The Hop Doctor is In

A casual acquaintance with “Dr. Paul Matthews IPA” led writer Russell Shorto to the doctor himself. The man whose brewery made that ale called Matthews “Lord of the Hops”. However, Matthew describes himself more modestly: “I’m a plant engineer and evolutionary biologist.”

Matthews is the senior research scientist at Hopsteiner, a major hops trader and processor in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Hopsteiner is a beneficiary of America’s IPA boom. It has ratcheted up demand for hops but, on the other hand, has kept hops suppliers scrambling to meet changing tastes. And that has kept Matthews—pun intended—hopping around the world in search of new varieties.

Matthews has gone to out-of-the-way places such as Arizona’s Sky Islands, surrounded by miles of desert; and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where for years people have used wild hops to cure their breads and as a folk medicine.

Even though the hop plant is closely related to the cannabis plant, Matthews isn’t interested in psychoactive beer. But, he says, others are looking into it.

The Friday Mash (I Like Ike Edition)

On this day in 1890, Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas. After a distinguished military career, during which he rose to the rank of five-star general, “Ike” entered politics and became the 34th president of the United States. Eisenhower’s legacy includes the Interstate Highway System, which has been a godsend to modern-day beer travelers.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Slovakia, where the makers of Zlaty Bazant (Golden Pheasant) beer voice their opinion about bailing out Greece–they’re against it–in this television commercial.

Scotland’s BrewDog brewery has hit a new low. Its new Sunk Punk pale ale, which features maritime ingredients, was fermented at the bottom of the North Sea, more than 60 feet beneath the surface.

After a long and successful run at Salt Lake City’s Squatters Pub Brewery, brewer Jen Talley is moving on. Her next stop is the Redhook Ale Brewery.

The Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau is making the case for hosting the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference. It promises that “You’ll be welcomed and doted upon” in Indy.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which has already honored jazz artist Miles Davis and bluesman Richard Johnson, will celebrate Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary with a Belgian-style beer called “Faithfull Ale.”

Don Russell, a/k/a Joe Sixpack, calls it “the other smoked beer.” It’s beer made from cannabis plants. He tried to review it, but suffered short-term memory loss.

Finally, Ludwig insisted that we mention the third annual Lion Lager Beer Festival, which takes place in Zimbabwe this weekend. The festivities include performances by reggae artists flown in from Jamaica.


April 20 is unofficially National Smoke Pot Day, which is an appropriate time to learn about beers with cannabis-themed names. Jesse Hughey of the Dallas Observer offers his favorites, the most blatant of which is Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Smells Like Weed IPA. Because that ale is only served at the brewery, federal and state regulators haven’t gotten the chance to reject the name on a label. However, regulators did force Mt. Shasta Brewing Company to drop “Legal Weed” from its beer (which was brewed in Weed, California; it’s now called Lemurian Lager). They also gave a thumbs-down to Lagunitas Brewing Company’s The Kronik, which was renamed “Censored.”

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