Harpoon Brewery

The Friday Mash (Get Vaccinated! Edition)

Sixty years ago today, Elvis Presley received a polio vaccination on national television. That single event is credited with raising immunization levels in the United States from 0.6% to over 80% in just six months.

And now…The Mash!

We begin on the Formula 1 racing circuit, where in the early 1980s, Gordon Murray’s inventive pit crew rigged up a fuel system using pressurized beer kegs that could pump 30 gallons of fuel into a car in just three seconds.

A North Carolina judge was convicted of bribery after offering a deputy sheriff two cases of Bud Light in exchange for his wife’s text messages. The judge later upped his offer to $100.

Two employee-owned breweries, Harpoon Brewery and Odell Brewing Company, have collaborated to brew a beer called EHOP. It’s an oatmeal pale ale.

Vietnam’s government will sell off two state-owned breweries which have a 60-plus-percent market share. Vietnam, with 93 million people, is one of Asia’s top beer-drinking countries.

This week, Britain’s smallest pub—which has room for just three—is offering free beer, but there’s a catch: you can’t use your mobile phones inside the pub.

Indianapolis-based Central State Brewing has something for Harry Potter fans: a sour ale called “Polyjuice Potion”. Its ingredients include plums, elderberries, and “magical bits and bobbles”.

Finally, Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is making two beers to be enjoyed with single-malt scotches from Highland Park, a distillery in the Orkney Islands. The beers are Rune, a golden oat ale; and Sköll, a roasty ale.

The Friday Mash (Black Sox Edition)

On this day in 1919, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Chicago White Sox 5 games to 3, in the World Series. Eight members of the White Sox were later accused of intentionally losing games in exchange for taking bribes from gamblers. All eight were banned for life.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Boston, where an Israeli company’s water purification technology is converting the Charles River’s famous “dirty water” into a new pale ale by Harpoon Brewing Company.

Some establishments are trying to cut costs by replacing bartenders with self-serve taps. However, human beings are still needed to check IDs and make sure intoxicated patrons don’t get served.

Anheuser-Busch has invented the Bud Light “Bud-e Fridge”. This wi-fi-enabled appliance will provide your mobile phone with real-time updates on your beer supply.

In an effort to attract moms in their 20s and 30s, Chuck E. Cheese is adding beer and wine to the beverage menu. The chain is also offering thin-crust and gluten-free pizza.

Raleigh television station WRAL interviewed Rodenbach Brewery’s Rudi Ghequire, the “father of sour beer”, about the style’s growing popularity in the U.S.

Authorities in Casablanca have canceled a beer festival because it violated local laws and customs. Morocco is a Muslim country, but tourists and non-Muslims are allowed to drink.

Finally, the Straight to Ale brewery in Huntsville, Alabama, honors the city’s NASA heritage with a “space beers” series. Its ales have honored the International Space Station, Laika the Soviet space dog, and even unobtanium from the movie Avatar.

Harpoon Ex-CEO Returns to the Beer Business

Rich Doyle, former CEO of Harpoon Brewery, is back in the brewing business. Nine months after selling his stake in Harpoon, he’s joined forces with Friedman, Fleisher & Lowe, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, to form Enjoy Beer LLC. The new venture will create partnerships with craft brewers who wish to preserve their local independence, while gaining shared resources in areas such as marketing, logistics, and finance in order to compete with larger competitors.

Abita Brewing, the group’s founding brewery partner, has reportedly sold a stake in the company in order to join the new enterprise. Abita CEO David Blossman said, “Enjoy Beer will pioneer a new model in the industry, and together, we will help these independent companies compete at the next level by expanding their resources and their reach.” Abita recently completed a $30 million expansion that will increase its brewing capacity to 400,000 barrels a year. Its current annual production is 160,000 barrels, which ranks it 21st on the list of largest craft breweries.

Craft Brewing’s Growing Pains

Rich Doyle, one of the founders of Harpoon Brewery, asked his partners to bring in an investor so their brewery could buy struggling competitors. They said no. So, after 30 years, Doyle is cashing out.

Doyle believes we’re in the midst of a craft beer bubble, which like all bubbles, will pop. He told the New York Times, “you have a lot of entrants, with low barriers to entry, chasing a finite amount of growth.” he said.

But Doyle’s partners disagree. They think there’s more room for well-run breweries like Harpoon to keep growing. And many brewery owners elsewhere in the country agree with them.

Private equity groups have been investing in craft breweries. For example, Uinta Brewing, which brewed nearly 150,000 barrels last year and aims to break into craft’s top tier, took on an outside investor to fund the infrastructure it needs to get there.

Other breweries have accepted takeover offers from big breweries. The most newsworthy deals involve Anheuser-Busch, which recently bought 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing.

And some breweries are borrowing to finance their expansion. This raises fears about unserviceable debt loads and overbuilding in general. Benj Steinman of Beer Marketing Insights told the Times, “People have built out way in front,” he said. “They’ve made bets and not all will succeed. It’s pretty likely there will be some that won’t survive. And then there might be some capacity available for cents on the dollar.”

A Brewery Grows in Brooklyn

Economic reality forced many brewery entrepreneurs to set up shop in run-down urban neighborhoods where rents were low and residents–if there were any–were unlikely to object. It turns out that some of those breweries have revived their neighborhoods.

One example is Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, where Brooklyn Brewery opened in 1996. At the time, its neighbors were mostly deserted warehouses and factories. Today, Brooklyn Brewery is surrounded by modern apartment buildings, bars, shops and restaurants. New residents are willing to spend money–a lot of it–to live there.

Cleveland’s Ohio City district, west of downtown, is another. Great Lakes Brewing opened in 1988. Its owners built a brewery and a brewpub from structures that once housed a feed store, a saloon, and a livery stable. Other businesses followed. Ohio City has actually gained population, even as the city as a whole lost population.

Other examples include South Boston (Harpoon Brewery); San Francisco’s SoMa (21st Amendment Brewery); and coming soon, the South Bronx’s Mott Haven section (Bronx Brewery).

Beer and Bivalves

Wednesday’s Washington Post had a story by Greg Kitsock which, featured two East Coast microbreweries that brew oyster stouts. Beers brewed with real oysters.

One of these beers is Flying Fish’s Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout. One hundred oysters went into a 25-barrel batch. The other is Harpoon Brewery’s Island Creek Oyster Stout, part of Harpoon’s “100 Barrel Series” of specialty beers. These small-batch beers were brewed to call attention to America’s oyster industry, which has fallen on hard times.

And from Portland, Oregon, comes word that Upright Brewing Company will release its batch of oyster stout tomorrow.

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