The Friday Mash (United Artists Edition)

On this day in 1919, five individuals formed United Artists. They included four Hollywood notables—Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith—along with attorney/statesman William Gibbs McAdoo, who later represented California in the U.S. Senate.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict. The town’s ancient monastery is selling its beer to American consumer, who can also download the monks’ Gregorian chants to accompany the beer.

Attendees at this year’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival, held at Ommegang Brewing, will be able to immerse themselves in Bill Murray’s best-known movies and characters.

The historic Grain Belt Beer sign in Minneapolis is getting a new lease on life. August Schell Brewing Company, which owns the Grain Belt brand, has bought the sign and hopes to re-light it next year.

Meet the “Nitrogenator”. It’s the carbon dioxide-dispensing “widget” that Boston Beer Company uses for its new nitro-conditioned beer series. The Nitrogenator is manufactured by Ball Corporation.

One of Budweiser’s ads for Super Bowl 50 features Dame Helen Mirren who, before eating a hamburger and fries washed down by a Bud, gives would-be drunk drivers a proper British scolding.

The wave of craft brewery takeovers has prompted a movement to scrap the phrase “craft beer” and use a new term, “indie beer”, to describe small breweries that are truly independent.

Finally, Thrillist’s Ezra Johnson-Greenough shows how to spot a fake “beer bar”. Warning signs include serving all imports in small glasses, carrying an all-nanobrewery selection, and serving all wheat beers with a slice of lemon.

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Beer…By the Numbers

  • Vietnam’s beer production in 2015: 2.89 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2014: 4.7 percent.
  • Amount of beer exported by Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar in 2015: 765,000 barrels.
  • Increase over 2014 exports: 10.5 percent.
  • Countries to which Budweiser Budvar is exported: 73.
  • British pub count in 1982: 67,800.
  • British pub count in 2015: fewer than 54,000.
  • Alaska’s brewery count: 26, with 5 in planning.
  • Brewery openings in Alaska in 2015: 5.
  • Average price of a pint of bitter in Great Britain: £3.10 ($4.40 U.S., for a 20-ounce pint).
  • Average price of a pint of lager in Great Britain: £3.26 ($4.63 U.S.).
  • States where homebrewing is illegal: 0 (Alabama and Mississippi were the last two to legalize, in 2013).
  • States where breweries can’t sell pints on premises: 2 (Georgia and Mississippi).
  • Value of legal marijuana sold in the U.S. in 2015: $3.5 billion.
  • Value of beer sold in the U.S. in 2015: $101 billion.
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    The Friday Mash (Luxury Car Edition)

    One hundred and thirty years ago, German engineer Karl Benz patented the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. He and his wife, Bertha, founded Mercedes-Benz, now a division of Daimler AG, headquartered in Stuttgart—the home of Germany’s “other” famous beer festival.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Flint, Michigan, whose water supply in contaminated with lead. Flint’s aptly-named Tenacity Brewery, assures that its beer is lead free—and is donating $1 per pint to the city’s children.

    Here are eight things to know about hard root beer, including how it began; who owns the companies that make it; and how many calories (300) are in a 12-ounce bottle.

    AC Shilton of Outside magazine has an answer to the beer can shortage: growlers. They environmentally friendly, don’t contain the chemical BPA, and support your local brewery.

    Virginia restaurant-goers are allowed to bring their own wine into restaurants if they pay corkage. Now state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give beer drinkers the same option.

    Bar owners are negotiating with city officials over the Chicago Cubs’ plan to build a plaza outside Wrigley Field. They’re afraid of losing business, especially if the plaza sells cheap beer.

    Brooklyn’s Pop Chart Lab has created 99 Bottles of Craft Beer on the Wall. After sampling a beer, the drinker takes out a coin and scratches off the gilt foil “emptying” the bottle while retaining the label.

    Finally, Woody Chandler, the man who shows up at festivals wearing a Rasputin beard and a monk’s robe, has posted his 7,000th check-in on Untappd, including 2,000 in 2015 alone. That translates into more than five new beers per day.

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    What is Barleywine?

    Last weekend, the annual Great Alaska Beer & Barleywine Festival took place in Anchorage. So it’s a good time to ask this question: What is barleywine? Veteran beer journalist Jay Brooks is here to help.

    Brooks takes us back to the third century B.C., when Armenians drank a beverage called oinos krithinos, Greek for “barley wine.” But that beverage bears no resemblance to what was served in Anchorage because it was unhooked. Hops wouldn’t be introduced to beer for another thousand years.

    Modern barleywine is thought to have originated in 15th-century England. Hops made the style possible, because an unhopped strong ale would go sour very quickly. Hops enabled strong ales to, in Brooks’s words, “age so gracefully and be enjoyed many months later.” Some brewers believe that a beer shouldn’t even be called a barley wine until it’s at least a year old, when the beverage has developed a complex taste profile.

    Strong ales were known by a number of names–”strong ale” in particular–during the 19th century. The name “barley wine” took hold in 1903, when the Bass Brewery used that phrase to describe No. 1, its Burton-style strong ale.

    Brooks notes that barleywine shares one characteristic with wine from grapes: It is something to enjoy slowly. Because barleywines are rich and sweet, Brooks says they make good dessert beers. He suggests pairing them with creme brulee, dark chocolate, or strong blue cheeses. And since their high alcohol produces a warming sensation, the dead of winter is the perfect time of the year to enjoy them.

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    Spain’s Hidden Beer History

    Jonathan Carlyon, a professor at Colorado State University, had a friend from Spain who was spending a year in Fort Collins. At first the friend drank only wine, but Carlyon introduced him to the local craft beer. That experience, along with CSU’s creation of a fermentation studies program, led the professor to study the beer of ancient Spain.

    The beer, called Caelia, was brewed extensively in Iberia from around 3,000 B.C. until the Romans conquered the peninsula and made wine the beverage of choice. It was a lightly-carbonated drink, made by women using a fermentation process similar to that of bread-making. Carylon describes the beverage as “like a beer juice, compared to the beer made today”.

    Carylon found literary references to beer in everything from the Bible to accounts of the Roman Empire’s difficulty conquering an ancient Spanish city of Numancia. Before every battle against the Romans, the Numancians drank Caelia, contributing to the Romans’ view of them as ferocious fighters. (Tired of the heavy casualties they were taking, the Romans laid siege to Numancia and starved its inhabitants.)

    Thanks to the Romans, Spain is considered a “wine country.” However, craft beer has won a following there. As for Carylon, he’s working with the CSU fermentation program to re-create Caelia in Fort Collins.

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    The Friday Mash (Mac Edition)

    Thirty-two years ago today, Apple Corporation introduced the Macintosh, which popularized the mouse and the graphical user interface. The introduction came in the form of the famous “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Michigan, where Founders Brewing Company, having filed the necessary paperwork, can once again sell Breakfast Stout with a baby on the label.

    In the UK, health officials now recommend that men drink no more than six pints of beer per week. They also warn that drinking any amount of alcohol can cause health problems.

    Paste magazine introduces you to seven “ridiculous, but kind of awesome” beer gadgets. They include a CO-2 injection system for growlers and a bottle that imparts an oak taste.

    New laws in a number of states have encouraged “farm-to-keg” breweries, which make and serve beer using ingredients grown on site. These breweries operate much like wineries.

    Did you get a drone for Christmas? AC Shilton of Outside magazine explains how can you train your new toy to fetch and deliver your beer.

    In Australia, Quentin Tarantino was presented with a six-pack of Victoria Bitter in cans specially designed to honor him. He was joined onstage by actors Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.

    Finally, the Craft Brewers Alliance plans to distribute Kona beer in Brazil. It cited “the great synergies between Hawaiian and Brazilian culture, with their amazing beaches and strong water lifestyles.”

    Beer at the Andechs Monastery

    Nowadays, few visitors to Andechs Monastery in Bavaria are pilgrims. Most are there to tour the medieval building and, more importantly, to enjoy the beer brewed there by the monks. On any given day, visitors consume thousands of liters of beer, not to mention large quantities of pork knuckles and sausage.

    Between the Catholic feasts of St. Martin (November 11) and St. Joseph (March 19), the monks release a special winter beer. The only place where one can buy it is at the monastery. Unlike the winter warmers served in American establishments, Andechs’ winter beer is mild in both flavor and alcoholic content (about 4 percent ABV).

    The monks brew around 85,000 barrels per year; and despite modern technology, they adhere to Bavaria’s Beer Purity Law. The beer is distributed throughout Germany and abroad, and is the monastery’s number-one source of revenue.

    The Friday Mash (Glass Houses Edition)

    Eighty years ago today, in Toledo, Ohio, the first building to be completely covered in glass was completed. It was built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. The “Glass City” is also known for Jamie Farr and his beloved Tony Packo’s Cafe and Toledo Mud Hens.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Hollywood, where Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais opened the show with a beer in his hand, and then proceeded to offend much of the audience with his jokes.

    George Lenker, “The Beer Nut,” criticizes the Bavarian government for ordering a brewery to stop marketing its milk stout as beer because that beer didn’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot.

    The Washington Post’s Ryan Ermey rated the top cheap beers, based on three criteria: alcoholic content, can design, and taste (“if you insist”). His top pick? Genesee Cream Ale.

    Constellation Brands, which plunked down $1 billion to buy Ballast Point Brewing Company, will invest another $1.5 billion to build a brewery in Mexicali to meet growing demand for Mexican beer.

    An iconic Pacific Northwest beer is coming back. The Red Hook Ale Brewery announced it will be making Rainier Pale Mountain Ale and other Rainier beers.

    Nielsen NV and BARTRENDr have found out fans’ favorite brands of beer and liquor in every NFL city. Everclear didn’t make the list—even among fans of the awful Tennessee Titans.

    Finally, brewer Chris Reynolds was given a chance to taste some of Alexander Keith’s IPA that was bottled in the 19th century and recently found underwater. Reynolds described the taste as “a little tree fruit note, a cherry note in there somehow—certainly a lot of sulphu,”.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • Approximate number of homebrewers in the U.S.: 1.2 million.
  • Proportion of homebrewers who took up the hobby since 2001: About 2/3.
  • Increase in the average price of American beer since 2003: 42 percent.
  • Increase in the average price of American mixed drinks since 2003: 51 percent.
  • Barrels of Modelo Especial shipped to the U.S. in 2014: 4.5 million.
  • Increase over 2009: 128.4 percent.
  • U.S hop production in 2015: 39,400 tons.
  • Increase over 2014: 11 percent.
  • Estimated value of the 2015 crop: $345.4 million.
  • Clydesdale horses owned by Anheuser-Busch: 175.
  • Cost of feeding a Clydesdale: $500 a month.
  • Beer’s share of South Korea’s alcoholic beverage market: 53.3 percent.
  • Soju’s (a hard liquor) share of South Korea’s alcoholic beverage market: 28.1 percent.
  • Freezing point of beer: 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Freezing point of ethanol: -170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The Friday Mash (Divestiture Edition)

    Thirty-four years ago, AT&T agreed to be broken up into seven regional phone companies. Over the years, the “Baby Bells” recombined; and Southwestern Bell, the last surviving Baby Bell, renamed itself—you guessed it—“AT&T.”

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Chicago, where Walgreen’s sells Big Flats 1901 for $2.99 a six-pack. The contract-brewed beer has an overall rating of “Poor”—along with some funny reviews—on BeerAdvocate.com.

    Kefir beer might be a healthier option for those with stomach ulcers. Scientists in Brazil found that rats that were fed kefir beer were less prone to inflammation than those that were fed regular beer.

    Glassblower Matthew Cummings thinks beer deserves better glassware than the shaker pint. His Pretentious Beer Glass Company turns out odd-looking vessels designed for particular styles.

    Vilde Haye, an Israeli boutique brewery, has launched a series of beers inspired by an imaginary klezmer orchestra. Each beer in the series has a “mascot,” a shtetel musician with a back story.

    Mexican beer is growing faster than craft beer, thanks to America’s growing Latino population. There’s room for more growth as Anglos become aware of brands like Modelo and Tecate.

    Brewbound.com lists the top ten craft beer stories of 2015. They include mergers and acquisitions, veteran craft-brewing figures stepping down, lawsuits, and the popularity of hard root beer.

    Finally, Frank Winslow, Yards Brewing Company’s Director of Quality Assurance, explains why most beer bottles are brown but some are green, and why Corona might contain hop extract rather than actual hops.

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