August 2011

State of the States

Here’s another top ten list to stir barroom debates. Jason Notte of has compiled a list of the nation’s top ten beer states. Notte’s major criteria are the number of breweries, residents per brewery (the fewer the better), last year’s beer production, and last year’s per capita consumption. For those keeping score at home, California heads the list, followed by Vermont and Oregon. Some of the other states on the list may surprise you.

Spotlight on Michigan

The craft brewing industry in Maryanne, Paul, and Ludwig’s home state of Michigan recently earned recognition from the Brewers Association. An article by Julia Herz has the particulars.

A few facts: The Great Lake Beer State ranks fifth nationally in the number of breweries, and has more breweries than any state east of the Rockies. The brewing industry contributes more than $133 million annually to Michigan’s economy. A number of the state’s breweries have won a national following–not to mention medals at the Great American Beer Festival. And there’s even a beer made expressly for Michigan’s own Kid Rock; appropriately enough, it’s called Badass Beer.

Shuffle Off to Buffalo

Did you know that Buffalo, New York, was once one of America’s ten largest cities? Buffalo’s rich history includes brewing, and the craft brew revolution certainly hasn’t passed it by. In fact, it’s the home of the nation’s second-largest brewpub, the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery. Grab a pint and tour the town:

The Friday Mash (Captain Cook Edition)

On this day in 1768, Captain James Cook of the Endeavour sailed from England on the first of his three voyages into the Pacific. Cook is famous for his map-making skills and courage in exploring dangerous locations. Even though the captain wasn’t a drinking man, we’re raising a glass in his honor.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in an unlikely locale–namely, Utah, where an annual beer festival takes place despite the state’s legendary alcohol restrictions.

Go green! Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Company is building the city’s largest private commercial solar installation.

If you’ve got tickets for Super Bowl XLVI, the Indianapolis Star’s Michelle Pemberton knows where to find good beer once you arrive in Indy.

Think your state’s beer distribution laws are bad? In Canada, even distributing beer across provincial lines is a real pain. That’s a particular problem for small breweries.

Is American ingenuity dead? Joe Sixpack begs to differ. A recent column details oddball beer-related inventions submitted to the U.S. Patent Office.

Molson Coors’s new pink beer for women inspired a righteous rant from Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Katrina Onstad.

Finally, we have good news and bad news for marathon runners. Beer is an excellent recovery beverage, but it’s effective only when it’s non-alcoholic.

Hooked on Brewing History

During the 1994 baseball strike Dave Hoekstra, a correspondent for the Chicago Sun-Times, went fishing in northern Wisconsin. His travels took him to Potosi (population: 711), the “Catfish Capital of the World” and the former home of the Potosi Brewing Company, which closed in 1972.

The Potosi complex reopened in 2008. It houses the National Brewery Museum, a restaurant and beer garden, a gift shop, and a transportation museum and interpretative center for the Great River Road. Potosi is also the home of the Potosi Beer Festival, which takes place Saturday afternoon.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Opening day attendance at this month’s Qingdao Beer Festival: 300,000.
  • Duration of the Qingdao Beer Festival: 16 days.
  • Breweries in the United States in July 2011: 1,790.
  • Increase over a year ago: 165.
  • Breweries “in planning today”: 725.
  • Foster’s Group Limited’s net loss last year: A$89 million (US$93.5 million).
  • What SABMiller offered to acquire Foster’s: US$10 million.
  • What Heineken offered to acquire two Ethiopian breweries: US$163 million.
  • Years since British law first required that beer be served in pints and quarts: 303.
  • Size of the newly-legalized British schooner: 2/3 pint.
  • Years since Budweiser was first sold in cans: 75.
  • Changes to the can’s label design since then: 12.
  • Last year’s decline in Budweiser’s sales volume: 7.3 percent.
  • Increase in Russia’s excise tax on beer since January 1, 2010: 200 percent.
  • Expected decrease in Russia’s per capita consumption from last year: 6 percent.
  • Christopher Columbus and Lager Beer

    After years of hunting for it, scientists are 99.5 percent certain that they’ve have found the yeast strain that made cold-temperature lagering possible. The yeast, which was given the name Saccharomyces eubayanus, was discovered in the beech forests of Patagonia. It feasts on sugar-rich growths, called galls, that live on the trees.

    How did S. eubayanus get from southern Argentina to Europe? That’s where Columbus comes in. His first voyage ushered in the “Columbian Exchange,” an era of large-scale contact between the Old and New Worlds when everything from plants and animals to communicable diseases crossed the ocean. One possible explanation for the appearance of the yeasts in Europe is that they hitched a ride on a load of beech wood bound for a monastery.

    Follow the Beer Bloggers Conference

    Ludwig, Maryanne, and Paul couldn’t make it to Portland for the Beer Bloggers Conference, but they’re following it online. You, too, can follow it by visiting the conference website.

    Past Masters

    Since 1845, the staff of Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in London have recorded, in The Brew Book, every recipe of every ale ever made. Recently, master brewer John Keeling delved into it and started re-creating a number of these ales, which the brewery calls “Past Masters.” These are single-batch releases brewed precisely to The Book.

    This ten-minute video tells the story of the Past Masters project. The guest star is Ron Pattinson, the blogger at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, who consulted with Fuller’s. As always, the video is free but you have to supply your own food and beverage.

    The Friday Mash (Ogden Nash Edition)

    On this day in 1902, Ogden Nash was born. Nash, a writer of light verse, is best known for surprising, pun-like rhymes–sometimes with words deliberately misspelled for comic effect.

    And now….The Nash!

    We begin in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, where Mike Pinto popped the question to his girlfriend, Dawn Rebodillo, in the middle of their tour of the Samuel Adams brewery. She said yes.

    Planning a beer trek to Colorado? Journalist Ed Sealover has made your travels easier with his new guidebook to the state’s 100-plus breweries. And yes, he’s been to all of them.

    FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., has upped the price of a beer to $9, prompting this comment from Washington City Paper’s Dave McKenna: “shouldn’t you also be able to buy a lap dance at an establishment where drinks are going for that price?”

    Upon returning to civilian life, army veteran Mike McCreary started the Cavalry Brewery in Connecticut. It turns out five English-style ales, all named for his team in Iraq.

    Jon Abernathy, who blogs at The Beer Site, has the roundup from Session #54, which was devoted to sour beer.

    Scientists at the University of Valladolid in Spain have found that dark beers contain more iron than light-colored beers. Ludwig wants to know whether they performed an analysis of Iron City Light.

    Finally, from the Not Just for Breakfast Anymore Department. Cris Carl of has 14 household uses for beer, including humanely killing mice and loosening rusty bolts. Full cans are good insulation material, too.

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