Grand Rapids

The Friday Mash (Ale and Pi Edition)

Today is Pi Day, an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant. It’s celebrated today because Americans write the date as 3/14; and “3″, “1″, and “4″ are the three most significant digits of pi in decimal form. Ludwig recommends a beer, preferably a Real Ale, to go with your pi.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Boston, where Jim Koch invited survivors of last year’s Marathon bombing to his brewery, which is again brewing a special “26.2″ ale to raise funds for those injured last year.

A company in Canada plans to brew a “recovery ale” for athletes. It’s called “Lean Machine”; and it has 77 calories, 0.5 percent alcohol, and contains nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

Jonas Bronck’s Beer Company has tapped into New York tradition with an egg cream stout. An egg cream contains milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer water–but no eggs.

A Wisconsin lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a state Beer Commission. It has the backing of the state’s breweries.

Charlie Papazian, head of the Brewers Association, has decided to discontinue the Beer City USA competition because it has “served its purpose.” Grand Rapids won last year’s competition.

investor C. Dean Metropoulos, who bought Pabst Brewing Company four years ago, is reportedly considering a sale of the company, which could be worth as much as $1 billion.

Finally, John Verive, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times, explains why the classic tulip glass is the only glass you’ll need. It’s versatile, supports the beer’s head, and holds in its aromas.

The Friday Mash (Bonfire of the Vanities Edition)

On this day in 1497, in Florence, Italy, Savonarola presided over history’s most famous “bonfire of the vanities.” Anything he considered a temptation to sin went up in flames. That’s enough to drive anyone to drink.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Grand Rapids, home of HopCat, America’s top-rated beer bar. Owner Mark Sellers plans to open 12 to 15 more HopCats throughout the Midwest over the next five years.

Gotcha! Firas Habli, a beer store owner in Ohio, was shamed on social media after he was seen trying to buy a grocery store’s entire allotment of Bell’s Hopslam.

In Maine, liquor inspectors are telling bars that it’s agains the law to post the alcoholic content of beer. The law was passed in 1937, long before the arrival of high-gravity craft beer.

In Washington State, Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a beer-themed whale-watching cruise. The itinerary includes two brewery tours, and beer experts will be pairing craft beers with dinner.

Researchers in Spain have created an electronic “tongue” that can recognize beer styles and differences in alcohol content. It’s said to be accurate more than four out of five times.

Instead of shelling out millions for a Super Bowl ad, Newcastle mocked the big game’s hype in a stealth campaign that featured Anna Kendrick in a “Behind the Scenes” YouTube video.

Finally, the early favorite for Beer Trend of 2014 appears to be beer-focused cocktails. To get you started, the Food Network staff has put together a 13-drink slideshow, complete with recipes.

In Grand Rapids, The Show Will Go On

Fifth Third Ballpark in the Grand Rapids area sustained extensive damage in a fire. The ballpark is the site of the annual Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival.

This evening, the Guild released the following statement:

“We have been in contact with our friends at Fifth Third Ballpark since the unfortunate fire which damaged a portion of the property and we are happy to report that all ballpark staff are safe and unharmed. We have also been assured that as they work through the rebuilding process they will be ready to host the Winter Beer Festival February 22, 2014 as planned. We wish them all the best.”

The Friday Mash (Chili and Frosty Edition)

No, “chili and frosty” isn’t today’s weather report. Those were once the signature items of Wendy’s restaurants, the first of which opened on this day in 1969. Founder Dave Thomas named after it after his daughter Melinda Lou Thomas, known to her family as Wendy.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Germany, where an official of the national health system infuriated psychotherapists by suggesting that a bottle of beer might be more effective than a trip to the couch.

A store in Louisville sells hand-rolled cigars seasoned with Samuel Adams beer. They combine the beer’s sweetness and maple and vanilla flavors with a spicy flavor from the tobacco blend.

In many U.S. states, anti-drunk driving groups have put an end to drive-through beer stores, but they’re still common in Mexico. Some are operated by the Modelo brewery’s parent company.

Last week, the carrier U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford was launched. Founders Brewing Company, located in Ford’s hometown of Grand Rapids, released a special ale to celebrate.

Next February, the University of Kentucky will host a one-day seminar on the importance of beer writing to the craft beer industry. Garrett Oliver is the headline speaker.

Alan Newman, the founder of the Magic Hat Brewing Company, has gone back to basics. His Just Beer Project is a brewery that focuses on traditional beers. His first offering is a session-strength IPA.

Finally, some gift ideas for the beer lover who has everything. Paste Magazine’s ten best items made out of beer cans include a Christmas tree, a corset, and a World War I biplane.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Czech Republic’s world ranking in per capita beer consumption: 1st.
  • Its world ranking in per capita consumption of all alcohol: 2nd (behind Moldova).
  • Total votes cast this year for “Beer City USA”: Exactly 50,000.
  • Percent of votes cast for Grand Rapids, Michigan: 54.
  • Percent of votes cast by residents of Michigan: 58.3.
  • Value of U.S. craft beer exports in 2012: $49.1 million.
  • Percent increase over 2011: 72.
  • Size of Britain’s brewing industry: £16.5 billion ($24.8 billion).
  • Number of breweries in Britain: over 1,000.
  • Microbreweries’ share of the British beer market: 1.6 percent.
  • Estimated combined value of the Budweiser and Bud Light brands: $20.3 billion.
  • Increase in those brands’ value over last year: 28 percent.
  • Price increase of a “sub-premium” beer since last year: 6.8 percent.
  • Price increase of a Pabst Blue Ribbon since last year: 11.5 percent.
  • Average cost of a PBR at a bar: $2.67.
  • What’s in a Name?

    Amber Stout’s parents had no idea that craft beer would become popular when they named her in 1990. Amber, who worked in this hospitality industry in college, began getting comments about her name tag while serving drinks. She told an MLive.com reporter, “I walked into Founders once and the guy checking IDs said ‘well, it looks like you’re in the right spot,’” she said. The staff must have liked her: she’s pictured holding a pint of Breakfast Stout in one hand, and a pint of Red’s Rye Ale in the other.

    Grand Rapids, Asheville Defend “Beer City” Title

    As you probably recall, last year’s voting for “Beer City USA” wound up a tie between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Asheville, North Carolina. This year, Grand Rapids is trying to win the title outright, and the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau has gotten into the get-out-the-vote act. Asheville isn’t sitting on its laurels, either. It recently staged a special Beer City music video, complete with an elaborate dance sequence.

    By the way, voting is now underway for Beer City USA. The polls close Friday night.

    What, You Haven’t Voted Yet?

    Even though spring is slow in coming this year, it’s almost time for American Craft Beer Week. And that means another election for this year’s Beer City USA.

    Last year, Asheville, North Carolina, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, were declared co-winners. Both of those cities, along with 16 others, are already on the ballot for 2013. Beer lovers are invited to nominate other deserving cities in a “primary election”. Cities that get at least 400 votes will be added to the ballot, and voting closes at 11:59 pm (Mountain Standard Time) tomorrow.

    The Friday Mash (Five and Dime Edition)

    On this day in 1879, Frank Woolworth opens the first of many Woolworth stores in In Utica, New York. He unwittingly inspired the Marx Brothers’ routine in which Rufus T. Firefly suggested that Chicolini be given “ten years in Leavenworth, or 11 years in Twelveworth”; and Chicolini responded, “I’ll take five and ten in Woolworth.”

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Florida, where a 45-year-old law, passed as part of a turf war among big brewers, has the unintended effect of banning the sale of growlers. Lawmakers are trying to fix that.

    FirstWeFeast.com has compiled a list of 12 celebrities who ought to be spokespersons for craft beer. They include Kat Dennings, the cast of How I Met Your Mother, and, of course, President Barack Obama.

    You can buy a beer at many college basketball arenas, including seven of the 20 largest. Beer sales can bring in money through concession revenues, added ticket sales, or both.

    Beer and video games have always gone together, but an arcade fighting game called Beercade goes one step farther. It rewards the winning combatant with a cup of beer.

    To celebrate their city’s Beer Week, the San Francisco Brewers Guild has rolled out “Green Death”, a malt liquor inspired by the 50s-60s version of Rainier Ale. Paper bag not included.

    Don’t expect Anheuser-Busch to advertise this anytime soon. According to a nationwide survey, beer is the favorite beverage of underage drinkers and Budweiser is their favorite brand.

    Finally, if you have a ticket to tomorrow’s Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids, John Serba of MLive.com has some friendly advice: dress warmly for 33-degree temperatures and snow flurries.

    Going…Going…Gone!

    On Saturday, tickets went on sale for the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids. The online allocation is already sold out, but a limited number of tickets are available at select breweries, bars, and stores.

    The festival will take place February 23.

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