January 2017

Some Politics With Your Beer?

Portland, Oregon-based Jeff Alworth started his blogging career on a site devoted to ending Republican Party dominance in his state. However, Alworth realized that people needed a respite from the ugly, polarized politics of our time, so he started blogging about beer. As he puts it, “politics divide, beer unites.”

With the election of Donald Trump as president, Alworth fears that political divisions will find their way into beer bars and breweries will feel compelled to take sides. He warns that beer and politics have become entwined in the past. For example, the Sons of Liberty planned the Boston Tea Party in a tavern, and Adolf Hitler led an unsuccessful revolt from a Munich beer hall.

As for present-day America, Alworth writes:

I don’t know where we’re headed. I really don’t want to sacrifice the world of beer and the physical spaces of pubs as refuges of camaraderie and community. But we have entered a moment when it seems like everything has political valence. It is certainly conceivable that we’ll have to take sides as beery folk. I’d love this to be my last post on politics on this site for the next four years—and still hope it will be. We’ll see.

The Friday Mash (Georgia Bulldogs Edition)

On this day in 1785, the University of Georgia opened its doors. UGA is the first state-chartered university in the United States, and is the birthplace of the American system of public higher education.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Massachusetts, where the state’s top liquor regulator is “ready to put everything on the table” in an effort to modernize the liquor code. That includes lifting Draconian limits on the number of licenses a community can issue.

Craft beer—sort of—is on the shelves at Wal-Mart. Its brand name is Trouble, it’s apparently contract-brewed by Genesee Brewing, and it got panned by a panel of Washington Post staffers.

Jake Tuck of Eater magazine explains “beer poptimism”: a growing appreciation of beers that are “unassailably popular, widely accessible, and highly quaffable”. Yes, that means macro brews.

In Bishkek, the capital of Krygystan, two women have opened a craft brewery called Save the Ales. Much of the beer sold in that country consists of bland imports and watery local products.

A startup called Colorado Craft Distributors aims to serve “small but special” breweries looking to get their beer into liquor stores, bars, and restaurants along the state’s Front Range.

Brooklyn Brewery has made a beer using Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, the lager yeast isolated in 1883 by Emil Christian Hansen, a researcher at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen.

Finally, actor Matt Damon, the co-founder of Water.org, has joined forces with the brewer of Stella Artois beer to bring clean water to people in developing countries. Every pint of Stella sold in Britain guarantees someone a month’s supply of water.

Behold! The Periodic Table of Beer

Bryan Vu, who handles community outreach at Sunglass Warehouse, sent us an interactive Periodic Table of Beer. With a little help, Vu scientifically mapped out the table using the most recent gold medal winners from the World Beer Cup, in which brewers compete in 96 style categories.

The categories are divided among Hybrids in orange, Ales in green, and Lagers in blue. The different shades of each box represents the regional style varieties within each category. If you click on any of the boxes for a more in-depth look at the specific style, you’ll find the winning beer’s name, the brewery responsible for it, its location, and how much alcohol it contains. Vu has also created a downloadable poster to help your understanding of these award-winning beers.

Are Growlers Obsolete?

Writing in Draft magazine, Zach Fowle told his readers that he was throwing out his considerable collection of growlers. The reason? They’re a terrible way to serve beer, and breweries are wising up to this.

Many breweries have invested heavily in their packaging lines. The technology keeps oxygen levels low and keeps beer product as fresh as possible for as long as possible. Growlers, on the other hand, are what Fowle calls “a glorified pint glass”; the process of filling it introduces oxygen, which over time makes the beer’s quality deteoriate. Growlers are also a pain for breweries, whose employees spend inordinate amounts of time cleaning and filling growlers. Breweries also get unfair online criticism from customers who inflicted bad beer on themselves by bringing in dirty growlers.

The growler’s replacement might be the Crowler. The Crowler machine is a modified soup canner that dispenses beer into 32-ounce cans. The technology was pioneered by Oskar Blues Brewery, which has sold nearly 1,000 of the devices. The Kroger Company is test-marketing Crowlers at one of its locations in Memphis.

The Friday Mash (Inauguration Day Edition)

Eighty years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, beginning his second term as president. Roosevelt was first the president to be inaugurated on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. Previously, presidents were sworn in on March 4.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where scientists have found that brewers “tamed” beer yeasts by reusing them until they adapted to the brewery environment. In fact, brewery yeasts couldn’t survive if reintroduced into the wild.

At age 87, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke drank a beer while watching the Aussie cricket team take on Pakistan. In college, Hawke set a world record by drinking a yard of ale—that’s three pints—in 11 seconds.

John Laffler, the co-founder of Off Color Brewing, has a confession to make. He’s a fan of Miller High Life, which he describes as light, crisp, technically perfect, and very consistent.

Singer Ed Sheeran dropped 50 pounds in 12 months after giving up beer. Beer is back in Sheeran’s diet, but perhaps he’s switched to these low-calorie offerings.

This year’s 10th annual Philadelphia Beer Week will be part of a year-round celebration called “Philly Loves Beer”. Organizers hope the new format gives local breweries greater exposure and draws more visitors.

Refocusing on daytime business, Starbucks has dropped evening beer and wine sales. However, alcohol may eventually return to the chain’s high-end “Roastery” locations.

Finally, bad craft beer is becoming more common. Reasons include lax brewing standards, under-trained brewers, and intense competition that tempts breweries to bring faulty beer to market rather than dump it.

Beer Comes up on Jeopardy!

On Tuesday’s Jeopardy! game, one of the categories was “Scrambled Kegs”. Players had to figure out five anagrammed beer brands:

  • Not just for the stoutest: INN GUESS
  • Perfect for award season: PROBABLE BIB NUTS
  • Out with the old: CLEAN STEW
  • Tonight is kind of special: NEW LABOUR
  • Enjoyed by a “range” of people: AREA INVADERS
  • Pabst’s Unusual Business Model

    Pabst Brewing Company has 2 percent of the American beer market, which puts it in a class with Boston Beer Company and D.G. Yuengling & Son. But under Eugene Kashper, Pabst’s busimess model is much different than that of Boston Beer and Yuengling.

    Jason Notte of Forbes magazine, who recently interviewed Kashper, writes that Pabst’s CEO is “also digging into corners of the beer industry where the competition hadn’t tread and using its strengths in marketing, production and scale to take on the big brewers on a much smaller budget”.

    Kashper told Notte that his portfolio was “kind of in a sweet spot between big beer and craft” because his legacy brands not only have a following, but also own a library of recipes for craft-like beers that he can sell for less than the going price of craft. Kashper’s success stories include Stroh’s Bohemian, Old Style Oktoberfest, and Rainier Mountain Ale, all of which have strong regional ties.

    In addition, Pabst has entered into partnerships with craft and import brewers to enable it to penetrate those segments of the market. Those partnerships emphasize the strength of Pabst’s distribution and grassroots marketing, which Kashper hopes will give it a fighting chance against brewing giants Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

    The Friday Mash (National Geographic Edition)

    On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society was formed. The Society’s logo, a bright yellow box, appears on National Geographic magazine, which is published in 40 languages around the world.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Pennsylvania, where the beer police caught up with Travis John Miller, who was selling the contents of his beer cellar on Craigslist. Miller faces a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.

    Swedish brewer Fredrik Tunedal, who often came home from work covered in malt dust, has released a Shower Beer. Its flavor profile includes a soapy taste, which Tunedal calls “on-point” for his product.

    Keurig Green Mountain has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev to develop a line of instant beers—and other instant adult beverages—that Keurig owners can make at home.

    The CEO of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and Modelo beer, said that he doesn’t expect President-elect Donald Trump’s trade policy to raise the price of Mexican brands.

    Despite a dismal 5-7 record, the University of Texas finished #1 in the country—in beer sales, that is. By season’s end, Longhorns fans spent $5.26 on alcohol for every fan in attendance.

    Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, disputes studies showing that beer sales have fallen in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Watson argues that pot is just one of many variables affecting sales.

    Finally, in Adelaide, Australia, the woman-owned Sparkke Change Beverage Company is putting feminist messages on cans of its beer. It’s an effort to start conversations in the country’s male-dominated beer culture.

    Beer Tailored to Your DNA

    If you have an extra $30,000 lying around, the Meantime Brewery in London will custom-brew a batch of beer that literally matches your DNA. Interested? The first step (assuing you’ve got the money), is to provide a saliva sample to be analyzed by the company 23andMe. The analysis focuses in particular on the gene TAS2R38, which contains oral taste receptors.

    The next step is an appointment with Meantime’s brewmaster Ciaran Giblin, who will work with you to perfect the beer. An awful lot of beer—some 2,000 pints worth. Optional add-ons (you’ve got plenty of money, right?) include ad agency time to design your packaging, kegs to send to your local pub, and pint glasses molded to your hand.

    Forbes magazine correspondent Leslie Wu, who wrote the article about the brewery’s “Meantime Bespoke” beer, has misgivings about it. She wonders who, even in a highly-competitive craft beer market, would pay that much money for beer. And she warns that personalized beer can lead to a “beer dystopia” where people are unwilling to try anything new.

    The Friday Mash (Epiphany Edition)

    Today, Christians celebrate The Feast of the Epiphany. In Louisiana, this means Carnival season is underway. The local tradition is to bake King Cakes; and the person who finds the doll in his or her slice must bake the next cake.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in France, where the Benedictine monks at the 1,367-year-old Abbey of Saint-Wandrille are back in the business of brewing. They’re the country’s only producers of truly monastic beer.

    In an interview with Paste magazine, 21st Amendment Brewery’s Nico Freccia talked about the fine art of naming beers, and how the brewery’s odd names has become mainstream.

    When Tim Kliegl turned 65, he celebrated in unusual fashion—namely, by running a mile, and trying a new beer, every day for an entire year. And he’s got the notes to prove it.

    Staffers at Amazon.com’s Christmas party in Dublin were treated to a special beer from local micro Metalman Brewing. Grainne Walsh, Metalman’s founder, once worked as an engineer at Amazon.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended lowering the DUI threshold to .05 percent, and a Utah lawmaker wants his state to be first. The current threshold in all states is .08.

    Rick Astley, whose song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was part of a popular Internet prank, plans to “roll” out a beer. The lager, which will be brewed by Mikkeller, has yet to be named.

    Finally, the The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company will celebrate its 150th anniversary by joining forces with the famous Hofbräu München. The amber-colored, Marzen-style will be introduced in April.

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