The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

Beer….By the Numbers

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s latest offer to buy SABMiller: $108.2 billion.
  • Increase over A-B InBev’s initial offer: 14 percent.
  • Attendance at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich: 5.9 million (down from 6.3 million last year).
  • Beer consumption at this year’s Oktoberfest: 7.3 million liters (down from 7.7 million last year).
  • Stolen beer mugs confiscated by Oktoberfest security: 110,000 (down from 112,000 last year).
  • Beer-to-gold ratio in 1990 (60-year peak): 227 ounces of beer = 1 ounce of gold.
  • Beer-to-gold ratio in 1970 (60-year low): 48 ounces of beer = 1 ounce of gold.
  • Increase in craft lager beer sales this year over 2014: 123 percent.
  • Increase in craft sour beer sales this year over 2014: 60 percent.
  • Craft beer’s sales growth in 2014: 17.6 percent.
  • The entire beer industry’s sales growth in 2014: 0.5 percent.
  • Settlement amount approved by the court in the Beck’s Beer deceptive-packaging litigation: $20 million.
  • Estimated number of households eligible for compensation in that litigation: 1.7 million.
  • Ohio’s current ABV cap on beer: 12 percent.
  • Its ABV cap on beer before 2002: 6 percent.
  • Founding Fathers of San Diego Beer

    San Diego has become one of the nation’s premier beer cities, both for the number of breweries and the quality of beer they produce. Its road to craft beer prominence began in 1989, when two friends in Mission Beach, Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner, founded the Karl Strauss Brewing Company. The brewery’s namesake was Cramer’s cousin, who had been trained in Germany as a brewer before World War II and fled before the Holocaust.

    A number of Karl Strauss alumni went on to open their own breweries. Scott Stamp, the original bartender at Karl Strauss, went on to open Callahan’s and the San Diego Brewing Company. Their original cocktail waitress Gina Marsaglia opened Pizza Port Brewery in 1992 with her brother Vince. That same year, the brewery’s original tour guide, Jack White, started Home Brew Mart.

    During Home Brew Mart’s early days, a customer named Yuseff Cherney so impressed White with his knowledge of beer that White hired him on the spot. Cherney later became the chief operating officer and head brewer at Ballast Point Brewing Company. At the same time, Cherney was working with fellow UC San Diego student Chris White, a post-graduate biochemistry student who later started White Labs, one of the nation’s premier yeast laboratories.

    As for Karl Strauss, the brewery ranks 45th in production among the nation’s craft breweries, even though its distribution is limited to California.

    The Friday Mash (Gangland Edition)

    Eighty years ago today, organized crime kingpin Dutch Schultz and three other men were fatally shot at a saloon in Newark, New Jersey, in what became known as “The Chophouse Massacre.”

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in England, where Cheltenham Racecourse has teamed up with Arkell’s Brewery to brew a beer honoring a famous racehorse named Arkle, whose daily diet included two bottles of Guinness.

    This fall, Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Foolproof Brewing Company is bucking the trend by adding peanut butter to its Raincloud Robust Porter. It’s “as far as you can get” from pumpkin ale.

    Niraj Dawar and Charan K. Bagga have put together a graph that illustrates the branding power of the combined Anheuser-Busch-InBev SAB Miller mega-brewing company.

    Congressman Peter DeFazio offers yet another reason to drink American craft beer. The Oregon Democrat contends that buying local craft products helps reduce the nation’s balance-of-trade deficit.

    “No forests, no beer”, says Matt Miller of the Nature Conservancy. Forests are the home of headwaters streams, where most of the nation’s water supply originates.

    Beer, always been a part of Cincinnati’s culture, has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Garin Pirnia of Paste magazine offers a comprehensive beer traveler’s guide to the Queen City.

    Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs will reward 800 season-ticket holders who are flying to London to see their team play Detroit on November 1. The Chiefs have rented a pub, and will serve free beer Friday afternoon.

    Sam Calagione Returns to TV

    This fall, First We Feast will air a six-episode series titled “That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It,” which the network describes as an improv version of brewing. The star of the series is Sam Calagione, the founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Brewery, who will brew never-seen-before beers with celebrity guests. The guest list includes rapper Mac Miller, NBA All-Star Chris Bosh, DJ Z-Trip, and actors Ken Marino and Joe Lo Truglio.

    The Friday Mash (World Anesthesia Day Edition)

    On this day in 1846, William T.G. Morton first demonstrated ether anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Each year the medical community honors this breakthrough with World Anesthesia Day. If ether “isn’t right for you”, we suggest having a beer instead.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Iowa City, where the informal University of Iowa “Beer Band” has suspended itself—at least for the time being—after townspeople complained abou X-rated song lyrics.

    Beer author John Holl interviewed Dr. Chris White, the founder of yeast provider White Labs. Topics include sour beer, brewer education, and White’s new facility in North Carolina.

    Chicago restaurateur Rick Bayless is introducing genuine Mexican-style beers. He’s opened a brewpub, and has also formed a brewing partnership with Constellation Brands .

    Years ago, graphic designer Harvey Shepherd fell in love with beer packaging. He’s turned his avocation into the recently-published Oh Beautiful Beer: The Evolution of Craft Beer and Design.

    Business consultant Chip Martella has good news and bad news for craft brewers. The dreaded industry shakeup has arrived, but a scrappy craft brewer can still succeed in this environment.

    Carla Jean Whitley of details the revival of brewing in Alabama. Now that lawmakers have eased many Prohibition-era restrictions, the state’s brewery count has risen to 28.

    Finally, declining sales of American light beer have forced breweries to rethink their advertising strategies. Their new ads will stress product quality, and will carry more woman-friendly messages.

    One Man’s Quest at the GABF

    David Obuchowski, one of’s beer writers, went to this year’s Great American Beer Festival on a mission: Drink at least one beer from every state. He actually sampled more than 200 beers to find at least one from each state worth putting on the list. Sampling that many beers posed a couple of challenges: long lines; a strictly-enforced 10 pm last call; and, most importantly, the GABF’s policy of not replacing lost or broken sampling cups.

    After finishing his sampling, Obuchowski ranked each state’s beer from 1 to 51 (he included the District of Columbia). In the interest of full disclosure, he admits to having a bias toward stouts.

    Putting Local Beer on the Map

    Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post has a way for you to misspend even more of your time: looking for the brewery closest to you. Ingraham started with the work of the community, who maintain a list of North American breweries and their GPS coordinates. Ingraham took all the listings for the lower 48–4,750 in all—and plotted them on a map, then overlaid a grid on the map called a Voronoi diagram.

    Voila! For any point in the lower 48, it shows you which brewery is the closest. You can either use your mobile phone to pinpoint the closest brewery. Or, if you’re not on a mobile device, you can mouse-over find a given location’s “home” brewery.

    Cells that “belong” to breweries vary in size. They’re incredibly small in cities like San Francisco, but take up hundreds of square miles in sparsely-populated regions of the country. In southwestern Utah, for instance, the Zion Canyon Brewing Company is the only one for hundreds of miles around.

    The Friday Mash (Black Sox Edition)

    On this day in 1919, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Chicago White Sox 5 games to 3, in the World Series. Eight members of the White Sox were later accused of intentionally losing games in exchange for taking bribes from gamblers. All eight were banned for life.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Boston, where an Israeli company’s water purification technology is converting the Charles River’s famous “dirty water” into a new pale ale by Harpoon Brewing Company.

    Some establishments are trying to cut costs by replacing bartenders with self-serve taps. However, human beings are still needed to check IDs and make sure intoxicated patrons don’t get served.

    Anheuser-Busch has invented the Bud Light “Bud-e Fridge”. This wi-fi-enabled appliance will provide your mobile phone with real-time updates on your beer supply.

    In an effort to attract moms in their 20s and 30s, Chuck E. Cheese is adding beer and wine to the beverage menu. The chain is also offering thin-crust and gluten-free pizza.

    Raleigh television station WRAL interviewed Rodenbach Brewery’s Rudi Ghequire, the “father of sour beer”, about the style’s growing popularity in the U.S.

    Authorities in Casablanca have canceled a beer festival because it violated local laws and customs. Morocco is a Muslim country, but tourists and non-Muslims are allowed to drink.

    Finally, the Straight to Ale brewery in Huntsville, Alabama, honors the city’s NASA heritage with a “space beers” series. Its ales have honored the International Space Station, Laika the Soviet space dog, and even unobtanium from the movie Avatar.

    “Ask Your Doctor if Beer is Right for You”

    Most news stories about beer and health emphasize how unhealthy beer is. But for most of human history, that wasn’t the case. In fact, our ancestors used beer as medicine. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology found that before modern medications were developed, the sick were treated with beer and alcohol-containing herbal cocktails. He points out that alcohol relieves pain, stops infection, and kills bacteria and parasites in contaminated water. Alcohol also helps the digestive system break down food.

    McGovern has found ancient texts that describe therapeutic cocktails. Prescriptions in ancient China and Egypt medical papyri called for wine or beer as a “dispensing agent,” with a varying mixture of herbs depending on the patient’s ailment. In addition to dissolving the herbs, alcohol made the mixture more palatable. Then, as in Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down.

    Whether these ancient remedies actually worked is still up for debate. However, the bark of certain trees has yielded the key ingredients in aspirin, the anti-malarial drug quinine, and the cancer drug Taxol. And scientists are investigating substances in modern-day beer that might be valuable sources of medicines.

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