May 2011

A Virtual Tour of the Anchor Brewery

If you’re a craft beer lover, a tour of the Anchor Brewing Company belongs on your to-do list. But if you don’t have the time or the money to travel to San Francisco this summer, James Martin of can help you out. He’s put together a slideshow of his brewery tour. Unfortunately, the technology for virtual end-of-tour beer sampling has yet to be perfected.

Craft Brewers’ $250 Million Expansion Plans

It’s gotten to the point that you literally need a scorecard to keep up with the big craft brewers’ expansion plans. The latest to join in is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which last week said it would invest $45 million over the next three years, boosting the brewery’s capacity to about 500,000 barrels per year. At least five other craft breweries have made similar announcements this year.

According to Adam Nason of, total investment by craft breweries could top $250 million in the very near future. Expansion would also bring the craft brewing industry another step closer to its goal of grabbing a 10-percent share of the nation’s beer market.

Wandering Indiana

With the Indianapolis 500 on tap tomorrow, it’s a good time to turn our attention to Indiana–and its growing craft beer industry. There are more than 30 breweries in the state, and John Holl and Nate Schweber, the authors of Indiana Breweries, have been to all of them. Recently they were guests of morning anchor Julia Moffitt of Indianapolis’ WTHR-TV. You can watch the video:

The Friday Mash (Robber Baron Edition)

One hundred and seventy-five years ago today, railroad tycoon Jason “Jay” Gould was born. He became one of the worst robber barons in history, rigging markets, bribing lawmakers, and terrorizing Wall Street.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where ad executive Beth Freedman learned about customer relationship marketing from Brendan the Beer Guy.

Session #52 is almost upon us, and this month’s topic is “Beer Collectibles & Breweriana.” It will be hosted by Brian Stechschulte, who blogs at All Over Beer. As always, you’re welcome to participate.

An item from the Mash’s Arts Section. “Beer: The Musical” debuted at the Orlando Fringe Festival. Reviewer Kelly Fitzpatrick called the musical numbers and writing “hysterical.”

Imbibe magazine has compiled a list of ten pubs that allow you to bring your dog. Of course, Fido has to be at least 21 (that’s three in doggie years) to actually drink.

A few years from now, Fat Tire might become a national brand. The New Belgium Brewing Company, which is approaching capacity at its Colorado location is reportedly eyeing locations in the East for a second brewery.

Suffering succotash! A bar in New Zealand offered half-price beer to customers who who brought in four dead rabbits. Local farmers were complaining that the cottontails were chewing up their crops.

Finally, Deb Carey, the co-owner of New Glarus Brewing Company, was named the first runner-up in the National Small Business Person of the Year contest. She’s definitely not a robber baron.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Price of a bottle Samuel Adams 2011 Utopias: $150.
  • Utopias’ alcoholic content: 27 percent.
  • Bud Select 55’s alcoholic content: 2.4 percent.
  • What Heineken paid for two state-owned breweries in Ethiopia: $163 million.
  • Annual growth of beer consumption in Ethiopia: 20 percent.
  • Percent of Americans who drink alcohol on a daily basis: 7.
  • Percent of Americans who favor a return to Prohibition: 6.
  • Beer’s share of Russia’s alcohol consumption: 33 percent (spirits account for 63 percent).
  • Its share of France’s alcohol consumption: 17 percent (wine accounts for 62 percent).
  • Canned beer’s share of the American beer market: 52 percent.
  • Its share of the American craft beer market: 3 percent.
  • Germany’s share of world hops production: 35 percent.
  • Washington State’s share of America’s hop production: 77 percent.
  • Years since Molson entered Canada’s beer market: 225.
  • Number of MolsonCoors breweries in Canada: 6.
  • How Old is the Term “Session Beer”?

    What is a “session beer”? Easy question. It’s something you can drink for several hours and still find your way home afterward. Now a tougher question. Where did the term come from? Martyn Cornell, the ever-curious beer historian, is trying to find out, and he’s asking for your help.

    Cornell remembers first hearing “session beer” during the 1980s at the earliest, and the oldest publications he’s found containing phrase are dated 1991. He’s certain that it appeared in print at least several years before that, and has issued the following challenge to readers of his blog:

    I’m also sure there are readers of this blog who have stacks of back copies of Camra newsletters and pub guides that they can search for early mentions of “session beer”. I give you chaps (and chapesses, no sexism here, Denny) a challenge: supply a properly referenced and verifiably dated example, and there’s a good chance we can get the term “session beer” into the Oxford English Dictionary.

    Pilsner’s Criminal Element

    We’re all familiar with the story of pilsner, but Jay Brooks adds a detail you might not have known. The style might have been made possible by a yeast rustler.

    The story begins in Plzen, where the townspeople hired an architect named Martin Stelzer to build a brewery. Stelzer offered the job of brewmaster to Josef Groll. Groll was aware that Bavarian scientists were experimenting with different strains of yeast. For obvious reasons, the Bavarians didn’t want to share their secret. Nevertheless, their yeast found its way to Groll’s brewery; and, according to legend, a Bavarian monk smuggled it out of the country and gave it to Groll.

    The legend has never been confirmed, but the yeast was a vital ingredient in making the clear, bright gold-colored beverage that made its spectacular debut in Plzen’s St. Martin’s Market on October 5, 1842.

    Beer Touring in Toronto

    Tomorrow is Victoria Day, which marks the unofficial start of summer in Canada. The three-day weekend is also known as “May Two-Four.” As you might have guessed, a “two-four” is Canadian slang for a case of beer.

    Victoria Day has a place in Toronto’s brewing history. On that day, 11 years ago, Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery sold its first case of beer. The brewery, which is going strong and well worth visiting, is the first stop on Oliver Dawson’s Old Toronto Beer Tour. Other tour stops include the Amsterdam Brasserie and Brewpub; Dominion on Queen, a popular downtown bar; and the Mill Street Brewery in the city’s historic Distillery District.

    Bryen Dunn of Digital Journal magazine went on the tour, which began with a pilsner breakfast and wound over with an Irish stout paired with blueberry cheesecake. He not only learned about Toronto’s brewing culture–after ten years of heading tours, Dawson has become an authority–but also discovered that most of his fellow tourists weren’t tourists at all but Ontario residents who wanted to learn more about good beer in their backyard.

    If you’re planning a visit to Toronto, check out Dawson’s beer tour website.

    They Call Him the Wanderer

    Here in Michigan, it’s almost time for the annual trek Up North, and a popular stop for visitors to the area is Traverse City. The local brewery, North Peak Brewing Company, has produced a spoof-documentary video promoting its new session IPA called “Wanderer.” The beer honors Donald Key, “part yogi, part recluse,” who chucked his day job as a 19th century captain of industry and went native after hiking. Really, really native, as in being half-man, half-goat, and–if you believe some locals–still roaming the area.

    As always, the video is free but you’re on your own for food and beverage:

    The Official Beer of the Rapture is…

    Actually, there isn’t one. However, Lisa Morrison of The Hop Press has compiled a list of beers that pair well with the End of Days. Heading the list is Damnation, by Russian River Brewing Company. If that beer isn’t your style, or isn’t available where you live, she has other recommendations, including this one: keep a sixer of BudMillerCoors handy because craft beers “are too good to cry in if things go south real quick.”

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