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Less Filling, Tastes Great

Can you believe that Miller Lite turns 40 next year? The beer’s big birthday prompted author Tom Acitelli to tell the story of its origin. One stop on the journey was Munich, where George Weissman, the chairman of Philip Morris–which had recently bought the Miller Brewing Company—asked his waiter to recommend a non-filling beer. The waiter suggested a Diat pilsner.

If you know about German beer, Diat isn’t a low-calorie beer, it’s a low-sugar lager brewed for people with diabetes. Weissman liked the beer, and so did his dinner guest, Miller Brewing’s new president, John Murphy. They decided that America was ready for a light beer.

As it turned out, Miller’s assets included the recipe for a light beer, which originated at the Rheingold Brewery in New York. It was marketed as Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which flopped badly. Meister Brau, which acquired the recipe from Rheingold, marketed it as Meister Brau Lite. That, too, was a failure.

Murphy got the message: “diet beer” doesn’t sell. Instead, he advertised it as “Everything You Wanted in a Beer. And Less.” And, of course, “Great Taste. Less Filling.” He also recruited retired athletes to endorse the beer. Miller Lite became one of the biggest successes in brewing history, and every major brewery responded by rolling out its own light beer.

The “light” movement spread far beyond beer. The makers of everything from soft drinks to barbecue sauce offered lower-calorie versions of their products. Some, such as Coca-Cola, even used the word “diet” in the new products’ names.

As for Miller Lite, one of its recent commercials claims that the beer “changed everything” by making beer drinkers more svelte and thus more attractive. Maybe diet beer sells after all, at least if the dreaded D-word doesn’t appear in the ads.

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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.

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!

The Friday Mash (Long Gray Line Edition)

On this day in 1802, the U.S. Military Academy opened at West Point, New York. Its alumni include two U.S. Presidents, U.S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower; Confederate President Jefferson Davis, numerous famous generals, and 74 Medal of Honor recipients.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in South Africa, where Garagista Beer Company has declared war on hipsters, which it accuses of giving craft beer a bad image. The brewery’s slogan is “All Beer. No Bullshit.”

Narragansett Brewing Company is bringing back the can from the scene in Jaws where Captain Quint tried to intimidate Matt Hooper by crushing a can of ‘Gansett he’d just finished.

Brennan Gleason, a designer from British Columbia, put his resume on a 4-pack of his home-brewed blonde beer, which he called “Resum-Ale.” And yes, it got him hired.

Radler, the German word for bicyclist, is a popular summer drink in Germany. It’s a mixture of beer and lemonade, and it’s becoming more popular in America.

Don’t expect MolsonCoors to acquire any American craft breweries. Peter Swinburn, the company’s CEO, says they’re “massively overvalued” and predicts a shakeout in the sector.

Before you hit the road this summer, check out Thrillist’s America’s 33 best beer bars. To whet your appetite, there’s a photo and a description of each establishment.

Finally, historian William Hogeland explains “brewer-patriot” Samuel Adams’s role in making the Declaration of Independence a reality. Adams hasn’t gotten much credit because he burned his papers lest people find out what he’d been up to.

The Friday Mash (Palmetto State Edition)

On this day in 1788, South Carolina ratified the Constitution, becoming the eighth state to join the Union. The Palmetto State is home to first-rate barbecue and has miles of beautiful beaches, both of which will be fine accompaniments to a beer this holiday weekend.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Tulsa, where the pop group Hanson staged a free concert at the Hop Jam Beer and Music Festival. The beer list included Hanson’s own Mmmhops pale ale.

Dartmouth University inspired Animal House and claims to be the birthplace of beer pong. But school president Phil Hanlon thinks the partying has gotten out of hand, and vows to curb dangerous drinking on campus.

The folks at Kona Brewing Company thinks mainlanders work too hard. The brewery’s “Dear Mainlander” ads propose a new schedule: one “sad hour,” and 23 happy hours.

Jeff Baker argues that Vermont has its own distinctive style of IPA. It’s bright golden and hazy in appearance, soft in mouthfeel, dense with hop flavor and aroma, but only moderately bitter.

In Olympia, Washington, a new partnership wants to bring back brewing at the historic Tumwater complex. The complex was part of the Olympia brewery, which closed in 2003 after nearly a century of making beer.

Two entrepreneurs have opened a “brewnuts” shop in downtown Tremont, Ohio. For the uninitiated, brewnuts are “craft beer inspired donuts” that are popular with the late-night crowd.

Finally, New York City’s Irish pubs are becoming an endangered species. Bar owners can’t afford skyrocketing rent, and younger drinkers are looking for something more adventurous than Guinness, Jameson, and pub grub.

What Do Those Symbols on Beer Labels Mean?

Breweries are among the oldest businesses in the world, and their beer labels are full of symbols from their storied histories. In MentalFloss.com, Nick Green explains the symbolism behind 20 well-known beer labels.

One of the most common sources of symbols is the brewery’s own history. The eagle on the Yuengling label and the horn on Stella Artois’ harken back to the breweries’ original names. The hometown coat of arms is another source. That’s why there are lions on the Amstel and Modelo Especial labels, and a key on the Beck’s label. Dos Equis resurrected Aztec leader Moctezuma II for its label, and Guinness appropriated the Brian Boru harp.

Green’s article has some other fun facts. Bass’s red triangle was issued Trademark #1 by the British government; until 1908, the text of the Budweiser label was in German; and legend has it that Miller High Life was called “The Champagne of Beers” because it was released a few days before New Year’s Eve.

Finally, there’s Rolling Rock’s mysterious “33”. People have offered numerous explanations, but no one knows for sure how and why that number wound up on the label.

The Friday Mash (Good Housekeeping Edition)

On this day in 1885, Clark W. Bryan founded Good Housekeeping magazine. Famous writers who have contributed to it include Somerset Maugham, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Frances Parkinson Keyes, A.J. Cronin, Virginia Woolf, and Evelyn Waugh.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in New Brunswick, Canada, where a Budweiser blimp went rogue. The blimp, which broke loose at a hockey promotion in St. John, wound up in a wooded area northeast of the city.

Authorities in Siberia are investigating a brewery that put images of Soviet World War II heroes on beer cans. Some veterans think the brewery is exploiting the heroes for profit.

Illegal 20 years ago, microbreweries are flourishing in Japan. Ingrid Williams of the New York Times visits several in Osaka, the nation’s unofficial culinary capital.

Meet the Roger Bannister of beer running. James Neilsen ran the Beer Mile in 4:57. A Beer mile contestant must consume a 12-ounce portion of beer every 400-meter lap.

Ty Burrell, who plays the bumbling dad on the TV sitcom “Modern Family,” has opened The Beer Bar, a restaurant and beer garden in Salt Lake City. Its signature dish will be the Reuben brat.

Forget about using Bitcoins to buy beer in Ohio. The Department of Public Safety has concluded they’re too volatile. That, and they aren’t recognized as legal currency.

Boston Beer Company CEO Jim Koch reveals his secret for not getting drunk. Before drinking, he downs one teaspoonful of Fleischmann’s yeast for every beer he intends to consume.

The Friday Mash (Champions Day Edition)

This day in 1936 was Champions Day in Detroit. It celebrated of “the most amazing sweep of sport achievements ever credited to any single city” including the rise of boxer Joe Louis, and the first-ever championships won by the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Lions. Yes, the Detroit Lions, who have driven generations of fans to drink.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Canada, where Miller Brewing Company and MolsonCoors appear headed to court over distribution rights for several Miller brands that Miller wants to reclaim.

Shandy has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the beer market. It’s popular among women, moderate drinkers, and those looking for refreshment and willing to try new tastes.

Don’t throw out that can of beer that sat in your fridge all winter. Mother Nature News has seven uses for it, including killing slugs and fruit flies, highlighting your hair, and polishing furniture.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have confirmed the ancestral homeland of the yeast used in lager beer. It’s Patagonia, of all places. The yeast found its way to Bavaria 500 years ago.

Is the craft beer industry growing too fast? Attendees at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference warned about quality problems with some new breweries’ beers.

Beer aficionados hate Corona, and it costs as much as some national microbrews, but sales keep booming. The secret is marketing, which associates the brand with sun, sand, and surf.

Finally, our sports desk has learned that Flying Dog Ales will host Sprint for the Spat in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point. One of the highlights will be–this is not a typo–a 0.10-K race. A spat, by the way, is a baby oyster.

Gilroy Was Here

If you’ve spent any amount of time in bars, you’ve probably seen the famous Guinness ads featuring toucans, sea lions, and other creatures. The ads, which first appeared in the 1930s, were the work of artist John Gilroy, who’s back in the news thanks to the discovery of his “lost” work.

Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, has been following the story for some time. In 1971, Guinness’s advertising agency, SH Benson, was sold to another agency. In the process, hundreds of works by Gilroy, who worked for Benson, disappeared. A few years ago, some of the lost works started showing up on the American art market, and sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

The most interesting lost works were a series of parodies of well-known works of art. Intended to hang in the Guinness brewery in London, they were never used, and instead wound up in Benson’s archive. The works included “The Creation of Man,” in which God hands Adam a pint; Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pint of Guinness”; and “Henri ‘Half-Pint’ Toulouse-Lautrec advertises Guinness in the Paris of the 1890s.”

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.

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