California Reaches 700 Brewery Milestone

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The California Craft Brewers Association announced today that the number of breweries in the state reached 700, more then at any time in California’s history. The number of breweries has more than doubled in just the last four years. There are more breweries in the Golden State, by a wide margin, then any other state. Eleven of the breweries on the list of the nation’s top fifty craft breweries, as defined by the Brewers Association, are from California.

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California has more breweries than many countries. So it only makes sense that we have our own world class, statewide events. This September, the CCBA will put on the second annual California Craft Beer Summit and Beer Festival in the state capitol of Sacramento.

The three-day Summit includes 24 educational sessions, 60,000 feet of interactive displays, 450 beers, 160 breweries and unlimited tastings. It’s an amazing event, especially the huge beer festival. I’ll be there again this year, and if you work in any part of the beer industry, or want to, you should be there, too. Here’s more information about it from the CCBA’s press release.

“California continues to lead the nation’s craft beer movement and the Summit showcases the wild success of a community united over a common passion: craft beer,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA. “CCBA’s signature event is the ultimate opportunity for craft beer enthusiasts to join the tribe, learn from brewers and experts across the Golden State and taste the creativity and passion that serves as the foundation of the industry.”

Reigning as the largest California-brewed craft beer event of its kind, the 2016 Craft Beer Summit and Festival gives attendees a tasting tour through the state’s craft brewing landscape.

“At the Summit, beer lovers and brewers have the chance to experience wonderful techniques and ideas from the best of the industry,” said McCormick. “David Walker from Firestone Walker, Fritz Maytag, the founder of the American craft beer movement, the brewers and owners from AleSmith, 21st Amendment, Russian River Brewing Company, and many others will share their knowledge, history, expertise and passion with every person connected or passionate about the craft beer industry.”

Educational highlights at the Summit include:

  • How to start a career in craft beer from the hiring managers of Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Russian River Brewing Co. and other growing breweries
  • Advanced homebrew lessons, including how to go “off recipe” and explore yeast management, hosted by the homebrewers now running successful commercial breweries
  • Mock judging at a “Taste Like a Judge” session teaching attendees how rate and taste beers
  • The rise of sour beer as a style, including how to differentiate between sour beers and what you can expect in a wild ale versus a spontaneously fermented sour
  • How to develop a beer list for taproom managers and beer buyers looking to advance their offerings in the craft beer sector

“The Summit has become, in a very short period of time, one of the largest and most significant craft beer events not only in California but across the nation,” said Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company and president of the CCBA Board of Directors. “The unique part about the Summit is the bringing together of brewers, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and consumers all in one location, something I have not experienced to this level at any other event. I’m proud to be a part of this incredible state trade association as well as the second annual Summit.”

Early bird tickets, available online through June 30, 2016, include: 25 percent off the Summit Beer Festival ($45 at early bird, $60 regular price), single-day Summit entry ($99 early bird, $119 regular price) or full weekend packages ($219 early bird, $239 regular price).

Observe & Report The Next Session

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For our 113th Session, our host will again be Boak & Bailey. For their topic, they’re asking everyone to Observe and Report, a very specific Session mission, which they more fully explain in their announcement, Mass Observation: The Pub and The People.

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In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

We’re hosting the 113th edition of The Session in July and we’re asking you to go to the pub, observe, and report.

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

This is an extract from a typical entry from the original observation logs, probably from 1938, describing the Vault of a pub in Bolton:

13 men standing, 8 sitting. 4 playing dominoes. 2 of the sitters are postmen.

2 men, about fifty, short, sturdy, caps and scarves, shiny worn blue shirts quarrelling about politics. One keeps saying, ‘If ee don’t like the country why don’t ee go away? No one stops me getting a living.’ Then he suddenly shouts ‘Why shouldn’t the king and queen be there. I’m for them! They should be there.’ … Barman comes round with a small canvas bag, jangling it, asks me if I want a penny draw for a pie. So I put my hand into the bag and get out a worn brass disc about size of a half penny, which says Riggs Pies and has a number in the middle. The draw takes place somewhere else. Number 9 wins… and he gets a small hot pie, the sort you can get for fourpence.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

Over the years, people have fretted about Mass Observation’s attitudes to privacy and so, in line with original Mass Observation practice, you might want to anonymise the pub — city centre sports bar, suburban dining pub, industrial estate brewery tap, and so on. And it’s bad form to give names and details which might allow individuals to be identified from your descriptions.

And an Optional Extra

As a chaser, after your observations, write whatever you like spurred by the idea of ‘The Pub and The People’. Really, whatever you like, as vaguely related to theme as it might be. Or instead of making any observations, even. The main thing is that you feel inspired to write something.

pub-and-people-cresset
This is what my copy looks like.

If you’re curious about the book, The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (Mass Observation Social Surveys), used copies of two versions are available on Amazon, the original and Cresset Library reprint, or you can read excerpts on Google Books.

So anytime in the next couple weeks, get yourself to a pub or bar with your checklist, and start observing and reporting. Then post the results on or around Friday, July 1. Let the hosts know about your participatory Session post by either posting a comment to the original announcement or by tweeting the link to @boakandbailey. They’re playing fast and loose with the deadline for submission, so as soon as you get around to it in early July is probably fine.

observe-report-boak-bailey

The Downside To Working Long Hours

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A few months ago, Anheuser-Busch InBev head honcho Carlos Brito was quoted as saying that “every employee should behave like an owner-entrepreneur, committed to building the company.” That bullshit mantra favored by corporate leaders, known as “DWYL” (do what you love), is just another way to exploit workers, in the same way “monarchs used to tell about being ordained by God help us get through the day not by easing our pain, but by increasing our capacity for suffering.” As I noted at the time, I hate that way of thinking, and it completely pisses me off that they think anyone should fall for it. AlterNet had an interesting pice at the time that refuted that way of thinking, called Don’t Feel Like a Failure for Not Loving Your Corporate Job Enough.

Curiously, though not exactly a surprise, a recent meta-study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) entitled “Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data,” found that the more you work, the more at risk you are to drink too much. Anybody shocked to hear that? The study looked at 63 different studies, and in the aggregate reached the same conclusion. Too much work will drive you to drink. Here’s the abstract:

Objective To quantify the association between long working hours and alcohol use.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data.

Data sources A systematic search of PubMed and Embase databases in April 2014 for published studies, supplemented with manual searches. Unpublished individual participant data were obtained from 27 additional studies.

Review methods The search strategy was designed to retrieve cross sectional and prospective studies of the association between long working hours and alcohol use. Summary estimates were obtained with random effects meta-analysis. Sources of heterogeneity were examined with meta-regression.

Results Cross sectional analysis was based on 61 studies representing 333 693 participants from 14 countries. Prospective analysis was based on 20 studies representing 100 602 participants from nine countries. The pooled maximum adjusted odds ratio for the association between long working hours and alcohol use was 1.11 (95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.18) in the cross sectional analysis of published and unpublished data. Odds ratio of new onset risky alcohol use was 1.12 (1.04 to 1.20) in the analysis of prospective published and unpublished data. In the 18 studies with individual participant data it was possible to assess the European Union Working Time Directive, which recommends an upper limit of 48 hours a week. Odds ratios of new onset risky alcohol use for those working 49-54 hours and ≥55 hours a week were 1.13 (1.02 to 1.26; adjusted difference in incidence 0.8 percentage points) and 1.12 (1.01 to 1.25; adjusted difference in incidence 0.7 percentage points), respectively, compared with working standard 35-40 hours (incidence of new onset risky alcohol use 6.2%). There was no difference in these associations between men and women or by age or socioeconomic groups, geographical regions, sample type (population based v occupational cohort), prevalence of risky alcohol use in the cohort, or sample attrition rate.

Conclusions Individuals whose working hours exceed standard recommendations are more likely to increase their alcohol use to levels that pose a health risk.

working-hard

Unusually, the entire study is available online if you want to read the entire study, their methodology, the data sets and their analysis. But you probably don’t need to in order to come to the same conclusion. Being worked too hard by companies trying to squeeze every ounce of labor out of their salaried and even hourly employees is not good for them. People need to balance their work life with the rest of their lives. It may be a cliche that nobody every says on their death bed that they wished they’d spent more time at work, but that doesn’t make it any less true. As the class divide continues to widen, people are feeling increasing pressure to work longer hours just to keep their jobs, and employers are exploiting, encouraging and even requiring such behavior. In my own experience, my last corporate job required 60-hour work weeks, and I had to work from home a few hours every single Sunday, vacation, sick day, holiday or not. One of my biggest regrets was after having taken a week off to fly back to Pennsylvania to be with by father on his deathbed, he begged me to stay a few more days. The pressure to return to work was so great that I felt that I could not, and reluctantly I flew back to California. He died in his sleep while my plane was still in the air flying home to San Francisco. Our society is unhealthy when we’re expected to put our companies — which in reality care almost nothing for our loyalty and hard work, and would fire each and every one of us in an instant if it helped the share price or the bottom line — ahead of our personal lives. The more that becomes normalized, the worse off we’ll be as a nation. Working too long and/or too hard is not good for people.

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NBWA Brewery Count Over 4,800

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Some very interesting analysis from the NBWA, and their economist Lester Jones, about the number of breweries in America. Lester’s analysis uses slightly different metrics from the TTB and doesn’t define craft breweries as narrowly as the BA, and also the TTB doesn’t distinguish exactly what mat beverages are being made, if they’re licensed as a brewery then they’re included in the data. Those difference in calculating show the NBWA’s number for how many breweries there in America is 4,824, or over 550 more. But even more remarkable is that based on the number of “permitted breweries on record” at the TTB by the end of last year, that number could swell beyond 6,000, which seems absolutely crazy. The number is California alone, at 788, is just shy of 800. Sheesh!

Here’s the entire analysis below since the whole summary is worth reading:

Each year, the NBWA requests data from the TTB on tax paid withdraw volumes by size of brewery. Once again, this year’s TTB data provides some interesting brewing industry insights into the dynamics of the U.S. brewing industry. This data also is helpful for us to supplement the Brewers Association data on overall independent craft beer growth and brewery count. According to the BA, craft brewer volumes grew by 13 percent to 24.5 million barrels in 2015. The BA also reported 4,269 total operating breweries for 2015. As with all statistics, how the numbers are collected and reported can vary across organizations. In our industry, the numbers also change quickly.

As of April 2016, the U.S. domestic brewing industry had 4,824 reporting breweries according to the TTB. As with the BA’s brewery count of 4,269, this number is expected to change as additional new brewers are counted that may not yet have been fully recognized and/or reported by either the TTB or the BA data. The data presented below is for all types of malt beverage manufacturers and recognizes only the individual facility, not the ownership or control group.

Highlights from the 2015 TTB brewery count data include:

  1. The small brewer group (making less than 7,500 barrels) accounted for less than 2 percent of all domestic volumes yet accounted for 93 percent of all breweries. The smallest of this group has 566 breweries reporting less than one barrel of production each in 2015. These super small brewers can thank the contracting brewing industry for helping them sell almost 100,000 barrels – a figure well beyond their reported production capacity.
    The medium brewer group (making between 7,501 and 60,000 barrels) is a much smaller group consisting of 246 breweries, but these few breweries account for 1.6 times more volume than the 4,475 breweries in the small brewer group.
  2. The large brewer group consists of only 82 breweries making between 60,001 and 1.9 million barrels. This is a unique group within the industry as they pay the mixed rate federal excise tax of $7 for the first 60,000 barrels and $18 on each barrel over 60,001. While a much smaller group of only 82 breweries, they collectively produce more than four times the amount of beer as the medium brewer group. The large brewer group also has the largest range of production volumes and saw the fewest number of new entrants (17 breweries) into its ranks in 2015.
  3. Finally, we get the extra-large group. This is a group of only 21 breweries that produce more than 84 percent of all domestic beer – more than five times the amount made by all 4,803 combined. The closing of the MillerCoors brewery in Eden, North Carolina, will reduce this class of brewers by one in future reports and will take a significant-sized brewery offline for the first time in many years.
  4. The industry added around 1,500 new breweries in 2015 – that is equivalent to four new breweries a day entering the marketplace. As a highly capital-intensive business, starting small is the name of the game. Growing a beer brand takes a long time, and economies of scale are earned over decades. The largest U.S. breweries have been in operation for decades, and economies of scale should help maintain the beer volumes even in the face of declining per capita beer consumption.
  5. With more than 6,000 permitted breweries on record at the end of CY 2015, 2016 is set to be an even more competitive year for the brewing industry. Just as economies of scale drive the brewing side of the industry, logistical expertise and local market insights drive the efficiencies inherent in beer distributor networks. Working together and maximizing their comparative advantages, brewers, distributors and retailers will deliver unprecedented choice and value to American beer consumers in 2016.

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_1

Brewery counts by size 2015_Page_2

The Top 50 Annotated 2015

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This is my ninth annual annotated list of the Top 50, skipping two years ago because the BA provided that information then, so here again you can see who moved up and down, who was new to the list and who dropped off. So here is this year’s list again annotated with how they changed compared to last year.

  1. Anheuser-Busch InBev; #1 last ten years, no surprise
  2. MillerCoors; ditto for #2
  3. Pabst Brewing; ditto for #3
  4. D. G. Yuengling and Son; Same as last year
  5. Boston Beer Co.; Same as last year
  6. North American Breweries; Same as last year
  7. Sierra Nevada Brewing; Same as last year
  8. New Belgium Brewing; Same as last year
  9. Craft Brewers Alliance; Same as last year
  10. Lagunitas Brewing; Up 1 from #11 last year
  11. Gambrinus Company; Down 1 from #10 last year
  12. Bell’s Brewery; Same as last year
  13. Deschutes Brewery; Same as last year
  14. Minhas Craft Brewery; Up 2 from #16 last year
  15. Stone Brewing; Down 1 from #14 last year
  16. Sleeman Brewing; Down 1 from #15 last year
  17. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits; Rocketed up 20 from #37 last year
  18. Brooklyn Brewery; Down 1 from #17 last year
  19. Firestone Walker Brewing; Up 3 from #22 last year
  20. Founders Brewing; Up 3 from #23 last year
  21. Oskar Blues Brewing; Jumped up 9 from #30
  22. Duvel Moortgat USA (Boulevard Brewing/Ommegang); Down 4 from #18 last year
  23. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Down 4 from #19 last year
  24. Matt Brewing; Down 4 from #20 last year
  25. SweetWater Brewing; Down 1 from #24 last year
  26. Harpoon Brewery; Down 5 from #21 last year
  27. New Glarus Brewing; Down 2 from #25 last year
  28. Great Lakes Brewing; Up 1 from #29 last year
  29. Alaskan Brewing; Down 3 from #26 last year
  30. Abita Brewing; Down 3 from #27 last year
  31. Anchor Brewing; Down 3 from #28 last year
  32. Stevens Point Brewery; Same as last year
  33. Victory Brewing; Up 2 from #35 last year
  34. August Schell Brewing; Down 1 from #33 last year
  35. Long Trail Brewing; Down 1 from #36 last year
  36. Summit Brewing; Down 2 from #34 last year
  37. Shipyard Brewing; Down 6 from #31 last year
  38. Full Sail Brewing; Up 5 from #39 last year
  39. Odell Brewing; Up 1 from #40 last year
  40. Southern Tier Brewing; Up 1 from #41 last year
  41. Rogue Ales Brewery; Down 3 from #38 last year
  42. 21st Amendment Brewery; Jumped up 7 from 49 last year
  43. Ninkasi Brewing; Down 1 from #42 last year
  44. Flying Dog Brewery; Same as last year
  45. Narragansett Brewing; Not in Top 50 last year
  46. Pittsburgh Brewing (fka Iron City); Down 1 from #45 last year
  47. Left Hand Brewing; Up 1 from #48 last year
  48. Uinta Brewing; Down 2 from #46 last year
  49. Green Flash Brewing; Not in Top 50 last year
  50. Allagash Brewing; Same as last year

Not too much movement this year, except for a few small shufflings. The top is virtually unchanged, with only numbers 10 and 11 switching places. And apart from those two small changes, the top 13 were all the same as 2014. The biggest jump came from Ballast Point, which leapt up 20 spots, while Shipyard slipped the furthest, dropping six slots. Only two new breweries made the list; Green Flash Brewing and Narragansett Brewing. Off the list was World Brew/Winery Exchange, a California contract label brewer making private label beers for retailers, and Bear Republic Brewing.

If you want to see the previous annotated lists for comparison, here is 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Top 50 Craft Breweries For 2015

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The Brewers Association just announced the top 50 craft breweries in the U.S. based on sales, by volume, for 2015, which is listed below here. I should also mention that this represents “craft breweries” according to the BA’s membership definition, and not necessarily how most of us would define them, as there’s no universally agreed upon way to differentiate the two. For the eighth year, they’ve also released a list of the top 50 breweries, which includes all breweries. Here is this year’s craft brewery list:

2016_Top_50-craft

Here is this year’s press release. The last couple of years, the BA has helpfully annotated the list, saving me lots of time, since I’ve been annotating the list for the last eight years, but they’ve abandoned that practice this time around. So for the eighth consecutive year, I’ll also posted an annotated list, showing the changes in each brewery’s rank from year to year, but it will take me some time to put together so I’ll have that again later today.

The BA, this year, did create a map showing the relative location of each of the breweries that made the list.

Print

Craft Market Exceeds 12%

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The preliminary numbers for 2015 are out, and the news is again pretty damn good. The Brewers Association today revealed that craft beer’s share of market, which finally passed 10% last year, is now 12.2% of the total beer market, by volume.

From the press release:

In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels, and saw an 18 percent rise in volume and a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at $19.6 billion representing 19.3 percent market share.

“With the total beer market up only 0.5 percent in 2014, craft brewers are key in keeping the overall industry innovative and growing. This steady growth shows that craft brewing is part of a profound shift in American beer culture—a shift that will help craft brewers achieve their ambitious goal of 20 percent market share by 2020,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are deepening their connection to local beer lovers while continuing to create excitement and attract even more appreciators.”

But wait, there’s more.

Additionally, in 2015 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 15 percent, totaling 4,269 breweries—the most at any time in American history. Small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation, broken down as follows: 2,397 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs and 178 regional craft breweries. Throughout the year, there were 620 new brewery openings and only 68 closings. One of the fastest growing regions was the South, where four states—Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas—each saw a net increase of more than 20 breweries, establishing a strong base for future growth in the region.

Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 122,000 jobs, an increase of over 6,000 from the previous year.

“Small and independent brewers are a beacon for beer and our economy,” added Watson. “As breweries continue to open and volume increases, there is a strong need for workers to fill a whole host of positions at these small and growing businesses.”

If you’re curious how those numbers are calculated, BA economist Bart Watson posted an explanation of the 2015 Craft Brewing Growth by the Numbers.

growth infographic

The Dangers Of Full Beer Bottles Vs. Empties

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I’ve been slowing reading through the December issue of Mental Floss, one of my favorite magazines, and their lis of the “500 Most Important People in History.” At No. 77 is Swiss scientist Stephan Bolliger. Specifically he’s a forensic pathologist at the University of Bern, “and he often appears in court to testify as an expert witness.” But what caught my attention is a question that he couldn’t answer, but then preceded to examine scientifically. The question? What will do more damage in a bar fight, a full bottle of beer, or an empty one? And by damage, they specifically looked at which could break your skull.

So he picked up bottles of his favorite beer, Feldschlösschen Original, and got to work.

Feldschlösschen_Bier_aus_Flasche

You have to give him, and his team, points for taking a seemingly silly question very seriously. The results were published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine in 2009. The article was entitled Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?, and here’s the abstract:

Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. In order to investigate whether full or empty standard half-litre beer bottles are sturdier and if the necessary breaking energy surpasses the minimum fracture-threshold of the human skull, we tested the fracture properties of such beer bottles in a drop-tower. Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. Beer bottles may therefore fracture the human skull and therefore serve as dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.

I love that “duh” conclusion. Beer bottles may be “dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.”

But you can read or download the whole enchilada at Research Gate. Here’s some highlights:

1. Introduction

The examination of living or deceased victims of bar fights is not uncommon in routine forensic practice. These fights are commonly carried out with fists, feet, furniture, and drinking vessels. Depending on the state of the drinking vessels, namely intact or broken, different trauma forms are to be expected. According to a British group, 1 readily available one pint beer glasses such as straight-sided glasses, referred to as nonik, and tankards display a mean impact resistance of up to 1.7 Joule (J). The glass shards of shattered beer glasses may give rise to stab and cut wounds, which may sever blood vessels or other vital structures of the body. Indeed, glasses with lower impact resistance cause more injuries, 2 for which reason toughened glassware has been advocated. On the other hand, if the drinking vessels remain intact, they may serve as clubs. In Switzerland and various other countries, refillable (and therefore sturdy) beer bottles are commonly encountered in pubs and at festivals. In Switzerland, the half-litre, refillable beer bottle is, according to the authors’ own experience, a commonly utilized instrument in physical disputes. The authors have been asked at court whether hitting a human on the head with such intact bottles suffices to break a skull and whether full or empty bottles are more likely to cause such injuries. Obviously, this depends on the breaking properties of the bottle. If the bottle (full or empty) breaks at a minimal energy, no skull fracture is to be expected. On the other hand, should the stability of the bottle surpass that of the head, severe, even life-threatening injuries may be inflicted. We therefore tested the breaking energy of such beer bottles in a drop-tower as described below in order to estimate at which energies the bottles break and if this amount of energy exceeds the energy necessary to inflict serious injuries to a victim.

Bolliger-fig-2

2. Methods and materials

Ten (six empty and four full) standard 0.5 l beer bottles (Feldschlösschen Brewery, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, Fig. 1) were examined. The full bottles weighed 898 g, the empty ones 391 g. With multislice computed tomography (Somatom Emotion 6, Siemens Medical Solutions, D-91301 Forchheim, Germany) the wall thickness was measured. The minimal thickness was 0.2 cm and maximal thickness 0.36 cm (Fig. 2). To one side of the beer bottles, a 7.5  1.2  5 cm pinewood board was fixed using a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3a). The wood board served to distribute the very small impact point of the steel ball to a more realistic situation concerning the impact area of a beer bottle against a cranium. The modeling clay not only served as a fixing material, but also as a substitute for the soft tissues of the scalp. The bottles were then fixed horizontally to the bottom of a baby-bath tub with a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3b). A 1 kg heavy steel ball was dropped from different heights (minimum 2 m, maximum 4 m) onto the beer bottles in a droptower specifically designed for the testing of materials (Figs. 4 and 5). Depending on the region of the beer bottle, the wall thickness, curvature, and therefore the expected stability vary. As our aim was to assess the minimum breaking threshold, we let the ball strike the weakest part of the bottle, namely the bottom third of the shaft.

Bolliger-fig-4

In this discussion, they came up with the following equation to describe the energy in the real life situation.

Bolliger-equation

“E is the energy, MN is the mass of the bottle, MT is the mass of body part moving the bottle, i.e. the arm and shoulder (which can be assumed to weigh 2.5–4 kg) and W is the work performed by the muscles.”

If one considers the masses of the bottles, namely full bottles weighing 898 g and empty ones 391 g, a full bottle will strike a target with almost 70% more energy than an empty bottle. In other words, it takes less muscle work to achieve a greater striking energy when fighting with a full bottle, even though lifting the bottle requires slightly more energy.

And here’s the full conclusion:

5. Conclusions

Empty beer bottles are sturdier than full ones. However, both full and empty bottles are theoretically capable of fracturing the human neurocranium. We therefore conclude that half-litre beer bottles may indeed present formidable weapons in a physical dispute. Prohibition of these bottles is therefore justified in situations
which involve risk of human conflicts.

However, further studies involving different bottle types and an examination regarding the extent of brain damage is needed to assess the overall danger originating from bottle-related head trauma.

Bolliger-fig-5

The New York Times, in reporting Bollinger’s findings, has a more succinct description

Bolliger’s conclusion: Full bottles shatter at 30 joules, empties at 40, meaning both are capable of cracking open your skull. But empties are a third sturdier.

Why the difference? The beer inside a bottle is carbonated, which means it exerts pressure on the glass, making it more likely to shatter when hitting something. Its propensity to shatter makes it less sturdy — and thus a poorer weapon — than an empty one. As for the ubiquitous half-full bottle, if you hold it like a club, Bolliger says, “it tends to become an empty bottle very rapidly.”

empty-beer-bottles-large

The Credibility Crisis Of Science Journals

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Regular readers will no doubt know how much I hate junk science, especially when it’s used as propaganda by prohibitionist groups to further their agenda. In the ten years since I started the Bulletin (and the 25 years since I’ve been writing about beer) I’ve been watching a growing trend of prohibitionist groups sponsoring questionable “science” and then turning around once they’ve got the conclusion they paid for and trumpeting to the world that science supports their position, which I detailed a couple of years ago Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Propaganda. In some cases, the studies even involved their own staff. I’m sure it was naive to think this is an issue confined to anti-alcohol fanatics, because clearly it’s not. It’s been an education in itself and over the years I’ve gotten much better with How To Spot Bad Science.

The other related issue is that even rigorous studies are often misused as propaganda when they often aren’t as ironclad as the people using them might hope. This practice was detailed in Studies Show Studies Don’t Show Much, which talked about jumping to conclusions too quickly when a study is preliminary, uses a small sample or needs to be reproduced and replicated before anything definitive can be said with certainty. And that, I just learned is a bigger problem for all journal articles, not just the ones I’ve been noticing.

According to Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist, who writes online at Science Set Free, there is a The Replicability Crisis in Science. By that, he means; “The credibility of science rests on the widespread assumption that results are replicable, and that high standards are maintained by anonymous peer review. These pillars of belief are crumbling. In September 2015, the international scientific journal Nature published a cartoon showing the temple of ‘Robust Science’ in a state of collapse.”

temple-of-science

In recent years, countless studies have been found to be faulty, not reproducible, making them all but useless. As other scientists have relied on them, which used to be a reasonable assumption since the journals are peer-reviewed, the science that’s coming after is equally flawed, because it’s based on bad science. And we’re not just talking about a few. “In 2011, German researchers in the drug company Bayer found in an extensive survey that more than 75% of the published findings could not be validated.” It gets worse. “In 2012, scientists at the American drug company Amgen published the results of a study in which they selected 53 key papers deemed to be ‘landmark’ studies and tried to reproduce them. Only 6 (11%) could be confirmed.”

Why is this happening? Sheldrake has a theory.

Unfortunately, personal advancement in the world of science depends on incentives that encourage these questionable research practices. Professional scientists’ career prospects, promotions and grants depend on the number of papers they have published, the number of times they are cited and the prestige of the journals in which they are published. There are therefore powerful incentives for people to publish eye-catching papers with striking positive results. If other researchers cannot replicate the results, this may not be discovered for years, if it is discovered at all, and meanwhile their careers have advanced and the system perpetuates itself. In the world of business, the criteria for success depend on running a successful business, not on whether business plans are ranked highly by business academics, and whether they are often cited in business journals. But status in the world of science depends on publications in scientific journals, rather than on practical effects in the real world.

Meanwhile, the peer-review system is falling into disrepute. The very fact that so many unreliable papers are published shows that the system is not working effectively, and a recent investigation by the American journal Science revealed some shocking results. A member of Science’s staff wrote a spoof paper, riddled with scientific and statistical errors, and sent 304 versions of it to a range of peer-reviewed journals. It was accepted for publication by more than half of them.

This is apparently enough of a problem that it even has its own Wikipedia page, and is known as the Replication Crisis. And Science News had an article entitled Is redoing scientific research the best way to find truth?

reproducibility_piechart

But it’s hard not to see another culprit. Science News also offered 12 reasons research goes wrong, and included “fraud” at the end, stating that “fraud is responsible for only a tiny fraction of results that can’t be replicated.” I suppose that depends on how you define it, and I think I’d say it might include the type of junk science where somebody is hired to find a specific result rather than find out what the result might be in a specific situation. That’s the type I see more and more in the field of alcohol studies being sponsored by prohibitionist groups.

Prohibitionists and other groups have been perverting science for their own ends for years, using it to hoodwink an unsuspecting public, who still trusts the studies they’re reporting, to promote their agenda. It’s become a common tool of propaganda. This is detailed quite well in the classic book How to Lie with Statistics, but even more forcefully in the later expose Trust Us We’re Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future. It’s unfortunate, but prohibitionist groups aren’t really interested in health or safety. Like almost all non-profits, they’ve become more interested in sustaining themselves, which means raising money has become the real goal. This was revealed with startling clarity at an alcohol policy conference held a couple of years ago, which I reported on in The Neo-Prohibitionist Agenda: Punishment Or Profit. It’s about money. Isn’t it always?

But sadly, science is supposed to be science, and should be free of the entanglements that cloud so many other fields. And once upon a time, I like to kid myself, it probably was. But is it sure seems as corrupt as the rest of the world to me now, and that can’t be good for the present, and especially the future. Because it’s only going to get worse. I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that supports that. And if not, I can always fund my own. Apparently that’s how it’s done.