The Friday Mash (Apple Edition)

On this day in 1976, the Apple I–the ancestor of the computer on which this blog is published–was created by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. It went on sale three months later for $666.66 because Wozniak “liked repeating digits” and besides, it represented a one-third markup on the $500 wholesale price.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in North Carolina, where the Mellow Mushroom restaurant chain had to close down its Beer Club after liquor regulators ruled that the club illegally “incentivized guests to drink”

Certified Cicerone John Richards, who’s based in South Carolina, introduces us to ten of the best beers you probably never heard of. (Hat tip: Joanna Prisco, ABC News).

WIsconsin politicians are concerned that a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union might force American producers to find a new name for “Oktoberfest” beer.

Tailgate heaven! Texas Tech alumni Jane’t Howey and Sheryl Estes, have created “boxGATE”, a structure made from shipping containers and fitted out with everything fans need.

He hasn’t quit his day job as CEO of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., but Larry Bell plans to attend all 81 Chicago Cubs home games this season–which is the 100th season of baseball at Wrigley Field.

Joel Stice of Uproxx.com has compiled a slideshow of the 20 best fake brands of beer in popular culture. The brand seen most often is Heisler, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows.

Finally, San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company has become Silicon Valley’s craft beer incubator. It contract-brews for a number of local micros, some of which don’t yet have the capital for their own facility.

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Prohibition: The Hidden Story

Monday was National Beer Day, which celebrated the return of 3.2 beer in 1933 after 13 years of Prohibition. Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer used that occasion to acquaint us with 12 things you may not know about the “Great Experiment.” One of which is that the expression “Great Experiment” was coined by Senator William Borah of Idaho, not Herbert Hoover.

Prohibition didn’t outlaw drinking, and the Volstead Act contained enough loopholes that people found legal ways to get their hands on alcohol. As for illegal ways, the federal government was woefully unprepared to enforce the law (and some states and cities were not inclined to help Uncle Sam enforce an unpopular law). The result was speakeasies and “blind tigers,” which had the unintended effect of attracting women, who were generally not welcome in pre-Prohibition saloons. And speaking of women, there were far more of them who belonged to anti-Prohibition organizations such as the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform than the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which was instrumental in making Prohibition the law of the land.

As Paul Harvey would say, “now you know the rest of the story.”

Travel Advisory

Chances are that the place where you live has some strange liquor laws. However, it could be worse. Jess Novak of The Daily Meal is here to take you on a tour of ten countries where alcohol is illegal.

“Illegal” is relative. India, which has a federal system of government somewhat like that of the U.S., has both “wet” and “dry” states and varying drinking ages–much like the U.S. decades ago. At the other end of the spectrum is Saudi Arabia, which is not only dry but punishes offenders, including foreigners, with flogging. In between are countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which allow non-Muslims to buy and drink alcohol, but with heavy restrictions.

Don’t expect to see many beer festivals in these countries on the calendar.

The Friday Mash (Istanbul Not Constantinople Edition)

The Four Lads once asked the musical question, “Why did Constantinople get the works?” Their answer: “It’s nobody’s business but the Turks’” Eighty-four years ago today, the Turks changed the city’s name to Istanbul. They also changed the name of their capital to Ankara.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Listerman Brewing Company is hosting Starkbierfest, a family-friendly version of Munich’s Lenten tradition where potent doppelbock takes center stage.

Yards Brewing Company is brewing a special beer for the popular TV show “Walking Dead.” No humans have been eaten in the brewing process, which involves smoking goat brains.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has installed craft beer taps at his official residence. The first keg he tapped was Silverback Pale from Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortune magazine writers tried MillerCoors’s new Fortune beer and gave it a thumbs-up–and not just for its name.

While visiting Belgium, Jay Brooks discovered a new organization, the Belgian Family Brewers. Its members have been brewing for at least 50 years, and have been family-owned all that time.

Purists are up in arms about it, but three Seattle-area homebrewers have developed the PicoBrew Zymatic, a “set-and-forget” system that can be controlled from one’s laptop.

Finally, Florida craft brewers learned that campaign cash trumps free enterprise. The State Senate president admitted that he’s against legalizing half-gallon growlers because a big beer distributor is a major contributor to his party.

New Laws to Aid Michigan Craft Breweries

Earlier this week, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed bipartisan legislation aimed at boosting Michigan’s craft-brewing industry. With around 150 breweries and brewpubs–and many more in the planning stages–the state ranks fifth in the nation.

The newly-signed legislation doubles the amount of beer microbrewers may produce, from 30,000 barrels per year to 60,000. It allows brewpub owners to now have interest in five other pubs, up from the previous two, so long as combined production does not exceed 18,000 barrels per year. Additionally, small microbreweries produce less than 1,000 barrels of beer per year will be able to self-distribute directly to retailers under certain conditions.

Spent Grain Attracts Federal Regulators’ Attention

Breweries across the country have informal agreements to send their spent grains to local farmers to feed to their livestock. It’s the proverbial win-win: the brewery gets rid of a by-product they can no longer use, and the farmer gets free food for the animals.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new rules that would require breweries to take additional steps to ensure that spent grain is safe for animals to eat. Complying with those rules would make it too expensive and time-consuming for small and medium-sized breweries to continue giving the grain away.

The Brewers Association, Beer Institute, and other brewing organizations have come out against the proposed rules and asked that the brewing industry be exempted. The FDA has extended the public comment period to next Monday, and brewers and farmers are watching closely.

The Friday Mash (Ale and Pi Edition)

Today is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant. It’s celebrated today because Americans write the date as 3/14; and “3″, “1″, and “4″ are the three most significant digits of pi in decimal form. Ludwig recommends a beer, preferably a Real Ale, to go with your pi.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Boston, where Jim Koch invited survivors of last year’s Marathon bombing to his brewery, which is again brewing a special “26.2″ ale to raise funds for those injured last year.

A company in Canada plans to brew a “recovery ale” for athletes. It’s called “Lean Machine”; and it has 77 calories, 0.5 percent alcohol, and contains nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company has tapped into New York tradition with an egg cream stout. An egg cream contains milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water–but no eggs.

A Wisconsin lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a state Beer Commission. It has the backing of the state’s breweries.

Charlie Papazian, head of the Brewers Association, has decided to discontinue the Beer City USA competition because it has “served its purpose.” Grand Rapids won last year’s competition.

investor C. Dean Metropoulos, who bought Pabst Brewing Company four years ago, is reportedly considering a sale of the company, which could be worth as much as $1 billion.

Finally, John Verive, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times, explains why the classic tulip glass is the only glass you’ll need. It’s versatile, supports the beer’s head, and holds in its aromas.

A-B Bets Big on Excise Tax Relief

Most companies cut back their lobbying budgets but according to Aimee Duffy of The Motley Fool, Anheuser-Busch InBev is spending heavily in favor of two tax measures currently before Congress.

Readers of this blog are probably aware of the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act of 2013, which would cut the federal beer tax in half, and give small brewers an even more generous tax break; and the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce (Small BREW) Act of 2013, which would reduce the beer tax by 50 percent on the first 60,000 barrels and by 11 percent on each barrel beyond that.

According to the website govtrack.us, the BEER Act has zero chance of getting through Congress, and the Small BREW Act has only a 2-percent chance. In spite of those odds, A-B spent $4.3 million on lobbying, most of it to make sure these bills pass.

Duffy finds method in A-B’s madness. If the BEER Act passes, the company’s tax bill would drop by around $500 million a year–more than a 10,000 percent return on a $4.3 million lobbying investment.

The Friday Mash (Bonfire of the Vanities Edition)

On this day in 1497, in Florence, Italy, Savonarola presided over history’s most famous “bonfire of the vanities.” Anything he considered a temptation to sin went up in flames. That’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Grand Rapids, home of HopCat, America’s top-rated beer bar. Owner Mark Sellers plans to open 12 to 15 more HopCats throughout the Midwest over the next five years.

Gotcha! Firas Habli, a beer store owner in Ohio, was shamed on social media after he was seen trying to buy a grocery store’s entire allotment of Bell’s Hopslam.

In Maine, liquor inspectors are telling bars that it’s agains the law to post the alcoholic content of beer. The law was passed in 1937, long before the arrival of high-gravity craft beer.

In Washington State, Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a beer-themed whale-watching cruise. The itinerary includes two brewery tours, and beer experts will be pairing craft beers with dinner.

Researchers in Spain have created an electronic “tongue” that can recognize beer styles and differences in alcohol content. It’s said to be accurate more than four out of five times.

Instead of shelling out millions for a Super Bowl ad, Newcastle mocked the big game’s hype in a stealth campaign that featured Anna Kendrick in a “Behind the Scenes” YouTube video.

Finally, the early favorite for Beer Trend of 2014 appears to be beer-focused cocktails. To get you started, the Food Network staff has put together a 13-drink slideshow, complete with recipes.

FAA Grounds Beer-Carrying Drones

Minnesota’s Lakemaid Brewery had an ingenious idea: use drones to deliver beer to ice fishermen camped out on the area’s frozen lakes. Unfortunately, beer-carrying drones violate a host of Federal Aviation Administration rules, so agency officials ordered Lakemaid to halt deliveries. The FAA expects to draw up rules for commercial drones sometimes next year, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be in effect before the end of ice-fishing season.

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