Posts Tagged ‘beer’
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
By Dakota “Smoky” Waddell
Winter is an interesting time of year, encompassing heart-warming holidays and the dark and strange days of February. Here in my home of the mountains of Western North Carolina, the past few years have seen an influx of snowstorms. As a “young’un”, I don’t remember that much snow, other than a blizzard in 1993 that dumped around six feet on my sleepy community. Though many hate winter, others just love it. Personally, for me the season evokes feelings that I cherish with a warm heart and busy mind, as some of my favorite activities burst forth from the hibernation of summer. If you can’t tell already, I happen to be one who loves winter.
Winter means wood-fueled fires, early mornings in the woods watching the sun come up and catching up on reading. But with winter also comes a change in my tastes so far as food and drink are concerned. When I am asked if I would like a salad on the side, I might choose soup instead. The same goes for my beer. No more Pabst Blue Ribbon, no more light refreshing beers. I want something dark, warm and filling. Therefore, my beers of choice to knock off the chill are porters and stouts. This is not surprising; in fact, it’s a pretty typical habit for many beer enthusiasts.
Traditionally, beers are directly marketed for a particular season or time of year. I have found that “winter beers” are usually among my least favorite varieties of a fine beverage. Thus, the thought of a winter lager sounded a lot like that side salad. “I’m sure it’s nice,” I thought, but I figured I’d rather pass… until a particular winter lager produced by Sam Adams may have changed my mind.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Last year, fellow Culture of Spirits writer Micah A. Hanks wrote an article about Japanese brewing company Sapporo’s efforts to produce beer from space-grown ingredients. The rising popularity of the notion of future space tourism will indicate, for some, the next gold mine in fields that are wishing to prosper… beer should be included among these, also. After all, who would want to take a trip to space without the ability to enjoy a cold one along the way?
Space.com reported Monday that the Australian non-profit space organization Astronauts4Hire will perform a series of tests on a beer developed and brewed by Sydney’s 4 Pines Brewing and Saber Astronautics Australia. The goal of the research is to test the sustainability and drinkability of the beer in space, and the tests being done by Astronauts4Hire will include taste tests as well as the physiological affects that come from drinking it in a zero-gravity environment.
Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
A new statute is being proposed in Californians called the Alcohol-Related Harm and Damage Services Act of 2010. This proposal, which seeks to increase the state alcohol tax by astronomical proportions, was brought forth by Josephine and Kent M. Whitney, of San Diego, California.
Last year, I wrote an article about Russia raising its alcohol tax by sky-high margins, but if this Act in California goes through (it is going to require around 430,000 signatures on a petition just to go to a vote), President Medvedev will have to bow his head in submission, as his 300% tax hike will look like pocket change compared to the proposed 5,500% to 12,675% tax increase that the Whitney’s have authored.
In reading the details of the proposal, we see a helpful summary that California’s Attorney General wrote, which details what exactly will be taxed, and how much the tax will be; Beer’s six-pack tax will rise from 11 cents to $6.08 USD, a 5,527% increase. With that in place, say hello to $12 six-packs of Yuengling, and a lovely $15 for a six-pack of a good micro-brew, or about the price that a case costs here in North Carolina. The steepest tax increase of almost 13,000% is on 750ml bottles of wine, which aims to raise the tax from 4 cents to $5.11 USD per bottle, which has many people fearing that this will cripple the wine industry. According to one grower with a winery in Soledad, California, the most in-demand product on the wine market are mid-range bottles of $7 to $8. He fears that raising the price on those hot ticket items by an additional $5.11 will reduce the overall demand and put a tremendous strain on local wineries, eventually leading to job losses.
Sunday, February 14th, 2010
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis has discovered that naturally occurring silicon found in malted barley and hops has bone strengthening qualities that can prevent the bone disease osteoporosis. The researchers have found that pale-colored beers, especially IPA’s, have the highest concentration of silicon due to the ingredients used and the brewing process.
While India Pale Ales have the highest concentration of silicon at an average of 41.2 milligrams per liter, wheat beers have the second lowest concentration at 18.9 mg/L, just above light beers at 17.2 mg/L.
This study adds to the list of things that beer is good for in the health of adults, lining up with blood pressure and heart disease. Although there do indeed appear to be notable benefits to drinking beer, it has to be stressed more than ever that the benefits only outweigh the negatives when consumed in moderation. Experts have not back down from their stance that one to two beverages a day should be the maximum consumption, however unrealistic that may sound to the drinking crowd. Just remember, as with most indulgences, too much is not a good thing.
So with osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease being combated by different types of beer, one has to wonder what the ultimate healthy beer would taste like. Taking a pale ale and a stout, then mixing them together into one concoction certainly doesn’t sound very appealing, but maybe a surprise is in order. Many stouts, of course, do contain some very fine roasted hops, but in order to get the bone strengthening silicon, it needs to be a pale ale, preferably an IPA.
What would this drink be called? A Pale Black? Has it been done before? I challenge you, dear readers, to give me your ideas for the ultimate health-conscious beer.
Until then, in the immortal words of the Most Interesting Man in the World, stay thirsty my friends.
Monday, January 25th, 2010
By Micah Hanks
It has been long lamented that overseas in countries like Germany you can order a beer with your Big Mac at McDonalds. However, soon one of the restaurant’s leading competitors, Burger King, will be making this a reality to US diners as well.
Investors.com reported today that the franchise plans to open a 24-hour “Whopper Bar South Beach,” that serves alcohol along with the chain’s popular burgers. This, in an effort to make certain Burger King locations appeal to the “sit down” crowd, will mark the first instance where alcohol has been sold in one of its US locations.
Sunday, January 24th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Out of the living tragedy that is Port-au-Prince, a miraculous rescue has been made, with a survivor pulled from the wreckage of a grocery store 11 days after the earthquake rattled Haiti.
Sky News reports that the lone survivor was trapped under a desk for a week and a half, and was able to survive by reaching for nearby groceries. Those nearby groceries happened to be cookies, canned soft drinks, and of course, cans of beer. Wismond Exantus is indeed a lucky individual, as the desk protected him from the building falling around him, and he was made even luckier as these items were intact and within reach of him. What makes the rescue of Exantus even better, is that the Haitian government officially called off the search for survivors earlier in the day. Working of their own accord, private rescue teams continued to scour the ruins of the capital city, until a Greek team was hailed by Exantus’ brother, who had heard a voice where the store used to stand.
The chance of finding anyone else alive in the rubble is incredibly small, but hopefully there are others who are in similar situations as Wismond. The time frame is getting smaller, and hope is dwindling as the death toll continues to sky rocket, and bodies are dumped into mass graves on the outskirts of the ruins. Any glowing bit of hope is good for the morale of the people on the island, as well as for those watching with baited breath around the world. Tens of millions of dollars have been raised to help Haiti, and several people I personally know have made monetary and material donations to help the survivors.
That one man can survive on beer, leads us to hope that perhaps two men could survive on beer, and perhaps even three. Keep digging, people. Keep digging, and hopefully more will be found before it’s too late. While I have many questions that I would love to ask Wismond Exantus, I think the one that would be first off my tongue given the opportunity, is what kind of beer was he living off of?
Here’s to you, Wismond. And here’s hoping there are many more like you.
Special thanks to Greg Le Guyader for contributing to this article.
Sunday, January 24th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
In an earlier article, we touched upon the Belgian beer unions striking against Anheuser-Busch InBev, over cuts of up to 800 employees, which amounts to 10% of their European workforce. The strikers held up production at A-B InBev plants for two weeks, causing shortages of popular Belgian beers all throughout northern Europe.
While this article is being written just past midnight on Sunday, the 24th, I still consider it to be yesterday, Friday the 22nd that the strike was officially called off, and the blockades were lifted. The agreement came mere hours after the first article was written, and the following day, production and delivery continued. Beer shortages eased across the country, and many purveyors of Leffe and Stella breathed a sigh of relief.
It was not just a win for A-B InBev, however, as the union got what they wanted as well, which was a freeze on several hundred layoffs, and the opening of two new call centers in Belgium, providing additional jobs, and reducing the overall job cut to around 260.
This is obviously very good news for both parties, as A-B InBev can finally continue with production, and many hundreds of jobs were saved. However, for this to remain good news, there needs to be a shift in taste in Belgium’s flagging beer market, as more and more drinkers turn to wine and spirits, decreasing beer sells by frightening percentages.
Please, Belgium, for the sake of your brewers, keep buying beer.
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Time Magazine reports that Belgium is running out of beer, and it’s because of labor strikes over planned cuts of 800 jobs. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, announced their plans to cut these jobs and have been met with fierce resistance all around the country for the past two weeks, as striking union members have blockaded breweries and set fire to paths leading in and out. No delivery trucks can pick up the untold thousands of gallons of beer that is stuck inside loading bays, and the brewing equipment itself is running dry as they are unable to get supplies.
Anger over the decision to cut jobs was increased as A-B InBev announced third-quarter profits soaring over $1.5B USD, and people are feeling that this is the ugly side of Capitalism. A-B InBev is taking the stance that they are a global company employing over one hundred thousand people around the world, and they must look after the best interests for the company. InBev bought out Anheuser-Busch in 2008, and in doing so, went heavily into debt. They are struggling to repay, and have already sold eight major theme parks in the United States. The workers in Leuven, Belgium, which traces their brewing back to the middle 14th century, have a greater concern for their families than for the Brazilian ran company’s debts. The striking workers have been so incensed, they have even taken several members of A-B InBev management hostage, while demanding to speak to executives within the company. The hostages were released without incident after 11 hours.
With A-B InBev owning over 200 brands of beer around the world, including several major brands in Belgium, one must wonder if global beer supplies will be effected by this strike as well. The bars in Belgium are reporting shortages, and pretty soon these shortages may reach the rest of Europe and the world. For those who love Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, and Leffe, now may be the time to begin stocking up, as there is no telling how long this strike could go on; As there is virtually no chance at saving their jobs, they may just camp out on the drives that lead in and out of the plants for several more weeks in order to spite A-B InBev, and put a wrench in the gears of what many people believe to be nothing more than yet another profit-over-people mega corporation.
Special thanks to Dwight Walker Jr. for contributing to this article.
Friday, January 15th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Tacoma, Washington based Cascade Regional Blood Services has implemented an innovative and popular plan for boosting blood donations from adult crowds in the region; Several local pubs are working with Cascade and offering a pint-for-pint program, in which blood donors will receive a ticket for a free pint of beer in exchange for a donated pint of blood drawn at that location. The plan, which has been picking up steam over the past 16 months, has been a resounding success, and the current spread of six bars that the blood-mobile visits will soon be expanded to eight, and presumably more in the future.
Surprisingly to some people, the plan has not invoked the criticism of alcohol-awareness groups, and even the teetotaling Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization has given it their cautious blessing, as long as Cascade and the bars involved abide by State laws, and confirm that blood donors being given the beer are of proper legal drinking age. Additional requirements set forth by the people involved make it a day-of ticket that donors receive, meaning that they must cash them in for their free pint in the same working day, but only after six hours have passed, presumably to give them time to get their blood level back up so the alcohol does not have quite as strong an affect.
Cascade and the bars they work with have a payment plan in place, in which Cascade pays the bar for each beer that is given away to blood donors, nipping in the bud any potential legal snafu that could result from completely free beer. Blood Centers have been using this technique to ramp up the popularity of blood drives for several years now, but Cascade appears to be taking it to a new level, and one could imagine that their success will inspire other Centers to do something similar. Perhaps Portland, Oregon and Asheville, North Carolina will be next. The Beer Cities, USA have been garnering much attention, and maybe it’s high time that some real positive action be a result of the increasing popularity in the breweries that inhabit these cities.
Across the United States, 38,000 blood donations are needed every day to save lives, and there are constant shortages in many locations. With a Portland Metro population of 2.1 million people, and Asheville Metro population of 408,000, we can probably safely assume that at least half of these populations meet the requirements given by Blood Book. Just imagine what good could come if people are given a beer incentive to donate blood in these two cities. Remember, the breweries would likely not be the same or as plentiful if there wasn’t strong local demand for it. Perhaps this is an… untapped demographic for Blood Centers, and hopefully we can see some Tacoma-inspired activity in the near future.
Cheers, my friends!
Sunday, December 20th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
“Drunk for a penny,
Dead drunk for two pence,
Clean straw for nothing,”
-Gin Lane, circa 1751
The above quote is attributed to a bar in London during the Gin Madness craze of the 18th century, that took the city by storm to such a degree that the spirit had prohibitive acts passed against it, making it more expensive and difficult to produce.
Today, a report came out in the UK’s Times Online about the falling price of alcohol, and how beer is now cheaper than bottled water, by about 30 pence ($0.48 USD) per liter. The falling prices have resulted in British alcohol awareness groups to decry this marketing tactic, saying that it will cause more alcohol-related deaths due to binge drinking. Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales, earlier this year called for minimum pricing on alcohol, at £6 per six-pack, which would be about $9.75 USD. Donaldson claimed that raising the price by this degree would result in 3,000 fewer alcohol related deaths per year, and 100,000 fewer hospital visits. Gordon Brown and the alcohol industry rejected this price-hike, but knowing England’s past responses to perceived social dangers, I think it’s doubtful that we’ve seen the last of Sir Liam and his ilk.