Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Beer in Glass or Plastic

This little tidbit came my way via The Telegraph.  Apparently in nightclubs in the Highlands of Scotland after 9pm due to 'fears of injury.' Which I suppose is a euphemism for 'a great big bloke smashing it over your head.'

Okay, fair enough, but now the government is being accused of overreaching: extending the plan to ban the pint glass in Highland pubs:
Mr Lawson, who owns Johnny Foxes and The Den, added: "The biggest complaint I get from customers is about having to drink from plastic containers. "You have to serve bottles of wine or champagne in a plastic glass. It's not good for the image of the Highlands." 
One drinker added: "The Highlands have seen an incredible revival in microbreweries producing some truly distinctive and wonderful beers, and it goes without saying that Scotland's whiskies are world-renowned. It's insulting to suggest they could be enjoyed out of plastic." 

Which brings me to another discussion of glass and plastic.  Finally, after 25 years of plastic tasting mugs, the Oregon Brewers Festival is switching to glass:
The last several years, the quality of the plastic tasting mug at the OBF has not been as acceptable as in the past. Consumers have noticed an unpleasant plastic smell that didn't dissipate rapidly, and it became evident that it was time to make a change. At the same time, the festival has been seriously looking at its carbon footprint; we've increased our recycling efforts, both on the back end with food vendors, and on-site with consumers. Switching to glass is one more piece of the puzzle. 
We've had concerns expressed about glass breakage, and have looked to other festivals as an example. Locally, the Spring Beer & Wine Fest has always served its beers in glass, as has the Portland International Beerfest. Neither event has had serious issues with broken glass. 
The OBF tasting glasses will have the current year's artwork printed on them with the date, and will be considered a souvenir item. For those who don't wish to take their glass home, we will have recycling stations set up at every exit. 
Ultimately, the Oregon Brewers Festival believes most beer drinkers would prefer to see, smell and taste a beer in a glass over a plastic mug. A glass offers the consumer the ultimate beer tasting experience, and in the end, that's the goal of any festival. Cheers!
Hooray for that.  They, of course, failed to mention the absolute travesty of the color changing plastic glassware that they used for a year or two which turned a color when it got cold and made the beer appear blue.  Ugh!  So good on the Highlanders of Scotland and the OBF.  (Full disclosure: I am a member or Clan Munro but I have never smashed a glass on top of any one's head)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Could Legalization of Marijuana Spell Trouble for Craft Beer?

Not really, I suspect, but there is strong evidence that medical marijuana laws had a considerable and negative effect on beer sales in the states in which they were enacted.  Total per-capita sales decreased by 5% as a result of the law which suggests that beer and marijuana are strong subsitiutes. This is overall sales and so we don't know the differential impact on sales of macro versus craft beer, but I suspect that to the extent these substances are subsitiutes, they are so due to their intoxicating properties and not the refinement of the beer itself.  Thus I suspect that this drop in beer sales is mostly macro beer.  But who knows - maybe my impression of the refined craft beer drinker is all wrong?

It would be interesting, perhaps, to test the effect on craft beer sales in Washington and Oregon after the legalization of marijuana in the former. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

JV Southern Hemisphere

I spent an extended weekend in Buenos Aires last weekend. I had a lovely time, perfect weather and a city that I found pretty, pleasant and recovering (at least in spirit) from the crisis.  I was happy because my last visit in 2009 left a lasting impression of a decaying city with a grim population.  It is a lovely city and one hopes for a return to better times economically will allow it to flourish once again. 

But all this is by way of introduction.  The real reason I found my visit blog-worthy was my discovery, whilst strolling in lovely Recoleta, of an American-style brewpub: Buller Brewing Company.  Sadly I had just eaten and we were on our way to Palermo so no time to stop and sample the beer but I did have enough time to take these two pictures and I was delighted to find, as far south as Argentina, a JV Northwest brewhouse.

Buller Brewing Co, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bueller's brew house, manufactured in Canby, Oregon
 What is especially interesting is that, like most of South America, the beer culture in BA and the beer at the pub is mostly German and Czech influenced so you might expect a brewhouse from those parts. Well, I suppose it makes no difference, except for the shape of the fermentation vessels.  Anyway, it was fun to see.

I did try the Quilmes local macro brew and while it is a notch above Brasilian beers, it is fairly character-less.  Other than that the local Malbec wine was too inviting (and too good - wow) and so I never sampled any other beer.