Breweries

The Friday Mash (”No Music Day” Edition)

No Music Day was introduced by Bill Drummond to draw attention to the cheapening of music as an art form. Ironically, it coincides with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph, which made all that music possible, on November 21, 1877.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Seattle, where a local television station claims the Seattle Seahawks are selling watered-down beer. The breweries deny that the beer has a lower-than-advertised alcohol content.

The East Side Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, raised quite a few eyebrows with Sunday Evening Beer and Hymns. Outreach pastor Evan Taylor said, “We like to rattle the cage a little bit.”

Within the MillerCoors LLC’s s State Street complex is a smaller, independent operation whose beer include a chocolate lager and one with pineapple-scentedd hops.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is making a batch of beer with 25 pounds of scrapple. Other ingredients include maple syrup, coffee, and applewood-smoked barley.

Add your liquidity joke here. Bradley Trapnell, a finance guy who’d worked for Fannie Mae, is opening a growler shop in his hometown of Highland Village, Texas. He’ll have 36 beers on tap.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but beer is harder to spill than coffee. According to scientists, it’s because beer contains foam, which acts as a shock absorber: the more foam, the less spillage.

Finally, San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company has released .394 Pale Ale. It honors Padres’ Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who collaborated with the brewery before he passed away last June.

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Widmer Brothers Turns 30

It’s hard to believe that Widmer Brothers Brewery. started by Rob and Kurt Widmer in Portland, Oregon, has turned 30. To their surprise, they’ve become elder statesmen of the craft-brewing movement.

The brewery started out with two beers, inspired by their German heritage. Then something happened: the owner of local pub asked them for a third beer. Not wanting to disappoint a loyal customer, but facing capacity constraints, the brothers improvised. The result was the first American-style Hefeweizen. The beer not only looked and tasted different, but serving it in 23-ounce Pilsner glasses with a lemon on the side made it stand out.

Within 18 months, Widmer Hefeweizen became the brewery’s flagship beer.

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The Friday Mash (Czech Republic Edition)

On this day in 1918, Czechoslovakia came into existence. Since 1993, after the “Velvet Divorce” from Slovakia, the country is known as the Czech Republic. Different name, but the same great beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Jersey, the only state that bars amusement games in bars. Lawmakers are considering the “Dave & Busters Bill,” which would repeal the 55-year-old law.

Bad news for microbreweries: beer drinkers in their 20s are gravitating toward craft beer. The number one reason is that this age group is bored with the taste of mass-market brews.

They’ve risen from the dead. Schlitz, Narragansett, and four other “zombie” beers are back from “Pabst purgatory”. Interestingly, three of the six are from Greater Cincinnati.

Not everybody loves session beer. Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb thinks the idea is dumb. He insists there’s a reason why you don’t see session bourbon or session wine in stores.

Skol’s new Beats Senses beer comes in a deep-blue-colored bottle, and a Brazilian agency decided the best way to advertise it was to film a commercial underwater–which wasn’t easy.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features the first-ever sea-going gastropub. It will serve a variety of American craft beers, which are still hard to find aboard cruise ships.

Finally, Joe Maddon impressed sportswriters at his first press conference as the Chicago Cubs’ new manager. He held it the The CubbyBear, a ballpark bar, and treated the writers to a shot and a beer.

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Does Crowdfunding Work?

Earlier this year, Stone Brewing Company sought $2.5 in capital via the Indegogo website. Some wondered why an established brewery would turn to crowdfunding, but CEO Greg Koch answered critics by spelling out what investors in “beer futures” would receive. Stone met its goal in six weeks.

There have been some 800 beer-related crowdfunding campaigns, and their success rate has been slightly higher than average.

Indiegogo’s CEO has advice for breweries and other businesses that are looking for funds: be honest, communicate regularly with investors, and stay in touch even after successfully raising capital.

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The Friday Mash (Ludwig Returns! Edition)

Early this morning, Ludwig pulled out his lion phone and texted us. He said he’s on a plane home, and expects us to meet him at the airport. While waiting for his plane, we got caught up on news from the beer world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Detroit, where Shawn and Aaron Gross will open Windmill Pointe Brewery next year. They’ll rely on bicyclists to provide the power in exchange for beer.

Paperwork is a pain, so the Minneapolis-based Colle + McVoy ad agency gives employees an incentive to turn in their time sheets—in the form of a pint of August Schell beer.

Your friends probably believe at least one of the ten persistent beer myths (myth #1 involves IPA’s origins). Jim Vorel of Paste magazine is here to debunk them.

The Force had better be with New York State’s Empire Brewery. Lucasfilm filed a “Notice of Opposition” to the brewery’s application to trademark “Strikes Bock by Empire.”

British public-health experts want alcoholic beverage labels to disclose the drink’s caloric content. They contend that heavy drinking is a major cause of obesity.

Mystery shopper Kyle Taylor says he earned $4,000 a month as a “beer auditor.” His job was to make sure retailers follow ID-checking procedures. And yes, he was over 21.

Finally, Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb reflects on the “dad beer” phenomenon. Brands such as Schaefer and Genesee Cream Ale are enjoying a revival thanks to drinkers toasting their fathers and grandfathers.

Less Filling, Tastes Great

Can you believe that Miller Lite turns 40 next year? The beer’s big birthday prompted author Tom Acitelli to tell the story of its origin. One stop on the journey was Munich, where George Weissman, the chairman of Philip Morris–which had recently bought the Miller Brewing Company—asked his waiter to recommend a non-filling beer. The waiter suggested a Diat pilsner.

If you know about German beer, Diat isn’t a low-calorie beer, it’s a low-sugar lager brewed for people with diabetes. Weissman liked the beer, and so did his dinner guest, Miller Brewing’s new president, John Murphy. They decided that America was ready for a light beer.

As it turned out, Miller’s assets included the recipe for a light beer, which originated at the Rheingold Brewery in New York. It was marketed as Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which flopped badly. Meister Brau, which acquired the recipe from Rheingold, marketed it as Meister Brau Lite. That, too, was a failure.

Murphy got the message: “diet beer” doesn’t sell. Instead, he advertised it as “Everything You Wanted in a Beer. And Less.” And, of course, “Great Taste. Less Filling.” He also recruited retired athletes to endorse the beer. Miller Lite became one of the biggest successes in brewing history, and every major brewery responded by rolling out its own light beer.

The “light” movement spread far beyond beer. The makers of everything from soft drinks to barbecue sauce offered lower-calorie versions of their products. Some, such as Coca-Cola, even used the word “diet” in the new products’ names.

As for Miller Lite, one of its recent commercials claims that the beer “changed everything” by making beer drinkers more svelte and thus more attractive. Maybe diet beer sells after all, at least if the dreaded D-word doesn’t appear in the ads.

The Friday Mash (GW Bridge Edition)

On this day in 1931, the George Washington Bridge opened to traffic. This double-decker span over the Hudson River connects Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey–a town now famous thanks to “Bridgegate.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kansas City, where Boulevard Brewing Company will kick off its 25th anniversary celebration with the release of a special ale brewed in collaboration with Odell Brewing Company.

Chef David Chang made enemies thanks to a GQ magazine article declaring his hatred of “fancy beer”. Chang contends that craft beer has too intense a flavor to pair with his food.

Two hundred years ago, in London, eight women and children were killed by a flood of beer caused by an explosion at the Henry Meux & Company brewery. The disaster was ruled an “act of God.”

Why not turn your Halloween jack-o-lantern into a beer keg? All you need is a carving knife, a pumpkin carving kit, a Sharpie, a spigot, and beer—which need not be pumpkin beer.

William Bostwick, the Wall Street Journal’s beer critic, has written a book titled The Brewer’s Tale. In her review, Amy Stewart calls Bostwick “the very best sort of literary drinking buddy.”

In Papua New Guinea, which suffers 1.8 million cases of malaria every year, a brewery packs its beer in a box that contains eucalyptus, a natural mosquito repellent.

Finally, should the Great American Beer Festival give medals for best beer puns? CraftBeer.com’s Atalie Rhodes found these doozies on the list of medal winners. Our favorite is “Dubbel Entendre.”

Beer in the Carolinas

Daniel Hartis, who lives in Charlotte, is the author of Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing In The Queen City and the recently-published Beer Lover’s The Carolinas. Last week, he talked beer with fellow blogger Jim Dedman. Hartis credits the grass-roots Pop the Cap movement in North Carolina, which successfully lobbied state lawmakers to lift the 6-percent ABV limit, for the growth of craft beer in that state. Later, South Carolina passed similar legislation, and amended its liquor code to allow breweries to serve pints.

The author admits that his first experience with craft beer didn’t go so well. When he moved to Asheville to go to college, he asked the server at a pizzeria to bring him a pint of the establishment’s most popular beer. It was, of course, an IPA. He said, “I’d like to tell you it opened up a whole new world for me, but I thought it was disgusting and abrasively bitter.”

Hartis also said that breweries and beer bars are opening so fast in the Carolinas that he’s already thinking of a second edition of the book. It might hit the shelves as early as a couple of years from now.

The Friday Mash (Earthquake Edition)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed more than 60 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because it occurred minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, it became the first major earthquake to be broadcast on national television.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where a house inspired by beer bottles is on the market for $2.95 million. And it’s built to withstand hurricanes.

Louiville mayor Greg Fischer wants beer to join bourbon as a tourist attraction. He’d also like a bourbon-barrel beer festival and the revival of Kentucky common beer.

Are you a beer aficionado? James Grebey of Buzzfeed.com has compiled a list of 21 warning signs. Warning sign #6: You have a very, very deeply held opinion about pumpkin beer.

Now that legal marijuana is gaining momentum, economists are looking at legalization’s effect on the beer industry. Some think higher spending on pot will mean less spending on beer.

The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is blowing the whistle on Boston-area bars that take bribes from breweries. The practice is illegal, but violators are rarely punished.

Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, wants to brew beer in Detroit. He bought a 100-year-old former General Motors building, part of which will house his own brewery.

Finally, scientists have discovered that fruit flies love brewer’s yeast. A gene in the yeast releases a fruity smell that attracts the flies which, in turn, spread the yeasts to new habitats.

GABF Medals: Behind the Numbers

Breweries from western states, Colorado in particular, win a disproportionate number of Great American Beer Festival medals. Some observers believe western breweries win more medals because they make better beer. Others believe that their proximity to Denver gives them an advantage: it’s a lot easier to ship beer from Boulder than, say, New Jersey.

Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, offers a different explanation: Western breweries simply enter more beers. Watson calculated the number of expected medals per state, which is determined by both the number of beers entered and the categories in which they competed. (The second factor is important because it’s much harder to win a medal for an IPA than for a less-popular style such as dark lager.) He then compared the number of medals actually won to the expected number.

Watson discovered was that the actual medal count was very close to the expected number. From that, he drew two conclusions. First, no region of the country can claim it makes significantly better beer than others. And second, distance from Denver doesn’t keep states from winning medals; however, it does limit the number of entries. Which gets us back to the argument about proximity to Denver.

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