The Friday Mash (Sailing in Style Edition)

Eighty years ago today, the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary was launched. She was retired in 1967, after taking well-heeled passengers across the North Atlantic, and is now a hotel and a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where the Munich 1860 football team is selling Oktoberfest-themed uniforms complete with lederhosen and Bavarian blue-and-white gingham shirts.

C. Dean Metropolous sold Pabst Blue Ribbon and other “nostalgia” brands to Oasis Beverages, a Russian-based brewer and distributor. Metropolous reportedly got $700 million for the brands.

Crikey! After being attacked by a crocodile, a hunter in Australia’s Northern Territory drank beer to deaden the pain while he waited for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Growlerwerks LLC is developing uKeg, a pressurized growler that should eliminate flat beer from growlers. The pressure comes from carbon dioxide cartridges, which cost about $1 apiece.

Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, who’s facing a tough fight for reelection, helped a fan do a keg stand while tailgating at last weekend’s Mississippi State-LSU football game.

All About Beer magazine has a new owner. Daniel Bradford has sold the 35-year-old publication to a newly-formed corporation, All About Beer LLC, headed by Christopher Rice.

Finally, New Holland Brewing Company is celebrating Carhartt, Inc.’s 125th anniversary with a new beer called Woodsman and a “The Road Home to Craftsmanship” tour which will wind up at the Great American Beer Festival.

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Making a Statement

At this year’s Craft Brewers Conference, Brewers Association head Paul Gatza warned attendees that the quality of craft beer, especially from newcomers to the industry, was becoming a concern.

John Stewart, the brewer at Grand Rapids-based Perrin Brewing Company, took Gatza’s message to heart. Perrin has released the “Killing Craft” series, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “craft” versus “crafty” controversy in the industry. And each series beer will spell out Perrin’s mission–namely, “to support and defend craft beer from all threats, foreign and domestic, macro and nano.”

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Meanwhile, in Macrobrew Land…

This blog has run a host of stories about the success of craft beer and the people who brew it. However, as Benjamin Dangl of CommonDreams.com explains, there are disturbing developments in the “macrobrew” sector and involving Anheuser-Busch InBev in particular.

A-B InBev owns almost half of the US beer market, and the top four companies have a 78-percent market share—in spite of there being more breweries in the United States than at any time in history. The result of consolidation is less competition and higher prices. And, in the case of A-B InBev, poorer-quality beer. Dangl notes that the company abandoned Budweiser’s traditional and much-advertised “beechwood aging” to save money—and that discerning drinkers have noticed the decline in quality.

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Beer…By the Numbers

  • Cost of a one-year, all-the-Asahi-you-can-drink, passport at Brasserie Beer Boulevard in Tokyo: 29,800 yen ($282).
  • Average cost of a draft Asahi in downtown Tokyo: 500 yen ($4.74).
  • Wages and benefits paid annually by the U.S. brewing industry: $79 billion.
  • Total taxes paid annually by the U.S. brewing industry: $49 billion.
  • Americans whose ZIP code includes a brewery: 52.9 million.
  • Percentage of Americans whose ZIP code includes a brewery: 17.1.
  • New Glarus Brewing Company’s production in 2013: 146,000 barrels.
  • States in which New Glarus beer is sold: 1 (its home state of Wisconsin).
  • Vermont’s current brewery count: 56.
  • Its brewery count two years ago: 31.
  • Vermont’s annual sales of craft beer: $100 million.
  • Record for most one-liter beer mugs carried by one person: 27 (by Oliver Struempfel of Abensburg, Germany).
  • Total weight of 27 full one-liter mugs: 135 pounds.
  • Breweries represented at this year’s Michigan Brewers Guild U.P. (Upper Peninsula) Beer Festival: 61.
  • Beers poured at the U.P. Beer Festival: more than 400.
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    The Friday Mash (Ponderosa Edition)

    Fifty-five years ago today, the first episode of the television show Bonanza premiered on NBC. The show, which starred Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running western of all time.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Crested Butte, Colorado, where residents are hopping mad over a clandestine deal to let Anheuser-Busch turn their ski town into a living Bud Light commercial.

    John Holl asked some of his fellow beer writers, “if beer were invented today, what would it look like?” The answers may surprise you.

    Heavy late-summer rains in Montana and Idaho have ruined much of the barley crop. A disappointing barley harvest could translate into higher beer prices next year.

    Are you ready for some football? The folks at Thrillist are, and they’ve picked a local beer for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams.

    Add chili pepper-infused beers to the list of craft brewing trends. USA Today’s Mike Snider reviews some popular chili beers, including one made with extra-potent ghost peppers.

    Raise a glass to Jake Leinenkugel, who is retiring as the brewery’s CEO. According to a hometown journalist, Leinenkugel has earned a place in craft brewing history.

    Finally, Marc Confessore of Staten Island showed us how not to pair food and beer. He got caught trying to sneak four cases of Heineken and 48 packages of bacon out of a grocery store.

    Beer States, Ranked

    These rankings come courtesy of Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza, and Matt Lynch of Thrillist.com. Before calling the roll of the states, the authors explain their criteria: “Quantity and quality are both important, but quality’s a bit MORE important. If you’re a small state turning out a disproportionate amount of great beer, it did not go unrecognized. We also gave a boost to states who played a historical role in American beer as we know it today.”

    Heading the list is Oregon (”Even the ‘crappy’ breweries by Portland standards would bury most of their peers”), followed by California (”San Diego…the most dominating beer city in world history”), Colorado (”Beer is everywhere. Everywhere is beer”), Michigan (which “some of the best damned breweries in the country”), and Washington (”home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness”).

    We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bottom five: Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and coming in dead last, Mississippi.

    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 Eco-Honor Roll

    For the past five years, the San Francisco-based Seedling Project has given out the Good Food Awards, which recognize of high-quality food made in a environmentally responsible manner. The awards have a beer category. To be considered, a brewery has to recycle water, source locally, and not use genetically modified ingredients; and for a beer to win, it has to taste good as well.

    The latest issue of the Sierra Club magazine mentions five Good Food Award-winning beers: Port City Brewing Optimal Wit, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Bear Republic Cafe Racer 15 Double IPA, Victory Helios Ale, and Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale. Those five would make an awfully good flight of tasters.

    Uncle Sam’s Beer Label Czar

    Meet Kent “Battle” Martin, who for years has been America’s beer label czar. Martin, who works for the Tax and Trade Bureau, a section of the U.S. Treasury Department, has been variously described as a workaholic, eccentric, and tightly wound. That, and a law onto himself. In his career at the U.S. Treasury’s Tax and Trade Bureau, he’s passed judgment on some 30,000 labels.

    The brewing community respects Martin’s work ethic and dedication to his job, and acknowledges that regulation has to be consistent. Nevertheless, some of his decisions have become legendary. The labels he’s rejected include these:

  • The King of Hearts, which had a playing card image on it, because the heart implied that the beer would have a health benefit;
  • Pickled Santa, because Santa’s eyes were too “googly” on the label, and labels cannot advertise the physical effects of alcohol;
  • Bad Elf’s “Elf Warning” about operating toy-making machinery while drinking the ale, which was deemed confusing to consumers;
  • A label that featured a hamburger, because the image implied there was a meat additive in the beer; and
  • “Adnams Broadside” beer, which touted itself as a “heart-warming ale,” another prohibited health-benefit claim.
  • And there’s the story of Vaune Dillman, who wanted to market a beer called “Legal Weed.” Battle not only objected to what looked like a reference to marijuana—Weed is an actual town in California, where Dillman brews his beer—but he also took offense that Dillman called him “Mr. Martin,” not “Battle,” which he prefers to be called.

    What Countries Drink the Most?

    At FiveThirtyEight.com, Mona Chalabi crunched the numbers from the World Health Organization to find out which countries are home to the biggest drinkers.

    The WHO data confirm some stereotypes; for example, France ranks number one in per capita wine consumption, with 370 servings per year. But there were big surprises, too. Namibia ranks first in beer consumption, with 376 servings per person per year—more than 10 percent higher than Germany; and Grenada tops the list of spirits-drinking countries, with 438 servings per person per year.

    Americans drink more beer—249 servings per person per year–than any other alcoholic beverage. However, American drinking preferences have fluctuated over the years. Grain shortages during World War II forced Americans to try rum from the Caribbean (fortunately, creative bartenders developed new cocktails such as the Hurricane); and after World War II, vodka became popular—and it remains the nation’s favorite hard liquor.

    As for beer, it was less popular during the 19th century because innovations such as refrigeration, bottles, and cans hadn’t come into wide use, and the beverage wasn’t as easy to transport and store as it is today.

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