beer gardens

Family-Friendly Beer Gardens

During the late 1800s, German immigrants brought the tradition of beer gardens to America. The Germans viewed beer gardens as socially beneficial; they allowed all ages and classes to come together, and drunkenness and belligerence were verboten. However, mixing children and alcohol gave temperance advocates one more reason to lobby for Prohibition. When alcohol was re-legalized, male-dominated bars were far more common than beer gardens.

But family-friendly beer gardens are making a comeback. Many states allow chaperoned minors in bars, and some establishments are even offering play group and birthday party packages. Moms with children represent a business opportunity, because they come in during working hours when business is slow.

However, some adults resent the presence, and have complained—often vociferously. One beer garden proprietor, who sides with the parents, thinks the complainers suffer from the Kid Multiplier Effect: they perceive the presence of ten kids for every one actual kid they see.

The Friday Mash (Vast Wasteland Edition)

Forty-three years ago today, Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow delivered his famous “Vast Wasteland” speech in which he decried “totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in the Shaab Valley in Jordan, where Yazan Karadsheh has launched his country’s first microbrewery. The brewery is called Carakale, after an indigenous mountain cat.

A mobile beer garden is coming to Milwaukee County’s parks this summer. The tables, glassware, and of course, the beer, will be provided by Sprecher Brewing Company.

In Portland, Oregon, Fred Eckhardt’s many friends celebrated his 88th birthday last weekend with two dozen big special beers from breweries from throughout the region.

PYT, a burger joint in Philadelphia, is now serving a burger topped with a Pabst Blue Ribbon-filled wonton. It’s designed to explode hot beer in your mouth as soon as you take a bite.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, so many new breweries have opened in recent months that the city can make a good argument that it’s now Canada’s craft beer capital.

Chicago’s DryHop Brewers has collaborated with the Lincoln Park Zoo to brew “I’m Not a Raccoon”, a red saison that checks in at 6% ABV. Proceeds will be donated to the Red Panda Wish List Fund.

Finally, beer writer John Holl went to the Bud Light Hotel in Las Vegas, which was “designed to be the ultimate fusion of sports and music.” Holl was amazed at Bud Light fans’ brand loyalty.

The Friday Mash (Genuine Bell Edition)

On this day in 1876, Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Ironically, Bell considered the phone a distraction from his real work as a scientist and refused to have one in his study.

And now…a busy signal!

We begin in Philadelphia, where a beer garden will open across from the Liberty Bell. Philly has other good “hop spots,” and USA Today’s Marla Cimini will show you around.

Almost 600 types of barley seeds have been added to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This ups the chances that survivors will be able to enjoy a post-apocalyptic beer.

In India, architecture students from Bangalore and Spain used thousands of beer bottles to construct a classroom. The bottles eliminate the need for artificial light inside.

Stone Brewing Company plans to open a second brewery in the eastern U.S., and it appears that Greensboro has been found worthy as a site to brew Arrogant Bastard and other ales.

A London-based start-up company has a remedy for job stress. Desk Beer offers Friday deliveries of local craft beer–provided, of course, the boss approves.

If you plan on some beer hunting, Lindsey Grossman of Paste magazine suggests eight beer-related apps for your phone. They include a “fairly addictive” game called Micro Caps.

Finally, after being served three ales he couldn’t stand, Johnny Sharp unleashed a rant titled “Am I The Only Man in Britain Who Hates Craft Beer? You may find his writing an “acquired taste.”

The Friday Mash (QWERTY Edition)

One hundred and forty years ago today, E. Remington and Sons in Ilion, New York, began production of the first practical typewriter. Even though few of us use typewriters anymore, the familiar “QWERTY” keyboard design, invented in 1874, is still with us.

ASDF…The Mash!

We begin in Massachusetts where Todd Ruggere, a Waltham resident, is drinking a Sam Adams in each of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. He’s raising money for cancer research.

We all know that higher-gravity beers are able to conceal hop bitterness. With that in mind, Jay Brooks recently posted an original gravity to hops ratio graph on his Brookston Beer Bulletin.

In 1953, an Aussie named Bob Hawke set a world record by downing a yard of ale–more than two pints–in 11 seconds. He was later elected that country’s Prime Minister. Coincidence?

Good news for beer lovers in Manhattan. The Hudson River Park Trust will open a 6,000-square-foot beer garden overlooking the river at Pier 62. It will serve craft beers and specialty food.

Kegasus, the beer-guzzling centaur that advertises the Preakness InfieldFest, will likely be scratched from this year’s race. But there will be live entertainment, and plenty of beer.

Pro tip: it’s not a good idea to drink to excess before designing beer labels, because you might come up with something like this disturbing Belgian ale label.

Finally, congratulations to Warren Monteiro, a writer, beer traveler, and homebrewer from New York City, who was named Beerdrinker of the Year at the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

The Bavarian Beer Garden Turns 200

Two hundred years ago this month, King Maximillian I of Bavaria decreed that farmers could legally sell beer from June until September. That ruling settled a long-simmering dispute between farmers and innkeepers but, more importantly, it made possible the beloved Bavarian institution of the beer garden.

The king also permitted farmers to serve bread as well as beer, but barred them from serving any other food. That part of the decree led to the custom–which survives to this day–of people bringing their own food into beer gardens. It’s not unusual to see people bringing picnic baskets filled with food (complete with Bavarian blue and white tablecloths) and make a day of it. Bavarians believe that the beer garden serves an important social function. They’re right; today, as in the past, it is a place where families from all walks of life can spend the day together.

The Friday Mash (Will Rogers Edition)

On this day in 1879, Will Rogers was born. He was a cowboy, actor, and humorist, and one of the biggest celebrities of the Jazz Age. Rogers once said that “Communism is like prohibition, it’s a good idea but it won’t work.” Both the Great Experiment and the hammer and sickle have vanished, which is a good reason to have a beer.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Mozambique, where SABMiller has introduced Impala, a beer brewed with a mixture of cassava and barley. The beer will be about 25 percent cheaper than traditional lagers in hopes of getting drinkers to switch from homebrew to a commercial beer.

Those hard-to-find beers might be easier to get if legislation designed to save the U.S. Postal Service becomes law. One provision of that legislation would allow shipments of beer and wine.

No, it’s not too late to join The Session #57, which is titled “Bless Me Father, for I Have Drank”. You don’t even have to be Catholic to offer up your contribution.

Despite a world-class lineup of contributors, the Oxford Companion to Beer isn’t free of factual errors. Blogger Alan McLeod has created a wiki where readers can flag and those errors for possible future editions of the book.

March 5, 2012, will be Kate the Great Day at the Portsmouth Brewery. Next year’s edition will come in smaller (330 milliliter) bottles to allow more fans to bring some home.

At this year’s World Beer Awards, the judges named Weihenstephan Vitus, a strong wheat beer, the World’s Best Beer. Other winners were Rodenbach Grand Cru (Best Ale), Samuel Adams Double Bock (Best Lager), Deschutes Hop Henge (Best Pale Ale), and Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (Best Stout and Porter).

Finally, beer gardens are flourishing in southern California, but with American touches like food from all over the world on the menu and local micros on tap. And in Detroit, the Christmas Wonderfest will include a Hofbrauhaus biergarten.

America’s Best Beer Gardens

Before refrigeration was invented, enterprising German brewers kept beer cool by storing it underground. It didn’t take long before someone figured out that planting shade trees kept the summer sun from heating the ground above the beer caverns. And the beer garden was born.

When small breweries made a comeback in America, the beer garden enjoyed a revival as well. Those few establishments that survived Prohibition have been joined by modern versions. David Farley of Travel and Leisure magazine offers a virtual tour of America’s best beer gardens. They range from the 156-year-old Mecklenberg Gardens in Cincinnati to Stone Brewing Company’s deluxe version with pine, elm, and olive trees, and even a koi pond.

The Friday Mash (Friendly Confines Edition)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, William Wrigley, Jr., was born. Wrigley owned Catalina Island; the Wm Wrigley Jr. Company, the maker of chewing gum; and the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs still play–unfortunately, quite badly–in the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Opening Day is next April 6. However, the Moerlein Lager House, which is near the ballpark, will get a two-month head start on the Reds. It will serve eight mainstay beers, plus a rotating monthly special.

Just in time for the Great American Beer Festival, Laura Bly of USA Today takes us along the Colorado Beer Trail. Her article has bonus video of the Boulder Beer Bus.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited Germany, a brewery in Berlin made a “Papst Bier” in his honor. Before serving the beer, brewery staff “ensouled” it with Gregorian chants played on a ghetto blaster.

British bloggers Boak and Bailey report that their country’s breweries have gone through the archives to find pre-1970s beer recipes to re-introduce to a new generation of drinkers.

What do Denver’s food trucks and breweries have in common with the oxpecker birds and zebras? As Billy Broas of explains, each gains an advantage from cooperating with the other.

From the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Department, a Washington, D.C. resident had to apologize for bringing a case of beer to the firefighters who put out a blaze in his house. The firefighters didn’t drink the beer while on duty, but still face disciplinary action.

Finally, Detroit fans toasting the playoff-bound Tigers have a new place to raise a glass: Tashmoo, a pop-up beer garden that features a rotating lineup of Michigan-brewed micros.

The Friday Mash (Mr. Zip Edition)

On this day in 1963, U.S. Postal Service introduced ZIP (for Zone Improvement Plan) codes. To get Americans to use the newfangled numbers, the Postal Service introduced a cartoon character called “Mr. Zip.” He’s moved on to advertising heaven, but ZIP codes are still with us.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Frederick, Maryland, where new state laws have allowed the Flying Dog Brewery to bring back brewery tours. The tours are popular, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead.

Will session beer catch on in the U.S.? Perhaps, but Andy Crouch warns that it faces major cultural hurdles. Being goal-oriented, Americans don’t like settling in for hours at a time at a pub.

What do The Turtles, Bob Dylan, and Dr. Dre have in common? All three can be found on the list of Top Ten Songs in Beer Commercials, compiled by Ciaren Thompson of

If you live, work, or find yourself in New York City, beer gardens aplenty are waiting for you. Amarelle Wenkert of Black Book magazine offers some of her favorites.

In Ottawa, Ohio, Larry Wagner plunked down $740 for a can of beer. The cash went to a good cause–the struggling Putnam County Fair–and Wagner got a neon sign along with the beer.

A 170-year-old bottle of beer found in a shipwreck was contaminated by salt, and contained no yeast cells needed to reverse-engineer the brew. Scientists hope for better luck next time.

Finally, Appalachia’s tobacco farms are giving way to a variety of crops including truffles, wasabi, shiitake mushrooms, and last but not least, hops. Draft magazine takes a look.

The Friday Mash (Elvis Edition)

Next Monday marks the 33rd anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, but today we celebrate a different Elvis–namely, Elvis Grbac, who played quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL. He turns 40 today. We’re also honoring two other athletes with that name: figure skater Elvis Stojko and running back Elvis Peacock.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the ballpark, where Chris Gigley of Beer celebrates the keystone combination of minor league baseball and craft beer.

Next stop is New York City, where beer gardens have been sprouting up. Robert Simonson of the New York Times tells us where to find them. If you’re thinking of visiting NYC, you might want to arrive sometime between September 24 and October 3, which is New York City Craft Beer Week.

In our style section, Jack Curtin answers the question: What’s up with ginger beer? And Greg Kitsock, writing in the Washington Post, gets us acquainted with an up-and-coming style: black India pale ale.

Turning to travel, Bryan Kolesar of The Brew Lounge was among the revelers at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, and he’s got dozens and dozens of photos to prove it.

Northern Michigan is known for its wine, but a European-style farmhouse brewery, the Leelanau Brewing Company, is about to open.

Finally, Stone Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing, and North Park Beer Company have joined forces to brew San Diego County Session Ale. It’ll hit the shelves next month.

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