Happy Oberon Day, Michiganders

Ludwig, Maryanne, and Paul live in Michigan, where two spring traditions reign supreme: Tigers Opening Day and Oberon Day.

Today, Michiganders flocked to their favorite establishments to enjoy a pint or two of this year’s release of Bell’s Oberon. This American wheat ale was originally called Solsun, but the owners of Mexico’s Sol beer slapped Bell’s with a cease-and-desist order. Larry Bell, who had been in drama club in high school, renamed the beer Oberon, after the king of the fairies in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Solsun/Oberon has been part of Michigan’s craft beer scene for 25 years, and many of its fans have posted memories of the beer on social media. Amy Sherman of MLive.com has compiled the best walks down Memory Lane.

As for the Tigers, their home opener is Friday, April 7.

The Friday Mash (“Long Live the King” Edition)

On this day in 1603, James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England and Ireland upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The kingdoms of Scotland and England remained sovereign states, with their own parliaments, but both were ruled by James in personal union.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Vancouver where last week, the Railtown Pub advertised its St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a Guinness glass filled to the brim and literally losing its head. That caught the attention of the Irish Independent newspaper, which called the pour “sacrilegious”.

Now that the Chicago White Sox’s partnership with MillerCoors has expired, the ballclub has formed a new partnership with Constellation Brands, which will open “Casa Modelo” at the ballpark.

While on spring break in The Bahamas, a frat boy used the teeth of a beached shark to puncture a beer can so he could “shotgun” it. His video of the stunt prompted a swift—and angry—backlash on social media.

Portland, Oregon, is about to get a beer bar devoted to session beers. Its name, naturally enough, is Sessionable. The bar will pour 30 beers, all with ABVs ranging from 2.5 to 5 percent.

Neil Patrick Harris, who the spokesperson for Heineken beer, says that he has a Heineken Light tap in his bar at home. He adds that unlimited beer at home “is as awesome as it sounds”.

According to a recent survey, one out of four beer drinkers said they would switch to marijuana if it became legal in their state. If they do switch, brewers will suffer $2 billion per year in lost sales.

Finally, MLive.com asked eight brewery owners in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area whether the craft beer industry is in a bubble. They don’t think so, but some admit that the market is getting tougher for new entries.

The Friday Mash (End of Apartheid Edition)

Twenty-five years ago today, South Africans voted overwhelmingly to end the practice of racial segregation called apartheid. The vote followed President F.W. de Klerk’s lifting of the ban on opposition parties and his release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years’ imprisonment.

And now….The Mash!

We begin near Dublin, where, if you have $29.5 million, you can be the new owner of the Guinness Beer Castle. The castle, aka Luggala, has 27 bedrooms and 18 full baths and sits on 5,000 acres of green rolling hills.

Two California drinkers have sued the maker of Kona Brewing Company’s beers. They allege that Kona falsely represented that the beers are brewed in Hawaii, when in fact they’re brewed on the mainland.

If you’re a golfer, this product is for you. “Big Beertha” looks like a driver, but functions as “the original golf beer bong”. It holds 12 ounces of liquid whose consumption can be viewed by onlookers through its clear acrylic shaft.

The Kansas City Royals have named Boulevard Brewing Company the first-ever craft beer partner of a major-league baseball team. Boulevard has been sold at Royals’ games for more than 20 years.

Last weekend at SXSW, Anheuser-Busch announced its “Bud on Mars” project. Challenges on the Red Planet include low gravity, lack of water, not enough sunlight to grow hops, and humans’ diminished sense of taste.

Shares in Japan’s big breweries could get a boost if the government follows through on revising the beer excise tax, which is based malt content. The result has been a flood of beers heavy with adjuncts like peas and soybeans.

Finally, Belgian scientists recently discovered the Trappist-1 system of possibly-habitable Earth-size planets some 40 light-years from Earth. They named the planets after monastic Trappist beers such as Rochefort, Orval, and Westvleteren.

Sunny Forecast for Florida Craft Beer

For years, Florida had the reputation of being a craft beer desert. Today, however, the Sunshine State is the one of the nation’s fastest-growing states for craft brewing.

Florida’s brewery count has leapt from 25 a decade ago to more than 180 today. There’s also quality as well as quantity. Cigar City Brewing Company’s Hunaphu Imperial Stout and Funky Buddha Brewing’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter are among the nation’s most sought-after beers. National craft breweries, too, have taken notice of Florida’s craft beer boom. Some of them are skipping states to establish distribution networks in Florida.

Beer is starting to take its place along theme parks, beaches, and baseball spring training as a tourist attraction. Walt Disney World serves Florida craft beers at its parks and hotels. Cigar City’s Hunaphu release party draws thousands, and visitors who fly home from Tampa can enjoy fresh beer at Cigar City’s on-airport brewery.

The Friday Mash (“Sell High” Edition)

On this day in 2000, the Nasdaq Composite stock market index peaked at 5132.52, thanks to investors who bid up dot.com shares to astronomically high prices. Those who didn’t take profits got a nasty surprise: the Nasdaq fell by more than 50 percent by year’s end.

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly, we begin on Wall Street, where big breweries’ stocks haven’t been doing well. According to SeekingAlpha.com, the only company whose shares are trading near their 52-week high is Kirin Holdings Company.

Congress is considering a bill that would cut taxes for small brewers. The bill’s supporters contend that lower taxes would enable breweries to expand production, add jobs, and attract more visitors.

Session IPA is popular, but opinions vary as to its definition. Draft magazine has published a scale which shows how much these IPAs vary in alcoholic strength and, especially, perceived bitterness.

A few years ago, Emily Hengstebeck and her friends partied together at beer festivals. Now employed by a brewery, she found herself on the other side of the table. She describes what it’s like.

More than 7,000 CraftBeer.com readers filled out a survey asking them what was their state’s favorite beer bar, and why they liked it. Without further ado, here are the winners in each state.

It’s still “Miller Time” in Chicago. According to BevSpot, Miller has a more than 8-percent market share in the Windy City, more than twice the brand’s market share nationwide.

Finally, a Virginia brewery will release a beer honoring Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, at a birthday celebration this month. The horse was nicknamed “Big Red”; the beer is an imperial red India pale ale.

The Friday Mash (Drop the Puck! Edition)

On this day in 1875, the first-ever organized indoor game of ice hockey was played in Montreal. It featured two nine-member teams whose lineups included local college students. Instead of a ball, which was customary in outdoor games, the players used the ancestor of the modern hockey puck.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where White Sox fans are rooting for their team to draft Clemson first baseman Seth Beer. Their campaign includes hashtags with excruciatingly bad puns on Beer’s name.

Uinta Brewing Company is packaging its Golden Ale—a beer meant to be enjoyed outdoors—in cans bearing images of our national parks. Yosemite National Park will be the first to appear on a can.

Budapest’s Mad Scientist Brewery has a deal for you. Adopt a dog from a local animal sanctuary, and the brewery will send you home with a case of its beer—even if your new best friend doesn’t drink.

Asbury Park Brewery’s logo is inspired by the city’s famous Convention Hall. And fittingly for “Springsteen Country”, all of its owners have a connection to the music business.

A New York State lawmaker wants to allow municipalities to establish “recreation zones”, within which it would be legal to carry open containers of alcohol sold by bars and restaurants.

Cathay Pacific Airlines has added something new to its beer menu: Betsy, a beer brewed to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet, where passengers’ senses of taste and smell are diminished.

Finally, according to Amy Sherman of MLive.com, the funniest beer names from last weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival were “Gnome Wrecker”, “Complete Nutter Madness”, and “Only Fools Russian”.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count at the end of 2016: 5,005.
  • Percent of U.S. breweries that produce less than 7,500 barrels per year: 92.
  • Percent of that produce less than 1,000 barrels per year: 75.
  • New York State’s brewery count: 326 (4th in the nation).
  • Its brewery count in 2003: 38.
  • Annual visitor count at American craft breweries: 10 million.
  • On-premises sales’ share of American craft beer production: 7 percent.
  • Number of session IPAs sold in American supermarkets in 2013: 21.
  • Number of session IPAs sold in American supermarkets in 2016: 106.
  • Craft beer segment’s growth rate in 2016: 8 percent.
  • Anheuser-Busch’s High End craft breweries’ growth rate in 2016: 32 percent.
  • Average wait by a brewery to obtain a federal brewer’s notice in September 2016: 166 days.
  • Average wait to obtain a brewer’s notice in September 2015: 129 days.
  • UK’s excise tax on a pint of beer: 52.2 pence (65 U.S. cents).
  • Germany’s excise tax on a pint of beer: 5 pence (6.4 U.S. cents).
  • The Friday Mash (“Don’t Cry for Me” Edition)

    On this day in 1946, Colonel Juan Peron, founder of the political movement known as Peronism, was elected to his first term as President of Argentina. He and his wife, Eva Duarte, would later become the subject of the Broadway musical Evita.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Maryland, where craft brewers are concerned about Guinness’ plans to open a taproom at its new brewery. At the same time, retailers worry that raising the cap on how much breweries can sell on-premises will hurt their business.

    This year’s beer trends include the “haze craze”: unfiltered and unpasteurized IPAs aka “New England IPAs”. These beers have a shorter shelf life, but are richer in both flavor and aroma.

    Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company is paying off a Super Bowl bet by releasing 100 cans of SB51 beer. It’s described as “a soul crushing pale ale that will leave you deflated”.

    Tomorrow, Cleveland’s Slovenian community celebrates Kurentovanje, its version of Mardi Gras. Festival-goers will dress up as giant fuzzy animals to scare winter away, and drink beer at the newly-opened Goldhorn Brewery.

    Three machinists and designers are about to launch the Kramstein beer stein. This metal stein, which comes in two sizes, is designed to keep the drink cool and the drinker’s hands dry.

    Martin Roper, who’s been CEO of the Boston Beer Company for 16 years, plans to step down next year. TheMotleyFool.com speculates on whether Roper’s successor can arrest the company’s recent sales slump.

    Finally, the BrewDog brewery offers an unusual perk: a week’s “paw-ternity” leave to employees who adopt a new dog. It also allows employees to bring their dogs to work. The company’s founders worked under the watchful eye of their “brew dog”, Bracken.

    How Many of These Beers Have You Enjoyed?

    Last month, Food & Wine magazine asked 21 members of the craft beer community to rank the most important craft beers of all time. Josh Noel of the Chicago Tribune decided to follow up with his own top 25.

    What makes a beer important? Noel elaborates:

    To me, the definition is simple: It’s one that either changed consumer tastes or how breweries approach making beer. Some of the beers below have influenced both drinkers and brewers. Others hew more in one direction than the other. Others find their power in the brand or the package even more than the beer.

    Noel agrees with much of the Food & Wine list, but also take several exceptions. You might, too.

    Zima is Making a Comeback

    Zima, the butt of numerous jokes by beer aficionados, is coming back to the American market after a nine-plus-year absence. The clear malt beverage, launched by Coors Brewing in 1993, sold more than 1 million barrels its first year. However, the brand never caught on with its target audience—young males—and was discontinued in the U.S. in 2008.

    MillerCoors decided to resurrect Zima after its line of Henry’s Hard Soda proved successful last year. Ironically, the biggest fans of Henry’s are the very generation to which Coors marketed Zima in the first place.

    Zima’s top competitors include Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and Seagrams’ line of hard sodas.

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