Beer Snobs Face a Backlash

Andy Crouch, who writes the “Unfiltered” column at BeerAdvocate.com, has a warning for craft beer snobs. The insults you hurl at big breweries, and those who drink their beers, are not only wearing thin but also brand you as an elitist.

Crouch accuses snobs of playing right into the hands of the big breweries. Anheuser-Busch’s “Brewed The Hard Way” and “Not Backing Down” ads tout Budweiser as “not small,” “not sipped” and “not a fruit cup”. And those ads are resonating with beer drinkers.

Worse yet, beer snobs have become a recurring punch line on prime-time TV. Crouch says, “Want to signal to the audience that a character is an unbearable jerk? Put a six-pack of fancy beer in his hand as he walks into the party. Worse yet, have him try and offer one of his high priced beauties to another character and then watch him get flatly rejected.”

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The Friday Mash (St. John the Silent Edition)

Today is the feast day of St. John the Silent. So, in the words of Elmer Fudd, we’re going to be “vewy quiet”.

Shhhhh…

We begin in San Diego, where Stone Brewing Company co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner have invested $100 million in True Craft, a private-equity firm that will take minority positions in craft breweries that need funding to expand.

Brewery Vivant and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra have released a collaboration beer, Carmina Beerana. This single-malt, single-hop beer was inspired by Carl Orff’s classic work.

Hopyard, a newly-opened beer bar in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, offers two of the hottest things in pop culture: craft beer and vinyl music.

Jeff Vrabel of GQ magazine unleashed a righteous rant about alcoholic root beer. He believes that root beer belongs to childhood and ought to remain there.

Last Friday, the Bar D’Alsace-tian in London put a team of Alsatian dogs to work delivering cold bottles of beer to customers in custom harnesses in the shape of a barrel.

Starr Hill Brewery is celebrating the Dave Matthews Band’s 25th anniversary with a beer called Warehouse Pils. “Warehouse” is the name of the band’s official fan club.

Finally, Danish beermaker Mikkeller Brewing is bringing its acclaimed Copenhagen Beer Celebration to Boston. The two-day festival, to be held in September, will feature more than 100 craft beers from over 50 breweries from around the world.

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The Seven Deadly Beer Festival Sins

Thrillist.com’s Meredith Heil describes herself as “a professional beer aficionado (aka massive nerd),” who’s seen her share of beer festivals. Some were downright amazing, but she’s been to a number of failed festivals: “Picture hordes of pretzel necklace-clad mouth breathers and tank-topped spring breakers pounding corner store-quality imperial IPAs like vodka shots. These guys are all about drinking hard and fast–which is fine, of course, but probably not worth that triple-digit ticket price.”

Heil names seven red flags that a festival is going to disappoint. Along the way, she quotes Ludwig Roars’s own Paul Ruschmann:

1. There aren’t many local breweries.
2. Snacks cost extra.
3. Bottles outnumber jockey boxes (or any other portable draft setup).
4. It’s only pouring beers you can find at the grocery store.
5. There’s no water in sight.
6. Bloggers aren’t repping it.
7. The tasting window is less than three hours.

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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.”
  • 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.”

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