Meet The Bjergso Brothers

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine ran an article titled A Fight is Brewing, by Jonah Weiner. It is about Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and Mikkel Borg Bjergso, who are identical twins who both entered the brewing business–and who can’t stand each other’s company.

The name Mikkel might sound familiar. That is because he’s the founder of Mikkeller, the brewery named after him. It’s called a “phantom brewery” because it contracts out 100 percent of its production. The business model allows him to turn out a wide variety of beers–well over 100 last year–and to be creative in his selection of ingredients. Jeppe, too, owns a phantom brewery. It’s based in Brooklyn, and you might already have guessed its name: Evil Twin. One of Evil Twin’s beers is called Bozo, a not-too-subtle dig at super-high-gravity beers made by people like his brother.

But the brothers’ feud isn’t the main focus of the article. Weiner followed the brothers on their brewery travels in both the U.S. and the Continent. The highlight was Brouwerij Boon, where Weiner and Mikkel met owner Frank Boon, the man credited with saving the lambic style.

The Friday Mash (Fab Four Edition)

Fifty years ago today, The Beatles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Fab Four still hold the record for most Billboard number-one hits with 20; and, with more than 600 million records sold world-wide, remain the biggest-selling band of all time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Houston, where Whole Foods’ Post Oak location will brew its own beer. Other grocery chains sell own-label beer, but they contract out the actual brewing.

A layover might be an opportunity to enjoy a pint at one of America’s best airport beer bars. All nine are outposts of local craft breweries such as Harpoon, Schlafly, and Rogue.

Kudzu beer? The invasive Southern plant is among the “foraged ingredients” that have found their way into new beers. Kudzu, by the way, is said to impart a fruity flavor.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is celebrating this summer’s World Cup in Brazil by introducing Brahma Selecao Especial. Its recipe includes barley grown on the Brazilian national team’s training field.

Old Style beer will be sold in Wrigley Field this season after all. The Cubs’ concessionaire plans to sell it, along with Goose Island, at the park’s concession stands.

Brooklyn Brewing Company founder Steve Hindy wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for reform of franchise laws that keep small breweries from getting their beer on the shelves.

Finally, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have created the first synthetic yeast chromosome. Since the yeast genome consists of 16 chromosomes, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Travel Advisory

Chances are that the place where you live has some strange liquor laws. However, it could be worse. Jess Novak of The Daily Meal is here to take you on a tour of ten countries where alcohol is illegal.

“Illegal” is relative. India, which has a federal system of government somewhat like that of the U.S., has both “wet” and “dry” states and varying drinking ages–much like the U.S. decades ago. At the other end of the spectrum is Saudi Arabia, which is not only dry but punishes offenders, including foreigners, with flogging. In between are countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which allow non-Muslims to buy and drink alcohol, but with heavy restrictions.

Don’t expect to see many beer festivals in these countries on the calendar.

The Friday Mash (Happy New Year! Edition)

It’s been a horrible winter in much of the country, but take heart: today is the first full day of spring. Today is also the first day of the astrological year, being the first full day under the sign of Aries. So break out the noisemakers and funny hats, and order yourself a beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bend, Oregon, which has 80,000 residents and 11 breweries. The breweries issue visitors a “passport” that they can get stamped as they sample their way through town.

Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs are trying to brew the world’s most caloric beer: an imperial stout made with maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of beer ice cream and a sliver of bacon. It weighs in at over 525 calories.

According to Outdoor Life magazine, empty glass beer bottles may help you survive in the wilderness. You can make sharp tools out of them, and even use them to start fires.

The Session #86, moderated by “Beer Hobo” Heather Vandenengel, will focus on beer journalism. She invites you to discuss the role of beer writers and talk about your favorites.

In Boise, fans filed suit against the city’s minor-league hockey team after seeing a YouTube video showing that a $7 large beer contained the same amount of beer as a $4 “small” beer.

The environment is a high priority at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new North Carolina plant, whose interior decor will reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Finally, conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has asked federal trademark regulators to deny Schlafly beer a trademark because she doesn’t want her family associated with beer. Her nephew Tom’s Saint Louis Brewery has brewed Schlafly beer since 1989.

The Friday Mash (Genuine Bell Edition)

On this day in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Ironically, Bell considered the phone a distraction from his real work as a scientist and refused to have one in his study.

And now…a busy signal!

We begin in Philadelphia, where a beer garden will open across from the Liberty Bell. Philly has other good “hop spots,” and USA Today’s Marla Cimini will show you around.

Almost 600 types of barley seeds have been added to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This ups the chances that survivors will be able to enjoy a post-apocalyptic beer.

In India, architecture students from Bangalore and Spain used thousands of beer bottles to construct a classroom. The bottles eliminate the need for artificial light inside.

Stone Brewing Company plans to open a second brewery in the eastern U.S., and it appears that Greensboro has been found worthy as a site to brew Arrogant Bastard and other ales.

A London-based start-up company has a remedy for job stress. Desk Beer offers Friday deliveries of local craft beer–provided, of course, the boss approves.

If you plan on some beer hunting, Lindsey Grossman of Paste magazine suggests eight beer-related apps for your phone. They include a “fairly addictive” game called Micro Caps.

Finally, after being served three ales he couldn’t stand, Johnny Sharp unleashed a rant titled “Am I The Only Man in Britain Who Hates Craft Beer? You may find his writing an “acquired taste.”

The Friday Mash (Bonfire of the Vanities Edition)

On this day in 1497, in Florence, Italy, Savonarola presided over history’s most famous “bonfire of the vanities.” Anything he considered a temptation to sin went up in flames. That’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Grand Rapids, home of HopCat, America’s top-rated beer bar. Owner Mark Sellers plans to open 12 to 15 more HopCats throughout the Midwest over the next five years.

Gotcha! Firas Habli, a beer store owner in Ohio, was shamed on social media after he was seen trying to buy a grocery store’s entire allotment of Bell’s Hopslam.

In Maine, liquor inspectors are telling bars that it’s agains the law to post the alcoholic content of beer. The law was passed in 1937, long before the arrival of high-gravity craft beer.

In Washington State, Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a beer-themed whale-watching cruise. The itinerary includes two brewery tours, and beer experts will be pairing craft beers with dinner.

Researchers in Spain have created an electronic “tongue” that can recognize beer styles and differences in alcohol content. It’s said to be accurate more than four out of five times.

Instead of shelling out millions for a Super Bowl ad, Newcastle mocked the big game’s hype in a stealth campaign that featured Anna Kendrick in a “Behind the Scenes” YouTube video.

Finally, the early favorite for Beer Trend of 2014 appears to be beer-focused cocktails. To get you started, the Food Network staff has put together a 13-drink slideshow, complete with recipes.

50-50

The staff of Serious Eats has done some serious work, assembling <a href=”http://www.seriouseats.com/maps/best-beers-usa-craft-beer-in-every-state#map-view”>a craft beer map of the 50 states</a>. Here how they describe their picks:
Some are cultworthy favorites that require camping out at the release party, while others are really well made porch sippers that you can pick up at your local store. Some evoke happy memories, while others are showstoppers that grab your whole attention.
How many of them have you had?

The staff of Serious Eats has done some serious work, assembling a craft beer map of the 50 states. Here how they describe their picks:

Some are cultworthy favorites that require camping out at the release party, while others are really well made porch sippers that you can pick up at your local store. Some evoke happy memories, while others are showstoppers that grab your whole attention.

How many of them have you tried?

The Friday Mash (Mind the Gap Edition)

On this day in 1863, the London Underground opened between Paddington and Farringdon stations. Today, it consists of 11 lines and serves 270 stations. Ludwig reminds passengers to mind the gap, especially after a few pints at the pub.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Verallia North America glass plant is celebrating 100 years of making beer bottles. On a busy day, it turns out over three million.

Miami New Times correspondent Kyle Swenson roamed south Florida looking for a $1 draft beer. After a long journey that took him to the region’s grungiest bars, he finally succeeded.

In Texas, an off-duty firefighter came to the aid of a truck driver whose vehicle had caught fire. He used 16-ounce cans of beer from the truck’s cargo as makeshift fire extinguishers.

Beauties, eh? Labatt Brewing Company unveiled its U.S. Olympic commemorative can series. The cans are modeled after Team USA’s hockey sweaters from past Olympics.

With 33 breweries, New Hampshire ranks second in breweries per capita. All of them can be found on a new map created by the state’s tourism office and brewers’ trade group.

Now that it’s legal in Colorado, some wonder about marijuana’s impact on beer sales. A leading member of the state’s craft beer community believes it’ll have little effect.

Finally, the Border Town Bar and Grill in North Dakota used recycled beer bottles as a main component to sealcoat its new parking lot. They’re more expensive, but don’t contain toxic silica sand.

Beer in California’s Wine Country

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.

Finding Good Beer in Paris

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.

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