Beer…By the Numbers

  • Washington State’s 2013 hops harvest: 53.9 million pounds.
  • Increase over the year before: 13 percent.
  • Decrease in beer sales between 2007 and 2012: 2.3 percent.
  • Decrease in sales of the top nine brands between 2007 and 2012: 25 percent.
  • Years since the can opener was invented: 156.
  • Years since Loewenbrau was incorporated: 142.
  • Oregon’s per capita spending on beer in 2012: $448.56 (1st in the country).
  • California’s per capita spending on beer in 2012: $172.99 (17th in the country).
  • Craft brewing’s economic impact on Sonoma County, California in 2012: $123 million.
  • Economic impact of the release of Russian River’s Pliny the Younger: $2.4 million.
  • Days until Pliny the Younger’s release: 25.
  • Cost of a half-liter can of beer in a London supermarket: £1.80 (US$2.95).
  • Cost of a half-liter can of beer in a Sydney supermarket: A$4.26 (US$3.81).
  • Freezing point of 5% ABV beer: 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Freezing point of pure ethyl alcohol: minus 173 degrees Fahrenheit.

I (Heart) NY Hops

New York State ranks seventh nationally in the number of craft breweries. The growth of that industry, along with the farm-to-table movement, has prompted some local farmers to start growing hops.

During the late 19th century, New York was one of the world’s leading hop-growing regions. There were about 40,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in the area between Syracuse and Cooperstown. However, a mold epidemic, followed by Prohibition, all but killed commercial hop-growing in the region until a few years ago.

Hop-growing won’t return to its heyday in New York. It’s an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Hops costs $12,000 to $16,000 per acre to get started, and it generally takes at least three years before a robust crop comes in. In addition, the land where hops are planted must have good sunlight, soil that isn’t too acidic, and good drainage.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Number of breweries in the U.S. as of June 2013: 2,514.
  • Increase over a year ago: 422 (20.2 percent).
  • Increase over two years ago: 767 (43.9 percent).
  • South Korean brewers Hite and OB’s combined share of their country’s beer market: 96 percent.
  • South Korea’s beer tax: 72 percent (soon to be cut to 30 percent for small brewers).
  • Percent increase in Belgian beer exports during the last decade: 70.
  • Percent of Belgian beer production that is exported: 62.
  • Years since Boston Beer Company started brewing: 29.
  • Boston Beer Company’s production in 2012: 2.73 million barrels.
  • Beers released by Boston Beer Company in 2012: 80, including 55 released in-house.
  • Recent cost of a bushel of barley: $6.07.
  • Cost of a bushel of barley in 2010: $3.64.
  • Price range for a pound of hops: $5-$25.
  • Price range for a pound of malt: 40-80 cents.
  • Price of a case of 12-ounce empty bottles: $3.50.
  • Has Craft Beer Gotten Too Hoppy?

    A visit from a homebrewer friend proved shocking to Adrienne So. Her friend couldn’t finish a pint at a Portland, Oregon, brewpub because it was too hoppy for him. That’s when So, who writes about beer for Slate magazine, realized she had a problem. “In fact, everyone I know in the craft beer industry has a problem: We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore.”

    How did this happen? So explains that hops distinguish craft beer from the national brands, offer craft brewers an easy creative outlet, and allow beginning brewers to hide flaws in their beer. But, from a consumer’s standpoint, beers overloaded with hops are a pointless gimmick. So advises brewers to ease up on the hops and shift their focus to new strains of yeast and local, craft-malted barley.

    The Friday Mash (Montreal Edition)

    On this day in 1642, the French established a colony at Ville-Marie. It became modern-day Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city. Montreal has become the home of a thriving craft beer culture, and is the site of the 20th Mondial de la Biere, which gets underway May 29.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Krakow, which has long been famous for its history and culture. It has recently become Poland’s craft beer capital with more than 50 bars specializing in regional microbrews and beers from foreign independents.

    There’s at least one thing congressional Democrats and and Republicans can agree on–namely, the BEER Act, a bill that would cut the federal tax for small breweries.

    The Odell Brewing Company has brewed a special beer for a butterfly that lives on Colorado’s Front Range and loves hops. Proceeds from the beer will go to scientists studying the rare creature.

    Now that Western countries have lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar (a/k/a Burma), brewing giants are planning to enter the country, which has 60 million people and a per capita consumption less than one-tenth of China’s.

    Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has yet another way to expose beer drinkers to the arts. It’s teamed up with a San Francisco a cappella group for an evening of classic drinking songs and Dogfish Head beers.

    In Michigan, which dominated this year’s Beer City USA voting, the Economic Development Corporation is touting the state’s microbreweries in its “Pure Michigan” tourism commercials.

    Finally, a Labrador retriever named Frank lives up to his breed’s reputation by fetching beer for his owner. Man’s best friend indeed.

    The Friday Mash (QWERTY Edition)

    One hundred and forty years ago today, E. Remington and Sons in Ilion, New York, began production of the first practical typewriter. Even though few of us use typewriters anymore, the familiar “QWERTY” keyboard design, invented in 1874, is still with us.

    ASDF…The Mash!

    We begin in Massachusetts where Todd Ruggere, a Waltham resident, is drinking a Sam Adams in each of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. He’s raising money for cancer research.

    We all know that higher-gravity beers are able to conceal hop bitterness. With that in mind, Jay Brooks recently posted an original gravity to hops ratio graph on his Brookston Beer Bulletin.

    In 1953, an Aussie named Bob Hawke set a world record by downing a yard of ale–more than two pints–in 11 seconds. He was later elected that country’s Prime Minister. Coincidence?

    Good news for beer lovers in Manhattan. The Hudson River Park Trust will open a 6,000-square-foot beer garden overlooking the river at Pier 62. It will serve craft beers and specialty food.

    Kegasus, the beer-guzzling centaur that advertises the Preakness InfieldFest, will likely be scratched from this year’s race. But there will be live entertainment, and plenty of beer.

    Pro tip: it’s not a good idea to drink to excess before designing beer labels, because you might come up with something like this disturbing Belgian ale label.

    Finally, congratulations to Warren Monteiro, a writer, beer traveler, and homebrewer from New York City, who was named Beerdrinker of the Year at the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

    The Friday Mash (HP Edition)

    A hundred years ago today, David Packard, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, was born. In 1938 Packard and William Hewlett went into business together. They established their company in a garage, with an initial investment of $538. Today, HP’s market capitalization is more than $33 billion.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Rochester, New York, where the Genesee Brewery will hold a grand opening ceremony tomorrow for its new brewhouse and pub. There will be a free concert, brewery tours, and tastings.

    The latest in Stackpole Books’ Breweries series is Massachusetts Breweries, by John Holl and April Darcy. Gary Dzen of Boston.com reviews the book.

    British scientists have found that the shape of your beer glass may determine how fast you drink. Subjects with curved glasses took a third less time to finish their beer than those with straight glasses.

    Players on Spain’s national soccer team, which won their second straight European championship this summer, were given their weight in beer by the Cruzcampo brewery, a team sponsor.

    Obama’s homebrew honey ale recipes got good reviews overall, but Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer has question for the president: why aren’t you using American-grown hops?

    Cold War-era scientists prepared a paper titled “The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages.” They concluded that canned beer stood up quite well to a nuclear bomb blast.

    Finally, it’s Week 1 of the National Football League season. Evan Benn and Sean Z. Paxton of Esquire magazine suggest a craft beer pairing for all 32 NFL teams. And Ludwig reminds us that the Detroit Lions are still undefeated in regular-season play.

    The Friday Mash (G.I. Bill Edition)

    On this day in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, commonly known as the G.I. Bill. Some 2.2 million veterans took advantage of the law’s best-known benefit: financial aid for those who wanted to go to college. It covered tuition and living expenses…but alas, not beer.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Pennsylvania, where lawmakers are debating an overhaul of its quirky liquor laws. The proposed changes include scrapping the infamous “case law”, which requires customers to buy at least 24 beers per transaction.

    Last year, Anheuser-Busch InBev trademarked a number of area codes, presumably for regional versions of 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Now it has applied for marks for more than 40 three-letter symbols for American airports. Critics ask: are ZIP codes next?

    In Quingdao, China, drinking and driving definitely don’t mix. IndyCar officials have canceled a race to be held there in August because it would conflict with the International Beer Festival.

    Roy Desrochers holds down an enviable job: he’s worked as a professional beer taster for more than 30 years. Desrochers says it takes more time to gain beer-tasting certification than it does to earn a doctorate.

    Tyler Hansbrough of the Indiana Pacers is known around the NBA as a “character.” He added to that reputation by chugging a 40-ouncer at a bar. The 40 was inside a brown paper bag.

    A consumer research firm in Washington State ran the numbers and figured out who drinks microbrews. Males, those with college diplomas, sports fans, and Westerners are most likely.

    Finally, a tree grows in Brooklyn, but hops are growing in the Bronx. The Bronx Brewery has teamed up with the New York Botanical Garden and community gardens to grow them in the borough.

    Know Thy Hops

    Most of the hops found in the beer you drink are grown in the Northwest. In fact, a number of festivals in that region are dedicated to fresh-hop beer. Portland-based Jeff Alworth, who blogs at Beervana, has put together a hops cheat sheet covering more than 20 varieties. For each variety, you’ll find both its history and its flavor and aroma profile. Ludwig recommends that you bookmark this post, even if you don’t brew your own beer.

    Portland’s Brewing Success

    Portland, Oregon, has been hit hard by the recession, but its craft beer industry continues to thrive. Diana Ransom of Entrepreneur magazine sorts out the reasons for small breweries’ success: access to high-quality raw materials (Oregon ranks second in the nation in hops production); a brewing tradition that goes back to the city’s earliest arrivals, immigrants from Germany; a population that values affordable luxuries, such as a pint of good beer; and what one microbrewery owner called a developed brewing infrastructure: locals don’t need to have craft beer explained to them.

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