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.”
On this day in 1863, the London Underground opened between Paddington and Farringdon stations. Today, it consists of 11 lines and serves 270 stations. Ludwig reminds passengers to mind the gap, especially after a few pints at the pub.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Verallia North America glass plant is celebrating 100 years of making beer bottles. On a busy day, it turns out over three million.
Miami New Times correspondent Kyle Swenson roamed south Florida looking for a $1 draft beer. After a long journey that took him to the region’s grungiest bars, he finally succeeded.
In Texas, an off-duty firefighter came to the aid of a truck driver whose vehicle had caught fire. He used 16-ounce cans of beer from the truck’s cargo as makeshift fire extinguishers.
Beauties, eh? Labatt Brewing Company unveiled its U.S. Olympic commemorative can series. The cans are modeled after Team USA’s hockey sweaters from past Olympics.
With 33 breweries, New Hampshire ranks second in breweries per capita. All of them can be found on a new map created by the state’s tourism office and brewers’ trade group.
Now that it’s legal in Colorado, some wonder about marijuana’s impact on beer sales. A leading member of the state’s craft beer community believes it’ll have little effect.
Finally, the Border Town Bar and Grill in North Dakota used recycled beer bottles as a main component to sealcoat its new parking lot. They’re more expensive, but don’t contain toxic silica sand.
Zephyr Adventures, the organizers of the Beer Bloggers Conference has compiled a list of the world’s 20 most influential beer sites. The ratings are based on four factors: Alexa rating, incoming links, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers.
Heading the list is Heineken, followed by Beer Advocate, New Belgium Brewing, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Ludwig Roars checks in at number….oops, we can’t find it on the list!
By the way, this year’s North American Beer Bloggers Conference will take place August 22-24 in San Diego.
America has never had more breweries than it has today, and the quality of beer at your local bar has never been better. But will the good times last? Some observers think the craft-brewing industry is in the midst of a classic bubble that might be about to burst.
Noah Davis of Business Insider points that for every Alchemist, brewers of the wildly successful Heady Topper double IPA, “there are numerous small breweries turning out solid product that will never see a profit.” Davis wonders how the hundreds of breweries that opened this year, not to mention another 1,500 in the planning stages, are going to find distributors, get shelf space, and sign up tap accounts. The newcomers, he adds, are entering a craft beer market that is dominated by a few big players.
Industry figures believe the days of double-, and even triple-digit growth won’t last much longer. John Laffler, who opened a craft brewery in Chicago last year, said, “I see the industry becoming more local, more regional, more city-specific. At that point, you’re locked in making $35,000 a year and hopefully your business can last 10 years.”
Some startups might not survive. According to Greg Koch, the founder of Stone Brewing Company, “You can expect that consumer fatigue will show up again, just like it did in 1996. It’s like a school of fish. It will turn, but you don’t know when.” The industry shakeout of the late 1990s resulted in some 300 brewery closures.
MobCraft, a brewery in Madison, Wisconsin, has introduced the Crowdsourced Beer Platform, the first of its kind in the world. Every month, MobCraft asks its customers to vote for the beer they want brewed. The winning batch is packaged in a four-pack of 22-ounce bottles, then made available at the brewery or shipped to customers via online retailers.
So far, MobCraft has brewed five crowd-sourced batches including Arabian Date Night, Praerie Fyre Amber Ale, and Most Mobbed 2XIPA.
Most readers of this blog are familiar with the role women once played in brewing, and how the rise of commercial brewing pushed them to the sidelines. But times are changing. Slowly but surely, women are raising their profile in the craft brewing industry. Krystal Baugher, writing in Atlantic magazine, explains why this is happening:
Thanks to the “good food” movement, a push to recognize local, organic, and high quality-flavored food and beverages, there has been a steady increase in craft beer at the expense of large-scale facilities. Because of its emphasis on creative flavors, food pairings, and the DIY hobby culture it steams from, craft beer gives women slightly more opportunity for inclusion.
That said, Baugher concedes that many men still don’t take their female counterparts seriously. She points out that Colorado has 154 breweries, but only ten women are known to be part of the main brewing process. There’s work to be done.
Two years ago, Minnesota lawmakers passed the “Surly Bill,” which allows the Surly Brewing Company and other breweries to open tasting rooms. Last week, Surly broke ground on its much-awaited “destination brewery” in Minneapolis.
The $20 million complex is located on an “environmentally challenged” site near the light-rail line and TCF Bank Stadium. In addition to the brewery infrastructure, the complex will include a full-service restaurant, a 300-seat beer hall and beer garden, and an event center. Construction is expected to be completed by late next year. Surly intends to keep its present location open and brew a range of experimental beers there.
The recent news that Duvel Moortgat, a Belgian brewery, will acquire majority ownership of Boulevard Brewing Company has rattled the craft beer community. Brad Tuttle of Time magazine suggests there’s a double standard at work here. In most industries, when an entrepreneur builds a business over many years, then sells it for tens of millions, it’s cause for celebration. However, when a craft brewer like Boulevard’s John McDonald cashes out, for an estimated $100 million no less, he’s made the proverbial deal with the devil.
Tuttle notes that McDonald will continue to be involved with the brewery, and that no recipes will be changed under the new ownership. His article also points out that Boulevard is more the exception than the rule. It quotes author Tom Acitelli, who asserts that owning a craft brewery “is not now and never has been a traditional path to wealth creation,” and goes on to warn that it’s much easier to start a brewery than to keep one going.
On this day in 1854, during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War, a command blunder sent a British light cavalry force on a frontal assault into a Russian artillery battery. The attack, which resulted in heavy casualties for the British, was immortalized in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Shake n’ Bake Bacon Brew will make its debut next weekend at the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR race. It’s a bacon-infused beer milkshake.
Miami resident Francisco Rene Marty has filed a class-action lawsuit against AB InBev. Marty alleges that AB deceives customers by representing that Beck’s beer is still brewed in Germany.
The Beer Game is an orientation tradition at MIT’s Sloan School of Business. Players aren’t served beer, but the game teaches them about the non-linear complexities of supply chains.
SteadyServ Technologies has attracted $6.5 million in capital to develop the iKeg, a device that monitors how much beer is left in a keg and warns when it’s is about to run dry.
For the past three years, Arizona resident Evo Terra has celebrated Oktoberfest by going on a beer and sausages diet. Terra loses 14 pounds, and his cholesterol level drops by one-third.
Wynkoop Brewery’s brewers Bess Dougherty and Andy Brown explain how blue gummi bears became an ingredient and what a Rolling Stones song has to do with an English brown ale.
Finally, brewers in Antwerp have revived a beer style that disappeared during World War I. It’s Seef beer (pronounced like “safe”), “a white beer that foamed like Champagne, and went to the head like port.”
“Franchise” is a dirty word for many in the craft beer community. But don’t tell that to Scott Zepp, a former baseball coach from Pensacola who co-founded the highly-successful World of Beer chain of beer bars.
After a hurricane destroyed his home in 2004, Zepp decided to buy a liquor store in Tampa. The store lost money, so Zepp sold it and went to work for the new owner managing it. He expanded the store’s beer selection to include micro products. Next, Zepp went to work for another retailer that carried hundreds of craft beers. There he came up with the idea of an laid-back beer bar with a huge beer selection. Together with a friend, Matt LaFon, Zepp opened World of Beer with 30 rotating taps and hundreds of bottled beers.
Today, World of Beer has 44 locations in 14 states, and Zepp and LaFon has sold a couple of hundred more franchises. The original plan was to limit the menu to snacks, which allowed franchisees to concentrate on selling beer and avoid the headaches that come with running a restaurant. However, locations will soon roll out a limited menu of inexpensive, beer-friendly food items.