Breweries

The Friday Mash (Man on the Moon Edition)

On this day in 1972, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans, and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth. The craft’s re-entry marked the end of America’s manned lunar program. Cernan currently holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in England, where the publishers of Original Gravity, a beer-centric magazine, have put Issue #1 online, free of charge. Enjoy!

The founders of Surly Brewing Company—Omar Ansari, a first-generation American; and Todd Haug, a death-metal guitarist—have done well, both for themselves and Minnesota’s beer drinkers.

Belgian scientists have found a way to keep beer from over-foaming. They applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract to disperse its anti-foaming agent into tinier particles.

Archaeologists have concluded that Iceland’s Vikings were more interested in drinking and feasting than in pillaging. Unfortunately for them, the Little Ice Age became the ultimate party-pooper.

A pair of brothers have invented something that makes it easier to enjoy a beer while taking a shower. Their Sip Caddy is a portable cup holder that can be attached to the wall.

Lance Curran, the co-founder of Chicago’s Arcade Brewery, loves comic books so much that he had comic strips drawn on the labels of its Festus Rotgut black wheat ale.

Finally, a woman attending a Philadelphia 76ers game wound up with a lapful of beer after an errant pass knocked the cup out of her hand. The way the Sixers are playing this season, she–and every other fan–needs some beer to deaden the pain.

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Why Founders Sold to a Spanish Brewery

The craft beer community was abuzz this week with news that Founders Brewing Company sold a 30-percent stake to Spain’s Mahou San Miguel Group.

Why did Founders do this? The answer came in a story in Wednesday’s MLive.com. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens told the publication that there were two reasons for the deal. First, by providing an international distribution chain, it ensures that Founders will be around for years to come.

More importantly, Stevens said, the deal was far better than the alternatives: getting acquired by one of the world’s brewing giants or falling into the hands of private-equity investors.

Stevens offered the best Worts of Wisdom of the entire year with this comment:

“We were looking for someone who truly understood the soul this brand,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find that among a bunch of bankers and in the private equity world. Priority No. 1 for people like that is a return — profits.

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Bourbon Barrel Stout: Where It Began

Last week’s Friday Mash linked a story about Black Friday beer releases. Most of those beers are stouts, and many are barrel-aged. Barrel-aged stout, in turn, was created more than 20 years ago at the Goose Island Brewing Company in Chicago. It’s called Bourbon County Brand Stout, and it’s one of the more famous beers in American brewing history.

Bourbon County was created by brewmaster Greg Hall, who has since moved on to make cider in west Michigan. To this day, Goose Island follows Hall’s recipe faithfully. It uses barrels from six or seven different bourbon distilleries. The brewery requires 3,000 barrels to age a full batch of Bourbon County and its variants. Those barrels have become hard to find because so many breweries are making their own barrel-aged beers.

Because of Bourbon County’s yeast strain, and the need to ferment the beer inside the barrels, the brewers have found it’s best to start the aging process in late summer. Changing seasons and their often-extreme climates—Goose Island’s home is Chicago–are crucial to Bourbon County’s ultimate taste. Warm temperatures makes the wood expand: beer seeps into the wood, and takes on vanilla and roasted flavors. When cold weather arrives, the wood contacts, and the bourbon is pushed out of the barrel and into the beer.

It takes at least a full year of changing seasons until the beer matures. Thus August and September are hectic months at Goose Island because brewery staff have to bottle the previous year’s batch while pouring the current year’s batch into the barrels. Just in time for Black Friday.

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The Friday Mash (Discovery Day Edition)

On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola. December is celebrated as Discovery Day on the island’s two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Loudoun County, Virginia, where beer tourism is stimulating the local economy. The county has eight breweries, with 16 more in the planning stages.

Black Friday has become the number-one day for beer releases. As you’ve probably figured out, most of these beers are stouts and many of them are barrel-aged.

SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewing company, still lacks a global brand. Its launch of Pilsner Urquell was a flop, and Heineken said no to a takeover offer.

Bottles and Cans, a liquor store in Chicago, is offering an adults-only Advent calendar. It contains 25 beers, each of them to be enjoyed on the weekdays leading up to Christmas.

European Union officials want Japan to open its market to imported beers. Arcane Japanese rules, such as a ban on ingredients like coriander seeds, act as “non-tariff barriers.”

Minnesota’s Excelsior Brewing Company has brewed a saison beer with pondweed and zebra mussels. The brewery insists that “minuscule” amounts of the invasive species were added.

Finally, Shoes & Brews, a runners’ gear store in Colorado, offers an incentive to get into shape. The store, which has a liquor license and 20 taps, bases the price of your first beer on your time in an 800-meter time trial.

Beer History on Tap

What kind of beer did Americans brew 300 years ago? Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond, Virginia, has part of the answer. The brewery found a recipe for table beer in the Virginia Historical Society’s collection. Called “Jane’s Percimmon Beer,” it was brewed by the Randolphs, one of the state’s more prominent families.

In contrast to modern-day recipes, the formula for Jane’s Percimmon Beer consisted of just a few short sentences, with no detailed instructions or quantities. The brewery’s first trial run used about 17 pounds of persimmons, and yielded only three gallons. What did the beer taste like? “The light peach-colored concoction conjures touches of sweetness and tangerine-like notes from the persimmons and just a whisper of spiciness from the English Golding hops.” It was a table beer, which means it was relatively low—about 3 percent–in alcoholic content.

Ardent hopes to find more recipes in the society’s collection and create other beers from Virginia’s rich beer history, and to use those beers to encourage discussion of alcohol production and consumption throughout history.

The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

Why Brewpubs Are Giving Way to Micros

In 2005, when Maryanne and Paul toured the state researching Michigan Breweries, most of the establishments they visited were brewpubs. Now a solid majority are microbreweries. It turns out this is a national trend.

Sometime during 2013, the number of micros exceeded the number of brewpubs; and, since the middle of 2012, more than three-quarters of newly-opened establishments are micros. Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, identifies three reasons why this is happening.

  • First, a number of states, such as South Carolina, have passed “pint laws” that allow breweries to breweries to sell full pints of their beer on-premise.
  • Second, the growing popularity of food trucks makes it possible for customers to enjoy something other than salty snacks at their local brewery.
  • Third, a brewery owner doesn’t have to enter the restaurant business, which eats up capital and poses additional challenges. Running a brewery is hard enough.

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.

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.

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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