Miller Lite

The Friday Mash (Viking Cruises Edition)

On this day in 888 A.D., the Vikings began a siege of Paris after the city’s ruler, Count Odo, refused the invaders’ demand for tribute. The siege was the most important event in the reign of the then-French king who has an appropriate name for this day after Thanksgiving: Charles the Fat.

And now….The Mash!

We begin on YouTube, where a sunbathing woman texted a neighbor, asking him to send over a beverage. The neighbor obliged, delivering a can of beer to her by mini-drone.

Now that Oklahoma voted to allow full-strength beer sales in stores, a Tulsa newspaper called on state lawmakers to scrap other “puritanical anachronisms” that are still on the books.

Chicago welcomed its first contract brewery, Great Central Brewing Company. Next year, it will open a taproom offering a variety of Chicago-brewed beers.

An alliance called No Patents on Seeds has called on Carlsberg to give up its three patents on mutant strains of barley. The strains provide new enzymes to develop “more distinctive”, flavor-stable beers.

Lifelong friends Collin Poseley and Eggie Foust have created Craft Beer: The Board Game. It takes five minutes to learn, and it can be played while inebriated.

The rapper Ludacris, an Atlanta native, has opened his long-awaited Chicken & Beer restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Its menu is “Southern to the core”.

Finally, Ayla Bystrom-Williams, the owner of Honeymoon Brewery, beat out 13,000 competitors and won a $200,000 Miller Lite “Tap the Future” award. She’s one of the country’s few black female brewery owners.

The Friday Mash (James Dean Edition)

Sixty-one years ago today, James Dean was killed in a traffic crash in California. He was 24 years old. Dean became the first actor to earn posthumous Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, for playing Cal Trask in East of Eden and Jett Rink in Giant.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Denver, where Brent Doeden aka “Captain Earthman” suffers from inoperable brain cancer. Doeden, who’s been vending beer at Colorado Rockies baseball games since the franchise’s inception, is a cult figure at Coors Field.

Wil Fulton of Thrillist.com makes the case for why flip cup is a better drinking game than beer pong. One advantage: it’s easier to cheat, which—like in Monopoly—is an integral part of the game.

The Michelada is one of Mexico’s popular new drinks. It consists of beer, lime juice, spices, sauces, and other ingredients in a salt-lined glass. It has some similarity to a margarita.

To combat “flagship fatigue”, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company will release three new ales next year: Sidecar Orange Pale Ale, Tropical Torpedo, and Golden IPA.

Los Angeles has light rail transportation, and you can spend a day pub-crawling along the Red Line, which runs from Union Station to North Hollywood.

Candidates aren’t the only ones running negative ads this fall. Miller Lite responded to a Bud Light spot with this slogan: “Bud Light says raise one to right now so why not raise the right one?”

Finally, ultra-runner Karl Meltzer set a new record for running the length of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail: 44.9 days, 22 hours 38 minutes. His routine on the AT included ending the day with a couple of brews. Meltzer celebrated the end of his trek with a pepperoni pizza and—you guessed it—a beer.

Miller Lite’s Inventor Was a Suspected Communist

Miller Lite is an American icon but George Weissman, the man behind its creation, was suspected by the government of being a Communist. For decades, the FBI maintained a file on Weissman. Gawker’s Matt Novak filed a Freedom of Information Act request to access the Weissman file—which had been transferred to the National Archives.

The 26 pages of documents detail Weissman’s alleged associations with the Communist Party in the 1940s, both before and after he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The FBI also followed up in the 1970s when it investigated Weissman’s involvement with an organization called Executives Move For Peace in Vietnam. Novak observes, “It appears that the FBI considered protesting the war in Vietnam to be more dangerous than selling a product that killed tens of thousands of Americans every year”. That product was cigarettes; Weissman also created another American icon: the Marlboro Man.

The last page in the Weissman file suggests that the White House asked about him in October 1973. It in’t entirely clear from the file why the Nixon administration was interested in Weissman, though it was later revealed that he appeared on one of Nixon’s many political enemies lists.

The Friday Mash (Boys Town Edition)

On this day in 1917, Father Edward Flanagan, a Catholic priest in Omaha, opened a home for wayward boys. That home is now a National Historic Landmark; and Boys Town’s slogan, “He ain’t heavy, mister–he’s my brother,” has become part of our popular culture.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Austin, Texas, where Lance Armstrong quit after one lap during qualifying for the inaugural Beer Mile Championship. Armstrong said he’ll never again run a Beer Mile.

Dave Lieberman of OCWeekly.com got a sales pitch for the “Sonic Foamer,” which creates a 5-millimeter head on your pint of beer. He doesn’t seem the least bit impressed with the product.

Oktoberfest tops the list of Germany’s beer festivals, but it’s not the only one. EscapeHere.com runs down the country’s top ten, some of which are hundreds of years old.

A sealed bottle of Samuel Alsopp’s Arctic Ale sold for $503,300 on eBay. It’s considered the world’s rarest bottle of beer because the the original seller misspelled the name “Allsop’s”.

The Sriracha craze has spread to beer. This month, Rogue Ales will release a limited-edition Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. Suggested pairings include soup, pasta, pizza, and chow mein.

Last weekend, MillerCoors LLC teamed up with a start-up called Drizly, and offered free home delivery of Miller Lite to customers in four cities.

Finally, David Kluft of JDSupra Business Advisor reviews this year’s beer trademark disputes. Maybe these cases will inspire someone to host a Disputed Beer Festival next year.

Less Filling, Tastes Great

Can you believe that Miller Lite turns 40 next year? The beer’s big birthday prompted author Tom Acitelli to tell the story of its origin. One stop on the journey was Munich, where George Weissman, the chairman of Philip Morris–which had recently bought the Miller Brewing Company—asked his waiter to recommend a non-filling beer. The waiter suggested a Diat pilsner.

If you know about German beer, Diat isn’t a low-calorie beer, it’s a low-sugar lager brewed for people with diabetes. Weissman liked the beer, and so did his dinner guest, Miller Brewing’s new president, John Murphy. They decided that America was ready for a light beer.

As it turned out, Miller’s assets included the recipe for a light beer, which originated at the Rheingold Brewery in New York. It was marketed as Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which flopped badly. Meister Brau, which acquired the recipe from Rheingold, marketed it as Meister Brau Lite. That, too, was a failure.

Murphy got the message: “diet beer” doesn’t sell. Instead, he advertised it as “Everything You Wanted in a Beer. And Less.” And, of course, “Great Taste. Less Filling.” He also recruited retired athletes to endorse the beer. Miller Lite became one of the biggest successes in brewing history, and every major brewery responded by rolling out its own light beer.

The “light” movement spread far beyond beer. The makers of everything from soft drinks to barbecue sauce offered lower-calorie versions of their products. Some, such as Coca-Cola, even used the word “diet” in the new products’ names.

As for Miller Lite, one of its recent commercials claims that the beer “changed everything” by making beer drinkers more svelte and thus more attractive. Maybe diet beer sells after all, at least if the dreaded D-word doesn’t appear in the ads.

The Friday Mash (Mt. Pinatubo Edition)

Twenty-two years ago today, Mount Pinatubo experienced the first of a series of eruptions. Those eruptions expelled so much particulate matter that temperatures fell by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit world-wide, reducing the demand for beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Spain, where a beer commercial has locals up in arms for an unusual reason: the actors committed the culinary offense of adding onions to paella.

Will the summer of 2013 be the summer of shandy? The beer and lemonade mix, first created for German bicyclists in 1922, has gained a following in North America.

First, Buffalo Wild Wings, now World of Beer. The fast-growing chain of beer bars is brewing its own-label beer. It’s a Belgian ale called C’est La Vie!

Jay Brooks posted an unusual infographic about the brewing process in his Brookston Beer Bulletin. It cites the various names given to beer in the process from grain to glass.

Now that craft brewers have revived oyster stout, what’s the next step? Lobster beer, of course. Redhook Brewing Company’s Black Lobstah Lager is made with New Hampshire lobsters.

Blair Robertson of the Sacramento Bee reports on his road trip to Chico, where he toured Sierra Nevada’s brewery and got to talk beer with famed brewmaster Steve Dresler.

Finally, former Philip Morris CEO Bill Howell passed away at the age of 85. Howell was the man who convinced millions of American men to drink a new beer called Miller Lite.

Lites Out!

No one needs to encourage Jay Brooks to say what’s on his mind, which is what makes his blog, the Brookston Beer Bulletin, so much fun to read. Brooks was in rare form today. His blog post responded to “In Defense of Light Beer,” an op-ed column by David Ryder that appeared earlier this month in the Chicago-Sun Times. Ryder is the Vice-President of Brewing for MillerCoors.

After noting that brewing light beer pays Ryder’s salary, and conceding that some measure of skill is required to it, Brooks turns his wrath on the style:

No matter how difficult they are to make, that still doesn’t excuse their existence, or make them a beer that I’d ever want to drink. To me, they are still an abomination, a science experiment gone awry. There’s no reason to sacrifice flavor to save a mere pittance of calories. Beer is not particularly fattening, especially if you drink it in moderation. The easiest way to reduce your caloric intake of beer is not to choose the latest scientifically engineered slightly lower-calorie beer, but to simply drink less bottles, cans or pints.

Later, Brooks takes aim at Ryder’s assertion that light beer is “widely admired”:

The reasons any product is popular is not that it’s the best one available. Often it’s the cheapest, most available or has the highest advertising budget. Wonder bread may be the best-selling bread in America, but does anyone actually think it’s the best bread money can buy? People drink light beer because they’re bombarded with marketing and advertising, have been tricked into thinking they’re not sacrificing flavor and/or don’t really think (or care) about their choices.

Brooks adds that It took 15 years–and an awful lot of “Less Filling, Tastes Great!” ads–for Miller Lite to reach 10 percent of the market, by which time MIller’s competitors, loath to miss out on market share, introduced their own versions. Light beer now commands a 50 percent market share, and accounts for $50 billion segment of the business. Brooks’s reaction? “That fact, I find to be incredibly sad, frankly. What a great triumph of marketing over common sense and actual taste.”

The Friday Mash (Hurray for Hollywood Edition)

On this day in 1923, the iconic “Hollywood” sign was officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, California. It originally read “Hollywoodland ” the name of the housing development it advertised. The four last letters disappeared when the sign was renovated in 1949.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Livermore, California, where the First Street Alehouse has more than 6,000 beer cans on permanent display. It’s North America’s largest collection, assembled over 36 years by local resident David Goett.

The world premiere of “The Cincinnati Beer Story”, a documentary chronicling the history of beer-making in the that city, will take place at Mecklenburg Gardens in Cincinnati. Several members of the film team are scheduled to speak.

A power outage caused by last week’s freak windstorm resulted in part of Port City Brewing Company’s beer being fermented at a higher-than-planned temperature. The Virginia-based brewery decided to release it as a California common beer called Derecho Common.

Evan Rail updates us on London. Once derided as Britain’s worst beer town, it has experienced a revival, with over 20 breweries in operation and several more on the way.

Call it “glass-roots politics.” Lobbying by beer lovers and media coverage prodded Alabama’s liquor regulators to rescind their ban on Founders Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard.

Regents of the University of Minnesota voted to allow beer sales at TCF Stadium, the home of the Golden Gophers’ football team. The way that team has been playing, fans need a few to get them through the game.

Finally, Ben Davidson, a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders who starred in a Miller Lite commercial with John Madden and Rodney Dangerfield, passed away at the age of 72.

Beer…by the Numbers

  • Size of the U.S. “light” beer market: $50 billion.
  • Years since Miller Lite debuted: 37.
  • Cost of an 11.2-ounce bottle of Kate the Great: $8.
  • Bottles of Kate the Great sold to the public: 15,000.
  • Loans given by Jim Koch’s “Brewing the American Dream” program: 129.
  • Borrowers who have defaulted on their loans: 5.
  • Total amount of defaulted loans: $22,000 (2.3 percent of program money loaned).
  • Beer’s share of Canada’s alcohol market in 2010: 45 percent.
  • Its share in 2000: 52 percent.
  • MolsonCoors’s stock price (ticker symbol: TAP) as of yesterday’s close: $41.84.
  • What MolsonCoors paid for Central European brewery StarBev: $3.54 billion.
  • StarBev’s production last year: 11 million barrels.
  • Years since Budweiser sales increased in the U.S.: 24.
  • Budweiser’s sales growth outside the U.S. in 2011: 20 percent.
  • Revenue of Budweiser’s parent company, ABInBev, in 2011: $39.1 billion.
  • The Friday Mash (Mass Production Edition)

    On this day in 1958, the Ford Motor Company produced its 50 millionth automobile. It was a Thunderbird. Exactly ten years later, the General Motors Corporation’s 100 millionth automobile, an Oldsmobile Toronado, rolled off the line. In 1968 you could gas up that Toronado for 33 cents a gallon.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where home brewer Rose Schweikhart Cranson hopes to convert a historic bathhouse into a brewery and distillery. She plans to use water from the springs in her products.

    Miller Brewing Company first used the slogan “It’s Miller Time” in 1971. Its parent company, MillerCoors, will revive the slogan in an effort to bring Miller Lite out of a prolonged sales slump.

    Across the pond, bloggers Boak and Bailey have saved their country’s brewing industry a bundle by identifying the five types of beer drinkers.

    Slate magazine’s Mark Garrison is hot under the collar over bars that insist on serving craft beers at arctic temperatures. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot of time–and education–to end this practice.

    In case you missed it, the Brewers Association chose a new board of directors. It will be chaired by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Artisan Ales, and you’ll find other familiar names on the board.

    Finally, there’s an app for that–namely, buying a pint for a friend in some other city. The Tweet-a-Beer app, developed by South by Southwest Interactive, combines Twitter and PayPal.

    Finally, rye beer has caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s William Bostwick shares his tasting notes from five notable rye beers.

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