May 2012

The Friday Mash (CNN Edition)

On this day in 1980, the Cable News Network debuted. After an introduction by Ted Turner, the husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored the network’s first newscast.

Travel tip: if you’re going to Toronto this summer, do not refer to that enormous tower on the lakefront as the “CNN Tower.” Every Canadian within earshot will give you a dirty look.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Colorado, where the owners of Oskar Blues hope to operate a “beer train” between their Longmont and Boulder locations.

Sara Dickerman of the New York Times updates us on San Diego’s craft beer scene. San Diego County has more than 50 breweries, and many of the area’s beers can be found far from California.

India and Pakistan fought three major wars in the 20th century, but beer might bring them closer together. Pakistan’s Murree Brewery will start selling its lager to India for the first time since the two countries were partitioned in 1947.

In Grayslake, Illinois, four hockey fanatics are starting a brewery. All Light the Lamp Brewery beers–for example, Sin Bin Stout–will have hockey-themed names.

Tuscany is known the world over for its wine but even there, craft beer is making inroads. The region has more than 30 craft breweries, plus a number of bars that specialize in local beer.

The term “dive bar” gets a new meaning, thanks to a bar inside a fully functional submarine. The sub recently took guests to the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Finally, Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, identifies some endangered beer species, including some that are critically endangered in his native Britain.

Sour Beer: The Next IPA?

Sour beer. Or, if you prefer, wild beer or funky beer. It’s gained a following in recent years, and a growing number of craft breweries are experimenting with the style. One of America’s leading sour beer producers is New Belgium Brewing Company, which has sold La Folie for years and has upped its sour beer production capacity. Other brewers in Colorado are turning out sour beer as well. One of them, Chad Yakobson, owner of the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, says “It’s the fastest-growing niche by far. It is the IPA of a couple years ago, and it’s great.”

Miss Rheingold Strolls Down Memory Lane

If you’re a person of a certain age and grew up in the New York area, you probably remember Miss Rheingold. From 1939 until 1964, the Rheingold Brewing Company sponsored an annual competition in which customers chose one of a group of attractive young women to represent the beer. Five finalists, four of whom were winners, recently got together at the New York Historical Society, which is sponsoring an exhibition titled “Beer Here–Brewing New York’s History.”

The Miss Rheingold competition was an eagerly-anticipated event. Millions of votes were cast–this in a pre-Internet era when it was much harder to stuff ballot boxes–and the contestants included future stars. How high was the quality of these women? The list of non-winners includes Grace Kelly, Tippi Hendren, and Hope Lange.

Cows Go on a Beer Run

In Boxford, Massachusetts, a herd of cows crashed a backyard party and polished off the human guests’ beer. Feel free to supply your own puns:

The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

No, the Diet of Worms isn’t something contestants eat on a reality show. It was an imperial assembly that, on this date in 1521, condemned Martin Luther for his attacks on the Catholic Church. According to some accounts, Luther prepared for his appearance before the Diet by drinking strong beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in York, England, where the Campaign for Real Ale branch plans to visit every pub in the area and log every beer available. They hope to top Sheffield CAMRA’s record of 257 Real Ales logged.

Scott Jennings has been named the head brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s North Carolina plant, scheduled to open in 2014. Scott has been with Sierra Nevada since 2001.

Philly Beer Week opens a week from today, and three of the city’s breweries have brewed a collaboration beer for the occasion. It’s a Belgian black ale that packs a 7.6% alcoholic punch.

An item from our Don’t Do This at Home Department. A gentleman in Russia used a chainsaw to open a bottle of beer.

Some Colorado brewpubs are approaching the legal production limit. A bill that would raise the limit died in the legislature, forcing brewpubs to consider becoming production breweries or moving part of their operations out of state.

Surely you’ve seen those photos of men carrying “We Want Beer” picket signs. They’re from a parade in New York City that took place in May 1932. An estimated 100,000 opponents of Prohibition marched.

Finally, Arnold Worldwide, a Boston-based ad agency, has installed Arnie the Beer Vending Machine, which dispenses custom-brewed beers. Management installed Arnie to encourage office sociability.

Seattle to Host Homebrewers’ Conference

This year’s National Homebrewers Conference will take place in Seattle the weekend of June 21-23. The conference, put on by the American Homebrewers Association, will feature a keynote address by Charles Finkel, the founder of Seattle’s Pike Brewery; a banquet and award ceremony featuring Sean Paxton,”The Homebrew Chef”; and appearances by dozens of professional brewers, beer experts, and writers. This year’s National Homebrew Competition has attracted 7,800 entries in 28 style categories, making it the largest such competition to date.

A Second Life for Stroh’s?

Once upon a time, Stroh’s beer was a Michigan icon. Touring the brewery on Detroit’s east side was a popular way to spend an afternoon, and perhaps get ready for a Tigers game that evening. However, Stroh fell victim to industry consolidation. The brewery closed in 1985, and was later converted into an industrial park.

Now we learn that part of that iconic brewery might come back to life at the Bell’s Brewery plant in Comstock Township, Michigan. Four 100-year-old-plus wooden fermenters from the Stroh brewery will be rebuilt by Bell’s. John Mallett, the production manager at Bell’s, plans to use the fermenters to make draft-only beers using an open-fermentation process. This is an intricate project, given the age of the equipment, which means that Bell’s has no timeline for when–and, given the complexity, if–the fermenters will be put back in service.

Point/Counterpoint: Macrobrew

Jim Galligan, who writes about beer and other adult beverages for MSNBC.com, has a bone to pick with the World Beer Cup. He believes that competition organizers do good work overall; but he questions their decision to award medals in industrial beer categories, which are won by large breweries.

Charlie Papazian of the Brewers Association defends the practice, arguing that a rising tide lifts all boats. He told Galligan, “Winning in a competition is more than a statement of achievement,” he said. “It enhances the image of beer everywhere.”

Galligan wasn’t convinced. He responded:

If a wine lover saw the Miller Lite commercial where they crow about winning four WBC gold medals, do you think he or she would be convinced to put down their wine glass and pick up a mug? Or would they simply think that the world of beer must be pretty lame if Miller Lite is the best of the best? If anything, giving gold medals to industrial light lagers sends the wrong message. It lowers the tide for all brewers.

The Friday Mash (Lion in Winter Edition)

On this day in 1152, King Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of medieval Europe’s most powerful women. Their turbulent marriage was the subject of James Goldman’s play The Lion in Winter, which was made into a film starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn in 1968.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Finland, where scientists are trying to re-create a beer brewed in the 1840s. Bacteria from the golden-colored beer were found in a ship that went to the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

New Zealander Katrina Hayman won’t apologize for drinking beer backstage at a Bride of the Year competition. She says the controversy never would have happened had she sipped wine instead.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a group of homebrewers in the area have formed The High Five Co-op Brewery. Now comes the hard part: navigating the legal and administrative hurdles.

Author Rob Kasper takes us back half a century and explains how brought major league baseball to Baltimore. The Lone Ranger’s silver bullet plays a role in this fascinating story.

In 1963, brewer Alfred Heineken and architect John Habraken designed a house made of Heineken bottles. They used “World of Beer” bottles, which lent themselves to construction.

On his Pencil and Spoon blog, Matt Dredge wonders whether it is possible to pair hoppy beers and hot and spicy foods.

Finally, Burnside Brewing Company apologized for giving the name “Kali-ma” to an ale flavored with Indian spices and hot peppers. Kali, a four-armed goddess, is revered by Hindus.

Hong Kong’s First-Ever Beer Festival

Some weeks ago, a festival organizer named Jonathan So asked us to add his event, Beertopia Hong Kong, to the calendar. We happily obliged, and wished him luck.

It turns out that Beertopia, Hong Kong’s first-ever beer festival, was a rousing success. British beer writer Martyn Cornell, who helped publicize the event, was there in person, along with a capacity crowd that emptied the Hitachino Nest beer stand long before closing time. By Cornell’s estimation, one-quarter to one-third of the crowd were Hong Kongers, evenly divided between men and women.

So explained to Cornell why he put on the festival. A native of Toronto, he developed a taste for craft beer while studying at Columbia University. Afterward, he moved to Hong Kong to work for a software company.

On an excursion to Singapore, So attended the highly-popular Beerfest Asia and asked himself, “How come Hong Kong doesn’t have anything like this?” Eighteen months later, Beertopia opened its doors. Don’t be surprised if a larger-scale second edition finds its way onto the calendar next year.

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