Ho Chi Minh City

The Friday Mash (Boomer Sooner Edition)

One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, at high noon, thousands of people took part in the Oklahoma Land Rush. Within hours, Oklahoma City and Guthrie had instant populations of 10,000.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Tumwater, Washington, once the home of Olympia Brewing Company. Today, it’s the home of a cluster of legal marijuana growers and processors—including one of the state’s largest.

Peru’s Cerveza San Juan beer brand has replaced the roaring jaguar with barnyard animals on its cans. The reason? The brewery is calling attention to the big cat’s endangered status.

Officials have reinstated beer at the University of Missouri’s “Tiger Prowl”, where graduating seniors eat barbecue, get free merchandise, and get ready to say goodbye to their classmates.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired its eighth craft brewery, Devil’s Backbone of Roseland, Virginia. Established in 2008, Devil’s Backbone has won multiple Great American Beer Festival medals.

The Vietnamese love beer, and craft brewers have begun to enter the market. One new craft is the Pasteur Street Brewing Company, whose founders include Vick’s Florida native John Reid.

Forbes magazine’s Tara Nurin explores “pay-to-play” in beer distribution. Even after a high-profile crackdown in Massachusetts, she says it’s “a common yet whispered business practice”.

Finally, Don Russell aka Joe Sixpack takes us back to the bad old days of Prohibition’s “needle beer”: speakeasy owners injected alcohol into near beer—which was still legal in the 1920s. One customer, who sampled the stuff, compared it to 44-D cough syrup.

A Use for Those Frequent Flier Miles

An article on Cheap Flights’ Australian website describes the top ten Oktoberfests outside Germany. The locales of some of these celebrations are quite a distance outside Germany. They include Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, which has a lively year-round beer culture; Blumenau, Brazil, where German settlers arrived a century and a half ago; and Windhoek, Namibia, where the descendants of German colonists toast the Fatherland. Bring a passport, a German phrase book, and a hearty appetite.

Beer Traveling in Vietnam

Today’s New York Times has an entertaining story about beer travel in Vietnam. Correspondent Russ Juskalian found German-style beer halls in Ho Chi Minh City, now the home to a handful of European-style microbreweries, some of which claim to brew their beer according to the Reinheitsgebot. Even more surprisingly, the regulars at these establishments aren’t European expats but young Vietnamese professionals.

In Hanoi, Juskalian got acquainted with bia hoi, Vietnamese for “gas beer.” It’s “an unpasteurized, unpreserved brew made before the sun rises, and often imbibed before the sun sets.” The locals consume this beer in vast quantities, and why not? A pint of it costs about 16 cents. It’s low in alcohol and consumed in establishments described as “a remarkably consistent mash-up of the children’s section of Ikea and the ultimate in street-life voyeurism.”

On a cold February day, it warms our hearts to know that 10,000 miles away from our local brewpub, in a country with a different language and culture, people are socializing over pints of beer.

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