February 2016

The Friday Mash (United Artists Edition)

On this day in 1919, five individuals formed United Artists. They included four Hollywood notables—Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith—along with attorney/statesman William Gibbs McAdoo, who later represented California in the U.S. Senate.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of St. Benedict. The town’s ancient monastery is selling its beer to American consumer, who can also download the monks’ Gregorian chants to accompany the beer.

Attendees at this year’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival, held at Ommegang Brewing, will be able to immerse themselves in Bill Murray’s best-known movies and characters.

The historic Grain Belt Beer sign in Minneapolis is getting a new lease on life. August Schell Brewing Company, which owns the Grain Belt brand, has bought the sign and hopes to re-light it next year.

Meet the “Nitrogenator”. It’s the carbon dioxide-dispensing “widget” that Boston Beer Company uses for its new nitro-conditioned beer series. The Nitrogenator is manufactured by Ball Corporation.

One of Budweiser’s ads for Super Bowl 50 features Dame Helen Mirren who, before eating a hamburger and fries washed down by a Bud, gives would-be drunk drivers a proper British scolding.

The wave of craft brewery takeovers has prompted a movement to scrap the phrase “craft beer” and use a new term, “indie beer”, to describe small breweries that are truly independent.

Finally, Thrillist’s Ezra Johnson-Greenough shows how to spot a fake “beer bar”. Warning signs include serving all imports in small glasses, carrying an all-nanobrewery selection, and serving all wheat beers with a slice of lemon.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Vietnam’s beer production in 2015: 2.89 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2014: 4.7 percent.
  • Amount of beer exported by Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar in 2015: 765,000 barrels.
  • Increase over 2014 exports: 10.5 percent.
  • Countries to which Budweiser Budvar is exported: 73.
  • British pub count in 1982: 67,800.
  • British pub count in 2015: fewer than 54,000.
  • Alaska’s brewery count: 26, with 5 in planning.
  • Brewery openings in Alaska in 2015: 5.
  • Average price of a pint of bitter in Great Britain: £3.10 ($4.40 U.S., for a 20-ounce pint).
  • Average price of a pint of lager in Great Britain: £3.26 ($4.63 U.S.).
  • States where homebrewing is illegal: 0 (Alabama and Mississippi were the last two to legalize, in 2013).
  • States where breweries can’t sell pints on premises: 2 (Georgia and Mississippi).
  • Value of legal marijuana sold in the U.S. in 2015: $3.5 billion.
  • Value of beer sold in the U.S. in 2015: $101 billion.
  • Iowa’s First Craft Brewery

    It’s caucus day in Iowa, a perfect time to pass along a story from beer historian Tom Acitelli. It’s about Millstream Brewing Company, located in Iowa’s Amana Colonies.

    Millstream was founded in 1985 by Carroll Zuber, who wanted to replicate the beers he’d enjoyed in Germany, and James and Dennis Roeming, who owned a restaurant in Amana. At the time, craft beer was a novelty in the nation’s midsection and a new brewery’s prospects in that region were dicey. Case in point: the Dubuque Star Brewery, which Joseph Pickett, Sr., bought in the 1970s. He upgraded Star’s equipment and released innovative beers—including one made with Iowa corn—but couldn’t survive industry consolidation.

    But Pickett’s influence lived in through Millstream. He helped design both the brewery and its beers. Millstream took a big risk, specializing in lagers; Schild Brau (“Schild” is German for shield, an amber lager), remains the flagship of the brewery’s 15-beer lineup.

    Millstream changed ownership in 2000, a year during which craft brewing endured a shakeout. The current owners—spouses Tom and Teresa Albert and Chris Priebe, a former Dubuque Star brewer and Millstream’s brewmaster—recently celebrated 30 years in business, and invited the former owners to join in the celebration.

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