Beer…By the Numbers

  • U.S. brewery count halfway through 2016: 4,656.
  • Increase over last year: 917.
  • Approximate number of breweries in planning: 2,200.
  • Corey Bellemore’s record-breaking time in the Beer Mile, set July 29: 4 minutes, 34.4 seconds.
  • Bellemore’s previous world record, set the day before: 4 minutes, 4 minutes, 39.6 seconds.
  • MillerCoors’s water-used-to-beer-brewed ratio in 2015: 3.29 to 1.
  • MillerCoors’s water-used-to-beer-brewed goal for 2020: 3 to 1.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Molson XXX: 212.
  • Calories in a 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser Select 55: 55, of course.
  • U.S. craft beer exports to Belgium in 2015: 1,560 barrels.
  • U.S. beer imports from Belgium in 2015: 1.61 million barrels.
  • Westvleteren 12’s average score on RateBeer.com: 4.43 (highest on the site).
  • Natural Light’s average score on RateBeer.com: 1.06 (lowest on the site).
  • Number of beers poured at this year’s International Berlin Beer Festival: 2,400.
  • Countries represented at this year’s International Berlin Beer Festival: 87.
  • The Secret of Westvleteren’s Success

    It was something that the monks at The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, Belgium, had never expected. About ten years ago, RateBeer.com named their dark, quadrupel-style ale, “12”, the best beer in the world. Demand for the beer skyrocketed, and that created a problem for the monks. They brewed beer, but strictly to cover the expenses of running the abbey. They weren’t in the brewing business, and had no intention of doing so.

    Westvleteren 12 is still highly regarded—it currently ranks second on RateBeer.com—and it remains hard to find. Annual production is just under 4,000 barrels. The beer’s scarcity is a major factor in its appeal. Not only is it rare, but there are only two places to get it legally: at the abbey’s cafe, or at the abbey’s drive-through pick-up gate, provided you’ve made a reservation at least 60 days in advance—and good luck getting through. The only practical way to get to the abbey is to rent a car; it’s a 90-minute drive, provided you don’t get lost on the country roads leading to it.

    A case of Westvleteren 12 sells for 40 euros (about $45), or less than $2 a bottle. Some customers resell it on the black market, and get $50 or more per bottle. The monks discourage this practice, and RateBeer.com polices its user forums and shuts down illicit sales.

    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.

    Jonathan Buford’s Reward

    The story reads like a screenplay rejected by the studios as far-fetched. Jonathan Buford, the owner of a window-cleaning business, watches Brew Masters on television. Inspired by Sam Calagione, the show’s star, he starts brewing. With the help of a beverage store employee who home-brews, Buford teaches himself how to make beer. Really good beer. Those who try it are so impressed that he decides to go commercial. His brewery runs into the inevitable delays in opening, and Buford faces foreclosure and bankruptcy.

    Then comes the magic moment. To his surprise, Buford learns that RateBeer.com has named his brewery, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, the world’s best new brewery. The honor makes him an instant celebrity in the business.

    Eric Benson of Esquire magazine interviewed Buford in Arizona, and discovered that his brewery’s unexpected fame was only part of the story. Buford loves the wilderness–hence the brewery’s name–and makes extensive use of local ingredients such as tangelos, caraway seeds, and the very rare white Sonoran berries.

    News travels fast in the beer world. Arizona Wilderness has become so popular that people line up for hours to try one of Buford’s beers. And for now, that’s the only place you can find them.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • High bid for two bottles of Hair of the Dog’s “Dave” at a recent auction: $4,526.
  • Cost per ounce for the high bidder: $187.
  • Ontario craft beer sales this past year: $22 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 45 percent.
  • Increase over 2004: 1,000 percent.
  • Beer Stores operated by the province of Ontario: 440.
  • Years since Pabst Blue Ribbon beer debuted: 168.
  • Years since PBR won the blue ribbon at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago: 119.
  • PBR’s average rating on RateBeer.com: 1.79 (out of 5).
  • Westvleteren 12’s average rating on RateBeer.com: 4.64.
  • Cost of a Westvleteren 12 gift set (six bottles, two glasses): at least $50.
  • Westvleteren 12’s alcohol by volume: 10.2 percent.
  • Days until the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival: 72 (tickets sold out in 13 hours).
  • Breweries represented at last year’s festival: 61.
  • Beers poured at last year’s festival: 452.
  • How Three Floyds Became Number One

    How did Three Floyds Brewing Company, a micro located in an industrial park in Munster, Indiana, make it to the top of RateBeer.com’s “best brewery in the world” ratings? One major factor was RateBeer.com itself–or, more precisely, the beer geeks who inhabit sites like that and supply the ratings.

    Five years ago, Eric Clemons, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a journal article that examined how beer ratings predict sales growth. (Yes, business profs seriously study this.) By analyzing hundreds of thousands of reviews, Clemons found that breweries with the biggest gaps between their highest and lowest ratings were more likely to experience sales growth. He concluded, “It is more important to have some customers who love you than a huge number of customers who merely like you–even if your beers are so intense that they turn off a lot of potential customers.”

    The Friday Mash (For the Boys Edition)

    On this day in 1941, the United Service Organizations, Inc., was created. During World War II, the USO presented hundreds of thousands of shows featuring the greatest names in entertainment history. Those shows were brought back to life in the 1991 film For the Boys, which starred Bette Midler.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin at the University of California, Davis, which has opened a $20 million winery, brewery and food processing complex. The facility also has earned a LEED Platinum certification.

    Jack Curtin reviews Dethroning the King, an account of InBev’s successful hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch. He points out that A-B committed a series of blunders that led to its being taken over.

    Prague’s U Fleku is more than 500 years old, and is the world’s oldest continually-operating brewpub. Charlie Papazian caught up with Ivan Chramosil, who’s been its brewmaster for 40 years.

    Evan Hansen of Underground Detroit magazine introduces his readers to lambic. Did you know that a beer with only 10 percent lambic can be labeled “lambic”?

    It appears that something Wicked this way will no longer come. Gambrinus Company has announced that it will stop distribution of Pete’s Wicked Ale on March 1.

    Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, has a bone to pick with RateBeer.com’s best beer list. Actually, his target is extreme-beer fans, who’ve voted so many high-gravity beers onto the list.

    Finally, a quiz question. What do Apollo, Boadicea, Citra, and El Dorado have in common? Time’s up. They’re new varieties of hops.

    Beer…By the Numbers

    Time out for trivia!

  • Percentage of drinkers who feel more attractive after having a few beers: 33.
  • Percentage of drinkers who feel others are more attractive after having a few beers: 25.
  • Imperial stouts on RateBeer.com’s top ten beer list: 7.
  • Beers on RateBeer.com’s top 50 list with “imperial” in their style: 39.
  • Craft breweries that can their beer: approximately 100.
  • Cost of a can of Walgreen’s Big Flats 1901 Lager beer: 50 cents.
  • Cost of a can of National Bohemian beer in Baltimore: 55 cents.
  • Pints of beer the Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispensing System can fill in one minute: 56.
  • States that allow beer to be sold in grocery stores: 35.
  • Decrease in German beer consumption from 2009 to 2010: 1.7 percent.
  • Decrease in British beer consumption from 2009 to 2010: 3.9 percent.
  • Busch family’s ownership of Anheuser-Busch on the eve of its acquisition by InBev: 4 percent.
  • Price of one share of Boston Beer Company (ticker symbol: SAM): $90.01 (closing price on January 31).
  • Beer consumption on Super Sunday, compared to the average mid-winter day: 20 percent higher.
  • Budweiser commercials to be shown during the Super Bowl: 1.
  • Bud Light commercials to be shown during the Super Bowl: 3.
  • Admit It. You’ve Tried These.

    Recently, we took a look at RateBeer.com’s list of the world’s 50 worst beers. If you’re a member of the RateBeer community, you know the site assigns a composite rating between 0.5 (the very lowest) and 5.0 (the very highest).

    Olde English 800 3.2 was rated worst overall, with an average score of 0.96. Rounding out the bottom ten were Natural Ice (1.03), Natural Light (1.03), Milwaukees Best (1.05), Michelob Ultra (1.06), Sleeman Clear (1.08), Budweiser Select 55 (1.09), Coors Aspen Edge (1.11), Bud Light Chelada (1.12), and Busch Ice (1.13).

    What makes reading reviews of bad beer fun is the comments left by some reviewers. These, for example:

    “This one should be labeled a hazard by the EPA.”
    “Top choice for beer pong. Last choice for everything else.”
    “Never to be consumed by anyone over the age of 22 with any kind of a job.”
    “Just enough taste to let you know you should not have ordered it.”
    “You’re basically drinking the flavor of air.”
    “Even now, the nightmares lurk and the mere thought is enough to set the stomach reeling.”
    “Has no detectable beer characteristics.”

    Grand Rapids to Host RateBeer Gathering

    Here’s another sign that Grand Rapids, Michigan, has become a top-tier craft beer destination. It will be the site of RateBeer.com’s annual summer gathering. Scheduled for July 22-25, it will draw visitors from as far away as Japan.

    Events planned for this year’s get-together include pub crawls in Grand Rapids; bus trips to the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Summer Beer Festival, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, and Dark Horse Brewing Company; a by-invitation-only Grand Tasting; and a Belgian beer brunch at HopCat.

    RateBeer.com has more details about the gathering.

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