Breweries

The Friday Mash (Emoticon Edition)

On this day in 1982, Scott Fahlman posted the first documented emoticons, :-) and :-( , on the Carnegie Mellon University Bulletin Board System. So now you know who to blame.

And now….The (emoticon-free) Mash!

We begin in Israel, where Itsik Levy named his brewery “Isis” after an Egyptian goddess. Now that the Islamic State is using that name, Levy said—tongue in cheek—that he’s considering “a massive lawsuit” against it.

D’oh! Australian regulators ordered Woolworth’s to stop selling Duff beer because the brand’s association with The Simpsons made it too appealing to would-be underage drinkers.

Scientists say that the fastest way to chill beer is to pour plenty of salt into a bucket of water, then add ice, and then drop in the beer. It’ll be cold in 20 minutes or less.

For Ohio to get Stone Brewing Company’s second brewery, lawmakers will have to raise the ABV cap. Some of Stone’s ales exceed the current 12-percent cap and thus can’t be brewed in Ohio.

Britain’s Prince Harry celebrated his 30th birthday by downing a beer at the Invictus Games. He has good reason to celebrate: now that he’s 30, he inherits $17.4 million from his mother, the late Princess Diana.

The Beer Geeks are returning to this year’s Great American Beer Festival. They’re a corps of 3,000 volunteers who are trained by the Brewers Association to tell festival-goers more about the beers they’re sampling.

Finally, Beverage Grades, a Denver company that analyzes the content of beer and wine, offers a “Copy Cat” app which tells where you can find beer with similar tastes to those you like.

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The Friday Mash (Ponderosa Edition)

Fifty-five years ago today, the first episode of the television show Bonanza premiered on NBC. The show, which starred Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running western of all time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Crested Butte, Colorado, where residents are hopping mad over a clandestine deal to let Anheuser-Busch turn their ski town into a living Bud Light commercial.

John Holl asked some of his fellow beer writers, “if beer were invented today, what would it look like?” The answers may surprise you.

Heavy late-summer rains in Montana and Idaho have ruined much of the barley crop. A disappointing barley harvest could translate into higher beer prices next year.

Are you ready for some football? The folks at Thrillist are, and they’ve picked a local beer for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams.

Add chili pepper-infused beers to the list of craft brewing trends. USA Today’s Mike Snider reviews some popular chili beers, including one made with extra-potent ghost peppers.

Raise a glass to Jake Leinenkugel, who is retiring as the brewery’s CEO. According to a hometown journalist, Leinenkugel has earned a place in craft brewing history.

Finally, Marc Confessore of Staten Island showed us how not to pair food and beer. He got caught trying to sneak four cases of Heineken and 48 packages of bacon out of a grocery store.

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Beer States, Ranked

These rankings come courtesy of Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza, and Matt Lynch of Thrillist.com. Before calling the roll of the states, the authors explain their criteria: “Quantity and quality are both important, but quality’s a bit MORE important. If you’re a small state turning out a disproportionate amount of great beer, it did not go unrecognized. We also gave a boost to states who played a historical role in American beer as we know it today.”

Heading the list is Oregon (”Even the ‘crappy’ breweries by Portland standards would bury most of their peers”), followed by California (”San Diego…the most dominating beer city in world history”), Colorado (”Beer is everywhere. Everywhere is beer”), Michigan (which “some of the best damned breweries in the country”), and Washington (”home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness”).

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bottom five: Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and coming in dead last, Mississippi.

The Friday Mash (Razor Sharp Edition)

On this day in 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia decided to Westernize his country by imposing a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry. That tax would have killed Russia’s craft brewing industry, had one existed at the time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Texas, whose residents insist that everything is bigger. The Austin Beer Works lived up to that reputation by selling 99-packs of its “Peacemaker Anytime Ale.”

The remains of what appears to be a nearly 300-year-old brewery have been discovered on the campus of William and Mary. It made small beer for the college’s colonial-era faculty and students.

Are beer enthusiasts getting too fixated on ratings? CraftBeer.com’s Chris McClellan, who watched a feeding frenzy ensue when a top-rated beer arrived at a store, thinks they have.

A deconsecrated church, an ex-funeral home, and a military base are among Esquire magazine’s 14 strangest brewery locations in America.

Gizmodo.com’s Karl Smallwood explains why beer is rarely sold in plastic bottles. They contain chemicals that ruin the beer’s taste; and they allow carbon dioxide to escape, making the beer flat.

Archaeologist Alyssa Looyra has re-created a beer from a bottle found near the site of the Atlantic Beer Garden, a 19th-century New York City hangout. It’s “a light summer drink.”

Finally, the Leinenkugel Brewing Company took the high road when it discovered that Kenosha’s Rustic Road Brewing was already using the name “Helles Yeah.” CEO Dick Leinenkugel showed up and bought the name for a few cases of beer, some pizza, and an undisclosed sum of money.

The Friday Mash (Seven Years’ War Edition)

On this day in 1756, Prussia’s king Frederick the Great attacked Saxony, beginning the Seven Years’ War. The conflict, which took place on five continents and involved most of the world’s powers, is better known to English-speaking North Americans as the French and Indian War.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Mallersdorf Abbey’s Sister Doris has been a master brewer for nearly 40 years. She’s one of Bavaria’s few “ladies who lager”–and Europe’s last beer-brewing nun.

Beer historian Tom Acitelli credits a 2002 cut in the excise tax for the profusion of small breweries in Great Britain. He also credits a 1976 beer tax cut for America’s small-brewery boom.

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon is a wine lover, but he also has a taste for good beer. Gordon recently showed up at Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, whose 61 Minute IPA really impressed him.

For years, Mexico’s brewing industry had been dominated by two large corporations, but change is slowly coming, thanks to the federal government’s efforts to curb monopolies in key industries.

Iowa officials are pondering what to do with the 150-year-old beer caves underneath I-380 in Cedar Rapids. The forgotten caves were exposed by this summer’s heavy rains.

Barrel-aged beer is becoming more popular, and brewers are looking beyond traditional bourbon barrels. Now they’re starting to age their beer in barrels once used for Scotch, rum, and wine.

Finally, the growth of microbreweries might give rise to a new breed of wholesalers. Yarmouth, Maine-based Vacationland Distributors specializes in craft breweries, especially those that have grown beyond the state’s maximum for self-distribution rights.

Uncle Sam’s Beer Label Czar

Meet Kent “Battle” Martin, who for years has been America’s beer label czar. Martin, who works for the Tax and Trade Bureau, a section of the U.S. Treasury Department, has been variously described as a workaholic, eccentric, and tightly wound. That, and a law onto himself. In his career at the U.S. Treasury’s Tax and Trade Bureau, he’s passed judgment on some 30,000 labels.

The brewing community respects Martin’s work ethic and dedication to his job, and acknowledges that regulation has to be consistent. Nevertheless, some of his decisions have become legendary. The labels he’s rejected include these:

  • The King of Hearts, which had a playing card image on it, because the heart implied that the beer would have a health benefit;
  • Pickled Santa, because Santa’s eyes were too “googly” on the label, and labels cannot advertise the physical effects of alcohol;
  • Bad Elf’s “Elf Warning” about operating toy-making machinery while drinking the ale, which was deemed confusing to consumers;
  • A label that featured a hamburger, because the image implied there was a meat additive in the beer; and
  • “Adnams Broadside” beer, which touted itself as a “heart-warming ale,” another prohibited health-benefit claim.
  • And there’s the story of Vaune Dillman, who wanted to market a beer called “Legal Weed.” Battle not only objected to what looked like a reference to marijuana—Weed is an actual town in California, where Dillman brews his beer—but he also took offense that Dillman called him “Mr. Martin,” not “Battle,” which he prefers to be called.

    Ballantine IPA Returns

    Beloved by Hunter S. Thompson and advertised as “the manlier brew,” Ballantine IPA was one of the few India pale ales available in the United States before the craft brew movement began. Inevitably, the ale fell victim to industry consolidation.

    Pabst Brewing Company, which now owns the Ballantine trademark, announced that it will launch a new version of Ballantine IPA. According to Jay Brooks, who passed along Pabst’s announcement on his blog, the ale will check in at 7.2% ABV and 70 IBUs, putting it near the upper end of the style guidelines for an English-style IPA.

    Gregory Deuhs, Pabst’s brewmaster, conducted extensive research—including talking to beer drinkers of a certain age–to find out what the original IPA looked and tasted like. After making two dozen five-gallon batches at his home, Deuhs finally came up with an IPA that Peter Ballantine, the company’s founder, would brew today.

    Ballantine IPA will soon be available in six-packs and 750-ml bottles in nine northeastern states.

    Virginia is For (Beer) Lovers

    August is Virginia Beer Month, and it appears that the Commonwealth is quite interested in attracting beer travelers. The official tourism site has a Craft Beer section, which includes three beer and food trails: the Nelson 151 Trail, the Red, White and Brew Trail, and the Brew Ridge Trail. Visitor can also go on a “Wolf Pack” tour of BadWolf in Manassas, Wild Wolf in Nellysford and Wolf Hills in Abingdon, or take a color tour with tastings at Blue & Gray in Fredericksburg, Blue Lab in Lexington, Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, and Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton.

    Strange Brew

    The current trends in brewing include session IPAs, sour beer, and…beer made with strange ingredients. CoolMaterial.com went looking for the strangest ingredients of all—we’re not talking bacon or wasabi here—and found seven truly bizarre beers. How bizarre? Put it this way. Rogue’s Beard Beer, made with yeast from Brewmaster John Maier’s beard, was the most mainstream of the seven. We recommend that you not read this story before eating.

    The Friday Mash (Abbey Road Edition)

    Forty-five years ago today, at a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan took the photo that became the cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road. It became one of the most famous album covers in recording history.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin, appropriately, in London, where local officials might stop evening beer festivals at the zoo after festival-goers threw beer at the tigers and a drunken woman tried to enter the lion enclosure*.

    Jim Koch, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, planned to open a brewery in Seattle, where he went to college. But after watching it rain for 45 straight days, Koch and his wife moved back to Boston.

    Germany’s years-long slump in beer consumption was halted by its winning the World Cup. Between January and June, sales rose by 4.4 percent over a year ago.

    Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company issued a recall for its popular Swill beer after it learned some bottles were undergoing secondary fermentation, which could cause them to explode.

    California’s continuing drought has craft brewers worried. If the rains don’t come this winter, they might be forced to curtail production, raise prices, or even move brewing operations out of state.

    Elizabeth Daly, who sued the Virginia ABC after over-zealous plainclothes officers wrongly suspected she was a minor in possession, will get a $212,500 settlement check from the state.

    Finally, New Zealand health regulators warned a hotel that its sign, “Pero Says: ‘Free Beer Tomorrow’”, may violate the law by promoting excessive drinking. Haven’t they read about “Jam Tomorrow” in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking-Glass?

    * Ludwig is not pleased with her.

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