Pliny the Elder

The Friday Mash (Gold Record Edition)

Seventy-five years ago, the first-ever gold record was presented to Glenn Miller for “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. The song was originally featured in the film Sun Valley Serenade (1941).

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Cincinnati, where Urban Artifact is brewing a beer made with yeasts from the historic Union Terminal, which is now a museum complex. The brewery added sour cherries to add tart fruitiness to the beer, a 7% ABV bock.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Brewery Ommegang has you covered. It will release three beers whose labels bear the sigils of the Houses of Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen.

Alex P. Davis, who runs the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, doesn’t think beer lovers should stand in line to taste rare beers such as Pliny the Elder IPA because so many world-class beers are available without the wait.

Despite being the capital of one of Mexico’s poorest states, Oaxaca City has become destination of hipster tourists—many of from other Mexican states. And it’s developed a lively craft beer culture. explains how Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors are exploiting the three-tier system to keep craft products out of bars and stores. Rather than fight A-B, Craft Brew Alliance entered into in a production and distribution deal with the brewing giant.

Rochester, New York, is the nation’s unofficial Tater Tots capital. Local journalist Will Cleveland has a few pointers on pairing beer with the tots—and yes, any beer from the Genesee family is a good choice.

Finally, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has appointed Theresa McCulla as historian to oversee its American Brewing History Initiative. McCulla, who will receive a Ph.D in American Studies from Harvard, also holds a culinary arts diploma.

The Friday Mash (Sultan of Swat Edition)

A century ago today, George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major-league debut. Starting on the mound for the Boston Red Sox, he defeated Cleveland, 4-3. By 1919, Ruth was moved to the outfield so he—and his potent bat—could be in the lineup every day. And the rest, as they say, is history.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Lewes, Delaware, where Dogfish Head Artisan Ales has opened a beer-themed motel. The Dogfish Inn offers beer-infused soaps, logo glassware, and pickles for snacking.

Fans attending next Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Minneapolis can buy self-serve beer. New Draft-Serv machines will offer a choice not only of brands but also the number of ounces in a pour.

Moody Tongue Brewing, a brand-new micro in Chicago, offers a beer made with rare black truffles. A 22-ounce bottle of the 5-percent lager carries a hefty retail price of $120.

Fast Company magazine caught up with Jill Vaughn, head brewmaster at Anheuser-Busch’s Research Pilot Brewery. She’s experimented with offbeat ingredients ranging from pretzels to ghost peppers.

Entrepreneur Steve Young has developed beer’s answer to Keurig. His Synek draft system uses cartridges of concentrated beer which, when refrigerated, keep for 30 days.

Brewbound magazine caught up with Russian River Brewing Company’s owner Vinnie Cilurzo, who talked about Pliny the Elder, quality control, and possible future expansion of the brewery.

Finally, cue up the “final gravity” puns. Amateur rocketeers in Portland, Oregon, will launch a full keg of beer to an altitude of 20,000 feet. Their beer of choice? A pale ale from Portland’s Burnside Brewery.

Some Like it Hoppy

For the 11th straight year, Zymurgy magazine asked members of the American Homebrewers Association to vote for their favorite commercial beers. One again, homebrewers expressed a preference for hoppy beers, with India pale ales and imperial IPAs dominating the leaderboard. This year’s top five were Russian River Pliny the Elder, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Bell’s Hopslam Ale, and Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

Stone Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company each had five beers in the top 50, followed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company with four. Boston Beer Company had the best portfolio of beers, with 40 of their products earning votes from AHA members.

The Friday Mash (Carnaval de Quebec Edition)

Today is the opening day of Carnaval de Quebec, the world’s largest winter festival. The signature events of this 17-day celebration include nightly parades, the Ice Palace, and a lovable mascot named Bonhomme. If you can’t make it to Quebec City, feel free to uncork a hearty Quebec-brewed ale and mock winter.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in New Brunswick, Canada, where 17 people got a rude surprise. They got busted by the Mounties for bringing home cheap beer from Quebec. Not only was their beer seized, but each offender faces a $292.50 fine as well.

In the Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water. That prompted the country’s health minister to propose that Czech bars offer at least one nonalcoholic drink at a lower price than a like amount of beer.

Once again, Westvleteren 12 won top honors on’s list of top 50 beers of 2013. Rounding out the top five were Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout.

A fan attending the Winnipeg Jets-Boston Bruins hockey game got a big surprise–namely, a puck that flew out of the rink and ended up in his beer.

Douglas Brown of the Denver Post sat down with Kim Jordan, who explained how her Quaker upbringing and social work background prepared her to run one of America’s most successful microbreweries.

Author John Holl gets us caught up on nitrogenated craft beers. He also explains why these beers have such a thick mouthfeel. It’s because nitrogen is largely insoluble in liquid.

Finally, a Class A baseball team in the Portland, Oregon, area plans to offer a variety of craft beers this season. Fittingly, the team’s name is the Hillsboro Hops.

Best Beers in America

Zymurgy magazine has released its list of the best beers in America. The list was compiled from readers who submitted their 20 favorite beers. For the third year in a row, Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder topped the poll. The runner-up–for the second straight year–was Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale. Third through fifth places went to Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s 90 Minute IPA, Founders Brewing Company’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Bell’s Hopslam.

Zymurgy also compiled brewery rankings, based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. The top spot, by a landslide, went to Dogfish Head, which placed five beers in the top 50. Bell’s, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, and Russian River rounded out the top five.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Years since Iceland lifted beer prohibition: 22.
  • Where the U.S. stands world-wide in per capita beer consumption: 57th.
  • Beer’s share of the U.S. alcoholic beverage market: 49.8 percent.
  • The beer industry’s annual contribution to the U.S. economy: $223.8 billion
  • Number of certified Cicerones: about 200.
  • Federal excise tax on a barrel of beer: $7.
  • The British government’s proposed increase in the beer tax: 5 pence a pint.
  • Beer Weeks across North America: at least 30.
  • Breweries in the U.S. in 1900: 1,751.
  • Breweries in the U.K. in 1900: 1,324.
  • Craft breweries in Italy today: about 200.
  • Percent of Ontario residents who support beer sales at convenience stores: 63.
  • Pubs in the Greater Toronto Area: about 2,500.
  • Asking price on eBay for a growler of Pliny the Elder: $150.
  • Cost of a 6-pack of Vostok beer, which can be consumed safely in space: $20.
  • Annual dividend on a share of Anheuser-Busch stock (ticker symbol: BUD): 80 cents.
  • The Friday Mash (The Sun Also Rises Edition)

    On this day in 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois. He won the Pulitzer Prize (1953) and the Nobel Prize (1954) for literature. Hemingway is credited with these friendly words of advice: “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

    And now…The Mash!

    Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting story about beer tasters. Turns out that women might be better at the job because they’re more sensitive about the levels of flavor.

    Alan McLeod, of A Good Beer Blog, reviews 500 Beers by Zak Avery.

    Pete Brown is still scratching his head over A-BInBev’s latest product, Stella Artois Black–which, of course, is golden-colored.

    Shannon Armour, writing in the Phoenix New Times, lists Ten Beers That Go Great for Breakfast. Heading the list: What else? Founders Breakfast Stout.

    Readers of Zymurgy magazine once again voted Pliny the Elder the Best Commercial Beer in America.

    The latest issue of Raconteur, a special section of the British newspaper The Times, was devoted to beer. Some of the U.K.’s best beer writers contributed to it.

    Finally, a story just in time for Independence Day. A New York Times tasting panel rates American pale ales. Best in show: Flying Dog’s Doggie Style Pale Ale.

    Who is Pliny the Younger?

    The latest column by Don Russell, a/k/a “Joe Sixpack,” is about his early-morning run out to the Philly ‘burbs to taste the world’s top-rated beer, Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger. A ten-ounce glass of this 11% ABV triple India pale ale set him back $8, but he proclaimed it to be worth every penny.

    You might be wondering who Pliny the Younger was, and why a beer was named after him. Pliny, whose real name was Gaius Minor Plinius Caecilius Secundus, was a Roman writer, lawyer, and military man who died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

    The beer community honors Pliny because he’s said to be the first person to mention hops in his writing. Like many such claims, this one is somewhat debatable. Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, took a hard look at what Pliny wrote. Regarding Pliny, he handed down a mixed verdict. Although he found t “somewhere between possible and probable” that the lupus salictarius Pliny wrote about was the wild hop plant, he finds no evidence for other parts of the Pliny legend–including the claim that he and other Romans used the plant for medicinal purposes.

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