Breweries

The Friday Mash (Pac-Man Edition)

Thirty-five years ago today, Namco released the classic arcade game Pac-Man, which became a staple of 1980s popular culture. Over the years, Pac-Man machines have gobbled up some 10 billion quarters, making it one of the highest-grossing video games of all time.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where the Atrapaneblina brewery relies on water collected from fog nets to make its Scottish ale. The brewery’s name is Spanish for “fog-catcher.”

Better late than never for this article. John Hendrickson of Esquire magazine had an interesting interview with Blue Moon brewmaster John Legnard at this years South by Southwest.

With summer just around the corner, Meghan Storey of CraftBeer.com has assembled a slideshow of the best seasonal beers in your part of the country.

Yet another reason to consider San Diego for a beer vacation: craft breweries are opening south of the border in Tijuana.

Kalamazoo has so many breweries that the city and a tour company have teamed up to offer downtown craft beer walking tours.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com says that beer ads are becoming less sexist. SABMiller and Heineken want to broaden their appeal beyond young men getting sloshed on Saturday night.

Finally, the shape of your glass can influence whether you wind up having too many. Straight glasses and those with the amounts marked are less conducive to over-indulging than curved and unmarked glasses.

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How the Civil War Affected Beer

The American Civil War, like many wars throughout history, proved to be longer than anyone imagined.

By mid-1862, the war had become one of attrition, and the United States needed money to win it. One way of raising it was to impose the first-ever tax on beer. The tax was $1 a barrel, or about $23.40 in today’s money. In 1865, the last year of the war, the U.S. took in more than $3.7 million ($865 million in today’s money). The war ended, but the beer tax lived on—except during Prohibition—and, since 1991, has stood at $18 a barrel.

The beer tax led to the formation of the United States Brewers’ Association, a powerful trade group whose number-one priority was to keep the tax as low as possible. The USBA’s influence diminished after the war, and disappeared altogether in 1986. However, it provided the template for the modern-day Brewers Association, the craft brewers’ trade association.

The Civil War came on the heels of heavy German immigration to the U.S. The Germans brought with them a love of lager beer; and they started dozens of breweries, especially in the Midwest. During the war, many German and German-American men joined the Union Army, where they introduced their fellow soldiers to the joy of beer-drinking. Increased demand for beer, combined with greater automation in the industry, led to the a wave of brewery openings after the war. In 1873, the U.S. brewery count peaked at 4,131.

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How Craft Beer Became “Craft”

Q. Who invented the term “craft beer”?

A. According to beer writer Stan Hieronymus, Vince Cottone, a beer columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, first used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery,” and “craft brewing” in the manner they’re thought of today. Cottone’s readers knew what he was talking about, but it took a while for the phrase “craft beer” to establish itself.

Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Association of Brewers, first defined “craft brewery” in New Brewer magazine in 1987. Since then, the craft-brewing industry has established three criteria: small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less; independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer; and traditional (flavored malt beverages aren’t “beers”).

That definition didn’t exactly settle the matter. Some in the industry point out that large companies employ craftspeople to brew their beer, and that well-known craft brands are becoming increasingly industrialized. Others find the term “craft beer” rather meaningless.

There’s the even bigger debate over what “craft beer” is. The industry doesn’t define it, but recently pointed the accusing finger at several beers—Blue Moon and Shock Top in particular—as craft beer impostors.

Some enthusiasts have even higher standards. Jace Marti, the brewmaster at August Schell Brewing Company, told Hieronymus that an attendee at last year’s World Beer Cup refused to taste his beers, which had won two medals. The attendee told him, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s adjunct beer”.

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The Friday Mash (Mickey D Edition)

Seventy-five years ago today, Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a fast-food restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Businessman Ray Kroc bought out the brothers’ equity, and turned it into a world-wide franchise operation.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Greater Detroit, where Griffin Claw Brewing Company has brewed an amber ale for the Detroit Zoo. It hopes to distribute the ale statewide, with part of proceeds going back to the zoo.

Can Belgian beer help you lose weight? Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London contends that it contains bacteria that keeps people slim. Junk food, on the other hand, kills these bacteria.

Many craft beer lovers hold Blue Moon in low regard. However, investment firm executive Charles Sizemore believes the beer is a winner for MillerCoors: it appeals to high-income casual drinkers who want a beer or two after work.

Munich’s Hofbrauhaus is franchising another American location. The latest is a historic dining hall in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, which will be given the HB look and feel.

In her ad for [redacted] Beer, comedian Amy Schumer unleashed a snark attack on beer commercials. Fair warning: the video in this link is not safe for work.

The next-to-last episode of Mad Men showed Don Draper in an Oklahoma watering hole, listening to veterans telling war stories while drinking Lone Star beer and other adult beverages.

Finally, YouTuber Dave Hax shows you how to turn a box of tall-boy beer bottles into a picnic cooler. Cut open the top of the box to make a lid, pull all of the beer out, line it with a plastic bag, and put the beer back in. Add plenty of ice…and voila!

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The Friday Mash (Coke No Pepsi Edition)

On this day in 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton first sold a carbonated beverage named “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine. Pemberton, a wounded Confederate veteran who became addicted to morphine, developed the beverage as a non-opium alternative.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rochester, New York, where North American Breweries is putting Genesee beer, Genesee Cream Ale, and Genesee Ice in retro bottles. The packaging hearkens back to the 1960s, the heyday of the “Genny” brand.

Sad news from North Carolina. Dustin Canestorp, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps, has closed his Beer Army Combat Brewery. He blames state franchise laws that effectively tie a brewery to a distributor for life.

Executives of the nation’s big breweries are getting worried about the amount of discounting going on. The beers you’re most likely to find on sale include Bud Light, Budweiser, and Shock Top.

Craft beer has been susceptible to “the next big thing” mentality. According to Allen Park of Paste magazine, trends that “have more than overstayed their welcome” include waxing bottles, session IPAs, and adjuncts.

Craft brewers are scrambling to comply with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” which requires breweries and restaurants to disclose nutritional information, including the caloric content of their beers.

City officials aim to make Toronto the world’s craft beer capital. Measures include creating a craft brewery culinary trail and lowering regulatory barriers to brewery start-ups.

Finally, a growing number of craft breweries are making their recipes available to the public. Some, such as Russian River Brewing Company and Rogue Ales, are working with supply shops to develop kits for homebrewed versions of their beers.

Using DNA to Spot Bad Beer

The Russian River Brewing Company is famous for its Pliny IPAs. It also brews sour beers steeped in Pediococcus and Lactobacillus, which give them their funky taste. Problem is, those bacilli can destroy the taste of IPA. As a result, Russian River has gone to great lengths to make sure the equipment and people associated with the two styles are kept separate.

Tiny amounts of bacteria can ruin thousands of dollars worth of beer. Most breweries use a technique called plating, in which a small sample of beer is placed in an incubator; if the beer is infected, a bacteria colony will appear. However, plating takes time. To find bacteria faster, Russian River has bought BrewPal, a new testing technology from a Philadelphia-based company called Invisible Sentinel.

BrewPal identifies the DNA of the specific types of Pediococcus and Lactobacillus that damage batches of beer. It uses a three-step process. First, a sample of beer is run through a centrifuge, and then into the BrewPal hardware. Second, the sample is heated and then cooled for 2-1/2 hours so that the bacteria’s DNA can be amplified. Finally, the sample is dropped into a disposable plastic reader that resembles a home pregnancy test: it tells whether the bacteria are present, and whether the infection is mild or severe.

A full BrewPal system retails for around $5,000, so it’s affordable for many craft breweries.

The Friday Mash (Pluto Edition)

Eighty-five years ago today, Pluto was officially named. Upon its discovery, Pluto was recognized as the solar system’s ninth planet. However, in 2006 the International Astronomical Union’s formal definition of “planet,” resulted in Pluto’s demotion to dwarf-planet status.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Wisconsin, where the fifth annual Madison Beer Week kicks off today. Co-founder Jeffrey Glazer talks about the growth of Beer Week and how beer culture has changed in Madison.

If you’re on the Paleo Diet, grain-based beer is off the menu. Scientists say it shouldn’t be. Our ancestors were creative enough to turn both grain and fruit into alcoholic beverages.

Nicolette Wenzell of the Palm Springs Historical Society takes us back to the 1950s, when the El Mirador Hotel hosted a weekly Bavarian Night. The event became so popular that local stores stocked lederhosen and felt hats.

Anti-alcohol groups are criticizing Ben & Jerry’s for getting into the beer business. The ice-cream maker is collaborating with New Belgium Brewing Company to make Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, to be released this fall.

Paste magazine assembled a panel of experts to rank 39 American wheat beers. The overall winner was Allagash White.

Notable NBA draft bust Darko Milicic has embarked on a new career in the world of kickboxing. He’s also perfected the art of chugging a beer with no hands.

Finally, the owners of Scottish brewery Brewdog have big plans. They hope to expand their brewery, and add a distillery and a hotel to the operation. Also on the drawing board: opening 15 to 20 Brewdog bars across the U.K.

Fun With Numbers

British beer writer Martyn Cornell has written a new book, A Craft Beer Road Trip Around Britain, with snapshots of 40 of Britain’s top small breweries. His interviews of the brewers at these establishments resulted in ssome interesting statistics. Cornell cautions that with a sample size this small, these should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Eight percent of the brewers had a Ph.D.
  • 40 percent have a home brewing background, a number that strikes Cornell as low.
  • 35 percent wore black T-shirts or polo shirts bearing their brewery’s logo. Jeans and industrial boots complete the uniform.
  • 48 per cent have beards. However, their beards aren’t as bushy as those of their American counterparts.
  • 45 percent use Cascade hops in at least one of their beers.
  • 30 percent use Maris Otter barley.
  • “Farm” appears in the name of 12 percent of their breweries.
  • Eight percent of the craft breweries are based in railway arches.
  • Five percent of breweries have artistic graffiti all over their interior walls.
  • Florida Craft Brewers Win Some, Lose Some

    Legislation dealing with the brewing industry is inching closer to passage in the Florida legislature. It will ease some restrictions on Florida’s craft breweries but, at the same time, will impose new ones.

    It explicitly allows breweries to have on-premises taprooms. Some in the industry contended that the “tourism exemption” under which taprooms operated wasn’t intended to cover small breweries. In addition, the it legalizes beer sales in 64-ounce growlers. On the other hand, the legislation limits the amount of beer breweries can move among breweries, and caps the number of taprooms at eight per brewery.

    Josh Aubuchon, the head of the Florida Brewers Guild, says the legislation is “not perfect but pretty darn good.” He points out that no brewery is even close to the taproom limit. However, some breweries are afraid that the restrictions could be tightened by future legislatures. They’re also disappointed that lawmakers haven’t address other restrictions, including the ban on self-distribuition and franchise laws that favor distributors.

    Why the South Has So Few Breweries

    The nine states with the fewest breweries are all in the South, and there’s an explanation for that: the Baptists.

    Steve Gohmann, a professor of economics at the University of Louisville, recently published a paper in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice about why the South is less hospitable to small breweries.

    Across the country, big brewers contribute to political candidates who support restrictions—such as bans on self-distribution–that make it difficult for small breweries to compete with them. What makes the South unique is that it has a high concentration of Baptists, who support restrictions on alcohol on moral grounds. (The same is true of Methodists, who are also well-represented in the region.) Thus pastors and big breweries are unlikely political bedfellows.

    But what about the Kentucky-based whiskey industry? Gohmann observes that micro-distilleries are not taking much market share from the big producers, which means Baptists don’t have as much influence when it comes to regulating spirits.

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