Today is the 50th birthday of Bill Covaleski, a co-founder of Victory Brewing Co., along with his childhood friend Ron Barchet. I first met Bill at the brewery doing an article on Pennsylvania breweries for the Celebrator nearly a decade ago. It’s been great seeing his brewery rack up victory after victory as they’ve grown and become one of Pennsylvania’s best, biggest and brightest. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.
Today is Suzanne Woods’ 35th birthday. I first met her during my trip to Philadelphia for Philly Beer Week its inaugural year. She writes online as the Beer Lass and by day is the mid-atlantic salesperson for Allagash, though when I first met her she worked for Sly Fox Brewing outside of Philadelphia. Check out a great photo of her in pigtails when she was five. Join me in wishing Suzanne a very happy birthday.
Today is the 49th birthday of Mark Edelson, a co-founder and the managing partner of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, a small brewpub chain that operates ten brewpubs in the tri-state area of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mark’s been a vocal and active member of the brewing community, especially around his mid-Atlantic home but also through the BA, too. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today is my 54th birthday, and even though it’s still early in the day, I’ve already been overwhelmed by an embarrassment of riches from well-wishers sending me notes via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. My sincere thanks to one and all. As it’s usually me posting embarrassing photos of friends and colleagues, for the fifth year in a row, here’s some more howlers of me from over the years.
There’s many more where these came from, for a good laugh just check out the photos from the last four years at Beer Birthday Again: Jay Brooks, Beer Birthday: Jay Brooks, Beer Birthday: J (Yes, Embarrasing Myself This Time) and Beer Birthday Overkill, from 2009, when I posted a bunch encompassing my first 50 years on planet beer. Oh, and thanks once again to everybody for the generous birthday wishes.
Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, beer drinkers in three states — California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — have filed a class action suit against Anheuser-Busch InBev. The L.A. Times is reporting in Beer drinkers accuse Anheuser-Busch of watering down brews, that the lawsuit alleges the following:
Ten Anheuser-Busch products were named in the lawsuits: Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.
Former employees at the company’s 13 breweries — including some in high-level positions — are cooperating with the plaintiffs, said San Rafael, Calif., lawyer Josh Boxer, the lead attorney in the case.
“Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products [mentioned in the lawsuit] are watered down,” Boxer said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant.”
The excess water is added just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3% to 8%, he said.
ABI, naturally, is calling the lawsuit “groundless,” but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Cartoon by Tony Husband.
UPDATE: NBC News is also now reporting this story, in Budweiser waters down its beer, lawsuit alleges. Apparently, Bloomberg broke the story earlier today, and also the AP, the BBC and Business Day have all weighed in.
UPDATE 2: I’ve seen a lot of commentary on this story in the interwebs suggesting that since there appears to be no test results from the Plaintiffs in this case that perhaps they are simply confusing high-gravity brewing with actively lowering the final alcohol percentage, which is a reasonable assumption. But there may be another possibility. Thanks to Stan at Appellation Beer for pointing out a post from last October by Gary Spedding at his Alcohol Beverage Testing News. I’ve known Gary for a number of years. He runs a lab in Kentucky called Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services, LLC and also most years presents an orientation exercise for GABF judges the day before we start each year. It’s sort of a continuing education component of the judging experience. His presentations are always interesting and informative and, needless to say, Spedding’s expertise is unassailable.
Last October, he posted Gaining its airs and losing its graces — a Tale of Two Buds, which he wrote in response to a popular article last fall from Bloomberg Business Week entitled The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer. In addressing the suggestion in the article that Budweiser beer had changed after InBev took control of Anheuser-Busch, noted the following experiences he’d had with the beer in recent months.
Bud has been our control beer in our laboratory … for calibrating our alcohol instruments Bud goes in after calibration to see hopefully 5.00% abv. pretty much on the nose. Not so recently. Now as low as 4.94% after slipping from 4.98% earlier in the year. Losing it graces by higher airs it may be toppling from its top spot and is no longer our control beer of choice. But it is changing. A tale of two Buds (early and late) would reveal much more. Over the years the international bitterness content has declined from about 12 in the late 90′s to 7-8 today — another parameter to watch.
That original post also included a discussion of increasing oxygen levels, but Spedding had a lengthy discussion with Paul Cobet, who’s the Director of the Technical Center for ABI in St. Louis. The oxygen question is apparently now less of a concern and appears to be instrument-driven, and Gary updated that with a newer post, Regaining its Graces — Driving Oxygen Down — Good for Budweiser. So while the plaintiffs may not have tested the beer — still odd, admittedly — there is apparently some reason to think their case may hold water after all.
Today is my friend and fellow beer writer Lew Bryson’s 54th birthday. You can read his writings at his website, lewbryson.com, and these days more often his blog, Seen Through a Glass. Then there’s also his Session Beer Project and his political Why the PLCB Should Be Abolished. Lew is my favorite big galoot and the brother I never had. Join me is raising a glass and wishing Lew a very happy birthday.
Over in Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the Groundhog — a.k.a. the Brewhog — raised up his head this morning and looked around, and this year did not see his shadow. You know what that means? It means an early spring, and earlier spring bock for us. You can see a video of Punxsutawney Phil here. And there’s more information about Groundhog Day from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
Today is the birthday of Jaime Jurado, who until last year was the Director of Brewing Operations for the Gambrinus Company, a position he’d held for over a decade. Gambrinus included several beer brands and breweries, including Shiner, BridgePort, Pete’s Wicked and Trumer. As of the beginning of last year, he moved to Pennsylvania, where he’s the brewmaster at Susquehanna Brewing Co. in Pittston. He’s an incredibly talented brewer. More importantly, Jaime is one of the nicest people I know in the business. Join me wishing Jaime a very happy birthday.
Jamie (far left) with some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie, Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Jaime last Thursday, delivering a chemical engineering seminar at Western Michigan University on some of the math underpinning sustainable engineering. He’ll also be presenting it again at the Craft Brewer’s Conference this coming March at CBC.
Today is the 45th birthday of fellow Pennsylvania transplant Marc Worona. Marc used to be the brewer at Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pennsylvania but several years ago moved to California and currently works with Brewers Supply Group. Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.
Marc (center) with Brendan Moylan and Denise Jones getting the top prize in the Chocolate Beer competition sponsored by Brewers Supply Group and TCHO chocolate company during CBC in San Francisco this year.
Out in front of the Bistro at the Double IPA Festival in 2008. Rodger Davis’ wife Claudia (who nworks at 21st Amendment), brewster Melissa Myers (working on opening her own brewpub), Shane Aldridge (brewer at Marin & Moylan’s) and Marc.