Last month, AB InBev and SABMiller announced they had agreed to join forces. The proposed$106 billion deal would unite the makers of two of the best-known American lagers, Budweiser and Miller. Together, the two firms would account for a third of the world’s beer output and half the beer industry’s profits…. Read more at http://www.rstreet.org/2015/11/25/should-we-be-worried-about-the-big-beer-merger/
“Oregon law doesn’t allow you pump your own gas. But the beer scene in Bend, an outdoors playground anchored by mountain biking in the summer and the Mt. Bachelor ski area in the winter, is such that a local company, the Growler Guys, successfully pushed to make it legal for them to have taps in gas station convenience stores. “While they’re filling up your car, I run inside and get a growler filled,” Andrea says. “It’s so much more convenient than buying a six-pack at the grocery store or going to a brewery itself. Inside the Chevron there are 36 taps; 30 dispense beer or hard cider and six dispense kombucha….”
Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/even-beer-skeptics-can-enjoy-oregons-craft-brewery-mecca/2015/11/19/96cc3598-88a0-11e5-be8b-1ae2e4f50f76_story.html and at http://oregoncraftbeer.org/breweries/.
This is a really pleasant stout. It is not monstrously alcoholic, like Brooklyn Brewery’s Chocolate Stout (10% ABV). This Cleveland-made beer is a around 5.5%, and offers slightly sweet notes and aromatic delight: oats, roast, and creme. The often-harsh beer fans who post at BeerAdvocate.com like it a lot. And so do we. The six-pack we bought for $10 at Giant Grocery disappeared in a few days. (Rating: Very Good) You can enjoy it straight from the fridge, but do try to let it warm to 40 or 45 degrees, which releases the flavors.
Read more about it at https://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/ohio-city-oatmeal-stout.
Really, you ask? Was a new law passed demanding that all brewers label beers provided in keg also come with calorie counts?
Well, sorta. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) carried a provision requiring chain restaurants to give customers calories counts for food provided. The Food and Drug Administration thinks beer is a food, and therefore is developing regulations to impose this requirement. Craft brewers are not exactly happy, as this will force them to pay for additional caloric tests. WatchDog.org reports:
“The new regulations also will apply to grocery and convenience stores, bowling alleys, movie theaters and sports venues — severely curtailing where some beers are sold. The menu labeling requirement is hitting businesses across the entire food service industry. By the Obama administration’s official estimate, the new requirement will cost businesses as much as $1.5 billion. On a per-business level, the Cato Institute estimates the labeling mandate costs between $49,000 and $77,000, according to HHS. Since the average food service employee costs his or her employer about $22,000 annually, those fancy calorie-labeled menus have set every food service business in America back by two to three employees — while not doing a thing to increase productivity or profit….” (Read more)
Gin has had a weird and wild ride over the past 500 years. The Dutch were producing the piney drink in the 1500s, but adding herbs to liquor is a tradition that goes back further still to the tinkering of medieval alchemists.
Juniper berries, which give gin its characteristic scent, have been used as a spice since ancient times. When, precisely, someone first plucked them from the bush and plopped them in liquor is anyone’s guess. Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia (77 to 79 CE) included a recipe for a wine-based “proto-gin,” reports Aaron Knoll in his entertaining Gin: The Art and Craft of Artisan Revival.
Gin was a fine drink when the Dutch first made it. Their Genever came from barley fermented into beer, then distilled and flavored with juniper. (Jineverbes is the Dutch term for juniper.) This gave it much more flavor than much of gin sold today, which is made from flavorless “neutral grain spirit.” The Dutch still produce many brands of Genever gin, with Bols probably the most well-known producer globally.
Gin went down-market in the 18th century. Distilleries began cranking out cheap grain alcohol, often adulterated with toxic flavorings, which was lapped up by the poor. The artist William Hogarth’s 1751 ghastly etching of Gin Lane mayhem aptly depicts the ugly social consequences.
Gin’s social cache rose from its nadir as the British Empire flourished. The London Dry style –
crackling crisp from juniper, lemon and other citrus fruits – became synonymous with gin. Better brands emerged, such as Beefeater and Tanqueray. The gin and tonic became known world-round, thanks in part to its value as an anti-malarial. (The high quinine content of early tonic, not the gin, was the curative. Adding gin and lime made the bitter tonic pleasant to drink. Old Raj Gin was unabashedly marketed as high imperial fare.
New market entrants, which arrived around the fin de siècle, have made major inroads against imperial London Dry style. The first wave of these new gins, like Bafferts, were much less piney and tended to highlight citrus flavors. They were designed to lure the millions of vodka drinkers to gin. Reflecting globalization, they sometimes came from unusual places, like Belarus.
The next wave of new gins are far more interesting. Many came from American and European micro-distillers, and amount to reinventions of the spirit. Often these new gins, such as Glorious Gin by New York’s Breukelen Distillery, are produced from flavorful high-quality grains, instead of re-distilled bulk-purchased ethanol. Some of these contemporary gins derive wild flavors from atypical botanicals. Minnesota’s Vikre distillery makes gins flavored with cedar, spruce and sumac. Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin from California is spiced with red peppers, black peppers and pimento, in addition to juniper, cucumber, lemon, sage and lavender. Other new gin producers impart novel flavors through barrel-aging. California’s Ballast Point distillery uses this method to impart a cinnamon aroma in one of its gins.
There are more than 260 gins out there already, and more surely will come. With the rising quality and growing diversity of choice, 21st century consumers are in an enviable position.
Kevin R. Kosar is a senior fellow at the R Street Institute and the author of Whiskey: A Global History. He is the editor and founder of AlcoholReviews.com. This piece also appeared in the American Spector.
“The beer industry is more dominated by big players than almost any other in the United States. Its four largest companies account for nearly 90 percent of all sales. That’s a function of a wave of brewery consolidation in recent years, culminating in an announcement last month that the world’s two largest beer companies, SAB Miller and Anheuser-Busch InBev, plan to merge. And yet, for all that market power, the beer giants are acting scared of their smallest competitors — perhaps because there are more of them every day, especially in Oregon….” (Read more at the Washington Post)