Tag Archives: Beer

Green beer’s dubious beginnings

Green-BeerGreen beer has become a staple of many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all across the United States. But, who came up with the original idea and why would someone take a perfectly good beer and turn it a most unnatural shade of green? By most accounts, the story of green beer goes back to New York City 102 years ago.

In the mostly Irish neighborhoods of the New York City borough the Bronx, a coroner and toastmaster by the name Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin – himself an Irish immigrant — debuted his invention at a social club during a St. Patrick’s Day feast. Guests at the feast were astonished and delighted at the wondrous beer before them.

“No, it wasn’t a green glass, but real beer in a regular colorless glass,” wrote syndicated columnist, Charles Henry Adams in his column New York Day by Day, March 26, 1914. “But the amber hue was gone from the brew and a deep green was there instead.”

When pressed for the detail of how he had created the deep green brew, Adams reported that Curtin was reserved in his response. He would only say that the effect was achieved by adding a single drop of “wash blue” – an iron-based wash additive used to whiten clothes – to a certain volume of beer. He did not divulge the exact amount of beer he added the toxic substance to change it green but it was presumably a large enough volume to dilute the poisonous effects of wash blue.

But, another newspaper, the Spokane Press, also made mention of a green beer in 1910. Under a headline proclaiming, “Green Beer Be Jabbers!” (be jabbers is apparently an excited swear) the newspaper relates an account of a local bar pouring green beer. But, the beer did not get its color artificially.

“It is a regular beer,” the paper reported. “Apparently it has not been colored locally. It tastes like beer and looks like paint, or rather like the deep green waves in mid-ocean with the sun striking them through.”

The article went on to say that the bartender was the only person that knew how the beer had turned green and he was not revealing the secret.

“All day he has been drawing from one of the regular taps,” the article said. “And no one has seen him dump in any arsenic.”

A comforting thought, that.

The idea of serving green beer itself may have come from an old Irish tradition called “drowning the shamrock.” Men were said to have dropped a shamrock into their whiskey after parades and special events. The custom was meant to bring good luck to the imbiber because of the holy meaning ascribed to shamrocks.

Legend has it that St. Patrick himself used the abundant shamrock as a prop to explain the concept of the holy trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost — to King Laoghaire of Ireland in the early days of the Catholic church. The holiday now celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day began as a holy fest day to honor Patrick’s death on March 17, 461. Because the feast day falls in the middle of Lent when Catholics are supposed to practice abstinence from meat and alcohol, the church lifted the restrictions giving rise to over-consumption since Lent had several weeks left.

Whether green beer began in New York or Spokane, one thing is certain, there will be plenty of green beer flowing from taps next week for St. Patrick’s Day. Though now beer is tinted green with food coloring rather than poison.









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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Beer, Beer history


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Beer and baseball; a match made in St. Louis

browns_beerAs Spring Training hits its stride, I thought you might enjoy reading a bit about how two of America’s summertime favorites came together. Originally published in my Folio Weekly column Pint-Sized last summer, this piece explains the magical marriage of beer and baseball.

Baseball is a game steeped in nostalgia. Every crack of the bat hitting a ball evokes memories of sluggers from the past like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Lou Gehrig. The cheer of the crowd mingles with the smell of popcorn and hot dogs. And, perhaps the most important part of the experience is the shout of vendors announcing, “Cold beer here!”

Beer and baseball are a given today. The beverage is so entrenched in the game that its absence would seem odd. But, the love affair of beer and baseball was not always so fervent. In the beginning the National League did not want beer in its ballparks when it debuted in 1876. It took the American Association’s entry to bring beer to the game.

In 1882, the AA came to the realization that baseball should appeal to blue collar workers as well as the upper crust. To draw more of the working class to games, the AA lowered ticket prices, scheduled games on Sundays and offered alcohol for sale at the games. This approach appealed to the marketing gurus at breweries so much that many of the teams were backed by them. But, the AA could not sustain operations and folded after the 1891 season. Players were absorbed by the NL and, because of its popularity, alcohol sales became the norm in NL ballparks.

One of the earliest instances of a team embracing beer in the ballpark is the case of the St. Louis Brown Stockings. The team, later to be known as the Cardinals, was owned by Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Von Der Ahe a saloon owner who noticed that business in his bar increased on game days. With this information, Van Der Ahe surmised that spectators would likely enjoy a few brews during a game and he installed a beer garden at the team’s home, Sportsman’s Park. The idea was a hit.

Over the years, beer has grown to be inextricably associated with the game. Breweries took notice of the popularity of baseball and began to formulate marketing campaigns. In 1941, Falstaff began sponsoring Dizzy Dean’s radio broadcasts of Browns games and 30 years later sponsored Harry Carey’s “Holy cow!” punctuated broadcasts.

Brewers began positioning themselves with local baseball teams and formed relationships to be the official beers of teams and stadiums. In New York, the Yankees became associated with Ballantine and the Mets sidled up to Rheingold. Beer was so popular in baseball that Milwaukee, a bastion of German beer production, named their team the Brewers. The big beer producers became almost synonymous with baseball with advertising in stadiums, sponsorship of broadcasts – both radio and television – and stadiums named for brands.

Today, with the craft beer revolution in full swing, ballparks are adding locally-brewed beers to their lineup. In Jacksonville, our minor league team the Suns, serve several local brews from Intuition Ale Works, Bold City and more as well as a selection of craft beers from brewers outside the area.

As an experience, sitting in the stands of a stadium, watching the heroes of the diamond gracefully make plays would just not feel complete without a hot dog in one hand and a cold beer in the other. It’s perhaps the most perfect way to spend a balmy summer evening – and perhaps the most American.

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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Beer, Beer history


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Harpoon to release single hop pale ale

fresh-tracks-can-7a84Boston, MA (January 2017) – Spring in New England can be fickle; snow one day, shorts weather the next. To help equip beer drinkers for whatever spring tosses their way, Harpoon has released a single hop Spring Pale Ale that’s just right for whatever the day brings. Introducing Harpoon’s new spring seasonal Fresh Tracks, a beer brewed to embrace the season. Hibernation be damned; round up some friends, grab some beers, and get outside to make some fresh tracks of your own.

Harpoon Fresh Tracks is hop forward without being bitter. This single hop Pale Ale showcases the piney, citrusy character of Centennial hops. Bright and golden, light and drinkable, the subtle malt flavor lets the hops shine.

Fresh Tracks Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Bright gold
Aroma: Pine, citrus, floral hop
Mouth feel: Light, drinkable
Taste: Subtle malt behind piney hops
Finish: Clean with a slight bitterness

Fresh Tracks Specs:
Style: Single Hop Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBU:  38

Harpoon Fresh Tracks is now available in 12 oz. bottles, cans, and on draft. To locate Harpoon Fresh Tracks, use the Harpoon Beer Finder at, checking back periodically for new locations.

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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases


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Hurricane Matthew survival beers

hurricaneAs Hurricane Matthew draws a bead on the east coast of Florida, I thought it would be fun to look at several storm-themed beers and breweries.

Aardwolf Brewing Company

Storm-ageddon Black IPA is dark and roasty with a hoppy punch, this black IPA is a 2014 gold medal winner at the Best Florida Beer Championship.

Big Storm Brewing Company

Located in the Tampa area, Big Storm has been supplying beer-lovers with delicious liquids since 2012. The brewery specializes in brewing beers in a sustainable, local-minded method. With two operating breweries and two tap rooms, there is plenty of beer to go around for Tampa locals. But, they also can their beers, so suds hounds outside of Tampa can enjoy their award-winning brews.  Try their Wavemaker Amber Ale a nicely balanced amber ale that provides plenty of hoppy goodness with a sweeter, caramel malt backbone.

Victory Brewing Company

Storm King Stout is a big beer with big flavors befitting a storm like Matthew. Expect plenty of hops, espresso and chocolate flavors in this whopper.

Highland Brewing Company

Thunderstruck Coffee Porter is a robust porter with a full body and some hints of chocolate from Chocolate Malts and Midnight Wheat. The mild hop aroma showcases the roasted flavors and subtle fruit and spice notes of the artisan fair-trade, organic coffee, roasted in the neighboring town of Black Mountain at Dynamite Roasting Company.


Hurricane Malt Liquor is full-bodied and robust and offers a smooth, slightly fruity and slightly sweet taste, and Hurricane High Gravity offers a very full-bodied flavor with a bold finish.

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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Beer


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Budweiser, Lyft team up to fight drunk driving


Photo credit: Ben Hider for Anheuser-Busch

Drunk driving is never acceptable. The consequences you face if caught — or even suspected — are severe and rightly so. To get a first hand account of the consequences, read my eight-part series that recounts my experience with a DUI arrest.

To help fight the epidemic of drunk driving now plaguing Florida, Budweiser and Lyft have teamed up to provide safe rides home. Take a few moments to read the press release below and learn how they “Give a Damn.”

NEW YORK (September 14, 2016)

Budweiser and Lyft are coming together to make a bold statement against drunk driving and celebrate people who follow Budweiser’s new responsible drinking message: “Give a Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk.” Starting this Friday, September 16 through the end of the year, Budweiser will provide up to 80,000 total rides* on weekend and holiday nights during peak party hours in New York, Colorado, Illinois and Florida.  

The next step in Budweiser’s longstanding commitment to promoting alcohol responsibility, this campaign marks the largest partnership of its kind between a beverage and ridesharing company aimed at reducing drunk driving.

Each Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, Budweiser will share a unique code on its Facebook and Twitter channels, which consumers 21+ can enter into the Lyft app to claim a $10 free ride credit. This ride credit can be redeemed the following Friday and Saturday, between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, designed to be accessed when people are returning home after a night out. The first 5,000 Lyft users to claim these codes each week will have the chance to use them that weekend. This promotion is available to both new and existing Lyft users, and the claim and redemption periods will be extended during certain holidays. Consumers in participating markets should check out Budweiser and Lyft’s social channels each week for these updates. Each code is good for a $10 credit or free ride up to $10.

The partnership kicks off on Friday, September 16, Anheuser-Busch’s seventh annual “Global Beer Responsible Day,” in which the brewer and its partners raise awareness about responsible drinking.  While drunk-driving fatalities decreased 51 percent since 1982 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), there is still work to be done. There are approximately 10,000 fatalities in drunk driving crashes each year, accounting for 29 percent of all traffic fatalities according to the DOT.

“Drunk driving is one hundred percent preventable, and Budweiser and Lyft are dedicated to helping people get home safely,” said Katja Zastrow, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility – Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “As one of the biggest beer brands in the world, Budweiser can play a leading role in the fight against drunk driving, and our program with Lyft will make a positive impact and start conversations about this vital issue.”

“At Lyft, we strive to partner with like-minded, mission-driven brands like Budweiser that are committed to building safer communities and a better world,” says Oliver Hsiang, VP Partnerships at Lyft. “By giving passengers access to 5,000 rides each week, we hope everyone will think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking and look to Lyft as a solution.”

For more information about how to participate, visit

*Code good for $10 credit or free ride up to $10.


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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Beer, Beer News


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What does your drink say about you?

BudPicture this: Three women walk into a bar. The first orders wine, the second orders a cosmo, and the third orders beer. Which woman, do you think, ends up in a conversation with the tall and mysterious stranger?

According to the Budweiser ‘Beerpressions’ National Survey—a first-of-its-kind study about how beverage choices influence first impressions—your drink may be worth a thousand words.

Based on a representative survey of 2,000 Americans (ages 21+) conducted by Learndipity Data Insights, Budweiser asked respondents to match common bar drinks with the perceived personality traits of the people ordering them.

So what does your chosen drink say about you?


Drink Choice #1: Domestic Beer (Budweiser)
-70% say a woman with domestic beer (Budweiser) is “friendly” and “low-maintenance.”
-59% believe a man with this drink choice seems to be “authentic” and “genuine.”

Drink Choice #2: Imported Beer
-Conversely, only 36% believe a woman drinking imported beer is “low-maintenance.”
-27% say a man drinking imported beer is “trying to be cool” and is “a bit insecure.”

Drink Choice #3: Wine
-31% believe a woman drinking wine seems “predictable” and “cautious.”
-52% believe a man drinking wine seems more “serious” and “reserved.”

Drink Choice #4: Margarita
-50% believe a woman drinking a margarita is “energetic,” and “a bit shallow.”
-41% believe a man drinking a margarita is “fun-loving” and a “bit of a lightweight.”


22% of men and 20% of women report that “more people chat with me at a bar” when drinking a domestic beer like Budweiser (compared to wine or other cocktails)—but only 11% of men and 10% of women observe a similar effect for imported beer.

While 20% of Americans will actively consider how their drink order will be perceived by others while out with friends, nearly twice as many think strategically about their drink choices at a work event (39%) or on a date (34%).

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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Beer, Relaxing


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Brazil’s beer scene has nearly 200 year history

Image credit: Bit Copa Beer.

Image credit: Bit Copa Beer.

By now the 2016 Summer Olympics are in full swing and Team America is most certainly kicking some major ass in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Over the past few days, you have no doubt been barraged with puff pieces during Olympic broadcasts covering the local customs of Brazil’s hardest partying region. Scenes of glistening bodies on Rio’s infamous beaches, samba dancing and copious drinking are surely gracing your television screen making the tropical paradise south of the border seem even more glamorous and desirable for tourism.

What they are likely not telling you is that Brazil is the world’s third largest beer market consuming 3.5 billion gallons of beer annually – that’s more than 62 gallons of beer per capita.

Brewing in Brazil has a long history that dates back to the 1830s when German immigrated to the South American wonderland seeking new opportunities and prosperity. Naturally, the beer-loving Bavarians brought with them a thirst for the frosty beverage and the skills needed to quench that thirst. In 1853, Bohemia Lager began production and became the first mass-marketed brew in the city of Petropolis, Rio de Janiero. Bohemia, now under the ownership umbrella of Anheuser-Busch/InBev, lays claim to being the oldest beer still brewed in Brazil. Later, in the 1880s, Antarctica and Brahma lagers joined Bohemia and together the three brews claimed nearly 98% of the Brazilian beer market.

As is the case in much of the world, mergers and acquisitions ran rampant in the Brazilian beer market.  The majority of the market belongs to AmBev, the owner of the Brahma, Antarctica, Bohemia and Skol brands. Brazil’s largest brewer was formed in 1999 from the merger of the two biggest brands, Brahma and Antarctica. In 2004, Ambev merged with Belgium’s Interbrew to form InBev which merged with Anheuser-Busch in 2008 to form the world’s largest brewer, now known as Anheuser-Busch/InBev.

Brazil’s big beer brands are omnipresent in the countries bars, on its beaches and at barbecues. Brazilians consume these light, refreshing lagers everywhere and at almost any time. According to local custom, they are served on draft in small cups at least half full or more of foam supposedly to keep the beer colder longer – it doesn’t, but who can fight long ingrained custom.

Craft beer is making a slow emergence into the Brazilian beer scene and today Brazil sports a few craft breweries and more are coming online all the time. Sure, in the summer heat of Brazil’s tropical climate, an ice-cold – I mean so cold there is a layer of slush at the top of it – lager is perfect to beat the heat but, more and more, craft brewers are taking that venerable style and amping it up with hops infusions and indigenous fruits.

While mass-produced lagers may remain at the top of the heap in Brazil’s beer market, as in the rest of the world, craft beer is slowly chipping away at that mountain. So, as you watch the rest of the Olympic Games, kick back with a cold Brazilian brew and cheer on your favorite athletes.

A few Brazilian beers you can find locally include:

Xingu Black — Cervejaria Kaiser

Black and silky, this Brazilian beauty is rich with dark, roasty flavors of chocolate and coffee. Enjoy with a Brazilian steak for an unforgettable experience.

Palma Louca Pale Pilsner — Cervejaria Kaiser

A smooth representation of a Brazilian pilsner. Keep this one covered in ice as you enjoy beach volleyball from the Rio Olympics.

Brahma — Companhia Cervejaria Brahma

Pale yellow with light, grassy hops, this typical Brazilian lager is also one of its oldest. Slip on a thong swim suit – guys, too – and head out the beach with this buried in ice.

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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Beer


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