Beer….By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count as of June 30, 2015: 3,739.
  • Increase over the year before: 699.
  • Full- and part-time workers employed by U.S. breweries: 115,469.
  • Premium beer’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. sales: 63 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. sales: 2 percent.
  • Shock Top’s share of A-B InBev’s U.S. craft beer sales: 50 percent.
  • A-B InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market: 45 percent.
  • MillerCoors’s share of the U.S. beer market: 26 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market: 11 percent.
  • Beer drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County, California, in 2014: 361.
  • Wine drinkers arrested for DUI in Napa County in 2014: 114.
  • Tap handles at the Raleigh (North Carolina) Beer Garden: 366 (believed to be the world’s most).
  • Locally-brewed beers on tap at the Raleigh Beer Garden: 144.
  • Percent of the price of beer attributable to taxes in Mississippi: 60 (highest in the nation).
  • Percent attributable to taxes in Montana and Oregon: 32 (lowest in the nation).
  • A Short History of the Beer Can

    In the past few years, hundreds of craft breweries began canning their beer. It wasn’t an easy decision because canned beer was associated with national-brand lagers, and canning equipment was an expensive investment for small breweries.

    Even though canned foods date back to 1813, it took more another century, and then some, for a brewery to successfully put its beer in cans. In 1933, the American Can Company invented a can that was strong enough to hold a pressurized carbonated liquid lined with a coating that prevented metallic tastes from flavoring the beer. Two years later, the Kreuger Brewing Company test-marketed two of its beers in Richmond, Virginia.

    Kreuger’s cans were a success, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The early cans were made of heavy steel coated with a thin layer of tin to prevent rusting. Those gave way to aluminum cans, first used by the Hawaii Brewing Company in 1958. Nowadays, cans are made out of an aluminum alloy, which is even lighter weight and more resistant to rusting.

    The beer can’s shape also changed over time. Early cans looked like cylinders with flat tops and bottoms. The next generation of cans had cone tops, which became popular with small breweries because they were easier to fill and could be sealed with the same crown caps as glass bottles. By the late 1950s, however, cone-top cans were replaced by cylindrical cans with flat tops and bottoms.

    Opening canned beer has gotten easier as well. The original flat-top cans required a device called a “church key”, which punctured a triangular hole at the top of the can, out of which a person could drink, and a second, smaller hole on the opposite side to let air into the can and allow the beer to flow. In 1962, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company released a can with a “zip top,” a small flat tab riveted to the center of the can’s top that could be pulled back to puncture the can. Three years later, a pull ring, similar to those used in cans of pet food, replaced the flat tab. However, the discarded tabs created an environmental problem. In 1975, Reynolds Metals Company solved it with a “stay-tab,” which is now standard technology in beer and pop cans worldwide.

    Canned craft beer has several advantages: it can be hermetically sealed; it cools faster than bottled beer; and it’s friendlier to outdoor activities. As for the belief that canned craft beer tastes of metal, that has long since been debunked.

    The Friday Mash (Lamont Cranston Edition)

    Eighty-five years ago, the radio drama The Shadow debuted. The title character, who know “what evil lurks in the hearts of men,” became a major influence on later comic book superheroes, Batman in particular.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Kabul, Afghanistan, where non-alcoholic beer is popular, and costs only 30 cents a can. Alcohol is banned in this Muslim country–but there’s a thriving black market in beer and spirits.

    Lululemon, the yoga pants company, is using beer to attract male customers. Curiosity Lager, which features hints of lemon drop and Chinook hops, will soon be available at select locations in Canada.

    Heavy Seas Brewing Company will mark the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken, Jr., setting a new Major League Baseball consecutive-games-played with a retro lager called Fielder’s Choice.

    Vault Brewing Company invented a new way of canning nitro-conditioned beer. Vault adds the nitrogen when the beer is canned, bypassing the famous Guinness “widget.”

    “Session beers”—those with less than 5% ABV—have gained a following among Colorado drinkers. The trend has spread from India pale ales to other styles, such as sour beers and saisons.

    Producers of the zombie drama The Walking Dead have teamed up with Terrapin Brewing Company to make the show’s official beer: a Red India pale ale brewed with blood orange peel.

    Finally, not all Utahns are Mormons, and some stage an alternative to the Pioneer Day state holiday. It’s called called “Pie and Beer Day,” and celebrants are invited to gather friends and family. Beer is optional.

    Western Drought to Drive Up the Price of Beer?

    Seventy-three percent of America’s hops are grown in Washington State, which has suffered from drought conditions and hot weather. A lack of rain, combined with water-usage restrictions, could lead to smaller yields and even shortages in popular varieties such as Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe hops.

    A hops shortage will also translate into higher prices which, in turn, will drive up the price of beer. Even though brewers have contracts for most of this year’s crop, spot prices are expected to rise; and brewers without contracts for 2016 can expect to pay higher prices for hops. Even if the rains come before the upcoming harvest, hops prices are still likely to go up because demand will be greater and no additional acreage will be planted next year.

    Smarter Than the Average Bear?

    An incident from 2004 has gotten renewed online attention. Fish and Game agents in Washington State found a black bear that was sleeping off the effects of a beer binge. It’s unusual enough for a bear to drink beer out of cans, but what really caught the agents’ attention was that the animal had a brand preference: it tried one can of Busch, didn’t like it, then drank 36 cans of Rainier.

    The Friday Mash (Liberator Edition)

    On this day in 1783, Simon Bolivar, “The Liberator,” was born. Bolivar was instrumental role in making Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela independent of Spanish rule. Toast him with a glass of Polar beer, “The People’s Beer” of Venezuela.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Milwaukee, where Pabst Brewing Company is returning to its original location. Pabst’s owner, Eugene Kashper, says the brewery will new small-batch beers, based on Pabst’s archived recipes, while staying true to its roots.

    A new Indiana law classifies retirement communities as homes, so they no longer need a liquor license to serve alcohol to residents. One problem not likely to occur: underage drinking.

    Mark your calendars. Next year’s Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will be held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. The dates are July 8-10.

    Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California, announced on her Facebook page that she’s introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcoholic beverages.

    The clever folks at Printsome.com have designed beer labels to match the personalities of Facebook, Google, Nike, and 14 other highly recognizable corporations.

    Yes, you can get an India pale ale—along with a host of other craft beers—in India. The subcontinent’s first brewpub, Doolally in the city of Pune, opened its doors in 2009. A slew of others have followed.

    Finally, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Tacoma displays a bottle of Corona with a lime slice underneath an American flag. An unidentified woman ordered the Corona and placed it in front of an adjoining seat in honor of her brother, who was killed while on duty in Iraq.

    Meet the New Head Brewer at Deschutes

    Next month, Karl Ockert will become Director of Brewing Operations at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. His hiring is part of Deschutes’ planned expansion, which includes building a second brewery in the East in 2017.

    Ockert’s career has come full circle. After graduating from the University of California, Davis, he helped start BridgePort Brewing Co. in Portland in 1984 with Dick and Nancy Ponzi. After leaving BridgePort, he worked at three breweries in the Northwest, was a brewing supervisor for Anheuser-Busch in New Jersey, served as technical director for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, and worked as a consultant for his own firm.

    Ockert has quite a story to tell. In a recent interview with the Bend Bulletin he discussed, among other things, his career in brewing, Deschutes’ future, and the state of the craft beer market.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • Pabst Blue Ribbon’s sales increase from 2008 to 2009: 20.3 percent.
  • PBR’s sales increase from 2013 to 2014: 3.8 percent.
  • Percent of craft beers released in 2013 that were “high ABV” (above 6.5): 25.
  • Percent of craft beers released in 2001 that were high ABV: 7.
  • Square feet added to the Colorado Convention Center for this year’s Great American Beer Festival: 90,000.
  • Expected attendance at this year’s GABF: 60,000.
  • Breweries expected to pour at this year’s GABF: More than 800.
  • Breweries taking part in this weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival: 103.
  • Beers these brewers will pour: 923.
  • Total production of Statewide Pale Ale, a beer benefitting the New York State Brewers Association: 100 barrels.
  • Breweries collaborating in making Statewide Pale Ale: 10.
  • Breweries currently operating in Los Angeles: More than 50.
  • Breweries operating in Los Angeles in 2011: 15.
  • Size of Mexico’s beer market, in U.S. dollars: 20 billion.
  • Craft beer’s share of that market: 1 percent.
  • Another Big Beer Merger

    On Thursday night, Firestone Walker Brewing Company announced its acquisition by Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat. By one estimate, Duvel will pay $250 million for Firestone Walker.

    Firestone Walker is the third brewery to be acquired by Duvel Moortgat, following Brewery Ommegang and Boulevard Brewing. Duvel Moortgat made the following statement in its press release:

    “The relationship I have built with David and Adam made Firestone Walker the perfect fit for future growth,” said Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel Moortgat. “We share the same values; have a great mutual respect for each other’s achievements and a deeply-held belief in exceptional quality as a platform for long-term success. Bringing Firestone Walker together with Boulevard, Ommegang, Duvel and the other craft breweries in our family creates a stronger platform in the USA for us both and allows us to collaborate on brewing in different locations across the USA”

    The Friday Mash (Magic Kingdom Edition)

    Sixty years ago today, Walt Disney unveiled his theme park, Disneyland, on national television. The “Magic Kingdom” has attracted more than 650 million guests—more than any other amusement park in the world—since it opened.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Asheville, North Carolina, where the sold-out Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is taking place at the Four Points Hotel. Ludwig couldn’t attend, but he’ll be there in spirit.

    21st Century Fox, which owns The Simpsons franchise, has licensed Duff beer. For the time being, Duff will only be available in Chile, where bootleg versions of the brand have been turning up on store shelves.

    Lawmakers in a number of states passed beer-friendly legislation this year. Mike Pomeranz of Yahoo! Food explains what happened in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and West Virginia.

    Oh, the agony of defeat. Australia’s cricket team was so frustrated by its 169-run defeat at the hands of England in a Test match that it refused the host country’s offer of post-match beers.

    Illustrator/animator Drew Christie has created a four-minute-long history lesson titled “The United States of Beer”, in which he offers a modest proposal: a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer.

    Here’s another reason to book that trip to Honolulu. Maui Brewing Company will open a brewpub in Waikiki. It will be located in the Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber.

    Finally, Kathy Flanigan and Chelsey Lewis of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel take you on a beer tour of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. It includes plenty of history, and features a visit to “The Troll Capital of the World.”

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