Thirteen years ago, I drove Paul to the airport, where he hopped a plane to California and headed up U.S. 101 to California’s wine country. Not to visit the wineries but to try the microbrews that, for the most part, weren’t available back home. Since then, both of us have made several trips to the San Francisco area, and the beer has gotten even better. In fact, northern California has become a craft beer destination in its own right.
Tim O’Rourke of the San Jose Mercury News recently fired up his app, enlisted a designated driver, and journeyed north along the NorCal Ale Trail. His travels began at the Marin Brewing Company in Petaluma, and wound their way up the coast to the Mad River Brewing Company in Humboldt County. Even if you’re not from California, you’ll recognize many of the breweries O’Rourke visited along the way. They’ve become that popular.
When Maryanne and I first visited the Continent 20 years ago, friends advised us to “drink beer in beer countries, drink wine in wine countries.” France definitely qualifies as a wine country, but today, you can find good beer in that county’s capital. Really good beer.
In today’s Daily Beast, Jeff Campagna describes a recent beer expedition to Paris. His first stop was the city’s 18th Arrondissement, where Brassere de la Goutte d’Or (in English, “drop of gold”) is making craft beer, some of which uses ingredients bought in local markets. According to Gouette d’Or’s brewer, Thierry Roche, the French are no strangers to locally-brewed beer, despite two world wars and industry consolidation. Roche believes the time has come for Parisians to take up this tradition again.
- Nitrogen’s share of the pressurizing gas in a typical “nitro” beer: 70 percent.
- Carbon dioxide’s share: 30 percent.
- Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market: 47.6 percent.
- Its share of Canada’s beer market: 40.6 percent.
- Estimated annual growth in IPA production: 36 percent in 2012.
- Consecutive years that IPA has been the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival: 13.
- India pale ales entered at this year’s Great American Beer Festival: 252.
- Breweries competing in this year’s Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers in Chicago: 86.
- Beers entered in the competition: 214.
- Breweries competing in this year’s International Beer Competition in Tokyo: 450.
- Countries represented in that competition: 14.
- Boston Lager’s share of Samuel Adams sales in 1998: 60 percent.
- Boston Lager’s share in 2011: 24 percent.
- Alcoholic content of Snake Venom, the strongest-ever beer: 67.5 percent.
- Alcoholic content of Armageddon, the previous record holder: 65 percent.
On this day in 1837, Canadian journalist and politician William Lyon Mackenzie wrote an essay calling for a rebellion against the United Kingdom. During the 1990s, the Upper Canada Brewing Company honored him with an ale called “Rebellion.”
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Hyde Park, Utah, whose heavily Mormon population voted nearly 2-to-1 to allow beer sales. The town’s mayor said it was the most emotional issue he’s ever seen.
Spain’s Catalonia has its own language, customs, and cuisine. If brewery owner Alex Padro has its way, it will soon have its own beer as well.
Sonoma County, California, the birthplace of modern craft brewing, boasts 20 craft breweries. The breweries have a significant economic impact, and have become a tourist attraction.
Heady Topper, a double IPA made by The Alchemist brewery, is so popular that the brewery’s owners had to close their retail store after neighbors complained about rowdy customers.
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the California Route Lager. It’s a California common beer made by the New Belgium Brewing Company.
Garrett Oliver talked with the New York Times about his favorite places to drink beer in Sweden. Oliver has teamed up with Carlsberg to start The New Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm.
Finally, two men are raising funds on Kickstarter.com for The Beer Tusk, a device for those who like to “shotgun” their beers. It’s safer than a key, and less likely to make the beer backsplash.
Here’s are some interesting gift ideas for the beer lover on your list. Dave Selden, a native of Portland, Oregon, created a “33 Bottles of Beer” book that can be used as a handy way to record tasting notes with one hand while drinking beer with the other. All one has to do is pull out a pencil and fill in a blank flavor wheel for each beer tasted. Selden also has “33″ tasting books for other products, including wine, whiskey, cheese, or even hot sauce. And recently, he’s debuted the “United States of Beer,” a 39-inch-by-25-inch map of the U.S. with the same fill-in-the-dots format as “33 Bottles.” And yes, all 50 states can be found on the map.
On this day in 1889, Montana was admitted to the Union as the 41st state. Montana, with 36 craft breweries and a population of just over one million, ranks third in number of breweries per capita, behind only Vermont and Oregon. No wonder its nickname is the “Treasure State.”
And now….The Mash!
We begin in San Francisco, where a company called ReGrained is using spent grain from beer brewing to make granola bars. The bars also contain Ghirardelli chocolate and other local ingredients.
Bottle-share parties have gotten much more sophisticated over the years. Portland, Oregon, writer Lucy Burningham sampled rare beer and gourmet food at a high-end gathering in her hometown.
Why are holiday beers already on the shelves? Because early rollouts work. Sales of seasonal beers have risen by 15 percent or more in the past few years.
Cassava is the second most-consumed source of carbohydrates in sub-Saharan Africa. Multi-national breweries are buying the crop from farmers and using it to brew beer.
Japanese baseball players have their version of America’s post-game Champagne celebration: a victory beer fight in which players spray one another. The tradition dates back to 1959.
Craft beer might be the next big tourist attraction in the Tampa Bay area. Four micros have recently opened in St. Petersburg alone, and Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company has a nation-wide following.
Finally, it has been a year since Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the Jersey Shore. Flying Fish Brewing Company’s “F.U. Sandy” beer has generated $75,000 in donations to a number of New Jersey charities.
Seventy-two years ago today, photographer Ansel Adams took a black-and-white photograph of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico. The image has been called “a perfect marriage of straight and pure photography.”
And now….The Mash!
We begin in St. Louis, where Busch Stadium beer vendor Patrick Ferris donated all of his tips from Game 3 of the World Series to a family whose seven-year-old son was killed in a house fire.
Hard-line Islamists in Indonesia are pushing for national alcohol prohibition. Many localities in the world’s fourth most-populous country have already banned the sale of alcohol.
Tool time! In China’s Shandong Province, 20 helicopter pilots tried to to open a beer bottle…using bottle openers mounted to the skids of their choppers.
Winchester, Kentucky, is the official birthplace of beer cheese, and the city now offers a self-guided tour of businesses connected with this distinctive Kentucky product.
Now that marijuana is legal in Washington, the Redhook Ale Brewery is teaming up with a Seattle micro to produce a hemp-infused beer called–you guessed it–Joint Effort.
This might win you a bar bet. The nation’s first brewery to can its beer was the Kreuger Brewery of Newark, New Jersey. The cans were so popular that Kreuger took market share away from national breweries.
Berlin has been known as a great city for artists and writers, but not so much for its beer. Its native Berliner Weisse had become increasingly difficult to find, and the local version of pilsner has gotten unfavorable reviews. However, according to writer Evan Rail, the German capital has recently enjoyed a beer renaissance. Rail reports that a slew of new microbreweries, beer bars, and bottle shops have opened in Berlin; and the city’s first true craft beer festival, Braufest, took place last month.
The first stop on Rail’s tour was Meisterstück, a pub that served high-quality bratwurst; freshly baked schrippen, Berlin’s crunchy-crusted bread roll; and a beer menu that combines imports and domestic micro products. Rail was especially surprised by the portraits hanging on the wall: some of the best-known faces of international craft brewing.
On this day in 1386, the University of Heidelberg opened in Germany. The school is best known as the setting of The Student Prince, but it has a centuries-long tradition of independent thinking, and today is one of the world’s leading research universities.
And now…the Mash!
We begin in Dallas, where Southern Methodist University is considering selling beer at sporting events. Ironically, the Methodist Church has been front and center in America’s temperance movement.
The first-ever craft beer logo appeared on a car in a NASCAR race. Dale’s Pale Ale was one of the sponsors of Landon Cassill’s car at last weekend’s Dollar General 300 in Charlotte.
After a 20-plus-year absence, Yuengling beer will return to Massachusetts next spring. The brewery pulled out of the Bay State in 1993 because production couldn’t meet demand.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has collaborated with the Grateful Dead to brew “American Beauty.” It’s a pale ale made with purely American ingredients, including a secret one….No, guess again. It’s granola.
Sixty percent of the beer poured in Portland, Oregon, is brewed in-state. Craft brews have become so popular in that city that even many “dive” bars boast a wide selection of local products.
Boak and Bailey take us to a French city that’s steeped in beer culture. Strasbourg, which is the home of the European Parliament, was part of Germany until 1918.
Finally, that beer you’re drinking might be brewed someplace else than where you think. For example, Red Stripe is brewed in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the former home of Rolling Rock, which is now brewed in New Jersey.
Thirty-eight years ago today, Saturday Night Live debuted. The host was George Carlin, and the guests included Andy Kaufman, Janis Ian, and Billy Preston. The show has aired more than 700 episodes, and many of its alumni have gained fame in film, in television, and as writers.
And now…the Mash!
We begin in Hudson, Wisconsin, which has become a popular beer-run destination for Twin Cities residents. The attraction? Beers that aren’t distributed in Minnesota.
Entrepreneurs have raised $100,000 on Kickstarter to manufacture beer-brewing robots. The Brewbot, controlled from an iPhone and compatible with a kegerator, will cost around $3,200.
All aboard! The Sacramento River Train, which runs between West Sacramento and Woodland, California, offers three-hour-long beer tours with beer from local breweries.
A bill in the Michigan legislature would require bars that advertise “pints” to serve 16 ounces of beer. Some bar owners fear that they’ll have to buy new glassware to comply with the law.
In Portland, Oregon, 12 bottles of “Dave” sold for $2,000 each at the Hair of the Dog Brewery. These rare bottle, which date back to 1999, are the world’s most expensive and, according to brewer Alan Sprints, have aged well.
Michal Bodzianowski, a sixth-grader from Colorado, will be the first person to experiment with brewing in space. His class has designed a beer-in-microgravity experiment for the International Space Station.
Finally, if you’re in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, look for The Beerliner. The 1974 refurbished bus, equipped with beer taps and a commercial kitchen, belongs to the North by Northwest brewpub in Austin, Texas.