Breweries

The Friday Mash (Typhoid Mary Edition)

A century ago today, a cook named Mary Mallon, better known as “Typhoid Mary,” was put in quarantine after infecting more than 50 people with the disease. She would remain in quarantine until her death in 1938.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in space—well, sort of. Ninkasi Brewing Company has released Ground Control Imperial Stout, brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, cocoa nibs, and yeast that was launched by a rocket to an altitude of more than 77 miles.

Beer and driving usually don’t mix, but here’s an exception: The Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, England, has fashioned “The Beer Engine,” a motorcycle whose sidecar is a beer keg, complete with spigot.

Madison, Wisconsin, entrepreneur Kimberly Clark Anderson has found success making beer jelly. She recommends it as a topping for a variety of foods, from pork chops to pound cake to toast.

Nostalgic “retro” beers aren’t just an American phenomenon. On May 1, United Dutch Brewers will re-introduce Oranjeboom beer, a brand that was taken off the market a decade ago.

In South Carolina, beer tourism is becoming big business. Proximity to brewery-rich Asheville, and brewery-friendly state laws are the main reasons why.

Consumer prices are actually falling in Europe, including including the price of local beer. That’s especially good news for American tourists, as the U.S. dollar is at a 12-year high against the euro.

Finally, “Florida Man,” a less-than-complimentary description of Sunshine State males who behave bizarrely in public, is the name of a new double IPA from Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company. The beer might have a built-in market: over 250,000 people follow #Floridaman’s Twitter feed.

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Time Out for Trivia

The staff of Mental Floss magazine sifted through the Brewers Association’s sales figures for craft breweries, and identified the largest brewery in each state. Some of them are obvious—Boulevard is Missouri’s largest, for example—but others provide good material for bar trivia. Can you guess the largest brewery in these five states?
(a) Arkansas.
(b) Connecticut.
(c) Iowa.
(d) Nevada.
(e) Rhode Island.

Time’s up. The answers are (a) Core Brewing Company, (b) Two Roads, (c) Backpocket Brewing, (d) Ellis Island Casino & Brewery, and (e) Trinity Brewhouse.

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An Oral History of Beer Label Design

As the craft beer industry grows more crowded, it becomes increasingly important for breweries to distinguish themselves from the competition. One way of doing so, aside from the beer itself, is the look and feel of the beer’s packaging. Chris Wright of GearPatrol.com sought out a number of leading figures in the craft community, and asked them about the design of their beer labels.

Wright’s panel of experts includes Brooklyn Brewery’s Milton Glazer, who founded New York magazine and designed the iconic “I (Heart) NY” logo in the 1970s; Flying Dog Ales’ Erin Weston, who works closely with Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrator Ralph Steadman; and Dogfish Head Brewery’s Sam Calagione, who really needs no introduction. Ten other designers, representing such well-known brands as Founders, Ommegang, and Sly Fox, also contributed to this fascinating oral history.

The designers come from various walks of life; and, as expected, many of them are home brewers. They explained to Wright what they wanted their labels to convey, such as psychedelia or fond memories of the beach. Perhaps the best comment came from Calagione, who told Wright that label design has become a challenge. He said, “It’s getting harder to find fun, provocative on-brand names these days with 1.5 new breweries opening every day and only half a million words in the English language.”

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Journalist Scolds Battling Craft Brewers

The trademark dispute between Bell’s Brewing and Innovation Brewing has exhausted the patience of business writer Jason Notte. In article posted on MarketWatch.com, Notte told the battling breweries to stop acting like children. Notte took particular offense to both breweries’ resorting to social media to air a dispute that ought to be decided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He went on to say:

By trying this matter in the court of public opinion instead of, you know, the federal trademark office, both breweries succeeded only in airing some procedural dirty laundry that in no way helps beer drinkers or buyers. By opening those screeds with pap like “To Our Wonderful Craft Beer Community” and “To Bell’s customers and the passionate craft beer community,” each tried to play to what they clearly believe is craft beer fans’ inflated sense of justice and moral clarity. Never mind that the customers of each brewery are members of that same community, or that this whole thing could have been resolved behind closed doors if Bell’s just kept its mouth shut and Innovation had the good sense to, you know, bring a lawyer to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to defend its trademark application.

Notte calls this dispute a wasted opportunity: it could have been a lesson to other breweries about how to prepare for a trademark proceeding, and how to properly research a brand name before attempting to trademark it. Instead, Bell’s and Innovation aired one another’s dirty laundry—a tactic that does nothing to help either craft brewers or people who like their product.

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The Friday Mash (Iditarod Edition)

Thirty years ago today, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. “Mushers,” as competitors are called, must brave dangerous cold, blizzards, and whiteout conditions on the 1,135-mile course from Willow to Nome, Alaska.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in St. Paul, where a delegation of Minnesotans—including state lawmakers—made a symbolic beer run to Wisconsin to protest their state’s ban on Sunday alcohol sales.

A group of writers at Fortune magazine took a stab at deciding what your choice of beer brand says about you. For instance, Amstel Light says, “Thank God the beer is free at this office party.”

Rhys Morgan, a student at the University of Cardiff in Wales, figured out how to make a bottle opener out of a sheet of paper. His YouTube tutorial has more than 350,000 views.

Civil engineer Dave McWilliams won first prize in a home brewing contest. And what a prize it was: the opportunity to brew a batch of IPA at Anheuser-Busch’s pilot brewery in St. Louis.

Tap beer is served at 38 degrees. That’s fine for mass-market lagers, but it’s too cold for craft beers, which should be served at temperatures between the mid-40s and the upper 50s.

Beer is expensive in New York City, but an app called Price Per Pint can help find the cheapest drinks, as well as specific happy-hour times and daily specials at hundreds of establishments.

Finally, staffers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation brewed up a beer protest of the National Security Agency’s “three-hop” surveillance program. Their beer is called “Stormbrew” and yes, the recipe is available to the public under a Creative Commons license.

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Is Ballast Point Planning a Brewery in Richmond?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits has taken an interest in Richmond as the site of an East Coast brewery. This news comes on the heels of an economic development deal with Stone Brewing had entered into with city officials.

Richmond’s discussions with Ballast Point appear to be in the preliminary stages, and the brewery is likely considering other potential sites as well. A Ballast Point spokeswoman told the paper, “We’d prefer not to comment on any future expansion plans.”

Speculation about Ballast Point’s interest in Richmond began a few weeks ago, when brewery executives paid a visit to Mekong, a Vietnamese restaurant and bar that has won national acclaim for its beer selection. A Mekong patron who met the executives wrote about it on Facebook. Mekong’s owner confirmed their visit, but added that many out-of-town beer lovers stop by as well.

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Breweries Invest In African Farmland

Giant breweries such as SABMiller and Diageo PLC have invested heavily in African farmland as part of their effort to use more locally-sourced material—such as sorghum, cassava, and yams—in their beer. The good news is that the breweries are guaranteeing small farmers a guaranteed market for their crops, and that beer made from local crops is as much as 40 percent cheaper.

However, not all the news is good. With farmers growing more sorghum, they’re growing less food crops. Shrinking food supplies, in turn, mean higher prices, putting staples out of the reach of many families’ budgets.

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Yup. Another Nasty Trademark Dispute.

Earlier this month, Bell’s Brewery filed paperwork with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office challenging a tiny North Carolina brewery’s application for a federal trademark for its name, Innovation Brewing. Bell’s claims that “Innovation” infringes on its rights to the slogan, “Bottling Innovation Since 1985,” and would be confusing to customers. The dispute has prompted a spirited discussion among beer enthusiasts.

Innovation issued a statement responding to Bell’s trademark claim. Its owners said, among other things, that “We do not believe that any human on earth would confuse Innovation Brewing with Bell’s Brewery, despite their slogans.” Bell’s maintains that it is merely defending its trademark, and that it is not asking Innovation to pay damages or change its name.

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The Friday Mash (San Diego State U. Edition)

On this day in 1897, San Diego State University was established. The 35,000 students at SDSU have an amazing selection of craft beer to choose from. At the end of 2014, the county had nearly 100 breweries and brewpubs.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Houston, where the Texas Beer Refinery has opened for business. Its fermenting tanks and brew kettles have been made to look like refinery towers from a distance.

Goose Island Brewing Company’s 20-year-old brewery on Chicago’s Near West Side will start offering tours and tastings later this month. The tasting room will also offer growler fills.

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company has brewed a beer to benefit James Madison’s Montpelier. Ambition Ale, “a beer with checks and balances,” will be available in central Virginia this summer.

Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Oregon’s largest-selling craft beer, is now co-branded with Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers. Both the brewery and the team are Portland institutions.

Goldcrest 51 beer was popular in Memphis until the Tennessee Brewing Company closed its doors in 1955. Beer writer Kenn Flemmons plans to revive the beer this spring, using the original recipe.

A federal appeals court has ruled that Flying Dog Ales can sue Michigan for damages over its refusal to approve the label for Raging Bitch IPA. The state’s decision was overturned in court.

Finally, a new beer from Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company honors cherry farmer Nancy Bunting, who supplied it with thousands of pounds of cherries. Allagash has donated part of the proceeds from “Nancy” to a charity that helps farmworkers with health problems.

The Friday Mash (Aspirin Edition)

On this day in 1899, Bayer AG trademarked the name “Aspirin” for its synthetic version of salicylic acid. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory drug, is one of the world’s most widely-used medications: 40,000 metric tons are used each year.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Kentucky, which is best known for snow bourbon. However, a lively craft beer scene has emerged. Fourteen breweries have opened in the Bluegrass State since 2011.

CNBC is bringing back its Most Loved Beer Label contest. For the next week, citizens can nominate labels. The network will reveal the finalists on March 23, and voting will wind up two weeks later.

In Malaysia, non-alcoholic beer for Muslims is unacceptable to the chief halal certifier because he objects to the word “beer” to describe the drink.

Jay Brooks has published an ale-themed parody of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. The closing lines are, “I do so love craft beer at home! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!”

CoolMaterial.com created a flowchart to guide people who can’t decide what their next beer should be. The first question is, “Are you looking to get drunk and don’t care about taste?”

Beer festivals attract people dressed as court jesters, ballerinas, superheroes, and even giant chickens. MLive.com’s John Serba offers five ridiculous, but practical costume suggestions.

Finally, Eleanor Robertson stirred up a hornets’ nest with an op-ed condemning craft beer. Robertson hates its taste, can’t stand beer snobs, and would rather talk to her friends than her beer.

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