MGM Enters the Festival Business

Here’s another sign of the growing popularity of beer festivals. In Las Vegas, MGM has teamed up with the organizers of the Oregon Brewers Festival to put on a festival to be held on the Strip a week from Saturday. The festival, called Blvd Beer Fest, will feature a selection of Oregon-brewed beers not normally available in southern Nevada, along with an entertainment lineup headed by The Kings of Leon. MGM hopes that the event will drive traffic to its 11 hotels on the Strip and give its guests a wider choice of things to do outdoors.

Blvd Beer Fest will take place a week after the annual Downtown Brew Festival, organized by Motley Brews. Brian Chapin, Motley Brews’ founder, isn’t fazed by MGM’s entering the festival business. In fact, he thinks it validates the notion that craft beer has become popular in Las Vegas.

The Friday Mash (Ponderosa Edition)

Fifty-five years ago today, the first episode of the television show Bonanza premiered on NBC. The show, which starred Lorne Greene and Michael Landon, ran for 14 seasons and 430 episodes, second only to Gunsmoke as the longest-running western of all time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Crested Butte, Colorado, where residents are hopping mad over a clandestine deal to let Anheuser-Busch turn their ski town into a living Bud Light commercial.

John Holl asked some of his fellow beer writers, “if beer were invented today, what would it look like?” The answers may surprise you.

Heavy late-summer rains in Montana and Idaho have ruined much of the barley crop. A disappointing barley harvest could translate into higher beer prices next year.

Are you ready for some football? The folks at Thrillist are, and they’ve picked a local beer for each of the National Football League’s 32 teams.

Add chili pepper-infused beers to the list of craft brewing trends. USA Today’s Mike Snider reviews some popular chili beers, including one made with extra-potent ghost peppers.

Raise a glass to Jake Leinenkugel, who is retiring as the brewery’s CEO. According to a hometown journalist, Leinenkugel has earned a place in craft brewing history.

Finally, Marc Confessore of Staten Island showed us how not to pair food and beer. He got caught trying to sneak four cases of Heineken and 48 packages of bacon out of a grocery store.

Marijuana “Brew” in Washington State

Edible marijuana products are available in the two states where recreational pot is legal. Now customers can buy “marijuana brew” in Washington State. Mirth Provisions, a maker of edibles, has debuted the “Legal” line of cannabis-infused beverages. A bottle, which contains 10 mg of liquid cannabis–the equivalent of one joint–retails for $10. “Legal” is available in three flavors, Sparkling Rainier Cherry, Sparkling Lemon Ginger, and Sparking Pomegranate; and coffee drinks will be available soon.

Beer States, Ranked

These rankings come courtesy of Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza, and Matt Lynch of Thrillist.com. Before calling the roll of the states, the authors explain their criteria: “Quantity and quality are both important, but quality’s a bit MORE important. If you’re a small state turning out a disproportionate amount of great beer, it did not go unrecognized. We also gave a boost to states who played a historical role in American beer as we know it today.”

Heading the list is Oregon (”Even the ‘crappy’ breweries by Portland standards would bury most of their peers”), followed by California (”San Diego…the most dominating beer city in world history”), Colorado (”Beer is everywhere. Everywhere is beer”), Michigan (which “some of the best damned breweries in the country”), and Washington (”home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness”).

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bottom five: Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and coming in dead last, Mississippi.

The Friday Mash (Razor Sharp Edition)

On this day in 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia decided to Westernize his country by imposing a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry. That tax would have killed Russia’s craft brewing industry, had one existed at the time.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Texas, whose residents insist that everything is bigger. The Austin Beer Works lived up to that reputation by selling 99-packs of its “Peacemaker Anytime Ale.”

The remains of what appears to be a nearly 300-year-old brewery have been discovered on the campus of William and Mary. It made small beer for the college’s colonial-era faculty and students.

Are beer enthusiasts getting too fixated on ratings? CraftBeer.com’s Chris McClellan, who watched a feeding frenzy ensue when a top-rated beer arrived at a store, thinks they have.

A deconsecrated church, an ex-funeral home, and a military base are among Esquire magazine’s 14 strangest brewery locations in America.

Gizmodo.com’s Karl Smallwood explains why beer is rarely sold in plastic bottles. They contain chemicals that ruin the beer’s taste; and they allow carbon dioxide to escape, making the beer flat.

Archaeologist Alyssa Looyra has re-created a beer from a bottle found near the site of the Atlantic Beer Garden, a 19th-century New York City hangout. It’s “a light summer drink.”

Finally, the Leinenkugel Brewing Company took the high road when it discovered that Kenosha’s Rustic Road Brewing was already using the name “Helles Yeah.” CEO Dick Leinenkugel showed up and bought the name for a few cases of beer, some pizza, and an undisclosed sum of money.

The Eco-Honor Roll

For the past five years, the San Francisco-based Seedling Project has given out the Good Food Awards, which recognize of high-quality food made in a environmentally responsible manner. The awards have a beer category. To be considered, a brewery has to recycle water, source locally, and not use genetically modified ingredients; and for a beer to win, it has to taste good as well.

The latest issue of the Sierra Club magazine mentions five Good Food Award-winning beers: Port City Brewing Optimal Wit, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Bear Republic Cafe Racer 15 Double IPA, Victory Helios Ale, and Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale. Those five would make an awfully good flight of tasters.

To Your Health?

A copy of the 1964 book, The Drinking Man’s Diet, led New York Times food writer Mark Bittman to write a column titled The Drinker’s Manifesto. It’s a response to the inflated warnings about the effects of drinking on one’s health.

The Centers for Disease Control flatly says that drinking too much is “dangerous,” and can “lead to heart disease, breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, motor-vehicle crashes, and violence.” Bittman responds: “Many of these dangerous effects are indirect and can be mitigated: If you don’t have sex or get into a car after drinking, you can’t possibly get pregnant or in a car accident. (One thing about drinking alcohol, though: It can cause bad judgment.) The more direct ones, like heart disease and breast cancer, have so many risk factors that drinking may perhaps be discounted, especially in moderation. And there’s evidence that drinking ‘the right amount’—which is less than “too much”—can be good for you.”

The CDC also says that excessive alcohol consumption causes 88,000 deaths a year and “costs the economy about $224 billion.” However, Bittman points out that obesity-related illnesses cause somewhere around 112,000 deaths, and cost maybe a trillion dollars—and you don’t see any health warnings on a bottle of Coke.

The Friday Mash (Seven Years’ War Edition)

On this day in 1756, Prussia’s king Frederick the Great attacked Saxony, beginning the Seven Years’ War. The conflict, which took place on five continents and involved most of the world’s powers, is better known to English-speaking North Americans as the French and Indian War.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where the Mallersdorf Abbey’s Sister Doris has been a master brewer for nearly 40 years. She’s one of Bavaria’s few “ladies who lager”–and Europe’s last beer-brewing nun.

Beer historian Tom Acitelli credits a 2002 cut in the excise tax for the profusion of small breweries in Great Britain. He also credits a 1976 beer tax cut for America’s small-brewery boom.

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon is a wine lover, but he also has a taste for good beer. Gordon recently showed up at Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, whose 61 Minute IPA really impressed him.

For years, Mexico’s brewing industry had been dominated by two large corporations, but change is slowly coming, thanks to the federal government’s efforts to curb monopolies in key industries.

Iowa officials are pondering what to do with the 150-year-old beer caves underneath I-380 in Cedar Rapids. The forgotten caves were exposed by this summer’s heavy rains.

Barrel-aged beer is becoming more popular, and brewers are looking beyond traditional bourbon barrels. Now they’re starting to age their beer in barrels once used for Scotch, rum, and wine.

Finally, the growth of microbreweries might give rise to a new breed of wholesalers. Yarmouth, Maine-based Vacationland Distributors specializes in craft breweries, especially those that have grown beyond the state’s maximum for self-distribution rights.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Breweries operating in the United States as of June 30: 3,040.
  • Breweries in planning in the U.S. as of June 30: 1,929.
  • Workers employed by American craft breweries: 110,273.
  • Cost of one (legal) marijuana joint in Washington State: $2.71.
  • Cost of one bottle of Bud Light in Washington State: $0.90.
  • Most overpriced beer in the National Football League: $8.50 (53 cents an ounce) at Ford Field, Detroit.
  • Average cost of a bottle of beer at a Detroit-area grocery store: 98 cents (8.2 cents an ounce).
  • Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) colleges that sell beer in on-campus stadiums: 21.
  • Publicly-owned stadiums that sell beer at FBS games: 11.
  • U.S. craft-beer exports in 2009: 46,000 barrels.
  • U.S. craft-beer exports in 2013: 282,500 barrels (about $73 million worth).
  • Number of beer tents at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich: 14.
  • Capacity of the Schottenhamel beer tent, Oktoberfest’s largest: 10,000.
  • Nepal’s annual beer sales: 84 million bottles.
  • Number of breweries in Nepal: 6.
  • New Belgium: In the Beginning

    New Belgium Brewing Company turns out 800,000 barrels a year at its Fort Collins, Colorado, location. It’s operating at max capacity there, and is building a second plant in North Carolina that will make it a true national brand.

    What makes New Belgium’s story even more amazing is how and where it began. Hillary Jones of Bizjournals.com explains:

    Jordan and then-husband Jeff Lebesch launched New Belgium in 1991 after taking out a $60,000 second mortgage on their home. They brewed the beer in the 12-by-22-foot basement while Jordan raised a baby and worked four days a week as a social worker.

    On the fifth day of the week, Jordan would round up customers’ beer orders, pack up the family station wagon and drive around making deliveries. At night, she finished up the day by making posters to advertise New Belgium.

    Jordan said she wasn’t afraid of taking risks, and if the brewing business didn’t work out, she’d go back to her day job. She never had to.

    Powered by WordPress