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!

The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

No, this isn’t an episode of Bizarre Foods. The Diet of Worms was an assembly that, on this day in 1521, put Martin Luther on trial for heresy. After the trial, a supporter offered Luther a silver tankard of Eimbeck beer, which he gratefully drank.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Durham, North Carolina, whose minor-league stadium, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will soon have a brewery. Fans will be able to buy beer and watch the brewing process.

Delaware’s liquor store owners are worried about losing business if Pennsylvania loosens its restrictions on beer sales. As it is, the Keystone State offers a wider selection of beer.

Carlsberg Breweries, which is known for offbeat advertising campaigns, put up a giant beer-dispensing billboard in London’s Brick Lane. Stay tuned: the brewery is planning more promotions.

Despite heavy taxation and domination of the market by the Singha-Chang duopoly, craft beer is making inroads in Thailand. However, home brewing is still against the law.

Sexist marketing isn’t just an American phenomenon. A Japanese brewery has it marketing a beer called Precious to women. It contains two grams of collagen, a protein that makes skin look younger.

If your beer is boring, a company called Hop Theory is here to help with flavor-enhancing teabags. Their first product, Relativity, contains orange peel, coriander, and Cascade hops.

Finally, Tricia Gilbride of Mashable.com picks the best beers to drink in the shower. She prefers IPAs because “it makes sense to select a hoppy beer when you hop in the shower.”

The Friday Mash (”Off With His Head!” Edition)

On this day in 1649, King Charles I of England was beheaded for high treason. His execution ushered in the Interregnum, during which Oliver Cromwell and later his son, Richard, ruled the country.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Colorado, where Oskar Blues has given its session ale a marijuana-themed name: Pinner, which is slang for a joint with low THC content. Above the Pinner logo is the question: “Can I be blunt?”

Carlsberg Group is developing the world’s first fully biodegradable bottle for its beverages. The “Green Fiber Bottle” will be made from wood fiber or paper pulp, and will be lighter than a glass bottle.

Yahoo Food profiles Chris Loring, whose Massachusetts-based Notch Brewing specializes in session beers. Loring reminds us that these beers have existed in America for 100 years.

An unidentified man in Brooklyn has trained his girlfriend’s pet rabbit, Wallace, to bring him a beer. The animal puts its paws on the beer cart, pushing it forward.

A trip to a The Alchemist brewery not only netted MSNBC TV personality Rachel Maddow some Heady Topper IPA, but also revealed how New England’s economy is booming.

Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs’s most impressive statistic might not be his 3,010 career hits. Legend has it that Boggs put away 64 beers while on a cross-country trip during his playing days.

Finally, don’t scoff at the idea of beer brewed with sewer water. Washington County, Oregon’s Clean Water Services claims that its purification system makes sewer water even cleaner than tap water. One homebrewer uses the water, and calls his beer “sewage brewage.”

The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

* Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

The Friday Mash (Anchors Aweigh Edition)

On this day in 1845, the Naval School–later renamed the United States Naval Academy—opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with a class of 50 midshipman students and seven professors. Since then, the entire campus has gained recognition as a National Historic Landmark.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Australia, where a feral hog stole three six-packs of beer, got snorting drunk, and got into an altercation with a cow. The hog was seen the next morning sleeping off a nasty hangover.

It’s October, which means the pumpkin beers are flowing. If you like them, Playboy magazine has done you a favor. After tasting a slew of them, they’ve ranked America’s best pumpkin beers.

At last week’s Great American Beer Festival, the Brewers Association unveiled its beer and food pairing course. The five-unit course is free of charge, and you can download the course materials.

Watch out for yellow jackets. This is the time of the year when they feast on anything sweet—including your half-finished can of beer. Swallow one, and you’ll be in a world of hurt.

Sometimes distribution can the a bane of craft brewers. On its website, Clown Shoes Brewing tells a horror story about its relationship with its distributor in Georgia.

There’s a YouTube video of Alfred the cat, who appears to be polishing off a beer. Experts caution against serving beer to felines—unless, of course, they’re beer-drinking lions.

Finally, even though beer consumption at this year’s Oktoberfest was down 15 percent from last year’s, everyone had a good time in Munich. The Daily Mail has a photo essay of the festivities.

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