July 2011

German Brewing Video From 1930

You’ve got to love the Gothic script and the classical music that accompanies it:

As always, the video is free but you have to provide your own food and beverages.

The Friday Mash (Last Hurrah Edition)

On this day in 1918, novelist Edwin O’Connor was born. O’Connor, who wrote about Irish Americans, won the Pulitzer Prize for The Edge of Sadness. Among political junkies, however, he’s best known for The Last Hurrah. Its protagonist, Mayor Frank Skeffington, represented constituents who enjoyed a beer or two.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Portland, Oregon, where one of the headline events of next month’s PDX Beer Week will be the world premiere of “For the Love of Beer”, a documentary about women in the brewing industry.

Barack Obama wasn’t the first president to brew his own beer. That distinction belongs to George Washington, who left behind his recipe for small beer for modern-day homebrewers.

Tiger, Tiger. A Baton Rouge microbrewery has teamed up with Louisiana State University to produce LSU Beer. The brewery, which grew out of LSU’s small business incubator, will also host fermentation classes this fall.

Bubbles really do flow downward in a pint glass of Guinness. Scientists from Stanford University and the University of Edinburgh explain why this happens.

A showdown is brewing in Cody, Wyoming, where two breweries have gone to court over the name “Buffalo Bill.” A judge ruled that neither side had established a trademark, leaving both free to keep brewing.

Wine lovers speak of terroir, but does that concept apply to beer? According to Jimmy Mauric, the brewmaster at the Spoetzl Brewery, the answer is yes.

Finally, it’s only July, but we’ve got the understatement of the year. After deciding to discontinue a lemonade edition of Miller Genuine Draft 64, MillerCoors said in a statement,”not every innovation will succeed.”

Have Festival, Will Travel

Michael Schottenhamel, whose family has sold beer at Munich’s Oktoberfest for generations, is taking the world’s biggest beer festival on the road. And it’s quite a road trip he’s taken.

Schottenhamel is the organizer of the inaugural Beijing International Beer Festival, which runs until August 15 at the Crab Island Resort. (Yes, October is a long way off, but the festival was scheduled to coincide with China’s summer vacation season.) Eight Bavarian-style beer tents, with a seating capacity of over 80,000, have been set up; resort employees are wearing traditional German clothes, and they’ve been joined by 200 German beer girls flown in from Europe for the event.

Of the thousands of events outside Germany that call themselves “Oktoberfest,” Schottenhamel says that none is as big as this.

Fall of the House of Busch

Brewing’s Busch family was, in every respect, larger than life. The men of the clan lived like characters out of the 1980s TV drama “Dallas” or, perhaps, a Shakespearean tragedy. The family saga once again made the news when August Busch IV’s girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, was found dead a drug overdose.

Bloomberg Business Week reporter Susan Berfield calls Martin’s death “the latest twist in a saga that has transfixed St. Louis.” The Busches and their beer company, she points out, survived Prohibition, strikes, and price wars. However, at a crucial time, the company failed to adapt to a changing market, leaving it open to a foreign takeover.

The takeover happened on August IV’s watch, but was it his fault? In her article, Berstein suggests that while August IV didn’t help himself by partying hard, ultimately he was set up to fail. His relationship with his father, the legendary August Busch III, was, to say the least, a burden. While he had a flair for marketing beer, and seeing that Americans’ tastes were changing, he wasn’t CEO material. And even if he was, events in the industry were spinning out of control. It’s a thought-provoking article, regardless of how you feel about A-B or the Busches.

Lake Effect

The Chicago Tribune’s Josh Noel took a four-day, 1,000-mile tour around Lake Michigan, where he discovered dozens of breweries and brewpubs, none of them more than a few miles from shore. His travels began at The Livery in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and wound up at the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, where guests are handed a beer at the beginning of the brewery tour–an idea that ought to catch on.

Josh’s account of the tour (”we drank well, met fine people, and learned about the Midwest”) recently appeared in the Tribune, and you don’t have to be a Midwesterner to enjoy it.

Fill ‘Er Up?

Some years ago, when Maryanne and Paul were in Vermont, they were surprised to find growlers of fresh local beer on sale in gas stations. That idea is about to spread to other states. The gasoline retailer Sunoco is pilot-testing a program called the Craft Beer Exchange at a dozen Sunoco APlus stores in the Buffalo area. These stores will be equipped with beer taps and Kegerators, which will be used to fill growlers. The growlers, which normally cost $3.99 apiece, will be given free to customers who fill their gas tank as well. If the Craft Beer Exchange proves popular–early indications are that it is–Sunoco will expand it to other locations where state and local laws allow beer sales.

“Hell Yeah, I Like Beer”

Grab yourself a longneck and sing along with Kevin Fowler (hat tip: Country Music Television):

Follow the MI Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival

The festival takes place Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and the hashtag is #mibeerfest

The Friday Mash (Public Enemy Edition)

On this day in 1934, John Dillinger was shot dead by federal agents at the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Dillinger’s claim to infamy is robbing banks, but he has a connection to craft beer. The Crown Brewing Company in Crown Point, Indiana, is located next to the jail from which Dillinger escaped using a carved wooden gun.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Qingdao, China, where transplanted Scotsman John Clark takes us to the city’s eponymous brewery. The tour includes a museum, a beer hall, and a room that simulates drunkenness–even if you haven’t indulged.

In Canada, beer spas for guys are catching on. For C$100, an Ontario spa will give you a 75-minute Malt and Barley Scrub & Soak treatment, which includes a cold beer while bathing.

Why does New Hampshire have the nation’s highest per capita beer consumption? Craft breweries, tourism, and last but definitely not least, low “sin” taxes.

Terry Smith of the Athens (Ohio) News takes a trip down Memory Lane, reflecting on his “starter beers”: Stroh’s, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and a Mexican brew called Magna Carta.

Keir Graff rattles a few cages with an article in Time Out Chicago entitled Has Craft Beer Gone Too Far?. He loves craft beer, but says its culture can get oppressive.

The heirs of brewing’s Busch family are coming out of exile. They’re reportedly close to breaking ground for a new brewery in downtown St. Louis.

Finally, Travel + Leisure’s survey ranking Philadelphia the nation’s 17th best beer city infuriated drinks blogger G-LO, who offered 50 reasons why Philly is one of America’s greatest beer towns.

Beer…By the Numbers

American Homebrewers Association membership in 2006: 11,724.
AHA membership today: about 26,000.
Annual production of Yuengling beer: 2.2 million barrels.
Number of states where it is sold: 13.
Yuengling’s share of the U.S. beer market: 1 percent.
Oregon’s total beer production in 2010: 1.09 million barrels.
Brewing industry’s contribution to the Oregon’s economy: $2.44 billion a year.
California’s brewery count: 245 (highest in the nation).
Vermont’s brewery count: 21.
Breweries to population ratio in Vermont: 1:29,797 (best ratio in the nation).
Number of area codes Anheuser-Busch is trademarking for its new craft beer series: 15.
Number of state liquor stores in Pennsylvania: 632.
Craft breweries in New York State: 73.
Hop acreage in New York State: about 50.
Hop acreage in the Pacific Northwest: 31,000.

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