March 2017

The Friday Mash (No-Smoking Edition)

Forty-seven years ago today, President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Smoking Act. It required the placement of Surgeon General’s warnings on tobacco products, and banned cigarette advertising on television and radio. Those of a certain age still remember the jingles, however.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where the newly-opened Moby Dick Brewing Company pays homage to the city’s whaling industry and especially, the Herman Melville classic.

In Indianapolis, a beer bar called Kingmakers offers a selection of 500 board games to play with friends. Kingmakers’ “board game sommeliers” double as servers and game instructors.

Michigan’s brewery count is approaching 300–which is a lot of competition for shelf space. Representatives of two of the state’s grocery chains explain how they decide what to carry.

Your next layover could be an opportunity to introduce yourself to some new beer. CraftBeer.com has compiled a list of nine American airports that pour beer from local craft breweries.

Growler USA is coming to your home state. The Denver-based beer bar chain has 40 franchised locations under development, and expects to sell another 200 franchises nationwide in 2018.

Can you name the ten oldest beers in America? All ten date back to the 19th century—1829 in the case of Yuengling Lager, the country’s oldest—and managed to survive Prohibition.

Finally, Stone Brewing Company earned rave reviews for its Full Circle Pale Ale. What makes this beer unusual is that it was made with recycled and purified wastewater that had previously been used in taps, toilets and showers.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Federal excise tax on a gallon of beer: 57 cents, or about 5 cents per 12-ounce bottle.
  • Wisconsin excise tax on a gallon of beer: 2 cents (lowest in the nation).
  • Tennessee excise tax on a gallon of beer: $1.29 (highest in the nation).
  • Value of UK beer exports in 2016: $712 million.
  • Increase over 2015: $102 million.
  • Natural Light’s average rating on BeerAdvocate.com (1-to-5 scale): 1.86 (worst of all beers).
  • Budweiser Select 55’s average rating on BeerAdvocate.com: 1.87 (second-worst).
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s per-share earnings in fiscal 2016: 72 cents.
  • Decline from fiscal 2015: 86 percent.
  • Canned beer’s share of the market in 2016: 56.2 percent.
  • Its market share in 2008: 50.3 percent.
  • Number of breweries taking part in this year’s edition of SAVOR in Washington, D.C.: 86.
  • States represented by breweries taking part in SAVOR: 31, plus the District of Columbia.
  • Increase in pilsner sales at supermarkets and convenience stores from 2015 to 2016: 56 percent.
  • Increase in craft pilsner sales at supermarkets and convenience stores from 2015 to 2016: 123 percent.
  • Happy Oberon Day, Michiganders

    Ludwig, Maryanne, and Paul live in Michigan, where two spring traditions reign supreme: Tigers Opening Day and Oberon Day.

    Today, Michiganders flocked to their favorite establishments to enjoy a pint or two of this year’s release of Bell’s Oberon. This American wheat ale was originally called Solsun, but the owners of Mexico’s Sol beer slapped Bell’s with a cease-and-desist order. Larry Bell, who had been in drama club in high school, renamed the beer Oberon, after the king of the fairies in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Solsun/Oberon has been part of Michigan’s craft beer scene for 25 years, and many of its fans have posted memories of the beer on social media. Amy Sherman of MLive.com has compiled the best walks down Memory Lane.

    As for the Tigers, their home opener is Friday, April 7.

    The Friday Mash (“Long Live the King” Edition)

    On this day in 1603, James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England and Ireland upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The kingdoms of Scotland and England remained sovereign states, with their own parliaments, but both were ruled by James in personal union.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Vancouver where last week, the Railtown Pub advertised its St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a Guinness glass filled to the brim and literally losing its head. That caught the attention of the Irish Independent newspaper, which called the pour “sacrilegious”.

    Now that the Chicago White Sox’s partnership with MillerCoors has expired, the ballclub has formed a new partnership with Constellation Brands, which will open “Casa Modelo” at the ballpark.

    While on spring break in The Bahamas, a frat boy used the teeth of a beached shark to puncture a beer can so he could “shotgun” it. His video of the stunt prompted a swift—and angry—backlash on social media.

    Portland, Oregon, is about to get a beer bar devoted to session beers. Its name, naturally enough, is Sessionable. The bar will pour 30 beers, all with ABVs ranging from 2.5 to 5 percent.

    Neil Patrick Harris, who the spokesperson for Heineken beer, says that he has a Heineken Light tap in his bar at home. He adds that unlimited beer at home “is as awesome as it sounds”.

    According to a recent survey, one out of four beer drinkers said they would switch to marijuana if it became legal in their state. If they do switch, brewers will suffer $2 billion per year in lost sales.

    Finally, MLive.com asked eight brewery owners in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area whether the craft beer industry is in a bubble. They don’t think so, but some admit that the market is getting tougher for new entries.

    Iconic Chicago Beer Bars Turn 25

    Hopleaf and The Map Room, two of Chicago’s most beloved beer bars, celebrate their 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Chicago Tribune beer writer Josh Noel sat down with Hopleaf’s owner, Michael Roper, and The Map Room’s owner, Laura Blasingame.

    The establishments that Roper and Blasingame acquired to turn into “good beer” bars were Chicago taverns’ equivalent to Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue.

    Blasingame describes she started out with:

    When my husband, Mark, walked me up here to show me the building, there was this little window on a door facing Armitage, and I saw somebody’s bloody hand going down it. Literally. There was a fight going on in the back over the pool table. I was appalled. Fighting, smoky, a drop ceiling—just disgusting. All men. No women.

    And there were problems outside the bar, too:

    We had a part-time gang in the neighborhood, which apparently had one gun among them. They insisted that we “pay rent”—they wanted a case of Miller High Life or something every time they came in. We didn’t want them to feel like they had a piece of the place and intimidating people. So we said, “No, we’re not paying rent.” One day these guys pulled up in a car and got out with baseball bats and banged out all our windows. We got our punishment, but then it was over.

    Yikes. But Roper topped Blasingame with these stories:

    We bought the place stocked with all the stuff we would never want to sell. There were cases of Boone’s Farm, Ripple and Everclear. One of their most popular things was Everclear in plastic half pints. We ran it like that for a while, opening at 7 in the morning. I didn’t even tell my friends we bought the place because I didn’t want anyone to see it. It was so horrible….

    There was a line every morning. It wasn’t people that wanted to drink. It was people that needed to drink. There were a lot of panhandlers in the neighborhood, and the bar sold those little airplane minis for a buck. So anyone who could come up with a buck on the street would come in, down one and go back out.

    The kind of people that came in were fairly nasty. Every day at noon—they had a TV and VCR built into the wall—a guy from a video store dropped off a porno movie and picked up yesterday’s. So the old guys would sit there and watch a porno. There were several traditions that ended when I took over. I took the poker machines out—the main revenue source of the place. Some lowlifes came in to sell stuff they’d stolen—like steaks from Jewel.

    Slowly but surely, Blasingame and Roper upgraded their bars and the beer they poured. Eventually, they became destinations for beer lovers from Chicagoland–and later, from places farther afield.

    “Old school” is the term both owners use to describe their bars: they keep prices reasonable, and attend to details such as keeping beer menus current. They’re single-location establishments in an age where hospitality companies and pub chains are opening beer bars. Now that craft beer has filtered down to bowling alleys and VFW halls, the way to stay ahead of competition is “to be a good bar first and then to have interesting beer.”

    Cheers, Michael and Laura, and best wishes for another 25!

    Top of the Morning!

    It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and we’re sure you’re marking the occasion with a pint of cheer. If you haven’t decided where to celebrate, Mental Floss magazine is here to help. They’ve listed the best Irish bar in each state.

    Public service announcement: Friends don’t let friends drink green beer.

    The Friday Mash (End of Apartheid Edition)

    Twenty-five years ago today, South Africans voted overwhelmingly to end the practice of racial segregation called apartheid. The vote followed President F.W. de Klerk’s lifting of the ban on opposition parties and his release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years’ imprisonment.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin near Dublin, where, if you have $29.5 million, you can be the new owner of the Guinness Beer Castle. The castle, aka Luggala, has 27 bedrooms and 18 full baths and sits on 5,000 acres of green rolling hills.

    Two California drinkers have sued the maker of Kona Brewing Company’s beers. They allege that Kona falsely represented that the beers are brewed in Hawaii, when in fact they’re brewed on the mainland.

    If you’re a golfer, this product is for you. “Big Beertha” looks like a driver, but functions as “the original golf beer bong”. It holds 12 ounces of liquid whose consumption can be viewed by onlookers through its clear acrylic shaft.

    The Kansas City Royals have named Boulevard Brewing Company the first-ever craft beer partner of a major-league baseball team. Boulevard has been sold at Royals’ games for more than 20 years.

    Last weekend at SXSW, Anheuser-Busch announced its “Bud on Mars” project. Challenges on the Red Planet include low gravity, lack of water, not enough sunlight to grow hops, and humans’ diminished sense of taste.

    Shares in Japan’s big breweries could get a boost if the government follows through on revising the beer excise tax, which is based malt content. The result has been a flood of beers heavy with adjuncts like peas and soybeans.

    Finally, Belgian scientists recently discovered the Trappist-1 system of possibly-habitable Earth-size planets some 40 light-years from Earth. They named the planets after monastic Trappist beers such as Rochefort, Orval, and Westvleteren.

    Sunny Forecast for Florida Craft Beer

    For years, Florida had the reputation of being a craft beer desert. Today, however, the Sunshine State is the one of the nation’s fastest-growing states for craft brewing.

    Florida’s brewery count has leapt from 25 a decade ago to more than 180 today. There’s also quality as well as quantity. Cigar City Brewing Company’s Hunaphu Imperial Stout and Funky Buddha Brewing’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter are among the nation’s most sought-after beers. National craft breweries, too, have taken notice of Florida’s craft beer boom. Some of them are skipping states to establish distribution networks in Florida.

    Beer is starting to take its place along theme parks, beaches, and baseball spring training as a tourist attraction. Walt Disney World serves Florida craft beers at its parks and hotels. Cigar City’s Hunaphu release party draws thousands, and visitors who fly home from Tampa can enjoy fresh beer at Cigar City’s on-airport brewery.

    It’s the Law!

    You hardly need to be reminded that the brewing industry is heavily regulated, especially at the state level. Staff of the Brewers Association, the craft brewers’ industry trade group, have been busy sorting out state laws in several key areas and have summarized them on the BA’s website. The summaries include these six areas:

    • Barrel cap laws, which restrict larger breweries’ ability to sell beer on-premises.
    • Franchise laws, which spell out the circumstances under which a brewery may terminate its contractual relationship with a wholesaler.
    • Growler laws, which specify who (breweries, brewpubs, and retailers) are allowed to fill growlers.
    • Self-distribution laws, which provide whether a brewery may sell directly to retailers and, if so, how many barrels it may self-distribute.
    • State excise tax rates.
    • Laws specifying whether a brewery sell beer at retail and/or offer samples.

    The Brewers Association cautions that its information should not be considered the final word on the law. If you notice something that needs to be updated (this being an odd-numbered year, state legislatures are hard at work), the BA would like to hear about it, and it has provided a feedback form.

    The Friday Mash (“Sell High” Edition)

    On this day in 2000, the Nasdaq Composite stock market index peaked at 5132.52, thanks to investors who bid up dot.com shares to astronomically high prices. Those who didn’t take profits got a nasty surprise: the Nasdaq fell by more than 50 percent by year’s end.

    And now….The Mash!

    Fittingly, we begin on Wall Street, where big breweries’ stocks haven’t been doing well. According to SeekingAlpha.com, the only company whose shares are trading near their 52-week high is Kirin Holdings Company.

    Congress is considering a bill that would cut taxes for small brewers. The bill’s supporters contend that lower taxes would enable breweries to expand production, add jobs, and attract more visitors.

    Session IPA is popular, but opinions vary as to its definition. Draft magazine has published a scale which shows how much these IPAs vary in alcoholic strength and, especially, perceived bitterness.

    A few years ago, Emily Hengstebeck and her friends partied together at beer festivals. Now employed by a brewery, she found herself on the other side of the table. She describes what it’s like.

    More than 7,000 CraftBeer.com readers filled out a survey asking them what was their state’s favorite beer bar, and why they liked it. Without further ado, here are the winners in each state.

    It’s still “Miller Time” in Chicago. According to BevSpot, Miller has a more than 8-percent market share in the Windy City, more than twice the brand’s market share nationwide.

    Finally, a Virginia brewery will release a beer honoring Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, at a birthday celebration this month. The horse was nicknamed “Big Red”; the beer is an imperial red India pale ale.

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