Diversions

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.

The Friday Mash (Sailing in Style Edition)

Eighty years ago today, the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary was launched. She was retired in 1967, after taking well-heeled passengers across the North Atlantic, and is now a hotel and a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where the Munich 1860 football team is selling Oktoberfest-themed uniforms complete with lederhosen and Bavarian blue-and-white gingham shirts.

C. Dean Metropolous sold Pabst Blue Ribbon and other “nostalgia” brands to Oasis Beverages, a Russian-based brewer and distributor. Metropolous reportedly got $700 million for the brands.

Crikey! After being attacked by a crocodile, a hunter in Australia’s Northern Territory drank beer to deaden the pain while he waited for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Growlerwerks LLC is developing uKeg, a pressurized growler that should eliminate flat beer from growlers. The pressure comes from carbon dioxide cartridges, which cost about $1 apiece.

Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, who’s facing a tough fight for reelection, helped a fan do a keg stand while tailgating at last weekend’s Mississippi State-LSU football game.

All About Beer magazine has a new owner. Daniel Bradford has sold the 35-year-old publication to a newly-formed corporation, All About Beer LLC, headed by Christopher Rice.

Finally, New Holland Brewing Company is celebrating Carhartt, Inc.’s 125th anniversary with a new beer called Woodsman and a “The Road Home to Craftsmanship” tour which will wind up at the Great American Beer Festival.

The Friday Mash (Broadway Edition)

On this day in 1888, Antoinette Perry was born in Denver. She was a co-founder and head of the American Theatre Wing, which operated the Stage Door Canteens during World War II. The Tony Awards, which honor outstanding achievement in theater, are named for her.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where several villages brew beer communally. The unfiltered lager, Zoigl, is served on a rotating schedule at local pubs; and it is also enjoyed communally.

Good news and bad news for British Columbia beer drinkers. Bars can now offer happy specials, but the province’s new minimum pricing requirement might make happy hour beer more expensive.

After golfer Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open, she celebrated in style, treating herself and her friends to beer out of the championship trophy—which, by the way, holds 21-1/2 brews.

Yuengling, August Schell, and Narragansett are “craft beers” thanks to the Brewers Association’s decision to allow adjuncts and to raise the production ceiling to 6 million barrels per year.

Indiana’s law barring the sale of cold beer at convenience stores was held constitutional by a federal judge, who concluded that the it was rationally related to the state’s liquor-control policy.

Molson’s Canadian Beer Fridge is back. This time, Canadians will have to demonstrate the ability to sing their country’s national anthem, “O Canada,” in order to get a free cold one.

Finally, beer blogger Danny Spears chugged a 25-year-old beer brewed to honor the Cincinnati Bengals’ appearance in Super Bowl XXIII. Spears’s verdict: “The beer was much worse than expected. Actually, it was terrible.”

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