John Laffler

The Friday Mash (Inauguration Day Edition)

Eighty years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office, beginning his second term as president. Roosevelt was first the president to be inaugurated on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. Previously, presidents were sworn in on March 4.

And now…The Mash!

We begin at the University of Leuven in Belgium, where scientists have found that brewers “tamed” beer yeasts by reusing them until they adapted to the brewery environment. In fact, brewery yeasts couldn’t survive if reintroduced into the wild.

At age 87, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke drank a beer while watching the Aussie cricket team take on Pakistan. In college, Hawke set a world record by drinking a yard of ale—that’s three pints—in 11 seconds.

John Laffler, the co-founder of Off Color Brewing, has a confession to make. He’s a fan of Miller High Life, which he describes as light, crisp, technically perfect, and very consistent.

Singer Ed Sheeran dropped 50 pounds in 12 months after giving up beer. Beer is back in Sheeran’s diet, but perhaps he’s switched to these low-calorie offerings.

This year’s 10th annual Philadelphia Beer Week will be part of a year-round celebration called “Philly Loves Beer”. Organizers hope the new format gives local breweries greater exposure and draws more visitors.

Refocusing on daytime business, Starbucks has dropped evening beer and wine sales. However, alcohol may eventually return to the chain’s high-end “Roastery” locations.

Finally, bad craft beer is becoming more common. Reasons include lax brewing standards, under-trained brewers, and intense competition that tempts breweries to bring faulty beer to market rather than dump it.

A Craft Beer Bubble?

America has never had more breweries than it has today, and the quality of beer at your local bar has never been better. But will the good times last? Some observers think the craft-brewing industry is in the midst of a classic bubble that might be about to burst.

Noah Davis of Business Insider points that for every Alchemist, brewers of the wildly successful Heady Topper double IPA, “there are numerous small breweries turning out solid product that will never see a profit.” Davis wonders how the hundreds of breweries that opened this year, not to mention another 1,500 in the planning stages, are going to find distributors, get shelf space, and sign up tap accounts. The newcomers, he adds, are entering a craft beer market that is dominated by a few big players.

Industry figures believe the days of double-, and even triple-digit growth won’t last much longer. John Laffler, who opened a craft brewery in Chicago last year, said, “I see the industry becoming more local, more regional, more city-specific. At that point, you’re locked in making $35,000 a year and hopefully your business can last 10 years.”

Some startups might not survive. According to Greg Koch, the founder of Stone Brewing Company, “You can expect that consumer fatigue will show up again, just like it did in 1996. It’s like a school of fish. It will turn, but you don’t know when.” The industry shakeout of the late 1990s resulted in some 300 brewery closures.

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