The secret to a stable society


Recreating the ancient chicha recipe used at Cerro BaulDonna Nash

❝ A thousand years ago, the Wari empire stretched across Peru. At its height, it covered an area the size of the Eastern seaboard of the US from New York City to Jacksonville. It lasted for 500 years, from 600 to 1100 AD, before eventually giving rise to the Inca. That’s a long time for an empire to remain intact, and archaeologists are studying remnants of the Wari culture to see what kept it ticking. A new study found an important factor that might have helped: a steady supply of beer.

❝ Nearly twenty years ago, Ryan Williams, Donna Nash, and their team discovered an ancient Wari brewery in Cerro Baúl in the mountains of southern Peru. “It was like a microbrewery in some respects. It was a production house, but the brewhouses and taverns would have been right next door,” explains Williams. And since the beer they brewed, a light, sour beverage called chicha, was only good for about a week after being made, it wasn’t shipped offsite–people had to come to festivals at Cerro Baúl to drink it. These festivals were important to Wari society–between one and two hundred local political elites would attend, and they would drink chicha from three-foot-tall ceramic vessels decorated to look like Wari gods and leaders. “People would have come into this site, in these festive moments, in order to recreate and reaffirm their affiliation with these Wari lords and maybe bring tribute and pledge loyalty to the Wari state,” says Williams. In short, beer helped keep the empire together.

Wouldn’t work, today. Too many calories for the populace at large. Too flavorful for the plastic tastebuds of our fake president.

Corporate beer overlords narrow choice for hosers

Nothing says America like an ice-cold can of lavishly marketed, insipidly flavored beer. That’s the calculation of AB InBev, the Belgium-based conglomerate that owns Budweiser, the brand that once towered over the US beer landscape like a giant beer-can balloon at a fraternity tailgate party. Earlier this month, AB InBev replaced “Budweiser” with “America” on the front of its 12-ounce cans and bottles sold in the United States, while also adorning the label with quotes from the Pledge of Allegiance, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and “America the Beautiful.” You’ll be able to pop open an icy America until the November election, after which Bud packaging will revert to normal.

Yet the gimmick, lampooned by John Oliver and celebrated by Donald Trump, is unlikely to lift Budweiser’s long-sagging US sales. And Bud Light, still America’s favorite beer and InBev’s crown jewel, is also fading in popularity. That’s why AB InBev is pursuing a megamerger with South African and UK rival SAB Miller. The $100 billion deal, which won approval by antitrust authorities in the European Union…would give the combined company about 30 percent of the global beer market by volume, analysts say, making it the source of about one of every three beers consumed on Earth. Brands include Bud (or, um, “America”), Stella Artois, Beck’s, Corona, and Leffe.

Volume really is the only way to calculate this amount of horse piss.

…To pass antitrust muster in Europe, the combined company had to agree to “sell almost the whole of SABMiller’s beer business in Europe,” Reuters reports. The United States and Europe are “mature”—i.e., slow-growing—beer markets. The real action right now is elsewhere. As Reuters puts it, AB InBev is “looking to boost its presence in Africa and Latin American countries to offset weaker markets such as the United States, where drinkers are shunning mainstream lagers in favor of craft brews and cocktails.”

Yesterday, the story broke that Asahi wants SABMiller’s Eastern European brands.

Here in the United States, corporate beer is a still-profitable but shrinking business. Brands owned by or affiliated with InBev and SAB Miller account for 71 percent of the US beer market. But people are spurning corporate swill and opting for brews from a rising tide of independent breweries focusing on flavor and regional identity. Known as “craft brewers,” these outfits saw their beer output grow 12.8 percent in 2015, even as overall US beer production dropped 0.2 percent…

Those numbers represent the slow hemorrhaging of US sales and profitability for the beer giants.

…AB InBev may fiddle with the branding of its flagship US product, snap up the occasional fast-growing craft brand, and use its heft to squeeze indie brewers, its gaze is really trained on untapped markets abroad.

About the only beverage with little bubbles in it I might think about consuming, nowadays, is my wife’s home-made hard cider. If I was going to imbibe storebought hops, it would have to be packaged by one of the several stellar local craft breweries here in New Mexico. Works for me – for taste and freshness.

This article is for those of you still living in that wide – but, thin – canal of choice that flows through the world of Talking Heads and halftime commercials.

Climate change can ruin your beer

Water is beer’s primary ingredient, and brewers are worried about having enough.

In 2011, it took brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Inbev 3.5 barrels of water to produce 1 barrel of beer. Due to concerns over drought and shrinking water supplies, the world’s largest brewer set a goal to drop that number to 3.25 barrels by 2012. It met that goal, and this week, Pete Kraemer, the company’s vice president for supply said that they had shrunk that number down to 3.15 barrels, with plans to drop it still further. For context, their plant in Houston alone produces 12 million barrels of beer each year…

Most of the water used to make beer does not make it into beer bottles — it ends up as wastewater, which in turn requires energy to treat. Matt Silver was a NASA researcher who decided to use his knowledge of life-support systems in space to create a water treatment system that turns industrial wastewater into electricity. The water that comes out of a brewery, for example, contains too much in the way of organic compounds to be dumped down the drain — but those compounds can feed microbes that turn it into methane, which can be used to heat and power a factory. His company, Cambrian Innovations, received seed money from the EPA, NASA, and the Pentagon and has been selling systems that do this to breweries like Lagunitas in drought-parched California…

Large brewers are also concerned about barley, the second ingredient of beer.

In recent years, heavy rains in Australia and drought in England have damaged barely crops. That pattern of heavier downpours and drier droughts is likely to accelerate as greenhouse gases trap heat and warm the planet, according to the National Climate Assessment. Anheuser-Busch Inbev receives a lot of their barley from Idaho. Howard Neibling, a professor in the University of Idaho’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, told the Houston Chronicle that farmers see less water coming as snowpacks decline, and have tried to become more efficient with their water usage.

The third ingredient of beer is hops, which is also facing pressures from a warming world.

A study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regions across Europe. “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now,” Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sustainability director Jenn Orgolini said in 2011. “Craft brewers — the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”

Beyond adapting to the impacts of climate change, however, some breweries are directly trying to lower their carbon emissions that help fuel climate change. Many are finding it’s also saving them money…

New Belgium Brewing Company last year was recognized by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for putting in place systems that allow it to divert 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill.

More examples in the article. And these are examples that can be repeated in industry after industry. Maybe it takes federal and local pressure to encourage corporate managers. Maybe it takes incentives. Either road, it’s our lives ultimately affected by turning our industries Green.

Thanks, Mike

Clerk uses duct tape to restrain shoplifter

When police arrived at the Weel Road Deli in Clallam Bay, Wash., to arrest a suspected shoplifter, they found the man duct-taped up into a neat little package outside the store.

After store clerk Cipriano Ojeda allegedly saw Alexander Greene, 28, walking out of the store with six beers and three bottles of malt liquor stuffed in his backpack, he confronted him.

The suspect wounded Ojeda, 46, in the forehead with a knife, but the clerk was able to restrain him and pin him to the ground.

When officers from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, they found Greene outside on the sidewalk with all four of his limbs bound with duct tape.

“We actually had help from another business’s employee down the sidewalk that helped duct-tape the suspect,” deli owner Marcia Hess told the Peninsula Daily News. “It was a team effort, [though] Cipriano definitely had him pinned down.”

Greene was arrested and is being investigated on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and third-degree theft.

Should be another exhibit in the Duct Tape Hall of Fame.

FAA spoilsports won’t approve beer drone deliveries for ice fishers

A brewery said plans for aerial drone beer deliveries for Minnesota ice fishing houses are on hold after running afoul of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jack Supple, president of Lakemaid Beer, came up with the plan for using a six-bladed unmanned craft to deliver 12 packs of beer to ice fishing houses and created a YouTube video depicting a test run on Lake Waconia in Carver County…

The video quickly went viral.

“Our Facebook page went wild because our fans loved the idea,” Supple said.

However, Supple said he soon received some bad news from the FAA, which sent him an email explaining commercial use of drones is not yet permitted.

“Our concern is the safety of people on the ground and the safety of people in the air,” FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Coryn said…

“I see what they’re talking about. When you think of all of the people who are going to come up with ways to use these, the regulation of it is going to be important, so they’re learning as fast as we are,” Supple said.

Face it. The Feds are a bunch of stiffs who are concerned that some plastic-chainstore brewery like Budweiser didn’t come up with the idea, first. I think Lakemaid Beer should get an open-ended trial and go ahead and do the work for the FAA. Plenty of room for slippery landings on frozen lakes in Minnesota.

Firefighter helps trucker put out fire – with the truck’s cargo


Will this become standard equipment?

When a Houston firefighter came across an 18-wheeler with smoke pouring out of it on Texas 71, he didn’t have any water with him because it was his day off…He got creative.

During a trip back from Austin with his wife, Capt. Craig Moreau was able to assist a truck driver putting out a brake fire on his vehicle by using the truck’s cargo — Coors Banquet beer.

“The brakes had caught and the tire was burning,” said Moreau. “I crawled underneath and thought we’d got it out but it flared back up. So I said to the driver, ‘what have you got in here?'”…

It’s beer! It’s all beer,” the driver said.

“Thankfully they were tall-boys,” Moreau said. “I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it all, he was so shaken up that the humor escaped him.”

All three people at the scene started shaking and spraying and cans of beer on the blaze and it was eventually extinguished.

“I have no doubt if the beer hadn’t been there, the whole trailer would have burned up,” Moreau said. “A few more minutes down the road and it may not have worked. It’s in our nature to help folks, but this is the first time I’ve done it with beer.”

Poisonally, I think this is about the best thing you can do with Coors Beer.

Georgia man has his priorities straight – survives house fire

fire and beer

Six adults, including Walter Serpit, and two children were in the living room of their Columbus, Ga., home on Thursday afternoon when smoke began pouring in. All eight people made it outside safely, but Serpit, with the aid of his cane, went back for what really mattered — his beer.

“I told them to get the kids out and everything, and me myself, being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out,” Serpit said. “You feel me?”

He was able to save several cans of beer and avoid getting burned. “I went back into the house like a dummy and the door shut on me because this back draft was about to kill me,” Serpit said.

Officials are still looking into what caused the fire but a newly-installed water heater might be to blame.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and the Red Cross is working to help get the family back on their feet.

Meanwhile, Mr. Serpit has time to reflect upon his adventure. And, hey, he made certain the family was safe before he went back for his beer. 🙂

Which booze is most likely to land your butt in the ER?

Nationwide, roughly a third of all visits to emergency rooms for injuries are alcohol related. Now a new study suggests that certain beverages may be more likely to be involved than others.

The study, carried out over the course of a year at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, found that five beer brands were consumed most often by people who ended up in the emergency room. They were Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light.

Three of the brands are malt liquors, which typically contain more alcohol than regular beer. Four malt liquors accounted for nearly half of the beer consumption by emergency room patients, even though they account for less than 3 percent of beer consumption in the general population.

Previous studies have found that alcohol frequently plays a role in emergency room admissions, especially those stemming from car accidents, falls, homicides and drownings, said the lead author of the study, David H. Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The new study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, is the first to look at whether certain brands or types of liquor are overrepresented.

No doubt there will be a specific niche libertarian who will declaim publication of this information as interfering with his freedom of choice. Choice to be a danger to his fellow humans.