Industry News

The Friday Mash (Mickey Mouse Edition)

On this day in 1928, The Walt Disney Corporation released the animated short “Steamboat Willie”, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. It was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Disney considers this release to be Mickey’s birthday.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in England, where pub companies warn that the price of a pint is about to jump. Factors include inflation, higher costs of doing business, and the introduction of the living wage.

Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa showed off his axe-throwing skills in an Instagram video. What makes his performance even more impressive is that he drank a beer immediately before he hit the bulls-eye.

FIFA, the world-wide governing body of soccer, is negotiating with officials of host country Qatar over whether beer will be served there during matches at the 2022 World Cup.

Effective January 1, 2019, Labatt will discontinue the 50-year-old tradition of issuing free beer for life to company retirees. The Canadian brewery is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Travel blogger Emmanuel Marshall used Innis & Gunn IPA as currency to pay for transportation and lodging on his 5,000-mile trip from Scotland, the home of Innis & Gunn, to India.

Scientists at Rockefeller University have found that beer pong players expose themselves to numerous icky bacteria. The good news is that college-aged players have strong enough immune systems to cope with them.

Finally, the San Diego Union-Tribune named the five beers that put the city on the craft beer map: AleSmith Speedway Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Le Freak, Karl Strauss Red Trolley, and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale.

The Friday Mash (Road Atlas Edition)

Ninety years ago today, the first numbering system for U.S. highways was approved. The 21 numbered highways in the initial group included U.S. 60, which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles; it was later renumbered and became the famous “Mother Road”, U.S. Route 66.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, where hundreds of fans lined up to buy bottles of limited-edition “Big Hapi” beer, brewed to honor now-retired Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz.

Beer aficionados reacted furiously to TV food and travel personality Anthony Bourdain’s comments likening the clientele at a San Francisco beer bar to the “(expletive deleted) Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.

A court in Stuttgart, Germany, ruled that breweries can’t use the word “bekömmlich”—“wholesome” in English—in their advertising because European Union regulations prohibit health claims in alcohol ads.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will start canning its beers later this month. Brewery CEO Sam Calagione is now convinced that canning technology can deliver a consistent, high-quality product.

The YouTube channel Celebrities in Golf Carts is trying to bridge the generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials with a new sport called Beer Pong Golf.

Dissatisfied with local distributors, Massachusetts’ Night Shift Brewing created its own distributorship. It’s offering breweries friendlier contracts, more personal attention, and deliveries of fresher beer.

Finally, in 1987, a Heineken retailer spread the untrue rumor that Mexican brewery workers urinated in containers of Corona Extra beer. That resulted in a lawsuit, and a public statement denying the rumor. Ten years later, Corona surpassed Heineken as America’s number-one imported beer.

The Friday Mash (Tool Time Edition)

On this day in 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall saw chimpanzees creating tools in a national park in Tanzania. It was the first time anyone had seen animals do that, and it exploded the long-standing belief that humans were the only species capable of tool-making.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Norcia, Italy, where last week’s earthquake destroyed the historic Basilica of St. Benedict. Sixteen years ago, American monks acquired the basilica and set up a brewing operation to raise funds for its restoration.

Last year’s freakishly warm winter grabbed the attention of hops farmers in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Fearing that global warming will bring on more such winters, they’re looking for ways to use less water growing the hops and less energy drying them.

An Israeli start-up called Glassify is selling beer glasses with an embedded microchip in the base. The chip can link to a smartphone app and send demographic information back to breweries, while offering consumers product promotions in return.

Texas authorities are looking for Achilles Salazar, a forklift operator who stole 719 twelve-packs of Dos Equis beer—$90,000 worth—from the distributor he worked for. A law-enforcement officer described the size of the heist as “most unusual”.

In Colorado, a driverless truck delivered a load of beer from Budweiser’s Fort Collins brewery to Colorado Springs. The truck was operated by Otto, a company owned by the ride-sharing company Uber.

Long Root Ale is the first beer to use kernza, the trade name for a type of wheat that originated in Asia. Because kernza is a perennial, it’s easier on the environment because farmers don’t have to plow up their land and re-plant the crop every year.

Finally, ten years after the Big Buck Brewery in Auburn Hills, Michigan, closed its doors, a local beer distributor bought the 50-foot-tall bottle that stood outside the establishment. It will be be transported to the distributor’s headquarters and repainted as a Bud Light bottle.

Craft Brewing’s Growing Pains

In the last couple of months, MarketWatch.com’s Jason Notte has seen disquieting trends in the craft beer industry:

  • Craft Brew Alliance’s Redhook brand announced layoffs at its Woodinville, Washington, brewery. The Woodinville plant is contract-brewing for Pabst Brewing Company, but the Pabst business accounts for only 30 percent of its capacity.
  • Stone Brewing Company, headed by fiercely independent CEO Greg Koch, admitted that it had received $90 million in private equity financing and would lend the Stone name to a hotel. It, too, is cutting jobs.
  • And homebrew supply retailer Northern Brewer has agreed to be acquired by than Anheuser-Busch InBev.
  • Notte doesn’t think these developments mean the craft beer bubble has burst. He writes:

    “If anything, it all begrudgingly recognizes that the players in all tiers of the beer industry have found themselves in the same predicament: Running a business in an environment where constant growth isn’t a given and where big decisions are often followed by unintended fallout.”

    The Friday Mash (Strait and Narrow Edition)

    On this day in 1520, Ferdinand Magellan discovered a navigable sea route separating South America and Tierra del Fuego. The treacherous body of water is now known as the Strait of Magellan.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Columbus, Ohio, where Scotland-based BrewDog will have a brewery up and running late this winter. BrewDog is also raising capital by crowdfunding: you can buy shares for $47.50 each.

    It took him 16 tries, but reddit user “boomboomsaloon” finally succeeded in buying beer using a Blockbuster Video membership card as proof of age.

    “It’s like a death in the family”, said Revolution Brewing Founder Josh Deth after he recalled more than 10,000 barrels of beer that didn’t meet his brewery’s quality standards.

    Kirin Brewing Company, Japan’s second-largest brewery, will buy a 25-percent stake in Brooklyn Brewing Company. Kirin will introduce Brooklyn’s beers in Japan and distribute them in Brazil.

    Food blogger Kyle Marcoux aka The Vulgar Chef found a new way to pair beer and pizza. He made a koozie by rolling a square pizza base with pepperoni and mozzarella around a beer can.

    Engineers at University of Colorado have developed a process to make lithium-ion battery electrodes from the sugar-rich wastewater created in the beer-making process.

    Finally, beer writer Josh Bernstein says these six trends will be the talk of 2017: Marzen beers in the fall, the revival of Kolsch beers, juice-like IPAs, milk stouts, coffee beers, and fruited sour beers.

    The Friday Mash (Cubs Win! Edition)

    On this date in 1908, the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. Managed by Frank Chance of “Tinker to Evers to Chance” fame, they beat the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 1. Cubs fans are hoping their team can end their 108-year drought in this year’s playoffs.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Detroit, where Ludwig’s beloved Lions will sell $3.50 beers during Sunday’s game against the L.A. Rams. The way the Lions are playing, fans need a few to get them through the game.

    D.G. Yuengling & Son is waging a last-ditch fight against the pending merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. Yuengling argues that A-B is trying to keep it out of new markets.

    German scientists have found that beer causes less liver damage than hard liquor. The reason? Hops may inhibit the formation of reactive oxygen species, which can damage cells in the liver.

    Ken Pagan, the Toronto-area man accused of throwing a beer can at a player during a baseball game, better have his lawyer warming up. A Canadian attorney discusses Pagan’s legal problems.

    Two Copenhagen men have taken the idea of freeze-dried coffee and applied it to four of their craft beers. They’ve created instant versions of a coffee beer, a fruity IPA, a wild-yeast IPA, and a pilsner.

    After a church in Canyon, Texas, ran an anti-alcohol ad in the local paper, an establishment called the Imperial Taproom offered a discount to customers who brought in a copy of the ad.

    Finally, Fat Head’s Brewery had a very short reign as “Mid-Sized Brewing Company of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival. Officials revoked the award after concluding that Fat Head’s, which has three locations, had been misclassified.

    The Friday Mash (Blowout Edition)

    One hundred years ago today, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University, 222-0, in the most lopsided college football game of all time. Tech coach John Heisman had an incentive to run up the score: back then, football rankings were based on margin of victory, not strength of schedule.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where Catawba Brewing has honored a native son, author Thomas Wolfe, with a beer called Wolfeman Kolsch. Its ingredients include hops grown in western North Carolina.

    Even though the economy has improved since the Great Recession, beer sales at bars and restaurants have stayed flat. Factors include competition from brewery taprooms and growlers.

    Two more non-beer companies are rolling out their own beers: Vice Media and the clothing company Patagonia, Inc.

    In the UK, the brewery count has topped 1,700. An industry analyst says that some of the country’s craft breweries are attractive acquisition targets.

    Some in the brewing industry oppose legal marijuana for fear of losing market share. However, that hasn’t happened in Colorado and Washington State, where recreational pot is legal.

    Entrepreneur Josephine Uwineza plans to open a brewpub in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It will not only be Rwanda’s only women-owned brewery but also the country’s first-ever craft brewery.

    Finally, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals raised eyebrows by claiming that beer is healthier than milk. PETA contends that beer can strengthen bones and extend life, while milk is linked to obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

    The Friday Mash (Piggly Wiggly Edition)

    One hundred years ago today, the first Piggly Wiggly grocery store opened in Memphis. It was the first true self-service grocery store, and the originator of such supermarket features as checkout stands, individual item price marking, and shopping carts.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin at sea, where part of the sixth annual Brews by the Bay will be held tomorrow. Festival venues are Cape May, New Jersey; Lewes, Delaware; and the ferry connecting those two towns. It’s the only multi-state beer festival we’re aware of.

    Edinburgh’s Innis & Gunn latest release is “Smoke & Mirrors”, whose ingredients are said to make the drinker more likely to tell the truth. The brewery has sent a bottle to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Liquor laws left over from the repeal of Prohibition are a case study in how government regulations can stifle entrepreneurship, then leave entire regions playing catch-up when they’re finally relaxed.

    What makes breweries’ flagship beers disappear? The reasons include waning brand loyalty, competition from newcomers, and consumers’ changing tastes.

    Researchers at Indiana University found that that if you really want a beer and want it right now, the source of your craving may be a pea-sized structure deep inside the right side of your brain.

    English illustrator Tom Ward has created a series of beer mats depicting fictional bars from the movies. The collection includes the Hog’s Head Pub from Harry Potter and The Prancing Pony from Lord of the Rings.

    Finally, Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker have found success with Craft Beer Cellar: small, selective stores with hundreds of beers and knowledgeable staff. Schalow and Baker have learned that “craft” and “local” don’t equal quality.

    The Significance of Snoop Dogg v. Pabst

    The legal battle between rapper Snoop Dogg and Pabst Brewing Company might sound like tabloid material, but the case is putting the spotlight on financing deals that have become increasingly common in the craft beer industry.

    Snoop Dogg contends that his agreement to promote Colt .45 contained a “phantom equity” clause: if Colt .45 were sold, he’d become a 10-percent owner of the brand. Pabst, which owns Colt .45 and numerous other brands, was sold last year. Pabst’s new owners told the judge that the sale changed “control” of Colt .45, but not its ownership—which was, and still is, Pabst. The case will be tried before a jury this fall.

    Marketwatch.com’s Jason Notte urges would-be buyers of craft breweries to do their homework or else face the possibility of a similar lawsuit. He points out that a number of craft breweries, some of them worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have legal obligations to meet in the event of a sale. For example, employees own a substantial number of shares of New Belgium Brewing Company, whose estimated valuation well over $1 billion. If New Belgium is ever sold, its employees are in line for a big payday.

    At least New Belgium’s ownership structure is straightforward. That isn’t the case of some other craft breweries, which are part of larger holding companies, controlled by private equity funds, or both. If those breweries have outstanding agreements like the Snoop Dogg contract, there are tricky questions as to what transactions would trigger the obligation to pay—and who actually has to write the check—after a sale occurs.

    Which brings us back to Snoop Dogg. Notte observes, “Snoop’s case against Pabst could set a precedent for how breweries in those umbrella portfolios are treated, and how they can treat their employees, investors and contractors, in the future.”

    The Friday Mash (Great Fire of London Edition)

    Three hundred and fifty years ago today, the Great Fire of London broke out. The blaze, famously described in the diaries of Samuel Pepys destroyed most of the city’s buildings, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and countless pubs.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Winnipeg, where a man dressed as a hockey goalie broke into a store and made off with some beer. It wasn’t even Canadian-brewed beer; he stole Budweiser. Speaking of the King of Beer, a man wearing a Batman costume swiped two 18-packs of Bud from an Upstate New York store.

    Alan McLeod, the keeper of A Good Beer Blog, found a 200-year-old classified ad for a homebrewing machine that made beer without mashing. That sounds too good to be true, and probably is.

    According to a poll of more than 100 college basketball coaches, Bob Huggins of West Virginia is the coach they’d most like to have a beer with. University of Kansas coach Bill Self finished second.

    Miller Genuine Draft is a dying brand. A Milwaukee Record journalist visited a dozen bars in the city. Nine didn’t carry MGD; one bartender laughed at him, and another was offended that he even asked for it.

    Breweries in Portland, Maine, are asking customers to rank the beers they’ve been served. It’s their effort to promote ranked-choice voting, aka instant-runoff, which will be on the November ballot.

    Stephen Wilmot of the Wall Street Journal warns that the recent slowdown in craft beer’s growth won’t help the big breweries. One major reason is that wine and spirits—bourbon in particular—are growing even faster than craft.

    Finally, a British brewery is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth with a beer brewed using yeasts scraped off of Dahl’s armchair. The beer will be served at the premiere of a stage adaptation of Dahl’s The Twits.

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