Competitions

The Polls Are Open

Last year Grand Rapids, Michigan, retired the “Beer City USA” trophy–or so we thought. USA Today has resurrected the competition under a new name, “Best Beer Town”; and has chosen a 20-city field, headed by Grand Rapids.

The USA Today website will be accepting votes through October 13. You’re allowed to vote early and often–but not more often than once every 12 hours.

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Great American Beer Bars

The votes have been counted in the annual “Great American Beer Bars” competition, and the five regional winners, announced earlier this week on the Brewers Association’s CraftBeer.com site, are:

  • The Bier Stein (Eugene, Oregon), which serves more than 1,000 different beers in bottles and cans and always has 30 rotating beers on draft.
  • Cloverleaf Tavern (Caldwell, New Jersey), where “it’s easy to become lost among the beers on tap and the selection of over 65 bottled beers.”
  • Falling Rock Tap House (Denver, Colorado), which specializes in draft beers and is the unofficial after-hours headquarters of the Great American Beer Festival®.
  • HopCat (Grand Rapids, Michigan), which has 48 draft beers at all times, about half of which are brewed in Michigan.
  • Mekong Restaurant (Richmond, Virginia), a three-time winner, which has more than 50 draft beers and over 200 bottle offerings.
  • Ludwig offers his congratulations to these fine establishments.

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    The Friday Mash (Ponderosa Edition)

    Fifty-five years ago today, the first episode of the television show Bonanza premiered on NBC. The show, which starred Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running western of all time.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Crested Butte, Colorado, where residents are hopping mad over a clandestine deal to let Anheuser-Busch turn their ski town into a living Bud Light commercial.

    John Holl asked some of his fellow beer writers, “if beer were invented today, what would it look like?” The answers may surprise you.

    Heavy late-summer rains in Montana and Idaho have ruined much of the barley crop. A disappointing barley harvest could translate into higher beer prices next year.

    Are you ready for some football? The folks at Thrillist are, and they’ve picked a local beer for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams.

    Add chili pepper-infused beers to the list of craft brewing trends. USA Today’s Mike Snider reviews some popular chili beers, including one made with extra-potent ghost peppers.

    Raise a glass to Jake Leinenkugel, who is retiring as the brewery’s CEO. According to a hometown journalist, Leinenkugel has earned a place in craft brewing history.

    Finally, Marc Confessore of Staten Island showed us how not to pair food and beer. He got caught trying to sneak four cases of Heineken and 48 packages of bacon out of a grocery store.

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    The Friday Mash (America’s Cup Edition)

    On this day in 1851, the first America’s Cup was won by—you guessed it—the yacht America. The “Auld Mug” is currently in the possession of Larry Ellison’s Team Oracle, which will defend it in 2017. That’s quite a ways off, so Ludwig suggests that you pass the time by filling your mug.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Oslo where, according according to GoEuro’s researchers, a 12-ounce bottle of beer costs $4.50–more than four times what you’d pay in Dublin or Warsaw.

    Craft beer is so popular in Michigan that the State Police created a fake brewery, with “microbrews” like “Responsible Red” and “Designated Driver Dark,” as part of their latest anti-drunk driving campaign.

    The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is 26 years old and one of the NBA’s top players, but he still got carded at the local California Pizza Kitchen. Many of us share your pain, Steph.

    You might prefer a beer brand because of marketing, not because it tastes better. Participants in a recent blind taste test were only slightly better than random at distinguishing among popular lagers.

    Men’s Journal magazine has compiled the ten best beer commercials, starring, among others, The Most Interesting Man in the World, the Budweiser Clydsedales, and the Red Stripe Ambassador of Wisdom.

    The polls are open at CraftBeer.com’s annual Great American Beer Bars competition. Voters are asked to choose one establishment from ten nominees in five regions of the country.

    Finally, it’s a Great British Beer Festival tradition to show up in costume, like the gent with a Viking hat, those guys dressed up as priests, and a man who came as Prince Harry…Wait a minute, that was Prince Harry!

    Want to Win GABF Tickets?

    As you probably know, tickets to this year’s Great American Beer Festival sold out in minutes. However, the American Homebrewers Association is offering some lucky winner a trip for two to the festival. The prize includes tickets to all sessions, plus airfare and three nights’ hotel stay.

    To enter the drawing, join the AHA or renew your membership this month and use coupon code “GABF14″ when checking out.

    The World Cup…of Beer

    The folks at Deadspin.com have chosen a craft beer for each of the 32 countries that qualified this year’s World Cup in Brazil (yes, Iran’s entry is of the non-alcoholic variety).

    As in the real tournament, two beers out of each four-beer group advance to the knockout stage of the competition. Even though Team USA is not favored to get beyond group play in the actual tournament, America’s beer entry–Captain Hickenlooper’s Flying Artillery Ale—advanced out of Group G, along with Germany’s Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier.

    We’re not sure whether Deadspin will continue the beer competition and crown an overall champion. Their writers seem to be suggesting that you buy the competing beers and conduct your own head-to-head matchup. If that’s the case, you might want to recruit some friends. There are 16 beers in all, and some of them are quite potent.

    The Friday Mash (King Ludwig Edition)

    On this day in 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria passed away. Please join our beer-drinking lion in a moment of silence for the “Mad King” who, among other things, commissioned the fantastic Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the area’s leading tourist attractions.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Petaluma, California, where Lagunitas Brewing Company held its annual Beer Circus. Some guests wore top hats and “ironic facial hair,” while others dressed as figures from popular culture.

    Just in time for Father’s Day: Criquet, a clothing company, has designed a shirt with a reinforced lining that prevents you from destroying it while using the shirttail to twist a beer bottle open.

    Twenty years ago, Lauren Clark quit her desk job to work for a brewery. She then gravitated to writing, and recently published Crafty Bastards, a history of beer in New England.

    Gustav Holst’s The Planets inspired Bell’s Brewing to create a seven-ale series, each of which named for one of the planets in Holst’s suite. The first Planet beer will be released in August.

    St. Louis, which is celebrating its 250th birthday, has 30 craft breweries–and yes, the Budweiser brewery, too. USA Today’s Wendy Pramick has a beer lover’s guide to the city.

    Brock Bristow, a South Carolina attorney, might wind up in the Lobbyists’ Hall of Fame. He persuaded lawmakers to pass the brewery-friendly “Stone Bill”.

    Finally, Jeopardy! for beer geeks. Three female beer bloggers host a monthly trivia night at a bar in Brooklyn. Games consist of four rounds: brewing, history, popular culture, and the “hipster trifecta.”

    The Friday Mash (Ale and Pi Edition)

    Today is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant. It’s celebrated today because Americans write the date as 3/14; and “3″, “1″, and “4″ are the three most significant digits of pi in decimal form. Ludwig recommends a beer, preferably a Real Ale, to go with your pi.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Boston, where Jim Koch invited survivors of last year’s Marathon bombing to his brewery, which is again brewing a special “26.2″ ale to raise funds for those injured last year.

    A company in Canada plans to brew a “recovery ale” for athletes. It’s called “Lean Machine”; and it has 77 calories, 0.5 percent alcohol, and contains nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

    Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company has tapped into New York tradition with an egg cream stout. An egg cream contains milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water–but no eggs.

    A Wisconsin lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a state Beer Commission. It has the backing of the state’s breweries.

    Charlie Papazian, head of the Brewers Association, has decided to discontinue the Beer City USA competition because it has “served its purpose.” Grand Rapids won last year’s competition.

    investor C. Dean Metropoulos, who bought Pabst Brewing Company four years ago, is reportedly considering a sale of the company, which could be worth as much as $1 billion.

    Finally, John Verive, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times, explains why the classic tulip glass is the only glass you’ll need. It’s versatile, supports the beer’s head, and holds in its aromas.

    The King of Craft Beer?

    Jay Brooks has a secret to share: America’s most-decorated brewery is the Firestone Walker Brewing Company, in Paso Robles, California. Firestone Walker was named Brewery of the Year in the mid-size category in 2007, 2011, and 2013. It also won that title in 2003 for Nectar Ales, a label it acquired from the former Humboldt Brewing Company. And it won a fifth GABF award: it went to brewmaster Matt Brynildson when he was with SLO Brewing, which now bears the Firestone Walker name. And if that weren’t enough, Firestone Walker won five Brewery of the Year awards between 2004 and 2012 at the World Beer Cup.

    The brewery is named for its founders, Adam Firestone and David Walker, whose operation uses a system of linked barrels based on traditional brewing methods in the English town of Burton-Upon-Trent. Firestone, who’s a member of the famous tire-making family, grew up in California’s Central Coast wine region, but he turned his attention to brewing. His homebrewing experiments led to Firestone Walker’s flagship beer, Double Barrel Ale. The Walker half of the operation is Firestone’s brother-in-law David Walker, a transplanted Englishman who wanted better beer choices.

    Firestone Walker offers brewery tours, and has added a tasting room with a restaurant. There’s also a Firestone Walker restaurant, which serves all of their beers, in nearby Buellton.

    The Friday Mash (B&O Railroad Edition)

    On this day in 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated. Can you name the other railroads on the Monopoly board? Time’s up. They’re the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Railroad, and the Short Line.

    All aboard!

    We begin in Brazil, where the Polar brewery has an invention that will make it easier to converse in bars. It’s a beer cooler that cuts out GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and 4G signals.

    California’s drought could make your Lagunitas IPA will taste different. The Russian River, which provides Lagunitas with its water, is drying up, and brewery might have to find another source.

    Beer was the headline ingredient in last Sunday’s “Chopped” competition on the Food Network. The show, with Stone Brewing Company’s Greg Koch as a judge, airs again on Sunday evening.

    Higher zymurgical education awaits in the form of Joshua Bernstein’s new book, The Complete Beer Course. It contains a series of “classes” devoted to families of beers.

    On Tuesday, when he was in Chicago to announce the award of a federal manufacturing grant, President Obama put in a plug for Goose Island Brewing Company’s “superior beer.”

    A Korean romantic comedy in which the female lead makes chimek to celebrate winter’s first snow has Chinese viewers clamoring for the dish, which is Korean for “fried chicken” and “beer.”

    Finally, a gathering of 490 Yelp members at Santa Anita Race Track might set a new Guinness record for beer tasters. We hope they bet on Ambitious Brew, who won the $100,000 Sensational Star stakes race.

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