December 2012

The Friday Mash (Winter’s Tale Edition)

Winter is here! The southern solstice occurred at 11:12 am Greenwich Mean Time. Both ancient and modern cultures have marked the first day of winter, and the lengthening days that follow it, with rituals and celebrations–and the liberal consumption of beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Nashville, where country singer Thomas Rhett has stirred up a hornets’ nest with his new single, “Beer With Jesus.” It stands at number 21 on the country charts.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint against Earls Restaurants, which serve Albino Rhino beer. Earls says the name is derived from an animal, not people suffering from albinism.

Why did St. Sixtus monastery allow Westvleteren 12 to be sold in the United States? The monastery needed a new roof, and the monks knew American beer geeks would pay big bucks for their ale.

One of the beer world’s trends of 2012 is nanobreweries. These pint-sized breweries (pun intended) require less than $100,000 to start, and their product serves as “a liquid business card.”

From the Odd Couple Department: in La Crosse, Wisconsin, City Brewery is turning biogas into electric power, then sending some of it to Gundersen Lutheran Health System, which is aiming to achieve energy independence.

Ever have problems transporting multiple growlers? Now there’s a solution: Growler on Board, which not only holds three growlers, but also keeps them from bumping into one another.

Finally, the Brewers Association’s definition of “craft brewery” didn’t sit well with the August Schell Brewing Company. The 152-year-old brewery blasted the BA for excluding it because its grain bill includes a small amount of corn.

This just in: Ludwig wants you to know that he’s going on vacation for the Christmas holidays. The lion limo will arrive Sunday, and he doesn’t expect to get back until after New Year’s. In the meantime, keep quaffing those holiday ales.

Who You Gonna Call? Trustbusters!

Should the government intervene in America’s brewing industry? The U.S. Justice Department has reportedly been investigating the dominance of the nation’s beer market by two multi-national companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

Earlier this month, the Washington, D.C.-based New America Foundation hosted a panel discussion on the nation’s brewing industry. One area of concern was that A-B InBev and MillerCoors are exerting pressure on distributors not to handle rival brands. Other worrisome practices include the multi-nationals’ acquisition of small breweries and their release of independent-sounding labels such as Blue Moon and Shock Top.

The End of the World As We Know It

For months, we’ve been warned that the Mayan Apocalypse will happen this Friday. Even though experts have dismissed these warnings, they do provide breweries with a handy excuse to roll out one-off, end-of-the-world beers.

Some breweries, including the Newport Storm Brewery and the Great Basin Brewing Company, are out with beers containing ingredients that the Mayas might have used when brewing their own beer. They join Dogfish Head Craft Brewery which, in 2008, brought out a prehistoric chocolate beer called Theobroma. It’s released only once a year.

Another beer that might pair well with an end-of-the-world party is Fin du Monde by Unibroue. One of our local beer bars, Ashley’s, has acquired a hard-to-find keg for Friday’s finale.

It’s National Growler Day

Two years ago, Jonathan Surratt used his Twitter and Facebook accounts to encourage people to buy growlers of locally-made, fresh beer on December 17. Surratt needed to buy a few growlers for a holiday trip, where he planned to trade his beer with locals. He also decided to encourage his friends to stock up on fresh-brewed beer–and voila!–National Growler Day was born.

This year, there appears to be no specific organization behind the occasion, so Eat Drink Explore Media decided to promote it. Ludwig Roars is happy to join in. In fact, Maryanne and Paul plan to pick up a growler of IPA on their way home from work.

The Friday Mash (Toledo Strip Edition)

On this day in 1836, delegates from Michigan Territory ceded the Toledo Strip to Ohio, meeting a condition laid down by Congress for becoming a state. Michigan’s consolation prize was the Upper Peninsula, which turned out to contain billions of dollars worth of iron and copper.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Deerfield Beach, Florida, where the city fathers have given Chaz Stevens the go-ahead to put up a Festivus pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.

Next year, Deschutes Brewery will celebrate 25 years in business with a series of collaborative anniversary beers. The collaborators are breweries that, like Deschutes, opened in 1988.

Hurricane Sandy delayed it, but Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s expansion should be complete by the end of next summer. The expansion will increase capacity to 600,000 barrels per year.

A Colorado lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would let grocery and convenience stores sell craft beer. Currently, these stores are limited to selling 3.2 beer.

Bloomington’s Upland Brewing Company plans to revive Indiana’s all-time most beloved beer, Champagne Velvet, which was brewed in Terre Haute during the first half of the 20th century.

There’s a new board game called Beer and Vikings. To win, a character must drink the most beer from the communal barrel. In case of a tie, whoever killed the most opponents wins.

Finally, it’s that time of the year again. Wynkoop Brewing Company has put out a call for entries for its 17th annual Beerdrinker of the Year Competition. The winner will get free Wynkoop beer for life.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • High bid for two bottles of Hair of the Dog’s “Dave” at a recent auction: $4,526.
  • Cost per ounce for the high bidder: $187.
  • Ontario craft beer sales this past year: $22 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 45 percent.
  • Increase over 2004: 1,000 percent.
  • Beer Stores operated by the province of Ontario: 440.
  • Years since Pabst Blue Ribbon beer debuted: 168.
  • Years since PBR won the blue ribbon at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago: 119.
  • PBR’s average rating on 1.79 (out of 5).
  • Westvleteren 12’s average rating on 4.64.
  • Cost of a Westvleteren 12 gift set (six bottles, two glasses): at least $50.
  • Westvleteren 12’s alcohol by volume: 10.2 percent.
  • Days until the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival: 72 (tickets sold out in 13 hours).
  • Breweries represented at last year’s festival: 61.
  • Beers poured at last year’s festival: 452.
  • Brewing’s Endangered Species List

    Based on data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, the staff of 24/7 Wall St. identified the nine large beer brands whose sales have dropped by 30 percent or more between 2006 and 2011. Heading the list is Michelob, with an astounding 72-percent decline.

    Michelob sales in 2011 totaled 140,000 barrels, scarcely more than such craft breweries as Kona, Dogfish Head, and Stone. And breweries like those are part of the reason for Michelob’s downfall. According to Insights’ Eric Shepard, “the superpremium category–basically between Budweiser and the imports–Michelob pretty much had that to itself for many years.” Not any more.

    Bond. James Bond.

    In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the Heineken commercial starring Daniel Craig, who plays 007 in Skyfall:

    The Friday Mash (Man on the Moon Edition)

    Forty years ago today, Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon, blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The crew members for that flight were Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, who would later be elected to the U.S. Senate from New Mexico.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Duluth, Minnesota, where the owners of Fitger’s Brewhouse found a good use for their spent grain. They feed it to a herd of cattle, which will eventually provide steaks for their new brewery-restaurant.

    Balance was the watchword at Wine Enthusiast magazine, whose staff selected the top 25 beers of the year. A variety of styles and places of origin are represented on the list.

    Last month, two states–Colorado and Washington–voted to legalize marijuana. Which means it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to brew beer containing cannabis.

    It’s time to make those Christmas lists, and Billy Broas helps you shop for beer lovers with his top five beer books of 2012.

    Jim Galligan, the Today show’s beverage correspondent, wasn’t impressed by Budweiser’s “12 Series” beers. He described A-B’s foray into craft brewing as “as forced, stilted and more than a little bit cringe-inducing.”

    If you want to sell your beer at the local ballpark, it’s no longer as simple as striking a deal with the concessionaire. In many parks, you have to become a sponsor, which isn’t just costly but might be non-exclusive as well.

    Finally, since Ludwig says it’s now okay to start drinking Christmas ale, John Foyston of the Oregonian recommends some of his favorites, and offers advice about serving them.

    Repeal of Prohibition: Are We There Yet?

    Seventy-nine years ago today the 21st Amendment became part of the Constitution. But did it really undo the damage wrought by Prohibition, and the forces that made the “Great Experiment” possible?

    In 2008, historian Maureen Ogle wrote an op-ed in USA Today in which she contended that Americans never stopped demonizing alcohol. Here’s her take on what happened after 1933:

    States, counties, and municipalities burdened manufacturers and retailers with complicated licensing requirements. Lawmakers separated manufacturers from the public by inserting distributors between the two. A welter of laws restricted the hours and days that people could buy drink. New state-owned liquor stores oozed the “alcohol is evil” message….Children who accompanied their parents on those trips got the intended message: This stuff is bad!

    She concludes, “Put another way, repeal institutionalized the demonization of alcohol.”

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