The Friday Mash (Istanbul Not Constantinople Edition)

The Four Lads once asked the musical question, “Why did Constantinople get the works?” Their answer: “It’s nobody’s business but the Turks’” Eighty-four years ago today, the Turks changed the city’s name to Istanbul. They also changed the name of their capital to Ankara.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Listerman Brewing Company is hosting Starkbierfest, a family-friendly version of Munich’s Lenten tradition where potent doppelbock takes center stage.

Yards Brewing Company is brewing a special beer for the popular TV show “Walking Dead.” No humans have been eaten in the brewing process, which involves smoking goat brains.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has installed craft beer taps at his official residence. The first keg he tapped was Silverback Pale from Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fortune magazine writers tried MillerCoors’s new Fortune beer and gave it a thumbs-up–and not just for its name.

While visiting Belgium, Jay Brooks discovered a new organization, the Belgian Family Brewers. Its members have been brewing for at least 50 years, and have been family-owned all that time.

Purists are up in arms about it, but three Seattle-area homebrewers have developed the PicoBrew Zymatic, a “set-and-forget” system that can be controlled from one’s laptop.

Finally, Florida craft brewers learned that campaign cash trumps free enterprise. The State Senate president admitted that he’s against legalizing half-gallon growlers because a big beer distributor is a major contributor to his party.

New Laws to Aid Michigan Craft Breweries

Earlier this week, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed bipartisan legislation aimed at boosting Michigan’s craft-brewing industry. With around 150 breweries and brewpubs–and many more in the planning stages–the state ranks fifth in the nation.

The newly-signed legislation doubles the amount of beer microbrewers may produce, from 30,000 barrels per year to 60,000. It allows brewpub owners to now have interest in five other pubs, up from the previous two, so long as combined production does not exceed 18,000 barrels per year. Additionally, small microbreweries produce less than 1,000 barrels of beer per year will be able to self-distribute directly to retailers under certain conditions.

Spent Grain Attracts Federal Regulators’ Attention

Breweries across the country have informal agreements to send their spent grains to local farmers to feed to their livestock. It’s the proverbial win-win: the brewery gets rid of a by-product they can no longer use, and the farmer gets free food for the animals.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new rules that would require breweries to take additional steps to ensure that spent grain is safe for animals to eat. Complying with those rules would make it too expensive and time-consuming for small and medium-sized breweries to continue giving the grain away.

The Brewers Association, Beer Institute, and other brewing organizations have come out against the proposed rules and asked that the brewing industry be exempted. The FDA has extended the public comment period to next Monday, and brewers and farmers are watching closely.

A Victim of Its Own Success

Release parties can be a great way for a brewery to draw attention to their flagship products. Sometimes, however, a party can be the victim of its own success. Joey Redner, the owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, has a cautionary tale to tell.

For the past five years, Cigar City has hosted Hunaphu Day, which celebrates the release of Hunaphu’s Imperial Stout. Last year, it drew a big crowd that blocked entrance to neighboring businesses. To avoid a recurrence, the brewery made this year’s Hunaphu Day a ticketed event. The tickets, which cost $50 each, sold out. However, thousands of party-crashers showed up, preventing ticket-holders–one of whom drove 18 hours–from getting any Hunaphu.

Redner apologized for what happened, and tried to make it up to Hunaphu lovers by offering free beer in his tasting room the next day. He also decided to get out of the release party business, telling, “This year they got WAY around my pitiful efforts. I am acknowledging defeat. That was the last Hunahpu Day. The beer will go into distribution next year and hopefully spread out among many accounts it will get to consumers more fairly.”

The Friday Mash (Happy New Year! Edition)

It’s been a horrible winter in much of the country, but take heart: today is the first full day of spring. Today is also the first day of the astrological year, being the first full day under the sign of Aries. So break out the noisemakers and funny hats, and order yourself a beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Bend, Oregon, which has 80,000 residents and 11 breweries. The breweries issue visitors a “passport” that they can get stamped as they sample their way through town.

Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs are trying to brew the world’s most caloric beer: an imperial stout made with maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of beer ice cream and a sliver of bacon. It weighs in at over 525 calories.

According to Outdoor Life magazine, empty glass beer bottles may help you survive in the wilderness. You can make sharp tools out of them, and even use them to start fires.

The Session #86, moderated by “Beer Hobo” Heather Vandenengel, will focus on beer journalism. She invites you to discuss the role of beer writers and talk about your favorites.

In Boise, fans filed suit against the city’s minor-league hockey team after seeing a YouTube video showing that a $7 large beer contained the same amount of beer as a $4 “small” beer.

The environment is a high priority at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new North Carolina plant, whose interior decor will reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

Finally, conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has asked federal trademark regulators to deny Schlafly beer a trademark because she doesn’t want her family associated with beer. Her nephew Tom’s Saint Louis Brewery has brewed Schlafly beer since 1989.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Worldwide Trappist brewery count: 10.
  • Trappist breweries’ annual production: 387,000 barrels.
  • Leading Trappist brand Chimay’s share of that total: 40 percent.
  • U.S. beer sales in 2013: 200 million barrels (down 1.4 percent from 2012).
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2013: 14 million barrels (up 9.6 percent from 2012).
  • Average craft drinker’s annual spending on beer: $181 (11 trips to the store).
  • Average “economy beer” drinker’s annual spending on beer: $252 (18 trips to the store).
  • Cost of a six-pack of Heineken in Oklahoma City (cheapest among cities surveyed by $7.33.
  • Cost of a six-pack of Heineken in Chicago (most expensive among cities surveyed): $12.99.
  • Brewery openings in Colorado in 2013: 57.
  • Colorado’s brewery count at the end of 2013: 217.
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share price in March 2014: $103.75.
  • A-B InBev’s market capitalization in March 2014: $166.83 billion.
  • Cost of a ticket to Three Floyds’ annual Dark Lord Day: $30.
  • Number of tickets sold: 6,000.

Go Blue!

This morning, Paul got an email from the University of Michigan Alumni Association about fellow U-M alum Ron Jeffries, the founder and brewmaster of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.

When Ron started out ten years ago, he thought his beers would win immediate acceptance, but now he admits, “I was completely wrong. Very few consumers were thinking about the type of beer we were making. For the first few years, it was hard to sell enough beer to stay in business.”

Adding insult to injury were the emails he received from some customers: “Hey, just letting you know–your beer is sour. I think you got a problem at your brewery.” Jolly Pumpkin still gets the occasional “your beer is sour” email, but his beer has won a national following. Ron credits his success in part to other breweries who have taken a chance on sour beer: those who enjoy it eventually get around to trying his product.

Speaking of his product, we’re breaking out an Oro de Calabaza Thursday evening when the Wolverines tip off against Wofford in the NCAA tournament. Go Blue!

Want to Start a Brewery? Read This First

Collin McDonnell and his business partners are successful brewery owners. Their California-based HenHouse Brewing Company is not only up and running, but has raised enough capital to graduate from nano- to microbrewery status. But it wasn’t–pardon the pun–all beer and skittles for the three entrepreneurs. Drawing from his experiences in the industry, McDonnell has some advice for would-be brewery owners.

To begin with, the old joke that “brewing is 90 percent cleaning and 10 percent paperwork” isn’t a joke. It’s true. You need to be a clean freak. You also need to be patient and methodical, and not easily bored. Basic handyman skills help immensely; and if you have training as a electrician or a welder, all the better. And brewery work will change the way you drink beer: instead of simply enjoying your pint, you’ll be analyzing everything about it.

McDougall also reminds that a brewery is a business, which means complying with laws and regulations, managing finances, and pitching your product to bars and restaurants. Assuming, of course, that you’ve raised enough capital to get your brewery open to begin with.

Finally, McDougall warns that brewery work will consume all of your time–fermentation doesn’t care about your plans for the weekend–and the pay isn’t great either. Having said all that, he promises that if you love the art of brewing, all the hassle will be worth it.

The Friday Mash (Ale and Pi Edition)

Today is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant. It’s celebrated today because Americans write the date as 3/14; and “3″, “1″, and “4″ are the three most significant digits of pi in decimal form. Ludwig recommends a beer, preferably a Real Ale, to go with your pi.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Boston, where Jim Koch invited survivors of last year’s Marathon bombing to his brewery, which is again brewing a special “26.2″ ale to raise funds for those injured last year.

A company in Canada plans to brew a “recovery ale” for athletes. It’s called “Lean Machine”; and it has 77 calories, 0.5 percent alcohol, and contains nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company has tapped into New York tradition with an egg cream stout. An egg cream contains milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water–but no eggs.

A Wisconsin lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a state Beer Commission. It has the backing of the state’s breweries.

Charlie Papazian, head of the Brewers Association, has decided to discontinue the Beer City USA competition because it has “served its purpose.” Grand Rapids won last year’s competition.

investor C. Dean Metropoulos, who bought Pabst Brewing Company four years ago, is reportedly considering a sale of the company, which could be worth as much as $1 billion.

Finally, John Verive, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times, explains why the classic tulip glass is the only glass you’ll need. It’s versatile, supports the beer’s head, and holds in its aromas.

Gilroy Was Here

If you’ve spent any amount of time in bars, you’ve probably seen the famous Guinness ads featuring toucans, sea lions, and other creatures. The ads, which first appeared in the 1930s, were the work of artist John Gilroy, who’s back in the news thanks to the discovery of his “lost” work.

Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, has been following the story for some time. In 1971, Guinness’s advertising agency, SH Benson, was sold to another agency. In the process, hundreds of works by Gilroy, who worked for Benson, disappeared. A few years ago, some of the lost works started showing up on the American art market, and sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

The most interesting lost works were a series of parodies of well-known works of art. Intended to hang in the Guinness brewery in London, they were never used, and instead wound up in Benson’s archive. The works included “The Creation of Man,” in which God hands Adam a pint; Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pint of Guinness”; and “Henri ‘Half-Pint’ Toulouse-Lautrec advertises Guinness in the Paris of the 1890s.”

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