July 2012

Prohibition Exhibit at the National Constitution Center

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance that you’ve read Daniel Okrent’s Last Call and watched Ken Burns’s documentary, Prohibition. If you enjoyed them, Ludwig insists that you consider a trip to Philadelphia.

Beginning October 19, the National Constitution Center will present an exhibition titled American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. The exhibition, which will be curated by Okrent, is described as the first comprehensive exhibition about Prohibition. It will trace the “Great Experiment” from the dawn of the temperance movement in the early 19th century to the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933.

American Spirits will run through April 28, 2013, after which it will go on a three-year nationwide tour.

Best Bars for Canned Craft Beer

According to CraftCans.com, more than 600 craft beers from over 200 breweries are sold in cans, and there is a growing number of bars that specialize in these beers. Their staff has chosen 15 “cantastic” establishments, including a bar attached to the Oskar Blues Brewery, which was one of the first to can its beer.

CraftCans’ choices also include the Full Circle Bar in Brooklyn, New York, which features several Skee-Ball alleys; a bar inside the Whole Foods Market in Chandler, Arizona; and the Star Bar, which is within walking distance of Denver’s Coors Field.

The Friday Mash (”What’s Up, Doc?” Edition)

On this day in 1940, The Wild Hare, a Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies production, was released. The eight-minute cartoon, which was nominated for an Academy Award, depicted Elmer Fudd pursuing the much smarter Bugs Bunny.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in London, Ontario, whose minor-league baseball team, the Rippers, folded after being refused permission to sell beer. Ironically, the Rippers played their home games at Labatt Park.

While much of America is suffering from drought, torrential rains in northern Europe have slowed the maturation of grain crops. The forecast is for higher grain prices and, ultimately, more expensive beer.

The iconic “R” sign, placed atop Rainier Brewing’s Seattle brewery in 1953, will be re-lit at the Museum of History and Industry. The brand’s owners are also bringing back the Grazing Rainiers, those mythical beer bottles with legs.

Jim Galligan, drinks correspondent for MSNBC.com, offers five reasons why you should brew your own beer.

The brewery staff at Budweiser has been experimenting with small-batch beers. Once they dedide on which three of the original 12 beers are the best, they’ll package them in special six-packs to be sold at retail this fall.

The Travel Channel serves up its list of top seven beer destinations. Instead of the usual suspects, their picks are up-and-coming places you might not have thought about.

Finally, the Bad Training Regimen Award goes to Tyler Bray, a quarterback at the University of Tennessee. Bray decided to limber up his throwing arm by lobbing beer bottles at parked cars.

An “Iron Chef” Competition for Brewers

Grand Rapids, Michigan, is wasting no time cashing in on its “Beer City USA” co-championship. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is launching a challenge to determine which Michigan brewery will get to supply the museum with beer when it opens an exhibit on the city’s brewing heritage.

Although there’s no “theme ingredient” in this competition, competitors will have to use at least 80 percent Michigan-made malt and 50-percent Michigan-grown hops. In addition, each brewery will be able to use a “variable” of its own choosing, such as wood, herbs or spices, or a special yeast strain.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Years since the founding of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s first ancestor: 656.
  • Number of brands made by AB-InBev companies: around 200.
  • Dividend yield on AB-InBev shares (ticker symbol: BUD): 1.7 percent.
  • Percent of Americans’ Twitter tweets that mention beer: 0.014.
  • Percent that mention church: 0.018.
  • China’s beer consumption last year: 50 billion liters (1st in the world).
  • Change from 2006: Up 29 percent.
  • Canned beer’s share of the American market in 2011: 53 percent.
  • Its share in 1991: 60 percent, an all-time high.
  • Percent of Americans who drank a beer in the past 30 days: 42.
  • Percent who drank a microbrew in the past 30 days: 5.
  • Beer excise taxes collected by Wisconsin in 2011: $9.3 million.
  • Change from 2010: Down 3 percent.
  • Wisconsin’s excise tax on a barrel of beer: $2 (unchanged since 1968).
  • The Friday Mash (Alexander the Great Edition)

    On this day in 356 B.C., Alexander the Great was born. He built one of the ancient world’s largest empires and is considered one of history’s best generals. He also inspired this line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “So why can’t someone plug a beer barrel with the dirt that used to be Alexander?”

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Victoria, British Columbia, where journalist Lisa Monforton travels that city’s Ale Trail. One stop on the trail is Spinnaker’s, Canada’s first brewpub, which opened 30 years ago.

    The site of Detroit’s Stroh Brewery, which closed during the 1980s, is now the location of a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first one ever to be located outside of Washington, D.C.

    Ari Bendersky, an editor of Eater Chicago, updates us on Chicago’s craft beer boom, which shows no signs of letting up.

    From the Department of Silly Beer Laws: Pennsylvania liquor regulators informed the Iron Hill brewpub chain that its ten-year-old mug club promotion violates the liquor code. The reason? It entitles members to larger servings at the same price non-members pay.

    The Alchemist, a Vermont-based brewery, has gone retro, releasing a double IPA in 16-ounce tall boy cans. Tall boys were introduced by Schlitz in 1954.

    Alan McLeod, the publisher of A Good Beer Blog, has written a review of Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty. The author is Rich Wagner.

    Finally, this year’s Minnesota State Fair will sport a bigger craft beer selection, along with a Minnesota Brewers Guild booth. The fair’s expanded food lineup includes bacon ice cream, fried lamb testicles, and other yummy treats.

    Does Canned Craft Beer Taste Different?

    One thing leads to another. Ray Daniels, the head of the Cicerone program, and Jim Koch, CEO of the Boston Beer Company, exchanged tweets about whether there was a difference between canned and bottled craft beer. (Both men agree.) However, Bill Manley begs to differ. He’s the Product Development Manager at Sierra Nevada Brewing, which recently released its flagship Pale Ale in cans.

    Manley’s opinion? “I respectfully disagree with the notion that there is a flavor difference between our bottles and cans. We’ve done extensive (exhaustive?) sensory and analytical analysis that suggests otherwise. In hundreds of double-blind trials we’ve found no statistical or analytical difference in flavors. There is literally no difference between the beer in the can and the beer in the bottle.”

    Prediction: This debate is going to go on. For a long time.

    Lites Out!

    No one needs to encourage Jay Brooks to say what’s on his mind, which is what makes his blog, the Brookston Beer Bulletin, so much fun to read. Brooks was in rare form today. His blog post responded to “In Defense of Light Beer,” an op-ed column by David Ryder that appeared earlier this month in the Chicago-Sun Times. Ryder is the Vice-President of Brewing for MillerCoors.

    After noting that brewing light beer pays Ryder’s salary, and conceding that some measure of skill is required to it, Brooks turns his wrath on the style:

    No matter how difficult they are to make, that still doesn’t excuse their existence, or make them a beer that I’d ever want to drink. To me, they are still an abomination, a science experiment gone awry. There’s no reason to sacrifice flavor to save a mere pittance of calories. Beer is not particularly fattening, especially if you drink it in moderation. The easiest way to reduce your caloric intake of beer is not to choose the latest scientifically engineered slightly lower-calorie beer, but to simply drink less bottles, cans or pints.

    Later, Brooks takes aim at Ryder’s assertion that light beer is “widely admired”:

    The reasons any product is popular is not that it’s the best one available. Often it’s the cheapest, most available or has the highest advertising budget. Wonder bread may be the best-selling bread in America, but does anyone actually think it’s the best bread money can buy? People drink light beer because they’re bombarded with marketing and advertising, have been tricked into thinking they’re not sacrificing flavor and/or don’t really think (or care) about their choices.

    Brooks adds that It took 15 years–and an awful lot of “Less Filling, Tastes Great!” ads–for Miller Lite to reach 10 percent of the market, by which time MIller’s competitors, loath to miss out on market share, introduced their own versions. Light beer now commands a 50 percent market share, and accounts for $50 billion segment of the business. Brooks’s reaction? “That fact, I find to be incredibly sad, frankly. What a great triumph of marketing over common sense and actual taste.”

    Give That Man a Beer!

    A Lakers fan offers newly-signed free agent Steve Nash a beer…while both are speeding down a Los Angeles freeway:

    The Friday Mash (Hurray for Hollywood Edition)

    On this day in 1923, the iconic “Hollywood” sign was officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, California. It originally read “Hollywoodland ” the name of the housing development it advertised. The four last letters disappeared when the sign was renovated in 1949.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Livermore, California, where the First Street Alehouse has more than 6,000 beer cans on permanent display. It’s North America’s largest collection, assembled over 36 years by local resident David Goett.

    The world premiere of “The Cincinnati Beer Story”, a documentary chronicling the history of beer-making in the that city, will take place at Mecklenburg Gardens in Cincinnati. Several members of the film team are scheduled to speak.

    A power outage caused by last week’s freak windstorm resulted in part of Port City Brewing Company’s beer being fermented at a higher-than-planned temperature. The Virginia-based brewery decided to release it as a California common beer called Derecho Common.

    Evan Rail updates us on London. Once derided as Britain’s worst beer town, it has experienced a revival, with over 20 breweries in operation and several more on the way.

    Call it “glass-roots politics.” Lobbying by beer lovers and media coverage prodded Alabama’s liquor regulators to rescind their ban on Founders Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard.

    Regents of the University of Minnesota voted to allow beer sales at TCF Stadium, the home of the Golden Gophers’ football team. The way that team has been playing, fans need a few to get them through the game.

    Finally, Ben Davidson, a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders who starred in a Miller Lite commercial with John Madden and Rodney Dangerfield, passed away at the age of 72.

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