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Man caught by customs officials said he wasn’t smuggling
A man tried to avoid suspicion for smuggling by saying he planned to drink 3,400 liters of beer himself.
A man in a van who was caught smuggling thousands of liters of undeclared alcohol into Sweden tried to get off by claiming he was going to drink it all himself, but police are not buying the story.
According to The Local, the man had actually managed to get through Swedish customs with thousands of liters of undeclared alcohol in his van. Once he made it out onto the highway, however, some customs agents happened to be driving behind him and noticed that the van was riding low as though heavily overloaded. When they pulled him over to investigate, they found 3,400 liters of beer, 250 liters of hard alcohol, and 150 cartons of cigarettes stowed in the back of the van.
Although caught red-handed, the man continued to assert his innocence, insisting that the 3,400 liters of beer and 150 cartons of cigarettes were just what he was planning on drinking and smoking himself. Police were skeptical, considering that the man would have had to drink more than 9 one-liter bottles of beer a day for an entire year to get through that stash.
Swedish police were not moved by the story, and officials say the man is now officially a smuggling suspect.
Sold only in the West, Coors beer is smuggled to the East. Henry Kissinger drinks it. So does Paul Newman, though he would abhor the Coors family's politics.
Once upon a time, a young German‐born beer‐hitch driver, who had fled his homeland to avoid the draft, was hiking in the hills west of the rowdy mining town of Deaver, when he came across a picturesque valley watered by a stream aptly named Clear Creek. This, he decided, would be the ideal place for a brewery. He set out to build one, and it grew and grew as the management was passed on from father to son. A little more than a century later, the young immigrant's dream had become the fourth largest beer manufacturer in the United States.
The man's name was Adolph Coors. The story may sound like something out of James Michener's “Centennial,” but that is actually how Coors developed from a tiny Western industry in 1873 to a considerable family empire. Coors is more than just a success story, however. The Coors brand can lay claim to being the most chic brew in the country. At the same time, ironically, the name has become anathema to civil libertarians and political moderates.
Today, the massive collection of gray‐white buildings in Golden, Colo., houses the largest single brewery in the world and one of the country's most self‐contained corporations. It also houses the office of the most famous Coors, Joseph, grandson of the founder, executive vice president of the company and ultraconservative zealot who was recently rejected by a Senate committee for a seat on the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
For most of its history, the Coors empire was allowed to grow quietly while its owners let the champions of Coors beer spread its fame around the world. But the company began raising its profile several years ago, when Joseph Coors publicized his idcology as a University of Colorado regent. This year, to the company's dismay, Coors has been in the headlines regularly, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling against its restrictive distribution policies thanks, also, to the first public sale of some of its nonvoting stock, to Joseph Coors's C.P.B. nomination and to a lawsuit by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging the company with race and sex discrimination.
In many ways, Coors is the perfect product of the American free‐enterprise system to which its top officials regularly pay homage. Since Adolph Coors began bottling the brew in 1873, the operation has expanded into a $585 million business, employing some 7,500, most of them in the brewery and related facilities sprawled on 3,100 acres in Golden. It has climbed from 12th in national sales in 1965 to fourth (behind Budweiser, Schlitz and Pabst), even though it is distributed in only 11 Western states while its competitors are selling throughout the country. It is the leader in all but one of its states, the exception being Texas (where it is not distributed in all areas). Moreover, it has captured the No. 4 spot with a bare minimum of paid advertising. Over the years, the company has acquired its own barley fields, rice ‐ milling facilities, construction crew, aluminumcan‐manufacturing plant, and trucks, so that it relies on the outside world for as little help as possible. Coors even owns some natural‐gas reserves to supply its plants with fuel.
But it is not so much the product as the mystique surrounding it that is fascinating. It seems to have won a reputation as the elixir of beers, the brew of Presidents, a prize to be smuggled into the East the way Americans abroad used to smuggle in contraband copies of Henry Miller's novels. Paul Newman, the king of beer‐drinking actors, is said to require Coors on ice at all his movie sets. Henry Kissinger regularly brought cases back to Washington each time he made a trip to California. Secret Service agents were forbidden to bring extra crates‐ aboard Federal planes after one agent was discov ered to have loaded 38 cases onto a recent flight from the West Coast.
Bootleggers from New Jersey to Tennessee regularly sell cases of Coors for as much as $15—about three times the Colorado retail price. (And three times what a New Yorker may pay for that favorite of Met fans, Schaefer.) Obviously, Coors must be a magic potion, not simply a fermented blend of barley malt, rice, hops and “Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water.” What accounts for the magic?
“I frankly can't explain it,” says Ernest Pyler, editor of Brewers Digest. “Coors by brewing standards is a good beer, but so are many others. I think it's mostly because of its unavailability.” Joe Nazzaro, a bartender from Connecticut who works at the Ute City Banque restaurant in Aspen, remarks: “It's funny. I go home to Connecticut it's a big deal to bring my father a couple of cases of Coors. But out here I don't think twice about it.”
Neither do many Westerners. Even though they chuga‐lug gallons of the stuff, it is probably because Coors is cheep and plentiful. I've never seen any of the local folks fuss when a bar is out of Coors they simply order something else. Montanans, who are outside the Coors territory, would no more pay $15 for a case of Coors than they would for a case of Dr. Pepper. “Are you kidding?” laughed a friend from Billings. “For $15 I could buy me a nice big bottle of Haig & Haig Pinch.”
Another explanation has been offered by William K. Coors, chairman of the board and second‐oldest son of Adolph Coors 2d, who followed his father as head of the company. (The oldest son, Adolph 3d, was murdered in 1960 after being kidnapped, apparently for ransom.) “There's no mystique about Coors's popularity,” Bill Coors told one interviewer. “It tastes better than other beers, that's all.”
Taste, of course, is a subjective thing. Some Coors detractors who like to make fun of Easterners' silly addiction say that what makes Coors distinctive is its tack of taste. I think they may be right, although I'm hardly a beer connoisseurs I had never drunk beer until a few, years ago, when a skiing companion in Utah invited me to join in his ritual of burying a can of Coors in snow before hitting the slopes, then digging it out at the end of the day for a cold pick‐me‐up. The very blandness of Coors (and my thirst after a day of skiing) made it easy for a nondrinker like me to acquire the taste.
Coors is a light‐bodied beer, meaning it is brewed with less malt, fewer hops and more rice than beers with a tangy taste. Compared with Heineken's or other more fullbodied foreign beers, Coors does seem almost flavorless and it is this quality that could account for its popularity among young people just starting to get acquainted with the pleasures of beer drinking. A few locals scoff at Coors, calling it “Colorado Kool‐Aid.” But the fact is that, according to Ernest Pyler, “if you conducted a blindfold test of the four leading beers, the chances of picking out Coors would be minimal.” Indeed, one national newspaper conducted an informal test among eight beer drinkers, finding that only three could correctly identify Coors. My own admittedly uneducated palate detects no difference between Coors and Schaefer. In short, the difference between Coors and any other decent beer could be 1,800 miles. Maybe, if Paul Newman suddenly switched to Schaefer, Denverites would pay $15 a case for it.
There is one aspect to the Coors mystique that does have measurable validity. Company officials make much of the fact that Coors has good mountain water and the most expensive brewing process in the country. Several elements are unusual, though not unique.
Thousands of visitors have learned about the process on guided tours through the antiseptic, Spartan plant. (For out‐of‐towners, the tour is often a pilgrimage—but for local students of the Colorado School of Mines, it's usually more in the line of a quick belt before classes. The tour lasts 30 minutes, at the end of which visitors are invited to quaff to their heart's content in the hospitality lounge. “I've come here 50 times,” boasted one student as he polished off a glass at 11:30 one morning in the lounge.) Situated in the center of town, between two high, flat mesas in the foothills of the Rockies, the plant dominates the community just as the somewhat rancid smell of malt seems to permeate the air onefourth of the town's families are said to owe their jobs to the factory's operations. Anyone expecting to see in Golden the foaming white waterfall amid mountain pines that is pictured on every yellow can of Coors will be disappointed. The water used in the brewing comes from nondescript wells hidden in concrete blockhouses. The brewery now puts out about 12 million barrels of beer a year, but construction sites throughout the grounds bear witness to the company's hopes for doubling that capacity by 1984.
Like other beers, Coors is produced from barley. Most of the big Midwestern brewers use barley grown in North Dakota and Minnesota. Coors is the single American brewer to use a Moravian strain, grown under company supervision, on farms in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. At the brewery, the barley is turned into malt by being soaked in water—which must be biologically pure and of a known mineral content—for several days, causing it to sprout and producing a chemical change—breaking down starch into sugar, The malt is toasted, a process that halts the sprouting and determines the color and sweetness (the more the roasting, the darker, more bitter the beer). It is ground into flour and brewed. with more pure water, in huge copper‐domed kettles until it is the consistency of oatmeal. Rice and refined starch are added to make mash solids are strained out, leaving an amber liquid malt extract, which is boiled with hops—the dried cones from the hop vine which add to the bitterness, or tang. The hops are strained, yeast is added, turning the sugar to alcohol. and the beer is aged in huge red vats at near‐freezing temperatures for almost two months, during which the second fermentation takes place and the liquid becomes carbonated, or bubbly. (Many breweries chemically age their beer to speed up production Coors people say only naturally aged brew can be called a true “lager.”) Next, the beer is filtered through cellulose filters to remove bacteria, and finally is pumped into cans, bottles or kegs for shipping.
The most unusual aspect of the Coors process is that the beer is not pasteurized, as all but a half‐dozen of the 90 or so American beers are. In the pasteurization process, bottles or cans of beer are passed through a heating unit and then cooled This destroys the yeast in the brew which could cause spoilage, if the cans or bottles or barrels are unrefrigerated for any long period. However, pasteurization also changes the flavor of beer. Coors stopped pasteurizing its product 18 years ago because it decided that “heat is an enemy of beer,” according to a company spokesman.
Unpasteurized beer must be kept under constant re frigeration. Thus, Coors does not warehouse any of its finished product, as many other brewers do, but ships everything out cold, immediately. In effect, my tour guide, a young management trainee wearing a beer‐can tie clip, explained as we wandered through the packaging area, watching workers in surgical masks feed aluminum lids into machines that sealed cans whirling by on conveyor belts, the six‐pack you buy in a store contains not only a very fresh beer but also a beer that could be considered draft, since it has been kept cold from vat to home refrigerator.
Coors officials are cagey when answering questions about the company's marketing plans. The Supreme Court's decision in 1975 upheld a Federal Trade Commission ruling, which found Coors guilty of restraint of trade. The F.T.C. charged that the company engaged in price‐fixing and attempted to limit distribution to its 11‐state area after the beer left its dealers, refusing to allow certain retail chains to carry its beer, parceling out exclusive distributorships and intimidating distributors and retailers. For example, some bars were told they wouldn't get any Coors unless they used Coors exclusively on tap. A company spokesman said recently the Court decision has had no financial impact on Coors and has not stopped the company from insisting that distributors keep beer under constant refrigeration.
Despite its growth, Coors still has no plans to market its brand in the East. “We just don't have the beer to send,” said a company spokesman. Perhaps the company is afraid that if it stops playing hard to get, Easterners won't lust after its product quite so much. “Our interest is not in supplying beer to everyone in the country,” the spokesman said primly. “It's in making the finest beer we can.” Eastern bootleggers who do sell Coors at those outrageous prices must either buy it at retail in a Coors marketing state and then truck it East, or else purchase it froin a Coors wholesaler. The latter course is probably illegal, since every Coors marketing state but Utah has a law prohibiting distributors from selling beer across state lines. Its biggest market is California—where demand often outstrips supply.
The California success is especially significant because for several years now, Chicano, labor union and homosexual groups have promoted a boycott of Coors, and they have concentrated much of their effort in that state. In fact, Coors, wherever it is sold, has survived attacks and boycotts by groups who feel the company's union policies are paternalistic and its treatment of employees not only discriminating but also downright humiliating. In September, acting with unusual speed on a complaint filed in November 1974, the Economic Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint against the company and three unions, charging that almost all women worked in office, clerical or service jobs, and almost all blacks and Chicanos in semiskilled or unskilled ones. Twice in the past five years, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has found Coors guilty of discriminating against black employees.
The Coors brewery‐union president, James Silverthorn, is the first to admit that the workers have “a pretty lousy contract.” The sorest point has been the contract's dismissal section, which lists 21 grounds for firing, including “making disparaging remarks about the employer,” or doing anything else “which would discourage any person from drinking Coors beer.” A prospective employee must take a lie‐detector test to prove he or she is not a potential troublemaker. Yet, the unions at Coors are so weak that several strikes have been broken by the company without any loss of its revenue.
A former Coors salesman in California, who asked to remain anonymous, described his year working for the Coors distributor in Oakland as “one year of sheer misery. If you weren't selling enough, the boss would put you against the wall and threaten you with losing your job.” Sent to Golden for training, the man went to a restaurant one day with a supervisor for lunch. When he tried to order a cocktail, the supervisor admonished him. “We're very loyal here. We think Coors,” he reported the supervisor as saying.
Why, then, would anyone want to work for Coors? Ac cording to Silverthorn, the problem is that the company treats docile workers “very fairly—a lot better than it would have to treat them under a contract.” Moreover, the wage scale is very good—from $6.54 to $7.90 an hour currently for blue‐collar brewery workers. Vacation, medical plan and life‐insurance programs compare favorably with other industries in the region. “As long as‐ they're getting a high wage rate and aren't faced with disciplinary action, their contract doesn't mean much to them,” Silverthorn said of his members. In the employees' cafeteria, milk costs 28 cents.a container, but workers can drinkall the free beer they want. They can also purchase two cases of beer a week at nearwholesale prices.
Chicano groups have been among the most outspoken, but to little avail. One leaflet promoting the boycott notes sorrowfully that Coors is still the most popular beer in Chicano neighborhoods. Paul Gonzales, a Denverite who until recently headed the boycott, said it actually got started eight years ago when a survey showed that, on the factory work force of 1,820, only 74 were Chicano. Gonzales said two subsequent face ‐ to ‐ face meetings with Coors chairman Bill Coors solved nothing. Instead, the chairman stepped up his attacks on the boycotters, branding them in one letter “a total fraud,” and “irresponsible and dishonorable.” Gonzales blamed the ineffectiveness of the boycott on lack of money. But when asked how he felt about widely reproduced news photos showing celebrities like Kissinger and Newman holding the familiar yellow cans, he replied, “I have my own personal boycott. I wouldn't go see a Paul Newman movie if someone sent a Cadillac to take me to it.”
On the West Coast, union and gay‐activist groups have had slightly more impact. A leader of B.A.G.L., the Bay Area Gay Liberation organization, contends his group has forced numerous gay bars to stop serving Coors. However, the union official who headed the Teamsters campaign against Coors in San Francisco was suddenly ordered by the Teamster hierarchy to stop the action and was transferred to a different job last July.
The Coors paternalism toward employees would seem to go hand in hand with the conservative politics of brothers Joe and Bill. Both men refused to be interviewed for this article, but they have gone on record numerous times in support of patriotic values and unfettered capitalism. In 1973, Bill, who, at 58, is a year older than Joe, declared in a speech that the American free‐enterprise system had been so tampered with by Federal officials that “it can't work.” Last July, Joe told a reporter he planned to support Ronald Reagan for President because “he would be better able than Ford to do the things I think are important for this nation. For example, we need to balance the budget. . . . We should try to reduce the amount of bureaucratic involvement in the business world. . . . What says it all is that adage, “The government that governs best governs least.”
Joe Coors's ideological views surfaced dramatically from 1967 to 1972, when he served as one of six elected regents of the University of Colorado. This was the period of student unrest, and Coors was constantly exhorting the government to punish radicals and “pleasure‐loving parasites” like welfare clients and hippies. Upset by the activist tone of the campus newspaper, he financed an alternative paper, only to have it attack him when he tried to oust the university president during a dispute over the actions of Students for a Democratic Society. (Though the family has little use for Eastern Establishment liberal Republicans, he himselt was sent into their midst to be educated at Exeter and Cornell.)
Another regent at the time was the highly respected retired dean of men, Harry Carlson. A moderate Republican, Carlson said in an interview that Coors was “a superpatriot” who believed in interpreting the First Amendment “to suit himself.” Coors also fought against “permissiveness” at the university, attacking, among other things. the practice of giving birthcontrol advice to female students. Still another regent, Fred M. Betz Sr., a Democrat, wrote, during the 1967‐1972 period, “the chief disruptive factor at CU is Regent Coors himself, who by his arrogant attitude and lack of understanding of how a university should operate has needlessly aroused the people of the state.”
Joe Coors has not sought public office since, but many Republican observers in Colorado see him fast becoming a major influence on the party's right flank. In 1973, he stepped up his national activities by financing Television News Inc., an “alternative” videosyndication service that lined up 37 subscriber stations around the country. The new syndicate, TVN for short, was necessary, he announced, “because of our strong belief that network news is slanted the liberal‐left.”
In August 1974, a day before President Nixon left office, he nominated Coors to the board of direitors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Over the protests of Union and minority groups, President Ford later renominated him. Coors ran into heavy flack, however, for both his ideological views and his interest in TVN. Under questioning by the Senate Commerce Committee, he acknowledged that he had contributed funds to the John Birch Society and had written two letters to the president of the public broadcasting operation while his nomination was pending. In one letter, he issued a veiled warning against televising a documentary he didn't like: “This is the type of thing which I will be interested in watching closely if I ever become confirmed on your fine board.”
He didn't get the chance. Members of the communications subcommittee were plainly disturbed by. Coors's possible conflict of interest. Last September, just before there was to be a vote in the subcommittee on his nomination, TVN announced that Coors had withdrawn his financial support from the news operation. The company, in effect, went out of business, although it still existed on paper. (The Coors Corporation lost more than $2 million in the first year of TVN's operation, more than $3 million in the second.) But Coors still refused to resign from TVN's board. The subcommittee tabled his nomination, effectively killing it. “A bad and unfair decision based strictly on political angles,” Coors snapped.
Although Coors is currently out of public view, there is evidence that he is spending thousands of dollars to set up ultraconservative research and lobbying activities in Washington, and help defeat the liberal Congressmen swept into office in the Democratic tide of 1974. Among the “radicals” targeted for this effort is Timothy Wirth, the freshman Democrat elected from Coors's home district in Colorado.
Joe Coors and his wife contributed $1,000 each (the maximum under the new Federal campaign‐spending law) to Ronald Reagan's campaign for the Presidency even before the Californian formally announced that he was running. There are some who think Joe Coors could loom as an important adviser if Reagan's primary campaign goes well.
Has Coors's increased political activism helped or hurt the family brewery? It would be hard to measure. Nevertheless, Coors's thirdquarter report for 1975 showed that although revenues and net income were up, sales were slightly down. Barrelage sales dropped 3.2 per cent in both the third quarter and for the first three quarters of the year because of a “lag in sales” in Southern California, the report said. For the first time in history, according to Silverthorn, the brewery has also been laying off workers. Some 2,000 employees of the aluminum ‐ container plant were furloughed for two weeks in February, and there were three layoffs of brewery workers in the first nine months of 1975.
Perhaps the beer's charisma doesn't translate easily into dollars and cents. Or, it could be that, in going public financially and politically, the image of the brew that made Golden famous might be going a little bit flat. ■
How Blue Moon made ‘craft beer’ meaningless
Blue Moon Brewing Co. founder Keith Villa: “You ask yourself, at the end of the day, ‘If that definition of craft is used, does it guarantee the quality of the beer?’ No it doesn’t. Our connection with Coors guarantees quality of the highest standards in the industry.”
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When we spoke with Blue Moon Brewing Co. founder Keith Villa two weeks ago, we had no idea Blue Moon and parent company MillerCoors were about to be sued for false advertising.
The plaintiff claims Blue Moon isn’t “craft” — despite drinking a whole lot of it before reaching that conclusion — but Villa’s been fighting that assertion for nearly 20 years. To Villa, Blue Moon is not only craft, but its support from Coors and, as of 2007, MillerCoors wasn’t always a given. It certainly wasn’t when he started brewing the Bellyslide Wit that became Blue Moon Belgian White at a small brewery called the SandLot, which remains at Denver’s Coors Field to this day.
“It was Sept. 14, 1995, and it was a Thursday afternoon,” Villa says. “I remember it like it was yesterday.”
A whole lot has transpired between yesterday and today. In its earliest days, Blue Moon was treated like a burden by Coors and shoved off to the far-flung contract breweries in Memphis, Cincinnati and Utica, N.Y., that also brewed for Brooklyn Brewery, Pete’s Brewing, Shipyard, Shmaltz and 21st Amendment. It was so insignificant that it was kicked out of Cincinnati in 1997 by Boston Beer Co. SAM, -0.23% , which bought the Hudepohl-Schoenling brewery for its Samuel Adams brand. Yet Blue Moon had arrived on the scene when there were only 858 breweries in the U.S. and was just five years away from the bursting of the original microbrew bubble and the quick death of more than 100 breweries.
Today, the Brewers Association says there are more than 3,400 breweries, with 2,000 more in the planning stages. Blue Moon has not only survived, but thrived during the latest craft beer boom. In 2013, all brands of Blue Moon accounted for more than 2 million barrels of production. That was less than Boston Beer (2.87 million barrels) and Yuengling (2.7 million) produced, but more than double the output of craft beer’s No. 3 brewer, Sierra Nevada. Last year, Blue Moon was awarded a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Honey Grand Cru, while the SandLot also took bronze for its Move Back Dortmunder.
Earlier this month, Molson Coors announced plans to build a Blue Moon-specific brewing facility in Denver’s RiNo arts district capable of producing 10,000 barrels a year. For Villa, it’s evidence of just how much Blue Moon has proven itself to its parent company over the past two decades and how far craft beer has come overall.
“We’ve got the full backing of the company now, which is just an awesome thing,” Villa says. “When we launched the company in 1995, quite honestly, we didn’t have the complete backing of everybody because it was a new brand and a new thing. Craft beer wasn’t what it is today.”
At MillerCoors, the feeling is mutual. When news of the lawsuit came down, the company not only backed Blue Moon in its statement, but Villa specifically:
“MillerCoors is tremendously proud of Blue Moon and has always embraced our ownership and support of this wonderful brand. The class action filed against MillerCoors in California is without merit and contradicted by Blue Moon Brewing Co.’s 20-year history of brewing creative beers of the highest quality. There are countless definitions of ‘craft,’ none of which are legal definitions. We choose to judge beer by the quality, skill and passion that goes into brewing it. Back in 1995, Keith Villa, Blue Moon’s founder and head brewmaster, had to work extremely hard to convince people to try his cloudy, Belgian-style beer. Today, MillerCoors is proud that Blue Moon has invited millions of drinkers to try something new, while helping pave the way for the current explosion of creativity in the brewing community.”
The Brewers Association doesn’t consider Blue Moon “craft” because of MillerCoors’ ownership, but within the past five years has altered its definition of a craft brewer to accommodate Boston Beer’s growth and the traditional light lagers of Yuengling, Straub, August Schell and others. Drinkers don’t collectively consider Blue Moon craft either, but many current craft beer drinkers were introduced to other styles by using Blue Moon as their gateway beer. As for Villa, he’s unwavering in his belief that the brand he created is craft beer. With a doctorate in brewing from the University of Brussels, a 20-year history in the industry and a rapidly growing brand under his belt, Villa still isn’t done making his strongest arguments, as we discovered in our lengthy conversation:
Where does this new brewery fit in among the SandLot and MillerCoors facilities and what will it enable Blue Moon to do?
Villa: This is a huge help. I’ve been using SandLot as my pilot brewery and testing grounds for new beers and new recipe development for Blue Moon and it’s worked fine, although there are times when we’ve stumbled into each other. This brewery has come at the perfect time because it gives us a place to do our new product development and recipe development and, at the same time, it frees up the SandLot guys to do a lot of great work on the SandLot lagers and ales that they’re known for.
We’ll have a two-barrel pilot system, where we’ll do a lot of playing around with, and then we’ll have a 25- to 30-barrel production brewery down there.
It looks like your capacity for this brewery will be about 10,000 barrels a year. Is that still fairly small by MillerCoors standards?
Villa: I’ve always considered us a craft brewery from the day I started Blue Moon to even now and in the future. We are very small and, when we find a recipe that really connects with our fans, we use the MillerCoors network of breweries to scale up our brews. This brewery in the RiNo District of Denver will not be a big production brewery. We have plenty of outstanding capacity at the MillerCoors facilities because they have the highest-quality standards and very capable people. When we scale up a recipe, I know it’s going to be done perfectly.
At this new brewery, though, the only product I can see us brewing on a regular basis is Blue Moon Belgian White, but it will be small batches and only for the local market. We don’t have plans yet — this is just me speaking off the top of my head — but we’ll still be using the MillerCoors network to scale up our brewing and do quality checks.
Does this sever the tie between SandLot and Blue Moon?
Villa: Not at all. In fact, we will continue everything we’ve done up to now. It’ll be a separate facility a little over a mile away, but it’s still kind of down the street and we’re going to maintain close ties.
When I develop recipes, I always ask them for feedback on those recipes and we make tweaks together. They’ve been both SandLot and Blue Moon brewers, and we’ll continue that.
Is there still room for SandLot beers to make their way into the Blue Moon lineup? It seems that having a several-thousand-person focus group at Coors Field has only helped Blue Moon so far.
Villa: That’s been one big reason we’ve done so much development work for Blue Moon at the SandLot because of all of those thirsty baseball fans. It’s a great place to test beers. Ever since the first beer we tested, Blue Moon Belgian White, that’s where we get a lot of our feedback. In the meantime, the RiNo district will soon be home to about 10 breweries, so it’ll be an attraction in itself to fans going to try new beers not just from us, but for other breweries in the arts district.
You’ve continued to expand Blue Moon’s portfolio while keeping Belgian White at the center. At this point, how much of overall Blue Moon production comprises other offerings?
Villa: A lot of people don’t realize all the things that Blue Moon offers. Since Day 1, we’ve offered a lot of other beers besides Blue Moon Belgian White. This will give us the opportunity to showcase a lot of those other beers. The Cinnamon Horchata ale is one of them, the White IPA is another, the First Peach we released this year . along with a lot of other beers we’re working on.
It will help people see the true history of Blue Moon. We were the first brewery to offer a nationally available pumpkin beer back in 1995 when they were unheard of. Nobody wanted a pumpkin beer. They wanted an Oktoberfest, but I insisted that we would launch a pumpkin beer, and we’ve been making it ever since. We were doing extreme beers in the ’90s when there wasn’t a name for them. We were the first to do a wine/beer hybrid. We’ve always been cutting edge, to the point that Beverage World magazine, in January, put us in with their 50 biggest disruptors.
Prior to Blue Moon, there were craft beers, yes, but after Blue Moon was when people’s minds were opened and they really started exploring with craft beers and trying new things — trying Belgian beers and other different varieties.
When Blue Moon first started, it was basically you, Hoegaarden and Celis creator Pierre Celis and Allagash Brewing’s Rob Tod making witbier. As you’ve mentioned, it’s been a gateway beer for other craft styles, but it’s also led to a whole lot more witbier out there as well. How do you maintain interest over that stretch and keep sales of Belgian White going once the novelty has worn off?
Villa: Blue Moon Belgian White put us on the map. I knew Pierre Celis personally and his daughter Christine and Allagash was there in ’95 when we launched, but they were making traditional Belgian wits. My philosophy for Blue Moon, from the start, was to take a classic style and put an inviting twist on it.
Our Belgian White isn’t a traditional wit. There are three key differences. When I see in the press that Blue Moon is a copy of Belgian wit, it’s frustrating because it was inspired by the Belgian whites I fell in love with while I was living in Belgium getting my Ph.D in brewing. When I formulated Blue Moon Belgian White, it used Valencia orange peel and not Curacao orange peel [as traditional wit does], which doesn’t have a bright orange aroma, but a citrusy, bitter taste. The next big difference is that we use steel-cut oats in our beer that give a nice, nutty flavor to the beer and a chewy, creaminess to the body. A lot of craft brewers inspired by Blue Moon who now make Belgian whites use pre-gelatinized oat flakes, which gives it a completely different taste.
The third difference is that traditional Belgian wits will have about 4% to 4.2% alcohol by volume. When I formulated Blue Moon, I wanted it to have 5.4% to give it more flavor and to round out its flavor into a nice balance on the palate.
But why make that twist? With the resources Blue Moon has access to and the support it receives through MillerCoors, couldn’t it find the same success going by the letter?
Villa: Back in 1995 when I launched, Blue Moon didn’t become a huge, successful company overnight. We were just like other craft brews. We had our trials and tribulations.
I was not allowed to brew Blue Moon beers in Golden. We did get funding from Coors, but I had to find a contract brewer in F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y. That’s where we brewed our beers from 1995-97. Then we outgrew them and I moved our beers to Cincinnati [Hudepohl Brewing] from ’97 through ’99. They got bought by Sam Adams, so I moved it over to a Memphis brewery [City Brewing] from 1999 to 2005. By 2005, the people in Golden did some tests to see if it could be brewed there.
In 2005, 10 years after I launched, that was the first time I was allowed to brew Blue Moon beer in Golden. About every six months to a year after I launched, I didn’t think the company would last. There were a lot of internal forces that were against Blue Moon. Just like if a craft brewer gets a loan from his bank or family and doesn’t pay it back, the lights might go off and utilities might go off and they might shut down. There were times in the ’90s when I thought Blue Moon might be shut down. Every time a trial came up, I tried to come up with a way to fight it off and keep Blue Moon alive.
You’ve made clear that you consider Blue Moon a craft brewery and, after MolsonCoors and SABMiller formed MillerCoors in North America in 2007, your parent company seems to think so as well. How do you reconcile what went on in those early years with the support Blue Moon receives from multinational partners and MillerCoors’ Tenth & Blake craft division now?
Villa: I’ve always considered us craft and the definition keeps changing, which I consider frustrating, but we’ll let our beers speak for themselves. Our medals, our beers . our fans think we’re craft, and that’s great.
You ask yourself, at the end of the day, “If that definition of ‘craft’ is used, does it guarantee the quality of the beer?” No it doesn’t. Our connection with Coors guarantees quality of the highest standards in the industry. Does it guarantee that the beer will be available when the fans want it if you call it craft? No guarantee there, but we have the luxury of being associated with the MillerCoors network and we can guarantee that if our fans want our beers, they can have as much of it as they want at the highest quality they want. Does craft guarantee the highest quality ingredients in the industry. Not at all, where our association with MillerCoors guarantees the highest-quality ingredients in the industry. We work with growers, we have specifications for all our ingredients. The vast majority of craft brewers can’t guarantee that just by calling themselves “craft.”
When you come up with labels like that, it’s frustrating because it does do a disservice to some, but we let our beers speak for themselves. I hope someday that the word “craft” will come to mean a guarantee of quality and a guarantee of the highest-quality ingredients and a guarantee that your favorite IPA will be available without any interruptions. Some day that will be true and all craft beers will be like that, but right now I don’t care about those kinds of definitions.
Super Bowl: 10 great beer bars to watch the big game
Two of the country’s best craft-beer towns will face off next weekend on the gridiron for Super Bowl XLVII, and if you’re a lover of craft-brewed suds and want to watch the game with like-minded beer drinkers, here are 10 spots where you can get pints of the good stuff while enjoying the spectacle.
Chloe’s at Golden Road Brewing — The hidden, sprawling private-event space at the Atwater Village pub is opening its door for a Super Bowl party featuring a 120-inch screen, the pub menu and an assortment of GRB brews. There’s no cover RSVPs are highly recommended. Doors open at 2 p.m. E-mail [email protected] to reserve a table. The game will also be screened on the TVs in the main Golden Road pub if you can’t get a spot in Chloe’s.
5410 W. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles, (213) 373-4677.
Two $30 bottomless beer deals — Mohawk Bend in Echo Park and Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank will be running food-and-beer specials that include an all-you-can-consume option that will last from kickoff until the trophy is hoisted. The $30 deal includes a variety of pizzas at Mohawk Bend or anything off the menu at Tony’s.
Mohawk Bend, 2141 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 483-2337.
Tony’s Darts Away, 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, (818) 253-1710.
38 Degrees — Always a great place to catch a game and some choice brews, 38 Degrees will again host a Super Bowl party. It’s the only time that owner Clay Harding will turn on the sound for a game, and it’s sure to be a raucous event.
100 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 282-2038.
Bludso’s Bar-&-Que — The year-old La Brea outpost of the venerable barbecue joint will again offer all-you-can-drink brews during the game. Scrimshaw Pils, Racer 5 IPA, and Black Market Hefe are the available craft options.
609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 931-2583.
Blue Palms Brewhouse — A Pittsburgh Steelers bar during the regular season, this low-key spot in Hollywood should be neutral ground for the big match-up. During the game there will be four buck select beers and, as usual, some of the best pub food in L.A.
6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 464-2337.
The Daily Pint — The lauded Santa Monica bar will open up at 1 p.m., well before kickoff, and feature drink specials and complimentary barbecue while screening the game.
2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 450-7631.
The Garage on Motor Ave. — This spot in the Palms neighborhood splits the difference between a straightforward sports bar and a craft-beer spot, and it’s sure to be lively on Super Bowl Sunday.
3387 Motor Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 559-3400.
Plan Check — Salt Lake City’s Epic Brewing is taking over the taps for the Super Bowl celebration at Plan Check’s new Fairfax location. Tasting flights for $1 to $4 (depending on which quarter the game is in), discount drafts and food specials (including a beer float conceived by cocktail wiz Matthew Biancaniello) will be available.
351 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 288-6500.
Beachwood BBQ — Heading to a Super Bowl party instead of a bar? Both Beachwood locations will have take-out specials of party platters so you can be a hero when you show up with a growler and some nachos, wings or a pork slider buffet. Get your order in ahead of time by calling either location.
131½ Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 493-4500, and 210 E 3rd St., Long Beach, 562-436-4020.
While it is impossible to trace the exact origin of beer, we know that it has been around since at least 3400 B.C. and in all likelihood, centuries before that. Residue of the first known barley beer was found in a jar at the Godin Tepe excavation site in modern-day Iran, thousands of years ago. Egyptian Pharaohs were known to be buried with beer to take a pint or two with them to the after-life. A 6000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicts people consuming beer through straws and even contains the one of the first recorded recipes for brews.
Our ancestors were almost certainly much less wasteful than we are today, and there is evidence of past civilizations using beer for more purposes than just filling their bellies with it. Bathing in beer and the various components in its make-up such as brewer&rsquos yeast, hops, and barley, has been around for much longer than any of us have. We think our ancestors were on to something.
Our mission is to bring a similar kind of outlet to a modern world through our beer soaks, massages, salt room (halotherapy), steam room, sauna, etc. While we have made great progress in every facet of life since the days of the Mesopotamians and Egyptian Pharaohs, we know that it&rsquos become more and more difficult to find an outlet of relaxation in today&rsquos fast-paced world. If we can create an experience for you that will make you forget the stresses of daily life, then we have succeeded in our mission. You can go to any spa to relax. But we wanted to create a more natural oasis for mind, body, and spirit. Our greatest glory is in making our customers feel relaxed, moisturized, and overall simply amazing. Come see why more and more celebrities are opting for the powers of beer soak treatments.
Team Spirit : The case of Asahi Breweries illustrates how bank rescues of struggling firms help the Japanese economy. But there is no guarantee of success.
Tsutomu Murai is a banker by profession and a specialist in rescuing ailing companies. As a result, three of his last four jobs have been with an auto manufacturer, a brewery company and a railroad.
“Defeat in the war destroyed everything,” Murai said in a recent interview. “Both banks and companies were stripped naked. They had to rescue each other to grow together. It was unavoidable that good communications between banks and corporations developed.”
But if bank rescues of struggling corporations have become a hallmark of the Japanese economy, the experiences of Murai, a former vice president of Sumitomo Bank, indicate that there is no guarantee of success.
Indeed, before he took over Asahi Breweries, which is 12% owned by the Sumitomo Group, two other Sumitomo Bank executives had served as president of the big beer company for a combined 11 years but had failed to halt what ultimately became a 37-year decline in its market share.
Sumitomo’s financial assistance was not needed at Asahi, which, despite its market decline, has never operated at a loss.
But such help was the key factor at Toyo Kogyo, now named Mazda Motor, when Murai was sent there as executive vice president. That move came after the 1973-74 oil shock had transformed the auto firm’s unique rotary engine into a gas-guzzling albatross, plunging the company into red ink.
Loans by Sumitomo, which is a part owner of the auto firm, development of a new fuel-efficient rotary engine, introduction of new models, diversification of export markets and Ford Motor’s purchase of a minority share brought the company back to financial health by 1980.
But the West Japan Railway Co., in which the government still holds 100% of the shares, faces yet another set of problems.
In addition to $8.3 billion in debts, the company, one of seven created in 1987 when the privatization of the unwieldy government-run Japan National Railways began, also has to rid itself of a bureaucratic mentality, said Murai, who became its chairman when the company came into existence.
The one problem common to Mazda, Asahi and West Japan Railway, Murai said, was lethargy. “They were all resting on their oars,” he said. The key at each firm, he added, was to restore vitality.
At its peak in 1949, Asahi’s market share was 36%. When Murai took over in January, 1982, it was 10%. And by 1985, it had fallen to 9%--a plateau at which “companies usually start behaving strangely,” he said.
The industry as a whole was in a morass.
Unlike the United States, with 86 beer brewing companies, Japan has only four, three of them with a century-long history of brewing essentially same beer, according to Hirotaro Higuchi, another Sumitomo banker who succeeded Murai as president of the brewery in August, 1986.
“Kirin is a little more bitter,” Higuchi said in a recent speech, “but all four taste virtually the same. You couldn’t tell the difference if you were blindfolded.”
But when growth in the industry halted in the 1980s, partly because of tax reforms that penalized beer at the expense of other drinks, a traditional belief that changing the taste of beer would invite disaster induced the brewers to focus competition on creating novel containers.
“It approached suicidal proportions,” Higuchi said. The cost of containers rose to as much as 75% of the price of the beer. Customers, he said, would try out a beer in a new container once but then switch to something else.
Murai, who still serves as Asahi’s chairman, started the company’s rejuvenation by carrying out the same kind of reorganization he had implemented at Mazda to promote communication between departments.
He then made Asahi the first beer company to sell malt beer in Japan through a licensing agreement with the West German firm Lowenbrau. Contracts to obtain technology from American, British and German breweries also were signed.
“We didn’t mimic their products,” Higuchi said, “but their knowledge helped our technicians greatly.”
A policy of buying in Japan as much as 70% of the wheat and hops used in beer-making was scrapped in favor of buying the best raw materials--whatever the cost and origin.
“I’ll harass people about the cost of electricity,” Higuchi said, “but not about the cost of raw materials.”
To ensure that its beer remained fresh, Asahi bought back all of its product that had aged, unsold in stores, for more than three months.
“We threw away more than 2 billion yen ($16.7 million) worth of beer,” Higuchi said. (Murai’s estimate of the cost is much lower--but is still about $6.7 million.)
Asahi sales personnel were ordered to visit 50 stores a month, whether they received any new orders or not, to ensure that Asahi beer bottles were kept clean, with their labels in place and that none of the beer was older than three months.
In a market survey that Murai ordered, 98% of beer drinkers “advised us to change the taste of our beer,” Higuchi said. “They said it was no good.”
But the survey also showed that drinkers wanted a beer that was both rich and left no aftertaste, a combination that Asahi’s technicians insisted was chemically impossible.
Murai said he gave the technicians the same advice he handed Mazda’s engineers when they proposed abandoning the gas-guzzling rotary engine: “Nothing is impossible.”
And just as Mazda improved the engine’s fuel consumption, Asahi came up with a new beer that enhanced richness while sharpening the taste.
The result was a new draft beer with a new label that Murai put on the market in 1985. It finally halted the decline in Asahi’s market share, which recovered to 10.4% in 1986. And in March, 1987, the company came up with another new brand--"Super Dry"--by increasing alcoholic content to 5%, compared to 4.5% for other Japanese beers.
Asahi had only $12.5 million--about 30% of the cost of promoting a new product nationally--to spend on advertising, Higuchi said. “So we spent it all in the Tokyo area. People elsewhere learned about it by word of mouth.”
The response was explosive. Now, Super Dry accounts for about 40% of the beer sold in Japan and all four of the big breweries are making it. In the first 10 months of this year, the industry’s overall sales grew 7%--with Asahi reaping the biggest benefits. Its sales rose 71%.
Asahi’s market share has more than doubled in the last two years--to more than 20%, bringing it up even with No. 2 Sapporo. Kirin, the leader, has fallen to slightly more than 50% and Suntory to under 10%.
Super Dry has been such a hit that Murai has been unable to achieve his hope that the company could diversify so that half its sales could be derived from non-beer products. Although Asahi runs 93 subsidiaries, four times the number when Murai took over, beer now accounts for 80% of sales--thanks to the Super Dry boom.
Higuchi made it clear that he has no intention of resting in the glow of the company’s success. In the past two years, he said, Asahi has increased the amount it spends on print media advertising sevenfold and quadrupled its TV advertising.
Murai predicted that Asahi would topple Kirin and gain more than 50% of Japan’s beer market within three years. Kirin, he said, has dominated the industry for so long that it is now “resting on its oars.”
But when asked when he thought West Japan Railways would eliminate its $8.3-billion debt, he would say only, “That’s another subject.”
A Few Coors Lights Might Blur the Truth
It was about 8:45 Thursday morning when I walked into the Hermosa Beach Police Department with two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a 12-pack of Coors Light.
In college, that was a typical breakfast. But in this case, I was conducting a scientific experiment to determine how many beers a man has to drink before he’s legally hammered.
Roger Clinton, the ex-president’s half brother, went on “Larry King Live” last week to talk about his legal problems, which include but are not limited to a DUI arrest in Hermosa.
Clinton, who lives in Torrance and plays in a band, denied selling presidential pardons to friends. He also denied he was driving under the influence in Hermosa on Feb. 21 even though he flunked three blood-alcohol tests after being stopped for driving erratically.
“I had had about two beers,” he told Larry King. “Two Coors Lights.”
My first thought when anybody in trouble appears on Larry King is that they are guilty as sin, because no matter what you’ve been accused of, you know Larry will keep it cordial.
Had Mussolini been a guest, King would have asked a question or two about the fascista thing, Mussolini’s attorney would have cut him off, and after a commercial break and a call from Idaho, King would have asked Mussolini if the balsamic craze was just a fad.
Sgt. Paul Wolcott greeted me at the station house in Hermosa. At precisely 9 a.m., as Wolcott and Sgt. Tom Thompson looked on, I cracked open my first beer and bit into a glazed doughnut.
It felt kind of like a hillbilly picnic, but that was apropos. The Clinton clan did not grow up in Paris.
By a lucky coincidence, Roger Clinton and I each go about 205 pounds, so our alcohol tolerance might well be about the same. Our taste in refreshment is not, however. I’d have had him locked up for his choice of beer alone.
Around 9:45, I’d slugged back my second can, and it was time for my test.
At exactly 10 a.m., I blew into the same device Roger Clinton had used. You’re under the influence if you blow a 0.08%, Wolcott says, and Clinton ran up a 0.10 on his first try.
Geez, this Roger Clinton is no Billy Carter. Two wimpy Coors Lights and he’s in the tank, with 10 times the damage those same 24 ounces did to me. Unless, of course, he didn’t tell Larry King the truth.
“Keep drinking,” Sgt. Thompson said.
I had my third beer by 10:15, my fourth by 10:30. And a couple more doughnuts too. They gave me my own desk to drink at, and Wolcott did some paperwork in the corner under a movie poster of John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima.”
At one point, they took me outside for the field sobriety test that Roger Clinton flunked, calling it a “Jane Fonda” workout on Larry King. Touch your nose, walk a line. That kind of thing.
“How do you feel?” Wolcott asked.
“Great,” I said. “I just can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.”
While sipping my beer, I perused The Times and noticed that Roger Clinton was on Page 1 again. Reporter Richard Serrano’s story said congressional investigators have evidence suggesting Clinton might have pocketed $50,000 for trying to arrange clemency for a convicted heroin dealer from New Jersey.
The dealer is related to the Gambino crime family, so let me state publicly that nothing personal is meant by this little beer-and-doughnut social.
Investigators also claim to have found “a couple hundred grand” in travelers checks cashed by Clinton, which can only mean that his band is doing really, really well.
Mark Geragos, Clinton’s attorney, assured me there was no truth to any of the pardon-peddling allegations. As for the DUI, he claims without explanation that the blood-alcohol tests were inaccurate, and that Hermosa police had no probable cause to arrest Clinton. They did so, he says, as a matter of “political profiling.”
You might say it was a strain of political profiling that led to pardons for 47 people, including Roger Clinton, as one of President Clinton’s last acts in office. Roger had a 1985 conviction for cocaine distribution wiped from his slate.
While I chugged beer, Wolcott reviewed the police report, and it seems that although Roger told a national television audience he’d had only two beers, he told Hermosa cops he’d had four or five.
“Go ahead and have five and we’ll test you again,” Wolcott told me.
The fifth went down like water. I took a deep breath and blew a 0.04.
Five Coors Lights and I’m only halfway to jail.
When they brought Clinton into the station, they gave him two more tests on a more reliable machine.
He blew a 0.08 the first time, a 0.09 the second.
Kind of ironic that in 1998, President Clinton campaigned for lowering the legal limit to 0.08 in all 50 states, saying:
“To people who disregard the lethal threat they pose . . . lowering the legal limit will send a strong message that our nation will not tolerate irresponsible acts that endanger our children and our nation.”
I can’t remember the last time I drank before lunch, but in Hermosa, I dusted a six-pack by 11:15 and they hooked me up to the same machine where Clinton blew his 0.08 and 0.09.
In their study, they wrote: 'Because of the small volume of the century-old beer samples, sensory analysis was carried out by only five members of our sensory panel.
'A descriptive analysis of flavor and taste was performed immediately after opening of the bottles'.
Following this, they conducted a chemical analysis to identify properties such as the original extract, alcohol content, color and total acidity.
The researchers, based at the Research Institute for Brewing and Malting in Prague, Czech republic, decided to analyze the beer for insights into early 20th century brewing processes, as well as the chemical changes that occur in beer over long periods of time
They used a method called high performance liquid chromatography as well as other techniques to compare the beers' features to those of modern day brews.
The old beers had higher alcohol content and were less bitter than the beers of today.
They also contained more iron, copper, manganese and zinc.
The researchers also conducted a DNA analysis of the beer to identify any microorganisms present.
The first beer was 'sensorially the least acceptable,' according to the researchers.
'It was light, hazy with very intensive sulphuric and fecal off-flavor,' they wrote.
HISTORICAL BREW RECIPES
Somewhere between beer, wine and mead, this drink is based on molecular evidence found in a Turkish tomb believed to have belonged to King Midas, dating back to 700 BC. It’s a sweet yet dry beer made with honey, barley malt, white muscat grapes and saffron.
This 9,000-year-old Chinese drink is made with hawthorn fruit, Chinese wild grapes, rice and honey. It is the oldest known fermented beverage in history.
Found in Honduras, Theobrama is brewed with artisanal dark chocolate from the ancient cacao area of Soconusco, honey, chilies, corn and annatto or achiote (fragrant and reddish, imitating sacrificial blood). It dates back 3,400 years, based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which contained the earliest chocolate beverage from the Americas..
The ingredients of this drink are based on chemical and botanical analyses of Egypt's oldest known wine (about 3150 BC) and other sites dating back 18,000 years, in addition to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions and artistic depictions of brewing. It uses an ancient species of wheat (einkorn) for hearth-baked bread, with added chamomile, doum palm fruit and Middle Eastern herbs.
This 2,800-year-old drink uses two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. It heralds from Italy and also contains speciality ingredients such as hazelnuts, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey and wildflower and clover honeys from Delaware, and myrrh. The Dogfish version was brewed with bronze (replicating the ancient vessels made of this metal alloy) the Italian versions were brewed in replica Etruscan pottery jars and oak barrels.
Chemical, botanical and pollen evidence are the basis for this 'Nordic grog,' which is attested at sites in Sweden and Denmark from the Bronze Age to Roman times. The contents of a 3,500-year-old Danish drinking vessel exemplifies this drink. The vessel was made of birch bark and found in the tomb of a leather and woollen-clad woman, who was possibly a priestess. The ingredients are sourced from the far north: red winter wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, bog myrtle (Myrica gale), yarrow, honey, juniper, and birch syrup. Imported wine from southern and central Europe was also added to the bracing northern brew.
Although no yeast DNA was detected, the DNA of bacteria Staphylococcus and Streptomyces was found.
The second beer, the researchers said, resembled lambic - a beer brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium.
'It was dark, very sour with madeira and nicely fruity off-flavors,' they wrote.
No bacterial DNA was identified but several types of yeas were.
The third beer was light brown and contained traces of carbon dioxide bubbles.
A member of the sensory panel at the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague, Czech Republic, taste testing a beer
'While the beer was oxidized, with typical sweetness and papery off-flavors, it was very slightly bitter and it really appeared as beer,' the researchers wrote.
This beer contained the DNA of yeast and bacteria and was the only one that tasted like beer of today.
The researchers said that the chemical changes in the first two beers were caused mainly by microbial contamination, whereas the third beer remained largely uncontaminated.
'The beer C (third beer) enabled us to acquire deeper knowledge about a 100-year-old beer which, due to undamaged sealing cork plug and most probably constant temperature in the cellar, underwent a “natural” aging process unmarred by microbial contamination, which resulted in an unspoiled sensory profile'.
The researchers concluded their study writing 'One can assume that a century ago our ancestors produced beer from similar raw materials and in a similar way as today'.
Friday, April 30
Mad Hatchet 2nd Anniversary Weekend
Mad Hatchet Brewing, 913 Brookforest Ave., Shorewood, IL Map
We’re finally able to celebrate an anniversary! It’s been 2 years and has equally felt like the blink of an eye and an eternity all at once. Come help us celebrate this crazy year’s accomplishments.
3pm: Can release of Key Slime Pie, milkshake IPA
5-8pm Grumpy Gaucho empanadas truck
6-9pm Live music w/ Erica Renee + Justin Craig of Summer Son
Code Name Release
Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Lane, Long Grove, IL 847-821-6140 Map
Mike is kicking off his new experimental beer series with Code Name, a fresh brew made with an experimental hop called HPC-360 that carries forth a smooth character with tropical fruit notes – banana, coconut, cherry, raspberry, and peach.
9:30 am • Top Pocket Release
Maplewood Brewery & Distillery, 2717 N. Maplewood Ave, Chicago (773) 270-1061 Map
Our brand new Top Pocket Blonde Ale is light and refreshing, brewed with honey malt to add some golden-hued sweetness and a loving touch of German Saphir hops for a hint of citrus and spice.
4-Packs will be available to order starting this Friday, April 30th at 9:30am (along with STA). All orders placed before we open, will be available for pick up starting at 1pm. 48 hour claim window.
Limited draft distribution to Chicagoland markets starting next week!
11:00 am – 2:00 pm • #endthestigma Session NEIPA Beer Release
Black & Gray Brewing Co., 311 Barrington Ave., East Dundee, IL (224) 484-8200 Map
#endthestigma session NEIPA tapped at 11 a.m. Come out and help make this our #1 seller until it is gone! 10% of all sales of #endthestigma go straight to Ryan Mains “Run for Our Lives” fundraiser benefiting the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team and their mission to combat PTSD in firefighters and EMS personnel.
12:00 pm • New Beer, Live Music & Lobster!
One Allegiance Brewing, 10215 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago Ridge, IL (708) 529-7067 Map
This weekend’s going to be a DOOZY!
We’ve got a new beer lined up for you this Friday…which…HINT HINT…has been lagering for justtttt the right moment!
LIVE music from Bradley Hides! He takes the stage at 7pm singin’ classic rock, 90’s alternative and modern era hits!
The Happy Lobster food truck’s serving up their infamous lobster sandwiches! Make sure to pre-order so you’re guaranteed a lobster when you’re here. They’ll be here till their sold out! exploretock.com
Mario’s Tacos is slingin’ their amazing al pastor tacos on Saturday! Don’t forget the onion and cilantro!
Our first annual Salsa Festival is on Sunday May 2nd!
12:00 pm • Beer Release: Non-Barrel Aged Hallows
Buffalo Creek Brewing, 360 Historical Ln., Long Grove, IL 847-821-6140 Map
We’re releasing a non-barrel aged Hallows this Friday at noon!
12:00 pm • Liquid Love Beer Releases
Liquid Love Brewing, 1310 Busch Pkwy., Buffalo Grove, IL (630) 699-2628 Map
Blue Hawaiian Island hits the webstore this Friday @ 12pm & the taproom @ 2pm for pick up, to go & fresh pours.
12:00 pm • Mad Hatchet 2nd Anniversary Weekend
Mad Hatchet Brewing, 913 Brookforest Ave., Shorewood, IL Map
We’re finally able to celebrate an anniversary! It’s been 2 years and has equally felt like the blink of an eye and an eternity all at once. Come help us celebrate this crazy year’s accomplishments.
12pm: Can release of Avert Your Eyes collab with Metal Monkey Brewing & Elwood from Q Rock 100.7.
12pm Bottle release of Nightshade raspberry braggot, the 2nd release of our braggot experimental series with Unpossible Mead
3-5pm QROCK live on site for Corey Taylor ticket giveaways
5-8pm Mamalicious Jerk N Curry food truck
6-9pm Live music with Cheryl Rodey & Colleen Wild, a seriously fabulous duo!
12:00 – 3:00 pm • Return of the Slushee!
Orange & Brew, 1027 Burlington Ave., Downers Grove, IL (630) 541-3880 Map
Might be our most-asked question over the past month…”when are the slushees coming back?”…welp, ask no more.
Slushees come back on Friday! And yes, we’ll be starting with our USA Today favorite Naturdays. And for good measure, we’re going to throw the Pineapple/Lemonade version out for a second option. Come try them both!
12:00 – 10:00 pm • Mint Julep Bourbon Barrel Face Smack
Noon Whistle Brewing, 800 E. Roosevelt Rd., Lombard, IL (630) 376-6895 Map
& 1748 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL 331-431-4882 Map
This sour beer is made with a unique blend of mint, honey, and lime. Finishing with notes of bourbon from the barrel. Mint Julep Bourbon Barrel Face Smack will be on tap only.
Take it to go in a crowler or growler!
3:00 – 10:00 pm • Magneen Live and My Funnel Truck @ Black Lung Brewing
Black Lung Brewing Co., 3232 Monroe, Waukegan, IL (847) 340-3320 Map
Funnel truck at 3pm and Magneen rocking the hits at 7pm!
3:30 – 6:30 pm • Wandering Cafe Pop Up
Temperance Beer Co., 2000 Dempster St., Evanston, IL (847) 864-1000 Map
The Wandering Café is Evanston’s first chef-inspired, pedal-powered, mobile kitchen, which is amazing in its own right. But more importantly, our friends Dan & Molly make some outstanding food, and they will be serving up their deliciousness to enjoy on-site with us every Friday from 3:30-6:30pm
4:00 – 9:00 pm • Grapefruit Pilsner Return (Brigitte’s Beer )
Bosacki’s Brewery, 610 E. Hawley St., Mundelein, IL (224) 778-5400 Map
We are excited to re-release one of the more popular beers at Bosacki’s. Get your growlers ready for Brigitte’s Beer, the Grapefruit Pilsner. This lighter lager combines a crisp beer with the tartness of grapefruit and a slight sweetness specifically designed for the summer months. Suited for the warmer weather this is a true summer thirst quencher. Available for a limited time.
4:00 – 9:00 pm • Smashburgers from Lodi and Matt Keen
D and G Brewing, 303 N. 4th St., Suite A, Saint Charles, IL (773) 203-2325 Map
Friday night and Lodi and Matt Keen are here.
Lodi Tap House is stopping by to serve up their award winning smashburgers. Grill ready at 4.
At 6, Matt Keen continues his Friday Night Residency. Soulful and talented. We really feel lucky to book this guy.
4:00 – 8:00 pm • Happy Lobster Returns – Pre-Order Event!
Riverlands Brewing Co., 1860 Dean St. Unit A, St. Charles, IL (630) 549-6293 Map
Happy Lobster is heading back to Riverlands in St. Charles!
This is a PRE-ORDER EVENT, meaning you MUST pre-order one of their incredibly tasty boxes ahead of time and pick it up during the timeslot you select between 4-8pm.
These meals will be served HOT and READY TO EAT! They’ll also be offering take home kits you can cook at home.
NOTE: ordering a box does NOT reserve a table in our taproom or beer garden. Seating will be first come, first served.
4:00 – 6:00 pm • Perogi Rig Pop-up At Dry City!
Dry City Brew Works, 120B N. Main St., Wheaton, IL (630) 456-4787 Map
We are super excited to have our buddies at Pierogi Rig come and feed our Dry Citizens during our special Friday night show with Cheryl Rodey! Pop by for a yummy dinner and beer while you rock out to some amazing live music! FRIDAY MADE!
5:00 – 8:00 pm • Nice Buns Food Truck at Wolfden
Wolfden Brewing, 112 W. Lake St., Bloomingdale, IL (847) 610-5117 Map
Come check out Nice Buns Food Truck at Wolfden! They will be serving a delicious Asian inspired menu you won’t want to miss!
5:00 – 8:00 pm • Food Pop Up – The Biker Dude Burgers
Oswego Brewing Co., 61 S. Main St., Oswego, IL (331) 999-1991 Map
The Biker Dude is back to SMASH burgers! Hurry and get yours quick – you might want seconds!
Grill gets going at 5 and goes until 8PM or SOLD OUT!
Michael Rawls will be performing for our listening pleasure, so dinner and a show.
Michael will be playing from 7-10PM
5:00 pm • Foreign Exchange Tap Takeover
Global Brew Tap House, 2100 Prairie St., Saint Charles, IL 630-549-0397 Map
Foreign Exchange Brewing Co. will be taking over some of our taps at GB Saint Charles. We will be celebrating their first barrel aged beer BA Kittywampus, for which FoEx used GB’s Elijah Craig barrel pick bourbon barrel. Also some of the another delicious beers include Almond Joy Aliena, Coconut Hip Hip Churray!, Toasted Marshmallow Kittywampus and Endless Citra TIPA. Gillersons Grubbery Aurora will be on site with their amazing food so come hungry and thirsty!
5:00 – 8:00 pm • HBC Lakefront Biergarten Opening Day! Ft. The Rough Cut!
Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Craft Biergarten, 701 North Point Dr., Winthrop Harbor, IL Map
Welcome back to the Harbor Brewing Lakefront Craft Biergarten! It’s been a long winter and we have missed you! Join us as we start off this season with Live Music, Craft Beer, Food Trucks & More! The Rough Cut will be starting off the season for us jamming from 6pm-9pm!!
5:30 – 10:00 pm • The Powdered Toast Men: Live & Tone Capone’s Tacos
Whiskey Hill Brewing Co., 1115 Zygmunt Circle, Westmont, IL 630-442-7864 Map
Stop by Whiskey Hill Brewing for some live music and food!
The Powdered Toast Men will be performing some covers of 90’s alternative rock music live in our taproom from 6pm-9pm
In addition, Tone Capone’s Tacos will be on-site with their food truck serving up tacos, burritos, nachos and more!
Hoping for nice weather that so we can open up the garage door and have outdoor seating available as well.
(Please wear masks when not seated and be mindful of those around you)
8:30 – 10:30 pm • Drive-In, Dinner, and Drinks
Rock Island Public House, 13328 S. Olde Western Ave., Blue Island, IL 708-388-5513 Map
We kick off the RIPH Roger Corman tribute weekend with Dick Miller as wannabe beatnik Walter Paisley in A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959), a film famously shot in FIVE days.
Craft Beer, Elysian and Emmanuel Goldstein 10
Did you hear the one about the successful brewer? Of course you did. The story goes like this:
Once upon a time there was a man who did not like the job that he was doing. He was an (Investment Banker/Accountant/Fry Cook)for a place much like Xero Castle Hill bookkeeping services and all day long, when he wasn’t (underwriting/deducting/flippin’ burgers) he thought that it would be neat to open a brewery. The man didn’t act on the idea of opening his brewery because he didn’t have a lot of faith in his ability. He brewed at home for a while but eventually (Grandpa’s Magic Recipe/Brewing School/Won an Award for Homebrew), which changed everything. He decided that he would take the steps needed to open a brewery.
He opens the brewery and he hires people to work with him. These are typically rather eccentric characters who also don’t particularly like the jobs that they are doing (Bearded Lumberjack/Bearded Mighty Pirate/Wookie). With these new employees, production at the brewery increases and all the while the brewer and his associates are faced with problems like (Quality Assurance/Dilapidated Equipment/Nefarious Competitor). At some point the brewer will run into really significant problems and sacrifice nearly everything (Health/Family Solidarity/Any Kind Of Personal Wealth) in order to make his dream work.
The gamble pays off and the brewery becomes so successful that it is considered a fierce competitor by all the other breweries around it, large and small. Other breweries lag behind and attempt to emulate and compete with the brewery. Shortly after this point in time the brewer realizes he has gotten old and does not have the drive he once had. Rather than being a young man starting out, he is an elder in the industry. The creation of the brewery has gained the (Adoration/Respect/Money) of the public and the brewer has been transformed by the acquisition of that thing from the callow young (Investment Banker/Accountant/Fry Cook) he started out as. He has achieved mastery.
You have heard this story because it is the most popular story there is. It has been defined and categorized by Joseph Campbell as The Hero’s Journey. It’s the single most influential western narrative structure and it covers every story you’ve ever been told from Gilgamesh to Luke Skywalker. You can switch out the gender. You can switch out the setting. You can switch out the profession. You can add episodes and details as you see fit, but the story is always the same when there is success.
Here we see a Young Brewer preparing to go into Toshi Station to pick up some Citra Hops
Every successful brewer tells this story. John Molson, John Labatt, Adolphus Busch, Adolph Coors, Jim Koch, Ken Grossman. Success follows a single narrative arc, while every failure is different. It’s particularly effective in the context of North American capitalism because there is that innate Horatio Alger quality to it: Rags to riches. Even better, it is rags to riches doing something you love doing.
In the 19th century, brewers still had beards. You can keep the beard. You just need to ditch the propaganda.
Brewing is a business that succeeds primarily during the first generation of ownership. Breweries are either handed off to the next generation (if there is one) or sold. Very few of them survive to a third generation of ownership. In writing about the history of brewing in Ontario this truth crops up again and again. It is the way brewing has worked since before industrialization.
This iconoclasm and independence is one of the reasons the Brewers Association is going to have to come up with a better brand than “Craft Beer.” The sooner this happens, the better off we will all be.
I don’t like talking about “Craft Beer” because it’s a nonsense. It’s a marketing phrase that means less and less with every year. It is mythmaking that will not survive the first generation of small brewers that it purports to represent. “Craft Beer” is a collectivist myth and in being such it must compete with the underlying myth of the individual that all successful breweries will eventually lay claim to.
Collectivist mythmaking starts with a very dicey proposition: That there is an ‘us’ and that we are all on the same side. The only way that works is if you embrace an arbitrary binary division. There must be a party or parties who make up ‘them’. They must be pretty bad if they oppose us. We’re the good guys, after all.
This proposition of binary division is a vast simplification of a complicated reality. The beer industry is, if anything, united by the fact that every manufacturer is producing the same product. It is all beer and everyone is in the same business. There are thousands of breweries and there are an astounding number of moving parts and motivations playing out constantly and concurrently.
It’s great for propaganda to have an enemy. It rallies the troops and gives you something to hate. This hate was on display the other day when Seattle based Elysian was purchased by AB In-Bev. Let’s look at these examples. /> /> />
That’s not a rational reaction. That’s hatred. “Craft Beer” has conditioned its adherents to launch into a predictable form of hatred when presented with a stimulus. I can certainly think of a collectivist myth in which that behaviour is a central feature. Unfortunately for “Craft Beer”, it’s George Orwell’s 1984.
Let’s look at “Us”. “Us” is a disparate group of approximately 3400 brewers who make up 16.1 million barrels of beer production. The thing that they have in common is that they all produce beer. Now, it stands to reason that the market competition that takes place for the kinds of beer they make is predominantly between themselves. The beer market is finite and shrinking. The total volume made by “us” grows while the total volume sold by “them” shrinks. Who exactly is “us” competing with for sales? Here’s a hint: AB In-Bev isn’t making 4000 different kinds of Saison and 15000 different IPAs. The smaller “us” are competing with the larger “us” and the hope is that no one will notice if we hate “them” enough.
As slogans go “War is Peace” isn’t exactly “Put a Tiger in Your Tank.”
In 1984, there is also a central bureaucracy that announces statistics we are meant to cheer unthinkingly. They are also about “our” progress, but they do not entertain the possibility of victory.
When Elysian sold to AB In-Bev, a number of “Craft Beer” people on social media rushed to pronounce them dead. In 1984, Elysian would have become an unperson. Because they are not deemed ideologically pure, they are erased from the landscape of “Craft Beer.” Realistically, it’s very difficult to claim that ideological purity is uniformly held by “us” because “us” are 3400 disparate companies operating in a capitalist system. They are not 3400 widgets. They are 3400 owners who have dreams and goals and motivations that are not consistent with the 3399 others.
Look at what Elysian did. They started from nothing in 1995 with three partners near the tail of the first microbrewery washout. They were among the first to promote pumpkin beer, which makes up a vast percentage of yearly sales for the entire market segment. In twenty years, they grew production from nothing to 50,000 bbls and were slated to increase to 70,000 bbls before the takeover. They brewed 350 different beers during that time and influenced a large number of subsequent breweries and beer drinkers.
The reality is that Elysian was a massive success by just about any metric you want to use. It did a massive amount for craft brewing. Rather than focus on the positive effect it had or thanking them for the annual pumpkin beer windfall, they’re pronounced dead to “us” in a second because they’re now “them.” Craft Beer is a revolution that will not allow its heroes to succeed. We have always and must always be at war with AB In-Bev.
Remember when Yuengling was the enemy? If you do, please report to room 101 for debriefing.
“Craft Beer” has a problem with ideology. Not entirely unlike the party in 1984, the constituent parts of the ideology are up for grabs. Remember when the size limit was 2 Million barrels and they changed it to 6 Million to allow Sam Adams to stay in? You’re not meant to. That was meant to go down the memory hole. Remember when Yuengling was absolutely not “Craft Beer” and then suddenly it was? You’re not supposed to think about the bump in the statistics that caused in 2013. You’re just meant to look at the statistics and cheer. You’re meant to learn to love “Craft Beer” no matter how it changes from year to year. Sometimes I hear people say “Oh, but Craft Beer means something different to everyone.” That is how effective this propaganda has been: You’re engaging in doublethink.
The “Craft Beer” narrative doesn’t work because it conflicts with the capitalist Horatio Alger construct. “Craft Beer” demands of its heroes that they build and build and never sell or retire. “Craft Beer” is a state of perpetual war against an opponent which is at once omnipresent and omniscient and incapable of producing a half decent product.
Brewers are going to retire. Brewers are going to hand off their properties to underperforming relatives that do not have the drive to succeed. Brewers are going to sell to whoever will let them monetize their life’s work. Brewers are going to make deals that benefit them. This has always been the case, since the beginning of industrialization. They are human beings and they do not go on forever. The individual narrative is self-contained. Speaking historically, success in the first generation of a brewery is making it to the point where there’s something worth selling. They are incapable of fighting the perpetual war that “Craft Beer” requires of them. They are not betraying anything because they were only ever true to themselves. The irony is that as more brewers succeed and retire or sell, the less powerful the collectivist myth of “Craft Beer” becomes.