Free beer as in free speech

Free beerYou are correct if you’ve figured out that a project to create “open source” beer doesn’t mean you end up drinking beer that you get for free.

The idea of open source beer has been around as something of a joke since 1998, but students in Denmark have taken it a step further and begun a Free Beer project.

Sunday’s Boston Globe (free registration) offered the best explanation we’ve seen of the philosophy behind open source software and how the concept might be extended to other areas – such as the production of beer.

“Free software” began in the early 1980s when software developers first started asserting intellectual property rights over their works. The problem wasn’t so much that developers were making money off software, but rather that, by asserting these rights, they were no longer allowing the free and informal sharing of code. The free software movement’s objection, which was largely cast in moral terms, was essentially that while charging money for software was fine — everyone has to eat — it is not right to prevent others from using, studying, distributing, or improving on it.

The concept, and practices, of open source sprung from this.

Although the Free Beer project is fun – don’t you smile just saying the words? – brewers have been sharing information about how to brew better beer pretty much since they first learned how to make it.

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Dive bars and Internet connections

Can a dive bar have Wi-Fi?

Something to think about next time you nurse a beer at your favoirte dive bar.

Don Russell offers his own definition plus lists some Philadelphia standouts.

And, no, he doesn’t think a self-relfecting dive bar should have a wireless Internet connection.

To me, a dive is a place where the drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is dark and comfortable, and there are absolutely no pretensions of trendiness.

There are no candles in the bathroom, no wi-fi and no cover charge. The TV is tuned to the lottery at 7, and the jukebox has Frank, Bruce and the Stones – but only pre-“Some Girls.”

Shouldn’t there also be a Simpsons Happy Hour (the juke box unplugged and patrons asked to order only during commercials)?


A-B, InBev merger rumored

A Brazilian daily reports that Anheuser-Busch and InBev, the two largest brewing companies in the world, have held prelimary merger talks.

Not surprisingly, neither company is commenting.

“We do not comment on market speculation,” said Gwendoline Ornigg, InBev’s director of corporate external communications.

Anheuser-Busch echoed that, saying it was the company’s policy “to not confirm, deny or speculate on reports of potential investments, acquisitions, mergers, new business partnerships or other transactions.”

Industry analysts offered differing views on whether the deal might happen and how, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It is “still too early to discern potential deal structure” or who would run the combined company if the report is true, Banc of America Securities analyst Bryan Spillane wrote in a research note.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Greenberg wrote that “the economic rationale (for a merger) is not obvious,” given the high cost of combining the two.

The two companies have done business together more than once. Anheuser-Busch just became the exclusive U.S. importer of Inbev SA’s beers, including Beck’s, Bass and Stella Artois. Last May, Anheuser-Busch bouhgt InBev’s Rolling Rock beer brand and last February said it would be the sole U.S. distributor of the European beer Grolsch.


Time features spicy side of Fal Allen

Time features American brewing pioneer Fal Allen’s innovative beers at Singapore’s Archipelago Brewery in a story it headlines “Waiter, There’s a Herb in my Beer.”

Andrea Teo, Archipelago’s managing director, expects Allen to uses spices.

“I thought, what a great name: Archipelago somehow resonated with spices and islands . . . What if we make a spiced beer with indigenous local spices?” she asked.

Some of Allen’s beer include use ingredients like tamarind, palm sugar, ginger, lemongrass and even wolfberries, which are normally used in traditional Chinese medicine.


16th century village inn top English pub

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) announced the Tom Cobley Tavern, Spreyton, Devon, as its National Pub of the Year 2006.

This 16th century village inn has been run by Roger and Carol Cudlip for the last four years. In that time they have turned the Tom Cobley Tavern into the epitome of a Community Pub, acting as an indispensable meeting place for local groups, sports teams and residents.

“I am absolutely over the moon. This is the highest accolade CAMRA can give to a pub and naturally we could not be more delighted that it has been given to us,” said Roger Cudlip. “Our success is down to the support of the villagers. We look after them and they look after us in exchange. The Tom Cobley Tavern is a proper rural pub and every night we have a great clientele mix of young and old. The key is to get involved and be part of the life of the community.”

The pub will receive its award Friday to mark the beginning of CAMRA’s inaugural Community Pubs Week, a campaign to highlight the vital role pubs play in the lives of local communities.


Valentine’s Day beer suggestions

If you’re not drinking AleSmith My Bloody Valentine tomorrow what other choices do you have?

– The Brewers Association offers something of a primer on beer and chocolate.

– Stephen Beaumont has a more complete Valentine’s Day Beer & Chocolate Companion at World of Beer.

– Donovan Hall gives us the recipe for a Liverpool Kiss. Officially you mix “a dark beer with cassis liqueur.” He goes into more detail.


Young’s denies possible pubs deal

The Publican reports that Young & Co. has denied weekend press speculation that the pub group is soon to be sold.

Media reports suggested that following recent changes at the Wandsworth brewer – which have seen the sale of its historic Ram brewery – plus the death of its long time chairman John Young the group was an ideal candidate for a bid.

However, chief executive Steve Goodyear said the reports were without foundation.

“I’ve no idea where this came from, but we have no intention of selling the business,” he said.

The beer we known as Young’s is now brewed by Wells & Young’s Brewing Co.


Monday morning beer links

To help you ease into the work week:

– Advertising Age reviews Bud.TV. Will web users spoiled by browsing right in to YouTube and other take to the “walled beer garden”?

Hedonist Beer Jive really likes the Double Tripel at 21st Amendment.

– Enter the Desert Island Beer Contest at a Good Beer Blog.

Sierra Nevada IPA now available in the UK. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the fastest selling pale ale in the UK (just as it is in the United States).

Matsuzaka ad raises eyebrows. He’s a Japanese baseball player headed to Boston. Lew Bryson comments on the flap.


All-malt Michelob coming Feb. 26

New MichoelobMore on all-malt Michelob, mentioned last week.

The new Michelob and Michelob Light will be available Feb. 26 and the AmberBock March 5. You won’t have any trouble spotting the difference, because of new packaging. Anheuser-Busch is bringing back the teardrop bottles (but not for the AmberBock) it used between 1961 and 2002.

The teardrops were introduced in 1961 when A-B began brewing Michelob with rice. Both the bottle and the new recipe were meant to symbolize elegance, with the rice making Michelob a lighter, crisper beers than others on the market. Michelob owned the “super premimum” segment then, as imports accounted for only 1% of American beer sales and microbreweries didn’t exist.

Michelob has been A-B’s super premium beer since it was first introduced in 1896, brewed as an all-malt beer and sold on draft in better restaurants and hotels. (Remember that, as Maureen Ogle documents in Ambitious Brew, beers brewed with corn were the most popular in the country by the 1880s.)

The shift back to all malt isn’t intended to make a dramatic change in flavor. “The taste will reflect the basic style that Michelob is known for – but with an added dimension of taste intensity,” said Doug Muhleman, vice president, Brewing Operations and Technology for A-B. “The beer will have a rich toasted maltiness, a balanced hop profile from the use of noble aroma hop varieties, a rich color and a smooth velvety finish.”

Lew Bryson writes that these beers are aimed to appeal to the same consumers who drink craft beer – one of the definitions of craft beer is that it doesn’t contain rice or corn (sugar and other wacko ingredients are another matter). That’s obvious even with the redesigned bottles, which feature the embossed lettering that will seem familiar to those who buy products from New Belgium, Samuel Adams, BridgePort, Deschutes and a host of others.

(By the time the beers are available this post will be well back in the archives, but we’ll point to is again so you can tell us what you think about the new recipes.)


Cornish cattle lapping up local beer

A Cornish farmer is likely the first in England to feed his cattle beer, the BBC reports.

They also get a massage to help produce the speciality Kobe-style beef, based on traditional Japanese production methods. In Japan, Kobe beef is produced only by the expensive Wagyu cattle, but outside the country it can be sold as Kobe-style beef.

Farmer Darren Pluess said the cattle have taken to the beer. His wife agrees, saying Saturday night can get rowdy.

“If they don’t have enough and they run out, when we bring the beer in they get incredibly excited and run riot,” she said. “I don’t think they’re alcoholics because they do have water as well if they want, but they certainly do enjoy it.”


New beers from the northeast

LongShot beersThe three winning brews from the 2006 Samuel Adams American Homebrew Contest are now available nationally in the Samuel Adams LongShot mix six-pack. The homebrews, which include an Old Ale by Don Oliver of California and a Dortmunder Export brewed by Bruce Stott from Massachusetts, were chosen from more than 1,500 consumer entries. Rounding out the variety pack is a Boysenberry Wheat, submitted by Samuel Adams employee winner Ken Smith from Colorado.

Boston Beer also has posted the rules for the 2007 Samuel Adams American Homebrew Contest. Entries must be received between April 15 and May 1. The winners will be announced in October at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival.

Magic Hat Brewing Co. will ship hI.P.A. to mark the return of spring (kind of important to the folks in chilly Vermont). A more heavily-hopped version of IPA, hI.P.A. featrues exclusive artwork from legendary 1960s design icon Stanley Mouse. From his distinctive hot rod illustrations to posters that defined the 1960s concert experience, Mouse placed his creative stamp on an entire generation.


New organic beers on the way

Two new beers on the organic front:

– Mateveza USA and Butte Creek Brewing are combining to introduce an organic, naturally caffeinated pale ale. Mateveza Yerba Mate Ale is brewed with yerba mate, the ancient tea from South America.

Mateveza unites organic yerba mate (pronounced mah-tay) with cascade hops in a classic American pale ale. “Yerba mate’s earthy, herbal notes are the perfect compliment to the crisp, citrusy character of the cascade hops,” says Mateveza founder Jim Woods. The yerba mate also provides a natural source of caffeine that is equivalent to one half cup of coffee in a 12-ounce serving of Mateveza.

Like coffee, yerba mate contains the alkaloid caffeine. Unlike coffee, yerba mate also contains theobromine, the active alkaloid in chocolate that is a mild, long-lasting stimulant. Mateveza will be available initially on draft and in 22-ounce bottles throughout California and Oregon at retailers including Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and local co-ops and natural food stores.

– Henry Weinhard’s is rolling out Henry Weinhard’s Organic Amber in its Pacific Northwest markets.

The new beer from Weinhards, a unit of Miller Brewing Co., is made from locally grown organic barley and natural hops. It meets USDA organic standards that require more than 95% of ingredients be grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals.


‘Chicken Man’ among beer drinking finalists

Phil FarrellWynkoop Brewing’s judging panel has picked the three finalists for the brewpub’s 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year award. They’ll duke it out Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in the finals in Wynkoop,s Denver brewpub. They are:

Diane Catanzaro, a Norfolk, Va., homebrewer, beer judge and professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Christopher Newport University. In 2006 she drank beer at numerous breweries, bars and festivals in the US and Belgium. She also led 16 college students on a tour of Belgian breweries and bars, ending their interest in mainstream American beer. She was a finalist in the 2006 Beerdrinker search.

Phil Farrell, a Cummings, Ga., commercial airline pilot, award-winning homebrewer, and beer judge. His beer travels include drinking beer in every country in Europe, 1,000 of the world’s pubs, and attending over 20 major beer events in the US in 2006. His basement beer pub features six taps, two refrigerators, and a 15-gallon brewing system.

He’s pictured here with his homebrew club’s chicken mascot. He takes it on all of his beery travels, the chicken has been photographed with more than 1,500 beery people across the globe.

Logan Perkins, a Denver, Colorado beer enthusiast who has tried 4,000 beers in 43 states, 21 European countries and 5 Asian nations. He took a sabbatical from work in 2006 to visit breweries and beer events in the US and overseas. Last year he drank beer in Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Portugal, Austria, Germany, England and many other nations. He’s the first Denver resident to make the finals in 11 years of the competititon.


Applications taken for Falconer scholarships

In co-sponsorship with the Seibel Institute of Technology, the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation is offering two full-tuition brewing education scholarships in 2007. Applications are now being accepted.

One scholarship is for the World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology held at the Siebel Institute in Chicago in October/November 2007. The Concise Course in Brewing Technology is a two-week intensive program that covers every topic critical to successful brewery operations.

The second scholarship allows candidates to apply for one of three two-week modules from the International Diploma in Brewing Technology Program held at Siebel’s Chicago campus in September/October 2007. This specialty brewing scholarship is intended for those brewers who seek an in-depth understanding of a specific brewing discipline.

Both scholarships are open to professional brewers as well as homebrewers from the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Northern California regions (San Francisco Bay/Monterey Bay areas and north). Each scholarship includes a $750 stipend to help offset travel and lodging expenses.

Visit the Seibel web site for more information.

The Glen Hay Falconer Foundation is a non-profit organization created to commemorate and celebrate the life, interests, and good works of Falconer, one of the Northwest’s pioneer craft brewers.