Breweries

Iowa’s First Craft Brewery

It’s caucus day in Iowa, a perfect time to pass along a story from beer historian Tom Acitelli. It’s about Millstream Brewing Company, located in Iowa’s Amana Colonies.

Millstream was founded in 1985 by Carroll Zuber, who wanted to replicate the beers he’d enjoyed in Germany, and James and Dennis Roeming, who owned a restaurant in Amana. At the time, craft beer was a novelty in the nation’s midsection and a new brewery’s prospects in that region were dicey. Case in point: the Dubuque Star Brewery, which Joseph Pickett, Sr., bought in the 1970s. He upgraded Star’s equipment and released innovative beers—including one made with Iowa corn—but couldn’t survive industry consolidation.

But Pickett’s influence lived in through Millstream. He helped design both the brewery and its beers. Millstream took a big risk, specializing in lagers; Schild Brau (“Schild” is German for shield, an amber lager), remains the flagship of the brewery’s 15-beer lineup.

Millstream changed ownership in 2000, a year during which craft brewing endured a shakeout. The current owners—spouses Tom and Teresa Albert and Chris Priebe, a former Dubuque Star brewer and Millstream’s brewmaster—recently celebrated 30 years in business, and invited the former owners to join in the celebration.

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The Friday Mash (Luxury Car Edition)

One hundred and thirty years ago, German engineer Karl Benz patented the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. He and his wife, Bertha, founded Mercedes-Benz, now a division of Daimler AG, headquartered in Stuttgart—the home of Germany’s “other” famous beer festival.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Flint, Michigan, whose water supply in contaminated with lead. Flint’s aptly-named Tenacity Brewery, assures that its beer is lead free—and is donating $1 per pint to the city’s children.

Here are eight things to know about hard root beer, including how it began; who owns the companies that make it; and how many calories (300) are in a 12-ounce bottle.

AC Shilton of Outside magazine has an answer to the beer can shortage: growlers. They environmentally friendly, don’t contain the chemical BPA, and support your local brewery.

Virginia restaurant-goers are allowed to bring their own wine into restaurants if they pay corkage. Now state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give beer drinkers the same option.

Bar owners are negotiating with city officials over the Chicago Cubs’ plan to build a plaza outside Wrigley Field. They’re afraid of losing business, especially if the plaza sells cheap beer.

Brooklyn’s Pop Chart Lab has created 99 Bottles of Craft Beer on the Wall. After sampling a beer, the drinker takes out a coin and scratches off the gilt foil “emptying” the bottle while retaining the label.

Finally, Woody Chandler, the man who shows up at festivals wearing a Rasputin beard and a monk’s robe, has posted his 7,000th check-in on Untappd, including 2,000 in 2015 alone. That translates into more than five new beers per day.

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What is Barleywine?

Last weekend, the annual Great Alaska Beer & Barleywine Festival took place in Anchorage. So it’s a good time to ask this question: What is barleywine? Veteran beer journalist Jay Brooks is here to help.

Brooks takes us back to the third century B.C., when Armenians drank a beverage called oinos krithinos, Greek for “barley wine.” But that beverage bears no resemblance to what was served in Anchorage because it was unhooked. Hops wouldn’t be introduced to beer for another thousand years.

Modern barleywine is thought to have originated in 15th-century England. Hops made the style possible, because an unhopped strong ale would go sour very quickly. Hops enabled strong ales to, in Brooks’s words, “age so gracefully and be enjoyed many months later.” Some brewers believe that a beer shouldn’t even be called a barley wine until it’s at least a year old, when the beverage has developed a complex taste profile.

Strong ales were known by a number of names–”strong ale” in particular–during the 19th century. The name “barley wine” took hold in 1903, when the Bass Brewery used that phrase to describe No. 1, its Burton-style strong ale.

Brooks notes that barleywine shares one characteristic with wine from grapes: It is something to enjoy slowly. Because barleywines are rich and sweet, Brooks says they make good dessert beers. He suggests pairing them with creme brulee, dark chocolate, or strong blue cheeses. And since their high alcohol produces a warming sensation, the dead of winter is the perfect time of the year to enjoy them.

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The Friday Mash (Mac Edition)

Thirty-two years ago today, Apple Corporation introduced the Macintosh, which popularized the mouse and the graphical user interface. The introduction came in the form of the famous “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Michigan, where Founders Brewing Company, having filed the necessary paperwork, can once again sell Breakfast Stout with a baby on the label.

In the UK, health officials now recommend that men drink no more than six pints of beer per week. They also warn that drinking any amount of alcohol can cause health problems.

Paste magazine introduces you to seven “ridiculous, but kind of awesome” beer gadgets. They include a CO-2 injection system for growlers and a bottle that imparts an oak taste.

New laws in a number of states have encouraged “farm-to-keg” breweries, which make and serve beer using ingredients grown on site. These breweries operate much like wineries.

Did you get a drone for Christmas? AC Shilton of Outside magazine explains how can you train your new toy to fetch and deliver your beer.

In Australia, Quentin Tarantino was presented with a six-pack of Victoria Bitter in cans specially designed to honor him. He was joined onstage by actors Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.

Finally, the Craft Brewers Alliance plans to distribute Kona beer in Brazil. It cited “the great synergies between Hawaiian and Brazilian culture, with their amazing beaches and strong water lifestyles.”

Why Golden Road Agreed to Be Acquired

Last fall, when Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing, critics of the deal characterized Golden Road as a “built to sell” operation. They pointed out that for a new brewery, it was unusually big, both in production and distribution area.

Tony Yanow, one of Golden Road’s founding partners, says the “built to sell” rumors are untrue. He contends that being acquired wasn’t discussed until after A-B made an offer, which was too good to turn around. A-B gave the brewery “a really good valuation”, and promised to keep its employees on the payroll with opportunities for advancement.

The fast-changing craft beer industry was another reason to agree to the deal. Yanow said, “In a world where the amount of shelf space is not growing, but the number of breweries is growing so quickly, it’s a fight to get your beer [into major retailers],” He added that the challenges will grow as the industry consolidates and the big players strengthen their grip on distribution networks and retail accounts.

Beer at the Andechs Monastery

Nowadays, few visitors to Andechs Monastery in Bavaria are pilgrims. Most are there to tour the medieval building and, more importantly, to enjoy the beer brewed there by the monks. On any given day, visitors consume thousands of liters of beer, not to mention large quantities of pork knuckles and sausage.

Between the Catholic feasts of St. Martin (November 11) and St. Joseph (March 19), the monks release a special winter beer. The only place where one can buy it is at the monastery. Unlike the winter warmers served in American establishments, Andechs’ winter beer is mild in both flavor and alcoholic content (about 4 percent ABV).

The monks brew around 85,000 barrels per year; and despite modern technology, they adhere to Bavaria’s Beer Purity Law. The beer is distributed throughout Germany and abroad, and is the monastery’s number-one source of revenue.

The Friday Mash (Glass Houses Edition)

Eighty years ago today, in Toledo, Ohio, the first building to be completely covered in glass was completed. It was built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. The “Glass City” is also known for Jamie Farr and his beloved Tony Packo’s Cafe and Toledo Mud Hens.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hollywood, where Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais opened the show with a beer in his hand, and then proceeded to offend much of the audience with his jokes.

George Lenker, “The Beer Nut,” criticizes the Bavarian government for ordering a brewery to stop marketing its milk stout as beer because that beer didn’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot.

The Washington Post’s Ryan Ermey rated the top cheap beers, based on three criteria: alcoholic content, can design, and taste (“if you insist”). His top pick? Genesee Cream Ale.

Constellation Brands, which plunked down $1 billion to buy Ballast Point Brewing Company, will invest another $1.5 billion to build a brewery in Mexicali to meet growing demand for Mexican beer.

An iconic Pacific Northwest beer is coming back. The Red Hook Ale Brewery announced it will be making Rainier Pale Mountain Ale and other Rainier beers.

Nielsen NV and BARTRENDr have found out fans’ favorite brands of beer and liquor in every NFL city. Everclear didn’t make the list—even among fans of the awful Tennessee Titans.

Finally, brewer Chris Reynolds was given a chance to taste some of Alexander Keith’s IPA that was bottled in the 19th century and recently found underwater. Reynolds described the taste as “a little tree fruit note, a cherry note in there somehow—certainly a lot of sulphu,”.

The Friday Mash (Divestiture Edition)

Thirty-four years ago, AT&T agreed to be broken up into seven regional phone companies. Over the years, the “Baby Bells” recombined; and Southwestern Bell, the last surviving Baby Bell, renamed itself—you guessed it—“AT&T.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Walgreen’s sells Big Flats 1901 for $2.99 a six-pack. The contract-brewed beer has an overall rating of “Poor”—along with some funny reviews—on BeerAdvocate.com.

Kefir beer might be a healthier option for those with stomach ulcers. Scientists in Brazil found that rats that were fed kefir beer were less prone to inflammation than those that were fed regular beer.

Glassblower Matthew Cummings thinks beer deserves better glassware than the shaker pint. His Pretentious Beer Glass Company turns out odd-looking vessels designed for particular styles.

Vilde Haye, an Israeli boutique brewery, has launched a series of beers inspired by an imaginary klezmer orchestra. Each beer in the series has a “mascot,” a shtetel musician with a back story.

Mexican beer is growing faster than craft beer, thanks to America’s growing Latino population. There’s room for more growth as Anglos become aware of brands like Modelo and Tecate.

Brewbound.com lists the top ten craft beer stories of 2015. They include mergers and acquisitions, veteran craft-brewing figures stepping down, lawsuits, and the popularity of hard root beer.

Finally, Frank Winslow, Yards Brewing Company’s Director of Quality Assurance, explains why most beer bottles are brown but some are green, and why Corona might contain hop extract rather than actual hops.

Congress Gives Small Brewers a Break

That massive “tax extender” bill Congress passed before Christmas contains good news for the nation’s small brewers. Existing tax breaks for equipment will become permanent, and the breaks will apply to a broader class of brewers. In addition, brewers will face less regulatory red tape relating to bond requirements and tax reporting.

The legislation also bars the Food and Drug Administration from taking action against small brewers under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which would require brewers to specifically label ingredients such as fruit and spices. Even though those ingredients aren’t traditional, and are usually not found in national-brand beers, they’re well known to the craft-brewing community.

Best Cities for Beer Drinkers

What is America’s best beer city? SmartAsset.com compiled a list based on five criteria: total number of microbreweries and brewpubs; number of micros and brewpubs per capita; the breweries’ average Yelp score; number of bars per capita; and the average price of a pint of draft beer.

The number-one city—Portland—is somewhat surprising because it’s the one in Maine. What tipped the scales in favor of the “other Portland” was its brewery density: one for every 3,882 residents. Rounding out the top ten: Asheville; Portland, Oregon; Billings, Montana; Denver; Seattle; Wilmington, North Carolina; Missoula, Montana; Pittsburgh; and Cincinnati.

Blair Schiff of KUSA-TV in Denver suggested the the most beer-friendly cities have gloomy weather. However, that doesn’t explain why the Mile High City ranks fifth despite having 300 sunny days per year.

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