Agriculture

The Friday Mash (Champions Day Edition)

This day in 1936 was Champions Day in Detroit. It celebrated of “the most amazing sweep of sport achievements ever credited to any single city” including the rise of boxer Joe Louis, and the first-ever championships won by the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Lions. Yes, the Detroit Lions, who have driven generations of fans to drink.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Canada, where Miller Brewing Company and MolsonCoors appear headed to court over distribution rights for several Miller brands that Miller wants to reclaim.

Shandy has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the beer market. It’s popular among women, moderate drinkers, and those looking for refreshment and willing to try new tastes.

Don’t throw out that can of beer that sat in your fridge all winter. Mother Nature News has seven uses for it, including killing slugs and fruit flies, highlighting your hair, and polishing furniture.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have confirmed the ancestral homeland of the yeast used in lager beer. It’s Patagonia, of all places. The yeast found its way to Bavaria 500 years ago.

Is the craft beer industry growing too fast? Attendees at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference warned about quality problems with some new breweries’ beers.

Beer aficionados hate Corona, and it costs as much as some national microbrews, but sales keep booming. The secret is marketing, which associates the brand with sun, sand, and surf.

Finally, our sports desk has learned that Flying Dog Ales will host Sprint for the Spat in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point. One of the highlights will be–this is not a typo–a 0.10-K race. A spat, by the way, is a baby oyster.

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The Friday Mash (Fab Four Edition)

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.

Spent Grain Attracts Federal Regulators’ Attention

Breweries across the country have informal agreements to send their spent grains to local farmers to feed to their livestock. It’s the proverbial win-win: the brewery gets rid of a by-product they can no longer use, and the farmer gets free food for the animals.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new rules that would require breweries to take additional steps to ensure that spent grain is safe for animals to eat. Complying with those rules would make it too expensive and time-consuming for small and medium-sized breweries to continue giving the grain away.

The Brewers Association, Beer Institute, and other brewing organizations have come out against the proposed rules and asked that the brewing industry be exempted. The FDA has extended the public comment period to next Monday, and brewers and farmers are watching closely.

The Friday Mash (Genuine Bell Edition)

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!

We begin in Philadelphia, where a beer garden will open across from the Liberty Bell. Philly has other good “hop spots,” and USA Today’s Marla Cimini will show you around.

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.”

Is Terroir Coming to Beer?

Wine lovers are familiar with the word terroir, which roughly translates into “expression of a sense of place.” The main ingredient in wine is, of course, grapes, and most good wines are made with grapes from a particular region. But is that possible with beer? There are breweries in all 50 states, but most hops are grown in the Northwest and most barley is grown on the Great Plains.

Erika Szymanski, a science writer at Palate Press, contends that terroir is possible in beer. For example, she found that a Guinness served in a bar in Rochester, New York, tasted different from one served in County Clare in Ireland. Same recipe, slightly different ingredients. Szymanski says that a brewery doesn’t have to stick to ingredients grown in its backyard–though Rogue Ales does a marvelous job in that department–so long as the ingredients give its beer what she calls “sensory characteristics that uniquely identify a beverage’s origins.”

Szymanski goes on to say that beer today is like wine was in the 17th century. In time, she believes, breweries and beer drinkers will draw greater distinctions among grains, just as today’s wine community distinguishes among grapes. It’s even possible that 200 years from now, beer drinkers “will be comparing exquisite estate-bottled Hefeweizen from neighboring wheat fields.”

Wild Turkeys

Joe Morette, a farmer from New Hampshire, discovered by accident that feeding his turkeys beer instead of water resulted in better-tasting bird. Just in time for Thanksgiving, which is less than three weeks away.

The Friday Mash (Treasure State Edition)

On this day in 1889, Montana was admitted to the Union as the 41st state. Montana, with 36 craft breweries and a population of just over one million, ranks third in number of breweries per capita, behind only Vermont and Oregon. No wonder its nickname is the “Treasure State.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in San Francisco, where a company called ReGrained is using spent grain from beer brewing to make granola bars. The bars also contain Ghirardelli chocolate and other local ingredients.

Bottle-share parties have gotten much more sophisticated over the years. Portland, Oregon, writer Lucy Burningham sampled rare beer and gourmet food at a high-end gathering in her hometown.

Why are holiday beers already on the shelves? Because early rollouts work. Sales of seasonal beers have risen by 15 percent or more in the past few years.

Cassava is the second most-consumed source of carbohydrates in sub-Saharan Africa. Multi-national breweries are buying the crop from farmers and using it to brew beer.

Japanese baseball players have their version of America’s post-game Champagne celebration: a victory beer fight in which players spray one another. The tradition dates back to 1959.

Craft beer might be the next big tourist attraction in the Tampa Bay area. Four micros have recently opened in St. Petersburg alone, and Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing Company has a nation-wide following.

Finally, it has been a year since Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the Jersey Shore. Flying Fish Brewing Company’s “F.U. Sandy” beer has generated $75,000 in donations to a number of New Jersey charities.

I (Heart) NY Hops

New York State ranks seventh nationally in the number of craft breweries. The growth of that industry, along with the farm-to-table movement, has prompted some local farmers to start growing hops.

During the late 19th century, New York was one of the world’s leading hop-growing regions. There were about 40,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in the area between Syracuse and Cooperstown. However, a mold epidemic, followed by Prohibition, all but killed commercial hop-growing in the region until a few years ago.

Hop-growing won’t return to its heyday in New York. It’s an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Hops costs $12,000 to $16,000 per acre to get started, and it generally takes at least three years before a robust crop comes in. In addition, the land where hops are planted must have good sunlight, soil that isn’t too acidic, and good drainage.

The Hop That Launched a Movement

This video from Oregon State University is about the Cascade hop which, according to BridgePort Brewery’s brewer Jeff Edgerton, was a “hybrid hop that was left on the shelf.”

Suggested beverage pairing: India pale ale.

The Friday Mash (Acid Test Edition)

On this day in 1938, the hallucinogenic drug LSD was first synthesized in Europe. It entered popular culture in the 1960s when Timothy Leary promoted its use, and author Tom Wolfe documented the adventures of Ken Kesey and his acid-dropping band of Merry Pranksters.

Ludwig recommends avoiding this drug and sticking to beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Fredericksburg, Texas, where Lee Hereford raised $2 million for his Pedernales Brewing Company by visiting would-be investors’ homes armed with a prospectus and samples of his beer.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. If you haven’t decided how to cook your turkey, homebrew chef Sean Z. Paxton has a recipe for “Tipsy Turkey”. You’ll need a good holiday ale for the beer brine.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, the beer brewed by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims might have offended craft beer purists because the grain bill included corn. With good reason: local barley crop often failed.

Canadian beer writer Jordan St. John toured Boston Beer Company’s Jamaica Plain facility, with none other than company founder Jim Koch leading the tour. St. John learned why sour beer and balsamic vinegar are similar.

About ten years ago, someone decided to dress up the gardens of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium by planting hop bines. Now, dry hops from those bines will be used by Revolution Brewing, a local micro.

Next year, Anheuser-Busch InBev will roll out Budweiser Black Crown, which it describes as a “golden amber lager.” It will carry a 6% ABV alcoholic punch.

Finally, Ludwig would like to introduce Wojtek, a brown bear that fought alongside Polish soldiers during World War II. Adopted as a cub by artillerymen serving in Iran, the bear drank two bottles of beer a day.

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