December 2016

The Friday Mash (Hat Trick Edition)

One hundred and twenty years ago today, Ernie McLea of the Montreal Victorias scored the first hat trick in Stanley Cup play. His third goal, which clinched the Cup, led Montreal to a 6-5 win over the Winnipeg Victorias.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Oregon, where beer writer Brian Yaeger has come to the defense of McMenamins brewpub chain. Its 17 establishments have gotten nasty reviews from some customers.

Spain’s recent boom in craft beer has been good news to the town of Villanueva del Carrizo, which grows 99 percent of the country’s homegrown hops.

A new device being pilot-tested in Britain allows pub customers to avoid lining up for beer. A credit card, a debit card, or Apple Pay will get it to auto-dispense a pint.

In California, the proliferation of businesses selling alcohol—supermarkets, bookstores, and even nail salons—has public health advocates concerned about the potential for abuse.

Bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to health problems, has been banned from sippy-cups and baby bottles. But it’s still used in beer cans because the government thinks it won’t harm adults

In 2012, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom ended a 41-year-long ban on alcohol. Last week, the park expanded beer and wine sales to four more of its sit-down restaurants.

Finally, Montreal-based Kris Mychasiw might be the world’s smartest sports agent. He’s turned beer-milers Lewis Kent and Corey Bellemore pro, even though the sport doesn’t yet have a governing body.

Raise a Glass to Santa Claus

The legend of the man we call Santa Claus stems from Nicholas of Myra, a bishop of a small town in Greece during the 4th century. Nicholas was known for protecting children and, at least once, saving them from human traffickers.

Nicholas became St. Nicholas and, eventually, Santa Claus. In addition to becoming the patron saint of children, he became the patron of brewers. Santa Claus fell out of favor during the Protestant Reformation in favor of darker figures such as Krampus. But during the 19th century, Christmas regained its jolliness and Santa was on his way to becoming the jolly, pipe-smoking man in the red suit.

Advertisers have used Santa Claus to hawk a variety of products—including beer. The latter didn’t sit well with neo-prohibitionists, who persuaded policy makers to declare Santa off-limits to beer ads. The brewing industry fought back, and successfully argued that the bans violated the First Amendment. Ironically, many of the same states that banned products like Bad Elf India Pale Ale allowed a strong German lager named Samichlaus—can you guess what that means in English?—to be sold.

Maryanne, Paul, and Ludwig wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Beer Traveling Back to the 1850s

Carillon Historical Park, in Dayton, Ohio, provides an opportunity to taste beers from the 1850s. One of the park’s 30 buildings houses the Carillon Brewing Company, which uses historically accurate, mid-19th-century techniques. Visitors can enjoy traditional German food and other offerings at the brewery’s restaurant; while eating, they can watch employees and volunteers feed the fires, ladle the beer, and fill the barrels.

Carillon’s ales, made using techniques that predate refrigeration and mechanization, have a traditional sourness that some will consider an “acquired taste.” (Those who like the beer can buy growlers to take home.) The brewery’s flagship product is a coriander ale made from an 1830s recipe. Another Carillon beer, a porter, is made with malt hand-roasted over the fireplace coals; and because yeast strains vary seasonally, it will taste different throughout the year.

The Friday Mash (Hail Fredonia Edition)

One hundred and ninety years ago today, Benjamin W. Edwards rode into Mexican-controlled Texas and declared himself ruler of the Republic of Fredonia. Edwards is not to be confused with Rufus T. Firefly.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Bayern Munich football team treated Ingolstat’s players to sausages and beer. Ingolstat upset Leipzig, enabling Bayern to move into first place in the Bundesliga.

A former NASA biologist has developed a genetically engineered strain of yeast that makes beer glow under a black light. His “fluorescent yeast kit” contains genes from a jellyfish.

MobCraft Beer, a Milwaukee brewery that lets the public vote on new products, was was heavily criticized after “Date Grape” was one of the finalists. The brewery has apologized for the sexual assault reference.

Writer Jay Brooks tells the fascinating story of the Americas’ first Western-style brewery. It opened near Mexico City in 1544, with a team of brewers imported from Flanders.

Country music artist Sunny Sweeney’s song “One More Christmas Beer” celebrates family dysfunction. Sweeney says that the lyrics are inspired by actual events.

Next month, Chicago’s Field Museum will start serving PseudoSue, a pale ale brewed by the Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. The ale celebrates “Sue”, the museum’s beloved T-Rex skeleton.

Finally, Colorado’s craft brewers are engaged in soul-searching. This year, they’ve had to contend with Anheuser-Busch’s takeover of Breckenridge Brewing Company and a legislative battle over selling full-strength beer in grocery stores.

A Woman on a Quest

Emily Bennett, the “Mitten Beer Girl”, has made one hell of a New Year’s resolution: “In the year 2017, I’m going to visit every place in the state of Michigan which is a) utilizing a license to brew beer and is b) open to the public.”

She’s got her work cut out for her. According to our latest count, there are 266 breweries in operation in the state, with another 58 in the planning stages. Those numbers are conservative because some brewery openings aren’t picked up by the local news media.

You can follow Emily’s beer pilgrimage through her website, Mitten Beer Quest 2017; on Facebook; on Twitter (hashtags #MBQ2017 and #MittenBeerGirl); and on Instagram.

All of us at Ludwig Roars wish her good luck, and safe travels.

The Friday Mash (Heisman Trophy Edition)

On this day in 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, later renamed the Heisman Trophy, was awarded for the first time. The winner was halfback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago who, despite being a number-one draft pick, never played pro football.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Wisconsin, where you’ll get a beer chaser with your Bloody Mary. The state’s taverns have a long-standing tradition of serving chasers with cocktails.

The Jewish Museum of Montreal has joined forces with a nearby craft brewery to re-create a beer brewed by brothers Ezekiel, Moses, and Benjamin Hart in 1796.

Is there a beer aficionado on your Christmas list? Forbes magazine writer Tara Nurin can help you. She’s written mini-reviews of 18 worthy beer books.

The latest gizmo for beer snobs is That Ultrabeer Thing, a vibrator that emits ultrasonic waves that break up carbon dioxide bubbles, creating a creamy foamy head.

San Francisco’s ReGrained is collecting spent grain from three local breweries and turning them into susatinable granola bars. The company’s slogan is “Eat Beer”.

A market analysis firm has found that beer sales are “underperforming” in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Recreational marijuana is legal in all of those states.

Finally, the stereotypical craft beer drinker is a bearded white male. However, craft customers are becoming more diverse, and the industry is making efforts to get customers of color to drink their product.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Great Britain’s brewery count: 1,424 (up from 745 in 2009).
  • France’s brewery count: 663 (up from 332 in 2009).
  • The Netherlands’ brewery count: 401 (up from 117 in 2009).
  • Breweries participating in this year’s Grand Rapids “Beer Passport”: 32.
  • Passport holders who earned “Brewsader” status by visiting eight breweries: 4,200.
  • Percent of craft brewery CEOs who are female: 17.
  • Percent of craft brewery executives who are female: 21.
  • Change in Craft Brew Alliance’s share price since January 1: Up 86 percent.
  • Change in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share price since January 1: Down 15 percent.
  • Height of the Genesee Beer Keg Tree: 26 feet.
  • Number of kegs on the Genesee Beer Keg Christmas Tree: 430.
  • Number of beers sold at Ohio State home football games this season: 122,000 (about 17,000 per game).
  • Ohio State’s revenue from this season’s beer sales: $1.1 million.
  • Attendees at this year’s Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, Oregon: 14,000.
  • Number of ales and ciders served at this year’s Holiday Ale Festival: 53.
  • Politics and Beer in Venezuela

    Venezuela is a deeply-divided country, and the division extends to that country’s beer industry. Last year, the two biggest brewers, Polar and Regional, were running short of raw materials. Both appealed to the administration of Nicolas Maduro to release foreign currency that would allow them to import hops, barley, and tin.

    Regional’s request was granted, Polar’s was denied. Maduro, a socialist, has publicly castigated Polar’s owner as a prime example of the evils of capitalism. The family that owns Regional is extremely rich as well, but it has cooperated with Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

    Polar has publicly accused the government of discriminating against it. Many other businesses, local and foreign, make the same accusations in private: “play ball with the government and all will be well, speak out and harassment may follow.”

    High oil prices—Venezuela is a member of OPEC—provided Chavez with plenty of access to foreign currency, but the recent collapse in crude prices has caused the supply to dry up under Maduro. Polar officials fear that the Maduro is trying to strangle the corporation by cutting off its access to dollars.

    The Friday Mash (“John Brown’s Body” Edition)

    On this day in 1859, militant abolitionist leader John Brown, who had led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, was hanged in Charles Town. Brown is the only person in American history who was executed for committing treason against a state.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Riverside, California, where a liquor store owner set fire to a competitor’s store because the competitor was costing him business by selling cheaper beer. He faces arson and conspiracy charges.

    A Wendy’s restaurant in Houston is offering beer-infused hamburgers. The burger alone costs $5.29; a combo with fries and a drink is available for $7.19.

    Belgium is asking the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s to recognize its brewing and beer drinking culture as an “intangible heritage” deserving of official recognition.

    Anheuser-Busch has randomly seeded 37,000 golden cans of Bud Light in multi-can packs. People who find the cans will be be entered in a drawing, with the top prize being Super Bowl tickets for life.

    Thrillist.com is out with its list of the most iconic beers brewed in every state. According to the authors, the list includes both old standbys and “instant classics”.

    Buffalo entrepreneur Ken Szal has run a successful pedal pub business. Once the Coast Guard signs off, he’ll offer pedal pontoon boot tours as well.

    Finally, major brewers are reacting to tighter regulations and health consciousness by stepping up production of alcohol-free beer. They’re also working on improving the taste of those beers.

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