The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

One Man’s Quest at the GABF

David Obuchowski, one of’s beer writers, went to this year’s Great American Beer Festival on a mission: Drink at least one beer from every state. He actually sampled more than 200 beers to find at least one from each state worth putting on the list. Sampling that many beers posed a couple of challenges: long lines; a strictly-enforced 10 pm last call; and, most importantly, the GABF’s policy of not replacing lost or broken sampling cups.

After finishing his sampling, Obuchowski ranked each state’s beer from 1 to 51 (he included the District of Columbia). In the interest of full disclosure, he admits to having a bias toward stouts.

The Friday Mash (Peanuts Edition)

Sixty-five years ago today, the Peanuts comic strip, written and illustrated by Charles Schulz, was first published. Peanuts became one of the most popular and influential comic strips in history.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Philadelphia, the final stop of Pope Francis’s American visit. Local writer Don Russell, aka “Joe Sixpack,” takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the history of papal influence on brewing.

Israel now has 32 craft breweries. One of them, located in the hills of Galilee, uses chickpeas and dates in its recipe for a gluten-free beer.

Eastern Michigan University can’t win for losing. It latest effort to draw fans for its struggling football team—beer sales—resulted in a $3,000 loss. And yes, EMU lost the game.

After “some extensive field research,” Brent Nunn of the Dallas Observer has compiled a list of ten dumb things light beer drinkers say about craft beer.

Samuel Adams announced that it will introduce a series of nitro-conditioned beers early next year. The first three nitro offerings will be a white ale, an IPA, and a coffee stout.

Two Belgian scientists are making lager beers more diverse by cross-breeding yeasts. The new strains not only ferment more quickly than commercial strains, but are delicious as well.

Finally, blame global warming for pumpkin beers showing up on shelves before Labor Day. For example, persistently hot weather forced Rogue Ales to harvest its pumpkins weeks earlier than last year.

The Friday Mash (L.A. Edition)

On this day in 1781, forty-four Spanish settlers founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola) in southern California. The settlement eventually acquired the friendlier name, “Los Angeles.”

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Colorado, where two men got into the beer business without brewing. Last year they formed Inland Island Yeast Laboratories, whose customers include three dozen local micros.

Japanese beer taxes are steep, but the government is about to give brewers a break. It will also change the century-old definition of beer, which requires it to contain at least two-thirds malt.

Darrin Wingard, of West Caln, Pennsylvania, has drunk a new beer on each of the last 1,100 days. You can follow his beer adventures on his Instagram account, newbeeraday.

Synek, a packaging company, has unveiled a self-contained countertop tap system that dispenses 128-ounce cartridges of beer that will stay fresh for a month. A home version retails for $289.

Aficionados keep rare beers in their cellar, sometimes for years. However, cellaring might be the wrong thing to do with hoppy beers because hop flavor is the first thing to fade as time passes.

Last weekend, Brian Harman became the third golfer in PGA Tour history to shoot two holes-in-one in the same round. He celebrated by treating the media to $3,000 worth of beer and whiskey.

Finally, British writer Pete Brown laments his government’s failure to grasp that people drink to achieve a state somewhere between sobriety and drunkenness. The English language doesn’t even have a word for that state.

The Friday Mash (Magic Kingdom Edition)

Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney unveiled his theme park, Disneyland, on national television. The “Magic Kingdom” has attracted more than 650 million guests—more than any other amusement park in the world—since it opened.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where the sold-out Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is taking place at the Four Points Hotel. Ludwig couldn’t attend, but he’ll be there in spirit.

21st Century Fox, which owns The Simpsons franchise, has licensed Duff beer. For the time being, Duff will only be available in Chile, where bootleg versions of the brand have been turning up on store shelves.

Lawmakers in a number of states passed beer-friendly legislation this year. Mike Pomeranz of Yahoo! Food explains what happened in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and West Virginia.

Oh, the agony of defeat. Australia’s cricket team was so frustrated by its 169-run defeat at the hands of England in a Test match that it refused the host country’s offer of post-match beers.

Illustrator/animator Drew Christie has created a four-minute-long history lesson titled “The United States of Beer”, in which he offers a modest proposal: a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer.

Here’s another reason to book that trip to Honolulu. Maui Brewing Company will open a brewpub in Waikiki. It will be located in the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber.

Finally, Kathy Flanigan and Chelsey Lewis of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel take you on a beer tour of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. It includes plenty of history, and features a visit to “The Troll Capital of the World.”

What’s With All The Sexist Beer Names?

From the earliest days of craft brewing, breweries have loved to incorporate puns into the names of their beers. Some of the names are clever; some are groan-inducing; and some give offense, especially to women.

Will Gordon, writing in Slate magazine, finds much craft beer marketing to be “astonishingly sexist.” Even though only the top-tier craft brewers can afford a traditional mass-media marketing campaign, many smaller brewers resort to the equivalent of filling the screen with images of attractive young women in bikinis. Which brings us back to beer names.

Choosing a product name is the first marketing decision a business has to make. In Gordon’s opinion, this is where too many craft brewers “embarrass themselves and alienate potential customers.” He’s especially critical of Flying Dog Ales, whose product line includes beers called “Raging Bitch” and “Pearl Necklace,” the latter being slang for a sexual act. Also on his dishonor roll: SweetWater Brewing Company, which earlier this year sent samples of “Happy Ending” ale—complete with mini bottles of skin cream.

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.”

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, 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.

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