The Friday Mash (United Artists Edition)

On this day in 1919, five individuals formed United Artists. They included four Hollywood notables—Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith—along with attorney/statesman William Gibbs McAdoo, who later represented California in the U.S. Senate.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict. The town’s ancient monastery is selling its beer to American consumer, who can also download the monks’ Gregorian chants to accompany the beer.

Attendees at this year’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival, held at Ommegang Brewing, will be able to immerse themselves in Bill Murray’s best-known movies and characters.

The historic Grain Belt Beer sign in Minneapolis is getting a new lease on life. August Schell Brewing Company, which owns the Grain Belt brand, has bought the sign and hopes to re-light it next year.

Meet the “Nitrogenator”. It’s the carbon dioxide-dispensing “widget” that Boston Beer Company uses for its new nitro-conditioned beer series. The Nitrogenator is manufactured by Ball Corporation.

One of Budweiser’s ads for Super Bowl 50 features Dame Helen Mirren who, before eating a hamburger and fries washed down by a Bud, gives would-be drunk drivers a proper British scolding.

The wave of craft brewery takeovers has prompted a movement to scrap the phrase “craft beer” and use a new term, “indie beer”, to describe small breweries that are truly independent.

Finally, Thrillist’s Ezra Johnson-Greenough shows how to spot a fake “beer bar”. Warning signs include serving all imports in small glasses, carrying an all-nanobrewery selection, and serving all wheat beers with a slice of lemon.

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The Friday Mash (Glass Houses Edition)

Eighty years ago today, in Toledo, Ohio, the first building to be completely covered in glass was completed. It was built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. The “Glass City” is also known for Jamie Farr and his beloved Tony Packo’s Cafe and Toledo Mud Hens.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hollywood, where Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais opened the show with a beer in his hand, and then proceeded to offend much of the audience with his jokes.

George Lenker, “The Beer Nut,” criticizes the Bavarian government for ordering a brewery to stop marketing its milk stout as beer because that beer didn’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot.

The Washington Post’s Ryan Ermey rated the top cheap beers, based on three criteria: alcoholic content, can design, and taste (“if you insist”). His top pick? Genesee Cream Ale.

Constellation Brands, which plunked down $1 billion to buy Ballast Point Brewing Company, will invest another $1.5 billion to build a brewery in Mexicali to meet growing demand for Mexican beer.

An iconic Pacific Northwest beer is coming back. The Red Hook Ale Brewery announced it will be making Rainier Pale Mountain Ale and other Rainier beers.

Nielsen NV and BARTRENDr have found out fans’ favorite brands of beer and liquor in every NFL city. Everclear didn’t make the list—even among fans of the awful Tennessee Titans.

Finally, brewer Chris Reynolds was given a chance to taste some of Alexander Keith’s IPA that was bottled in the 19th century and recently found underwater. Reynolds described the taste as “a little tree fruit note, a cherry note in there somehow—certainly a lot of sulphu,”.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com asked state brewers’ guild executives what craft beer lovers can look forward to in 2016. The trends they mentioned include session, lager and “easy drinking” beers; the revival of classic styles, some of them in barrel-aged versions; and “farm-to-keg” brewing.

Several guild executives mentioned beer festivals. Phil Platt of Minnesota Craft Brewers expects to see more “festivals in a box”: “festivals (from out of town) with a formulaic approach to their events…but no real connection to the local community.” Rob Caputo of The Brewers of Indiana Guild agrees with Platt. He also points out that proceeds from traveling festivals don’t necessarily stay in the community, and urges festival-goers to choose events that directly benefit local organizations.

In a similar vein, Paul Leone of the New York State Brewers Association warns of “festival fatigue,” saying “[p]eople will grow tired of uninformed volunteers pouring samples, and gravitate towards festivals where the brewers pour the beer.”

The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

One Man’s Quest at the GABF

David Obuchowski, one of Deadspin.com’s beer writers, went to this year’s Great American Beer Festival on a mission: Drink at least one beer from every state. He actually sampled more than 200 beers to find at least one from each state worth putting on the list. Sampling that many beers posed a couple of challenges: long lines; a strictly-enforced 10 pm last call; and, most importantly, the GABF’s policy of not replacing lost or broken sampling cups.

After finishing his sampling, Obuchowski ranked each state’s beer from 1 to 51 (he included the District of Columbia). In the interest of full disclosure, he admits to having a bias toward stouts.

The Friday Mash (Peanuts Edition)

Sixty-five years ago today, the Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles Schulz, was first published. Peanuts became one of the most popular and influential comic strips in history.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Philadelphia, the final stop of Pope Francis’s American visit. Local writer Don Russell, aka “Joe Sixpack,” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the history of papal influence on brewing.

Israel now has 32 craft breweries. One of them, located in the hills of Galilee, uses chickpeas and dates in its recipe for a gluten-free beer.

Eastern Michigan University can’t win for losing. It latest effort to draw fans for its struggling football team—beer sales—resulted in a $3,000 loss. And yes, EMU lost the game.

After “some extensive field research,” Brent Nunn of the Dallas Observer has compiled a list of ten dumb things light beer drinkers say about craft beer.

Samuel Adams announced that it will introduce a series of nitro-conditioned beers early next year. The first three nitro offerings will be a white ale, an IPA, and a coffee stout.

Two Belgian scientists are making lager beers more diverse by cross-breeding yeasts. The new strains not only ferment more quickly than commercial strains, but are delicious as well.

Finally, blame global warming for pumpkin beers showing up on shelves before Labor Day. For example, persistently hot weather forced Rogue Ales to harvest its pumpkins weeks earlier than last year.

The Friday Mash (L.A. Edition)

On this day in 1781, forty-four Spanish settlers founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola) in southern California. The settlement eventually acquired the friendlier name, “Los Angeles.”

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Colorado, where two men got into the beer business without brewing. Last year they formed Inland Island Yeast Laboratories, whose customers include three dozen local micros.

Japanese beer taxes are steep, but the government is about to give brewers a break. It will also change the century-old definition of beer, which requires it to contain at least two-thirds malt.

Darrin Wingard, of West Caln, Pennsylvania, has drunk a new beer on each of the last 1,100 days. You can follow his beer adventures on his Instagram account, newbeeraday.

Synek, a packaging company, has unveiled a self-contained countertop tap system that dispenses 128-ounce cartridges of beer that will stay fresh for a month. A home version retails for $289.

Aficionados keep rare beers in their cellar, sometimes for years. However, cellaring might be the wrong thing to do with hoppy beers because hop flavor is the first thing to fade as time passes.

Last weekend, Brian Harman became the third golfer in PGA Tour history to shoot two holes-in-one in the same round. He celebrated by treating the media to $3,000 worth of beer and whiskey.

Finally, British writer Pete Brown laments his government’s failure to grasp that people drink to achieve a state somewhere between sobriety and drunkenness. The English language doesn’t even have a word for that state.

The Friday Mash (Magic Kingdom Edition)

Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney unveiled his theme park, Disneyland, on national television. The “Magic Kingdom” has attracted more than 650 million guests—more than any other amusement park in the world—since it opened.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where the sold-out Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is taking place at the Four Points Hotel. Ludwig couldn’t attend, but he’ll be there in spirit.

21st Century Fox, which owns The Simpsons franchise, has licensed Duff beer. For the time being, Duff will only be available in Chile, where bootleg versions of the brand have been turning up on store shelves.

Lawmakers in a number of states passed beer-friendly legislation this year. Mike Pomeranz of Yahoo! Food explains what happened in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and West Virginia.

Oh, the agony of defeat. Australia’s cricket team was so frustrated by its 169-run defeat at the hands of England in a Test match that it refused the host country’s offer of post-match beers.

Illustrator/animator Drew Christie has created a four-minute-long history lesson titled “The United States of Beer”, in which he offers a modest proposal: a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer.

Here’s another reason to book that trip to Honolulu. Maui Brewing Company will open a brewpub in Waikiki. It will be located in the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber.

Finally, Kathy Flanigan and Chelsey Lewis of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel take you on a beer tour of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. It includes plenty of history, and features a visit to “The Troll Capital of the World.”

What’s With All The Sexist Beer Names?

From the earliest days of craft brewing, breweries have loved to incorporate puns into the names of their beers. Some of the names are clever; some are groan-inducing; and some give offense, especially to women.

Will Gordon, writing in Slate magazine, finds much craft beer marketing to be “astonishingly sexist.” Even though only the top-tier craft brewers can afford a traditional mass-media marketing campaign, many smaller brewers resort to the equivalent of filling the screen with images of attractive young women in bikinis. Which brings us back to beer names.

Choosing a product name is the first marketing decision a business has to make. In Gordon’s opinion, this is where too many craft brewers “embarrass themselves and alienate potential customers.” He’s especially critical of Flying Dog Ales, whose product line includes beers called “Raging Bitch” and “Pearl Necklace,” the latter being slang for a sexual act. Also on his dishonor roll: SweetWater Brewing Company, which earlier this year sent samples of “Happy Ending” ale—complete with mini bottles of skin cream.

Don’t Be a “Sample Hog”

Aaron Goldfarb of Esquire magazine has some friendly advice for craft beer fans: don’t abuse your sampling privileges. Even though Goldfarb understands the purpose of asking for samples, he comments, “I can’t tell you how much of my life I must sit around thirsty and sober because some yahoo has asked for taste after taste after ceaseless taste of that kölsch (too boring) and then that gose (too salty) and finally that gueuze (too tart!) before simply ordering his old standby.”

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