The Friday Mash (Casey at the Bat Edition)

On this day in 1888, the poem “Casey at the Bat” was first published in the San Francisco Examiner. You probaby remember that the mighty but overconfident Casey let two pitches go by for strikes before swinging at—and missing—the third strike, which led to “no joy in Mudville”.

And now…Play Ball!

We begin in Cleveland, where the Indians recently staged a “$2 Beer Night”. One creative group of fans built a 112-can, 11-level-high “beer-a-mid”. Major League Baseball offered a one-word comment: “Wow”.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the Black Marigold wind ensemble commissioned composer Brian DuFord to write a suite of movements inspired by the area’s craft beers. One local craft will brew a special beer for Black Marigold.

SodaStream, which sells machines that carbonate water, now offers an instant-homebrew device called the Beer Bar. Adding a package of “Blondie” concentrate to sparkling water produces a three-liter batch of 4.5-percent ABV.

Talk about a hasty departure. A driver in China’s Henan Province was caught on video chugging a beer at the wheel—this, while dragging his IV drip outside the car with him.

Here’s a new way to evade open container laws. A new invention called the Lolo Lid snaps onto the top of your can of beer, which you can then insert into a medium or large-sized paper coffee cup.

A Boston Globe editorial called on state lawmakers to make it easier for small breweries to terminate their agreements with distributors. North Carolina passed similar legislation in 2012.

Finally, the High Heel Brewing Company has come under fire for naming one of its beers after a shoe style and using pink and purple in its packaging. CEO Kristi McGuire said in her brewery’s defense, “We didn’t want to make a gimmick…We didn’t make the beer pink.”

The Birth of IPA

According to legend, George Hodgson’s Bow Brewery created India pale ale in response to requests by British troops in India who had become tired of warm, heavy English beers. Turns out there’s more to the story.

IPA was made possible in the early 18th century by the invention of pale malt. Kilned with coke as fuel, pale malt yielded a beer with a lighter color and a less-smoky flavor. October Beer, one of the beers said to be the precursor of IPA, used 100 percent pale malt in its recipe. The resulting beverage was so strong that it was expected to age for two to three years before serving.

Here’s where George Hodgson comes in. His business ties with the British East India Company that gave him a near-monopoly in India’s beer market. He shipped his October beer, which was of higher quality than older British brands, to India. There his beer won a following—with the British gentry.

Honoring the Civil War’s Army Doctors

On Memorial Day weekend, Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, hosts a Civil War re-enactment. It’s an annual ritual Maryanne and Paul, who enjoy history almost as much as beer. One of the things they learned at the Village was that Civil War medicine wasn’t practiced by saw-wielding hacks.

Speaking of which, Flying Dog Ales and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, both located in Frederick, Maryland, collaborated on a beer called Saw Bones Ginger Table Beer, which was released today. “Saw bones” was the derisive term soldiers used to describe army doctors. Table beers, with a light body and low-alcohol concentration, were popular during the Civil War. So was ginger which, according to the museum’s executive director David Price, was used to fight gangrene, dysentery, and other ailments that killed far more soldiers than enemy bullets.

Price also disputes army doctors’ “saw bones” reputation as butchers. He went on to say that those doctors and other medical personnel set the foundation for America’s modern healthcare system.

The Friday Mash (T and A* Edition)

* No, it’s not what you think. Get your minds out of the gutter!

On this day in 1927 the Ford Motor Company ended production of the Model T automobile, which sold 16.5 million models beginning in 1909. Production of its successor, the Model A, began five months later.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Philadelphia, whose city parks will become venues for “pop-up” beer festivals this summer. “Parks on Tap” will send beer and food trucks to the parks; there will also be live music and games.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is introducing a 100-plus-year-old Mexican beer, Estrella Jasilico, to the U.S. market to compete with Corona. Mexican beer imports to the U.S. rose by more than 14 percent.

Whale vomit is the latest icky ingredient in beer. Australia’s Robe Town Brewery used it to make Moby Dick Ambergris Ale. Medieval doctors used ambergris; today, it’s an ingredient in perfume.

Before the Cuban Revolution, La Tropical was the country’s oldest beer. Miami businessman Manny Portuondo plans to bring the brand back to life, this time on the other side of the Florida Straits.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ biggest ship, Carnival Vista, is the first cruise ship to have an on-board brewery. Brewmaster Colin Presby sat down with USA Today to talk about what he’s serving.

The Phillips Brewery in British Columbia has responded to drones by recruiting bald eagles to drop-deliver beer. Budweiser executives must be asking themselves, “Why didn’t we think of this?”

Finally, chemists at the Complutense University of Madrid have created an app that can tell you when a beer has too much of a “stale” flavor. The disk and app look for furfunal, a polymer that imparts a cardboard taste to over-aged beer.

Beer Snobs Face a Backlash

Andy Crouch, who writes the “Unfiltered” column at BeerAdvocate.com, has a warning for craft beer snobs. The insults you hurl at big breweries, and those who drink their beers, are not only wearing thin but also brand you as an elitist.

Crouch accuses snobs of playing right into the hands of the big breweries. Anheuser-Busch’s “Brewed The Hard Way” and “Not Backing Down” ads tout Budweiser as “not small,” “not sipped” and “not a fruit cup”. And those ads are resonating with beer drinkers.

Worse yet, beer snobs have become a recurring punch line on prime-time TV. Crouch says, “Want to signal to the audience that a character is an unbearable jerk? Put a six-pack of fancy beer in his hand as he walks into the party. Worse yet, have him try and offer one of his high priced beauties to another character and then watch him get flatly rejected.”

The Friday Mash (High-Flying Edition)

On this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York, beginning the first-ever solo trans-Atlantic flight. Five years later, Amelia Earhart became the first female aviator to accomplish that feat.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in the halls of justice, where Flying Dog Ales will fund a “First Amendment Society” with the settlement money the state of Michigan paid it. The courts ruled that Michigan violated Flying Dog’s constitutional rights by denying it permission to market Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA.

The Brooklyn Brewery has signed a long-term lease under which it will build a beer garden, brewing facility, and restaurant on the site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard..

A Munich court ordered the Hofbraukeller beer hall to honor its contract to host an event hosted by a far-right political party. In 1919, Adolf Hitler delivered his first-ever political speech at the Hofbraukeller.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, soon to be the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, will have the cheapest beer in the National Football League: $5. It will also offer $3 hot dogs and $2 Coca-Colas.

Some of the biggest names in Chicago’s beer community have joined an effort to raise funds to build the Chicago Brewseum. It will serve beer made on-premises by guest brewers.

Former major-leaguer Brandon Laird, now playing for Japan’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, won himself a year’s supply of beer after hitting a home run off the Kirin Brewery sign at the Tokyo Dome.

Finally, the Saugatuck Brewing Company wasted no time poking fun at Anheuser-Busch’s rebranding of Budweiser as “America”. Its parody beer, “‘Murica”, is brewed in a style America’s founders might describe as “Freedom,” and the process is naturally overseen by 1,776 bald eagles.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Top ten brewers’ share of the craft beer market in 2015: 3.8 percent.
  • Their share of the craft beer market in 2009: 5 percent.
  • People employed by Ohio craft breweries: 2,500.
  • Ohio’s current craft brewery count: 190.
  • New York State’s brewery count in 2015: 240.
  • Its brewery count in 2012: 95.
  • Craft brewing’s impact on New York State’s economy: $3.5 billion (fourth-highest in the U.S.).
  • Boston Beer Company’s (ticker symbol: SAM) closing price on May 13: $150.04 a share.
  • SAM’s highest price during the past 52 weeks: $266.62.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce can of Budweiser: 145.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce can of Bud Light: 110.
  • Bud Light’s share of the world beer market: 2.5 percent (third overall).
  • Snow beer’s share of the world beer market: 5.4 percent (first overall).
  • Cost of a liter of Snow beer in China, its home country: $1.
  • Growth in Snow’s sales volume since 2005: 573 percent.
  • The Friday Mash (St. John the Silent Edition)

    Today is the feast day of St. John the Silent. So, in the words of Elmer Fudd, we’re going to be “vewy quiet”.

    Shhhhh…

    We begin in San Diego, where Stone Brewing Company co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner have invested $100 million in True Craft, a private-equity firm that will take minority positions in craft breweries that need funding to expand.

    Brewery Vivant and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra have released a collaboration beer, Carmina Beerana. This single-malt, single-hop beer was inspired by Carl Orff’s classic work.

    Hopyard, a newly-opened beer bar in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, offers two of the hottest things in pop culture: craft beer and vinyl music.

    Jeff Vrabel of GQ magazine unleashed a righteous rant about alcoholic root beer. He believes that root beer belongs to childhood and ought to remain there.

    Last Friday, the Bar D’Alsace-tian in London put a team of Alsatian dogs to work delivering cold bottles of beer to customers in custom harnesses in the shape of a barrel.

    Starr Hill Brewery is celebrating the Dave Matthews Band’s 25th anniversary with a beer called Warehouse Pils. “Warehouse” is the name of the band’s official fan club.

    Finally, Danish beermaker Mikkeller Brewing is bringing its acclaimed Copenhagen Beer Celebration to Boston. The two-day festival, to be held in September, will feature more than 100 craft beers from over 50 breweries from around the world.

    The Seven Deadly Beer Festival Sins

    Thrillist.com’s Meredith Heil describes herself as “a professional beer aficionado (aka massive nerd),” who’s seen her share of beer festivals. Some were downright amazing, but she’s been to a number of failed festivals: “Picture hordes of pretzel necklace-clad mouth breathers and tank-topped spring breakers pounding corner store-quality imperial IPAs like vodka shots. These guys are all about drinking hard and fast–which is fine, of course, but probably not worth that triple-digit ticket price.”

    Heil names seven red flags that a festival is going to disappoint. Along the way, she quotes Ludwig Roars’s own Paul Ruschmann:

    1. There aren’t many local breweries.
    2. Snacks cost extra.
    3. Bottles outnumber jockey boxes (or any other portable draft setup).
    4. It’s only pouring beers you can find at the grocery store.
    5. There’s no water in sight.
    6. Bloggers aren’t repping it.
    7. The tasting window is less than three hours.

    Freshness Counts for Breweries, Too

    The onslaught of new craft breweries has made it increasingly difficult for existing ones to stand out. To keep up with the competition, older breweries have shaken up their flagship beers, diversified into niche styles, and especially, given their products’ look and feel a makeover.

    One brewery that was forced to reinvent itself was the Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado. Tom and Jan Peters took control of it from its original owners in 2004, and ran it as a traditional, German-style brewery. However, the Peterses saw their market share shrink in the face of competitors with more distinctive beers and contemporary label art. In 2014, they rebooted Fort Collins, overhauling its product, refocusing on the local market, and opening an on-premises tavern. The couple also put their daughter, Tina, in charge of the brewery.

    Jason Notte of MarketWatch.com sat down with Tina. Among other things she talked about her first beer, moving beyond traditional German styles, and how she coordinated the brewery’s look and feel with its new lineup of beers.

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