The Friday Mash (Xanadu Edition)

On this day in 1271, Kublai Khan of “stately pleasure dome” fame renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. The yuan is modern-day China’s monetary unit.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in Japan, where a local firm has teamed up with an Amsterdam-based renewables company to develop eco-friendly plastic beer bottles. They’re made from plant sugar rather than fossil fuels.

As competition grows more fierce, breweries are hiring artists, graphic designers, and even branding firms to create packaging that wins shelf space and attracts customers.

“Beer before whiskey” is risky, but not for the reasons you think. People drink faster as intake increases, whatever the beverage; and whiskey’s higher alcohol content compounds the effects.

Last weekend, Vancouver’s Storm Brewing unleashed its Glacial Mammoth Extinction beer. It’s Canada’s first beer above 25 percent ABV, and it isn’t cheap: a bottle will set you back C$1,000 ($730 U.S.).

Craft brewing’s success has created a problem: a shortage of cans, especially the 16-ounce cans that many crafts prefer to distinguish their product from national-brand beer.

Debrett’s, a British etiquette authority since 1769, has published a guide to proper beer-drinking. Among other topics, it covers proper pouring and tasting and how to behave decorously at the pub.

Finally, James Grugeon of Brisbane, Australia, is crowd-funding a brewery with a social purpose. Half the profits of his Good Beer Company will be donated to a conservation society trying to save the endangered Great Barrier Reef.

The Friday Mash (Dance Fever Edition)

On this day in 1374, one of the first outbreaks of St. John’s Dance swept what is now Aachen, Germany. Victims experienced hallucinations and began to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapsed from exhaustion. Manic dancing is said to have killed thousands over the span of several centuries. Moral of the story? Avoid dancing. Drink beer instead.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Pete Brown arrived after sailing from England to Russia aboard a ship carrying imperial stout. Brown made the trip to rekindle interest in the style.

Paul O’Connor of the Winston-Salem Journal has good news for travelers. He discovered that the Great American Beer Desert–that vast area west of Asheville, North Carolina–is shrinking

Last August, Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company flipped the switch ona 228-kilowatt photovoltaic system, which means that the Sun will produce 60 percent of the electricity for the brewery and pub.

Charles Kenny, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, offers a politically incorrect argument: “beer in particular, and the beer industry that surrounds it, may be as good for growth as excess sobriety.”

Martyn Cornell describes, in hilarious detail, the worst beers he’s ever tasted. As bonus picks, he adds a couple of American beers from the 1990s that, he says, were not just bad but stupid to boot.

Another reason to enjoy a beer at the ballpark: your beer cup might attract a foul ball. Hey, it happened to a gentleman at Fenway Park the other night.

Finally, a pop quiz.
Q. Where is the world’s largest pub?
A. Brisbane, Australia. The historic Eatons Hill Hotel has been upgraded (at the cost of A$30 million), and has a capacity of 7,500. The hotel also has 100 tap handles, so you’ll have no problem avoiding dancing.

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