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FEATURES - IN DEPTH BEER ARTICLES

A deeper look at breweries, beer culture and the beer world

Monday
Aug252014

A PISS UP IN A BREWERY

Our man about town and co-founder Scott Ellis isn't known for his organisational abilities, but, really, how hard could it be?

 

It's a joke. One of those things people say to show how hopeless someone is. But when it comes down to brass tacks, it really isn't that easy to organise a piss up in a brewery.

My birthday's coming up and I thought it would be funny to prove everyone wrong, show that I can get my act together and organise (you guessed it) a piss up in a brewery.

 

And so the problems begin.
For a start, I've moved cities, so my first choice (Young Henry's in Newtown, Sydney) was out, I had to find something in Melbourne.
With time running out, we drew up a short list of likely suspects, eliminating those too far away for the majority of people I'd invite and then we started sampling.
In three days of "research" we hit three very different breweries and I found that what I like from a brewer doesn't necessarily mean it'd make for a good party venue.
Take 2Brothers in Moorabin for example. Their beers are awesome.
I started out with a Taxi, their pilsner, and it's a sharp, bitter and malty homage to the genre, utterly drinkable.
Next I moved to the Growler, an American-style brown ale with a lot of flavour (check it out) before settling on my personal favourite, the Voodoo porter. This is a complex, licoricy, malty sweet bitter brew that I could happily drink all through winter, quite simply one of the best Aussie porters I've ever had.
But the venue is in Moorabin, and that's at least an hour away for more than half those coming and roughly an hour and a half from the airport. I can't really expect them to fork out more than $100 on a cab and still have enough money for a present, can I?
And to be honest, the staff looked a little overwhelmed by the small numbers there. They knew their stuff and were professional, but were getting swamped.
Next.
Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond. Much closer to the city, plenty of access via trains and the beers as we all know, are great.
This time I started out with the ever reliable Hightail, a lovely amber ale in the English style. It's a bit sweet, but a great beer nonetheless... until I found their IPA. It's not a belt-in-the-face hop extravaganza like others, but a very good example of the beer. They used to do this as part of the "rare breeds" small batch brews and everyone loved it enough to take it to the regular range.
I'm one of those who love it, so was very happy to have a couple. And on the night we were there it was being poured through a Randall infuser with extra hops too so was particularly awesome.
I finished up, however (after a brief enjoyable moment where some hipster bumped into me on the way back from the bar and I spilled an entire glass of red wine all over his light-brown suede loafers... his look? priceless!
He was still glaring and dabbing at them with a napkin about an hour later) on the stout. It's great stuff, roasted malt galore, sweet and bitter, perfect for this time of year in the southern hemisphere.
Even the food was an unexpected find - they're got a Vietnamese food truck parked inside serving (to me at least) Vietnamese tacos that were brilliant.
But the place was FREEZING. I kid you not: the crowd was huddled around those little outdoor heater things wearing every item of clothing they could find and still shuddering away.
Next.
Matilda Bay Brewery. I know, they're verging on macro, but this is one of the first craft brewers Australia had, the beers are consistently good and for the "double IPA infused with cherries brewed in a bucket under a full moon" brigade there's always specials to try.
The Fat Yak got me out the starter's gate, then in was on to another favourite, the IGP (if you haven't had this, get some. It's an Australian ale, a bit cloudy, but with great malt flavours and a load of hoppy goodness).
Then, as usual, I went for a dark beer to finish things off, a small batch twist on their regular Dog Bolter and it went down a treat. Six different malts (apparently) have resulted in a classic Munich dark lager style beer. It's good in stubbies, fantastic on tap.
There were a few interesting small batch offering available, but no time to try them so they'll have to wait.
The brewery's right in Port Melbourne, there's parking galore, the venue is large enough to handle a group (a couple of different areas nestled among the vats and piping), with staff who weren't freaked out by crowds... you can see where this is heading.
So. what to do. The micro-brewery with the beers I liked the most? The one with the cool food and funky atmosphere. Or the one that has some great beers, a restaurant with loads of variety, enough (warm) space to handle the night with the least fuss for everyone concerned.
I'll definitely be going back to 2Brothers (the porter really was that good) and Mountain Goat (maybe in summer), butto celebrate my 50th birthday, I'll be propping up a table at Matilda Bay, pouring the small batch releases down with gusto.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb052014

BYE BYE BLUETONGUE

In what has come as a shock to nobody, Australia's once-independent Bluetongue Brewery has been shut down.

Based on the New South Wales central coast, Bluetongue carved a niche as one of Austraila's first non-mainstream beers (even if mainstream was exactly how its beers tasted) in a debut that gave a hint that Australians were bored with mass-market domination and were ready for the craft beer wave they're currently surfing.

But the writing was on the wall when Coca-Cola Amatil sold its 50% stake to give its once-partner, SAB Miller, 100% ownership of the company. SAB Miller was just swallowing its purchase of the Foster's Group and Bluetongue's 64 staff and 100 million litres of (frankly over-rated) "premium" pilsner per year were no longer essential items.

Bluetongue started life when four Hunter Valley businessmen started it in 2003, then sold a 50 percent share to larrikin Australian adman, John Singleton, in 2005. That lasted until 2007, when they all sold out to the Coca-Cola Amatil/SAB Miller joint venture, but the future looked reasonably secure because it commited the funds to build a new brewery at Warnervale only in 2012.

Now, former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman, Alan Asher, is questioning SAB Miller's motives for closing the brewery, slashing 64 jobs from a town, less than 100km from Sydney, with less than 1000 inhabitants. 

Mr Asher has inferred the closure was more about big multinationals killing off local competition than it was about sensible ongoing business strategy, but SAB Miller insisted it had no choice.

SAB Miller argues it had to close the brewery because it found too much duplication and excess brewing capacity after it took on Foster's - and in Beeriosity's view, any capacity to brew Foster's could automatically be considered too much capacity.

But Mr Asher believes there is more to the decision, insisting Bluetongue had been a success story with a great future.  

"It isn't closed because it was a failure or because people didn't like it; it's been closed because a giant global firm, the tenth-largest on the UK stock exchange and the second-largest brewer in the world, finds it convenient to snuff out this tiny speck of a potential competitor," he told Australia's ABC.

The second largest brewery in New South Wales, it will have its equipment and about 15 employees relocated to Foster's Yatala plant, itself the former home of an upstart brewer, Power's, which showed up both Lion Nathan and CUB in the 1990s by claiming 14 percent of the Queensland beer market before being bought by CUB.

SAB Miller made Coca-Cola Amatil sign a two-year, non-compete clause when it bought out the soft drink giant's share, but that clause has now lapsed and Mr Asher insists Bluetongue has been close down to stop CCA from using it to re-enter the market.

"What we are seeing here is CUB disposing of all of those assets to remove an obvious way of Coca Cola getting a leap-frog back into that market," he said.

"It's reminiscent in a way of the struggles over the years as small supermarkets were sucked in by Coles and Woolworths."

The Bluetongue brewery is slated to be closed by the middle of the year and even the brand won't survive, with CUB corporate affairs director Jeremy Griffith confirming it is set to be phased out this year.

"Bluetongue was put in the CUB portfolio up against VB and Carlton Draught. It just wasn't getting the cut-through, it wasn't getting the consumer buy-in," he said.

"We weren't seeing significant volumes, so we had to make a commercial decision after a period of time whether we would continue to invest in Bluetongue or continue to invest in VB and Carlton Draught and given the huge brand equity in both VB and Carlton Draught, Bluetongue unfortunately just wasn't getting the cut-through."

Thursday
Sep192013

AUSTRALIA GETS ANOTHER BEER TAX HIKE

 

Australia's everyman staple, the humble slab of full-strength beer, has jumped by 29 cents overnight thanks to a Government tax hike.

While most working Australians are calling for a break from the automatic annual excise rise (which happened with the petrol excise a few years back), nobody is holding out realistic hope with noted wowser, Tony Abbott, installed as Australian Prime Minister.

The man who was once groomed for priesthood won't hear of easing back on the automatic excise rise, introduced in the 1980s by Prime Minister Bob Hawke as a way of avoiding an annual round of bad news for voting drinkers.

The latest round of hikes sees another cent on every beer poured in a bar, hotel or club going to Government coffers, another 11 cents a slab on light beer and another eight cents for every six pack. Every case of beer now attracts $15.63 in Federal excise, which would pretty much buy a slab of beer itself in Germany.

The irony is that Hawke's name entered the Guinness Book of Records for downing a yard glass (2.5 imperial pints or 1.4 litres) of beer in 11 seconds at the Turf Tavern while fulfilling his Rhodes Scholar commitments in Oxford.

While he swore off beer during his political days, the wily old stager returned to winning ways recently at the Sydney Cricket Ground after goading from a crowd of Hawkeys. 

But don't get too taken with him. It's his fault that you'll still pay more beer tax in Australia than most other western countries.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Aug272013

DARK BEERS: MORE THAN JUST A WINTER TIPPLE

Dark-beer lovers are creatures that emerge each winter, shed their ales and commercial lagers and nurse rich, oatmealy, coffee-hinted brews with smug self satisfaction. 

They are also healthier than normal beer drinkers, according to Spanish research.

That may be taken with a grain of salt, given that Spain is responsible for some of the most mediocre beers known to commercial brewing and has no craft beer scene worth the name, but Spanish researchers have found that dark beer has more free iron than normal beer.

The researchers, from the University of Valladoid (try saying that drunk) analysed 40 beer brands and found that the levels of free iron, essential in the human diet, helps to oxidise the organic compounds in beer.

With beers drawn from five continents (this is starting to sound like a booze up to us), the researchers found dark beers had an average free-iron content of 121 parts per billion, versus just 92 for pale beers and a meagre 63 from (whisper it) non-alcoholic beers.

"Although these quantities are very small, the differences are apparent and could be due to the production processes or raw materials used in manufacturing," according to Carlos Blanco, professor of Food Technology at UVa and co-author of the study.

Published in the Journal of The Science of Food and Agriculture, the study suggests dark beer's higher iron levels relate to the types of malt and hops used in production, along with the extra filtering with diatomaceous earth for normal ales and lagers.

The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, indicates that higher iron content in dark beer could be explained by the malt and hop extracts used to produce it. Diatomaceous earth is a porous, sedimentary rock with micro-algae which lightens the colour of beer but also traps the iron.

For non-alcoholic beer, most brewers use a vacuum evaporation system to lower the alcohol, which also removes iron ions.

The study tested 17 Spanish beers and 23 beers from other countries, with 28 pale, 6 dark and 6 non-alcoholic beers. The beers with the highest iron content were a dark Spanish beer (165 ppb) and a dark Mexican beer (130 ppb). Those that had the lowest levels of iron were from The Netherlands and Ireland (41 ppb and 47 ppb, respectively).

Researchers validated the technique they used to analyse iron (differential pulse adsorptive stripping voltammetry technique), which is "an ultra-sensitive, selective, rapid, reliable and cost-effective method". The team has also recently applied an 'electronic tongue' for the first time to quantify the degree of bitterness and alcohol in beer.

Tuesday
Aug272013

ARE HANGOVERS A CURSE OF THE PAST?

Australian scientists (they had to be Australian scientists) might have found a way to end the curse of hangovers once and for all.

A group of researchers from Queensland's Griffith Health Institute have developed a beer that includes electrolytes, such as you find in sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, to minimise the dehydration that helps cause hangovers.

One of the main causes of hangovers, dehydration is thwarted by the electrolytes in the Griffith beer because it hydrates the body even as the alcohol naturally dehydrates it. 

Associate professor Ben Desbrow, of the Griffith Health Institute’s Centre for Health Practice Innovation, told newsmedical.net: “We basically manipulated the electrolyte levels of two commercial beers, one regular strength and one light beer, and gave it to research subjects who’d just lost a significant amount of sweat by exercising. We then used several measures to monitor the participant’s fluid recovery to the different beers.

“Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects. The ‘improved’ light beer was actually a third more effective at hydrating a person than normal beer.”

The only bad news is that the new beer shouldn't be used as a post-ride/run/swim/gym session drink, though. 

“This is definitely not a good idea, but what we’ve found is that many people who sweat a lot, especially tradesmen, knock off work and have a beer. But alcohol in a dehydrated body can have all sorts of repercussions, including decreased awareness of risk.”

Monday
Jul292013

BEER PRICES RISE IN GERMANY

Some of the world's cheapest good beer could soon be more expensive if a group of brewers has their way.

In what might be termed "collusion" in other countries, brewing giants Bitburger, Krombacher and Radeberger are working to raise beer prices across Germany.

The trio has formed an odd alliance in an effort to drive up German beer prices by October this year - just in time for Oktoberfest.

The brewers justify their putsch by complaining that raw material costs, including hops, barley, electricity and glass, have all been raised, yet the price of beer has stayed constant in Germany.

It's unclear how much they want to raise the price of beers, but Radeberger is understood to be the driving force and plans to lift prices across the board in November. The ninth biggest brewery in Germany, it was the first to brew pilsner in Germany and has a chequered history of ownership, including a stint under the control of the old East Germany.

It brews the Radeberger-branded beers, plus Jever and the weiss bier Schöfferhofer. Its alcohol-free Clausthal is believed to be exempt from the rises.

The price rises will impact more brands from Bitburger. It plans to lift its prices in October for the Bitburger, Konig, Kostritzer, Licher and Wernesgruner ranges. Krombacher has already announced a rise of 5-8 percent, starting in October.

The last major price rises in Germany took place five years ago, according to the Federal Association for beer distribution in Germany, but there are so many promotions on beer in Germany that it's possible to buy a case of beer for the same price as 1993..

Veltins lifted its pricing in January this year, Beck's went up in February and Hasseroeder rose in March.

Still, it's cheaper there than bottled water...

 

Friday
Jul262013

HOP THIEF GOES YEAR-ROUND


James Squire is turning its Hop Thief into a full time beer.

The Australian team captain for The Bashes will, late this month, become a permanent member of the James Squire range. 

The fifth generation of the Hop Thief varietal series, the Hop Thief 5 is a celebration of Centennial and Citra hops in the chase for James Squire's aim of a "Life full of flavour".

Whilst there have been four limited Hop Thief releases over the past few years that showcased hops from around the world, Hop Thief 5 marks the transition to a permanent release series. From now on the beer will be available all year round; with seasonal changes to the hop recipe,” said Malt Shovel Head Brewer, Jeff Potter.

James Squire has tried to develop a full-bodied hop flavour, true to the American Pale Ale ethos, with the specific hops chosen for their citrus and stone fruit profiles, all balanced by a creamy malt body.

We hope this new release will give our drinkers something to savour, as well as build anticipation for the next edition to the Varietal Series, which will once again celebrate the unique characteristics of different hop varieties,” said Potter.

James Squire Hop Thief 5 will be available on tap at select venues across Australia from this month.

Like all of the Hop Thief varieties, it commemorates Australia's first brewer, James Squire, who stole horehound so he could brew his own beer shortly after arriving in Australia during its convict days.

The judge ordered that he receive 150 lashes, plus deliver him two barrels of his ale, as punishment and it took Squire another 15 years to become the first person to grow hops on Australian soil, thereby becoming the first to brew fresh beer.

All of that history, plus the sheer quality of the preceding four versions of the Hop Thief, is why it's the Australian team captain in The Bashes.

Tuesday
Jul232013

THIS WEEK'S RESEARCH: GOOD AND BAD FOR BEER

There was good and bad news for beer lovers from the world of science and research this week.

Being beer lovers, let's go with the good first: researchers in Greece have found (yet again. This is an oldie that seems to recur every year or two from the grant-chasers) that drinking beer improves blood flow and the hearts workings.

An hour after making 17 non-smokers in their twenties knock off 400 milliletres (two-thirds of a British pint or 80% of a US pint), researchers at the Harokopio University in Athens then measured their heart function.

Obviously, they ran tests before the beer and then they ran them again after making them (probably at gunpoint) drink the same amount of alcohol-free beer and then again after a shot of vodka. Notably, no gluten-free beers were used.

Now, granted, 17 people isn't exactly the sort of broad-acre, penetrating analysis you'd expect of the NSA (who are reading this right now), but they found that aortic stiffness reduced after each of the test drinks, making arteries more flexible. Endothelial function (how easily blood passes through major arteries) only improved after drinking proper, normal-strength beer.

Researchers also decided that the connection between beer and the heart needed to be investigated in more detail, presumably on Mikonos and I hope they got their grant extension.

Now for the downside. This may change in another study somewhere in the world next week, but a Smithsonian researcher insists that beer can make your blood more attractive to mosquitos. Who knew mosquitos liked beer?

The Smithsonian magazine wrote: “Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found. But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.”

 

Sunday
Jul212013

PAULANER SHUNS THE DEAR LEADER

German websites are claiming that one of its leading brewers has knocked back an invitation to launch a beer garden in North Korea.

The invitation, said to have come as a request from North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-un, was turned down by Munich's Paulaner Brewery according to Germany's biggest daily newspaper, Bild.

Almost half owned by Heineken, Paulaner reported that a move into North Korea would not be possible because it already had 12 new open-air beer gardens planned, including one in Moscow (which, presumably, would be shuttered for six months a year), one in St Petersburg and another in the US.

North Korea is widely known to be unable to feed itself, with the UN food agency insisting it needed outside food assistance because 2.8 million (more than 10%) of its 24 million people were unable to feed themselves.

"An estimated 2.8 million vulnerable people require food assistance until the next harvest in October," a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report said last week.

 North Korea has a domestic beer called Taedonggang, but it's not very good and it is also very expensive by world standards.

 

Saturday
Jul202013

CEREBRAL PALSY BEER SKIRTS CONTROVERSY

The Swedes have long been known for their inclusive, humanistic approach to those from all walks of ilfe, but they've courted controversy with their latest move.

The Gothenburg Cooperative for Independent Living (GIL) has created a beer to get people talking about physical and mental disabilities.

The Cerebral Palsy Ale, known as the CPA, is a hybrized Indian and American pale ale and its label is even a cartoon image of a female cerebral palsy sufferer in a wheelchair.

The social idea behind the CPA is to highlight the Gothenburg's lack of disabled access in its bars, restaurants and nightclubs, which GIL argues has not improved since a 2010 law that ordered easier access and disabled toilets.

So the CPA is being used as a reward, with only 220 litres of it brewed at first, but that has been bumped up to a total of over 1800 litres.

Anders Westgerd of GIL told the BBC: “We like to cause a stir and make people react and create feelings.

“Disabled people are marginalised in media and hence you have to do something non-traditional to create feelings and make people angry.”

It will remain a limited edition beer, though, as GIL isn't geared up to be a full-time brewer.

It's not their first big attempt to raise awareness through controversy, though, as they've also had campaigns that included a “retard doll” (CP-docken in Swedish), with the motto: “treat her like a real retard”.

In an earlier campagin, they planted 30 fridges around Gothenburg, home of conservative favourite, Volvo, covered with slogans to promote inclusiveness of handicapped people.

GIL said that the topic of disability, like the fridges, were not “sexy” and usually brushed under the carpet or tucked away out of sight.

Monday
Jul082013

THE RISE AND RISE OF CANNED BEER

It wasn't that long ago that the world's best brewers sneered at beer cans. It was OK to use beer cans if you were a mass-production brewer whose beers didn't have enough flavour to be adulterated in the first place, but not for craft beers.

It wasn't that long ago that a beer can ruined the taste of a beer and, to craft brewers, that was diametrically opposed to what they were trying to do. 

But those days are changing and even the most famous craft-verging-on-volume brewer, Samuel Adams maker, Boston Brewing, is moving into cans. So what's changed?

Beer can technology, that's what. Beer cans have come a long way since they were invented in the US in 1935, when an enthusiastic drinker had to carry a tool to pierce the top twice to drain the precious nectar. (Oh, and can you name the first beer to be canned? The answer* is at the end...)

Now, the beer can revolution is here, following closely in the wake of the craft beer revolution.

Sam Adams has developed its own can to improve the flavour of its Boston Lager, US-based Sly Fox brewing has a can that lets drinkers rip the entire top off and drain it like it's a glass and even Budweiser has developed a new bow tie-shaped can, years in the planning.

“It’s a beer can, but it's not your father’s beer can anymore,” Boston Beer founder, Jim Koch, said after finally coming around to the beer can phenomenon. Koch's team has spent more than a million US dollars developing its own beer can and went through nearly 30 evolutions before arriving at the Sam Can, with its bigger hole and thicker lip. What's more, the Sam Can has been made available to other craft brewers, and they can even put their own logos on it...

Craftcans.com says that the takeup rate amongst craft brewers has gone from one craft brewer in 2002 to more than 300 today. 

Pennsylvania's Sly Fox also developed its own can, where you rip the entire lid off, for its Helles Golden Lager (widespread) and its Pikeland Pilsner (which is only sold in cans at the Phillies baseball home games).

The benefits of cans have long been known. They seal better than bottles, they are lighter and easier to transport, they can be served on planes, they don't let in light, so you don't get light-struck cans and they are less sensitive about where they are stored.

But for craft brewers, it's more important that today's cans don't ruin the taste of a beer, thanks to a water-based polymer that lines the sides and the inner lid so that the beer itself can never touch the metal.

 

 

*Krueger’s Cream Ale

Thursday
Jul042013

INTERACTIVE CRAFT BEER MAP

Beeriosity loves New York City. It's vibrant, it's got something for everyone, it's got some very good beer bars.

Beeriosity loves The New Yorker even more. It's got a new, brilliant interactive craft beer map of the US here.

 

Tuesday
Jul022013

BELGIUM'S TEMPLE OF BEER

Beer has long been one of Belgium’s biggest exports. Now it’s about to get a temple to Beeriosity’s favourite tipple.

With perhaps the greatest variety of beer styles per capita in the world, more than 150 breweries and around 1500 different beers, Belgium is a mecca for beer lovers who aren’t called Michael Taylor (who generally isn’t a fan of fruit beers). 

So they’re building a temple to an industry whose exports have boomed by 70% in the last decade to the point where more than 60% of Belgium’s beer is now exported.

The Temple will be housed in the former Brussels Bourse building, which served as the Belgian stock exchange until 1996. A huge building with giant columns resembling a Grecian temple, it has been abandoned since the city’s council took it over in 2012.

In typical Belgian fashion, there has been a 15-month study and consultation period to research the Temple to Beer, with the Belgian Brewers’ Federation also on board.

“Beer is to Belgium what wine is to France,” Brussels Deputy Mayor Philippe Close said.

That short quote was backed up by an even shorter one from the very Belgian-sounding Belgian Brewers’ Federation president, Sven Gatz: “It gives our small country a real identity.”

Doubtless there will be sufficient homage paid to cherries and junipers and raspberries and strawberries and pine needles and all the other stuff the Belgian brewers toss into their brews. This is the country most famous for lambic and sour cherry froths and red and golden ales and is noted for highly sweet beers beloved of women and those wishing to be.

Still, we'll pop our heads in when it opens in a year.

Monday
Jul012013

BEER SAVES KIDNEYS!

Sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas and energy drinks can significantly increase the risk of kidney stones, according to a recently published Italian study.

Help is at hand, though, because the same study found that beer can significantlly reduce the risk of developing the condition.

The study, by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, examined data from almost 200,000 middle-aged adults who had never contracted kidney stones. The study followed them for eight years, when 4462 of the subjects contracted kidney stones, mostly those who drank sugary drinks.

"Our prospective study confirms that some beverages are associated with a lower risk of kidney stone formation, whereas others are associated with a higher risk," study co-author Dr. Pietro Manual Ferraro, a kidney specialist at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, said in a statement.

According to the Washington Post, those who drank one or more sugar-sweetened cola drinks a day had a 23% higher risk of contracting kidney stones than subjects who drank them once a week. For sugar-sweetened non-cola drinks (like sports drinks), the risk was 33% higher if they were drunk once a day versus once a week.

Of all the drinks with the ability to lower the risk of kidney stones, beer was the best. No surprise there. It usually is. For everything.

Drunk between once a day and once a week, beer lowered the risk of kidney stones by an astonishing 41%. Wine helped, too, with a 33% reduction for white wine drinkers and a 31% reduction for red wine drinkers.

Coffee also helped (26%), as did tea (11%) and orange juice (12%). But the moral of the story is that beer is best, and it’s tangible.

Beer is therefore almost four times better for you than orange juice. Narrow argument? Narrow schmarrow. It suits us. It’s four times better.

Kidney stones form when the urine becomes too concentrated, which allows mineral and acid salts to join forces and crystallize and depending on their size, they can tear apart the middle of a man's tallywacker. Some of the known causes include obesity, dehydration, urinary tract infections, bad diet and some medicines.

The US alone records more than 300,000 emergency room visits and a million doctors' visits for kidney stones, which the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology estimates will affect around 20% of American men (and 10% of women) in their lives.

Friday
Jun282013

THE BIGGEST SELLING BEERS IN THE WORLD

Mainstream beer sales have fallen basically all over the world in 2013 so far. 2012 might have been a stellar year, but the first half of 2013 have hurt the Big Players, even though the better craft beer brands continue to climb. 

Craft beer have grown to claim 6.5% of the US beer market, up from 5.7% in 2011 (that's around 10% growth in two years) and turning over around US$10 million.

Instead of diverting all that marketing money and muscle into creating better beers to match the great craft brewers, our guess is the contenders on the list of 2013's biggest-selling beer brands will just turn to the age old cure all. More marketing dollars.

But while mature markets have fallen again, China, Brazil and even the US have grown this year and China has become the world's biggest beer market, accounting for around 25% of all beer brewed on planet earth. No kidding.

So here for your education is the list of the Top 10 beer brands in the world, by sales. If you guessed them all, you have done far better than we did.

 

1. Snow Beer. 

Brewed in a joint-venture operation between SAB Miller and China Resources Enterprises (listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and owning 51% of the deal), Snow Beer is the best selling beer in the world.

What's more remarkable is that it's only sold in China. It's a very light brew in colour, at 3.9% ABV, and uses Satz hops from the Czech Republic. A lot of Satz hops from the Czech Republic.

In 2011 the value of the Snow beer brand increased by around 350 million yuan to just over 46.3bn yuan, making it one of China’s most valuable brands. Snow beer is also still China’s fastest-growing and most valuable beer brand.

It turned out 74.8 million barrels of the pilsner-style beer last year and there has been a big investment to lift that by another 20 million litres a year.

 

2. Tsingtao 

Unlike Snow beer, Tsingtao is exported and has a long history, being founded by German brewers around 1904 in Qingdao (pronounced "Chingdow") and originally brewed under the German Beer Purity Act.

It's been a while since that last bit applied, but they're turning out almost 58 million barrels a year on 2012's rates and it's planning for more.

It's the number one Chinese beer in the US (and almost certainly everywhere else, too) and it claims to be the most exported product of any kind to leave China's shores.

With the departure of Zee Chermans, Tsingtao became state owned, was privatised in 1990, with AB InBev taking 27% of it, but it sold 19.9% of it to Ashai Breweries in 2009, then sold out completely, by selling its remaining holding, to a local businessman in May, 2009. Does he have a daughter, Beeriosity wondered?

 

3. Budweiser

This one you might have guessed, given its ubiquitous advertising that has brainwashed several generations of Americans that this is the Greatest Beer in the Entire World. And, probably, that Budweiser invented beer. And drinking. And fun.

But Budweiser moves only half of Snow's volumes, with 40 million barrels last year. It's even outsold in the US by stablemate Bud Light, but the low calorie beer thing really hasn't taken off outside Obesity Central.

 

4. Yanjing 

Hah, there's another name you weren't expecting, even if you got Snow. 

It's less than a million barrels a year from overtaking Budweiser in volume and has 11% of the Chinese market, but its real strength lies in its dominance of the Beijing beer market, where it accounts for nearly nine out of every 10 beers sold and was the official beer of the Beijing Olympics.

 

5. Bud Light

Low calorie beers haven't taken off anywhere outside the US, but they've taken off enough there to make Bud Light the fifth-biggest beer in the world with 36.7 million barrels in 2012.

Bud is still working on its export markets, but in the meantime it's inflicting all manner of variations on its loyal faithful, including Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Cheleda, Bud Light Lime and Lime-a-rita.

 

6. Corona Extra

No, really. That insipid thing is the sixth biggest selling beer in the world. That's largely because it's the biggest seller in Mexico and the number one imported beer into the US. And it's single-handedly responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent limes.

AB InBev now has total control of it, after some legal wrangling with the US Justice Department, and it does around 31.6 million barrels a year.

 

7. Skol

With 29.9 million barrels last year, Skol is another beer brand that is huge and is hardly ever spoken about in beery circles.

It's owned by AB InBev (though Carlsberg has the European licence) and gets basically all of its volume by being the biggest selling beer in Brazil, with 30+% of the market.

 

8. Heineken

29 million barrels. 18.4 billion euros in turnover. Beer Chicken. That is all. 

 

9. Coors Light

The second biggest selling beer in the US, having pushed Bud down to third, but it's 9th in the world? What does that tell you?

It tells you that they're either not very good at exporting it, they're not interested in exporting it or the export markets for it aren't interested in drinking it.

It's a 4.2% ABV pilsner with 5 grams of carbs instead of the normal 10 in a 355ml bottle of Bud and 12 in a Guinness.

They also want you to serve it very cold, presumably so you have less chance of recognising its lack of taste.

 

10. Brahma

Another AB InBev cash cow, Brahma got through 18.1 million barrels last year.

It's a pilsner, like Skol. And it tastes every bit as good...

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun252013

COOPERS BRINGS BACK THE LIMITED EDITION BREW

South Australia's Coopers Brewery has added to its long history of limited edition beers with the 2013 Extra Strong Vintage Ale.

Set to be launched at the Coopers Alehouse in Adelaide on July 5, it will be the 13th limited edition beer in its series, with Coopers MD and brewing boss, Dr Tim Cooper admitting it used Centennial, Chinook, Citra and Styrian Golding hops.

“The intriguing combination of Centennial, Chinook and Citra creates strong citrus, grapefruit, melon, lime and passionfruit aromas, while Styrian Golding provides spicy and floral flavours," Dr Tim insisted.

He said it used a combination of premium quality Australian malted barley, wheat and crystal malt made up the grist composition, targeting a balance of malt sweetness and lingering, crisp bitterness.

Available only on tap and in a 355ml bottle, the 2013 Extra Strong Vintage Ale will top out at 7.5% alcohol by volume and will be around $80 a carton or $25 for a six pack.

Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale was first released in 1998, with further vintages in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Tuesday
Jun252013

BECK'S BOTTLE PHONOGRAPH

Beeriosity has played music on beer bottles before. that's nothing new. Blowing across the bottle neck is a game we've been playing since we graduated from milk and Coke bottles in our teens.

The New Zealand arm of German giant, Beck's, has taken beer bottle music to new extremes with its phonograph.

Beck's was founded in 1870, about the same time as Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, so Beck's NZ has teamed up with the Shine Limited design house to create what the Heinrich Beck and Edison would surely have done themselves, had they only met. Probably.

There is now a Beck's Phonograph, with music scribed into the outside of the bottle and played like an old-school phonographic cylinder.

Shine recognised a similarity in the Beck's beer bottle and an old recording cylinder. You know, from before CDs. And vinyl records. And the cassette tape. And eight track.

So it took the first single, Here She Comes, out of the Arch Hill Recordings label straight onto the glass. But it wasn't that simple, because then they had to make something to play the record, with modern bits and pieces and a clean sound. So they reverse engineered the phonograph.

Unveiled in May at Auckland's Semi-Permanent design fest, it wowed the audience with its sound quality, but there are no plans for mass production.

 

Saturday
Jun082013

NZ BREWING ALMOST HOPLESS 

Unseasonal weather conditions have decimated New Zealand's hop scene, with the 2013 hop report showing disappointing results even compared to the struggle of 2012.

Critically, the biggest shortfalls from the crisis, which saw hops production fall another four percent (or 30 tonnes) are the country's most popular varieties.

The two varieties that suffered the most were the Wakatu and Nelson Sauvin varieties - which have the highest demand amongst kiwi brewers.

Only 272,000kg of Wakatu were gathered this year, along with 98,000kg of Nelson Sauvin. The less-sought-after Motueka suffered less, with 54,000kg, while other varities, like Riwaka, were virtually unchanged at 6000kg.

While it's a small industry on a global scale (the US produces more than 2.2 million tonnes of Cascade hops and nearly half a million tonnes of Cluster), it is closely linked with the rise of the New Zealand craft brewing scene, which has produced some of Beeriosity's favourite tipples.

Brewers like Renaissance, Epic, 8 Wired, Yeastie Boys, Croucher, Tuatara, Moa, Dr Hops and Wanaka Beerworks have all earned enormous respect from Beeriosity's reviewers.  Here's hoping (see what I did there?) they're not too badly affected and continue to deliver their fabulous tipples.

Thursday
Jun062013

TOP 20 WINTER BEERS

So you live in the Southern Hemisphere and it's cooling off after a long, hot summer. So nobody much in Australia or Africa is copping anything quite cold enough to generate snow. It matters not. That's how you're feeling inside.

And when you're suffering this kind of feeling (made clear by Beeriosity.com co-founder Shane Maguire this week complaining about numb fingers despite wearing woollen gloves in a relatively balmy 9 degrees), the traditional chilled ale just doesn't cut it.

But what does? Well, the European and Americans have known all about winter beers for centuries and some of the more enlightened southern hemisphere brewers are catching up, finally. 

So turn the beer fridge up to between 6 and 8 degrees and enjoy Beeriosity's favourite winter brews - if you can find them. 

1. Maxlrainer Aiblinger Schwarzbier Dunkel (Germany)

2. Fuller's London Porter (England)

3. Meantime Chocolate Porter (England)

4. Mikkeler Red and White Christmas (Denmark)

5. Weihenstephaner Dunkel (Germany)

6.  Augustiner Maximator Double Bock (Germany)

7. Young Henry's Night Nurse White Stout (Australia)

8. Augustiner Dunkel (Germany)

9. Mission Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout (USA)

10. Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout (USA)

11. Bad Windsheimer Dunkel (Germany)

12. Sierra Nevada Porter (USA)

13. Bolyarka Dark Lager (Bulgaria)

14. Weihenstephaner Festbier (Germany)

15. 4 Pines Keller Door Chocolate Porter (Australia)

16. Trappists Rochefort 6 (Belgium)

17. Brewdog Zeitgeist Dark Lager (Scotland)

18. Coopers Extra Stout (Australia)

19. Tucher Christkindelsmarkt (Germany)

20. Mikkeller / Stillwater Artisanal Gypsy Tears (Denmark)

Wednesday
Jun052013

NEVER RUN OUT OF BEER AGAIN!

What's worse than the bar running out of your favourite beer? For a drinker, not much. For the bar owner, though, it's much worse. That's money you're missing out on, as well as losing the opportunity to fulfil your drinkers' cravings.
US company, Steady Serve Technologies, has come up with iKeg, which helps both bar owners and beer suppliers to stop bars unexpectedly running out of beer.
Most bar managers still rely on the time-honoured method of picking kegs up to determine how much beer is left in them, but the iKeg system lets them know precisely how many glasses of beer are left in any keg, any time.
Still in its test phase, the iKeg uses some new hardware, fitted inside the keg. There is a sensor fitted beneath the keg to measure its weight and an RFID tag, similar to those odd things in department stores that have to be taken off with those funny looking scissor/stapler things.

Steve Hershberger, the Chairman and CEO of SteadyServ, says the sensor measures weight and velocity inside the keg to calculate how much beer is being consumed.

“It uses a series of wireless technologies and cellular technologies to get that information from the cooler up to the cloud, or the internet, and back down to the handset,” Hershberger said. “Which is where people can do things with it.”

Those things include not running the keg dry in the middle of a rush, obviously. But they also include automatically delivering replacement orders directly to the beer distributor, via either email, text or a direct message. The beer distributors themselves can let the bar managers know which kegs are running low, how many glasses until they run out and how much stock they have of a particular beer to keep them covered if, say, there's a run of XXXX drinkers arriving in a pub in Tasmania.
iKeg also keeps trak of what beer is selling and what isn't, along with what beers other local bars are moving and what isn't.

"Our system lets beer distributors know at a glance which of its retailers are in inventory trouble," Hershberger said.  "It lets them know who has ordered, who hasn’t (but needs to before they run out) and which of their retail accounts are out of synch (seeing a slow down in beer sales). 

"The beer rep can jump in and provide specific help and resources to aid the retailer in optimizing their beer sales, which in many cases is the greatest profit center establishments have."

Ultimately, SteadyServ wants to combine iKeg with both ordering and social media applications, so customers will also get to tap into the technology to find what's on tap, where.

“You’re going to be able to look at your phone and the app is going to tell you to go a block down the street and to the right and they’ve got three of your favorite beers,” Hershberger said.