Brad Tuttle of Time magazine has a warning for beer drinkers: What you see on the label might not be true.
One example is deception as to a beer’s provenance. Tuttle mentions beers that are advertised as “Vermont ales” when in fact they’re brewed elsewhere. One brewer of “Vermont ale” is located in Berkeley, California; another is based in upstate New York.
“American” is a time-honored way to make products more appealing, and Budweiser exploited this tactic to the hilt by renaming Budweiser “America” last year. Problem is, the brand is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a conglomerate headquartered in Belgium.
Some beers try to pass themselves off as “imported”. Even though they bear foreign breweries’ names, they’re brewed in the U.S. A couple of years ago, Anheuser-Busch got slapped with a lawsuit over domestically-brewed Beck’s beer. A-B didn’t admit fault, but agreed to pay Beck’s drinkers up to $50 in the settlement; and the suit apparently made it more careful about advertising claims.
“Craft” is another possible source of deception. Here the legalities get trickier: the Brewers Association has laid down criteria for what breweries qualify as “craft”, but the BA’s definition isn’t universally accepted in the industry. That said, the mega-brewers behind Blue Moon (launched as an experiment by Coors Brewing) and Goose Island (acquired by A-B) haven’t gone out of their way to disclose those brands’ current ownership.
On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society was formed. The Society’s logo, a bright yellow box, appears on National Geographic magazine, which is published in 40 languages around the world.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Pennsylvania, where the beer police caught up with Travis John Miller, who was selling the contents of his beer cellar on Craigslist. Miller faces a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.
Swedish brewer Fredrik Tunedal, who often came home from work covered in malt dust, has released a Shower Beer. Its flavor profile includes a soapy taste, which Tunedal calls “on-point” for his product.
Keurig Green Mountain has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev to develop a line of instant beers—and other instant adult beverages—that Keurig owners can make at home.
The CEO of Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and Modelo beer, said that he doesn’t expect President-elect Donald Trump’s trade policy to raise the price of Mexican brands.
Despite a dismal 5-7 record, the University of Texas finished #1 in the country—in beer sales, that is. By season’s end, Longhorns fans spent $5.26 on alcohol for every fan in attendance.
Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, disputes studies showing that beer sales have fallen in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Watson argues that pot is just one of many variables affecting sales.
Finally, in Adelaide, Australia, the woman-owned Sparkke Change Beverage Company is putting feminist messages on cans of its beer. It’s an effort to start conversations in the country’s male-dominated beer culture.
On this day in 1928, The Walt Disney Corporation released the animated short “Steamboat Willie”, the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. It was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Disney considers this release to be Mickey’s birthday.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in England, where pub companies warn that the price of a pint is about to jump. Factors include inflation, higher costs of doing business, and the introduction of the living wage.
Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa showed off his axe-throwing skills in an Instagram video. What makes his performance even more impressive is that he drank a beer immediately before he hit the bulls-eye.
FIFA, the world-wide governing body of soccer, is negotiating with officials of host country Qatar over whether beer will be served there during matches at the 2022 World Cup.
Effective January 1, 2019, Labatt will discontinue the 50-year-old tradition of issuing free beer for life to company retirees. The Canadian brewery is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Travel blogger Emmanuel Marshall used Innis & Gunn IPA as currency to pay for transportation and lodging on his 5,000-mile trip from Scotland, the home of Innis & Gunn, to India.
Scientists at Rockefeller University have found that beer pong players expose themselves to numerous icky bacteria. The good news is that college-aged players have strong enough immune systems to cope with them.
Finally, the San Diego Union-Tribune named the five beers that put the city on the craft beer map: AleSmith Speedway Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Green Flash Le Freak, Karl Strauss Red Trolley, and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito stirred up a hornets’ nest by saying that “consumers are a bit tired of choice.” Bob Pease, the president of the Brewers Association, was quick to respond.
Pease pointed out that the 2016 Great American Beer Festival attracted a sellout crowd of 60,000, who sampled more than 3,800 from 780 breweries; and that the ability to choose from that many alternatives is “a central value of our democracy and a core tenet of ‘being American’.”
The BA head also asserted that Brito’s comment smacked of self-aggrandizement. He said that A-B InBev entered the craft beer market by acquiring a portfolio of craft breweries, and is about to use its economic power to push its brands onto store shelves and tap handles—and push out truly independent brands. Pease observed, “That’s reducing choice all right—but not based on beer lover demand.”
Peace also suggested that consumers will rebel against A-B InBev’s attempt to limit their choices. A recent Nielsen survey found 58 percent of American craft beer drinkers want even more flavors to choose from, and about 65 percent said they drink more craft beer specifically because craft offers more variety.
In the last couple of months, MarketWatch.com’s Jason Notte has seen disquieting trends in the craft beer industry:
Notte doesn’t think these developments mean the craft beer bubble has burst. He writes:
“If anything, it all begrudgingly recognizes that the players in all tiers of the beer industry have found themselves in the same predicament: Running a business in an environment where constant growth isn’t a given and where big decisions are often followed by unintended fallout.”
Fifty years ago today, the Metropolitan Opera House opened at Lincoln Square in Manhattan. The opening-night performance was the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber.
And now…The Mash!
We begin on ESPN College GameDay, where Sam Crowder held up a sign last Saturday asking Vemmo users to send him beer money. Within hours, more than 2,000 people contributed.
BBC correspondent Stephen Evans hopped a flight to make a beer run…all the way to Beijing. His Chinese friends had made a trip to the border to acquire “forbidden” Taedonggang beer, which is brewed in North Korea.
Here’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had. It’s a beer mug that won’t block your view of the TV when you’re drinking.
Pork roll aka Taylor ham, a New Jersey breakfast favorite, is now a beer ingredient. Flying Fish Brewing Company has released Exit 7 Pork Roll Porter as part of its “Exit Series”.
Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing has rolled out a beer honoring the stereotypical “Florida Man”. The label for this beer, a double IPA, depicts a man wrestling an alligator—and winning.
Beer is more expensive than ever at NFL stadiums, but there’s one consolation: you can now buy craft beer from breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors recently acquired.
Finally, Nebraska liquor regulators have banned homebrewers from beer festivals. Because homebrewers aren’t licensed, there’s no assurance that they meet health and sanitation standards.
On Saturday, the fifth annual Virginia Craft Brewer’s Festival will take place at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company amid controversy.
Devil’s Backbone is being acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev. This means it will no longer qualify as a “craft brewery” making it ineligible to compete in the Virginia Craft Beer Cup, even though its Schwarzbier is a three-time Best of Show winner. In fact, this year’s awards ceremony was pulled from the festival, and will take place at a different venue.
The A-B deal also means that Devil’s Backbone will no longer host the Virginia Craft Brewer’s Festival. The state’s Craft Brewers Guild has decided to stage the 2017 event at a location to be determined. Meanwhile, Devil’s Backbone will host a new event as part of next year’s calendar of festivals and parties. The brewery says that it won’t conflict with the Craft Brewer’s Festival.