In the early 2000s Maureen Ogle, a professor at the University of South Alabama, set out to write a history of American brewing. She was surprised by how little had been written about the subject. That has begun to change. The spread of craft beer has led a number of American universities to make brewing studies part of their course offerings.
Meanwhile, other professors are exploring beer’s relationship with American culture, economics, labor relations, and even gender.
Randolph College professor J. Nikol Beckham brewed beer before turning her scholarly attention to it. The only African American woman in her community of homebrewers and enthusiasts, Beckham became interested in the relationship between beer and race. She discovered that during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some temperance advocates used ugly stereotypes of German immigrants and African-Americans to attack saloon culture. Drinking was portrayed as an affront to America’s dominant culture: white, Protestant, and sober.
Beckham contends that after the repeal of Prohibition, scholars lost sight of the ties between beer and American history. That trend might be reversing itself. One example is the Smithsonian Institution’s search for a scholar. His or her job will include helping the National Museum of American History collect artifacts, and conducting field research for a project on brewing in the U.S., especially during the last 50 years.
Today is the sixth annual World Elephant Day, an observance created by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark. Its purpose is to increase awareness of these animals’ urgent plight.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Beaver, Pennsylvania, where local officials want to stop a restaurant from selling beer-infused waffles. The restaurant has a license to sell beer, but some believe the waffles abuse the privilege.
Oh no! A shortage of pumpkin puree might endanger this year’s pumpkin beer releases. The culprits are unprecedented demand and drought conditions in pumpkin-growing regions.
Vice.com’s Ilkka Siren, who grew up in Finland, went home to get better acquainted with sahti, a temperamental—and much-misunterstood style—that Finns have homebrewed for centuries.
History buffs in Golden, Colorado, want to convert the Astor House hotel into a beer museum with brewing classes, tastings, food and beer pairings, and a look at Colorado brewing history.
Defying the Standells’ song “Dirty Water”, six Massachusetts and brewing beer from the banks of the River Charles. The water is treated, of course.
Craft beer is getting more expensive, for a variety of reasons: costlier raw materials, such as hops and water; higher wages; and bigger utility bills.
Finally, Alabama’s craft brewers are crying foul over a proposed regulation that would require brewers to collect the name, address, age, and phone number from anyone who buys carry-out beer. The rule is aimed at enforcing the state’s limit on purchases.
On this date in 1907, Sir Robert Baden-Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp on the south coast of England. That nine-day event—we assume that no beer was served to campers—was the foundation of the Scouting movement.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Scotland, where the Innis & Gunn brewery has released a “Vintage” beer that is meant to be aged. One bottle has been put inside a time capsule, which is not to be opened until 2116.
Old Style beer will return to its La Crosse, Wisconsin, birthplace. The brewery will make an Oktoberfest-style version of the 114-year-old brand for the city’s annual Oktoberfest U.S.A.
After winning his third Tour de France, Britain’s Chris Froome celebrated in style. In the Tour’s final stage, he handed out bottles of beer to his teammates.
According to the libertarian magazine Reason, state beer laws continued “a slow creep in the right direction.” However, many bad laws remain on the books.
The Smithsonian has posted a want ad for a beer historian/scholar. This three-year position, funded by the Brewers Association, will pay $64,650 plus benefits.
Some breweries try too hard to be original, and wind up giving their beers awful names. Thrillist.com calls out some of the worst offenders.
Finally, Jim Vorel of Atlanta magazine criticizes Terrapin Brewing Company for selling a majority interest to MillerCoors—and then keeping mum about the transaction on social media.
Miller Lite is an American icon but George Weissman, the man behind its creation, was suspected by the government of being a Communist. For decades, the FBI maintained a file on Weissman. Gawker’s Matt Novak filed a Freedom of Information Act request to access the Weissman file—which had been transferred to the National Archives.
The 26 pages of documents detail Weissman’s alleged associations with the Communist Party in the 1940s, both before and after he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The FBI also followed up in the 1970s when it investigated Weissman’s involvement with an organization called Executives Move For Peace in Vietnam. Novak observes, “It appears that the FBI considered protesting the war in Vietnam to be more dangerous than selling a product that killed tens of thousands of Americans every year”. That product was cigarettes; Weissman also created another American icon: the Marlboro Man.
The last page in the Weissman file suggests that the White House asked about him in October 1973. It in’t entirely clear from the file why the Nixon administration was interested in Weissman, though it was later revealed that he appeared on one of Nixon’s many political enemies lists.
On this day in 1889, the first edition of the Wall Street Journal was published. With a total of 2.4 million print and digital subscribers, the Journal is the largest newspaper in the United States by circulation.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in the Bay Area, where David Kravets of Ars Technica magazine reviews Heineken’s new “Brewlock” technology. Brewlock consists of a rubbery bladder that holds the beer inside a plastic centrifuge. Compressed air pumped into the centrifuge forces out the beer before air can mix with it.
In Ephraim, Wisconsin, beer is legal for the first time since 1853, when it was founded by Norwegian Moravians. Efforts to overturn the beer ban failed in 1934 and 1992.
The mayor of Zaragoza, Mexico, says there’s no water for consumption by its residents. He blames Constellation Brands’ brewery, which uses the water to brew Corona and brands of beer.
A Microsoft recruiter messaged a “bae intern”, inviting him or her to an Internapalooza after-party with “noms”, “dranks”, and “Yammer beer pong tables”. A company spokesperson called the message “poorly worded”.
The “world’s oldest payslip,” which dates back 5,000 years, reveals that some laborers in ancient Mesopotamia opted to be paid in beer for their work.
After Wales made it to the semifinals of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, Budweiser celebrated the team’s success by treating every Welsh adult to a beer.
Finally, Matt Cunningham is growing hops and barley on his farm, a big step toward a beer brewed with all Ohio ingredients. Sounds perfect for Ohio State football games, where beer will be sold stadium-wide this fall.
If you’re a fan of India pale ale, you can thank your medieval ancestors for introducing hops to brewing. The Greeks dismissed hops as a wild plant, and the Romans used them as an herb and a form of natural medicine. Both ancient cultures also regarded beer as the beverage of choice of barbarians.
It wasn’t until the eighth century that hops were used in brewing. During the reign of Pepin the Short, Charlemagne’s father, the king gave humlonariae—hop gardens, probably—to the abbey of St. Denis. The monks likely used the hops to flavor their beer, and in the process discovered that they were a preservative as well.
Still, it took centuries more for hops to become a standard ingredient in beer. The abbess Saint Hildegard of Bingen mentioned their use in beer and for medicinal purposes in the 12th century, indicating that their benefits were quite known by the High Middle Ages. In 1380, the archbishop of Cologne outlawed hopped beers from Westphalia in an effort to promote the use of his own gruit in brews. A century and a half later, King Henry VIII also tried to ban hops in order to maintain the standard of “Good old English ale.”
Today, almost all beer is hopped, but the debate is hardly over. Some members of the craft beer community have begun to rebel against highly-hopped ales.
On this day in 1314, Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce scored a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. However, England wouldn’t recognize Scottish independence for another 14 years.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in New Jersey, where the Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company has rolled out an ale that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Matawan Creek shark attacks. A brewery co-owner describes 1916 Shore Shiver as—you knew this was coming—“a beer with bite”.
According to a recent Harris poll, craft beer drinkers consume less alcohol than non-craft-beer drinkers. They also exercise more often and pay greater attention to nutrition labels on food.
Scientists in Belgium have found that the music you listen affects your perception of the beer you drink. For instance, a “Disney-style track” caused people to rate beers as tasting sweeter, while deep, rumbling bass made beer taste more bitter.
ESPN has a video featuring “Fancy Clancy”, who has worked as a beer vendor at Baltimore Orioles games for more than 40 years. Clancy has sold more than 1 million beers, and considers Opening Day his Christmas.
The Lumbee Tribe, the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi, has sued Anheuser-Busch and a local Budweiser distributor. The suit alleges that the distributor used the tribe’s logo and slogan without permission.
If you’re visiting Milwaukee this summer, you can sign up for a Beer Titans History bus tour or a Beer Capital of the World history and beer tour. Or both, if have the time.
Finally, Australian researchers have isolated the yeast from a bottle of beer that survived a 1797 shipwreck, and re-created beers using recipes from two-plus centuries ago. The yeast is the only known strain to pre-date the Industrial Revolution.
According to legend, George Hodgson’s Bow Brewery created India pale ale in response to requests by British troops in India who had become tired of warm, heavy English beers. Turns out there’s more to the story.
IPA was made possible in the early 18th century by the invention of pale malt. Kilned with coke as fuel, pale malt yielded a beer with a lighter color and a less-smoky flavor. October Beer, one of the beers said to be the precursor of IPA, used 100 percent pale malt in its recipe. The resulting beverage was so strong that it was expected to age for two to three years before serving.
Here’s where George Hodgson comes in. His business ties with the British East India Company that gave him a near-monopoly in India’s beer market. He shipped his October beer, which was of higher quality than older British brands, to India. There his beer won a following—with the British gentry.
On Memorial Day weekend, Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, hosts a Civil War re-enactment. It’s an annual ritual Maryanne and Paul, who enjoy history almost as much as beer. One of the things they learned at the Village was that Civil War medicine wasn’t practiced by saw-wielding hacks.
Speaking of which, Flying Dog Ales and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, both located in Frederick, Maryland, collaborated on a beer called Saw Bones Ginger Table Beer, which was released today. “Saw bones” was the derisive term soldiers used to describe army doctors. Table beers, with a light body and low-alcohol concentration, were popular during the Civil War. So was ginger which, according to the museum’s executive director David Price, was used to fight gangrene, dysentery, and other ailments that killed far more soldiers than enemy bullets.
Price also disputes army doctors’ “saw bones” reputation as butchers. He went on to say that those doctors and other medical personnel set the foundation for America’s modern healthcare system.
On this day in 1968, the musical Hair opened on Broadway. Notable songs from the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” include “Aquarius”, “Easy to Be Hard”, and “Good Morning Starshine”.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where a mechanic named Andrey Eremeev persuaded the beer store in his apartment building to let him run a pipeline from a keg in the store’s refrigerator to one of the taps of his kitchen sink.
Theater Cedar Rapids has added beer to its improv comedy classes. According to its education director, beer helps relieve inhibitions that can kill a performer’s creativity.
In Hastings, Nebraska, temperance advocates picketed the Do the Brew beer festival. The protesters, dressed in period garb, were actors promoting the upcoming Nebraska Chautauqua fest.
Israel’s Herzl Brewery made a beer that people might have enjoyed when Jesus was alive. It tasted a bit like honey and berries, but it was flat and cloudier than what we drink today.
Six years ago, Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd. The app now has more than 3.2 million users, and is so successful that both men quit their jobs to manage Untapped full time.
Frances Stroh has written a book about the Detroit-based brewery’s rise to national prominence in the late 1800s and its downfall amid consolidation and the city’s economic demise.
Finally, Utah liquor regulators may revoke a Salt Lake City movie theater’s liquor license for showing the R-rated film Deadpool. State law forbids a licensed establishment to show nudity. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds donated $5,000 to the theater’s legal defense fund.