The Friday Mash (”Old Ironsides” Edition)

On this day in 1812, American frigate USS Constitution defeated the British frigate HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia. That victory earned her the nickname “Old Ironsides”; and an Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s 1830 poem of that name saved her from being decommissioned.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Bosnia, where an online post about homebrewing has, in just five years, grown into a flourishing craft-brewing industry—in a country where fruit brandy, not beer, has been the national beverage.

Pyongyang, North Korea, is playing host to its first-ever beer festival. It was organized to promote Pyongyang-brewed Taedonggang beer, which is named after the Taedong River.

Twenty years after the last shakeout in the craft beer sector, writer Lew Bryson sees another one coming. The good news is that the industry will rebound, and emerge stronger than ever.

The Australian spreads Vegemite and Marmite are made from brewer’s yeast extract. Native Australians are using them to make homebrewed beer in towns where prohibition is in effect.

Stone Brewing Company plans to open a beer-centric hotel across the street from its brewery in southern California. It will offer rare beer tappings along with room-service growlers.

Bob Beamon, whose Olympic long-jump record set in Mexico City still stands, offered a free beer to any athlete who broke his record at the Rio Olympics. No one came close.

Finally, MLS Soccer magazine has the rundown on where beer is sold at pro soccer matches. Germany is one of the beer-friendliest countries; you can drink in the stands at a Bundesliga match.

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The Friday Mash (“Be Prepared” Edition)

On this date in 1907, Sir Robert Baden-Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp on the south coast of England. That nine-day event—we assume that no beer was served to campers—was the foundation of the Scouting movement.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Scotland, where the Innis & Gunn brewery has released a “Vintage” beer that is meant to be aged. One bottle has been put inside a time capsule, which is not to be opened until 2116.

Old Style beer will return to its La Crosse, Wisconsin, birthplace. The brewery will make an Oktoberfest-style version of the 114-year-old brand for the city’s annual Oktoberfest U.S.A.

After winning his third Tour de France, Britain’s Chris Froome celebrated in style. In the Tour’s final stage, he handed out bottles of beer to his teammates.

According to the libertarian magazine Reason, state beer laws continued “a slow creep in the right direction.” However, many bad laws remain on the books.

The Smithsonian has posted a want ad for a beer historian/scholar. This three-year position, funded by the Brewers Association, will pay $64,650 plus benefits.

Some breweries try too hard to be original, and wind up giving their beers awful names. Thrillist.com calls out some of the worst offenders.

Finally, Jim Vorel of Atlanta magazine criticizes Terrapin Brewing Company for selling a majority interest to MillerCoors—and then keeping mum about the transaction on social media.

The Friday Mash (Spanish Inquisition Edition)

On this day in 1834, the Spanish parliament formally disbanded the Inquisition, which was created in 1480 by monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. It was revived in 1970 by the Monty Python troupe—when no one was expecting it.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Amsterdam, which is having a rainy summer. That’s good new for a group of entrepreneurs who are gathering rainwater and using to brew a pale ale called “Hemelswater: code blond”.

The newly-opened Tilted Mash Brewing got a big boost from judges at this year’s California State Fair. A third-place showing in the competitive Pale Ale category gave the brewery instant credibility.

Beer, then whiskey. Chicago’s Wander North Distillery is distilling beer mash from its next-door neighbor, Northgate Brewing. The first whiskey in the series is called Uncharted 1.

William Turton and Bryan Mengus of Gizmodo.com tried three popular brands of non-alcoholic beer. The best of the three “tasted like carbonated water with some beer flavoring thrown in”, the worst was “disgusting”.

Engineers at Heineken have discovered a way to dispense beer at high altitudes. Once the airline gets the necessary safety certificates, it will start serving in-flight draft beer.

How intense has beer trademark litigation gotten? Twelve lawyers filed challenges to Candace Moon’s application to trademark the phrase “Craft Beer Attorney”.

Finally, two IT consultants from Michigan have developed an app for beer festivals. It allows festival-goers to see what beers are available, develop a customized list, and rate the beers after tasting them.

More About That Big Beer Merger

Bob Pease of the Brewers Association has sobering news for craft beer lovers. In a New York Times op-ed earlier this month, Pease warned that the coming merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller will have an impact on your local beer selection that you hadn’t expected.

The problem is rooted in the three-tier system of liquor regulation, which forces craft breweries to sell their beer through distributors. In some states, the law allows big breweries to own distributors. Making matters worse, the distribution industry has undergone consolidation, and many areas of the country are served by a handful of distributors.

A-B, which controls 45 percent of the U.S. beer industry, has been particularly aggressive, buying five independent distributors—a move that has led to a Justice Department investigation. The brewery also compensates its distributors using a formula that in effect penalizes them for handling craft brands rather than A-B brands. That, too, is being investigated.

Pease hopes that the when the Justice Department gives final approval to the InBev-SAB merger, it will take steps to keep the beer market competitive. He points out that in 2013, it prohibited A-B InBev from interfering with independent distributors that sold Mexico’s Modelo beer. Pease urges Justice to give craft brand distributors similar protection, require A-B to reduce its stake in distributors, and bar compensation systems that favor A-B’s own brands.

Have You Ever Said This?

Thrillist’s Lee Breslouer has compiled a list of Things You’ll Never Craft Beer Fans Say. Some examples:

  • About popular beer: “Who the hell is Pliny the Elder?”
  • About hoppy beers: “How many IBUs does this have again?…Even a little bit of hop flavor is good enough for me!”
  • At a bar: “What’s the lightest beer you’ve got?”
  • About internet beer culture: “There are people who know more about beer than I do, and I’m okay with that.”
  • In general: “I wish they sold this in 30 packs.”

The Friday Mash (Casey at the Bat Edition)

On this day in 1888, the poem “Casey at the Bat” was first published in the San Francisco Examiner. You probaby remember that the mighty but overconfident Casey let two pitches go by for strikes before swinging at—and missing—the third strike, which led to “no joy in Mudville”.

And now…Play Ball!

We begin in Cleveland, where the Indians recently staged a “$2 Beer Night”. One creative group of fans built a 112-can, 11-level-high “beer-a-mid”. Major League Baseball offered a one-word comment: “Wow”.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the Black Marigold wind ensemble commissioned composer Brian DuFord to write a suite of movements inspired by the area’s craft beers. One local craft will brew a special beer for Black Marigold.

SodaStream, which sells machines that carbonate water, now offers an instant-homebrew device called the Beer Bar. Adding a package of “Blondie” concentrate to sparkling water produces a three-liter batch of 4.5-percent ABV.

Talk about a hasty departure. A driver in China’s Henan Province was caught on video chugging a beer at the wheel—this, while dragging his IV drip outside the car with him.

Here’s a new way to evade open container laws. A new invention called the Lolo Lid snaps onto the top of your can of beer, which you can then insert into a medium or large-sized paper coffee cup.

A Boston Globe editorial called on state lawmakers to make it easier for small breweries to terminate their agreements with distributors. North Carolina passed similar legislation in 2012.

Finally, the High Heel Brewing Company has come under fire for naming one of its beers after a shoe style and using pink and purple in its packaging. CEO Kristi McGuire said in her brewery’s defense, “We didn’t want to make a gimmick…We didn’t make the beer pink.”

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.”

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.

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.

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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