beer week

The Friday Mash (Nachos Grande Edition)

Today is International Nacho Day. It honors the snack that was created in 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for a group of Army wives on a shopping trip to Mexico. A modified version of Anaya’s recipe debuted at Arlington Stadium in Texas in 1976, and soon made its appearance at stadiums and bars across America.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Earls Barton, England, where Peter Dowdeswell, the holder of hundreds of speed eating and drinking records, was forced to retire becuase of injuries suffered while trying to drink a pint of beer while being held upside down.

Danville, Kentucky, which was a dry town not long ago, now has the most breweries per capita. Its two breweries serve a population of 15,000, putting it slightly ahead of Portland, Oregon.

Breweries aren’t the only small businesses that benefit from the craft beer boom. Bars and restaurants that serve their beer profit as well, which is why so many of them take part in city Beer Weeks.

Is New York City in your travel plans? The Village Voice has picked the city’s ten best beer bars, some of which aren’t on the proverbial list of usual suspects.

A bourbon barrel can’t be used more than once, which means an awful lot of barrels need a new home. TastingTable.com caught up with four distilleries, and found out how their barrels get creatively re-used.

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? A bar in Oregon is hosting a Beer Film Fest featuring oldies like W.C. Fields in “The Fatal Glass of Beer” and contemporary classics like “Beer Wars.”

Finally, if you have a thirst for adventure and $95,000 to spare, Thirsty Swagman’s Beer in Space tour is for you. You’ll be rocketed more than 50 miles above the Earth’s surface, past the boundary of outer space.

2010: The Year in Review

Another year is about to go into the books. For craft brewing, 2010 turned to be an eventful year indeed. Some highlights:

  • Collaboration beers were all the rage. Sierra Nevada kicked off the year by releasing the first of a four-beer series in which CEO Ken Grossman joined forces with Fritz Maytag, Jack McAuliffe, and Charlie Papazian. By year’s end, Infinium, a joint effort by Boston Beer Company and Weihenstephan, was on the shelves for holiday revelers.
  • Beer Week, which began in Philadelphia two years ago, spread to more than 20 cities, as well as several states. And Oregon has upped the ante, declaring all of July Craft Beer Month.
  • After 45 years at the helm at Anchor Brewing Company, Fritz Maytag sold it to a Bay Area investment company. Maytag is chairman emeritus of the new company.
  • Despite a flat economy, craft beer sales in America showed a substantial increase. Across the ocean, cask ale gained followers, especially among younger and female drinkers.
  • The roster of craft breweries that can their beer continues to grow. There are, by one estimate, more than 100. There is even a festival devoted exclusively to canned craft beer: Burning Can in Reno, Nevada.
  • The year saw the first-ever beer bloggers’ conference, held in Boulder, Colorado. Next year there will be bloggers’ conferences in London and in Portland, Oregon.
  • A couple of beers rose from the dead. Rheingold has been resurrected in the New York City area, while Duquesne returned to western Pennsylvania. And the F.X. Matt Brewery, badly damaged by a fire, enjoyed a phoenix-like revival.
  • The craft brewing industry continued to consolidate. Rochester, New York-based North American Breweries acquired the parent company of the Pyramid and Magic Hat breweries. And three major brewpub chains–Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, and Old Chicago have been brought under a single corporate entity called CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.
  • John Hickenlooper, who went into the brewpub business after being laid off from his job as a geologist, was elected governor of Colorado.
  • Beer labels landed their creators in hot water. Short’s Brewing Company drew charges of racism for putting a picture of a hanged man on the label. Later that year, Lost Abbey offended Wiccans with a label depicting a witch being burned. Ontario nixed the use of Samichlaus because it smacked of marketing beer to children. And Swedish regulators said no to Founders Breakfast Stout, which depicts a baby on the label.
  • Reality TV discovered beer culture. The highlight was Discovery Channel’s new series entitled “Brewmasters,” which starred Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s founder, Sam Calagione.
  • President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron settled a World Cup bet by exchanging local microbrews. Obama gave Cameron a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat from his hometown of Chicago, and Cameron reciprocated with Hobgoblin, brewed in his Witney constituency.
  • In the ABV wars, Scotland’s BrewDog, Limited, declared victory with the release of The End of History, 55% ABV beer served inside an animal carcass. They were soon topped by a Dutch brewery called ‘t Koelschip which brought out a 60% ABV beer–which is stronger than bourbon.
  • The dreaded Beer Police made their appearance. Pennsylvania cops raided several Philadelphia-area establishments for serving beer that hadn’t been registered with state officials. Local beer writers were not amused.
  • Finally, an item from the “Can You Believe This?” Department: the folks at SABMiller examined how best to run a brewery in a post-apocalyptic future.
  • 2011 Beer Weeks

    Ludwig says it’s never too early to plan your beer travel. And with that in mind, here is a list of 2011 Beer Weeks for which he’s found confirmed dates:

    February 11–20: San Francisco Beer Week.

    Feburary 27-March 6: Sacramento Craft Beer Week. The 2011 dates have not yet been posted on the event website, but a Sacramento Bee reporter got these dates from the event’s executive director.

    March 18-27: Charlotte Craft Beer Week.

    May 16-22: American Craft Beer Week (nation-wide).

    June 3-12: Philly Beer Week.

    July 10-16: Ohio Brew Week, Athens, Ohio.

    Ludwig has also found the Facebook page for this year’s Syracuse Beer Week. The dates are November 7-13.

    And he’s heard from reliable sources that this year’s Detroit Beer Week will take place October 15-23. The website is expected to go live shortly, and the main event will be the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Detroit Fall Festival on the 23rd at Eastern Market.

    Announcing Our Beer Week Coverage

    In recent years, aficionados in a growing number of cities across North America have organized Beer Weeks, city-, region-, and even state-wide celebrations of craft beer. A typical Beer Week opens with a kickoff event modeled after the Oktoberfest keg-tapping ceremony, and has a signature event such as a festival. Other events include beer dinners, releases and special tastings, meet-the-brewer events, pub crawls, and culinary and educational programs–along with offbeat gatherings like “beer proms.”

    This past weekend, we opened a special Beer Week section in the Beer Festival Calendar. As of today, the list includes 26 Beer Weeks. That number will surely grow as more cities get on the bandwagon.

    Beer Week Roundup

    It’s Craft Beer Week in St. Louis, which features unusual events like a Beer Prom, beer bingo, and a Tweetup. The week-long celebration overlaps the St. Louis Microfest in Forest Park this weekend.

    Atlanta joins the growing list of North American cities celebrating Beer Week. The dates are May 16-22.

    And the state of Alabama has “hopped” on the bandwagon as well: the inaugural Alabama Beer Week is scheduled for June 4-13. It will kick off with the fourth Annual Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham.

    And north of the border, Vancouver Beer Week is May 10-16, and Ontario holds its province-wide celebration June 20-26. Here’s some video to get you in the mood for these two celebrations:

    News About Beer Week

    BeerNews.com has an article about The Stratospheric Rise of Beer Week USA. It lists confirmed dates for this year’s Beer Week in 15 American cities, and names eight other cities that either haven’t finalized their dates or are in the process of organizing their inaugural Beer Week. The largest U.S. cities without a Beer Week? Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

    Philly Beer Week is in June, but Bryan Kolesar of The Brew Lounge has a long list of events in March. He goes on to say, “Should we just call March Philly Beer Month? Or the I’m-not-’Philly Beer Week’-ends? Oh, I’ve got an idea! It’s time to call Philadelphia “The Best Beer-Drinking City.”

    2beerguys.com invites you to Portsmouth, NH’s inaugural Craft Beer Weekend. Events include a showing of “Beer Wars,” a beer dinner, and the release of Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout at the Portsmouth Brewery.

    The Evolution of Beer Festivals

    The current issue of Ale Street News has an interesting recap of the past ten years, written by Jack Curtin and Jay Brooks. The article covers a lot of ground, from canned craft beers to the rise of social media to the extreme beer movement.

    They’ve noticed some interesting changes in the world of beer festivals. One of them is the arrival of the “niche” beer festival:

    Most often they’re put on by a brewery, a guild or one of a handful of better beer bars and are often held indoors, allowing them to take place at any time throughout the year. They’re also more intimate, allowing for a richer experience for the über beer geeks and the people who particularly love a particular festival’s unique theme.

    The other big change is the rise of entire Beer Weeks, which showcase beer in a variety of ways at diverse venues in a city or metropolitan area. By their count, there were nearly two dozen beer weeks last year, and several new cities are getting aboard in 2010.

    A Recap of San Diego Beer Week

    The first-ever San Diego Beer Week is now history, and it was a major success. The ten-day event featured 300 beer events, with more than 40 area breweries taking part.

    Beer Week was sponsored by the San Diego Brewers Guild. Colby Chandler, the Guild’s president, said:

    Our first Beer Week was a great success and I am proud of the way our brewing community came together to pull it all off….In 10 days, we managed to host more than 55 beer dinners, 30 cask nights, 25 meet-the-brewers, and so many other unique events. I know that Beer Week is only going to improve going forward.

    If you missed out on this year’s event, circle November 5, 2010, on your calendar. That’s when next year’s Beer Week kicks off.

    Hat tip to the crew at Karl Strauss for the write up and to Sean-o for posting it at 2 Beer Guys Beer Blog

    San Diego Beer Week Kicks Off Tomorrow

    Two years ago, Philadelphia’s beer community held a Beer Week in that city. It was so successful that cities across the country have staged their own. San Diego, which has become quite a beer destination in its own right, kicks off its Beer Week tomorrow. If you can’t celebrate in person, Tomme Arthur of the Lost Abbey Brewing Company will virtually show you around. He plans on attending a number of the 160 or so beer events that will be held in an around San Diego.

    The Friday Mash

    Here are a few stories that caught our attention this past week:

    Back home after Baltimore Beer Week, “Joe Sixpack” of the Philadelphia Daily News writes about Boog Powell and the Beer Week trend….Alan McLeod of A Good Beer Blog did a little digging into the Monster-versus-Rock Art trademark fight….The Guardian comments on Newcastle Brown Ale’s new home: John Smiths Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, where the beer is already bottled….And finally, Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin reviews “99 Bottles of Beer,” an exhibition of beer-related art from 2500 B.C. to the present at the University of California, Berkeley.

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