Giant breweries such as SABMiller and Diageo PLC have invested heavily in African farmland as part of their effort to use more locally-sourced material—such as sorghum, cassava, and yams—in their beer. The good news is that the breweries are guaranteeing small farmers a guaranteed market for their crops, and that beer made from local crops is as much as 40 percent cheaper.
However, not all the news is good. With farmers growing more sorghum, they’re growing less food crops. Shrinking food supplies, in turn, mean higher prices, putting staples out of the reach of many families’ budgets.
The Most Interesting Man in the World has competition. Michel de Carvalho, the son of a Brazilian father and and a British mother, is an MBA from Harvard, a three-time Olympic competitor, and a high-ranking investment banker at Citigroup.
So why is he being mentioned on this blog? Because he married Charlene Heineken, the only child of beer baron Freddy Heineken and 25-percent owner of Heineken International. Her shares make the couple worth an estimated $11 billion.
Earlier this year, the brewery contacted Patricia Sellers of Fortune magazine, and proposed that she interview the de Carvalhos. Even though Charlene has been publicity-shy, she saw Heineken’s 150th birthday as an opportunity to talk about her life and her family business.
One interesting story involves Anheuser-Busch. After Freddy Heineken died, August Busch III–the Busches and de Carvalhos were friendly rivals—suggested that the two companies help one other expand their distribution. A Heineken-Busch joint venture is one of the industry’s more intriguing historical “what-ifs.”
In September, Charlene rejected an unsolicited bid by SABMiller. Meanwhile, Michel is trying to grow Heineken in a rapidly-consolidating industry. Michel feels the heavy responsibility that goes with being part of a family business. He said to Sellers, “One of the things that drives me is the thought that one guy [Freddy] is constantly looking down and wondering whether we’re going to **** it up.”
On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola. December is celebrated as Discovery Day on the island’s two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Loudoun County, Virginia, where beer tourism is stimulating the local economy. The county has eight breweries, with 16 more in the planning stages.
Black Friday has become the number-one day for beer releases. As you’ve probably figured out, most of these beers are stouts and many of them are barrel-aged.
SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewing company, still lacks a global brand. Its launch of Pilsner Urquell was a flop, and Heineken said no to a takeover offer.
Bottles and Cans, a liquor store in Chicago, is offering an adults-only Advent calendar. It contains 25 beers, each of them to be enjoyed on the weekdays leading up to Christmas.
European Union officials want Japan to open its market to imported beers. Arcane Japanese rules, such as a ban on ingredients like coriander seeds, act as “non-tariff barriers.”
Minnesota’s Excelsior Brewing Company has brewed a saison beer with pondweed and zebra mussels. The brewery insists that “minuscule” amounts of the invasive species were added.
Finally, Shoes & Brews, a runners’ gear store in Colorado, offers an incentive to get into shape. The store, which has a liquor license and 20 taps, bases the price of your first beer on your time in an 800-meter time trial.
On this day in 1968, Intel Corporation—Intel is short for “Integrated Electronics”—was founded in Mountain View, California. Today, it is one of the world’s largest and emiconductor chip manufacturers. Chances are, your personal computer has “Intel inside.”
And now….The Mash!
Appropriately, we begin in California’s Silicon Valley. Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, will offer fans a wide selection of local micros to choose from.
Cigar City Brewing Company has signed an agreement to pour its beers aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships. Carnival also offers its own private label draft beer, ThirstyFrog Red.
This was bound to happen. Oregon’s Full Sail Brewery has sued Atlanta-based Sessions Law Firm, alleging that the law firm copied its trademark for Session Premium Lager.
Kirin, once the undisputed number-one brand in Japan, has dropped to second place behind Asahi. The chief reason for Kirin’s downfall was not entering the fast-growing premium beer market.
Grand Rapids’ Founders Brewing Company made BrandInnovators.com’s list of Top 10 American-Made Brands to Watch. Founders is joined on that list by Sonoma Cider Company.
Rumor has it that Anheuser-Busch InBev will merge with SABMiller. The combined company would own 80 percent of the world’s leading brands and control 30 percent of the world’s beer market.
Finally, Brasserie Cantillon is aging its beers inside a bomb shelter. No, the brewery isn’t expecting another invasion. It simply ran out of space; and fortunately, the city of Brussels found them a new subterranean location.
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.