The Friday Mash (Double Nickel Edition)

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum speed limit to 55 miles per hour in order to conserve gasoline during the OPEC embargo. The unpopular “double nickel” stayed on the books for more than 20 years.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Hawaii, where Kona Brewing is celebrating its 21st birthday by releasing a series of Hawaii-only beers. First in Kona’s Makana series is Aina Brown Ale, brewed with taro root.

New York City’s two largest beer distributors plan to merge. The merger threatens the existence of the city’s 13,000 bodegas, which are small, mostly minority-owned convenience stores.

Craft beer is gaining ground in South Korea thanks to new laws. For years, the country’s beer market has been dominated by two large brewing companies.

A blog post by Bryan Roth delves into the economics of beer-buying decisions. Roth wonders whether price will become a bigger factor in what craft beer drinkers buy.

Outside the United States, non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity. Reasons include anti-alcohol laws in Muslim countries, fear of a DUI arrest, and better-tasting products.

Is your local beer bar serious about beer? Thrillist’s Dan Gentile tells you what to look for. For example, bubbles on the side of your glass means the glass is dirty.

Finally, Argentina’s Andes Brewery offers a a “Message in a Bottle”. Andes bottles are imprinted with QR codes which, together with a mobile app, allow a person to record a video and assign it to a specific bottle. The recipient scans the QR code and plays the video back.

The Most Interesting Person You Never Heard Of

The Most Interesting Man in the World has competition. Michel de Carvalho, the son of a Brazilian father and and a British mother, is an MBA from Harvard, a three-time Olympic competitor, and a high-ranking investment banker at Citigroup.

So why is he being mentioned on this blog? Because he married Charlene Heineken, the only child of beer baron Freddy Heineken and 25-percent owner of Heineken International. Her shares make the couple worth an estimated $11 billion.

Earlier this year, the brewery contacted Patricia Sellers of Fortune magazine, and proposed that she interview the de Carvalhos. Even though Charlene has been publicity-shy, she saw Heineken’s 150th birthday as an opportunity to talk about her life and her family business.

One interesting story involves Anheuser-Busch. After Freddy Heineken died, August Busch III–the Busches and de Carvalhos were friendly rivals—suggested that the two companies help one other expand their distribution. A Heineken-Busch joint venture is one of the industry’s more intriguing historical “what-ifs.”

In September, Charlene rejected an unsolicited bid by SABMiller. Meanwhile, Michel is trying to grow Heineken in a rapidly-consolidating industry. Michel feels the heavy responsibility that goes with being part of a family business. He said to Sellers, “One of the things that drives me is the thought that one guy [Freddy] is constantly looking down and wondering whether we’re going to **** it up.”

Beer Finds Religion

With a growing number of young adults rejecting organized religion, some clergy members have found a way to woo them back. They’re serving faith with a beer chaser. One of the largest “brew-ligious” movements is “Pub Theology” which, in a few short years, has grown to more than 140 groups in 41 states.

Clerics have brought their message into pubs; and some, like Rabbi Eli Freedman and Episcopal priest Kirk Berlenbach, have even affiliated themselves with homebrew clubs.

Berlenbach points out that only about one-third that of all the references in the New Testament to alcohol are negative; and the negativity is aimed at drunkenness, not drinking itself. The New Testament doesn’t mention beer, but the Jewish Talmud frequently refers to it. In fact, around 400 A.D., a rabbi warned his congregation to avoid beer brewed by non-Jews because it could lead to intermarriage.

Freedman isn’t following the ancient rabbi’s advice. His homebrew club joined forces with Berlach’s to form Interfaith Brewing. Their collaboration beer, served at a Purim celebration, was given the wonderful name Ecclesiastes 3:1—To Everything There’s a Saison.

The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

* Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

Jobs in Craft Brewing

Want to work in a brewery? Tony Kiss of the Asheville Citizen-Times, who’s spoken to brewery executives, has a few pointers: Don’t count on being offered a tasting job. Be flexible. Prepare to use some elbow grease. And, by all means, hit the books.

The good news is that the big breweries coming to western North Carolina, along with the smaller breweries already in operation, offer a variety of jobs ranging from keg cleaner to social media director to—believe it or not–Director of Fun. Many of those jobs pay a living wage, more than $10 an hour, and a few pay up to $50,000 a year. The bad news is that competition for those jobs is intense, and most applicants will have to start from the bottom. That could mean shlepping bags of grain.

Brewery people say that one way to increase your chances or the better jobs is to sign up for courses in craft brewing. Several schools in the Asheville area offer them.

The Friday Mash (Man on the Moon Edition)

On this day in 1972, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans, and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth. The craft’s re-entry marked the end of America’s manned lunar program. Cernan currently holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in England, where the publishers of Original Gravity, a beer-centric magazine, have put Issue #1 online, free of charge. Enjoy!

The founders of Surly Brewing Company—Omar Ansari, a first-generation American; and Todd Haug, a death-metal guitarist—have done well, both for themselves and Minnesota’s beer drinkers.

Belgian scientists have found a way to keep beer from over-foaming. They applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract to disperse its anti-foaming agent into tinier particles.

Archaeologists have concluded that Iceland’s Vikings were more interested in drinking and feasting than in pillaging. Unfortunately for them, the Little Ice Age became the ultimate party-pooper.

A pair of brothers have invented something that makes it easier to enjoy a beer while taking a shower. Their Sip Caddy is a portable cup holder that can be attached to the wall.

Lance Curran, the co-founder of Chicago’s Arcade Brewery, loves comic books so much that he had comic strips drawn on the labels of its Festus Rotgut black wheat ale.

Finally, a woman attending a Philadelphia 76ers game wound up with a lapful of beer after an errant pass knocked the cup out of her hand. The way the Sixers are playing this season, she–and every other fan–needs some beer to deaden the pain.

Why Founders Sold to a Spanish Brewery

The craft beer community was abuzz this week with news that Founders Brewing Company sold a 30-percent stake to Spain’s Mahou San Miguel Group.

Why did Founders do this? The answer came in a story in Wednesday’s MLive.com. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens told the publication that there were two reasons for the deal. First, by providing an international distribution chain, it ensures that Founders will be around for years to come.

More importantly, Stevens said, the deal was far better than the alternatives: getting acquired by one of the world’s brewing giants or falling into the hands of private-equity investors.

Stevens offered the best Worts of Wisdom of the entire year with this comment:

“We were looking for someone who truly understood the soul this brand,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find that among a bunch of bankers and in the private equity world. Priority No. 1 for people like that is a return — profits.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Budweiser’s advertising expenditures in 2012: $449 million.
  • Its rank among U.S. advertisers in 2012: 25th.
  • Decline in Budweiser sales from 1988 to today: 68 percent.
  • U.S. beer sales in 2013: 196.2 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Down 1.9 percent.
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2013: 15.3 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Up 17.2 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market in 2013: 7.8 percent.
  • IPA’s share, by volume, of the craft beer market, in 2014: 21 percent.
  • Increase in IPA sales, by volume, from 2013 to 2014: 47 percent.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. today: 1.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 1870: 9.
  • Winning men’s time at this year’s Flotrack Beer Mile championship: 5 minutes, 0.23 seconds (by Corey Gallagher).
  • Current men’s record for the Beer Mile: 4 minutes, 57 seconds (held by James Nielsen).
  • Current women’s record for the Beer Mile: 6 minutes, 17.76 seconds (held by Elizabeth Herndon).
  • Is the Industry Ready for Concentrated Beer?

    This sounds like something straight out of the Shark Tank television show. Sustainable Beverage Technologies, a Denver start-up, is about to introduce BrewVo. It’s a patented process for brewing beer into a liquid concentrate, then mixing it with water using the same dispensing equipment that restaurants use for soft drinks.

    The company’s founder, Patrick Tatera, believes there’s demand for technology that cuts costs and makes bars’ and breweries’ operations more efficient. Tatera says he has financial backing, and also has partnerships in place with breweries–which have asked not to be named for now.

    Some observers are skeptical of BrewVo. They think the technology is too risky and radical for the brewing industry. Previous attempts to sell concentrated alcoholic beverages also met with resistance from regulators, health experts, and the spirits industry.

    Skeptics mention what happened to Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product that was to be sold to consumers in packets and mixed with food or water. Lawmakers urged the Food and Drug Administration to ban Palcohol because it would be too easy to snort, and could be smuggled into places that ban alcohol.

    Paul Gatza, the head of the Brewers Association, mentions another problem: breweries will have to get a distiller’s license because of concentrated beer’s high alcohol content.

    The Friday Mash (Boys Town Edition)

    On this day in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan, a Catholic priest in Omaha, opened a home for wayward boys. That home is now a National Historic Landmark; and Boys Town’s slogan, “He ain’t heavy, mister–he’s my brother,” has become part of our popular culture.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Austin, Texas, where Lance Armstrong quit after one lap during qualifying for the inaugural Beer Mile Championship. Armstrong said he’ll never again run a Beer Mile.

    Dave Lieberman of OCWeekly.com got a sales pitch for the “Sonic Foamer,” which creates a 5-millimeter head on your pint of beer. He doesn’t seem the least bit impressed with the product.

    Oktoberfest tops the list of Germany’s beer festivals, but it’s not the only one. EscapeHere.com runs down the country’s top ten, some of which are hundreds of years old.

    A sealed bottle of Samuel Alsopp’s Arctic Ale sold for $503,300 on eBay. It’s considered the world’s rarest bottle of beer because the the original seller misspelled the name “Allsop’s”.

    The Sriracha craze has spread to beer. This month, Rogue Ales will release a limited-edition Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. Suggested pairings include soup, pasta, pizza, and chow mein.

    Last weekend, MillerCoors LLC teamed up with a start-up called Drizly, and offered free home delivery of Miller Lite to customers in four cities.

    Finally, David Kluft of JDSupra Business Advisor reviews this year’s beer trademark disputes. Maybe these cases will inspire someone to host a Disputed Beer Festival next year.

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