Industry News

The Underground Beer Road

Downtown Bruges, in Belgium, is famous for its medieval architecture, and in fact has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the home of a 450-year-old, family-owned brewery called De Halve Maan.

The brewery wants to stay downtown, but the neighbors are concerned about the damage its beer trucks are doing to the cobblestone streets and other architecture.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: the brewery plans to build a two-mile underground pipeline that will connect it to an industrial park where the beer will be bottled and shipped to drinkers worldwide. Construction is set to begin next year.

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The Friday Mash (Sailing in Style Edition)

Eighty years ago today, the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary was launched. She was retired in 1967, after taking well-heeled passengers across the North Atlantic, and is now a hotel and a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where the Munich 1860 football team is selling Oktoberfest-themed uniforms complete with lederhosen and Bavarian blue-and-white gingham shirts.

C. Dean Metropolous sold Pabst Blue Ribbon and other “nostalgia” brands to Oasis Beverages, a Russian-based brewer and distributor. Metropolous reportedly got $700 million for the brands.

Crikey! After being attacked by a crocodile, a hunter in Australia’s Northern Territory drank beer to deaden the pain while he waited for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Growlerwerks LLC is developing uKeg, a pressurized growler that should eliminate flat beer from growlers. The pressure comes from carbon dioxide cartridges, which cost about $1 apiece.

Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, who’s facing a tough fight for reelection, helped a fan do a keg stand while tailgating at last weekend’s Mississippi State-LSU football game.

All About Beer magazine has a new owner. Daniel Bradford has sold the 35-year-old publication to a newly-formed corporation, All About Beer LLC, headed by Christopher Rice.

Finally, New Holland Brewing Company is celebrating Carhartt, Inc.’s 125th anniversary with a new beer called Woodsman and a “The Road Home to Craftsmanship” tour which will wind up at the Great American Beer Festival.

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Meanwhile, in Macrobrew Land…

This blog has run a host of stories about the success of craft beer and the people who brew it. However, as Benjamin Dangl of CommonDreams.com explains, there are disturbing developments in the “macrobrew” sector and involving Anheuser-Busch InBev in particular.

A-B InBev owns almost half of the US beer market, and the top four companies have a 78-percent market share—in spite of there being more breweries in the United States than at any time in history. The result of consolidation is less competition and higher prices. And, in the case of A-B InBev, poorer-quality beer. Dangl notes that the company abandoned Budweiser’s traditional and much-advertised “beechwood aging” to save money—and that discerning drinkers have noticed the decline in quality.

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The Friday Mash (Emoticon Edition)

On this day in 1982, Scott Fahlman posted the first documented emoticons, :-) and :-( , on the Carnegie Mellon University Bulletin Board System. So now you know who to blame.

And now….The (emoticon-free) Mash!

We begin in Israel, where Itsik Levy named his brewery “Isis” after an Egyptian goddess. Now that the Islamic State is using that name, Levy said—tongue in cheek—that he’s considering “a massive lawsuit” against it.

D’oh! Australian regulators ordered Woolworth’s to stop selling Duff beer because the brand’s association with The Simpsons made it too appealing to would-be underage drinkers.

Scientists say that the fastest way to chill beer is to pour plenty of salt into a bucket of water, then add ice, and then drop in the beer. It’ll be cold in 20 minutes or less.

For Ohio to get Stone Brewing Company’s second brewery, lawmakers will have to raise the ABV cap. Some of Stone’s ales exceed the current 12-percent cap and thus can’t be brewed in Ohio.

Britain’s Prince Harry celebrated his 30th birthday by downing a beer at the Invictus Games. He has good reason to celebrate: now that he’s 30, he inherits $17.4 million from his mother, the late Princess Diana.

The Beer Geeks are returning to this year’s Great American Beer Festival. They’re a corps of 3,000 volunteers who are trained by the Brewers Association to tell festival-goers more about the beers they’re sampling.

Finally, Beverage Grades, a Denver company that analyzes the content of beer and wine, offers a “Copy Cat” app which tells where you can find beer with similar tastes to those you like.

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MGM Enters the Festival Business

Here’s another sign of the growing popularity of beer festivals. In Las Vegas, MGM has teamed up with the organizers of the Oregon Brewers Festival to put on a festival to be held on the Strip a week from Saturday. The festival, called Blvd Beer Fest, will feature a selection of Oregon-brewed beers not normally available in southern Nevada, along with an entertainment lineup headed by The Kings of Leon. MGM hopes that the event will drive traffic to its 11 hotels on the Strip and give its guests a wider choice of things to do outdoors.

Blvd Beer Fest will take place a week after the annual Downtown Brew Festival, organized by Motley Brews. Brian Chapin, Motley Brews’ founder, isn’t fazed by MGM’s entering the festival business. In fact, he thinks it validates the notion that craft beer has become popular in Las Vegas.

The Friday Mash (Razor Sharp Edition)

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.

The Friday Mash (Seven Years’ War Edition)

On this day in 1756, Prussia’s king Frederick the Great attacked Saxony, beginning the Seven Years’ War. The conflict, which took place on five continents and involved most of the world’s powers, is better known to English-speaking North Americans as the French and Indian War.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Mallersdorf Abbey’s Sister Doris has been a master brewer for nearly 40 years. She’s one of Bavaria’s few “ladies who lager”–and Europe’s last beer-brewing nun.

Beer historian Tom Acitelli credits a 2002 cut in the excise tax for the profusion of small breweries in Great Britain. He also credits a 1976 beer tax cut for America’s small-brewery boom.

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon is a wine lover, but he also has a taste for good beer. Gordon recently showed up at Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, whose 61 Minute IPA really impressed him.

For years, Mexico’s brewing industry had been dominated by two large corporations, but change is slowly coming, thanks to the federal government’s efforts to curb monopolies in key industries.

Iowa officials are pondering what to do with the 150-year-old beer caves underneath I-380 in Cedar Rapids. The forgotten caves were exposed by this summer’s heavy rains.

Barrel-aged beer is becoming more popular, and brewers are looking beyond traditional bourbon barrels. Now they’re starting to age their beer in barrels once used for Scotch, rum, and wine.

Finally, the growth of microbreweries might give rise to a new breed of wholesalers. Yarmouth, Maine-based Vacationland Distributors specializes in craft breweries, especially those that have grown beyond the state’s maximum for self-distribution rights.

Ballantine IPA Returns

Beloved by Hunter S. Thompson and advertised as “the manlier brew,” Ballantine IPA was one of the few India pale ales available in the United States before the craft brew movement began. Inevitably, the ale fell victim to industry consolidation.

Pabst Brewing Company, which now owns the Ballantine trademark, announced that it will launch a new version of Ballantine IPA. According to Jay Brooks, who passed along Pabst’s announcement on his blog, the ale will check in at 7.2% ABV and 70 IBUs, putting it near the upper end of the style guidelines for an English-style IPA.

Gregory Deuhs, Pabst’s brewmaster, conducted extensive research—including talking to beer drinkers of a certain age–to find out what the original IPA looked and tasted like. After making two dozen five-gallon batches at his home, Deuhs finally came up with an IPA that Peter Ballantine, the company’s founder, would brew today.

Ballantine IPA will soon be available in six-packs and 750-ml bottles in nine northeastern states.

The Friday Mash (Macbeth Edition)

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.

Are “Crafty Beers” Helping Big Breweries?

According to Tom Philpott of Mother Jones magazine, big breweries such as Anheuser-Busch InBev are following a two-pronged strategy in response to declining market share for their brands. The first is “relentless cost cutting.” After InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in 2008, it very quickly cut 1,400 jobs, or about six percent of its American workforce. Its focus on slashing costs has continued.

The second approach is rolling out “crafty” beers–the include Shock Top, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel, Killian’s, Batch 19, and Third Shift–or, alternatively, buy up craft breweries like Chicago’s Goose Island. Philpott says this “has been successful, to a point.” The good new is that InBev’s Shock Top and Goose Island sales have surged. But here’s the bad news. According to Bloomberg, craft beers “are taking sales from already-troubled mass-market brands owned by the industry giants peddling these crafty brews.”

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