Industry News

In Florida, A Fight Over Tasting Rooms

In recent years, dozens of small breweries have opened in Florida. However, a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Florida Retail Federation could put them in jeopardy.

The suit alleges that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which issues liquor licenses, overstepped its legal authority in allowing breweries to open tasting rooms. Many breweries depend on tasting-room traffic to stay viable.

Currently, there are two exceptions to the three-tier licensing scheme under which a brewery can sell directly to customers. One exception applies to breweries that offered tourist amenities. (The exception was originally create for the Busch Gardens theme park.) The other applies to brewpubs. According to the Retail Federation, some breweries fall under neither exemption but operate tasting rooms anyway.

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The Friday Mash (Liechtenstein Edition)

On this day in 1719, the Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire. A couple of fun facts about this tiny country: it is the world’s leading producer of false teeth; and its capital, Vaduz, is one of only two in the world that ends with the letter “z”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, whose incoming governor turned down an offer of free Yuengling for his inauguration. A state senator says the governor snubbed the brewery because of its CEO’s political views.

MillerCoors plans to offer a gluten-free beer. The beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, will be brewed with brown rice and protein from peas instead of barley.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to repeal a Liquor Commission rule banning pictures of children from beer labels. Founders Breakfast Stout’s label features a baby eating cereal.

The Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater, Florida, wanted a really distinctive tap for its Fowler’s Bluff IPA, so it hired Tangible Labs, a 3-D printing company, to fashion one.

A new South Carolina law that allows breweries to sell pints has given the state’s economy a $13.7 million boost. Twelve breweries have opened in the state since the law took effect.

Grease from that slice of pizza you just ate can kill the foam on your beer. It lowers the surface tension on the foam, which tears apart the structure of the bubbles and releases their gases.

Finally, an outcry from angry beer fans forced Lagunitas Brewing Company to drop its trademark suit against Stone Brewing Company. Lagunitas claimed that Stone’s logo for Hop Hunter IPA was too similar to the Lagunitas IPA logo.

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Exiles on Beer Street

Last year, the Brewers Association liberalized its criteria for what qualifies as a “craft brewery,” and welcomed Boston Beer Company, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Straub Brewing, August Schell Brewing, and Minhas Craft Brewery into the fold.

However, five well-known breweries—which aren’t called Anheuser-Busch, Miller, or Coors—still fail to qualify:

  • Craft Brew Alliance. Reason: It’s 32.2-percent owned by Anehuser-Busch InBev (the BA’s ceiling is 25 percent).
  • Pyramid Brewery/Magic Hat Brewing. “Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production.”
  • 10 Barrel Brewing. Owned by A-B InBev
  • Mendocino Brewing. Owned by UB Group in Bangalore, India.
  • Goose Island Brewery. Owned by A-B InBev.
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    The Friday Mash (Constitution State Edition)

    On this day in 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to be admitted to the United States. The long list of famous residents of the “Constitution State” includes P.T. Barnum, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and Eli Whitney.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Belgium, where traditional brewers are foaming mad about “beer architects” who create recipes, then contract with other brewers to make the final product.

    Mea culpa! The New England Brewing Company has apologized for putting Mahatma Gandhi on a beer label. Gandhi, “the father of India,” abstained from alcohol.

    Soweto, South Africa, is synonymous with poverty. However, a microbrewery there is turning out “Soweto Gold”. Ndumiso Madlala, the owner, is targeting his country’s growing black middle class.

    Heavy rains in the West resulted in a smaller-than-expected barley crop. But that won’t make your beer more expensive because today’s breweries anticipate shortages.

    How did BrewDog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie become so successful? One reason: when they needed funds, they “lied through their teeth” to the bank. And yes, they got the loan.

    Ttrademark battles rage on in craft brewing because “virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America” has been trademarked by someone.

    Finally, Adam Hartung of Forbes magazine sorts out America’s beer market. He notes that Baby Boomers have forsaken Bud and Miller, and that Hispanics are a powerful but overlooked constituency.

    The Friday Mash (Double Nickel Edition)

    On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum speed limit to 55 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline during the OPEC embargo. The unpopular “double nickel” stayed on the books for more than 20 years.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Hawaii, where Kona Brewing is celebrating its 21st birthday by releasing a series of Hawaii-only beers. First in Kona’s Makana series is Aina Brown Ale, brewed with taro root.

    New York City’s two largest beer distributors plan to merge. The merger threatens the existence of the city’s 13,000 bodegas, which are small, mostly minority-owned convenience stores.

    Craft beer is gaining ground in South Korea thanks to new laws. For years, the country’s beer market has been dominated by two large brewing companies.

    A blog post by Bryan Roth delves into the economics of beer-buying decisions. Roth wonders whether price will become a bigger factor in what craft beer drinkers buy.

    Outside the United States, non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity. Reasons include anti-alcohol laws in Muslim countries, fear of a DUI arrest, and better-tasting products.

    Is your local beer bar serious about beer? Thrillist’s Dan Gentile tells you what to look for. For example, bubbles on the side of your glass means the glass is dirty.

    Finally, Argentina’s Andes Brewery offers a a “Message in a Bottle”. Andes bottles are imprinted with QR codes which, together with a mobile app, allow a person to record a video and assign it to a specific bottle. The recipient scans the QR code and plays the video back.

    The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

    Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

    And now….The Mash!

    Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

    The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

    Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

    Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

    Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

    Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

    Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

    * Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

    The Friday Mash (Man on the Moon Edition)

    On this day in 1972, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans, and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth. The craft’s re-entry marked the end of America’s manned lunar program. Cernan currently holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in England, where the publishers of Original Gravity, a beer-centric magazine, have put Issue #1 online, free of charge. Enjoy!

    The founders of Surly Brewing Company—Omar Ansari, a first-generation American; and Todd Haug, a death-metal guitarist—have done well, both for themselves and Minnesota’s beer drinkers.

    Belgian scientists have found a way to keep beer from over-foaming. They applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract to disperse its anti-foaming agent into tinier particles.

    Archaeologists have concluded that Iceland’s Vikings were more interested in drinking and feasting than in pillaging. Unfortunately for them, the Little Ice Age became the ultimate party-pooper.

    A pair of brothers have invented something that makes it easier to enjoy a beer while taking a shower. Their Sip Caddy is a portable cup holder that can be attached to the wall.

    Lance Curran, the co-founder of Chicago’s Arcade Brewery, loves comic books so much that he had comic strips drawn on the labels of its Festus Rotgut black wheat ale.

    Finally, a woman attending a Philadelphia 76ers game wound up with a lapful of beer after an errant pass knocked the cup out of her hand. The way the Sixers are playing this season, she–and every other fan–needs some beer to deaden the pain.

    Why Founders Sold to a Spanish Brewery

    The craft beer community was abuzz this week with news that Founders Brewing Company sold a 30-percent stake to Spain’s Mahou San Miguel Group.

    Why did Founders do this? The answer came in a story in Wednesday’s MLive.com. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens told the publication that there were two reasons for the deal. First, by providing an international distribution chain, it ensures that Founders will be around for years to come.

    More importantly, Stevens said, the deal was far better than the alternatives: getting acquired by one of the world’s brewing giants or falling into the hands of private-equity investors.

    Stevens offered the best Worts of Wisdom of the entire year with this comment:

    “We were looking for someone who truly understood the soul this brand,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find that among a bunch of bankers and in the private equity world. Priority No. 1 for people like that is a return — profits.

    The Friday Mash (Discovery Day Edition)

    On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola. December is celebrated as Discovery Day on the island’s two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Loudoun County, Virginia, where beer tourism is stimulating the local economy. The county has eight breweries, with 16 more in the planning stages.

    Black Friday has become the number-one day for beer releases. As you’ve probably figured out, most of these beers are stouts and many of them are barrel-aged.

    SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewing company, still lacks a global brand. Its launch of Pilsner Urquell was a flop, and Heineken said no to a takeover offer.

    Bottles and Cans, a liquor store in Chicago, is offering an adults-only Advent calendar. It contains 25 beers, each of them to be enjoyed on the weekdays leading up to Christmas.

    European Union officials want Japan to open its market to imported beers. Arcane Japanese rules, such as a ban on ingredients like coriander seeds, act as “non-tariff barriers.”

    Minnesota’s Excelsior Brewing Company has brewed a saison beer with pondweed and zebra mussels. The brewery insists that “minuscule” amounts of the invasive species were added.

    Finally, Shoes & Brews, a runners’ gear store in Colorado, offers an incentive to get into shape. The store, which has a liquor license and 20 taps, bases the price of your first beer on your time in an 800-meter time trial.

    The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

    On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

    Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

    The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

    As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

    British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

    An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

    Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

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