The Friday Mash (Widespread Panic Edition)

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater company broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’s novel, The War of the Worlds. Contrary to popular belief, the performance didn’t cause widespread panic, because the audience was so small. It did, however, make Welles famous.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Orlando, where a sports bar called The Basement is helping fans cope with the University of Central Florida’s 0-8 football team. It’s offering free beer during UCF games until the losing streak ends.

PicoBrew, a Seattle-based startup, will market a home brewing system similar in concept to Keurig’s K-Cups. The system, which makes beer in five-liter batches, will retail for around $1,000.

In Georgia, a brewmaster has launched a “government rant” series of beers to protest restrictive state laws. The menu’s fall offering: “Why does the state legislature not want to create jobs by allowing us to do growlers of this IPA?”

Could beer hold the key to stopping the alarming decline in the honeybee population? Scientists have found that placing hops beta acid near a honeycomb improves the bees’ chances of survival.

Louisville’s Against the Grain Brewery will launch a beer honoring pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage and two other members of the famous Poffo wrestling family. The beer will be called—of course—Poffo Pilsner.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Dark Horse Brewing Company will pour 130 of its beers at the HopCat beer bar in midtown Detroit. It will be the largest single-brewery tap takeover on record.

Finally, an editorial in Monday’s edition of USA Today called attention to the big breweries’ latest effort to thwart craft beer. They’ve been buying distributors in three of the top five craft-brewing states. The U.S. government is investigating these transactions.

The Friday Mash (Merry Pranksters Edition)

Fifty years ago today, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters invited the Hells Angels to Kesey’s California estate. The party introduced psychedelic drugs to biker gangs, and linked the hippie movement to the Hell’s Angels. The Pranksters could have avoided this had they served beer instead.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Englewood, New Jersey, where Agnes Fenton became of the few people on Earth to celebrate a 110th birthday. Her secret? Three cans of Miller per day.

Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields is not only a Pro Bowler, but he’s also an all-Pro homebrewer. Fields, whose wife bought him a kit seven years ago, recently took up all-grain brewing.

Five weeks after a tornado devastated the town, the residents of Portland, Michigan, came together at a beer festival. The logo for one beer, Portland Strong Strawberry Stout, featured a red tornado.

Svalbard, an island in the Norwegian Arctic, is now home to the world’s northernmost brewery. Last year, the island lifted a decades-old ban on brewing.

The Fat Cat Pub in Norwich, England, has named a beer in honor of Cecil the lion, who was killed by an American dentist. Its name, “Cecil’s Revenge,” was chosen by the pub’s customers.

Last Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of Fritz Maytag’s acquiring majority ownership of the Anchor Brewing Company. Tom Rutonno of CNBC recaps this now-famous brewery’s history.

Finally, technology and the growing popularity of craft beer has created new legal issues. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange has filed a trademark infringement suit against the developer of an app for beer collectors. The parties use the same handle on social media.

The Rise of Session Craft Beer

For decades, some craft brewers have waged an “arms race,” competing to brew the beer with the most IBUs, the most unusual ingredients, and especially, the highest alcohol content.

As Nick Panchamé, head brewer at Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, Michigan, put it, ”When craft beer started, people didn’t want anything that looked like macro brews.”

More recently, however, Right Brain has released two successful session-strength beers.

Right Brain follows in the footsteps of another Michigan brewery, Founders Brewing Company, whose All Day IPA has become its largest-selling beer. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens said, “We never intended to fill a void. By accident we seemed to time it right.” Stevens said that the beer was in development three years, and that he had no intention of “dumbing down” his products.

Another Michigan brewmaster, Tony Hansen of Short’s Brewing Company, said his company came to the realization that “big and bold beers aren’t perfect for every occasion.” Hansen added that session beers “will be kind of a gateway beer” for those looking to break away from national-brand beers.

The Friday Mash (Aspirin Edition)

On this day in 1899, Bayer AG trademarked the name “Aspirin” for its synthetic version of salicylic acid. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory drug, is one of the world’s most widely-used medications: 40,000 metric tons are used each year.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Kentucky, which is best known for snow bourbon. However, a lively craft beer scene has emerged. Fourteen breweries have opened in the Bluegrass State since 2011.

CNBC is bringing back its Most Loved Beer Label contest. For the next week, citizens can nominate labels. The network will reveal the finalists on March 23, and voting will wind up two weeks later.

In Malaysia, non-alcoholic beer for Muslims is unacceptable to the chief halal certifier because he objects to the word “beer” to describe the drink.

Jay Brooks has published an ale-themed parody of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. The closing lines are, “I do so love craft beer at home! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-Cala-Gione!”

CoolMaterial.com created a flowchart to guide people who can’t decide what their next beer should be. The first question is, “Are you looking to get drunk and don’t care about taste?”

Beer festivals attract people dressed as court jesters, ballerinas, superheroes, and even giant chickens. MLive.com’s John Serba offers five ridiculous, but practical costume suggestions.

Finally, Eleanor Robertson stirred up a hornets’ nest with an op-ed condemning craft beer. Robertson hates its taste, can’t stand beer snobs, and would rather talk to her friends than her beer.

The World’s Youngest Cicerone

Angela Steil is only 21 years old, but she’s earned certification as a Cicerone and will be working as the in-house beer sommelier at Gravity, a beer-focused restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Steil is the world’s youngest Cicerone. Attaining that status is no easy task, regardless of one’s age. Only half of those who take the exam pass it. It requires memorizing a huge material of material—the syllabus is 19 pages long—and includes tasting portion in which one has to identify specific off-flavors of beer. Steil’s test preparation included marathon flash-card sessions, videos, “every book they mention,” and innumerable blind flight tastings.

Steil’s next goal is to achieve Master Cicerone status, which is so difficult that only seven people have qualified so far. However, she has plenty of time to acquire the knowledge needed to get there.

RateBeer.com’s World’s Top 100 Beers

RateBeer.com has ranked the world’s top 100 beers, based on users’ reviews and weighted by performance within and outside of style. Because the list is alphabetical, we don’t know which beer was number-one overall.

American beers dominated the Top 100. California put more beers on the list—22—than any other state. It was followed by Vermont, with 11, and Michigan, with eight. Five there states—Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New York, and Wisconsin—placed four or more beers on the Top 100, which is further evidence that craft beer has become a nationwide phenomenon.

The Friday Mash (Grand Ole Opry Edition)

On this day in 1925, “Grand Ole Opry” radio show aired for the first time on WSM, a Nashville radio station. The Opry’s home, Ryman Auditorium, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery is selling glassware designed for Oberon. It’s called the American Wheat-Witbier Glass, and is made by Austrian glassware maker Spiegelau.

Mike Nichols is best remembered as a film director, but more than half a century ago, he and Elaine May created and voiced animated commercials for now-defunct Jax beer.

The Brewers Association has put together an infographic with statistics on the size of each state’s craft beer industry: number of breweries, production, and economic impact.

As it turned out, Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t sold to the Russians after all. The group that acquired it didn’t involve Oasis Beverages, itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia and Ukraine.

British lawmakers took the first step toward scrapping a centuries-old rule that requires “tenanted” pubs to buy their beer from the brewery that owns them.

An app called Next Glass has been called ”the Pandora for beer”. Using a mass spectrometer, the Next Glass lab staff use a mass spectrometer to analyze beers sent to the lab by Beer Census.

Finally, Jay Brooks’s blog linked a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon, ”The Galloping Gaucho,” in which Mickey enjoys a beer. Presumably he was outside the U.S., where Prohibition reigned. However, temperance groups couldn’t have been thrilled about a cartoon character drinking alcohol.

The Friday Mash (Earthquake Edition)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed more than 60 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because it occurred minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, it became the first major earthquake to be broadcast on national television.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where a house inspired by beer bottles is on the market for $2.95 million. And it’s built to withstand hurricanes.

Louiville mayor Greg Fischer wants beer to join bourbon as a tourist attraction. He’d also like a bourbon-barrel beer festival and the revival of Kentucky common beer.

Are you a beer aficionado? James Grebey of Buzzfeed.com has compiled a list of 21 warning signs. Warning sign #6: You have a very, very deeply held opinion about pumpkin beer.

Now that legal marijuana is gaining momentum, economists are looking at legalization’s effect on the beer industry. Some think higher spending on pot will mean less spending on beer.

The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is blowing the whistle on Boston-area bars that take bribes from breweries. The practice is illegal, but violators are rarely punished.

Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, wants to brew beer in Detroit. He bought a 100-year-old former General Motors building, part of which will house his own brewery.

Finally, scientists have discovered that fruit flies love brewer’s yeast. A gene in the yeast releases a fruity smell that attracts the flies which, in turn, spread the yeasts to new habitats.

Grand Rapids is the “Best Beer Town”

The votes have been counted, and USA Today announced the winner of the “Best Beer Town” competition. The winner, as determined by online voting, was Grand Rapids. The surprising runner-up was Tampa. Rounding out the top ten: Asheville, Bend, Fort Collins, San Diego, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Denver, and Burlington

The Polls Are Open

Last year Grand Rapids, Michigan, retired the “Beer City USA” trophy–or so we thought. USA Today has resurrected the competition under a new name, “Best Beer Town”; and has chosen a 20-city field, headed by Grand Rapids.

The USA Today website will be accepting votes through October 13. You’re allowed to vote early and often–but not more often than once every 12 hours.

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