session beers

The Friday Mash (“Long Live the King” Edition)

On this day in 1603, James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England and Ireland upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. The kingdoms of Scotland and England remained sovereign states, with their own parliaments, but both were ruled by James in personal union.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Vancouver where last week, the Railtown Pub advertised its St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a Guinness glass filled to the brim and literally losing its head. That caught the attention of the Irish Independent newspaper, which called the pour “sacrilegious”.

Now that the Chicago White Sox’s partnership with MillerCoors has expired, the ballclub has formed a new partnership with Constellation Brands, which will open “Casa Modelo” at the ballpark.

While on spring break in The Bahamas, a frat boy used the teeth of a beached shark to puncture a beer can so he could “shotgun” it. His video of the stunt prompted a swift—and angry—backlash on social media.

Portland, Oregon, is about to get a beer bar devoted to session beers. Its name, naturally enough, is Sessionable. The bar will pour 30 beers, all with ABVs ranging from 2.5 to 5 percent.

Neil Patrick Harris, who the spokesperson for Heineken beer, says that he has a Heineken Light tap in his bar at home. He adds that unlimited beer at home “is as awesome as it sounds”.

According to a recent survey, one out of four beer drinkers said they would switch to marijuana if it became legal in their state. If they do switch, brewers will suffer $2 billion per year in lost sales.

Finally, MLive.com asked eight brewery owners in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area whether the craft beer industry is in a bubble. They don’t think so, but some admit that the market is getting tougher for new entries.

The Friday Mash (Henry Hudson Edition)

On this day in 1609, explorer Henry Hudson became the first European to discover Delaware Bay. If you live near Cape May, New Jersey, or Lewes, Delaware, you can celebrate on Saturday at a beer festival held in two different states, but on the same bay.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in North Carolina, where festivals have been the target of a summer crackdown on liquor code violations. Organizers contend that the rules are obsolete and confusing.

Mitsubishi Plastic has overcome a major obstacle to putting beer in plastic bottles. The company added a thin carbon film, which greatly reduces the loss of oxygen, to the inside of the bottles.

Joe Stange of Draft magazine has a word of warning: American “session beers” are much stronger than their British counterparts, which means they’ll make you drunker than you think.

When California’s She Beverage Company applied for a trademark for the “Queen of Beers,” Anheuser-Busch InBev filed a notice of opposition. A-B claims She’s marketing is almost identical to its marketing of the “King of Beers.”

A Denver-area brewery will serve “marijuana beer” at next month’s Great American Beer Festival. It doesn’t contain THC, which is against federal law, but does include cannabis oil.

Venture capitalist Robert Finkel has made an unusual career move. His brewery, Forbidden Root, specializes in beer made with botanic ingredients, including lemon myrtle which costs $75 a kilo.

Finally, a Detroit Free Press correspondent went to a festival where the taps are open all night and attendees can walk to bed. It was the sixth annual Michigan Homebrew Festival, which continues the brewing competition once held at the Michigan State Fair.

The Friday Mash (Lamont Cranston Edition)

Eighty-five years ago, the radio drama The Shadow debuted. The title character, who know “what evil lurks in the hearts of men,” became a major influence on later comic book superheroes, Batman in particular.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Kabul, Afghanistan, where non-alcoholic beer is popular, and costs only 30 cents a can. Alcohol is banned in this Muslim country–but there’s a thriving black market in beer and spirits.

Lululemon, the yoga pants company, is using beer to attract male customers. Curiosity Lager, which features hints of lemon drop and Chinook hops, will soon be available at select locations in Canada.

Heavy Seas Brewing Company will mark the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken, Jr., setting a new Major League Baseball consecutive-games-played with a retro lager called Fielder’s Choice.

Vault Brewing Company invented a new way of canning nitro-conditioned beer. Vault adds the nitrogen when the beer is canned, bypassing the famous Guinness “widget.”

“Session beers”—those with less than 5% ABV—have gained a following among Colorado drinkers. The trend has spread from India pale ales to other styles, such as sour beers and saisons.

Producers of the zombie drama The Walking Dead have teamed up with Terrapin Brewing Company to make the show’s official beer: a Red India pale ale brewed with blood orange peel.

Finally, not all Utahns are Mormons, and some stage an alternative to the Pioneer Day state holiday. It’s called called “Pie and Beer Day,” and celebrants are invited to gather friends and family. Beer is optional.

The Rise of Session Craft Beer

For decades, some craft brewers have waged an “arms race,” competing to brew the beer with the most IBUs, the most unusual ingredients, and especially, the highest alcohol content.

As Nick Panchamé, head brewer at Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, Michigan, put it, ”When craft beer started, people didn’t want anything that looked like macro brews.”

More recently, however, Right Brain has released two successful session-strength beers.

Right Brain follows in the footsteps of another Michigan brewery, Founders Brewing Company, whose All Day IPA has become its largest-selling beer. Founders’ CEO Mike Stevens said, “We never intended to fill a void. By accident we seemed to time it right.” Stevens said that the beer was in development three years, and that he had no intention of “dumbing down” his products.

Another Michigan brewmaster, Tony Hansen of Short’s Brewing Company, said his company came to the realization that “big and bold beers aren’t perfect for every occasion.” Hansen added that session beers “will be kind of a gateway beer” for those looking to break away from national-brand beers.

The Friday Mash (Westward Expansion Edition)

On this day in 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their historic expedition through the vast Louisiana Purchase. Their journey has nothing to do with beer festivals, except that Ludwig’s come up with the crazy idea of paying for his next pint with Sacagawea dollar coins.

And now…The Mash!

Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin comments on Miller Lite’s new Vortex Bottle (complete with a how-it-works video). He also wonders about ideas that are so silly that even beer marketing people give them the thumbs-down.

Charlie Papazian explains how the Protestant Reformation affected the beer you drink today. Seriously.

Don Russell, a/k/a Joe Sixpack, worries about Anchor Brewing’s future now that Fritz Maytag has sold it. He points out that Pete’s Wicked Ale Brewery failed after Pete Slosberg sold it, and Bert Grant’s brewery disappeared after his death.

Some in the beer community pooh-poohed the idea of craft beer in cans, but more than 70 craft breweries now can their beer, and that total is steadily growing.

Brookston Beer Bulletin’s 40th edition of The Session will be, appropriately enough, a discussion of session beers. The host will be Erik Lars Myers from Top Fermented, and you’re welcome to join in .

May is National Tavern Month, and a couple of articles crossed Ludwig’s desk. Thursday’s Guardian had an article about the best-ever bar fights in movie history. On a more serene note, the editors of Draft magazine describe their favorite watering holes.

Finally, an item from The Mash’s Retro Want Ads Department. London’s Old Spitalfields Market is looking to hire an ale taster.

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