News and Current Events

Politics and Beer in Venezuela

Venezuela is a deeply-divided country, and the division extends to that country’s beer industry. Last year, the two biggest brewers, Polar and Regional, were running short of raw materials. Both appealed to the administration of Nicolas Maduro to release foreign currency that would allow them to import hops, barley, and tin.

Regional’s request was granted, Polar’s was denied. Maduro, a socialist, has publicly castigated Polar’s owner as a prime example of the evils of capitalism. The family that owns Regional is extremely rich as well, but it has cooperated with Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

Polar has publicly accused the government of discriminating against it. Many other businesses, local and foreign, make the same accusations in private: “play ball with the government and all will be well, speak out and harassment may follow.”

High oil prices—Venezuela is a member of OPEC—provided Chavez with plenty of access to foreign currency, but the recent collapse in crude prices has caused the supply to dry up under Maduro. Polar officials fear that the Maduro is trying to strangle the corporation by cutting off its access to dollars.

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The Friday Mash (“John Brown’s Body” Edition)

On this day in 1859, militant abolitionist leader John Brown, who had led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, was hanged in Charles Town. Brown is the only person in American history who was executed for committing treason against a state.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Riverside, California, where a liquor store owner set fire to a competitor’s store because the competitor was costing him business by selling cheaper beer. He faces arson and conspiracy charges.

A Wendy’s restaurant in Houston is offering beer-infused hamburgers. The burger alone costs $5.29; a combo with fries and a drink is available for $7.19.

Belgium is asking the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s to recognize its brewing and beer drinking culture as an “intangible heritage” deserving of official recognition.

Anheuser-Busch has randomly seeded 37,000 golden cans of Bud Light in multi-can packs. People who find the cans will be be entered in a drawing, with the top prize being Super Bowl tickets for life.

Thrillist.com is out with its list of the most iconic beers brewed in every state. According to the authors, the list includes both old standbys and “instant classics”.

Buffalo entrepreneur Ken Szal has run a successful pedal pub business. Once the Coast Guard signs off, he’ll offer pedal pontoon boot tours as well.

Finally, major brewers are reacting to tighter regulations and health consciousness by stepping up production of alcohol-free beer. They’re also working on improving the taste of those beers.

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Beer Museums: A Tale of Three Cities

A group of aficionados in Pittsburgh are planning to open a beer and brewing museum, which they hope to be the beery equivalent of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The first phase of Brew: Museum of Beer is to open late next year; and eventually, the complex will have a Beer Hall of Fame and a 300-seat brewpub.

In Chicago, some of the biggest names in that city’s beer scene are behind an effort to build a Brewseum. The attraction will start out as a mobile exhibit housed in an RV, and will be open next year. Ninety miles to the north, efforts are underway to build a Museum of Beer & Brewing.

There’s no assurance that any of these projects will come to fruition. However, a museum currently exists. It is the National Brewery Museum, a joint venture between the Potosi Foundation and the American Breweriana Association, in Potosi, Wisconsin.

The Friday Mash (Votes for Women Edition)

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect. It was ratified 42 years after Aaron Sargent, a Republican from California, first introduced a women’s suffrage resolution in the Senate.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rio de Janiero, where souvenir cups of Ambev’s beer Skol were wildly popular at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Some fans spent hundreds of dollars to get Skol’s complete 42-cup collection.

With The Beer Tie, you can make a fashion statement and enjoy your beer at the same time. The tie is made of the same insulating, waterproof neoprene material as a standard drink koozie.

How much beer must “Bender”, the robot from Futurama, drink in order to keep his battery powered? According to Megan Logan of Inverse magazine, it’s 2.7 million liters. Per day.

The museum store at the Arizona Capitol could start selling local beer this fall. Alcohol isn’t exactly banned at the Capitol. Lawmakers are known to cary red Solo cups during late-night sessions.

The Innis & Gunn brewery offers a virtual-reality trip to Scotland to be enjoyed with a pint. The scientist who helped create the VR says that it connects the brain with the beer’s oak-aged tones.

Twenty-one years ago, Norwegian police ended an airplane hijacking by persuading the hijacker—who had been drinking heavily—to swap his loaded gun for a fresh supply of beer.

Finally, Suicide Squad actress Margot Robbie is a big fan of shower beers. She said that after a tough day of shooting, an ice-cold beer in a boiling-hot shower helps her fall asleep.

The Friday Mash (American Bandstand Edition)

On this day in 1957, the pop music show American Bandstand made its national debut. The show was hosted by Dick Clark throughout its run, which ended in 1989. Clark was also the show’s producer, and eventually became its owner.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Florida, where businessman Sammy Ramos has launched the first craft beer to be marketed to Hispanics. Its brand name is “Boriuca”, which means a person of Puerto Rican heritage—of which there are more than 250,000 in Greater Orlando.

In Kent, England, a Shetland pony named Mocha walked into his owner’s pub and started drinking beer out of stray pint glasses. Feel free to make bad puns on “pony” or “horse”.

This fall, Oregon State University will open a beer garden at its football stadium. Last year the Beavers went 2-10 (0-9 in the PAC-12), so fans might need a few beers before watching them play.

Rupert Stadler, the head of Volkswagen’s Audi division, was forced to repay the company €12,000 ($13,950) for a beer-drinking contest for company managers that he put on his expense account.

The metal band Megadeth has tapped Quebec brewery Unibroue to make a beer called “A Tout le Monde”, named for a song from the group’s 1994 album Youthanasia. It’s a Belgian-style saison ale.

Greene King is brewing “Bobby” beer to honor Bobby Moore, the captain of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team. Its alcohol content—4.2% ABV—was inspired by the score of the Cup final.

Finally, a group of Chicago businesses, including two well-known beer bars, are encouraging the public to patronize establishments on the #11 bus route, which they hope will earn back a permanent spot on the Chicago Transit Authority map.

What Happens To Beer After Brexit?

The UK’s likely exit from the European Union has far-reaching implications, and beer isn’t exempt from them.

Even though the U.S. isn’t part of the EU, American beer drinkers might soon feel the effects of “Brexit”. In the wake of the vote to leave, the British pound lost more than 10 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. That might result in cheaper British beer in American stores.

Currently, goods from EU members on the Continent enter the UK duty free, and vice versa. Once the UK leaves the EU, it would be free to impose tariffs on German malt and French cider apples. The UK also might decide to eliminate tariffs on hops from Australia or the U.S. Conversely, EU countries might start charging tariffs on English beers and ciders and on raw materials such as hops.

All of this, however, is speculation. It will probably take two years or more to negotiate the UK’s departure from the EU, and no one is sure of what the terms of Brexit will include.

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.

Allagash Founder Narrowly Avoids Brussels Attacks

Rob Tod, the founder of Allagash Brewing Company, and five other employees of the brewery, arrived at Brussels Airport minutes after terrorists attacked. The employees, who were in Belgium as a reward for five years’ service at the brewery, were able to travel to Paris to catch a flight home.

The Friday Mash (“Rhapsody in Blue” Edition)

On this day in 1924, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered in New York at a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” Paul Whiteman and his band performed the work, with Gershwin playing the piano.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Zalec, a town in Slovenia’s hop-growing region. The city plans to spend €170,000 ($190,000) to build Europe’s first-ever “beer fountain”. For €6, visitors will be able to buy samples in a commemorative mug for three 10.5-ounce samples.

Craft beer is hard to find in Las Vegas. The reason? State laws which, until recently, allowed brewpubs only to sell directly to customers and imposed hefty license fees on brewpubs.

David Forde, a UK-based executive of the Heineken Company, thinks we should be drinking less because excessive drinking will create a backlash. Heineken’s latest ad campaign is “Moderate Drinkers Wanted”.

Some scientists believe that beer was the reason why our ancestors switched from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural existence. Beer was more nutritious than beer and, unlike water, was free of pathogens.

New Belgium Brewing Company has narrowed its list of sites for a second brewery to two: Asheville, North Carolina; and the Philadelphia area. The final decision should be made by June.

USA Today’s panel of beer experts have chosen 20 cities for its America’s “best beer scene” competition. Until February 29, you can vote for your favorite—but only once per day.

Finally, Forbes magazine’s Breanna Wilson went to the 16-room Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. The inn doesn’t sell Dogfish Head beer onsite because it wants guests to wander the town’s restaurants—one of which is Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats.

The Friday Mash (Jam Session Edition)

On this day in 1956, The Million Dollar Quartet—Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash—got together at Sun Studio in Memphis. Years later, tracks from of this impromptu jam session were released as albums in the UK and, later, in the U.S.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in London, Ontario, where Lewis Kent has become the first Beer Miler competitor to turn pro. The 22-year-old University of Western Ontario student signed a deal with Brooks, a shoe company.

Good news for Star Trek fans. Shmaltz Brewery is releasing the latest beer in the officially-licensed Vulcan Ale series. It’s a red session IPA called The Genesis Effect, and unlike Romulan Ale, it’s legal.

Stung by feminists’ reaction to Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever ad campaign, Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to air woman-friendly spots for its beer during next year’s Super Bowl.

George Washington loved his beer—porter, in particular, and occasionally brewed his own. A notebook Washington kept while he was a 25-year-old officer in the Virginia militia contains a recipe for “small beer”.

Journalist Dina Mishev got over her aversion to beer, at least for the time being, after hitting the Bend Ale Trail. The Trail has 16 breweries, all within walking or biking distance from one another.

In Milwaukee, Pabst Brewing Company’s 126-year-old bottling plant is being converted into apartments for college students. Unfortunately, the amenities won’t include free Blue Ribbon.

Finally, Dogfish Head Brewery claims the distinction of having brewed the hoppiest beer on record. Hoo Lawd, an India pale ale, checks in at 658 International Bittering Units. Most IPAs fall in the 40-60 IBU range.

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