November 2012

The Friday Mash (Thriller Edition)

Thirty years ago today, Epic Records released Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the biggest-selling album in history. It was a pioneer in using music videos as a promotional tool, and seven singles from the album reached Billboard’s top ten. If you’re thinking, “hey, wrong Michael Jackson!”, you’re our kind of blog reader.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district, where Christian Moerlein beer will be brewed in a 19th-century brewery building. Before Prohibition, Christian Moerlein was Ohio’s largest-selling brand.

Ry Beville’s love of craft beer has developed into an occupation. Beville, a native of Virginia, publishes Japan’s only bilingual craft beer magazine, the Japan Beer Times.

John Hall is stepping down as CEO of Goose Island Beer Company, along with COO and founding member Tony Bowker. The Chicago-based brewery will continue to brew Goose Island’s “Vintage Series.”

Deb Carey, the president of New Glarus Brewing Company, was invited to the White House to discuss small business-related issues. She traded beer with the president: two bottles of her Serendipity ale for three bottles of White House Honey Ale.

Can you get a couple of sixers in Iraq? Yes, provided you find a shopkeeper who sells it “under the counter”…and leave the store before attracting attention.

Rogue Ales is rolling out a “novel” beer: White Whale Ale, made with a few pages from a copy of Moby Dick. The beer, an IPA, honors Portland, Oregon, bookseller Michael Powell.

Finally, tomorrow is Zwanze Day. Thirty-six select locations around the world–16 in the U.S.–will be pouring Cantillon Zwanze, a rhubarb lambic.

Now This is a Beer Run

Feats like this inspired the phrase “Greatest Generation.” In December 1944, American fighter pilot Clancy Hess was sent on one final bombing mission from his base on Manus Island in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, the bomb bay doors got stuck and the bombs fell on top of them. Fortunately, the bombs didn’t explode. Even more fortunately, Hess found another use for his bomber.

When he learned that the men on Manus wouldn’t have beer for Christmas, Hess flew to Townsville, Australia, 600 miles away, and loaded his plane with beer. Three tons of it. The beery cargo weighed down the plane to the point that Hess flew just feet above the ocean; and when he landed on Manus, its weight made the plane’s tail wheels blow out.

Beer Biking Across Wisconsin

Earlier this year, John Greenfield and Dave Schlabowske, the communications director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, pedaled across Wisconsin, stopping for good beer along the way. Their route covered several bicycle trails as well as highways.

The first stop was Potosi, in southwest Wisconsin, which is home to the 160-year-old Potosi Brewery. Their itinerary also included Minhas Craft Brewery (Monroe), New Glarus Brewing Company, The Great Dane (Madison), and Tyranena Brewery (Lake Mills). Their final stop was the Milwaukee Brewing Company where, after being told by Greenfield and Schlabowske that they’d just ridden all the way from Mississippi River to get a beer, the man behind the bar replied, “Well I’m the brewmaster here and I think you need a double IPA.”

Ludwig Turns 1,000!

Just over three years ago, our beer-drinking lion launched Ludwig Roars, a light-hearted look at the world of beer. This weekend, while he was relaxing at the spa, Maryanne and Paul counted his blog posts, and discovered that this one will be his 1,000th.

This is a milestone that calls for a celebration. And Kyle Maxwell delivers with this video of a man drinking Das Boot, a glass filled with six regular-sized beers, in 15 seconds:

“Black Friday” in Milwaukee

Before heading out of town in his lion limo, Ludwig asked us to post this story on the blog. The dateline is Milwaukee, and it’s about Lakefront Brewery’s way of celebrating the day after Thanksgiving. Starting at 8 am, Lakefront will pour its “Black Friday” ale. It’s an Imperial India-style black ale, which the brewery describes as “a huge, dark ale,” with about 10% ABV and “ample pine and citrus aromas.” The beer release is part of Lakefront Brewery’s second annual “Black Friday” event, which includes 12 hours of continuous brewery tours.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Pubs’ share of Ireland’s beer consumption: 67 percent.
  • Ireland’s annual beer consumption: 4.02 million barrels.
  • Beer’s share of Ireland’s alcohol consumption: 47 percent (wine is second, with 27 percent).
  • Economic impact of the Great American Beer Festival on Denver’s economy: $7 million.
  • GABF revenue from ticket sales: $2 million.
  • Alcoholic content of Armageddon, the world’s strongest beer: 65 percent.
  • Price of a single bottle of Armageddon: $52.
  • Price of a single bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias: $190.
  • Beer tax increase proposed by the French government: 160 percent.
  • Expected increase in the price of a beer after the tax hike: 20 percent.
  • Imports’ share of France’s beer market: 30 percent.
  • Calories in a pint of British session ale: 170.
  • Calories in a pint of orange juice: 256.
  • Homebrew shops in existence in the U.S. in 1929, when Prohibition was in force: 25,000.
  • Estimated U.S. homebrew production in 1929: 22.6 million barrels.
  • The Friday Mash (Acid Test Edition)

    On this day in 1938, the hallucinogenic drug LSD was first synthesized in Europe. It entered popular culture in the 1960s when Timothy Leary promoted its use, and author Tom Wolfe documented the adventures of Ken Kesey and his acid-dropping band of Merry Pranksters.

    Ludwig recommends avoiding this drug and sticking to beer.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Fredericksburg, Texas, where Lee Hereford raised $2 million for his Pedernales Brewing Company by visiting would-be investors’ homes armed with a prospectus and samples of his beer.

    Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. If you haven’t decided how to cook your turkey, homebrew chef Sean Z. Paxton has a recipe for “Tipsy Turkey”. You’ll need a good holiday ale for the beer brine.

    Speaking of Thanksgiving, the beer brewed by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims might have offended craft beer purists because the grain bill included corn. With good reason: local barley crop often failed.

    Canadian beer writer Jordan St. John toured Boston Beer Company’s Jamaica Plain facility, with none other than company founder Jim Koch leading the tour. St. John learned why sour beer and balsamic vinegar are similar.

    About ten years ago, someone decided to dress up the gardens of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium by planting hop bines. Now, dry hops from those bines will be used by Revolution Brewing, a local micro.

    Next year, Anheuser-Busch InBev will roll out Budweiser Black Crown, which it describes as a “golden amber lager.” It will carry a 6% ABV alcoholic punch.

    Finally, Ludwig would like to introduce Wojtek, a brown bear that fought alongside Polish soldiers during World War II. Adopted as a cub by artillerymen serving in Iran, the bear drank two bottles of beer a day.

    Brews and (Oskar) Blues

    If you’re a fan of craft beer, one name you should know is that of Dale Katechis. He’s the Alabama native who brought his mom’s down-home recipes and a love of beer to Colorado, where he opened Oskar Blues Grill & Brew restaurant in 1997.

    Oskar Blues has become famous as the first craft brewery in America to can its beer. A presentation from Cask Brewing Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of canning lines, got Katechis to appreciate the merits of cans; and Ball Corporation helped by agreeing to make a smaller run of cans.

    The decision, which Katcechis originally thought “far-fetched,” paid off. Canned craft beer could go places where bottled craft beer couldn’t: golf courses, backpacking, and even on airplanes. Today, more than 200 small breweries can their beer.

    What’s next for Oskar Blues in cans? The brewery plans to use Ball’s new 19.2-ounce resealable can, a size that’s common in Europe. These so-called “imperial pints” may soon wind up on the shelves of a convenience store near you.

    Joe Queenan Rips Craft Beer. Hilarity Ensues.

    Author Joe Queenan, whose stock in trade is an irreverant sense of humor, stirred up a hornets’ nest by poking fun at craft beer in the Wall Street Journal. Queenan led off by declaring that beer wasn’t viewed as a suitable topic for conversation but was “simply an ingenious device one used to get hammered.” He also sang the praises of his friend Jack Calvey, a feisty World War II veteran: “My friend Jack orders a Bud Light, and then another Bud Light, and then another Bud Light. He won’t even go as far as out on the limb as a Samuel Adams.”

    It didn’t take long for the beer blogosphere to fire back. Bay Area columnist Jay Brooks declared that Queenan’s column “packs in more idiotic commentary per column inch than I’ve seen in a long time.” After noting that Queenan’s hometown of Philadelphia has become a craft beer Mecca–a development Queenan isn’t thrilled about–Brooks goes on to say, “Ignorance is indeed bliss, and by your own admission you must be the most blissful man in America.” Ouch.

    The Doctor is In

    If you’ve ever gone to a festival hosted by the Stone Brewing Company, chances are that the beers you enjoyed were chosen by “Dr.” Bill Sysak, the brewery’s beverage supervisor and “beer ambassador.”

    Sysak is one of the nation’s better-known beer connoisseurs. In his career, he’s enjoyed some 40,000 pints of beer and visited hundreds of breweries (more than 500 in Germany alone). He’s also the owner of an enviable inventory of beers. All of this makes him a perfect choice as the unofficial master of ceremonies at San Diego Beer Week.

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