February 2012

An Awful Lot of Coffee Beer in Brazil

Brazilians love their beer, and aren’t averse to having one well before 5 o’clock rolls around. As in most other countries, a few national brands have dominated the market, but craft beer has established a presence as Brazilian beer drinkers have gotten more sophisticated. Microbrew products are turning up in bars and grocery stores, and brewpubs have even opened on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach.

Belgium: No Liquidity Crisis Here

Beer is one of Belgium’s top tourist draws, but the country has no large-scale beer museum like the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam or the National Brewery Centre in Burton-on-Trent. That is about to change. The city of Brussels plans to convert the city’s stock exchange building, which is located near the Grand’Place, into a beer museum in 2014. To introduce the public to the museum proposal, the Federation of Belgian Beer Brewers will hold part of its annual Beer Weekend early in September at the historic building.

Black Star Beer Barter

What would people do for a year’s supply of free beer? Quite a lot, it turns out. People from as far away as the South Pacific made their way to Whitefish, Montana, to take part in last week’s beer-soaked outdoor talent show. Here’s the video:

The Friday Mash (Town and Gown Edition)

Think today’s college towns are crazy? On this day in 1355, a dispute over the quality of ale in an Oxford, England, tavern touched off the St. Scholastica’s Day Riot, an armed clash between University of Oxford students and townspeople that resulted in more than 90 deaths.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where a hockey and beer exhibition has opened at Confederation Centre of the Arts. This weekend, all of PEI is celebrating “Hockey Day in Canada.”

Alan Newman, the founder of Magic Hat Brewing Company, told a local paper that he’s not amused by beer geeks who focus too much on how big a brewery is and who owns it.

The Belgian Post Office has issued a series of stamps honoring the country’s six Trappist breweries. The stamps feature bottles, caps, and glasses filled with these famous beers.

The Brewers Association has released its 2012 Beer Style Guildelines. New to the list this year is Indigenous Beer, which takes in the likes of Finnish-style sahti, South American chicha, and African sorghum-based beers.

Dogfish Head Artisan Ales didn’t run any ads during this year’s Super Bowl, but it got some unexpected–and enviable–publicity during the big game: Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron showed up at a party with a case of 60 Minute IPA.

TheFiftyBest.com, which calls itself “an unbiased guide to fine living,” is out with its list of the world’s 50 best beers. Let the debate begin.

Finally (and you knew we’d find a college-related story), researchers at University College Cork in Ireland have developed a taste-retaining low-alcohol beer. Ludwig wants to know whether it’s less filling as well.

Blame Beer for Politics?

Something to think about as the 2012 election season heats up. A team of archaeologists at Simon Fraser University in Canada argue that 15,000 years ago, the Natufians, a people who lived in the eastern Mediterranean, gave up their hunter-gatherer ways for farming because of beer. According to team leader Brian Hayden, the Natufians went to great lengths to stockpile excess grains; and they left behind grinding equipment, boiling stones, and other items needed for brewing.

Hayden also contends that if the Natufians brewed beer, they also took part in some of the earliest feasts in human history. He goes on to say that feasts were political occasions:

By throwing a good party, ambitious individuals could cultivate alliances with potential defense partners, seal beneficial marriage deals and rise to prominence within burgeoning communities. Their guests’ newfound sense of group togetherness fostered competition and created systems for making loans, paying debts and adhering to rules.

Scholars have yet to discover when the first beer-soaked Election Night party took place. Give them time.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • This year’s production of Pliny the Younger: 307 kegs.
  • Increase over last year: 30 percent.
  • Pliny’s alcohol content: 10.7% ABV.
  • U.K. beer sales last year: 26 million barrels.
  • Change from 2010: Down 3.5 percent.
  • U.S. total spending on beer in 2010: $101 billion.
  • Spending per household on beer: $1.321.
  • Samuel Adams’s production at its Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, brewery: 5,000 barrels per day.
  • Lehigh Valley’s share of Sam Adams’s total production: 2/3.
  • Super Bowls in which Sam Adams has advertised: 1.
  • Cities in which Old Milwaukee Super Bowl’s commercial aired: 1 (North Platte, Nebraska).
  • TV homes to which the commercial was aired: 15,800.
  • Length of the commercial: 52 seconds.
  • Dividend yield on Anheuser Busch InBev shares: 1.7 percent.
  • Yield on SABMiller shares: 2.4 percent.
  • A-B’s Ads: Not So Super?

    In the past ten years, Anheuser-Busch has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on Super Bowl ads. The ads are an artistic success, so much so that people put off their trip to the bathroom to watch football-playing Clydesdales and singing frogs. But have they helped sell the product? According to a study by 24/7 Wall St., the answer is no. It ranks A-B number one in money wasted, pointing out that in the past decade, its market share has fallen by 3.7 percent and its flagship brand, Budweiser, has fallen to number-three behind Coors Light.

    “I Am a Polish Homebrewer”

    In Polish, with English subtitles:

    The Friday Mash (Bitter Cold Edition)

    On this day in 1947, the coldest-ever temperature in North America–81 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit–was recorded in Snag, a village in Canada’s Yukon. That kind of cold creates serious problems, but keeping beer cold isn’t one of them.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Leominster, England, where Andre Marsh claims to own the world’s smallest off-license. It measures only 11 square meters (397 square feet).

    If you’re going to New Orleans, here’s some good news: it’s okay to carry canned beer at Carnival. Abita Brewing will release its version next Monday, just in time for the parades.

    The Boston Beer Company is rolling out a new seasonal, Alpine Spring. Sam Adams Noble Pils, last year’s spring seasonal, is being promoted to the year-round lineup.

    Ginger Johnson, the owner of Women Enjoying Beer, has some advice for breweries: “Make the assumption that all women like flavor, and dash the notion that there’s beer for women.”

    Hoping to avoid rush-hour chaos during this summer’s Olympic games, London officials are asking commuters to have an after-work beer before heading home.

    As New Belgium Brewing Company hones in on a sites for its Eastern brewery, Lew Bryson makes the case for Philadelphia.

    Finally, Pete and Debbie Gibson, pub landlords in Royton, England, had their establishment shut down New Year’s Eve by the Samuel Smith brewery. Their offense? Selling pints that were too full of beer.

    Destination Indy

    Super Bowl XLVI will be played Sunday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Even if you won’t be in town for the game, you might consider a beer weekend in Indiana’s capital. The folks at Hoosier Beer Geek have lined up an beer weekend. And if their itinerary isn’t enough, Gerard Walen of Road Trips for Beer has compiled a comprehensive list of breweries in and around the city.

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