Diversions

The Friday Mash (Hair Edition)

On this day in 1968, the musical Hair opened on Broadway. Notable songs from the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” include “Aquarius”, “Easy to Be Hard”, and “Good Morning Starshine”.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where a mechanic named Andrey Eremeev persuaded the beer store in his apartment building to let him run a pipeline from a keg in the store’s refrigerator to one of the taps of his kitchen sink.

Theater Cedar Rapids has added beer to its improv comedy classes. According to its education director, beer helps relieve inhibitions that can kill a performer’s creativity.

In Hastings, Nebraska, temperance advocates picketed the Do the Brew beer festival. The protesters, dressed in period garb, were actors promoting the upcoming Nebraska Chautauqua fest.

Israel’s Herzl Brewery made a beer that people might have enjoyed when Jesus was alive. It tasted a bit like honey and berries, but it was flat and cloudier than what we drink today.

Six years ago, Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd. The app now has more than 3.2 million users, and is so successful that both men quit their jobs to manage Untapped full time.

Frances Stroh has written a book about the Detroit-based brewery’s rise to national prominence in the late 1800s and its downfall amid consolidation and the city’s economic demise.

Finally, Utah liquor regulators may revoke a Salt Lake City movie theater’s liquor license for showing the R-rated film Deadpool. State law forbids a licensed establishment to show nudity. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds donated $5,000 to the theater’s legal defense fund.

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The Friday Mash (Apple Edition)

Forty years ago today, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded what became Apple, Inc. Today, the Apple brand is considered the world’s most valuable, worth close to $120 billion.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Fort Worth, where fans of Louis Torres’s “beer can house” have just days to get a last look at it. Torres sold the house, which is likely to be leveled by developers.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that Anheuser-Busch InBev can sell beer with up to 0.03 percent less alcohol than advertised and still be in compliance with the law.

The World of Beer chain of beers is taking expansion to a new level. It has granted a franchise to Chinese investors, who plan to open three locations in Shanghai.

According to the UK’s Local Government Association, one way of curbing alcohol abuse is to make lower-alcohol beverages—i.e., beer—more widely available to drinkers.

Neal Ungerleider of Fast Company magazine reports on the status of Stone Brewing Company’s brewery in Berlin, and Stone’s effort to sell IPA to Germany’s conservative beer drinkers.

A couch potato’s dream happened in I-95 in Melbourne, Florida. A semi-trailer carrying Busch beer slammed into the back of another truck loaded with Frito-Lay products.

Finally, the owner of a Belgian beer bar in Philadelphia had these words for those who carried out the terror attacks in Brussels: “Heaven is an afterlife of Belgian beers, chocolates and frietjes that the terrorists shall never know.”

British Winery Can Call Its Beverage “Champale”

Roger Barber, the owner of a British winery, can market his sparkling wine as “Champale”. Barber persuaded British trademark authorities that his product’s name wasn’t confusingly similar to French Champagne. French Champagne growers argued that “champ” was the common familiar term for their product, but Barber countered that in England, “champ” was short for champion.

You might be asking yourself, what is a story about wine doing on a beer blog? Because in America, “Champale” doesn’t mean what Barber thinks it means. The American version is a malt liquor that debuted in 1939. Readers of a certain age might remember getting a quick buzz—and an awful hangover—from drinking it. Champale, which has had a succession of owners, is still available, and now comes in four flavors.

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.

Putting Local Beer on the Map

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post has a way for you to misspend even more of your time: looking for the brewery closest to you. Ingraham started with the work of the poi-factory.com community, who maintain a list of North American breweries and their GPS coordinates. Ingraham took all the listings for the lower 48–4,750 in all—and plotted them on a map, then overlaid a grid on the map called a Voronoi diagram.

Voila! For any point in the lower 48, it shows you which brewery is the closest. You can either use your mobile phone to pinpoint the closest brewery. Or, if you’re not on a mobile device, you can mouse-over find a given location’s “home” brewery.

Cells that “belong” to breweries vary in size. They’re incredibly small in cities like San Francisco, but take up hundreds of square miles in sparsely-populated regions of the country. In southwestern Utah, for instance, the Zion Canyon Brewing Company is the only one for hundreds of miles around.

The Friday Mash (Tiffany’s Edition)

On this day in 1837, the retailer now known as Tiffany’s was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City. The founders called their store a “stationery and fancy goods emporium.” However, Tiffany’s didn’t serve breakfast, let alone Founder’s Breakfast Stout.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Sacramento, where the inaugural California Craft Beer Summit took place. This two-day festival attracted the biggest names in craft brewing, who talked about the state of the industry.

Listen up, class. Sylvester Schneider, the owner of Zum Schneider in New York City, has prepared a video to show you how to pour wheat, pilsner, and lager beer like a German.

A boarding school in Zimbabwe has slapped a ban on breakfast cereal. Students mixed it with brown sugar, water, and yeast, then left it in the sun to ferment into beer.

The recipes for New Belgium Brewing Company’s dubbel and trippel Belgian-style ales are getting a makeover. The changes, which include a different yeast strain, will make the beers more authentically Belgian tasting.

A video of six Scottish men, drinking beer at the bottom of a swimming pool while on vacation in Florida, was viewed more than 1.8 million times on YouTube in the week after it was posted.

Greg Koch, the founder of Stone Brewing Company, is stepping down as CEO. He’ll stay on as executive chairman, and he promises not to sell out to one of the big breweries.

Finally, even though China is a huge beer market, intense competition has made it tough for breweries to make much of a profit. That problem could get worse as the country’s economy slows.

Smarter Than the Average Bear?

An incident from 2004 has gotten renewed online attention. Fish and Game agents in Washington State found a black bear that was sleeping off the effects of a beer binge. It’s unusual enough for a bear to drink beer out of cans, but what really caught the agents’ attention was that the animal had a brand preference: it tried one can of Busch, didn’t like it, then drank 36 cans of Rainier.

Australia’s Beer Can Regatta

For more than 40 years, the Beer Can Regatta has been an annual event in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. It’s a multi-event competition involving boats that use beer cans—and only beer cans—for flotation. Needless to say, engineering skills are a plus.

The regatta has changed somewhat since the 1970s. The introduction of lighter-weight aluminum beer cans in the 1980s forced organizers to ban outboard motors, which can puncture boats. The regatta has also become more sober and family-friendly.

Participants are expected to abide by the “Ten Can-mandments,” the first of which is “get out there and have fun.” The Can-mandments also include “Thou shalt not drown” but oddly, don’t mention saltwater crocodiles, which inhabit the local waters.

Tasting the Wares at “Chicago Crap Beer Day”

Thalia Hall, a music venue in Chicago, decided to have some fun at the expense of this year’s Chicago Craft Beer Week. It hosted “Crap Beer Day” where, for a $10 cover charge, festival-goers could buy $1 bottles and cans of brands such as Schlitz, Mickey’s, Hamm’s, Old Milwaukee, and Lone Star. In other words, the beers we drank in college because that’s all we could afford.

Crap Beer Day, in turn, inspired the staff of Chicago Reader to take part in a blind taste test of the $1 beers. The panel’s comments were, predictably, brutal. One beer smelled like “a dirty dishcloth that’d been sitting out wet for two days.” Which was an improvement over the beer that smelled “like skunk spray.” A panelist said that another beer “might be a good palate cleanser if you accidentally drank some bong water.”

The tasting’s hosts sneaked a craft beer into the lineup: New Glarus Totally Naked. The verdict? It “still drinks fine long after it should’ve been pulled from the shelf and dumped.”

No, This Game Doesn’t Require Butterbeer

The generation that grew up reading Harry Potter books has come of age, so it comes as no surprise that someone has come up with Quidditch Beer Pong. According to Emma Lord of Bustle.com, there’s now a Quidditch pong league, “and they are the drinking Aurors” behind this game.

The Quidditch version requires three hoops in the middle of the table, a Snitch, and two bats (yes, you do play defense). In addition, teams are required to choose one of the four houses from Hogwarts Academy. Each house has certain advantages. For instance, Team Griffyndor is given a Resurrection Stone, which allows it one extra cup after its opponent shoots a ball into all ten of its cups.

There are two ways to win: make all ten cups or, as in real Quidditch, shoot a pong ball into the Snitch cup.

Let the games begin!

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