craft beer

Caveat Emptor

Brad Tuttle of Time magazine has a warning for beer drinkers: What you see on the label might not be true.

One example is deception as to a beer’s provenance. Tuttle mentions beers that are advertised as “Vermont ales” when in fact they’re brewed elsewhere. One brewer of “Vermont ale” is located in Berkeley, California; another is based in upstate New York.

“American” is a time-honored way to make products more appealing, and Budweiser exploited this tactic to the hilt by renaming Budweiser “America” last year. Problem is, the brand is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a conglomerate headquartered in Belgium.

Some beers try to pass themselves off as “imported”. Even though they bear foreign breweries’ names, they’re brewed in the U.S. A couple of years ago, Anheuser-Busch got slapped with a lawsuit over domestically-brewed Beck’s beer. A-B didn’t admit fault, but agreed to pay Beck’s drinkers up to $50 in the settlement; and the suit apparently made it more careful about advertising claims.

“Craft” is another possible source of deception. Here the legalities get trickier: the Brewers Association has laid down criteria for what breweries qualify as “craft”, but the BA’s definition isn’t universally accepted in the industry. That said, the mega-brewers behind Blue Moon (launched as an experiment by Coors Brewing) and Goose Island (acquired by A-B) haven’t gone out of their way to disclose those brands’ current ownership.

The Friday Mash (American Bandstand Edition)

On this day in 1957, the pop music show American Bandstand made its national debut. The show was hosted by Dick Clark throughout its run, which ended in 1989. Clark was also the show’s producer, and eventually became its owner.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Florida, where businessman Sammy Ramos has launched the first craft beer to be marketed to Hispanics. Its brand name is “Boriuca”, which means a person of Puerto Rican heritage—of which there are more than 250,000 in Greater Orlando.

In Kent, England, a Shetland pony named Mocha walked into his owner’s pub and started drinking beer out of stray pint glasses. Feel free to make bad puns on “pony” or “horse”.

This fall, Oregon State University will open a beer garden at its football stadium. Last year the Beavers went 2-10 (0-9 in the PAC-12), so fans might need a few beers before watching them play.

Rupert Stadler, the head of Volkswagen’s Audi division, was forced to repay the company €12,000 ($13,950) for a beer-drinking contest for company managers that he put on his expense account.

The metal band Megadeth has tapped Quebec brewery Unibroue to make a beer called “A Tout le Monde”, named for a song from the group’s 1994 album Youthanasia. It’s a Belgian-style saison ale.

Greene King is brewing “Bobby” beer to honor Bobby Moore, the captain of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team. Its alcohol content—4.2% ABV—was inspired by the score of the Cup final.

Finally, a group of Chicago businesses, including two well-known beer bars, are encouraging the public to patronize establishments on the #11 bus route, which they hope will earn back a permanent spot on the Chicago Transit Authority map.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in Lausanne, Switzerland: $17.60 (highest in the world).
  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in New York City: $9.22.
  • Average price of a 1/3-liter draft beer in Bratislava, Slovakia: $2.80.
  • Average cost of a pint of beer in 2016: $3.99.
  • Average cost (adjusted for inflation) of a pint of beer in 1952: $5.93.
  • Craft beer’s sales growth in the first half of 2016: 6 percent.
  • Imported beer’s sales growth in the first half of 2016: 6.7 percent.
  • Grams of carbohydrates in a bottle of Michelob Ultra: 2.6.
  • Grams of carbohydrates in a bottle of Bud Light: 6.6.
  • Pounds of spent grain produced by New Belgium Brewing at its Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery: 73 million.
  • Spent grain’s share of brewery by-products: 85 percent.
  • Style categories in this year’s Great American Beer Festival competition: 96.
  • Estimated number of beers expected to be entered in this year’s GABF competition: 7,000.
  • Beers to be poured at this weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival: 1,107.
  • Breweries that will pour at the MBG Summer Beer Festival: 125.
  • Beer…By the Numbers

  • U.S. federal excise tax on a pint of craft beer: 3 cents.
  • UK excise tax on a pint of craft beer: 50 pence (67 U.S. cents).
  • Paid attendance at “10 Cent Beer Night” at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, 1974: 25,134.
  • Estimated number of 10-cent beers consumed by fans that night: 60,000.
  • Regular price of a beer at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1974: 65 cents.
  • Football Bowl Subdivision schools that will sell beer stadium-wide in 2016: 36.
  • Percentage of FBS schools that sell beer stadium wide: 28.
  • Estimated value of Budweiser’s brand: $14.73 billion (world’s most valuable beer brand).
  • Estimated value of Bud Light’s brand: $13.92 billion (world’s second most-valuable beer brand).
  • Average price of a bushel of U.S. malting barley in 2013: $6.58.
  • Average price in 2016: $5.75.
  • Capacity of a Game of Thrones-themed “Drankgon” beer bong: 64+ ounces.
  • Retail price of a Drankgon: $27.
  • Suggested retail price of the BeerDroid personal brewing system: 799 Australian dollars ($595 U.S.)
  • Size of one batch of BeerDroid beer: 10 liters.
  • Judge Rejects BA’s Definition of “Craft Beer”

    Last week, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel rejected, at least for the time being, the Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer: production under 6 million barrels a year, less than 25-percent controlled by a big brewer, and using “only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.”

    G. Clay Whittaker of The Daily Beast argues that Judge Curiel has in effect given every brewer in America the green light to describe its beer as “craft.” (Which is ironic considering that Anheuser-Busch InBev, during Super Bowl 49, ran an ad making fun of the entire segment.)

    Judge Curiel gave the plaintiff, Evan Parent, the opportunity to amend his complaint, which might eventually lead to a legal definition of what craft beer is. Then again, the phrase “craft beer” could go the way of “the Champagne of bottled beers,” an advertising slogan that expresses a meaningless opinion about the product.

    The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

    On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

    And now….The Mash! 

    We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

    PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

    In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

    Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

    Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

    On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

    Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

    Beer….By the Numbers

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s latest offer to buy SABMiller: $108.2 billion.
  • Increase over A-B InBev’s initial offer: 14 percent.
  • Attendance at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich: 5.9 million (down from 6.3 million last year).
  • Beer consumption at this year’s Oktoberfest: 7.3 million liters (down from 7.7 million last year).
  • Stolen beer mugs confiscated by Oktoberfest security: 110,000 (down from 112,000 last year).
  • Beer-to-gold ratio in 1990 (60-year peak): 227 ounces of beer = 1 ounce of gold.
  • Beer-to-gold ratio in 1970 (60-year low): 48 ounces of beer = 1 ounce of gold.
  • Increase in craft lager beer sales this year over 2014: 123 percent.
  • Increase in craft sour beer sales this year over 2014: 60 percent.
  • Craft beer’s sales growth in 2014: 17.6 percent.
  • The entire beer industry’s sales growth in 2014: 0.5 percent.
  • Settlement amount approved by the court in the Beck’s Beer deceptive-packaging litigation: $20 million.
  • Estimated number of households eligible for compensation in that litigation: 1.7 million.
  • Ohio’s current ABV cap on beer: 12 percent.
  • Its ABV cap on beer before 2002: 6 percent.
  • How Craft Beer Became “Craft”

    Q. Who invented the term “craft beer”?

    A. According to beer writer Stan Hieronymus, Vince Cottone, a beer columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, first used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery,” and “craft brewing” in the manner they’re thought of today. Cottone’s readers knew what he was talking about, but it took a while for the phrase “craft beer” to establish itself.

    Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Association of Brewers, first defined “craft brewery” in New Brewer magazine in 1987. Since then, the craft-brewing industry has established three criteria: small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less; independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer; and traditional (flavored malt beverages aren’t “beers”).

    That definition didn’t exactly settle the matter. Some in the industry point out that large companies employ craftspeople to brew their beer, and that well-known craft brands are becoming increasingly industrialized. Others find the term “craft beer” rather meaningless.

    There’s the even bigger debate over what “craft beer” is. The industry doesn’t define it, but recently pointed the accusing finger at several beers—Blue Moon and Shock Top in particular—as craft beer impostors.

    Some enthusiasts have even higher standards. Jace Marti, the brewmaster at August Schell Brewing Company, told Hieronymus that an attendee at last year’s World Beer Cup refused to taste his beers, which had won two medals. The attendee told him, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s adjunct beer”.

    The Friday Mash (Diet of Worms Edition)

    No, this isn’t an episode of Bizarre Foods. The Diet of Worms was an assembly that, on this day in 1521, put Martin Luther on trial for heresy. After the trial, a supporter offered Luther a silver tankard of Eimbeck beer, which he gratefully drank.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Durham, North Carolina, whose minor-league stadium, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, will soon have a brewery. Fans will be able to buy beer and watch the brewing process.

    Delaware’s liquor store owners are worried about losing business if Pennsylvania loosens its restrictions on beer sales. As it is, the Keystone State offers a wider selection of beer.

    Carlsberg Breweries, which is known for offbeat advertising campaigns, put up a giant beer-dispensing billboard in London’s Brick Lane. Stay tuned: the brewery is planning more promotions.

    Despite heavy taxation and domination of the market by the Singha-Chang duopoly, craft beer is making inroads in Thailand. However, home brewing is still against the law.

    Sexist marketing isn’t just an American phenomenon. A Japanese brewery has it marketing a beer called Precious to women. It contains two grams of collagen, a protein that makes skin look younger.

    If your beer is boring, a company called Hop Theory is here to help with flavor-enhancing teabags. Their first product, Relativity, contains orange peel, coriander, and Cascade hops.

    Finally, Tricia Gilbride of Mashable.com picks the best beers to drink in the shower. She prefers IPAs because “it makes sense to select a hoppy beer when you hop in the shower.”

    The Friday Mash (Aspirin Edition)

    On this day in 1899, Bayer AG trademarked the name “Aspirin” for its synthetic version of salicylic acid. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory drug, is one of the world’s most widely-used medications: 40,000 metric tons are used each year.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Kentucky, which is best known for snow bourbon. However, a lively craft beer scene has emerged. Fourteen breweries have opened in the Bluegrass State since 2011.

    CNBC is bringing back its Most Loved Beer Label contest. For the next week, citizens can nominate labels. The network will reveal the finalists on March 23, and voting will wind up two weeks later.

    In Malaysia, non-alcoholic beer for Muslims is unacceptable to the chief halal certifier because he objects to the word “beer” to describe the drink.

    Jay Brooks has published an ale-themed parody of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. The closing lines are, “I do so love craft beer at home! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!”

    CoolMaterial.com created a flowchart to guide people who can’t decide what their next beer should be. The first question is, “Are you looking to get drunk and don’t care about taste?”

    Beer festivals attract people dressed as court jesters, ballerinas, superheroes, and even giant chickens. MLive.com’s John Serba offers five ridiculous, but practical costume suggestions.

    Finally, Eleanor Robertson stirred up a hornets’ nest with an op-ed condemning craft beer. Robertson hates its taste, can’t stand beer snobs, and would rather talk to her friends than her beer.

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