beer reviews

The Friday Mash (Divestiture Edition)

Thirty-four years ago, AT&T agreed to be broken up into seven regional phone companies. Over the years, the “Baby Bells” recombined; and Southwestern Bell, the last surviving Baby Bell, renamed itself—you guessed it—“AT&T.”

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Walgreen’s sells Big Flats 1901 for $2.99 a six-pack. The contract-brewed beer has an overall rating of “Poor”—along with some funny reviews—on BeerAdvocate.com.

Kefir beer might be a healthier option for those with stomach ulcers. Scientists in Brazil found that rats that were fed kefir beer were less prone to inflammation than those that were fed regular beer.

Glassblower Matthew Cummings thinks beer deserves better glassware than the shaker pint. His Pretentious Beer Glass Company turns out odd-looking vessels designed for particular styles.

Vilde Haye, an Israeli boutique brewery, has launched a series of beers inspired by an imaginary klezmer orchestra. Each beer in the series has a “mascot,” a shtetel musician with a back story.

Mexican beer is growing faster than craft beer, thanks to America’s growing Latino population. There’s room for more growth as Anglos become aware of brands like Modelo and Tecate.

Brewbound.com lists the top ten craft beer stories of 2015. They include mergers and acquisitions, veteran craft-brewing figures stepping down, lawsuits, and the popularity of hard root beer.

Finally, Frank Winslow, Yards Brewing Company’s Director of Quality Assurance, explains why most beer bottles are brown but some are green, and why Corona might contain hop extract rather than actual hops.

The Friday Mash (Social Security Edition)

Today is the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act. More than 50 million Americans, most of whom are retirees, receive Social Security benefits. That number will grow as members of the Baby Boom generation reach retirement age.

And now (can I see some ID, please?)….The Mash! 

We begin in North Korea, whose government is looking for foreign investors for a brewery in Wosnan. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, wants to turn the port city into a tourist attraction.

Jim Koch, the CEO of Boston Beer Company, blames high U.S. corporate taxes for acquisitions that have left foreign firms in control of 90 percent of America’s brewing industry.

The oldest known receipt for beer is a more than 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet in which a scribe acknowledges receiving approximately 4-1/2 liters of Alulu the brewer’s “best beer.”

At New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan is turning over her CEO duties to another woman, Christine Perich, the chief operating officer. Jordan will head the brewery’s board of directors.

The Los Angeles Times’s John Verive decodes seven words—clean, dry, phenolic, creamy, hot, soft, and light—that are often found in reviews of craft beers.

White Bull beer, a symbol of South Sudan’s independence, is on the endangered list. Armed conflict has left White Bull’s brewer short on foreign currency it needs to import fuel and materials.

Finally, “Biscuit,” who works at the Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis sneaked “Tom Brady Sux” next to the “born-on” date on 20,000 cans of Wee Mac Scottish Ale. His future work will have to be approved by his higher-ups.

Beers That Induce Flashbacks Bring Back Memories

When Maryanne and Paul were students, they suffered from a common affliction known as lack of money. Even if the beer selection were better (we’re talking about the 1970s), their budget would have forced them to drink low-end brew.

Cheap beer is still around, people still drink it, but beer writers usually avoid mentioning them. Not always, though. Rick Armon and a fellow journalist sucked it up and reviewed Greater Cleveland’s budget beers. In all, they tasted 32 beers, including usual suspects such as Busch, Schlitz, and Stroh; some local brands; and even a few that drinkers hide inside a paper bag.

Armon wisely set a very low bar–was the beer inoffensive?–and came to the following conclusion:

The bottom line is that most of these American-made, mass-produced brands are nonoffensive. And that’s not a ringing endorsement. Well, I guess, to a certain degree, it is. Most taste like carbonated water. They lack aroma. They lack flavor. They lack any kind of aftertaste–good or bad. And they are all various shades of urine yellow.

Moral of the story: You get what you pay for.

The Friday Mash (For the Birds Edition)

Today is Bird Day, established in 1894 by a Pennsylvania school superintendent named Charles Babcock. It was the first holiday in the United States dedicated to the celebration of birds. With that in mind, the highest-ranked beer on BeerAdvocate.com with a bird name is Duck Duck Gooze, brewed by The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Brevard, North Carolina (whose state bird is the cardinal), where Oskar Blues will build a brewery and restaurant. It will be up and running by the end of this year.

Will Germany take the “pub” out of public transit? Alcohol-fueled rowdiness on trains in Berlin and other cities has lawmakers pondering a ban on alcohol consumption on mass-transit systems.

Craft beer, brought to you by bicycle? Portland, Oregon’s Old Town Brewing Company will soon deliver its products by pedal power. Its sister company, Old Town Pizza, has been delivering pies by bike for some time.

This sounds impossible, but McLean’s magazine reports that several Canadian campus pubs lose money selling beer to students.

Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason told employees that the company–which recently raised $700 million in an initial public offering–needs to “grow up.” He made that remark while swigging from a bottle of beer.

A recent blog post by Alan McLeod touched off a spirited discussion about reviewing bad craft beer. The bad brew falls into two categories: badly-made beers, which are now rare; and “bad-idea” beers, about which opinions differ.

Finally, tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over French invaders at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Jay Brooks reminds us that Mexico’s traditional beer style is Vienna lager.

The Friday Mash (Nixon in China Edition)

Forty years ago today, President Richard Nixon began his historic journey to Beijing, where he laid the groundwork for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with China. “Nixon in China” has become a political catchphrase, and China now ranks number-one in the world in beer consumption.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Mississippi, where state lawmakers will once again consider raising the maximum allowable alcohol content of beer, currently 5.9 percent ABV. Also under consideration: legalizing homebrewing.

Fancy a pint of Kremlin Beer? The Russian government has trademarked that name, along with Kremlin Vodka. Ludwig hopes the beer will be a red lager.

Corner taverns weren’t just places to knock back a few with friends. They were also centers of community life. Sadly, these establishments are disappearing, thanks in large part to yuppification and stricter licensing laws.

The International Trappist Association, which recognizes seven authentic Trappist breweries, might recognize an eighth brewery: the Engelszell Stift monastery in Austria. Commenters on the story suggest that a couple more might be added to the list as well.

Do you review beers? If so, you might fit into a stereotype. Billy Broas, who blogs at BillyBrew, has compiled a list of ten different types of reviews that he’s run across on the Web.

If you’re headed to Canada’s largest city, the staff of Toronto Life magazine has some tips. They’ve chosen the city’s best bars to have a pint (or three). The establishments range from a locovore’s paradise to an authentic Irish pub.

Finally, Monday is President’s Day. Jay Brooks calls our attention to beer and the presidency, from George Washington’s insistence on American-brewed porter to Barack Obama’s homebrewing.

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