November 2010

Classic Beer, Classic Books

Thanks to the Discovery Channel series “Brewmasters,” Americans are getting to know Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s founder, Sam Calagione. What they might not know is that Sam is a fan of fine literature as well as fine beer. In a recent blog post on, Calagione has chosen seven ales to pair with seven works of literature, which range from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated.

We interrupt this post to bring you a public service message from Ludwig. Please read responsibly.

Occupational Hazard

As the authors of Michigan Breweries, Maryanne and Paul know first-hand about the perils of writing a book about breweries. Turns out they have company: no less a writer than Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter.

In 1995 and 1996, Jackson toured the United States researching a book on American beers and where to find them. That book never made it into print. By the time Jackson had written half of it, 50 percent of the material was out of date. It was time to cut his losses.

Hat tip: Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer.

My Kind of (Craft Brew) Town

Here’s an argument that’s waiting to happen. Travel + Leisure magazine has released its list of America’s top microbrew cities. Heading the list are the usual suspects, Portland, OR, and Denver. But once you get past Seattle, which ranks third, there are some big surprises: Providence is number four, Savannah is sixth, and Nashville ranks tenth. And, incredibly, New York is nowhere to be found.

The Friday Mash (Fighting Irish Edition)

On this day in 1842, a French priest, Father Edward Frederick Sorin, established the University of Notre Dame du Lac near present-day South Bend, Indiana. Why there? According to legend, Father Sorin said, “We’ll just stay here till the weather gets better.” That legend was made up by alums like Maryanne and Paul, both of whom endured four harsh winters under the Golden Dome.

And now…the Mash!

We start in Britain, which is gearing up for another royal wedding. That provides Martyn Cornell with an opportunity to explain the origin of “bride ale”.

If you can’t stand bitter beer, blame your parents. Professor Paulo Gasparini of the University of Trieste explains that ability to sense bitterness is genetic.

Infinium, the first new beer style created under the Reinheitsgebot in more than a century, will be released early next month. It’s a collaboration between the Boston Beer Company and Weihenstephan.

Michigan-based Corner Brewery has a Mercedes-Benz fire truck that will someday dispense its beer at festivals.

Columbus, Ohio, is the home of a Budweiser brewery. WBNS-TV was recently invited into the brewery which, unfortunately, doesn’t offer public tours.

Finally, why are Chicago drinking establishments infamous for cheap national-brand beers? Whet Moser of the Chicago Reader blames the city’s beer distributors.

Pilgrims’ Progress

The Pilgrims were low on provisions, beer in particular, when they arrived in America. The crew of the Mayflower dumped them on Plymouth Rock because it couldn’t feed them. The Pilgrims immediately built a brewery. And soon afterward, they sat down to Thanksgiving dinner.

All of those statements are wrong, according to DJ Spiess. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, he debunked some myths about the Pilgrims. Spiess contends there was plenty of beer aboard the Mayflower, which was built to transport wine; and that the Pilgrims went ashore because hard winter was about to set in. Building a brewery certainly wasn’t their first order of business, considering their prospects for survival (fewer than half lived through the first winter). And Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated until three years later, after more colonists and supplies arrived in Plymouth.

But the myth-makers got one fact right. The Pilgrims did drink beer. Like other Englishmen, they did so because water contained organisms that could kill them. What kind of beer did they drink? Spiess speculates that aboard the Mayflower, they drank a medium-strength bitter.

Beer on Your Thanksgiving Table

Beer. It’s what’s for Thanksgiving dinner.

Randy Mosher, who knows a thing or two about pairing food and beer, has some suggestions for the Thanksgiving table.

Another Chicagoan, Josh Noel, talked to the experts and got their suggestions for Turkey Day beer pairings.

Do your friends insist on wine with dinner? Lisa Morrison, the Beer Goddess, suggests how to win them over to beer.

Mark Bona of the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked beer guru Andy Tveekrem and bartender Pat Daniels for their beer and food pairings.

Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin declares that “beer is for the bird”, even if the bird is extra spicy.

Finally, Monk’s Kettle’s Sayre Piotrkowski, who’s a certified Cicerone, chooses the seven best Thanksgiving beers.

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

Carlton and United Breweries, which makes Fosters, Kronenbourg, Corona, and Carlsberg in Australia, said that it will buy a beer for every adult in the country if the Australian cricket team defeats England in the upcoming Ashes series, which opens on Thursday.

If the Aussies win, the brewery will print coupons in five Australian newspapers that can be redeemed for a bottle of its beer. The promotion could cost Carlton and United as much as $20 million Australian ($19.5 million U.S.).

Ludwig thinks the Detroit Lions should do the same for their long-suffering fans. The way that team is playing, fans need to down a few before kickoff.

The Forbidden City Logo

Article 10(8) of China’s Trademark Law provides that the government may deny registration to a mark that is “detrimental to socialist morals or customs or having other unhealthy influences.” A model of clarity, no?

For the second year in a row, Rogue Ales’ logo ran afoul of that provision. The reason? Allegations that Rogues are, “vagrant, idle, sturdy beggars, vagabonds, and tramps…detrimental to socialist morals and customs.”

Rogue Nation is thinking of boycotting the People’s Republic of China. If they do, they might be tempted to borrow from another California micro and tell the Chinese, “you’re not worthy.”

The Friday Mash (Coach’s Corner Edition)

Today is the 75th birthday of former football coach Jim Mora. Even though he turned two of the National Football League’s perennial losers into contenders, he’s best known for his post-game meltdowns. Paul’s favorite is this Zen-like rant: “You really don’t know. You think you know, but you don’t know. And you never will.”

We begin in Britain, which doesn’t have an NFL franchise, but does have a new generation of cask ale drinkers. Twenty-five to 34-year-olds, women in particular, are discovering Real Ale.

This month’s Session, an online beer discussion, is titled An Unexpected Discovery. It will be hosted by Mike Lynch of Burgers & Brews, and you’re invited to join.

Peru’s government doesn’t have the same sense of humor as Brahma Beer’s advertising agency, which ran a spot poking fun at Lima’s endlessly-delayed light rail project.

Dale’s Pale Ale was named one of the hottest brands of 2010 by Advertising Age magazine. The beer finds itself in the company of Burberry, the iPad, and Marvel Entertainment.

Yes, there’s good beer east of the Cascades. Brian Kevin of Draft magazine online introduces us to small breweries in eastern Oregon.

Finally, we hope that the Craft Beer Express catches on in Philly. Last Saturday, beer lovers could plunk down $10 to hop on and off a bus that stopped at 11 beer bars.

A Taxing Problem for Michigan’s Summer Beer Fest

For some years, the southeast Michigan community of Ypsilanti has hosted the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Summer Festival. The festival has grown and thrived at city-owned Riverside Park, with last year’s event drawing 9,000 people and 50 Michigan-based breweries.

Ypsilanti’s city fathers have noticed the crowds. On Tuesday, Council approved a five-percent tax on tickets to events held at city parks, which adds up to $15,000 in tax revenue from the beer festival alone. Worse yet, the tax rises to ten percent starting in 2013.

Needless to say, the brewing community isn’t happy, and there’s even a possibility that the Guild will look for a new home for future Summer Festivals.

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