beer labels

The Friday Mash (Cleveland Rocks Edition)

Two hundred and twenty years ago today, surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company named an area in Ohio “Cleveland” after General Moses Cleaveland, the superintendent of the surveying party. The city’s first “a” later vanished when a newspaper publisher couldn’t fit it on the masthead.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in space, the final frontier. Shmaltz Brewing is celebrating Star Trek’s 50th anniversary with two “collector’s edition” Golden Anniversary beers:”The Trouble With Tribbles” and “Voyage to the Northeast Quadrant”.

“Foraging”—combing local fields and forests for ingredients—is a foodie trend that breweries are just starting to join. VinePair’s Kathleen Wilcox profiles two of them and the people who own them.

Here’s one SEC title the Alabama Crimson Tide won’t be winning: best craft beer city in the conference. The honor belongs to Athens, Georgia, the home of the Bulldogs.

The Beer Institute, whose member companies control 80 percent of the American market, has agreed to put nutritional information—including calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat—on beer labels.

It wasn’t exactly Smokey and the Bandit, but a beer distributor picked up his first allotment of Deschutes beer in Bend, Oregon, and drove it cross-country to Salem, Virginia.

Africa is a challenging market for breweries. They’ve responded by stepping up production of beer using local ingredients and rolling out low-cost alternatives to their flagship brands.

Finally, a London-based company is the first to brew beer using artificial intelligence. It uses an algorithm called Automated Brewing Intelligence to collect customer feedback via a Facebook Messenger bot, then uses the feedback to improve the recipes of its beer.

The Friday Mash (New Moon Edition)

On this day in 1655, scientist Christiaan Huygens discovered Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Huygens didn’t stop with astronomy, either. He also invented the pendulum clock, and published a pioneering work on games of chance.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Bavaria, where the Röhrl brewery has come under fire for allegedly placing pro-Nazi labels on one of its beers. The beer’s name in English is “Border Fence Half”, a reference to Europe’s refugee crisis.

Caught on video: A woman sitting behind the Chicago Bulls’ bench tried to find her seat. She took a tumble and hit the floor, but managed to save her beer.

The Scottish brewery BrewDog has released a beer called Clean Water Lager. All profits from that beer will go toward bring clean water to the 650 million people who currently have none.

Jay Brooks of the San Jose Mercury News has an update on Hawaii’s craft brewing industry. The Aloha State now has 15 breweries, with another eight expected to open their doors.

Indonesian entrepreneurs are capitalizing on a recent ban on convenience store beer sales by purchasing beer from distributors and delivering it to customers by motorcycle.

Global warming is affecting the brewing industry: last year’s drought took its toll on Northwest hops production. Drought also forces farmers to use groundwater, which affects the taste of beer.

Finally, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex, Samuel Adams has the highest “buzz score”. That’s not a measure of the beer’s potency; it’s the percentage of adults who’ve heard something about the brand

The Friday Mash (Mac Edition)

Thirty-two years ago today, Apple Corporation introduced the Macintosh, which popularized the mouse and the graphical user interface. The introduction came in the form of the famous “1984” television commercial during Super Bowl XVIII.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Michigan, where Founders Brewing Company, having filed the necessary paperwork, can once again sell Breakfast Stout with a baby on the label.

In the UK, health officials now recommend that men drink no more than six pints of beer per week. They also warn that drinking any amount of alcohol can cause health problems.

Paste magazine introduces you to seven “ridiculous, but kind of awesome” beer gadgets. They include a CO-2 injection system for growlers and a bottle that imparts an oak taste.

New laws in a number of states have encouraged “farm-to-keg” breweries, which make and serve beer using ingredients grown on site. These breweries operate much like wineries.

Did you get a drone for Christmas? AC Shilton of Outside magazine explains how can you train your new toy to fetch and deliver your beer.

In Australia, Quentin Tarantino was presented with a six-pack of Victoria Bitter in cans specially designed to honor him. He was joined onstage by actors Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.

Finally, the Craft Brewers Alliance plans to distribute Kona beer in Brazil. It cited “the great synergies between Hawaiian and Brazilian culture, with their amazing beaches and strong water lifestyles.”

The Friday Mash (World Anesthesia Day Edition)

On this day in 1846, William T.G. Morton first demonstrated ether anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Each year the medical community honors this breakthrough with World Anesthesia Day. If ether “isn’t right for you”, we suggest having a beer instead.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Iowa City, where the informal University of Iowa “Beer Band” has suspended itself—at least for the time being—after townspeople complained abou X-rated song lyrics.

Beer author John Holl interviewed Dr. Chris White, the founder of yeast provider White Labs. Topics include sour beer, brewer education, and White’s new facility in North Carolina.

Chicago restaurateur Rick Bayless is introducing genuine Mexican-style beers. He’s opened a brewpub, and has also formed a brewing partnership with Constellation Brands .

Years ago, graphic designer Harvey Shepherd fell in love with beer packaging. He’s turned his avocation into the recently-published Oh Beautiful Beer: The Evolution of Craft Beer and Design.

Business consultant Chip Martella has good news and bad news for craft brewers. The dreaded industry shakeup has arrived, but a scrappy craft brewer can still succeed in this environment.

Carla Jean Whitley of AL.com details the revival of brewing in Alabama. Now that lawmakers have eased many Prohibition-era restrictions, the state’s brewery count has risen to 28.

Finally, declining sales of American light beer have forced breweries to rethink their advertising strategies. Their new ads will stress product quality, and will carry more woman-friendly messages.

The Friday Mash (Liberator Edition)

On this day in 1783, Simon Bolivar, “The Liberator,” was born. Bolivar was instrumental role in making Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela independent of Spanish rule. Toast him with a glass of Polar beer, “The People’s Beer” of Venezuela.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Milwaukee, where Pabst Brewing Company is returning to its original location. Pabst’s owner, Eugene Kashper, says the brewery will new small-batch beers, based on Pabst’s archived recipes, while staying true to its roots.

A new Indiana law classifies retirement communities as homes, so they no longer need a liquor license to serve alcohol to residents. One problem not likely to occur: underage drinking.

Mark your calendars. Next year’s Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will be held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. The dates are July 8-10.

Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California, announced on her Facebook page that she’s introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcoholic beverages.

The clever folks at Printsome.com have designed beer labels to match the personalities of Facebook, Google, Nike, and 14 other highly recognizable corporations.

Yes, you can get an India pale ale—along with a host of other craft beers—in India. The subcontinent’s first brewpub, Doolally in the city of Pune, opened its doors in 2009. A slew of others have followed.

Finally, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Tacoma displays a bottle of Corona with a lime slice underneath an American flag. An unidentified woman ordered the Corona and placed it in front of an adjoining seat in honor of her brother, who was killed while on duty in Iraq.

The Friday Mash (Very Endangered Species Edition)

On this day in 1844, the last two known great auks were killed. These large flightless penguin-like birds, which lived in the North Atlantic, were hunted to extinction because their down was in high demand in Europe.

And on that auk-ward note…The Mash!

We begin in China, where designer Li Rongjun has built an office out of 8,500 empty beer bottles. Rongjun has a degree in construction from the Inner Mongolia University of Science & Technology.

Lagunitas Brewing Company will build a third brewery in Asuza, California. The new plant, with a projected capacity of more than 400,000 barrels a year, is expected to open in early 2017.

Molson’s Beer Fridge will make an appearance at this month’s Pan-American Games in Toronto. The latest edition will dispense a free Molson to those who say “I Am Canadian” in any of 40 languages.

Anita Brown, an artist in Los Angeles, has designed beers for each of the books in the Harry Potter series. They include Pilsner of Azkaban, Amber of Secrets, and Deathly Hops (h/t Jay Brooks).

Queen is the latest rock group to release its own beer. It’s a pilsner that will be called—what else?—Bohemian Rhapsody. The bottle’s design features a crest designed by Freddie Mercury himself while he was in college.

5 Rabbit Cerveceria has pulled a custom-brewed batch of ale from Chicago’s Trump Tower in protest of Donald Trump’s comments about Mexico. 5 Rabbit’s founder, is a native of Costa Rica.

Finally, New Orleans is rarely associated with German culture, but Tchoupitoulas Beer Garden, a year-round, Oktoberfest-inspired beer hall, will open this summer in the city’s Warehouse District.

An Oral History of Beer Label Design

As the craft beer industry grows more crowded, it becomes increasingly important for breweries to distinguish themselves from the competition. One way of doing so, aside from the beer itself, is the look and feel of the beer’s packaging. Chris Wright of GearPatrol.com sought out a number of leading figures in the craft community, and asked them about the design of their beer labels.

Wright’s panel of experts includes Brooklyn Brewery’s Milton Glazer, who founded New York magazine and designed the iconic “I (Heart) NY” logo in the 1970s; Flying Dog Ales’ Erin Weston, who works closely with Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrator Ralph Steadman; and Dogfish Head Brewery’s Sam Calagione, who really needs no introduction. Ten other designers, representing such well-known brands as Founders, Ommegang, and Sly Fox, also contributed to this fascinating oral history.

The designers come from various walks of life; and, as expected, many of them are home brewers. They explained to Wright what they wanted their labels to convey, such as psychedelia or fond memories of the beach. Perhaps the best comment came from Calagione, who told Wright that label design has become a challenge. He said, “It’s getting harder to find fun, provocative on-brand names these days with 1.5 new breweries opening every day and only half a million words in the English language.”

Uncle Sam’s Beer Label Czar

Meet Kent “Battle” Martin, who for years has been America’s beer label czar. Martin, who works for the Tax and Trade Bureau, a section of the U.S. Treasury Department, has been variously described as a workaholic, eccentric, and tightly wound. That, and a law onto himself. In his career at the U.S. Treasury’s Tax and Trade Bureau, he’s passed judgment on some 30,000 labels.

The brewing community respects Martin’s work ethic and dedication to his job, and acknowledges that regulation has to be consistent. Nevertheless, some of his decisions have become legendary. The labels he’s rejected include these:

  • The King of Hearts, which had a playing card image on it, because the heart implied that the beer would have a health benefit;
  • Pickled Santa, because Santa’s eyes were too “googly” on the label, and labels cannot advertise the physical effects of alcohol;
  • Bad Elf’s “Elf Warning” about operating toy-making machinery while drinking the ale, which was deemed confusing to consumers;
  • A label that featured a hamburger, because the image implied there was a meat additive in the beer; and
  • “Adnams Broadside” beer, which touted itself as a “heart-warming ale,” another prohibited health-benefit claim.
  • And there’s the story of Vaune Dillman, who wanted to market a beer called “Legal Weed.” Battle not only objected to what looked like a reference to marijuana—Weed is an actual town in California, where Dillman brews his beer—but he also took offense that Dillman called him “Mr. Martin,” not “Battle,” which he prefers to be called.

    What Do Those Symbols on Beer Labels Mean?

    Breweries are among the oldest businesses in the world, and their beer labels are full of symbols from their storied histories. In MentalFloss.com, Nick Green explains the symbolism behind 20 well-known beer labels.

    One of the most common sources of symbols is the brewery’s own history. The eagle on the Yuengling label and the horn on Stella Artois’ harken back to the breweries’ original names. The hometown coat of arms is another source. That’s why there are lions on the Amstel and Modelo Especial labels, and a key on the Beck’s label. Dos Equis resurrected Aztec leader Moctezuma II for its label, and Guinness appropriated the Brian Boru harp.

    Green’s article has some other fun facts. Bass’s red triangle was issued Trademark #1 by the British government; until 1908, the text of the Budweiser label was in German; and legend has it that Miller High Life was called “The Champagne of Beers” because it was released a few days before New Year’s Eve.

    Finally, there’s Rolling Rock’s mysterious “33”. People have offered numerous explanations, but no one knows for sure how and why that number wound up on the label.

    Government Shutdown Hits Craft Brewers

    Craft brewers are getting hit hard by the federal government shutdown. That’s because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a little-known arm of the Treasury Department, has closed its doors until the impasse is resolved.

    The closure of TTB won’t stop the brewing or marketing of beers, but it has delayed the approval process for both new breweries and new beer labels by existing breweries. Some breweries can’t open because their applications are on hold, while others can’t get the okay for labels for their fall and winter seasonal beers.

    Even before the shutdown, craft brewery owners faced lengthy delays in getting approval, and the added delays have brought their frustration–pardon the pun–to a head.

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