India pale ale

The Friday Mash (“Don’t Cry for Me” Edition)

On this day in 1946, Colonel Juan Peron, founder of the political movement known as Peronism, was elected to his first term as President of Argentina. He and his wife, Eva Duarte, would later become the subject of the Broadway musical Evita.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Maryland, where craft brewers are concerned about Guinness’ plans to open a taproom at its new brewery. At the same time, retailers worry that raising the cap on how much breweries can sell on-premises will hurt their business.

This year’s beer trends include the “haze craze”: unfiltered and unpasteurized IPAs aka “New England IPAs”. These beers have a shorter shelf life, but are richer in both flavor and aroma.

Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company is paying off a Super Bowl bet by releasing 100 cans of SB51 beer. It’s described as “a soul crushing pale ale that will leave you deflated”.

Tomorrow, Cleveland’s Slovenian community celebrates Kurentovanje, its version of Mardi Gras. Festival-goers will dress up as giant fuzzy animals to scare winter away, and drink beer at the newly-opened Goldhorn Brewery.

Three machinists and designers are about to launch the Kramstein beer stein. This metal stein, which comes in two sizes, is designed to keep the drink cool and the drinker’s hands dry.

Martin Roper, who’s been CEO of the Boston Beer Company for 16 years, plans to step down next year. TheMotleyFool.com speculates on whether Roper’s successor can arrest the company’s recent sales slump.

Finally, the BrewDog brewery offers an unusual perk: a week’s “paw-ternity” leave to employees who adopt a new dog. It also allows employees to bring their dogs to work. The company’s founders worked under the watchful eye of their “brew dog”, Bracken.

The Centuries-Old Debate Over Hops in Beer

If you’re a fan of India pale ale, you can thank your medieval ancestors for introducing hops to brewing. The Greeks dismissed hops as a wild plant, and the Romans used them as an herb and a form of natural medicine. Both ancient cultures also regarded beer as the beverage of choice of barbarians.

It wasn’t until the eighth century that hops were used in brewing. During the reign of Pepin the Short, Charlemagne’s father, the king gave humlonariae—hop gardens, probably—to the abbey of St. Denis. The monks likely used the hops to flavor their beer, and in the process discovered that they were a preservative as well.

Still, it took centuries more for hops to become a standard ingredient in beer. The abbess Saint Hildegard of Bingen mentioned their use in beer and for medicinal purposes in the 12th century, indicating that their benefits were quite known by the High Middle Ages. In 1380, the archbishop of Cologne outlawed hopped beers from Westphalia in an effort to promote the use of his own gruit in brews. A century and a half later, King Henry VIII also tried to ban hops in order to maintain the standard of “Good old English ale.”

Today, almost all beer is hopped, but the debate is hardly over. Some members of the craft beer community have begun to rebel against highly-hopped ales.

The Birth of IPA

According to legend, George Hodgson’s Bow Brewery created India pale ale in response to requests by British troops in India who had become tired of warm, heavy English beers. Turns out there’s more to the story.

IPA was made possible in the early 18th century by the invention of pale malt. Kilned with coke as fuel, pale malt yielded a beer with a lighter color and a less-smoky flavor. October Beer, one of the beers said to be the precursor of IPA, used 100 percent pale malt in its recipe. The resulting beverage was so strong that it was expected to age for two to three years before serving.

Here’s where George Hodgson comes in. His business ties with the British East India Company that gave him a near-monopoly in India’s beer market. He shipped his October beer, which was of higher quality than older British brands, to India. There his beer won a following—with the British gentry.

The State of Session Beer

It’s National Beer Day, which is a good time to look at the state of session beer. America’s biggest promoter of session beer is writer Lew Bryson, who has led the Session Beer Day initiative for the past five years.

Bryson says that session beer is making progress. Brewers are not only making more of them, but many of them are a financial success. He cites two examples in his home state of Pennsylvania: Yards Brewing Company, which offers a dry stout and a bitter at its taproom; and Yuengling Lager, which certainly qualifies as a session beer.

On the other hand, Bryson identifies two threats to session beer. One is “ABV creep”, a slow but persistent increase in the upper limit for what constitutes a session beer. The other threat is excessive hoppiness, the result of breweries jumping on the session IPA bandwagon.

Bryson hopes that brewmasters start looking beyond “5% IPA” and offer the kinds of lower-alcohol beers found in other beer-drinking countries.

Beer….By the Numbers

  • Beer trademark requests in the United Kingdom in 2014: 1,485.
  • Increase over 2013: 12 percent.
  • Alcoholic content of Samuel Adams Rebel Rouser double IPA: 8.4 percent.
  • Alcoholic content of Rebel IPA: 6.5 percent.
  • Alcoholic content of Rebel Rider session IPA: 4.5 percent.
  • India pale ale’s share of the U.S. craft beer market: 21 percent.
  • Seasonal beers’ share of the U.S. craft beer market: 15-25 percent.
  • Recent price of a barrel of West Canadian select oil: C$30.23 ($22.73 U.S.).
  • Recent price of a 24-pack of Molson Canadian in British Columbia: C$32.35 ($24.32 U.S.).
  • Mississippi’s current brewery count: 10.
  • Mississippi’s brewery count in 2012: 1.
  • Winning men’s time at this year’s Beer World Mile Classic: 5:09, by current world record holder Lewis Kent.
  • Winning women’s time at this year’s Beer World Mile Classic: 6:48, by Caitlin Batten.
  • Increase in organic beer production between 2013 and 2014: 20.7 percent.
  • Organic breweries taking part in this year’s North American Organic Brewers Festival: 36.
  • Beer…By the Numbers

  • U.S. alcoholic beverage sales in 2013: $174 billion.
  • Beer’s share of U.S. alcoholic beverage sales: 48 percent (craft beer accounts for 7 percent, non-craft for 41 percent).
  • Spirits’ share of U.S. alcoholic beverage sales: 34 percent.
  • Dollar value of Bud Light (America’s #1 seller) sold in 2014: $5.95 billion.
  • Dollar value of Coors Light (America’s #2 seller) sold in 2014: $2.36 billion.
  • Dollar value of India pale ale sold in 2014: $547 million.
  • Increase in IPA sales between 2013 and 2014: 50 percent.
  • Increase in craft beer sales between 2013 and 2014: 20 percent.
  • Sweden’s brewery count: 145.
  • Its brewery count in 1988: 7.
  • San Diego County’s brewery count in 2014: 97 (up from 37 in 2011).
  • Brewing industry’s impact on San Diego County’s economy: $599.4 million (up from $299.5 million in 2011).
  • Beers served at last weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival: 1,035.
  • Breweries represented at that festival: 103.
  • Breweries represented at the Guild’s first Winter Beer Festival in 2006: 21.
  • Beer…By the Numbers

  • Budweiser’s advertising expenditures in 2012: $449 million.
  • Its rank among U.S. advertisers in 2012: 25th.
  • Decline in Budweiser sales from 1988 to today: 68 percent.
  • U.S. beer sales in 2013: 196.2 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Down 1.9 percent.
  • U.S. craft beer sales in 2013: 15.3 million barrels.
  • Change from the year before: Up 17.2 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the U.S. beer market in 2013: 7.8 percent.
  • IPA’s share, by volume, of the craft beer market, in 2014: 21 percent.
  • Increase in IPA sales, by volume, from 2013 to 2014: 47 percent.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. today: 1.
  • Breweries per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 1870: 9.
  • Winning men’s time at this year’s Flotrack Beer Mile championship: 5 minutes, 0.23 seconds (by Corey Gallagher).
  • Current men’s record for the Beer Mile: 4 minutes, 57 seconds (held by James Nielsen).
  • Current women’s record for the Beer Mile: 6 minutes, 17.76 seconds (held by Elizabeth Herndon).
  • The Friday Mash (B&O Railroad Edition)

    On this day in 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated. Can you name the other railroads on the Monopoly board? Time’s up. They’re the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Railroad, and the Short Line.

    All aboard!

    We begin in Brazil, where the Polar brewery has an invention that will make it easier to converse in bars. It’s a beer cooler that cuts out GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, and 4G signals.

    California’s drought could make your Lagunitas IPA will taste different. The Russian River, which provides Lagunitas with its water, is drying up, and brewery might have to find another source.

    Beer was the headline ingredient in last Sunday’s “Chopped” competition on the Food Network. The show, with Stone Brewing Company’s Greg Koch as a judge, airs again on Sunday evening.

    Higher zymurgical education awaits in the form of Joshua Bernstein’s new book, The Complete Beer Course. It contains a series of “classes” devoted to families of beers.

    On Tuesday, when he was in Chicago to announce the award of a federal manufacturing grant, President Obama put in a plug for Goose Island Brewing Company’s “superior beer.”

    A Korean romantic comedy in which the female lead makes chimek to celebrate winter’s first snow has Chinese viewers clamoring for the dish, which is Korean for “fried chicken” and “beer.”

    Finally, a gathering of 490 Yelp members at Santa Anita Race Track might set a new Guinness record for beer tasters. We hope they bet on Ambitious Brew, who won the $100,000 Sensational Star stakes race.

    The IPA Power Rankings

    Thrillist recruited a panel of nine beer writers to submit a list of their top ten India pale ales and–these are the magazine’s words, not mine–explain why all others pale in comparison. The judges were asked to limit their list to IPAs, as opposed to double or imperial IPAs.

    Heading the consensus top ten was Russian River Blind Pig, which finished considerably ahead of runner-up Ballast Point Sculpin. Rounding out the top five were Firestone Union Jack, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, and Surly Furious. A total of 44 IPAs received at least one mention from the judges, and the list was dominated by California-brewed ales.

    Beer…By the Numbers

    • Nitrogen’s share of the pressurizing gas in a typical “nitro” beer: 70 percent.
    • Carbon dioxide’s share: 30 percent.
    • Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market: 47.6 percent.
    • Its share of Canada’s beer market: 40.6 percent.
    • Estimated annual growth in IPA production: 36 percent in 2012.
    • Consecutive years that IPA has been the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival: 13.
    • India pale ales entered at this year’s Great American Beer Festival: 252.
    • Breweries competing in this year’s Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers in Chicago: 86.
    • Beers entered in the competition: 214.
    • Breweries competing in this year’s International Beer Competition in Tokyo: 450.
    • Countries represented in that competition: 14.
    • Boston Lager’s share of Samuel Adams sales in 1998: 60 percent.
    • Boston Lager’s share in 2011: 24 percent.
    • Alcoholic content of Snake Venom, the strongest-ever beer: 67.5 percent.
    • Alcoholic content of Armageddon, the previous record holder: 65 percent.
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