At a Festival, Don’t Be An “Alehole”.

Beer-Simple.com runs a series called “What Brewers Wish You Knew”. The latest installment is about beer festival etiquette. The site asked brewery owners, brewers, and staff what behavior annoys them the most at festivals. Their comments are directed at a small minority—Beer-Simple calls them “aleholes”—and they fall into three categories: “The Beer”, “The Attendee”, and “The Brewer”.

A sampling of comments:

  • “No, I don’t have anything like f***ing Blue Moon…”
  • “Tell me outright if you don’t like my beer.” Smiling politely and saying “that’s great!” before going to dump what, to you, tastes like backwash sweetened with rotten peaches, isn’t helping them (or you).
  • “Don’t just walk up and ask for ‘whatever.’ If you don’t know what I’m giving you, you won’t remember my brewery.”
  • “I don’t need your credentials. Telling me you’re a homebrewer or a judge isn’t really telling me anything. Tell me what you like to drink and why, maybe—at least then I can evaluate your reaction.”
  • “No, I’m not drunk all the time.” Brewers have heard every joke there is about being surrounded by beer all day, but this go-to seems to be a very common one. If they drank all day, when would they brew?
  • “If you’ve just had a cigar, don’t bother me. You can’t taste anything right now.”
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    The Friday Mash (Mickey D’s Edition)

    On this day in 1955, the first McDonald’s restaurant franchised by Ray Kroc, opened in Des Plaines, Illinois. This event is considered the official founding of McDonald’s Corporation, which now has some 68,000 locations in 119 countries worldwide.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Cincinnati, where Queen City Exchanges learned they can’t offer NYSE-like “dynamic pricing” of its beers. Ohio law forbids a retailer to change the price of beer more than once a month.

    Federal regulators ruled that the Indeed Brewing Company’s “Lavender Sunflower Date aka LSD Honey Ale”, wasn’t an acceptable name–even though the beer contains no hallucinogens.

    Colorado has seen a long-running battle over selling full-strength beer in grocery stores. If the stores win, 3.2 beer will likely disappear from the state.

    Author Franz Kafka had a terrible relationship with his bullying father, and the two had almost nothing common–except an appreciation of beer: Czech beer, of course.

    More than 30 North Carolina craft breweries are joining forces to brew a special beer to fight House Bill 2, a new state law that rolls back municipal protections of LGBT people.

    Sterling, a 150-plus-year-old Louisville-brewed beer, is making a comeback. The brand is known for a 1960-70s series of beers named after Kentucky Derby winners.

    Finally, one consequence of the U.S. easing travel restrictions to Cuba has been a run on local beer. Cerveceria Bucanero can’t make enough Cristal beer to keep up with tourist-fueled demand.

    Is Competition Hurting “Savor”?

    For years, Savor has been the gold standard of beer festivals in Washington, D.C., and one of the nation’s most important festivals. It attracts some of the biggest names in beer—both breweries and craft beer celebrities—and has consistently been one of the toughest festival tickets. However, tickets for this year’s edition of Savor are moving more slowly. As of last Saturday, general-admission tickets to the June 3-4 event are still available.

    Fritz Hahn of the Washington Post offers an explanation: Competition from other festivals near the nation’s capital. They include last Saturday’s DC Beer Fest at Nationals Park; May’s Maryland Beer Festival in Frederick; and the Americana Beer Fest in Leesburg, Virginia, in June. Those events don’t boast the beer community’s A-listers, but the price of admission is much smaller.

    What can Savor do to remain in the top tier? Currently, Savor uses a random lottery to choose the breweries that will pour. Hahn urges organizers to set aside more invitations to hand-picked breweries. He observes, “As much as a spot at Savor will raise the profile of a tiny brewery in the Great Lakes region, the people buying tickets for the tasting would be more interested in trying something from Minneapolis’s well-regarded Surly Brewing, which was one of the first breweries to run out of beer in 2015 but didn’t get in this year”.

    The Friday Mash (Baseball History Edition)

    On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record for most career home runs; and on this day in 1975, Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history.

    And now…Play Ball!

    We begin in Russia, which is shedding its image as a country of hard drinkers. Younger Russians are developing a taste for craft beer, and an estimated 1,000 breweries have sprung up nationwide.

    George Randall, the owner of several liquor stores in the St. Louis area, drives a real attention-getter: a car in the shape of a giant can of Old Milwaukee Light. He bought it for $2,000 on eBay.

    Two Wichita men found a use for a gutted old food truck they bought. They installed ten beer taps, hooked them up to refrigerated kegs of local craft beer, and roam the city with a “drink truck”.

    Anheuser-Busch InBev faces another consumer lawsuit. It alleges that A-B falsely claims Leffe beer is brewed in a Belgian monastery; it’s produced at the Stella Artois facility in Leuven.

    The New Haven Symphony Orchestra is trying to broaden the audience for classical music by offering “Beers and Beethoven”. The price of admission includes samples of Connecticut-brewed beer.

    Get ready for a superhero comic book about Three Floyds Brewing Company’s Alpha King Pale Ale. The hero brews a beer so good it attracts the attention of a monster-king and his minions.

    Finally, Tom Dalldorf, the editor of Celebrator Beer News, speculates that American beer may go the way of wine: demand for the mass-produced “jug wine” fell, as customers gravitated to higher-quality products from smaller producers. There are some 10,000 wineries in the U.S.

    The State of Session Beer

    It’s National Beer Day, which is a good time to look at the state of session beer. America’s biggest promoter of session beer is writer Lew Bryson, who has led the Session Beer Day initiative for the past five years.

    Bryson says that session beer is making progress. Brewers are not only making more of them, but many of them are a financial success. He cites two examples in his home state of Pennsylvania: Yards Brewing Company, which offers a dry stout and a bitter at its taproom; and Yuengling Lager, which certainly qualifies as a session beer.

    On the other hand, Bryson identifies two threats to session beer. One is “ABV creep”, a slow but persistent increase in the upper limit for what constitutes a session beer. The other threat is excessive hoppiness, the result of breweries jumping on the session IPA bandwagon.

    Bryson hopes that brewmasters start looking beyond “5% IPA” and offer the kinds of lower-alcohol beers found in other beer-drinking countries.

    Indy Brewery Owner Denounces Sexist Customers

    Jordan Gleason, the founder of Black Acre Brewing Company in Indianapolis, banned a 60-year-old male customer who had made crude, sexist remarks about the women who worked in Black Acre’s taproom. Gleason wrote a long—and sometimes profane—Facebook post explaining why he did so.

    First, though, he described the joys of working in the service industry:

    I’ve seen wedding proposals, birthday parties, political discussions, deep philosophical debates, neighborhood organization, the absolute works. The best of humanity coming together and bonding. That’s my JAM. It’s one of the biggest reasons I get out of bed in the morning to come in to work day after day.

    But he alluded to the industry’s dark side, which included abusive behavior toward female employees. Gleason appealed to his fellow males to take their status as gentlemen seriously:

    Men, we often don’t see the level of filth that our friends, sisters, and mothers go through every day. We hope to surround ourselves with people who would never treat a woman like that. We live in a safe little bubble. But the reality of this thing? It’s an insidious disease that’s happening every single day, several times a day and it turns my [expletive] stomach.

    The Friday Mash (Apple Edition)

    Forty years ago today, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded what became Apple, Inc. Today, the Apple brand is considered the world’s most valuable, worth close to $120 billion.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Fort Worth, where fans of Louis Torres’s “beer can house” have just days to get a last look at it. Torres sold the house, which is likely to be leveled by developers.

    A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that Anheuser-Busch InBev can sell beer with up to 0.03 percent less alcohol than advertised and still be in compliance with the law.

    The World of Beer chain of beers is taking expansion to a new level. It has granted a franchise to Chinese investors, who plan to open three locations in Shanghai.

    According to the UK’s Local Government Association, one way of curbing alcohol abuse is to make lower-alcohol beverages—i.e., beer—more widely available to drinkers.

    Neal Ungerleider of Fast Company magazine reports on the status of Stone Brewing Company’s brewery in Berlin, and Stone’s effort to sell IPA to Germany’s conservative beer drinkers.

    A couch potato’s dream happened in I-95 in Melbourne, Florida. A semi-trailer carrying Busch beer slammed into the back of another truck loaded with Frito-Lay products.

    Finally, the owner of a Belgian beer bar in Philadelphia had these words for those who carried out the terror attacks in Brussels: “Heaven is an afterlife of Belgian beers, chocolates and frietjes that the terrorists shall never know.”

    The Friday Mash (New Moon Edition)

    On this day in 1655, scientist Christiaan Huygens discovered Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Huygens didn’t stop with astronomy, either. He also invented the pendulum clock, and published a pioneering work on games of chance.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Bavaria, where the Röhrl brewery has come under fire for allegedly placing pro-Nazi labels on one of its beers. The beer’s name in English is “Border Fence Half”, a reference to Europe’s refugee crisis.

    Caught on video: A woman sitting behind the Chicago Bulls’ bench tried to find her seat. She took a tumble and hit the floor, but managed to save her beer.

    The Scottish brewery BrewDog has released a beer called Clean Water Lager. All profits from that beer will go toward bring clean water to the 650 million people who currently have none.

    Jay Brooks of the San Jose Mercury News has an update on Hawaii’s craft brewing industry. The Aloha State now has 15 breweries, with another eight expected to open their doors.

    Indonesian entrepreneurs are capitalizing on a recent ban on convenience store beer sales by purchasing beer from distributors and delivering it to customers by motorcycle.

    Global warming is affecting the brewing industry: last year’s drought took its toll on Northwest hops production. Drought also forces farmers to use groundwater, which affects the taste of beer.

    Finally, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex, Samuel Adams has the highest “buzz score”. That’s not a measure of the beer’s potency; it’s the percentage of adults who’ve heard something about the brand

    Marketing Tips for Small Breweries

    It’s March, which means it’s time for Madness. CNBC’s “Beer Label Madness”, of course. Last year’s competition was won by Newburgh Brewing Company of New York State, whose labels feature a purple cow.

    Newburgh’s president, Paul Halayko, recently sat down with CNBC and offered some tips for small breweries hoping to break into beer’s big leagues:

    • If you’re small, you have time to concentrate on marketing.
    • Stay fresh on social media.
    • Use your “network’s network”; in other words, persuade people in your social network to spread the word to their social networks.
    • Cultivate your in-person following. Newburgh turned its taproom into a campaign headquarters for its label.
    • Build on your relationships with local media.
    • Rally your community behind your campaign.

    Bar Rescue’s John Taffer Has Harsh Words for Craft

    CheersOnline.com sat down with Jon Taffer, the star of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, and asked him about what he expects to see in the alcohol industry this year.

    When the discussion turned to craft beer, Taffer characterized it as a “culture”– which grabs market share and keeps it–rather than a “trend”. But he followed that observation with some scathing comments about the craft beer industry:

    I think that about 60% of craft beer basically sucks. I’ve been to a lot of the facilities. They’re not exactly clean. They’re rookie-run. The problem is that people are now looking at craft beer as an investment opportunity. They’re getting into it to make money. Many people don’t get into it for the love of making beer. Of course, that’s not how it began. Jim Koch founded Boston Beer because he loves to make beer. But today, it’s much more in the investment space.

    That’s why I think there’s going to be a wash out in craft beer over the next two years. Half of the craft breweries are going to disappear. And the word “craft” will become known more for spirits.


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