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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How Craft Beer Became “Craft”

Q. Who invented the term “craft beer”?

A. According to beer writer Stan Hieronymus, Vince Cottone, a beer columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, first used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery,” and “craft brewing” in the manner they’re thought of today. Cottone’s readers knew what he was talking about, but it took a while for the phrase “craft beer” to establish itself.

Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Association of Brewers, first defined “craft brewery” in New Brewer magazine in 1987. Since then, the craft-brewing industry has established three criteria: small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less; independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer; and traditional (flavored malt beverages aren’t “beers”).

That definition didn’t exactly settle the matter. Some in the industry point out that large companies employ craftspeople to brew their beer, and that well-known craft brands are becoming increasingly industrialized. Others find the term “craft beer” rather meaningless.

There’s the even bigger debate over what “craft beer” is. The industry doesn’t define it, but recently pointed the accusing finger at several beers—Blue Moon and Shock Top in particular—as craft beer impostors.

Some enthusiasts have even higher standards. Jace Marti, the brewmaster at August Schell Brewing Company, told Hieronymus that an attendee at last year’s World Beer Cup refused to taste his beers, which had won two medals. The attendee told him, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s adjunct beer”.

Journalist Scolds Battling Craft Brewers

The trademark dispute between Bell’s Brewing and Innovation Brewing has exhausted the patience of business writer Jason Notte. In article posted on MarketWatch.com, Notte told the battling breweries to stop acting like children. Notte took particular offense to both breweries’ resorting to social media to air a dispute that ought to be decided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He went on to say:

By trying this matter in the court of public opinion instead of, you know, the federal trademark office, both breweries succeeded only in airing some procedural dirty laundry that in no way helps beer drinkers or buyers. By opening those screeds with pap like “To Our Wonderful Craft Beer Community” and “To Bell’s customers and the passionate craft beer community,” each tried to play to what they clearly believe is craft beer fans’ inflated sense of justice and moral clarity. Never mind that the customers of each brewery are members of that same community, or that this whole thing could have been resolved behind closed doors if Bell’s just kept its mouth shut and Innovation had the good sense to, you know, bring a lawyer to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to defend its trademark application.

Notte calls this dispute a wasted opportunity: it could have been a lesson to other breweries about how to prepare for a trademark proceeding, and how to properly research a brand name before attempting to trademark it. Instead, Bell’s and Innovation aired one another’s dirty laundry—a tactic that does nothing to help either craft brewers or people who like their product.

The Ten Commandments for Drinking at a Bar

Have you ever seen a bearded guy dressed as monk at a beer festival? Chances are, his name is Woody Chandler, a noted beer and whisky writer.

The folks at All About Beer magazine persuaded Chandler to write the Ten Commandments for Drinking at a Bar. We suspect Chandler didn’t require much persuasion, as he loves to write (often in Biblical verse) and says he’s “routinely nonplussed by the lack of bar etiquette demonstrated by modern imbibers.”

The commandments include the obvious (don’t talk politics in a loud voice, and don’t get into fights); what should be obvious (don’t wave your hands to get the bartender’s attention); and what you might unwittingly violate after a few drinks (keep your hands on your side of the bar, don’t tear bar mats into confetti).

Chandler also advises you to learn bar lingo, including these three terms: flagged, which means you’ve been cut off and asked to finish up and leave; 86’d, which means you’ve been flagged and failed to leave soon enough; and blackballed, which means you’ve done something so egregious that you’re never allowed back under penalty of trespass. Needless to say, you should avoid these at all cost.

Dropping the Penalty Flag on Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch, whose products have steadily lost market share in recent years, aired a Super Bowl ad titled “Brewed the Hard Way, which made fun of craft beer and the people who enjoy it. The craft beer community wasted no time firing back.

One of the best critiques came from Jim Vorel, Paste magazine’s news editor. He led off by telling his readers that he’d been to the Budweiser Research Pilot Brewery and met the people who work there.

Vorel then opened fire on “Brewed the Hard Way”. A few of his comments:

  • “So, what if right after we say it’s not to be fussed over, we IMMEDIATELY trumpet the fact that it’s beechwood aged, something that roughly 1% of our target demographic understands?”
  • “Please, if at all possible, try not to taste our beer. If you’re able to disable your gag reflex and just pour it straight down your gullet and into your stomach in one fell swoop while bypassing the taste buds altogether, that would be ideal.”
  • “Anheuser is literally mocking the consumers of the COMPANIES THEY NOW OWN. Honestly, how devastating is that for the Elysian brewing team? Your owners think your customers are pretentious hipsters. These are the people who own your business.”

Finally, Vorel notes that the “pumpkin peach beer” A-B made fun of in the ad, and which a company executive called “a fabricated, ludicrous flavor combination,” is being brewed by a company that A-B is in the process of buying. About that he says, “We’re at Irony Defcon 1, people.”

The Friday Mash (Boys Town Edition)

On this day in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan, a Catholic priest in Omaha, opened a home for wayward boys. That home is now a National Historic Landmark; and Boys Town’s slogan, “He ain’t heavy, mister–he’s my brother,” has become part of our popular culture.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Austin, Texas, where Lance Armstrong quit after one lap during qualifying for the inaugural Beer Mile Championship. Armstrong said he’ll never again run a Beer Mile.

Dave Lieberman of OCWeekly.com got a sales pitch for the “Sonic Foamer,” which creates a 5-millimeter head on your pint of beer. He doesn’t seem the least bit impressed with the product.

Oktoberfest tops the list of Germany’s beer festivals, but it’s not the only one. EscapeHere.com runs down the country’s top ten, some of which are hundreds of years old.

A sealed bottle of Samuel Alsopp’s Arctic Ale sold for $503,300 on eBay. It’s considered the world’s rarest bottle of beer because the the original seller misspelled the name “Allsop’s”.

The Sriracha craze has spread to beer. This month, Rogue Ales will release a limited-edition Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. Suggested pairings include soup, pasta, pizza, and chow mein.

Last weekend, MillerCoors LLC teamed up with a start-up called Drizly, and offered free home delivery of Miller Lite to customers in four cities.

Finally, David Kluft of JDSupra Business Advisor reviews this year’s beer trademark disputes. Maybe these cases will inspire someone to host a Disputed Beer Festival next year.

The Friday Mash (Czech Republic Edition)

On this day in 1918, Czechoslovakia came into existence. Since 1993, after the “Velvet Divorce” from Slovakia, the country is known as the Czech Republic. Different name, but the same great beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Jersey, the only state that bars amusement games in bars. Lawmakers are considering the “Dave & Busters Bill,” which would repeal the 55-year-old law.

Bad news for microbreweries: beer drinkers in their 20s are gravitating toward craft beer. The number one reason is that this age group is bored with the taste of mass-market brews.

They’ve risen from the dead. Schlitz, Narragansett, and four other “zombie” beers are back from “Pabst purgatory”. Interestingly, three of the six are from Greater Cincinnati.

Not everybody loves session beer. Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb thinks the idea is dumb. He insists there’s a reason why you don’t see session bourbon or session wine in stores.

Skol’s new Beats Senses beer comes in a deep-blue-colored bottle, and a Brazilian agency decided the best way to advertise it was to film a commercial underwater–which wasn’t easy.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features the first-ever sea-going gastropub. It will serve a variety of American craft beers, which are still hard to find aboard cruise ships.

Finally, Joe Maddon impressed sportswriters at his first press conference as the Chicago Cubs’ new manager. He held it the The CubbyBear, a ballpark bar, and treated the writers to a shot and a beer.

The Friday Mash (GW Bridge Edition)

On this day in 1931, the George Washington Bridge opened to traffic. This double-decker span over the Hudson River connects Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey–a town now famous thanks to “Bridgegate.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kansas City, where Boulevard Brewing Company will kick off its 25th anniversary celebration with the release of a special ale brewed in collaboration with Odell Brewing Company.

Chef David Chang made enemies thanks to a GQ magazine article declaring his hatred of “fancy beer”. Chang contends that craft beer has too intense a flavor to pair with his food.

Two hundred years ago, in London, eight women and children were killed by a flood of beer caused by an explosion at the Henry Meux & Company brewery. The disaster was ruled an “act of God.”

Why not turn your Halloween jack-o-lantern into a beer keg? All you need is a carving knife, a pumpkin carving kit, a Sharpie, a spigot, and beer—which need not be pumpkin beer.

William Bostwick, the Wall Street Journal’s beer critic, has written a book titled The Brewer’s Tale. In her review, Amy Stewart calls Bostwick “the very best sort of literary drinking buddy.”

In Papua New Guinea, which suffers 1.8 million cases of malaria every year, a brewery packs its beer in a box that contains eucalyptus, a natural mosquito repellent.

Finally, should the Great American Beer Festival give medals for best beer puns? CraftBeer.com’s Atalie Rhodes found these doozies on the list of medal winners. Our favorite is “Dubbel Entendre.”

The Friday Mash (Earthquake Edition)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed more than 60 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because it occurred minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, it became the first major earthquake to be broadcast on national television.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where a house inspired by beer bottles is on the market for $2.95 million. And it’s built to withstand hurricanes.

Louiville mayor Greg Fischer wants beer to join bourbon as a tourist attraction. He’d also like a bourbon-barrel beer festival and the revival of Kentucky common beer.

Are you a beer aficionado? James Grebey of Buzzfeed.com has compiled a list of 21 warning signs. Warning sign #6: You have a very, very deeply held opinion about pumpkin beer.

Now that legal marijuana is gaining momentum, economists are looking at legalization’s effect on the beer industry. Some think higher spending on pot will mean less spending on beer.

The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is blowing the whistle on Boston-area bars that take bribes from breweries. The practice is illegal, but violators are rarely punished.

Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, wants to brew beer in Detroit. He bought a 100-year-old former General Motors building, part of which will house his own brewery.

Finally, scientists have discovered that fruit flies love brewer’s yeast. A gene in the yeast releases a fruity smell that attracts the flies which, in turn, spread the yeasts to new habitats.

The Friday Mash (Anchors Aweigh Edition)

On this day in 1845, the Naval School–later renamed the United States Naval Academy—opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with a class of 50 midshipman students and seven professors. Since then, the entire campus has gained recognition as a National Historic Landmark.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Australia, where a feral hog stole three six-packs of beer, got snorting drunk, and got into an altercation with a cow. The hog was seen the next morning sleeping off a nasty hangover.

It’s October, which means the pumpkin beers are flowing. If you like them, Playboy magazine has done you a favor. After tasting a slew of them, they’ve ranked America’s best pumpkin beers.

At last week’s Great American Beer Festival, the Brewers Association unveiled its beer and food pairing course. The five-unit course is free of charge, and you can download the course materials.

Watch out for yellow jackets. This is the time of the year when they feast on anything sweet—including your half-finished can of beer. Swallow one, and you’ll be in a world of hurt.

Sometimes distribution can the a bane of craft brewers. On its website, Clown Shoes Brewing tells a horror story about its relationship with its distributor in Georgia.

There’s a YouTube video of Alfred the cat, who appears to be polishing off a beer. Experts caution against serving beer to felines—unless, of course, they’re beer-drinking lions.

Finally, even though beer consumption at this year’s Oktoberfest was down 15 percent from last year’s, everyone had a good time in Munich. The Daily Mail has a photo essay of the festivities.

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