November 2011

How Three Floyds Became Number One

How did Three Floyds Brewing Company, a micro located in an industrial park in Munster, Indiana, make it to the top of’s “best brewery in the world” ratings? One major factor was itself–or, more precisely, the beer geeks who inhabit sites like that and supply the ratings.

Five years ago, Eric Clemons, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a journal article that examined how beer ratings predict sales growth. (Yes, business profs seriously study this.) By analyzing hundreds of thousands of reviews, Clemons found that breweries with the biggest gaps between their highest and lowest ratings were more likely to experience sales growth. He concluded, “It is more important to have some customers who love you than a huge number of customers who merely like you–even if your beers are so intense that they turn off a lot of potential customers.”

Just the Facts

Mike Warner, who blogs at A Year of Beer, has embarked on an ambitious project–namely, compiling a list of 25 important things to know about beer.

A sampler of Warner’s wisdom: Neither bottles nor casks nor kegs have an inherent advantage. Avoid beer in green bottles. Take style bias into account when you look at beer-review sites. The standard American pint glass is a lousy vessel. And if you’re a cook, it’s about time beer has earned a place in your pantry.

The Friday Mash (Wednesday Edition)

Even beer-drinking lions need time off, so he’s assembled this week’s Mash a couple of days early. Once it’s posted, Ludwig will zip up his luggage and hop into the lion limo for a long weekend. He’ll be back on Monday, relaxed and refreshed. We should all be so lucky.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Cleveland, where Mark Bona of the Plain Dealer suggests beers to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. No hard and fast rules, just general pointers.

Did you know that Garrett Oliver’s love affair with beer began with a pint in a London pub? That tidbit and others appear in an interview with Oliver in the Independent.

The Beer Bloggers Conference has compiled a list of all known beer bloggers on the planet. The total stands at 1,164. And yes, Ludwig Roars is on that list.

From the Life Imitates Art Department: The governing board of the Phoenix-area’s light-rail system has okayed beer ads on the outside of trains. Some of those trains might resemble the Coors Silver Bullet of TV ad fame.

Friday is the official kickoff of Christmas shopping season, which means it’s time to think Yuletide beers. Brandon Hernandez of San Diego magazine serves up the 12 Beers of Christmas.

Ever wonder why flies are attracted to beer? Scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have the answer: the pesky insects are attracted to glycerol, a sweet-tasting compound produced by yeasts during fermentation.

Finally, the Michigan Wolverines take on arch-rival Ohio State on Saturday. We hope these beer-chugging grannies will be partying with the tailgaters in Ann Arbor.

Belgian Beer Cafes Invade the U.S.

A Belgian company plans to open “Belgian Beer Cafes”, establishments with the look and feel of a 1920s Belgian beer cafe, in ten American cities. However, the idea has drawn criticism. That’s because the Belgian company is AB-InBev, the world’s largest brewer.

Some Belgians are afraid that InBev is so big that it will harm the reputation of Belgian beer. Others, like microbrewery owner Yvan De Baets, see the cafes as the 21st-century version of faux-Irish pubs that have sprung up around the world. De Baets insists that a Belgian beer cafe can’t be built in five minutes, adding that “It’s generations of owners and customers that build the place, and then give a soul to it.”

Living History in London

A recent festival sponsored by the London Brewers Alliance led Martyn Cornell to recount London’s rich brewing history.

Cornell reminds us that London has given the world five beer styles. They are porter, which dates back to 1718; stout, which was brewed in London until after World War II; what we now call Russian imperial stout; India pale ale, first given that name by a London brewery in 1835; and brown ale, which was enormously popular between the world wars.

Cornell’s post also provides a detailed timeline of London brewing, beginning with the birth of Thomas a Becket, the patron saint of the city’s Brewers’ Company. Pay close attention because some of the factoids–like the Great Beer Flood of 1814–might come in handy in a pub quiz.

Dogfish Head Urkontinent

A video by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery describes the process of creating a new beer, from concept to tap:

The Friday Mash (Standard Time Edition)

On this day in 1883, American railroads replaced sun-based local time with four time zones, which survive to this day. Time zones have strange boundaries, which often divide states in two, because they once connected railroad stations in major cities. But wherever you live, it’s Ludwig Standard Time. Which means it’s time for a beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chesterfield, England, where the local constabulary caught 19 wanted criminals with a sting operation that offered them a crate of free beer.

Our friend Lew Bryson, who began the “Breweries” series published by Stackpole Books, is now going on television. His new series, “American Beer Blogger,” is a half-hour series dedicated to all facets of the craft beer market.

Christian Moerlein was the first person inducted into Cincinnati’s Beer Barons’ Hall of Fame. It’s located at the brewery named for Moerlein, which will open on the riverfront in February.

Did you miss this year’s Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas? The annual celebration, which began 50 years ago, has grown into a ten-day, German-themed “Salute to Sausage.”

In Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, national brands Anchor and Angkor have been joined by newcomer, Kingdom Pilsner. Kingdom brews a Continental lager adapted to local tastes.

Session #58 has been announced. Its theme is, appropriately enough, A Christmas Carol–you get the idea–and it will be hosted by Phil Hardy of Beersay.

Finally, a Phoenix-based company has come out with a beer made for dogs. Bowser Beer is non-carbonated, contains no hops, and (sorry, Ludwig) is non-alcoholic.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Pink Boots Society membership at its inception in 2008: 22.
  • Its membership today: nearly 700.
  • Length of The Oxford Companion to Beer: 960 pages.
  • Length of All Belgian Beers by Hilde Deweer: 1,568 pages.
  • Estimated value of Australia’s craft beer market today: A$120 million.
  • Projected value of that market five years from now: A$290 million.
  • Calories in a can of Bud Light Platinum: 137.
  • Calories in a can of regular Bud Light: 110.
  • Platinum’s strength, compared to Bud Light: 1.8 percent ABV higher.
  • Days until Platinum’s national launch: 77.
  • Yuengling Brewing Company’s production this year: 2.2 to 2.3 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2010: 5-6 percent.
  • States where Yuengling is sold: 14.
  • Most expensive beer in the NHL: C$9.94 for a 16-ounce cup (Montreal Canadiens).
  • Cheapest beer in the NHL: $6.25 for a 24-ounce cup (Colorado Avalanche).
  • Tomorrow’s “Coast to Coast Toast”

    To celebrate its 30th anniversary as a importer of Belgian beer, Vanberg & DeWulf has organized a national “Coast to Coast Toast” celebration tomorrow. Hundreds of establishments throughout the country will take part by hosting events ranging from beer dinners to tutored tastings. You can find out more at Eventbrite’s website.

    Drinking With the Saints

    November begins with All Saints’ Day, and that inspired Bryan Kolesar to write a quickie virtual tour of breweries that have some association with one of the saints. There’s Houston’s St. Arnold Brewing Company, named for St. Arnold of Metz, whom the Catholic Church recognizes as the patron saint of brewers. Also mentioned: St. Victorious and St. Boisterous, from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Company; and St. Botolph’s Town, a product of Massachusetts-based Pretty Things. Last but not least is Brasserie de Rochefort, the Belgian brewery that turns out Rochefort 6, 8, and 10. The brewery implores you–in the name of the monks that brew it–to “make no abuse of this gift of God.”

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