Today is World Tourism Day, which was created by the United Nations in 1970. This year’s theme is “Tourism and Water.” If you can’t make it to Munich, where some kind of a beer festival is going on, Ludwig recommends that you take a trip to your local brewery and order a beer–which, of course, is more than 90 percent water.
And now…the Mash!
We begin in Bloomington, Illinois, the home of Beer Nuts. The first batch of the snacks–made with just four ingredients–was created 60 years ago by Jim Shirk, whose family still owns the company.
In Texas, a homebrewer recently got a nasty surprise: brewer’s yeast in his intestines caused him to spontaneously brew beer and get him drunk without warning.
A Reddit user who goes by “psychguy” explained why experienced drinkers prefer strong beer: it’s a combination of “taste fatigue” and peer pressure.
Was Jesus a beer drinker? Did He really turn water into beer at Cana? Stasia Bliss of the Las Vegas Guardian-Review cites historical and biblical evidence which points in that direction.
Savvy beer shoppers are finding bargains at their local Wal-Mart. Bloomberg.com found a Los Angeles-area store that sold Coors and Tecate at just pennies over cost.
If M.C. Escher were a glassblower, he might have come up with this: a glass designed to hold two different beers at the same time. The Dual Beer Glass holds two 1/3-pint portions of beer.
Professor Hong Luo at the Unviersity of Buffalo says the key to a good pour is avoiding that “glugging” sound produced by a low-pressure area formed when beer is poured too fast.
Finally, Scientific American magazine has awarded the IgNobel Prize in Psychology to the scientists who studied “self-beer goggles”: people who’ve had a few are more likely to consider themselves attractive.
“Ding” is a middle-aged Englishman who lives somewhere in the South and provides often-tart commentary about beer on his blog. One of Ding’s classics, which appeared in December 2011, took aim at the top ten myths about American craft beer.
Heading the list of the myths is the belief that one can put any beer in a cask and get a good result. Casks, he contends, bring out the best of a malty, low-gravity beer, but won’t have the same effect with an imperial IPA. He goes on to say that “a huge amount of beer that is being presented in casks…is simply not beer that will showcase the presentation at all well.”
Other myths that Ding wants to debunk include these:
Chris Lohring, the brewer at Notch Brewing in Massachusetts, would like a few words with purists who have made corn “the most vilified grain in all of American brewing.” In defending corn, Lohring takes aim at two myths about it.
The first myth is that corn–along with another hated adjunct, rice–was added to beer to make it bland. Actually, it was the other way around: big brewers made bland beer because they thought consumers wanted it; corn was “just along for the ride.” Lohring adds that 19th century German brewers used adjuncts out of necessity. North American six-row barley produced a hazier and more tannic beer than the two-row variety grown in Europe. Corn and rice allowed them to produce a smoother, brighter beer that also appealed to the American palate.
The other myth with corn is that brewers use it to cut costs. That wasn’t the case for German brewers who first used it, and isn’t the case for his brewery–especially because it entails additional steps during brew day that drives up the overall labor cost.
Lohring adds that many craft brewers use corn to “dry out” big, malty beers such as double IPAs and Belgian beers. Why, then, is corn unacceptable in brewing pale lagers? In his brewing career, he discovered that corn made “entry-level” lagers dryer and sweeter-tasting. Now he’s using high-quality corn to make The Mule, the latest in his brewery’s line of session-strength beers.
Some industry observers worry that the craft beer market might be getting saturated. Brad Tuttle of Time magazine cites two states where that could be happening. One is Vermont, which despite its small population, ranks 15th in overall craft-beer production and has the most craft breweries per capita in the U.S. However, the state’s beer production fell 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. The other is Indiana, where the number of craft breweries has tripled in just four years, and new brewers complain about the difficulty of getting their beers on tap at restaurants and bars.
On the other hand, Bart Watson, a staff economist for the Brewers Association, contends that there’s still plenty of room for growth. He points to Oregon, a mature craft beer market, where production still grew by 11 percent last year.
On this day in 1908, actor and comedian Milton Berle was born. As the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater, Berle was the first major American television star. He’s known to millions of viewers of a certain age as “Uncle Miltie.”
And now….The Mash!
We begin in the middle of Tampa Bay, where–if summer storms haven’t inundated it–you’ll find Beer Can Island. Non-drinkers refer it to it by its official name, Pine Key.
If you have vacation time coming and money to spend, consider a luxury beer vacation. Sarah Bennett of CNN.com picks America’s ten best beer-themed getaway locations.
Once again, North Dakota ranks number-one in per-capita beer consumption. The Roughrider State also ranks first in bars per capita, with one for every 1,620 adults.
Sam Calagione, the head of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, is known for adding food to beer. Now he’s created a line of beer-infused foods that includes chowder, pickles, and brownies.
Earlier this month, Darwin, Australia, held its annual Beer Can Regatta. To win, a skipper has to battle water, waves, and high construction costs–namely, a 10-cents-per-can deposit.
Smithsonian magazine’s Alastair Bland likes to hide bottles of rare beer in beautiful locations, then dare his readers to find them. Bland’s latest “Trail of Ale” is in northern California.
Finally, Will Gordon of Deadspin.com ranks 36 cheap American beers. Top honors went to Grain Belt Premium, which Gordon describes as “smooth, creamy, and dreamy.” His worst? Keystone.
Oliver Gray of LiteratureAndLibation.com gives us, “distilled from the hot mash of beer culture,” the ten archetypal craft beer drinkers. Gray describes himself as a mix between “The Appraiser,” a person who loves pretty much everything he tastes, “even beers that could potentially be toxic or cause a severe allergic reaction,” and “The Comparer,” a person “who’s on a mission to compile a mental database of every beer ever,” an obsession that makes him tough to hang out with.
Gray’s funniest category is “The Critic,” and we’ve seen our share of them in online beer forums. The Critic is “a roiling mess of negativity, who despite having downed some of the best beer in existence, cannot seem to say anything good about any beers. His rampant criticism of anything and everything beer related makes the people around him wonder if he actually likes beer at all, or if he just really likes to talk about how much he doesn’t like beer.” The Critic has tried more beers than people who say the love craft beer, but “no one has ever seen him actually enjoying a beer. The day he does, the universe might implode.”
Don Russell, who writes the Joe Sixpack column for Philly.com, saw the documentary Crafting a Nation. He gives it something less than a rave review. On the positive side, Russell calls the film “well-researched, beautifully photographed and set to the meaningful strum of an acoustic guitar.” He praises it for presenting craft brewers as hard-working businessmen who overcame money woes and regulatory red tape to make a high-quality, local product.
However, Russell points out that Crafting a Nation “manages to almost completely miss the key attraction of craft beer: It tastes good.” It wasn’t until the 73-minute mark that he saw anyone actually taste a beer. Russell is also disappointed that the craft brewers portrayed in the film were, almost without exception, white, male, and bearded. Worse yet, they seemed to speak in the same platitudes–including the hoariest of beer ad slogans, “live life to the fullest.” The latter prompted Russell to write, “I swear, you could take any 30 seconds of this film, add Clydesdales, and you’d have a Budweiser commercial.”
Joe Pappalardo, a writer for Esquire magazine, recently went on a quest to drink every beer poured at the two-day Great GoogaMooga beer festival in Brooklyn, New York. Fifty-four beers in all.
By his own admission, Pappalardo violated basic tenets of hardcore beer reviewing: drink full beers instead of tasters; don’t review products served at festivals; and don’t get wasted. With that in mind, he presented his work as “visceral impressions of the beers” and “a chronicle of my deteriorating condition.” The latter might explain the amusing typos in the article, such as Coney Island Brewing Company’s “1-galleon still.”
Pappalardo’s “deteriorating condition” also might have inspired the following rant about India pale ales: “I once wandered the galleries of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. The paintings on the walls radiated power, grace and drama. Slices of incalculable living history. Yet, staring at dozens of them, room after room, all I could see were just another image of a dead saint or Madonna. That’s how I feel about IPAs now. Smutty Nose could have one that cures cancer and I’d dump it into the grass after a mouthful.”
A visit from a homebrewer friend proved shocking to Adrienne So. Her friend couldn’t finish a pint at a Portland, Oregon, brewpub because it was too hoppy for him. That’s when So, who writes about beer for Slate magazine, realized she had a problem. “In fact, everyone I know in the craft beer industry has a problem: We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore.”
How did this happen? So explains that hops distinguish craft beer from the national brands, offer craft brewers an easy creative outlet, and allow beginning brewers to hide flaws in their beer. But, from a consumer’s standpoint, beers overloaded with hops are a pointless gimmick. So advises brewers to ease up on the hops and shift their focus to new strains of yeast and local, craft-malted barley.
It has become a British stereotype that Real Ale is “for old men with beards.” And that stereotype rankles Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile. He admits to being in his sixties and to having a beard, but goes on to say: “I’ve been drinking cask ale since the 1970s, when I was a young man, without a beard (and with much more hair on my head). And at that time, vast numbers–half or more–of CAMRA members were under 30, like me, and like the organisation’s founders, who had been in their mid-20s in 1971 when the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale kicked off.”
He adds that this phenomenon is not limited to Real Ale: “Of course, people’s pleasures actually barely change from their youth as they pile up the years and wrinkle like a shar pei, which ought to be obvious, but seems not to be. You might add on a few more likes, such as malt whisky and Frank Sinatra, neither of which I really understood until I was well past 25, and lose a few of the stranger ones, such as wearing brown corduroy and too-tight tanktops, but pretty much all of the things I enjoyed when I was just out of university I still enjoy now.”
Cornell takes Real Ale marketers to task for their apologizing for the age of their customers, something that the makers of other products don’t do. Point taken.