These rankings come courtesy of Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza, and Matt Lynch of Thrillist.com. Before calling the roll of the states, the authors explain their criteria: “Quantity and quality are both important, but quality’s a bit MORE important. If you’re a small state turning out a disproportionate amount of great beer, it did not go unrecognized. We also gave a boost to states who played a historical role in American beer as we know it today.”
Heading the list is Oregon (”Even the ‘crappy’ breweries by Portland standards would bury most of their peers”), followed by California (”San Diego…the most dominating beer city in world history”), Colorado (”Beer is everywhere. Everywhere is beer”), Michigan (which “some of the best damned breweries in the country”), and Washington (”home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness”).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bottom five: Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and coming in dead last, Mississippi.
On this day in 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia decided to Westernize his country by imposing a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry. That tax would have killed Russia’s craft brewing industry, had one existed at the time.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Texas, whose residents insist that everything is bigger. The Austin Beer Works lived up to that reputation by selling 99-packs of its “Peacemaker Anytime Ale.”
The remains of what appears to be a nearly 300-year-old brewery have been discovered on the campus of William and Mary. It made small beer for the college’s colonial-era faculty and students.
Are beer enthusiasts getting too fixated on ratings? CraftBeer.com’s Chris McClellan, who watched a feeding frenzy ensue when a top-rated beer arrived at a store, thinks they have.
A deconsecrated church, an ex-funeral home, and a military base are among Esquire magazine’s 14 strangest brewery locations in America.
Gizmodo.com’s Karl Smallwood explains why beer is rarely sold in plastic bottles. They contain chemicals that ruin the beer’s taste; and they allow carbon dioxide to escape, making the beer flat.
Archaeologist Alyssa Looyra has re-created a beer from a bottle found near the site of the Atlantic Beer Garden, a 19th-century New York City hangout. It’s “a light summer drink.”
Finally, the Leinenkugel Brewing Company took the high road when it discovered that Kenosha’s Rustic Road Brewing was already using the name “Helles Yeah.” CEO Dick Leinenkugel showed up and bought the name for a few cases of beer, some pizza, and an undisclosed sum of money.
A copy of the 1964 book, The Drinking Man’s Diet, led New York Times food writer Mark Bittman to write a column titled The Drinker’s Manifesto. It’s a response to the inflated warnings about the effects of drinking on one’s health.
The Centers for Disease Control flatly says that drinking too much is “dangerous,” and can “lead to heart disease, breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, motor-vehicle crashes, and violence.” Bittman responds: “Many of these dangerous effects are indirect and can be mitigated: If you don’t have sex or get into a car after drinking, you can’t possibly get pregnant or in a car accident. (One thing about drinking alcohol, though: It can cause bad judgment.) The more direct ones, like heart disease and breast cancer, have so many risk factors that drinking may perhaps be discounted, especially in moderation. And there’s evidence that drinking ‘the right amount’—which is less than “too much”—can be good for you.”
The CDC also says that excessive alcohol consumption causes 88,000 deaths a year and “costs the economy about $224 billion.” However, Bittman points out that obesity-related illnesses cause somewhere around 112,000 deaths, and cost maybe a trillion dollars—and you don’t see any health warnings on a bottle of Coke.
On this day in 1040, King Duncan I of Scotland was killed in battle against his first cousin and rival Macbeth. Seventeen years later, King Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan. The Three Weird Sisters entered the picture 500 years later, courtesy of William Shakespeare.
“Double, double, time and trouble, fire burn”..and now The Mash!
We begin in Dodger Stadium, where Anheuser-Busch InBev will unveil a new beer aimed at Latino beer drinkers. Montejo, from A-B’s Mexican subsidiary, will be released throughout the Southwest.
Beer-fueled violence in college towns is nothing new. In 1884, a beer riot took place in Iowa City after local authorities put two men on trial for violating Iowa’s new prohibition law.
Pete Brown reports that underage drinking has fallen off sharply in Britain. His explanation: parents downing a few at home have made drinking less appealing to their children.
It’s Shark Week, a perfect time for a Narragansett, which has been called “the Forrest Gump of Beers” because of its association with celebrities, artists, sports teams, and politicians.
Blonde ales have acquired a “training-wheels beer” reputation, but Jay Brooks thinks they’re underappreciated. He calls them “light and refreshing” and perfect for a hot August day.
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post ranked the beer selection at major-league ballparks. Seattle’s Safeco Field has the best selection, while Yankee Stadium has the worst.
Finally, brewpubs aren’t dead after all. An All About Beer story by Brandon Hernandez profiles restaurants that reinvented themselves as brewpubs and experienced an uptick in business afterward.
Deadspin’s Will Gordon, who writes about adult beverages, has decided to rattle a few cages with his list of 18 overrated beers. He cautions that “overrated” beers aren’t necessarily bad, but “they’re not as good as their ubiquity on reputable beer menus or their cult status will have you believe.”
After going after obvious targets like Blue Moon, Killian’s Red, and Corona, Gordon ventures into more dangerous territory. He calls Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale “generic strong ale overdosed with vanilla,” and complains that Magic Hat, the makers of #9, “seems to be more interested in marketing than brewing.” He pooh-poohs the idea of waiting in line to buy Heady Topper, which is “only marginally better than Dogfish Head 90 Minute,” and dismisses North Coast Old Rasputin as “not as transcendent as its reputation suggests.”
Gordon’s most intriguing comment is about your local brewery’s flagship ale. He says, “In most cases, the beer that put a brewery on the map way back when—even if way back when was two years ago—has since been surpassed in-house. They may need to keep the sales workhorse around to keep the ship afloat, but the brewers themselves know that they’ve gotten better at their craft since creating that first hit recipe.”
At last count, Gordon’s article has attracted nearly 1,000 comments.
Jeff Alworth, who blogs at Beervana, passed along what he called “an alarming report” from 47 Hops about the supply and cost of hops in the near future.
Given 10-20 percent annual growth in craft-beer production, 47 Hops estimates that the hops industry needs to invest between $500 million and $1 billion in new capacity over the next five years. However, the price of hops would have to double to give hop growers an incentive to add the needed capacity.
Alworth points out that 47 Hops is a hop dealer, and “they seem inevitably to come to a conclusion that supports their business model–get a contract now!” Nevertheless, he thinks its warning should be taken seriously.
There’s been a running debate as to whether Boston Beer Company, the makers of Samuel Adams, is too big to be considered a craft brewery. The debate usually centers around Boston Beer’s production, which recently topped 2 million.
Some, however, contend that Boston Beer has lost the pioneering spirit that characterizes craft beer. Eno Sarris, a baseball statistician, is one of them, and he claims to have the numbers to back up his contention.
Sarris’s exhibit A is Rebel IPA. According to Untappd, it’s gotten an average score of 3.0. In baseball stats lingo, Rebel IPA is below “replacement level,” which means that an Untapped user would be more satisfied with an IPA chosen at random. Sarris adds that mediocre ratings aren’t limited to Rebel IPA. In terms of Beers Above Replacment, Samuel Adams ranks 571st out of 2,673 breweries listed on Untappd.
Sarris’s conclusion about Samuel Adams? “It started a craft beer revolution, and then craft beer’s evolution passed it by.” And the debate continues.
Matthew Mitchell and Christopher Koopman of George Mason University argue that craft brewing is hamstrung by regulation at every level of government.
At the federal level, brewers need approval for their label art—this step can take 100 days—and depending on their ingredients and methods, their formula might require approval—which could mean yet another 60 days’ delay.
At the state level, brewers face additional, and often redundant, rules. Some states’ criteria for getting a license are so broadly written that they invite arbitrary denials, especially if they let existing brewers exclude competition. Once licensed, craft brewers must contend with more legal barriers–the worst of which is the three-tier system, which requires brewers to sell their products through distributors. On top of that, many states’ franchise laws force small brewers to either stay in unhappy marriages with distributors or pay a huge sum for a corporate divorce.
Mitchell and Koopman also note that regulators don’t have an incentive to look at the combined effect of regulations at all levels. They also believe that regulators are oblivious to the rules’ practical effect: preventing newcomers from challenging existing firms. (Which explains the persistence of the “bootlegger and Baptist” theory of regulation: restrictive alcohol laws hand an advantage to existing suppliers.) The authors also criticize governments’ efforts to “rescue” craft brewers by with targeted assistance, exemptions, and subsidies, contending that those measures are not only ineffective but also create economic inefficiencies.
Fifty years ago today, The Beatles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Fab Four still hold the record for most Billboard number-one hits with 20; and, with more than 600 million records sold world-wide, remain the biggest-selling band of all time.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Houston, where Whole Foods’ Post Oak location will brew its own beer. Other grocery chains sell own-label beer, but they contract out the actual brewing.
A layover might be an opportunity to enjoy a pint at one of America’s best airport beer bars. All nine are outposts of local craft breweries such as Harpoon, Schlafly, and Rogue.
Kudzu beer? The invasive Southern plant is among the “foraged ingredients” that have found their way into new beers. Kudzu, by the way, is said to impart a fruity flavor.
Anheuser-Busch InBev is celebrating this summer’s World Cup in Brazil by introducing Brahma Selecao Especial. Its recipe includes barley grown on the Brazilian national team’s training field.
Old Style beer will be sold in Wrigley Field this season after all. The Cubs’ concessionaire plans to sell it, along with Goose Island, at the park’s concession stands.
Brooklyn Brewing Company founder Steve Hindy wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for reform of franchise laws that keep small breweries from getting their beer on the shelves.
Finally, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have created the first synthetic yeast chromosome. Since the yeast genome consists of 16 chromosomes, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
On this day in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Ironically, Bell considered the phone a distraction from his real work as a scientist and refused to have one in his study.
And now…a busy signal!
Almost 600 types of barley seeds have been added to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This ups the chances that survivors will be able to enjoy a post-apocalyptic beer.
In India, architecture students from Bangalore and Spain used thousands of beer bottles to construct a classroom. The bottles eliminate the need for artificial light inside.
Stone Brewing Company plans to open a second brewery in the eastern U.S., and it appears that Greensboro has been found worthy as a site to brew Arrogant Bastard and other ales.
A London-based start-up company has a remedy for job stress. Desk Beer offers Friday deliveries of local craft beer–provided, of course, the boss approves.
If you plan on some beer hunting, Lindsey Grossman of Paste magazine suggests eight beer-related apps for your phone. They include a “fairly addictive” game called Micro Caps.
Finally, after being served three ales he couldn’t stand, Johnny Sharp unleashed a rant titled “Am I The Only Man in Britain Who Hates Craft Beer? You may find his writing an “acquired taste.”