The Friday Mash (End of Apartheid Edition)

Twenty-five years ago today, South Africans voted overwhelmingly to end the practice of racial segregation called apartheid. The vote followed President F.W. de Klerk’s lifting of the ban on opposition parties and his release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years’ imprisonment.

And now….The Mash!

We begin near Dublin, where, if you have $29.5 million, you can be the new owner of the Guinness Beer Castle. The castle, aka Luggala, has 27 bedrooms and 18 full baths and sits on 5,000 acres of green rolling hills.

Two California drinkers have sued the maker of Kona Brewing Company’s beers. They allege that Kona falsely represented that the beers are brewed in Hawaii, when in fact they’re brewed on the mainland.

If you’re a golfer, this product is for you. “Big Beertha” looks like a driver, but functions as “the original golf beer bong”. It holds 12 ounces of liquid whose consumption can be viewed by onlookers through its clear acrylic shaft.

The Kansas City Royals have named Boulevard Brewing Company the first-ever craft beer partner of a major-league baseball team. Boulevard has been sold at Royals’ games for more than 20 years.

Last weekend at SXSW, Anheuser-Busch announced its “Bud on Mars” project. Challenges on the Red Planet include low gravity, lack of water, not enough sunlight to grow hops, and humans’ diminished sense of taste.

Shares in Japan’s big breweries could get a boost if the government follows through on revising the beer excise tax, which is based malt content. The result has been a flood of beers heavy with adjuncts like peas and soybeans.

Finally, Belgian scientists recently discovered the Trappist-1 system of possibly-habitable Earth-size planets some 40 light-years from Earth. They named the planets after monastic Trappist beers such as Rochefort, Orval, and Westvleteren.

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The Friday Mash (Inauguration Day Edition)

Eighty years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, beginning his second term as president. Roosevelt was first the president to be inaugurated on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. Previously, presidents were sworn in on March 4.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where scientists have found that brewers “tamed” beer yeasts by reusing them until they adapted to the brewery environment. In fact, brewery yeasts couldn’t survive if reintroduced into the wild.

At age 87, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke drank a beer while watching the Aussie cricket team take on Pakistan. In college, Hawke set a world record by drinking a yard of ale—that’s three pints—in 11 seconds.

John Laffler, the co-founder of Off Color Brewing, has a confession to make. He’s a fan of Miller High Life, which he describes as light, crisp, technically perfect, and very consistent.

Singer Ed Sheeran dropped 50 pounds in 12 months after giving up beer. Beer is back in Sheeran’s diet, but perhaps he’s switched to these low-calorie offerings.

This year’s 10th annual Philadelphia Beer Week will be part of a year-round celebration called “Philly Loves Beer”. Organizers hope the new format gives local breweries greater exposure and draws more visitors.

Refocusing on daytime business, Starbucks has dropped evening beer and wine sales. However, alcohol may eventually return to the chain’s high-end “Roastery” locations.

Finally, bad craft beer is becoming more common. Reasons include lax brewing standards, under-trained brewers, and intense competition that tempts breweries to bring faulty beer to market rather than dump it.

The Friday Mash (“John Brown’s Body” Edition)

On this day in 1859, militant abolitionist leader John Brown, who had led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, was hanged in Charles Town. Brown is the only person in American history who was executed for committing treason against a state.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Riverside, California, where a liquor store owner set fire to a competitor’s store because the competitor was costing him business by selling cheaper beer. He faces arson and conspiracy charges.

A Wendy’s restaurant in Houston is offering beer-infused hamburgers. The burger alone costs $5.29; a combo with fries and a drink is available for $7.19.

Belgium is asking the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s to recognize its brewing and beer drinking culture as an “intangible heritage” deserving of official recognition.

Anheuser-Busch has randomly seeded 37,000 golden cans of Bud Light in multi-can packs. People who find the cans will be be entered in a drawing, with the top prize being Super Bowl tickets for life.

Thrillist.com is out with its list of the most iconic beers brewed in every state. According to the authors, the list includes both old standbys and “instant classics”.

Buffalo entrepreneur Ken Szal has run a successful pedal pub business. Once the Coast Guard signs off, he’ll offer pedal pontoon boot tours as well.

Finally, major brewers are reacting to tighter regulations and health consciousness by stepping up production of alcohol-free beer. They’re also working on improving the taste of those beers.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Oklahoma’s share of the nation’s 3.2 percent beer consumption: 56 percent (On Tuesday, Oklahoma voters approved sales of full-strength beer at grocery and convenience stores).
  • Second-place Utah’s share of the nation’s 3.2 percent beer consumption: 29 percent.
  • 3.2 percent beer’s share of national beer consumption: 3 percent.
  • U.S. beer imports in 2005: 26.5 million barrels.
  • U.S. beer imports in 2015: 31.3 million barrels.
  • Craft beer’s share of Brazil’s beer market: 0.8 percent.
  • Annual growth in craft beer sales in Brazil: 40 percent.
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2005: 6.9 million barrels.
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2015: 21.9 million barrels.
  • Increase in craft beer sales in 2015 over 2014: 12.8 percent.
  • Increase in craft breweries in 2015 over 2014: nearly 40 percent.
  • Number of beers £5 can buy in Denmark: 1.09.
  • Number of beers £5 can buy in Vietnam: 10.9.
  • Belgium’s brewery count in 2009: 127.
  • Its brewery count in 2015: 199.
  • The Real Champagne of Beers

    For years, the advertising slogan for Miller High Life was “The Champagne of Bottled Beers”. However, there’s a beer with a much stronger claim to the word “Champagne”, and it’s been around twice as long.

    “Deus”, which is Latin for “God”, is brewed in Buggenhut, Belgium, by the Bosteels Brewery. This brewery was founded in 1791, and has been in the family—seven generations in all—from the beginning. Deus is, stylistically, a Brut des Flandres or a Biere de Champagne. It’s even packaged in 750-ml Champagne-style bottles.

    Bosteels brews Deus as strong blonde ale, then sends it to Epernay in France’s Champagne regionAfter fermentation the beer is bottled, then placed in a cellar for nine months, with each bottle rotated by hand once a week. This process allows the yeast to naturally carbonate the beer, giving it the fine bubbles characteristic of Champagne.

    After cellaring, the yeast sediment is removed in a process called degorgement. The bottles are stored neck down to allow the yeast to settle near the cork; then the necks are flash-frozen, and the bottle is uncorked. After the yeast plug is removed, a new cork is placed on the bottle. And voila! Champagne-like beer.

    The Friday Mash (Scotland the Brave Edition)

    On this day in 1314, Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce scored a decisive victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. However, England wouldn’t recognize Scottish independence for another 14 years.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in New Jersey, where the Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company has rolled out an ale that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Matawan Creek shark attacks. A brewery co-owner describes 1916 Shore Shiver as—you knew this was coming—“a beer with bite”.

    According to a recent Harris poll, craft beer drinkers consume less alcohol than non-craft-beer drinkers. They also exercise more often and pay greater attention to nutrition labels on food.

    Scientists in Belgium have found that the music you listen affects your perception of the beer you drink. For instance, a “Disney-style track” caused people to rate beers as tasting sweeter, while deep, rumbling bass made beer taste more bitter.

    ESPN has a video featuring “Fancy Clancy”, who has worked as a beer vendor at Baltimore Orioles games for more than 40 years. Clancy has sold more than 1 million beers, and considers Opening Day his Christmas.

    The Lumbee Tribe, the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi, has sued Anheuser-Busch and a local Budweiser distributor. The suit alleges that the distributor used the tribe’s logo and slogan without permission.

    If you’re visiting Milwaukee this summer, you can sign up for a Beer Titans History bus tour or a Beer Capital of the World history and beer tour. Or both, if have the time.

    Finally, Australian researchers have isolated the yeast from a bottle of beer that survived a 1797 shipwreck, and re-created beers using recipes from two-plus centuries ago. The yeast is the only known strain to pre-date the Industrial Revolution.

    The Friday Mash (Baseball History Edition)

    On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record for most career home runs; and on this day in 1975, Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history.

    And now…Play Ball!

    We begin in Russia, which is shedding its image as a country of hard drinkers. Younger Russians are developing a taste for craft beer, and an estimated 1,000 breweries have sprung up nationwide.

    George Randall, the owner of several liquor stores in the St. Louis area, drives a real attention-getter: a car in the shape of a giant can of Old Milwaukee Light. He bought it for $2,000 on eBay.

    Two Wichita men found a use for a gutted old food truck they bought. They installed ten beer taps, hooked them up to refrigerated kegs of local craft beer, and roam the city with a “drink truck”.

    Anheuser-Busch InBev faces another consumer lawsuit. It alleges that A-B falsely claims Leffe beer is brewed in a Belgian monastery; it’s produced at the Stella Artois facility in Leuven.

    The New Haven Symphony Orchestra is trying to broaden the audience for classical music by offering “Beers and Beethoven”. The price of admission includes samples of Connecticut-brewed beer.

    Get ready for a superhero comic book about Three Floyds Brewing Company’s Alpha King Pale Ale. The hero brews a beer so good it attracts the attention of a monster-king and his minions.

    Finally, Tom Dalldorf, the editor of Celebrator Beer News, speculates that American beer may go the way of wine: demand for the mass-produced “jug wine” fell, as customers gravitated to higher-quality products from smaller producers. There are some 10,000 wineries in the U.S.

    Allagash Founder Narrowly Avoids Brussels Attacks

    Rob Tod, the founder of Allagash Brewing Company, and five other employees of the brewery, arrived at Brussels Airport minutes after terrorists attacked. The employees, who were in Belgium as a reward for five years’ service at the brewery, were able to travel to Paris to catch a flight home.

    17 Years Later, Rodenbach Alexander Is Back

    Belgium’s Brouwerij Rodenbach announced that it will re-release Rodenbach Alexander, which was last brewed in 1999 and released in 2000. Alexander is a blended Flanders “foederbier” (aged in giant oak tanks) macerated with sour cherries, and weighs in at 5.6% ABV. Even though Alexander wasn’t a rare beer when it first hit the shelves in 1986, it became increasingly hard to find as more people discovered a world beyond mass-market beer.

    Recently, the few remaining bottles of Alexander were changing hands for as $1,000 or more on the gray market. You won’t have to spend that much to enjoy the re-release of Alexander. A 750-milliliter bottle will retail for about $15, and they should appear in stores in late April.

    Climate Change Disrupts Cantillon

    In late October, the Cantillon brewery in Brussels allows its spontaneously fermenting sour lambic beers to cool in the open. This year, however, unusually warm temperatures have forced the brewery to pour away three batches of beer and to temporarily halt production until cooler weather arrives.

    Ideally, lambic should cool at between between 26 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. However, nighttime temperatures in Brussels stayed in the 50s, was much too warm for the beer.

    Jean Van Roy, who heads the century-plus-old family business, said that his grandfather used to brew from mid-October until May. In the last 20 years, however, Van Roy has seen the brewing season steadily shrink. Last year, his staff didn’t start brewing until November 10.

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