Journalist and beer enthusiast Tom Acitelli has published a new book, The Audacity of Hops, which explores the craft beer revolution. The author, recently interviewed by Cassandra Garrison of Metro magazine, said that he initially approached the craft beer industry as a business story.
Acitelli said that he discovered craft beer had intersected with a number of culinary trends, and with cities’ economies. Asked what sparked the “craft beer revolution,” he pointed to a 1976 law that gave small brewers a break on federal excise tax and, of course, the legalization of homebrewing two years later. Along with that came a shift in public opinion away from homogenized beer and toward locally-sourced products.
Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, is set to become the first American museum to make its own beer using equipment and techniques from the mid-19th century. The $3 million brewery, to be housed in a new building in the museum’s Kettering Family Education Center, will turn out a variety of both ales and lagers. The brewery will be tended by costumed actors. There will, of course, be a brewer in charge, and the museum is looking for someone who will not only make the beer but also help design the facility.
If all goes well, Carillon’s brewery will be operational by year’s end.
On Sunday, at a minute past midnight, beer lovers can celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which re-legalized “3.2 beer” in the United States. The act of Congress, which raised the upper limit of what was considered “non-intoxicating,” was the first step toward outright repeal of Prohibition, which occurred later in 1933 with the passage of the 21st amendment.
As soon as the new law took effect, the nation’s surviving breweries were ready, with trucks at the ready filled with cases and barrels of beer. Within 24 hours, more than 1.5 million barrels of beer had been distributed. Several of those barrels went straight to the White House and the U.S. Capitol.
One hundred and fifty-five years ago today, Washington Atlee Burpee was born. He founded the company known today as Burpee Seeds. Ludwig wants to set the record straight: the seed company is not related to burpless cucumbers.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Amherst, Ohio, where workers building a storm sewer were surprised to discover what appears to be remnants of a brewery that closed for good in 1894.
The makers of Skol, Brazil’s most popular beer, have come under fire for bringing out a beer-flavored ice cream. Critics fear that the product will tempt children to try beer.
Baseball is back, and Marin Brewing Company is honoring the defending champion San Francisco Giants with a new brew, Orange and Black Congrats.
Ambacht Brewery, a two-room brewhouse in Portland, Oregon, is recycling leftover matzoh to brew Matzobrau, “a darkly-colored wheat ale with a crisp finish” and a 6.5% ABV.
Earlier this year, A-B rolled out Budweiser Black Crown Beer. Industry insiders wonder whether SAB Miller is going to retaliate with “Miller Fortune”.
Brandon Watson of TheDailyMeal.com lists ten beer products he wishes were a joke. They include the fake beer belly, Bongzilla, and beer-dispensing backpacks.
Finally, a word from our sponsor. Actually, sponsors. And not necessarily ours. Mashable.com has videos of the ten funniest beer commercials.
You might have noticed the “Worts of Wisdom” on the front page of our calendar. Ludwig tries hard to avoid commonplace beer quotes, like the famous quote by Ben Franklin who, by the way, probably never uttered it.
Ludwig has found a kindred soul in Martyn Cornell, who blogs at The Zythophile. Cornell recently compiled a collection of 20 beer quotes that even Ludwig hasn’t run across.
For example, there’s a good chance that you’ve read 1984, but do you remember the scene in which a now-brainwashed Winston Smith goes to the pub?
“You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,” said Winston tentatively. The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents….“The beer was better,” he said finally. “And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer–wallop we used to call it–was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.”
Cornell explains that “wallop” was a 1930s slang term for mild ale, a style that Orwell was fond of. There’s plenty more in his article–enough, in fact, to get you through a pint, even if it’s stronger than the mild that Winston Smith alluded to.
The Anderson Valley Brewing Company website uses the phrase “bahl hornin’” to describe its products. That means “good drinking” in Boontling, the distinctive dialect spoken in the valley since before the Civil War. Its several thousand residents coined some 1,500 words–some derived from people’s names, others from twisting English nouns–and created a language that was unintelligible to outsiders.
Sadly, Boontling is on the verge of dying. The valley’s remaining speakers are getting on in years, and younger residents haven’t learned it. Its demise will leave the Anderson Valley culturally poorer. As one local resident put it, “One day it will be like if you looked out there and saw there were no more lilies, or no more oak trees.”
The latest Examiner.com column by Charlie Papazian poses an intriguing question: what if the 18th Amendment, which imposed national Prohibition, never became law?
If Prohibition never happened, we wouldn’t have had bathtub gin or speakeasies, the U.S. Treasury would have continued to take in millions in excise taxes, and gangsters like Al Capone would have been forced to find some other industry. And millions of Americans wouldn’t have had to break the law to enjoy an adult beverage.
But Papazian also sees a downside to Prohibition never happening. Lawmakers might not have outlawed “tied houses.” That, plus inevitable consolidation of the industry, could have created a barrier to entry so high that small breweries would struggle to survive. Without distributors, small brewers would have little chance of getting their product on the shelves and into bars. And if big brewers pushed huge quantities of cheap beer, a backlash leading to high taxes and tough restrictions might have occurred.
The ultimate question Papazian asks is, “If there was no Prohibition would we have today’s 2,400 small breweries?”
Ten years ago, on their way to the to the Great American Beer Festival, Maryanne and Paul stopped for a pint at the Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha. It’s just a pleasant oasis off I-80, and also a link to Omaha’s brewing history. The walls are decorated with signs for the likes of Storz, Falstaff, and Metz, beers that used to be brewed in town.
Crescent Moon is owned by Bill Baburek. A teenage hobby, collecting beer cans, led him to delve into his city’s brewing history. (His upcoming presentation, “Beer in Omaha: A History,” is booked to capacity.) Baburek’s interest in craft beer eventually led him to buy a bar and build a collection of establishments that also includes Huber Haus, Max & Joe’s, and Beertopia.
What’s next for Baburek? He plans to open a brewery, the Infusion Brewing Company, in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood.
Last year, Kihm Winship posted a lengthy article about malt liquor on the Faithful Readers blog. If you’re a fan of brewing history, it’s worth reading.
Winship notes that the beverage’s early years were surprisingly innocent. After the Repeal several small breweries, most of them in the Midwest, offered an extra-strength brew they called “malt liquor” and advertised it as the beverage of sophisticates.
Then came the Sixties. The industry was consolidating, and the national brands were crowding out local breweries. The National Brewing Company fought back by launching Colt 45. Its logo, a bucking horse, sent the unmistakable message that it could get you blasted. Somehow, it passed muster with the BATF.
At the time, brewery executives discovered that African Americans drank more malt liquor than their white counterparts. And so the brewing industry’s version of blaxploitation was underway. By the 1980s, any notion of subtlety had gone out the window. Malt liquor ads blatantly appealed to men’s sexual fantasies.
Inevitably, the marketing campaigns created a backlash. The U.S. Surgeon General publicly blasted a new malt liquor called Powermaster, and the descendants of the Indian chief filed suit against the makers of Crazy Horse. Members of the prevention community called for a limit on the alcoholic strength of malt beverages.
Still, Winship thinks that critics exaggerated the evils of malt liquor. He observes that fortified wine, not 40-ouncers, is the number-one beverage choice of problem drinkers; and that urban blacks don’t drink any more abusively than their white suburban counterparts.
In the end, Winship calls malt liquor “a story without heroes”:
Malt liquor is a beer style that requires human engineering to override limits placed by nature. In place of flavor, sociability and a cultural experience, you have a quick ride to intoxication that seems to bring out the worst in everyone, even in the people who object to it. Greed, despair and destruction on one side–lies, bombast and posturing on the other.
Today is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is the traditional day to honor him with a Burns supper, which typically includes haggis, Scotch whisky, and the recitation of Burns’ poetry, and closes with a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Rosemont, Illinois, where America’s fourth Hofbrauhaus had a soft opening in the city’s new entertainment district. The other HB locations are Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, and Newport, Kentucky.
The Canadian humor magazine Bite has created a zodiac-like infographic, “What Your Beer Style Says About You.” (Hat tip: Jay Brooks.)
Two cheers for the three-tier system. According to the New America Foundation’s Barry Lynn, distributors are protecting craft beer from the dominance of the nation’s brewing duopoly–at least for now.
Why is beer more likely to go skunky in clear bottles? It’s because light reacts with hop alpha acids to produce a compound similar to one found in a skunk’s defense spray.
On Tuesday Harpoon Brewing, the nation’s eighth-largest craft brewer, will open a $3.5 million beer hall in Boston. It’s located just blocks from Boston Beer Company’s Jamaica Plain facility.
If you haven’t been able to get limited-release beers, Today.com’s Jim Galligan offers tips from the pros. For starters, you should cultivate a relationship with a good beer store in your area.
Finally, Matt Austin, a grad student at Cardiff University, found some interesting parallels between the way Vikings drank in mead halls and the way today’s British college athletes drink.