These rankings come courtesy of Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza, and Matt Lynch of Thrillist.com. Before calling the roll of the states, the authors explain their criteria: “Quantity and quality are both important, but quality’s a bit MORE important. If you’re a small state turning out a disproportionate amount of great beer, it did not go unrecognized. We also gave a boost to states who played a historical role in American beer as we know it today.”
Heading the list is Oregon (”Even the ‘crappy’ breweries by Portland standards would bury most of their peers”), followed by California (”San Diego…the most dominating beer city in world history”), Colorado (”Beer is everywhere. Everywhere is beer”), Michigan (which “some of the best damned breweries in the country”), and Washington (”home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness”).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bottom five: Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and coming in dead last, Mississippi.
On this day in 1908, the Japanese food company Ajinomoto—“The Essence of Taste”–was founded. Ajinmoto’s founder, chemist Kikunae Ikeda, discovered that a key ingredient in kombu soup stock was monosodium glutamate, for which he was given the patent.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Marshall, Michigan, where microbrewery owner Aaron Morse and his family have landed a reality-show gig. They’ll appear on The History Channel’s “Dark Horse Nation.”
Tin Man Brewing of Terre Haute has released Klingon Warnog. This officially-licensed beer follows the Prime Directive: “to unite both Star Trek and Craft Beer fans.”
Dogfish Head Artisan Ales is the most famous brewery in the Delmarva Peninsula, but it now has plenty of company, and that’s good news for local beer drinkers.
A new California law will allow students younger than 21 to sample alcohol as part of their beer and wine studies. Oregon and Washington have passed similar laws.
The Jurassic Park of beer? Probably not, but Jason Osborne of Paleo Quest and microbiologist Jasper Akerboom of the Lost Rhino Brewing Company are working with a 45-million-year-old yeast strain found in a fly entrapped in fossilized amber.
Philadelphians are upset at state legislators who want to close a loophole which allows pop-up beer gardens to operate without having to shell out six figures for a liquor license.
Finally, Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, says we’re not in a craft beer bubble. The nation’s 3,000 breweries is well below the saturation level; and besides, factors such as the variety and quality of local beer determine whether a market is saturated.
On this day in 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria passed away. Please join our beer-drinking lion in a moment of silence for the “Mad King” who, among other things, commissioned the fantastic Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the area’s leading tourist attractions.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Petaluma, California, where Lagunitas Brewing Company held its annual Beer Circus. Some guests wore top hats and “ironic facial hair,” while others dressed as figures from popular culture.
Just in time for Father’s Day: Criquet, a clothing company, has designed a shirt with a reinforced lining that prevents you from destroying it while using the shirttail to twist a beer bottle open.
Twenty years ago, Lauren Clark quit her desk job to work for a brewery. She then gravitated to writing, and recently published Crafty Bastards, a history of beer in New England.
Gustav Holst’s The Planets inspired Bell’s Brewing to create a seven-ale series, each of which named for one of the planets in Holst’s suite. The first Planet beer will be released in August.
St. Louis, which is celebrating its 250th birthday, has 30 craft breweries–and yes, the Budweiser brewery, too. USA Today’s Wendy Pramick has a beer lover’s guide to the city.
Brock Bristow, a South Carolina attorney, might wind up in the Lobbyists’ Hall of Fame. He persuaded lawmakers to pass the brewery-friendly “Stone Bill”.
Finally, Jeopardy! for beer geeks. Three female beer bloggers host a monthly trivia night at a bar in Brooklyn. Games consist of four rounds: brewing, history, popular culture, and the “hipster trifecta.”
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is taking its Beer Camp on the road this summer. Called “Beer Camp Across America,” it will be a series of festivals to be held in seven cities, starting in Sierra Nevada’s hometown of Chico, California, and winding up at the brewery’s new plant in North Carolina. Sierra Nevada has invited every craft brewery in the country to pour at these events. It has also joined forces with other craft brewers to create a 12-pack of collaborative beers. These, too, will be available at the festivals.
Proceeds from Beer Camp Across America will go to the California Craft Brewers Association.
Jay Brooks has a secret to share: America’s most-decorated brewery is the Firestone Walker Brewing Company, in Paso Robles, California. Firestone Walker was named Brewery of the Year in the mid-size category in 2007, 2011, and 2013. It also won that title in 2003 for Nectar Ales, a label it acquired from the former Humboldt Brewing Company. And it won a fifth GABF award: it went to brewmaster Matt Brynildson when he was with SLO Brewing, which now bears the Firestone Walker name. And if that weren’t enough, Firestone Walker won five Brewery of the Year awards between 2004 and 2012 at the World Beer Cup.
The brewery is named for its founders, Adam Firestone and David Walker, whose operation uses a system of linked barrels based on traditional brewing methods in the English town of Burton-Upon-Trent. Firestone, who’s a member of the famous tire-making family, grew up in California’s Central Coast wine region, but he turned his attention to brewing. His homebrewing experiments led to Firestone Walker’s flagship beer, Double Barrel Ale. The Walker half of the operation is Firestone’s brother-in-law David Walker, a transplanted Englishman who wanted better beer choices.
Firestone Walker offers brewery tours, and has added a tasting room with a restaurant. There’s also a Firestone Walker restaurant, which serves all of their beers, in nearby Buellton.
On this day in 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated. Can you name the other railroads on the Monopoly board? Time’s up. They’re the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Railroad, and the Short Line.
We begin in Brazil, where the Polar brewery has an invention that will make it easier to converse in bars. It’s a beer cooler that cuts out GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and 4G signals.
California’s drought could make your Lagunitas IPA will taste different. The Russian River, which provides Lagunitas with its water, is drying up, and brewery might have to find another source.
Beer was the headline ingredient in last Sunday’s “Chopped” competition on the Food Network. The show, with Stone Brewing Company’s Greg Koch as a judge, airs again on Sunday evening.
Higher zymurgical education awaits in the form of Joshua Bernstein’s new book, The Complete Beer Course. It contains a series of “classes” devoted to families of beers.
On Tuesday, when he was in Chicago to announce the award of a federal manufacturing grant, President Obama put in a plug for Goose Island Brewing Company’s “superior beer.”
A Korean romantic comedy in which the female lead makes chimek to celebrate winter’s first snow has Chinese viewers clamoring for the dish, which is Korean for “fried chicken” and “beer.”
Finally, a gathering of 490 Yelp members at Santa Anita Race Track might set a new Guinness record for beer tasters. We hope they bet on Ambitious Brew, who won the $100,000 Sensational Star stakes race.
- U.S. brewery count at the end of last year: 3,999 (948 more than a year earlier).
- California’s brewery count (number one in the nation) at the end of last year: 508 (145 more than a year earlier).
- Mississippi’s brewery count (someone has to be last) at the end of last year: 6 (3 more than a year earlier).
- Bottles of Deal With the Devil produced by Alaska Brewing Company: 1,000.
- Bottles allocated to Alaska retailers: 336.
- Deal With the Devil’s alcoholic content: 17.6 percent.
- Signature Copper Lager’s alcoholic strength: 5.7 percent ABV.
- Busch Signature Copper Lager’s alcoholic strength: 5.7 percent ABV.
- States where Busch Signature Copper Lager is being test-marketed: 12.
- Germany’s annual per capita beer consumption today: 28 gallons.
- Its annual per capita consumption in 1978: 40 gallons (43 percent higher).
- Hours an American minimum-wage employee has to work to afford a beer: 0.4.
- Hours a Russian minimum-wage employee has to work: 1.6.
- Hours a minimum-wage employee in the Republic of Georgia has to work: 15.1.
- Calories from alcohol in a typical 12-ounce serving of beer: 100 (alcohol has 7 calories per gram).
- Calories from carbohydrates in a typical 12-ounce serving of beer: 50.
California is suffering one of the worst droughts in memory and, as Claire Leschin-Hoar of Voice of San Diego explains, the state’s craft brewing industry is feeling the effects. Brewers in the San Diego area are taking steps to conserve water in the beer-making process. The first step is finding out where it’s being wasted. The next is to find ways to use less water and to re-use it–for example, by using reverse osmosis to purify wastewater.
It takes more than three gallons of water to make one gallon of beer, and even more at small breweries which can’t take advantage of economies of scale. However, other beverages have much bigger “water footprints.” It takes 880 gallons of water to make one gallon of milk or one gallon of coffee, and 1,008 gallons of water to make a gallon of wine.
- Washington State’s 2013 hops harvest: 53.9 million pounds.
- Increase over the year before: 13 percent.
- Decrease in beer sales between 2007 and 2012: 2.3 percent.
- Decrease in sales of the top nine brands between 2007 and 2012: 25 percent.
- Years since the can opener was invented: 156.
- Years since Loewenbrau was incorporated: 142.
- Oregon’s per capita spending on beer in 2012: $448.56 (1st in the country).
- California’s per capita spending on beer in 2012: $172.99 (17th in the country).
- Craft brewing’s economic impact on Sonoma County, California in 2012: $123 million.
- Economic impact of the release of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger: $2.4 million.
- Days until Pliny the Younger’s release: 25.
- Cost of a half-liter can of beer in a London supermarket: £1.80 (US$2.95).
- Cost of a half-liter can of beer in a Sydney supermarket: A$4.26 (US$3.81).
- Freezing point of 5% ABV beer: 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Freezing point of pure ethyl alcohol: minus 173 degrees Fahrenheit.
I’m back in town after spending some quality time with my pride and fighting a snowstorm. This weather is enough to drive a lion to drink. Speaking of which, I think I need another Lion Stout.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Davis, California, where Professor Arthur Shapiro has a pitcher of beer waiting for you if you collect 2014’s first cabbage white butterfly in the Sacramento area. Be aware that Shapiro himself is looking for this creature.
In England, pubs continue to close despite the popularity of Real Ale. Reasons include cheap carry-out beer, smoking bans, and “pubcos” that profit at the expense of pub operators.
In Egypt, researchers discovered the 3,000-year-old tomb of Khonso-Im-Heb, who apparently was the royal court’s head of beer production. He brewed in honor of Mut, Egypt’s mother-goddess.
The Seattle Seahawks’ winning season was good news for Hilliards Beer. The Seattle micro made more than 10,000 cases of “12th Can,” a beer named after and brewed for the team’s noisy fans.
HuffingtonPost.com has posted a time-lapse video of 400 barrels of Sierra Nevada beer fermenting over a six-day period in one of the brewery’s open fermenters.
In 1866 David Yuengling, the founder’s son, opened a brewery in Richmond, Virginia. The state is trying to add his James River Steam Brewery to the National Register of Historic Places.
Finally, Garrison Brewing Company of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is using discarded Christmas trees to brew spruce beer, which was once so popular that even George Washington brewed it.