The Friday Mash (GW Bridge Edition)

On this day in 1931, the George Washington Bridge opened to traffic. This double-decker span over the Hudson River connects Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey–a town now famous thanks to “Bridgegate.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kansas City, where Boulevard Brewing Company will kick off its 25th anniversary celebration with the release of a special ale brewed in collaboration with Odell Brewing Company.

Chef David Chang made enemies thanks to a GQ magazine article declaring his hatred of “fancy beer”. Chang contends that craft beer has too intense a flavor to pair with his food.

Two hundred years ago, in London, eight women and children were killed by a flood of beer caused by an explosion at the Henry Meux & Company brewery. The disaster was ruled an “act of God.”

Why not turn your Halloween jack-o-lantern into a beer keg? All you need is a carving knife, a pumpkin carving kit, a Sharpie, a spigot, and beer—which need not be pumpkin beer.

William Bostwick, the Wall Street Journal’s beer critic, has written a book titled The Brewer’s Tale. In her review, Amy Stewart calls Bostwick “the very best sort of literary drinking buddy.”

In Papua New Guinea, which suffers 1.8 million cases of malaria every year, a brewery packs its beer in a box that contains eucalyptus, a natural mosquito repellent.

Finally, should the Great American Beer Festival give medals for best beer puns? CraftBeer.com’s Atalie Rhodes found these doozies on the list of medal winners. Our favorite is “Dubbel Entendre.”

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John Barleycorn Must Die

Jay Brooks recently wrote a column in the San Jose Mercury News about the season we refer to as “fall.” That word is a short form of the 17th-century English phrase, “fall of the leaf.” Fall is also the harvest season—Germans call it Herbst, a derivative of the Old Norse word for “harvest”—and it’s the time of the year to bring in the hops and barley crops.

This is where where John Barleycorn takes the stage. During the 16th century, a folk tale about him made its way around England. Brooks describes it as “an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking. The main character, the eponymous John Barleycorn, is the personification of barley, which is attacked, beaten and eventually dies–or as we prefer to think of it, grown, reaped and then malted.”

The most famous modern version of this song was recorded by Traffic, co-founded by Steve Winwood and Dave Mason and featured on their 1970 album, John Barleycorn Must Die.

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The Friday Mash (Buffalo Wings Edition)

Fifty years ago today, the first batch of chicken wings was served at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. There are several versions of how this now-ubiquitous dish came into existence, but there’s little doubt that its creator was Teressa Bellissimo, who deep-fried the wings and then coated them with hot sauce for her hungry guests.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Vermont, where Nancy Warner’s Potlicker Kitchen sells jellies made with local craft beers. She recommends pairing them with cheese or charcuterie, or using them to glaze grilled meat.

Central Michigan University is the latest school to offer a certificate program in brewing studies. The program includes science courses plus a 200-hour internship at a local brewery.

It appears that Washington’s NFL team is serving bad beer along with bad football. Fans have tweeted pictures of bottles of months-old beer that were served to them at FedEx Field.

Drinking beer might improve your brainpower. Experiments with mice suggest that Xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in beer, improves cognitive function. And it’s available without a prescription.

The 2006 film Beerfest popularized the Bierstiefel or boot-shaped drinking vessel. According to Thrillist.com, the custom of drinking beer out of footwear might be thousands of years old.

Emily Price of Esquire magazine offers ten things to do with beer besides drink it. But why would you?

Finally, a group of journalists are playing a brewery version of fantasy football. They held a “draft” of breweries competing in this weekend’s Great American Beer Festival, and will earn points based on the medals their selected breweries earn.

The Friday Mash (Razor Sharp Edition)

On this day in 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia decided to Westernize his country by imposing a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry. That tax would have killed Russia’s craft brewing industry, had one existed at the time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Texas, whose residents insist that everything is bigger. The Austin Beer Works lived up to that reputation by selling 99-packs of its “Peacemaker Anytime Ale.”

The remains of what appears to be a nearly 300-year-old brewery have been discovered on the campus of William and Mary. It made small beer for the college’s colonial-era faculty and students.

Are beer enthusiasts getting too fixated on ratings? CraftBeer.com’s Chris McClellan, who watched a feeding frenzy ensue when a top-rated beer arrived at a store, thinks they have.

A deconsecrated church, an ex-funeral home, and a military base are among Esquire magazine’s 14 strangest brewery locations in America.

Gizmodo.com’s Karl Smallwood explains why beer is rarely sold in plastic bottles. They contain chemicals that ruin the beer’s taste; and they allow carbon dioxide to escape, making the beer flat.

Archaeologist Alyssa Looyra has re-created a beer from a bottle found near the site of the Atlantic Beer Garden, a 19th-century New York City hangout. It’s “a light summer drink.”

Finally, the Leinenkugel Brewing Company took the high road when it discovered that Kenosha’s Rustic Road Brewing was already using the name “Helles Yeah.” CEO Dick Leinenkugel showed up and bought the name for a few cases of beer, some pizza, and an undisclosed sum of money.

The Friday Mash (Seven Years’ War Edition)

On this day in 1756, Prussia’s king Frederick the Great attacked Saxony, beginning the Seven Years’ War. The conflict, which took place on five continents and involved most of the world’s powers, is better known to English-speaking North Americans as the French and Indian War.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Mallersdorf Abbey’s Sister Doris has been a master brewer for nearly 40 years. She’s one of Bavaria’s few “ladies who lager”–and Europe’s last beer-brewing nun.

Beer historian Tom Acitelli credits a 2002 cut in the excise tax for the profusion of small breweries in Great Britain. He also credits a 1976 beer tax cut for America’s small-brewery boom.

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon is a wine lover, but he also has a taste for good beer. Gordon recently showed up at Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, whose 61 Minute IPA really impressed him.

For years, Mexico’s brewing industry had been dominated by two large corporations, but change is slowly coming, thanks to the federal government’s efforts to curb monopolies in key industries.

Iowa officials are pondering what to do with the 150-year-old beer caves underneath I-380 in Cedar Rapids. The forgotten caves were exposed by this summer’s heavy rains.

Barrel-aged beer is becoming more popular, and brewers are looking beyond traditional bourbon barrels. Now they’re starting to age their beer in barrels once used for Scotch, rum, and wine.

Finally, the growth of microbreweries might give rise to a new breed of wholesalers. Yarmouth, Maine-based Vacationland Distributors specializes in craft breweries, especially those that have grown beyond the state’s maximum for self-distribution rights.

The Friday Mash (Macbeth Edition)

On this day in 1040, King Duncan I of Scotland was killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. Seventeen years later, King Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan. The Three Weird Sisters entered the picture 500 years later, courtesy of William Shakespeare.

“Double, double, time and trouble, fire burn”..and now The Mash!

We begin in Dodger Stadium, where Anheuser-Busch InBev will unveil a new beer aimed at Latino beer drinkers. Montejo, from A-B’s Mexican subsidiary, will be released throughout the Southwest.

Beer-fueled violence in college towns is nothing new. In 1884, a beer riot took place in Iowa City after local authorities put two men on trial for violating Iowa’s new prohibition law.

Pete Brown reports that underage drinking has fallen off sharply in Britain. His explanation: parents downing a few at home have made drinking less appealing to their children.

It’s Shark Week, a perfect time for a Narragansett, which has been called “the Forrest Gump of Beers” because of its association with celebrities, artists, sports teams, and politicians.

Blonde ales have acquired a “training-wheels beer” reputation, but Jay Brooks thinks they’re underappreciated. He calls them “light and refreshing” and perfect for a hot August day.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post ranked the beer selection at major-league ballparks. Seattle’s Safeco Field has the best selection, while Yankee Stadium has the worst.

Finally, brewpubs aren’t dead after all. An All About Beer story by Brandon Hernandez profiles restaurants that reinvented themselves as brewpubs and experienced an uptick in business afterward.

The Friday Mash (Long Gray Line Edition)

On this day in 1802, the U.S. Military Academy opened at West Point, New York. Its alumni include two U.S. Presidents, U.S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower; Confederate President Jefferson Davis, numerous famous generals, and 74 Medal of Honor recipients.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in South Africa, where Garagista Beer Company has declared war on hipsters, which it accuses of giving craft beer a bad image. The brewery’s slogan is “All Beer. No Bullshit.”

Narragansett Brewing Company is bringing back the can from the scene in Jaws where Captain Quint tried to intimidate Matt Hooper by crushing a can of ‘Gansett he’d just finished.

Brennan Gleason, a designer from British Columbia, put his resume on a 4-pack of his home-brewed blonde beer, which he called “Resum-Ale.” And yes, it got him hired.

Radler, the German word for bicyclist, is a popular summer drink in Germany. It’s a mixture of beer and lemonade, and it’s becoming more popular in America.

Don’t expect MolsonCoors to acquire any American craft breweries. Peter Swinburn, the company’s CEO, says they’re “massively overvalued” and predicts a shakeout in the sector.

Before you hit the road this summer, check out Thrillist’s America’s 33 best beer bars. To whet your appetite, there’s a photo and a description of each establishment.

Finally, historian William Hogeland explains “brewer-patriot” Samuel Adams’s role in making the Declaration of Independence a reality. Adams hasn’t gotten much credit because he burned his papers lest people find out what he’d been up to.

Remembering the First GABF

Had The Beer Festival Calendar existed in 1982, the listing for the first Great American Beer Festival might have looked like this:

June

4: Great American Beer Festival, Boulder, CO

The American Homebrewers Association presents the inaugural Great American Beer Festival, which will take place at the Hilton Harvest House in Boulder. This afternoon/evening event will feature more than 45 beers from around two dozen American craft breweries.

Of course, there wouldn’t have been a Beer Festival Calendar or a GABF website back then, because the World Wide Web wouldn’t be invented for another decade. And the term “craft beer,” if it existed at all, wasn’t in general circulation.

For the record, the first GABF drew 850 attendees. One of them was Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter. Legend has it that when AHA co-founder Charlie Papazian told him about his plan to stage a festival, Jackson famoulsy replied, “That’s a great idea, Charlie. Only what will you serve for beer?”

What Do Those Symbols on Beer Labels Mean?

Breweries are among the oldest businesses in the world, and their beer labels are full of symbols from their storied histories. In MentalFloss.com, Nick Green explains the symbolism behind 20 well-known beer labels.

One of the most common sources of symbols is the brewery’s own history. The eagle on the Yuengling label and the horn on Stella Artois’ harken back to the breweries’ original names. The hometown coat of arms is another source. That’s why there are lions on the Amstel and Modelo Especial labels, and a key on the Beck’s label. Dos Equis resurrected Aztec leader Moctezuma II for its label, and Guinness appropriated the Brian Boru harp.

Green’s article has some other fun facts. Bass’s red triangle was issued Trademark #1 by the British government; until 1908, the text of the Budweiser label was in German; and legend has it that Miller High Life was called “The Champagne of Beers” because it was released a few days before New Year’s Eve.

Finally, there’s Rolling Rock’s mysterious “33”. People have offered numerous explanations, but no one knows for sure how and why that number wound up on the label.

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.”

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