January 2012

“I Don’t Need No Stinking Health Warnings”

Ken Chappell, a 78-year-old retired pub landlord from Poole, England, takes a dim view of health groups’ proposal that bottled beer warning labels. He calls himself “living proof they are wrong about a lot of things.” Chappell used to drink 30 to 40 pints of beer a day when he ran pubs several decades ago. He’s since cut down to six pints a day, and makes a point of not having his first one until 7:30 pm. Genetics might play a part in Chappell’s robust health. He has an uncle who smoked 40 cigarettes a day, and still lived to the ripe old age of 93.

History’s Most Notorious Brewer?

Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, has yet another fascinating story from history. Its subject is the most notorious brewer in history. His name was Antoine-Joseph Santerre who, more than 200 years ago, owned the largest brewery in Paris.

But it was politics, not beer, that made Santerre notorious. He aided the mob that stormed The Bastille; and four and a half years later, he was one of the men who escorted King Louis XVI, from his prison to the guillotine. Historians still debate whether Santerre gave the military drummers the order to play so the king’s last words couldn’t be heard; and, if he did give the order, why he did so.

Santerre was an innovative brewer: the first in France to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of his mash tun liquor; the first to dry his malt English-style, with coke rather than wood; and the first to install a steam engine in his brewery.

Cornell suggests that Santerre would have been off had he stuck to his day job. He was a terrible general who allegedly ran from the enemy, and lost two-thirds of his men; and he also flopped as a real estate speculator, winding up broke, living with his son, and hiding from creditors.

A Road Trip to St. Louis

Gerard Walen, who blogs at Road Trips for Beer, was recently a guest of the Saint Louis Brewery, better known as the makers of Schlafly Beer. Here’s his video:

The Friday Mash (Georgia Bulldogs Edition)

On this day in 1785 the University of Georgia, the nation’s first public university, was established. The list of people who went to UGA includes Colonel Charles Beckwith, creator of the Army’s Delta Force; actress Kim Basinger; Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker; numerous Georgia governors; and the members of R.E.M.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Frederick, Maryland, where Flying Dog Ales plans to roll out 20 beers over the course of the year. One of them, a saison called Wildeman, is the first addition to the brewery’s year-round lineup since Raging Bitch hit the shelves in 2009.

The Houston Astros have announced that they’re reducing the price of beer at Minute Maid Field this coming season. The way the Astros are playing–they had the worst record in the majors last season–fans will need a few to get them through the game.

John Close of RacingNation.com insists that beer is “the official fuel of NASCAR”, pointing out that beer and auto racing have gone together for decades. Close says that the only beer-soaked event that draws more fans than NASCAR races is Munich’s Oktoberfest.

The Washington Beer Commission has announced that the second annual Washington Beer Open House will take place February 25. Among other things, participating breweries will offer food pairings, rare barrel tastings, and new seasonal releases.

If going to next month’s San Francisco Beer Week, Zambo, the head brewer at 21st Amendment Brewery has beer and restaurant recommendations. He also recommends the quirky Coit Tower.

The folks at Liveability magazine have compiled a list of the ten best “unexpected beer cities”. Expect to find good brew in unheralded places like Akron, Boise, and Chattanooga.

Finally, some good news for spring breakers headed to Florida. Cigar City Brewing Company will open a pub at Tampa International Airport in March. It’s part of a $6 million concessions upgrade.

Sierra Nevada is Carolina-Bound

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company ended the suspense over the location of its second brewery by announcing today that it will be built at the Ferncliff Industrial Park in Mills River, near Asheville Regional Airport. The $100-million-plus facility is expected to offer tours and onsite dining, similar to Sierra Nevada’s Chico, California brewery, which opened in 1989.

A Beer Fit for a King, But…

In 1936, Greene King brewed a special ale to celebrate the first anniversary of King Edward VIII’s coronation. Then something happened: the king abdicated to marry “the woman I love,” Wallis Simpson. Coronation Ale was never released, and the 2,000-bottle run remained in storage until recently, when workers stumbled upon it while making repairs to the brewery. A man who tasted the ale, which contains 12 percent alcohol, says that it has kept really well and “really would have been a fantastic beer in its day.”

CAMRA’s Chairman on Beer Festivals

Will Hawkes, who writes about beer for the Independent, recently turned his attention to the rise of the beer festival in England. Hawkes attended the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester, where he caught up with Colin Valentine, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, whose members put on more than 160 festivals per year.

Valentine believes that the flat economy hasn’t hurt beer festivals, noting that most events are increasing in size. One possible reason for festivals’ popularity is the “buy local” movement; not only are attendees helping small operations, but there’s a good chance they’ll get to meet some of the people who actually make the beer they’re trying. The CAMRA head also points out that drunken behavior is rarely seen at festivals. He’s also quick to challenge the stereotype of the Real Ale geek as a portly middle-aged man with a scruffy beard (he shaved his off last year). But what really impresses Valentine is the fact that the people who run CAMRA festivals do it for the love of good beer, not the money.

Pakistan’s Only Brewery

There are tough markets for brewers, and then there’s Pakistan. Ninety-seven percent of its citizens are Muslims, whose faith strictly forbids the consumption of alcohol; and to make sure the ban sticks, the government bars Muslims from buying it. Non-Muslims need a license–which comes with a monthly quota–to buy alcohol; and have to line up for it at distribution points hidden behind hotels and other establishments.

In spite of these restrictions, the 150-plus-year-old Murree Brewery Company, established by the British to ensure a steady supply of beer for their soldiers, manages to stay in business. In addition to legal restrictions, which also include a ban on advertising or exporting alcohol, the company has to contend with lack of basic utilities, corrupt officials, and an unstable currency. Not to mention angry fundamentalists who’d like to put the company out of business.

The Friday Mash (Thrill Ride Edition)

On this day in 1885, LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first roller coaster. The “golden age” of roller coasters began three decades later, but ended with the Great Depression. However, coasters enjoyed a revival in the 1970s, when they appeared at modern-day theme parks such as Cedar Point.

And now…The Mash!

Fittingly, we begin in Ohio, the home of Cedar Point, where newly-signed legislation eliminates a hefty licensing fee for breweries that wish to open tasting rooms.

Move over, Sam Adams. D.G. Yuengling and Son is now the number-one American-owned brewery in production. Yuengling’s sales rose 17 percent last year, to 2.5 million barrels, putting it about 100,000 barrels ahead of Boston Beer Company.

The Brewers Association has announced that Steve Hindy, the chairman and CEO of Brooklyn Brewery, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Craft Beer Conference in San Diego.

If you like to review beer, Canadian blogger Stephen Beaumont has a few suggestions. Don’t review a beer you’ve had a one-ounce sample of and please, please don’t demand VIP treatment from your bartender just because you’re a reviewer.

Get out your road atlas and check your frequent-flyer mile balances. Draft magazine has released the 2012 list of America’s best beer bars. For the record, Maryanne and Paul have been to 21 of them.

RealClimate.org is trying to educate beer drinkers about global warming by likening the Earth to a can of beer, which will become undrinkable by the second half of this century. (Hat tip: Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin.)

Finally, Chris Schewe broke a world record by downing three bottles of Budweiser, with his hands behind his back, in just 37 seconds. Ludwig advises you not to try this at home–or anywhere else.

Flying Dog Mural Debuts

This evening, Flying Dog Ales will unveil a mural titled “The Flying Dog Story in 100 Feet.” This evening event, which is open to the public, will feature the unveiling itself, the three muralists’ work, and live music.

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