Breweries

The Friday Mash (Inauguration Day Edition)

Eighty years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, beginning his second term as president. Roosevelt was first the president to be inaugurated on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. Previously, presidents were sworn in on March 4.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where scientists have found that brewers “tamed” beer yeasts by reusing them until they adapted to the brewery environment. In fact, brewery yeasts couldn’t survive if reintroduced into the wild.

At age 87, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke drank a beer while watching the Aussie cricket team take on Pakistan. In college, Hawke set a world record by drinking a yard of ale—that’s three pints—in 11 seconds.

John Laffler, the co-founder of Off Color Brewing, has a confession to make. He’s a fan of Miller High Life, which he describes as light, crisp, technically perfect, and very consistent.

Singer Ed Sheeran dropped 50 pounds in 12 months after giving up beer. Beer is back in Sheeran’s diet, but perhaps he’s switched to these low-calorie offerings.

This year’s 10th annual Philadelphia Beer Week will be part of a year-round celebration called “Philly Loves Beer”. Organizers hope the new format gives local breweries greater exposure and draws more visitors.

Refocusing on daytime business, Starbucks has dropped evening beer and wine sales. However, alcohol may eventually return to the chain’s high-end “Roastery” locations.

Finally, bad craft beer is becoming more common. Reasons include lax brewing standards, under-trained brewers, and intense competition that tempts breweries to bring faulty beer to market rather than dump it.

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Pabst’s Unusual Business Model

Pabst Brewing Company has 2 percent of the American beer market, which puts it in a class with Boston Beer Company and D.G. Yuengling & Son. But under Eugene Kashper, Pabst’s busimess model is much different than that of Boston Beer and Yuengling.

Jason Notte of Forbes magazine, who recently interviewed Kashper, writes that Pabst’s CEO is “also digging into corners of the beer industry where the competition hadn’t tread and using its strengths in marketing, production and scale to take on the big brewers on a much smaller budget”.

Kashper told Notte that his portfolio was “kind of in a sweet spot between big beer and craft” because his legacy brands not only have a following, but also own a library of recipes for craft-like beers that he can sell for less than the going price of craft. Kashper’s success stories include Stroh’s Bohemian, Old Style Oktoberfest, and Rainier Mountain Ale, all of which have strong regional ties.

In addition, Pabst has entered into partnerships with craft and import brewers to enable it to penetrate those segments of the market. Those partnerships emphasize the strength of Pabst’s distribution and grassroots marketing, which Kashper hopes will give it a fighting chance against brewing giants Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

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The Friday Mash (National Geographic Edition)

On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society was formed. The Society’s logo, a bright yellow box, appears on National Geographic magazine, which is published in 40 languages around the world.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, where the beer police caught up with Travis John Miller, who was selling the contents of his beer cellar on Craigslist. Miller faces a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.

Swedish brewer Fredrik Tunedal, who often came home from work covered in malt dust, has released a Shower Beer. Its flavor profile includes a soapy taste, which Tunedal calls “on-point” for his product.

Keurig Green Mountain has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev to develop a line of instant beers—and other instant adult beverages—that Keurig owners can make at home.

The CEO of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and Modelo beer, said that he doesn’t expect President-elect Donald Trump’s trade policy to raise the price of Mexican brands.

Despite a dismal 5-7 record, the University of Texas finished #1 in the country—in beer sales, that is. By season’s end, Longhorns fans spent $5.26 on alcohol for every fan in attendance.

Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, disputes studies showing that beer sales have fallen in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Watson argues that pot is just one of many variables affecting sales.

Finally, in Adelaide, Australia, the woman-owned Sparkke Change Beverage Company is putting feminist messages on cans of its beer. It’s an effort to start conversations in the country’s male-dominated beer culture.

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Beer Tailored to Your DNA

If you have an extra $30,000 lying around, the Meantime Brewery in London will custom-brew a batch of beer that literally matches your DNA. Interested? The first step (assuing you’ve got the money), is to provide a saliva sample to be analyzed by the company 23andMe. The analysis focuses in particular on the gene TAS2R38, which contains oral taste receptors.

The next step is an appointment with Meantime’s brewmaster Ciaran Giblin, who will work with you to perfect the beer. An awful lot of beer—some 2,000 pints worth. Optional add-ons (you’ve got plenty of money, right?) include ad agency time to design your packaging, kegs to send to your local pub, and pint glasses molded to your hand.

Forbes magazine correspondent Leslie Wu, who wrote the article about the brewery’s “Meantime Bespoke” beer, has misgivings about it. She wonders who, even in a highly-competitive craft beer market, would pay that much money for beer. And she warns that personalized beer can lead to a “beer dystopia” where people are unwilling to try anything new.

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The Friday Mash (Epiphany Edition)

Today, Christians celebrate The Feast of the Epiphany. In Louisiana, this means Carnival season is underway. The local tradition is to bake King Cakes; and the person who finds the doll in his or her slice must bake the next cake.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in France, where the Benedictine monks at the 1,367-year-old Abbey of Saint-Wandrille are back in the business of brewing. They’re the country’s only producers of truly monastic beer.

In an interview with Paste magazine, 21st Amendment Brewery’s Nico Freccia talked about the fine art of naming beers, and how the brewery’s odd names has become mainstream.

When Tim Kliegl turned 65, he celebrated in unusual fashion—namely, by running a mile, and trying a new beer, every day for an entire year. And he’s got the notes to prove it.

Staffers at Amazon.com’s Christmas party in Dublin were treated to a special beer from local micro Metalman Brewing. Grainne Walsh, Metalman’s founder, once worked as an engineer at Amazon.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended lowering the DUI threshold to .05 percent, and a Utah lawmaker wants his state to be first. The current threshold in all states is .08.

Rick Astley, whose song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was part of a popular Internet prank, plans to “roll” out a beer. The lager, which will be brewed by Mikkeller, has yet to be named.

Finally, the The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company will celebrate its 150th anniversary by joining forces with the famous Hofbräu München. The amber-colored, Marzen-style will be introduced in April.

Beer Traveling Back to the 1850s

Carillon Historical Park, in Dayton, Ohio, provides an opportunity to taste beers from the 1850s. One of the park’s 30 buildings houses the Carillon Brewing Company, which uses historically accurate, mid-19th-century techniques. Visitors can enjoy traditional German food and other offerings at the brewery’s restaurant; while eating, they can watch employees and volunteers feed the fires, ladle the beer, and fill the barrels.

Carillon’s ales, made using techniques that predate refrigeration and mechanization, have a traditional sourness that some will consider an “acquired taste.” (Those who like the beer can buy growlers to take home.) The brewery’s flagship product is a coriander ale made from an 1830s recipe. Another Carillon beer, a porter, is made with malt hand-roasted over the fireplace coals; and because yeast strains vary seasonally, it will taste different throughout the year.

The Friday Mash (Hail Fredonia Edition)

One hundred and ninety years ago today, Benjamin W. Edwards rode into Mexican-controlled Texas and declared himself ruler of the Republic of Fredonia. Edwards is not to be confused with Rufus T. Firefly.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Bayern Munich football team treated Ingolstat’s players to sausages and beer. Ingolstat upset Leipzig, enabling Bayern to move into first place in the Bundesliga.

A former NASA biologist has developed a genetically engineered strain of yeast that makes beer glow under a black light. His “fluorescent yeast kit” contains genes from a jellyfish.

MobCraft Beer, a Milwaukee brewery that lets the public vote on new products, was was heavily criticized after “Date Grape” was one of the finalists. The brewery has apologized for the sexual assault reference.

Writer Jay Brooks tells the fascinating story of the Americas’ first Western-style brewery. It opened near Mexico City in 1544, with a team of brewers imported from Flanders.

Country music artist Sunny Sweeney’s song “One More Christmas Beer” celebrates family dysfunction. Sweeney says that the lyrics are inspired by actual events.

Next month, Chicago’s Field Museum will start serving PseudoSue, a pale ale brewed by the Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. The ale celebrates “Sue”, the museum’s beloved T-Rex skeleton.

Finally, Colorado’s craft brewers are engaged in soul-searching. This year, they’ve had to contend with Anheuser-Busch’s takeover of Breckenridge Brewing Company and a legislative battle over selling full-strength beer in grocery stores.

A Woman on a Quest

Emily Bennett, the “Mitten Beer Girl”, has made one hell of a New Year’s resolution: “In the year 2017, I’m going to visit every place in the state of Michigan which is a) utilizing a license to brew beer and is b) open to the public.”

She’s got her work cut out for her. According to our latest count, there are 266 breweries in operation in the state, with another 58 in the planning stages. Those numbers are conservative because some brewery openings aren’t picked up by the local news media.

You can follow Emily’s beer pilgrimage through her website, Mitten Beer Quest 2017; on Facebook; on Twitter (hashtags #MBQ2017 and #MittenBeerGirl); and on Instagram.

All of us at Ludwig Roars wish her good luck, and safe travels.

Politics and Beer in Venezuela

Venezuela is a deeply-divided country, and the division extends to that country’s beer industry. Last year, the two biggest brewers, Polar and Regional, were running short of raw materials. Both appealed to the administration of Nicolas Maduro to release foreign currency that would allow them to import hops, barley, and tin.

Regional’s request was granted, Polar’s was denied. Maduro, a socialist, has publicly castigated Polar’s owner as a prime example of the evils of capitalism. The family that owns Regional is extremely rich as well, but it has cooperated with Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

Polar has publicly accused the government of discriminating against it. Many other businesses, local and foreign, make the same accusations in private: “play ball with the government and all will be well, speak out and harassment may follow.”

High oil prices—Venezuela is a member of OPEC—provided Chavez with plenty of access to foreign currency, but the recent collapse in crude prices has caused the supply to dry up under Maduro. Polar officials fear that the Maduro is trying to strangle the corporation by cutting off its access to dollars.

Tiny Spanish Town Gets Millions in Beer Money

As a young man, Antonio Fernandez fled the tiny Spanish town of Cerezales del Condado to escape that country’s civil war. He wound up in Mexico, and became the general manager of Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s largest brewery. Modelo is best known in the United States for its Corona brand, which Fernandez is credited for promoting.

In Mexico, Fernandez amassed a fortune. He died in August, leaving behind an estimated $200 million or more. Like a number of other Spanish emigrants who who got rich in Latin America, Fernandez carried out philanthropic work in their hometowns. Fernandez’s will left part of his millions to fund the restoration of Cerezales del Condado’s church and other improvements to the town.

Fernandez died childless, but had 13 siblings. Now, as the lawyers go through his will, they’re finding that he’s left something to all of his many nieces and nephews.

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