eight things to know about hard root beer, including how it began; who owns the companies that make it; and how many calories (300) are in a 12-ounce bottle.

AC Shilton of Outside magazine has an answer to the beer can shortage: growlers. They environmentally friendly, don’t contain the chemical BPA, and support your local brewery.

Virginia restaurant-goers are allowed to bring their own wine into restaurants if they pay corkage. Now state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give beer drinkers the same option.

Bar owners are negotiating with city officials over the Chicago Cubs’ plan to build a plaza outside Wrigley Field. They’re afraid of losing business, especially if the plaza sells cheap beer.

Brooklyn’s Pop Chart Lab has created 99 Bottles of Craft Beer on the Wall. After sampling a beer, the drinker takes out a coin and scratches off the gilt foil “emptying” the bottle while retaining the label.

Finally, Woody Chandler, the man who shows up at festivals wearing a Rasputin beard and a monk’s robe, has posted his 7,000th check-in on Untappd, including 2,000 in 2015 alone. That translates into more than five new beers per day.

The Friday Mash (Mac Edition)

Thirty-two years ago today, Apple Corporation introduced the Macintosh, which popularized the mouse and the graphical user interface. The introduction came in the form of the famous “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Michigan, where Founders Brewing Company, having filed the necessary paperwork, can once again sell Breakfast Stout with a baby on the label.

In the UK, health officials now recommend that men drink no more than six pints of beer per week. They also warn that drinking any amount of alcohol can cause health problems.

Paste magazine introduces you to seven “ridiculous, but kind of awesome” beer gadgets. They include a CO-2 injection system for growlers and a bottle that imparts an oak taste.

New laws in a number of states have encouraged “farm-to-keg” breweries, which make and serve beer using ingredients grown on site. These breweries operate much like wineries.

Did you get a drone for Christmas? AC Shilton of Outside magazine explains how can you train your new toy to fetch and deliver your beer.

In Australia, Quentin Tarantino was presented with a six-pack of Victoria Bitter in cans specially designed to honor him. He was joined onstage by actors Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.

Finally, the Craft Brewers Alliance plans to distribute Kona beer in Brazil. It cited “the great synergies between Hawaiian and Brazilian culture, with their amazing beaches and strong water lifestyles.”

The Friday Mash (Glass Houses Edition)

Eighty years ago today, in Toledo, Ohio, the first building to be completely covered in glass was completed. It was built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. The “Glass City” is also known for Jamie Farr and his beloved Tony Packo’s Cafe and Toledo Mud Hens.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hollywood, where Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais opened the show with a beer in his hand, and then proceeded to offend much of the audience with his jokes.

George Lenker, “The Beer Nut,” criticizes the Bavarian government for ordering a brewery to stop marketing its milk stout as beer because that beer didn’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot.

The Washington Post’s Ryan Ermey rated the top cheap beers, based on three criteria: alcoholic content, can design, and taste (“if you insist”). His top pick? Genesee Cream Ale.

Constellation Brands, which plunked down $1 billion to buy Ballast Point Brewing Company, will invest another $1.5 billion to build a brewery in Mexicali to meet growing demand for Mexican beer.

An iconic Pacific Northwest beer is coming back. The Red Hook Ale Brewery announced it will be making Rainier Pale Mountain Ale and other Rainier beers.

Nielsen NV and BARTRENDr have found out fans’ favorite brands of beer and liquor in every NFL city. Everclear didn’t make the list—even among fans of the awful Tennessee Titans.

Finally, brewer Chris Reynolds was given a chance to taste some of Alexander Keith’s IPA that was bottled in the 19th century and recently found underwater. Reynolds described the taste as “a little tree fruit note, a cherry note in there somehow—certainly a lot of sulphu,”.

Congress Gives Small Brewers a Break

That massive “tax extender” bill Congress passed before Christmas contains good news for the nation’s small brewers. Existing tax breaks for equipment will become permanent, and the breaks will apply to a broader class of brewers. In addition, brewers will face less regulatory red tape relating to bond requirements and tax reporting.

The legislation also bars the Food and Drug Administration from taking action against small brewers under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which would require brewers to specifically label ingredients such as fruit and spices. Even though those ingredients aren’t traditional, and are usually not found in national-brand beers, they’re well known to the craft-brewing community.

The Wednesday Mash (Countdown to Christmas Edition)

Ludwig is on Christmas break, and won’t be back until January 4. Maryanne and Paul will be filling in for him. In the meantime, Ludwig left a plate of cookies, his heartiest Season’s Greetings, and an early version of…

The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Patti Wetli of DNAInfo.com takes us back to the Great Chicago Beer Riot of 1855. Hundreds of armed Germans stormed the city’s courthouse to protest the enforcement of liquor laws they considered anti-immigrant.

Queen City Q, a Charlotte-based chain of barbecue restaurants, has taken Anheuser-Busch products off the menu in protest of A-B’s allegedly pressuring distributors to stop handling craft beer.

Long Island’s Barrage Brewing Company has released two beers for Seinfield fans. They’re infused with Snickers and chocolate babka, foods that starred in the sitcom.

In Montreal, some cab drivers are competing with Uber by selling beer and cigarettes to passengers. Those sales are illegal, but the cabbies argue that Uber’s business model is illegal, too.

TravelPulse.com has compiled a scorecard of major U.S. airlines’ craft beer selections. Alaska and Delta Airlines lead the pack, Spirit Airlines ranked last, and Southwest Airlines showed the biggest improvement.

A federal appeals court has upheld an Indiana law that requires convenience stores to sell beer at room temperature. Liquor stores, which bar under-21s from entering, are allowed to sell cold beer.

Finally, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Beer Camp will return next year. The first stop on this six-city national tour will be Tampa on June 4. Sierra Nevada and 30 regional breweries will also brew a series of collaborative 12-packs.

Judge Rejects BA’s Definition of “Craft Beer”

Last week, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel rejected, at least for the time being, the Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer: production under 6 million barrels a year, less than 25-percent controlled by a big brewer, and using “only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.”

G. Clay Whittaker of The Daily Beast argues that Judge Curiel has in effect given every brewer in America the green light to describe its beer as “craft.” (Which is ironic considering that Anheuser-Busch InBev, during Super Bowl 49, ran an ad making fun of the entire segment.)

Judge Curiel gave the plaintiff, Evan Parent, the opportunity to amend his complaint, which might eventually lead to a legal definition of what craft beer is. Then again, the phrase “craft beer” could go the way of “the Champagne of bottled beers,” an advertising slogan that expresses a meaningless opinion about the product.

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.

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