Jonathan Buford’s Reward

The story reads like a screenplay rejected by the studios as far-fetched. Jonathan Buford, the owner of a window-cleaning business, watches Brew Masters on television. Inspired by Sam Calagione, the show’s star, he starts brewing. With the help of a beverage store employee who home-brews, Buford teaches himself how to make beer. Really good beer. Those who try it are so impressed that he decides to go commercial. His brewery runs into the inevitable delays in opening, and Buford faces foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Then comes the magic moment. To his surprise, Buford learns that RateBeer.com has named his brewery, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, the world’s best new brewery. The honor makes him an instant celebrity in the business.

Eric Benson of Esquire magazine interviewed Buford in Arizona, and discovered that his brewery’s unexpected fame was only part of the story. Buford loves the wilderness–hence the brewery’s name–and makes extensive use of local ingredients such as tangelos, caraway seeds, and the very rare white Sonoran berries.

News travels fast in the beer world. Arizona Wilderness has become so popular that people line up for hours to try one of Buford’s beers. And for now, that’s the only place you can find them.

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Building a Beer Collection

If you’re thinking of starting a bottled-beer collection, William Bostwick of the Wall Street Journal <a href=”http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303725404579461450502784062″>will get you started</a> with these six selections: Deschutes The Abyss, Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter, Hair of the Dog Adam, Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.
Bostwick also tosses out this fun fact: Alaskan Brewing’s founder, Geoff Larson, came up with the idea of Smoked Porter while enjoying a plate of lox with a neighbor who cured salmon.
If you’re thinking of starting a bottled-beer collection, William Bostwick of the Wall Street Journal will get you started with these six selections: Deschutes The Abyss, Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter, Hair of the Dog Adam, Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. Bostwick also tosses out this fun fact: Alaskan Brewing’s founder, Geoff Larson, came up with the idea of Smoked Porter while enjoying a plate of lox with a neighbor who cured salmon.
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The Friday Mash (Apple Edition)

On this day in 1976, the Apple I–the ancestor of the computer on which this blog is published–was created by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. It went on sale three months later for $666.66 because Wozniak “liked repeating digits” and besides, it represented a one-third markup on the $500 wholesale price.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in North Carolina, where the Mellow Mushroom restaurant chain had to close down its Beer Club after liquor regulators ruled that the club illegally “incentivized guests to drink”

Certified Cicerone John Richards, who’s based in South Carolina, introduces us to ten of the best beers you probably never heard of. (Hat tip: Joanna Prisco, ABC News).

WIsconsin politicians are concerned that a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union might force American producers to find a new name for “Oktoberfest” beer.

Tailgate heaven! Texas Tech alumni Jane’t Howey and Sheryl Estes, have created “boxGATE”, a structure made from shipping containers and fitted out with everything fans need.

He hasn’t quit his day job as CEO of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., but Larry Bell plans to attend all 81 Chicago Cubs home games this season–which is the 100th season of baseball at Wrigley Field.

Joel Stice of Uproxx.com has compiled a slideshow of the 20 best fake brands of beer in popular culture. The brand seen most often is Heisler, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows.

Finally, San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company has become Silicon Valley’s craft beer incubator. It contract-brews for a number of local micros, some of which don’t yet have the capital for their own facility.

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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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Meet The Bjergso Brothers

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine ran an article titled A Fight is Brewing, by Jonah Weiner. It is about Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and Mikkel Borg Bjergso, who are identical twins who both entered the brewing business–and who can’t stand each other’s company.

The name Mikkel might sound familiar. That is because he’s the founder of Mikkeller, the brewery named after him. It’s called a “phantom brewery” because it contracts out 100 percent of its production. The business model allows him to turn out a wide variety of beers–well over 100 last year–and to be creative in his selection of ingredients. Jeppe, too, owns a phantom brewery. It’s based in Brooklyn, and you might already have guessed its name: Evil Twin. One of Evil Twin’s beers is called Bozo, a not-too-subtle dig at super-high-gravity beers made by people like his brother.

But the brothers’ feud isn’t the main focus of the article. Weiner followed the brothers on their brewery travels in both the U.S. and the Continent. The highlight was Brouwerij Boon, where Weiner and Mikkel met owner Frank Boon, the man credited with saving the lambic style.

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The Friday Mash (Fab Four Edition)

Fifty years ago today, The Beatles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Fab Four still hold the record for most Billboard number-one hits with 20; and, with more than 600 million records sold world-wide, remain the biggest-selling band of all time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Houston, where Whole Foods’ Post Oak location will brew its own beer. Other grocery chains sell own-label beer, but they contract out the actual brewing.

A layover might be an opportunity to enjoy a pint at one of America’s best airport beer bars. All nine are outposts of local craft breweries such as Harpoon, Schlafly, and Rogue.

Kudzu beer? The invasive Southern plant is among the “foraged ingredients” that have found their way into new beers. Kudzu, by the way, is said to impart a fruity flavor.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is celebrating this summer’s World Cup in Brazil by introducing Brahma Selecao Especial. Its recipe includes barley grown on the Brazilian national team’s training field.

Old Style beer will be sold in Wrigley Field this season after all. The Cubs’ concessionaire plans to sell it, along with Goose Island, at the park’s concession stands.

Brooklyn Brewing Company founder Steve Hindy wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for reform of franchise laws that keep small breweries from getting their beer on the shelves.

Finally, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have created the first synthetic yeast chromosome. Since the yeast genome consists of 16 chromosomes, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

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Beer of Kings?

When the folks at HBO went looking for a craft beer partner for their popular fantasy series Game of Thrones, they made the right call. The call went to Brewery Ommegang and, as it turned out, several brewery employees–including the company’s director of marketing–were fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels, on which the TV series is based. So began Ommegang’s Game of Thrones series.

Ommegang agreed to produce two themed beers per year. The first two were Iron Throne, a golden ale, and a stout called Take the Black. On Monday, the brewery released Fire and Blood, the third in the series. Inspired by Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons, it’s a a Belgian-style red ale–the blood–brewed with anchor chilies–the fire, of course.

Opening Day Snark

It’s Opening Day of baseball season, and Jay Brooks joins the festivities with a snarky beer and baseball team pairing.

A few examples:

  • Houston Astros and O’Douls. “Something technically not a baseball team deserves something technically not beer.”
  • New York Mets and Cobra. “This snake bitten franchise secretly hopes they’re drinking poison.”
  • Tampa Bay Rays and Natural Ice. “By far the best beer bang for your baseball buck.”

Unfortunately, Brooks forgot to include the old joke about the teams who can’t serve beer because they lost their opener.

The Friday Mash (Istanbul Not Constantinople Edition)

The Four Lads once asked the musical question, “Why did Constantinople get the works?” Their answer: “It’s nobody’s business but the Turks’” Eighty-four years ago today, the Turks changed the city’s name to Istanbul. They also changed the name of their capital to Ankara.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Listerman Brewing Company is hosting Starkbierfest, a family-friendly version of Munich’s Lenten tradition where potent doppelbock takes center stage.

Yards Brewing Company is brewing a special beer for the popular TV show “Walking Dead.” No humans have been eaten in the brewing process, which involves smoking goat brains.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has installed craft beer taps at his official residence. The first keg he tapped was Silverback Pale from Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortune magazine writers tried MillerCoors’s new Fortune beer and gave it a thumbs-up–and not just for its name.

While visiting Belgium, Jay Brooks discovered a new organization, the Belgian Family Brewers. Its members have been brewing for at least 50 years, and have been family-owned all that time.

Purists are up in arms about it, but three Seattle-area homebrewers have developed the PicoBrew Zymatic, a “set-and-forget” system that can be controlled from one’s laptop.

Finally, Florida craft brewers learned that campaign cash trumps free enterprise. The State Senate president admitted that he’s against legalizing half-gallon growlers because a big beer distributor is a major contributor to his party.

The Friday Mash (Happy New Year! Edition)

It’s been a horrible winter in much of the country, but take heart: today is the first full day of spring. Today is also the first day of the astrological year, being the first full day under the sign of Aries. So break out the noisemakers and funny hats, and order yourself a beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bend, Oregon, which has 80,000 residents and 11 breweries. The breweries issue visitors a “passport” that they can get stamped as they sample their way through town.

Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs are trying to brew the world’s most caloric beer: an imperial stout made with maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of beer ice cream and a sliver of bacon. It weighs in at over 525 calories.

According to Outdoor Life magazine, empty glass beer bottles may help you survive in the wilderness. You can make sharp tools out of them, and even use them to start fires.

The Session #86, moderated by “Beer Hobo” Heather Vandenengel, will focus on beer journalism. She invites you to discuss the role of beer writers and talk about your favorites.

In Boise, fans filed suit against the city’s minor-league hockey team after seeing a YouTube video showing that a $7 large beer contained the same amount of beer as a $4 “small” beer.

The environment is a high priority at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new North Carolina plant, whose interior decor will reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Finally, conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has asked federal trademark regulators to deny Schlafly beer a trademark because she doesn’t want her family associated with beer. Her nephew Tom’s Saint Louis Brewery has brewed Schlafly beer since 1989.

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