Venezuela

Politics and Beer in Venezuela

Venezuela is a deeply-divided country, and the division extends to that country’s beer industry. Last year, the two biggest brewers, Polar and Regional, were running short of raw materials. Both appealed to the administration of Nicolas Maduro to release foreign currency that would allow them to import hops, barley, and tin.

Regional’s request was granted, Polar’s was denied. Maduro, a socialist, has publicly castigated Polar’s owner as a prime example of the evils of capitalism. The family that owns Regional is extremely rich as well, but it has cooperated with Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

Polar has publicly accused the government of discriminating against it. Many other businesses, local and foreign, make the same accusations in private: “play ball with the government and all will be well, speak out and harassment may follow.”

High oil prices—Venezuela is a member of OPEC—provided Chavez with plenty of access to foreign currency, but the recent collapse in crude prices has caused the supply to dry up under Maduro. Polar officials fear that the Maduro is trying to strangle the corporation by cutting off its access to dollars.

The Friday Mash (Monkey Trial Edition)

Ninety years ago today, the “Monkey Trial” trial of science teacher John Scopes began. The trial, famously depicted in Inherit the Wind, made Dayton, Tennessee, the focus of world-wide attention. Beer was not served outside the courthouse because Prohibition was in effect.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in San Diego, where Comic-Con is underway. If you’re taking part, Andre Dyer of City Beat magazine has some suggestions as to where you can taste the local craft beer.

Those hard-to-find beers are becoming more available–if you have money. Even though shipping alcoholic beverages is against the law, the chances of getting busted for it are negligible.

Hailstorm Brewing Company has released Captain Serious #19 Pale Ale in honor of Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Chicago has won three of the last six Stanley Cups.

Heineken NV and Carlsberg A/S are building breweries in Myanmar. Eighty percent of Myanmar’s adults drink beer, and the country’s largest brewery is owned by current and former military personnel.

Beer shortages loom in Venezuela. Strikes at the Polar brewing company, which controls 80 percent of the market, have shut down half the brewery’s plants and forced others to run at reduced capacity.

Naragansett beer, once a New England favorite, has once again become popular—and not just in New England. What makes its revival even more amazing is that the brewery accomplished it on a shoestring media budget of $100,000.

Finally, a Danish music festival will collect attendees’ urine, which will be used to fertilize barley plants that will be used in a beer to be served at the 2017 festival. Organizers call this—admit it, you saw this coming—“Piss to Pilsner.”

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