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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

    Ballantine IPA Returns

    Beloved by Hunter S. Thompson and advertised as “the manlier brew,” Ballantine IPA was one of the few India pale ales available in the United States before the craft brew movement began. Inevitably, the ale fell victim to industry consolidation.

    Pabst Brewing Company, which now owns the Ballantine trademark, announced that it will launch a new version of Ballantine IPA. According to Jay Brooks, who passed along Pabst’s announcement on his blog, the ale will check in at 7.2% ABV and 70 IBUs, putting it near the upper end of the style guidelines for an English-style IPA.

    Gregory Deuhs, Pabst’s brewmaster, conducted extensive research—including talking to beer drinkers of a certain age–to find out what the original IPA looked and tasted like. After making two dozen five-gallon batches at his home, Deuhs finally came up with an IPA that Peter Ballantine, the company’s founder, would brew today.

    Ballantine IPA will soon be available in six-packs and 750-ml bottles in nine northeastern states.

    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.

    Strange Brew

    The current trends in brewing include session IPAs, sour beer, and…beer made with strange ingredients. CoolMaterial.com went looking for the strangest ingredients of all—we’re not talking bacon or wasabi here—and found seven truly bizarre beers. How bizarre? Put it this way. Rogue’s Beard Beer, made with yeast from Brewmaster John Maier’s beard, was the most mainstream of the seven. We recommend that you not read this story before eating.

    The Friday Mash (Abbey Road Edition)

    Forty-five years ago today, at a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan took the photo that became the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road. It became one of the most famous album covers in recording history.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin, appropriately, in London, where local officials might stop evening beer festivals at the zoo after festival-goers threw beer at the tigers and a drunken woman tried to enter the lion enclosure*.

    Jim Koch, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, planned to open a brewery in Seattle, where he went to college. But after watching it rain for 45 straight days, Koch and his wife moved back to Boston.

    Germany’s years-long slump in beer consumption was halted by its winning the World Cup. Between January and June, sales rose by 4.4 percent over a year ago.

    Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company issued a recall for its popular Swill beer after it learned some bottles were undergoing secondary fermentation, which could cause them to explode.

    California’s continuing drought has craft brewers worried. If the rains don’t come this winter, they might be forced to curtail production, raise prices, or even move brewing operations out of state.

    Elizabeth Daly, who sued the Virginia ABC after over-zealous plainclothes officers wrongly suspected she was a minor in possession, will get a $212,500 settlement check from the state.

    Finally, New Zealand health regulators warned a hotel that its sign, “Pero Says: ‘Free Beer Tomorrow’”, may violate the law by promoting excessive drinking. Haven’t they read about “Jam Tomorrow” in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking-Glass?

    * Ludwig is not pleased with her.

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