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.

The Friday Mash (Oregon Trail Edition)

On this day in 1843, one thousand pioneers set out from Missouri on the first major wagon train on the Oregon Trail. It would be nearly 140 more years until microbrew pioneers established themselves in Oregon, but they’re certainly made up for lost time.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Cleveland, where Johnny Manziel celebrated being drafted #1 draft by the Browns by treating bar patrons to a shot and a beer. The way the Browns have been playing, fans need a few to deaden the pain.

Do you know what LPT1 is? It stands for “lipid transfer protein.” Karl Siebert, a professor of food science in New York State, says it’s the secret to optimal foam in the head of a freshly-poured beer.

Another sign of American craft beer’s popularity overseas: San Diego’s Karl Strauss Brewing Company may invest £1.7 million to develop a brewpub in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Utah is known for teetotaling residents and weird liquor laws, but the state is home to 20 breweries. Best-known is Uinta Brewing Company, which ranks in the country’s top 50.

Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb cites 13 reasons why bars in movies are totally unrealistic. Reason #12: a customer can ask for “a beer” without naming a brand.

Will Hawkes set out from London on a day trip to Brussels. Stops included Cantillon and several of the city’s famous beer bars, where his group reacquainted itself with the Belgian classics.

Finally, a restaurateur plans to build a Hofbrauhaus beer hall in downtown Buffalo. Meanwhile, another Hofbrauhaus is under construction in Columbus, Ohio.

Some Like it Sour

In an article in New Yorker magazine, writer Christian DeBenedetti (The Great American Ale Trail) says we’ve come full circle with sour beer. Before refrigeration and advances in fermentation science in the mid-19th century, almost all beer was more or less sour. Even after science eliminated most off-tastes, some breweries continued to turn out sour styles. The best-known such brewery is Brussels’s Cantillon brewery, founded in 1900. To this day, it specializes in spontaneously fermented lambics and gueuzes.

DeBenedetti notes that Cantillon’s beers were, at first, widely misunderstood by American customers. Some reacted to their tart and musty character by calling the beers “infected” and sending them back. As late as 1997, when he first visited Cantillon, its products weren’t available in the United States beyond a few semi-smuggled shipments. Dan Shelton, who took the risky step of importing Cantllion, said that it took almost ten years for people to realize that lambic and gueuze were supposed to taste that way.

Today, a number of American breweries have developed a reputation for high-quality sour beers. They include Jolly Pumpkin, Russian River, Crooked Stave–and De Benedetti’s own sour beer brewery, which he’s building on his family’s hazelnut farm in Oregon.

The Friday Mash (Autumnal Equinox Edition)

Just after 5:00 this morning, Eastern time, the autumnal equinox took place; and you probably missed it. Ludwig is willing to forgive you for being such a sleepyhead, but on one condition: that you have a seasonal beer this evening. Being German American, he recommends an Oktoberfest.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Melanie Gravdal gave her townhouse extra curb appeal by offering $1,000 in beer at the bar across the street to the person who buys it.

In the Pittsburgh area, two breweries are trying to revive Fort Pitt Beer. Problem is, there’s only one trademark and both breweries claim it.

Did you miss Zwanze Day? If so, add it to your 2012 calendar. That’s the day a special lambic from Cantillon gets released at 21 sites world-wide, ten of them in the U.S.

Some experts think declining beer consumption is aggravating Europe’s economic woes. When people drink less, bars and restaurants let workers go.

Goodbye to all that. Britain’s Good Food Guide has banned the word “gastropub”, which it finds unpalatable in these tough economic times.

In Seattle, the Redhook Ale Brewery celebrated its 30th birthday in style with an 80s concert starring Tom-Tom Club, The Psychedelic Furs, and Devo.

Finally, “Joe Sixpack,” who calls Philadelphia America’s best beer-drinking city, also thinks his hometown’s bratwurst can’t be beat. Especially, Ludwig adds, during football season.

The Friday Mash (STP Edition)

On this day in 1923, auto racing figure Andy Granatelli was born. Granatelli and his brothers modified engines for Indy cars, but Andy is best known for being the spokesman for STP oil and gasoline treatment products during the 1960s. The product’s logo was everywhere, and the “STP is the racer’s edge” jingle still reverberates inside the brains of millions of American males.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Cullman, Alabama, which since 1977 has hosted a beer-free Oktoberfest. That tradition is about to go by the boards: last November, voters lifted prohibition.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog is hosting Session #50, “How Do They Make Me Buy The Beer?” Comments are welcome, and Alan has a few thoughts to get you started.

John Holl, whose book Indiana Breweries is now in print, was featured on New York’s WNBC-TV, where he brought out a selection of high-alcohol beers. Well before noon.

Planning a beer trip to Seattle? Sam Kettering of Seattle Weekly has a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to help you navigate the city.

Ashley Rouston, “The Beer Wench,” wants to find out which breweries are tops in social media. And she’s asking for nominations.

Natalie Hill, a British photographer, posted a beautiful Cantillon slide show on

Finally, Trudeau Corporation has invented a bottle opener that catches the cap. The video is worth watching for the cheesy music alone.

The Friday Mash (Road Rally Edition)

One hundred years ago today, the first Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo took place. The race, which kicks off the annual road rally season, is a demanding test for automobiles and, especially, drivers, who have to face harsh weather and bad roads. Hey, that sounds like driving in Michigan, which is enough to drive anyone to drink.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in San Luis Obispo, California, where Cal Poly professor Raul Cano has brewed a beer with 45 million year-old yeast. Cano’s operation is, fittingly, known as the Fossil Fuels Brewing Company.

Matt Goulding and Matt Bean did some beer traveling in Belgium. They sampled Cantillon’s gueuze, hoisted a few in Bruges, and visited the home of Westvleteren 12.

Is warm beer is better for the environment? The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation thinks so. It found, for instance, that “cool zones” where chilled beer is stocked, contribute 15 per cent of the corporation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Beer writer Josh Berstein got a big surprise in Mexico. No, not Montezuma’s Revenge, but hefty bottle deposits: the equivalent of 50 cents or more on a one-liter bottle of Sol.

From the Better Late Than Never Department: the Russian Parliament is about to classify beer as an alcoholic beverage.

With another Super Bowl fast approaching, Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin takes the brewing industry to task for beer ads that portray men as idiots.

Finally, South Africa’s Kruger National Park is considering a ban on alcohol to cut down on drunk driving, disorderly behavior, and–something that really upsets Ludwig–abuse of animals.

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