Agriculture

John Barleycorn Must Die

Jay Brooks recently wrote a column in the San Jose Mercury News about the season we refer to as “fall.” That word is a short form of the 17th-century English phrase, “fall of the leaf.” Fall is also the harvest season—Germans call it Herbst, a derivative of the Old Norse word for “harvest”—and it’s the time of the year to bring in the hops and barley crops.

This is where where John Barleycorn takes the stage. During the 16th century, a folk tale about him made its way around England. Brooks describes it as “an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking. The main character, the eponymous John Barleycorn, is the personification of barley, which is attacked, beaten and eventually dies–or as we prefer to think of it, grown, reaped and then malted.”

The most famous modern version of this song was recorded by Traffic, co-founded by Steve Winwood and Dave Mason and featured on their 1970 album, John Barleycorn Must Die.

The Friday Mash (Ponderosa Edition)

Fifty-five years ago today, the first episode of the television show Bonanza premiered on NBC. The show, which starred Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running western of all time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Crested Butte, Colorado, where residents are hopping mad over a clandestine deal to let Anheuser-Busch turn their ski town into a living Bud Light commercial.

John Holl asked some of his fellow beer writers, “if beer were invented today, what would it look like?” The answers may surprise you.

Heavy late-summer rains in Montana and Idaho have ruined much of the barley crop. A disappointing barley harvest could translate into higher beer prices next year.

Are you ready for some football? The folks at Thrillist are, and they’ve picked a local beer for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams.

Add chili pepper-infused beers to the list of craft brewing trends. USA Today’s Mike Snider reviews some popular chili beers, including one made with extra-potent ghost peppers.

Raise a glass to Jake Leinenkugel, who is retiring as the brewery’s CEO. According to a hometown journalist, Leinenkugel has earned a place in craft brewing history.

Finally, Marc Confessore of Staten Island showed us how not to pair food and beer. He got caught trying to sneak four cases of Heineken and 48 packages of bacon out of a grocery store.

Hops Shortage Looming?

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.

The Friday Mash (DNA Edition)

On this day in 1953, Francis Crick and James D. Watson published a paper in the British journal Nature that described the double helix structure of DNA. The ability to sequence and manipulate DNA is a key to the biotechnology industry, and modern medicine in general.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in the Willamette Valley, where the nation’s first hop and brewing archive was recently at Oregon State University. The valley, on the 45th parallel, has ideal hop-growing conditions.

Jay Brooks dusted off a 1947 issue of Look magazine, in which writer Don Wharton asks readers “What Kind of Drinker Are You?”. He describes 11 categories, and most of us fall into at least one.

Brewing carries a “white men with beards” stereotype, but Los Angeles is home to a growing Latino brewing community. LA Weekly profiles several craft cerveza breweries in the area.

Summer is coming, and that means session IPAs. The trend started last year with Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA, and other breweries have jumped in with their own versions.

And when those hot days of summer arrive, you might want one of these: The Beer Glass Froster by from Hammacher Schlemmer, which will frost your glass in ten seconds.

Flying Dog Ales is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Old Bay seasoning with a spicy summer ale called Dead Rise. It’s named after the boats used by Chesapeake Bay crabbers.

Finally, Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, asks whether micropubs–establishments with Real Ale and no electronic distractions–are a passing fad or the future of British watering holes.

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.

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.

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