On this day in 1879, Will Rogers was born. He was a cowboy, actor, and humorist, and one of the biggest celebrities of the Jazz Age. Rogers once said that “Communism is like prohibition, it’s a good idea but it won’t work.” Both the Great Experiment and the hammer and sickle have vanished, which is a good reason to have a beer.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Mozambique, where SABMiller has introduced Impala, a beer brewed with a mixture of cassava and barley. The beer will be about 25 percent cheaper than traditional lagers in hopes of getting drinkers to switch from homebrew to a commercial beer.
Those hard-to-find beers might be easier to get if legislation designed to save the U.S. Postal Service becomes law. One provision of that legislation would allow shipments of beer and wine.
No, it’s not too late to join The Session #57, which is titled “Bless Me Father, for I Have Drank”. You don’t even have to be Catholic to offer up your contribution.
Despite a world-class lineup of contributors, the Oxford Companion to Beer isn’t free of factual errors. Blogger Alan McLeod has created a wiki where readers can flag and those errors for possible future editions of the book.
March 5, 2012, will be Kate the Great Day at the Portsmouth Brewery. Next year’s edition will come in smaller (330 milliliter) bottles to allow more fans to bring some home.
At this year’s World Beer Awards, the judges named Weihenstephan Vitus, a strong wheat beer, the World’s Best Beer. Other winners were Rodenbach Grand Cru (Best Ale), Samuel Adams Double Bock (Best Lager), Deschutes Hop Henge (Best Pale Ale), and Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout (Best Stout and Porter).
Finally, beer gardens are flourishing in southern California, but with American touches like food from all over the world on the menu and local micros on tap. And in Detroit, the Christmas Wonderfest will include a Hofbrauhaus biergarten.
In Africa, people have been brewing beer for millennia, using native plants such as bananas, cassava, and sorghum. These aren’t conventional ingredients anymore but, as Carolyn Whelan of Fortune magazine explains, multi-national brewing companies are offering locally-sourced beers made with traditional ingredients. It’s part of an effort to tap into Africa’s potentially huge market for beer.
SABMiller is building microbreweries that rely on micro supply chains to get sorghum from farmers in Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. Whelan points out that sourcing local ingredients is good business: it not only cuts supply chain price volatility, but also reduces logistics, inventory and import duty costs. The result is a product 20 percent cheaper than beer made with barley. And, perhaps, a product that will pay dividends: SABMiller hopes the farmers will spend some of their new-found wealth on its beer.
Yogi Berra supposedly said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But that didn’t discourage brewing giant SABMiller from teaming up with a consulting firm to envision the brewing environment in 2030.
The worst case, titled “Marginal Survival,” was a world where high energy costs and limited access to water forced millions of people to flee to places with better weather and a reliable water supply. And, presumably, lots of cold beer.
What’s a brewer to do? No problem. Build a smaller brewery that would move from place to place on the back of a ship. How the crew of that ship would repel pirates–which would inevitably return to the high seas under such dire conditions–isn’t exactly clear.
Earlier today, a story in MarketWatch.com raised the possibility that SABMiller will acquire Carlton & United, the brewers of Foster’s beer. News of the possible acquisition first appeared in the Times of London, which reported that SAB is prepared to spend as much as $10.9 billion to buy the Australian brewer. While the transaction isn’t small beer, it still pales by comparison to the $52 billion InBev paid to acquire Anheuser-Busch.
Thanks to civil war and Islamic sharia law, the residents of South Sudan have been unable to enjoy a locally-made beer for half a century. That, however, is about to change. SABMiller has invested nearly $50 million in a brewery, which recently opened in Juba. The brewery’s flagship beer is White Bull, a session lager.
The news isn’t so good in nearby Kenya, where prohibitionist legislation has created a lucrative market for cheap–and often deadly–homemade liquor. One possible solution: offering tax breaks to brewers so Kenyans can drink a safer, less potent beverage.