Venezuelans struggling through the country's
economic crisis will find it increasingly hard to drown
their sorrows after the country's largest brewery
announced it was halting beer production because
of a barley shortage. Cerveceria Polar, maker of
the country's best-known brands of beer, said it will
run out of the key ingredient by May 1, and is
unable to get more because it can not access
dollars to pay importers under socialist President
Nicolas Maduro's tight currency controls.
Venezuela holds the world's largest oil reserves,
but the sharp fall in global crude prices has
exacerbated the decline of its socialist economic
model. With its main revenue source collapsing,
the cash-strapped government is unable to meet
business' demand for the dollars they need to
buy goods and materials abroad.
The import-dependent economy contracted
5.7 percent last year, its second year of recession,
and inflation came in at more than 180 percent. -
An Israeli brewery has resurrected a 2,000-year-old beer using a wheat strain that
would have been around when Jesus was growing up in Nazareth.
The Jerusalem-based Herzl brewery has long had a flair for experimentation. They have
made all sorts of quirky beers over the years, including one called “Embargo” that is flavored
with Cuban cigar leaves, So it was not surprise when Herzl’s owner, Itai Gutman, found out
that geneticists at Tel Aviv University had identified a 2,000-year-old strain of wheat, he immediately
thought of how he could incorporate it into a drink. "I just contacted them and
within a few days I had several kilograms of this material,” Gutman told the Jerusalem Post.
“We just started to process and eventually is this beer that we're drinking.”
Soon enough, Gutman had brewed up a batch of beer that might taste like the boozy
beverages that were around in biblical times. As Reuters’ Dan Williams reports, the end result
tasted a bit like honey and berries, although it was flat and cloudier than most modern beers.
Gutman only made a single five-gallon batch of the brew, which was promptly drank by the
brewers."We were curious about being able to come up with the first 'biblical' beer," Gutman
said. When asked about the beer's commercial possibilities he quickly said. "It's really
not the kind of flavor that has a market."
Herzl isn’t the only craft brewery to look to the past for inspiration. Delaware’s Dogfish Head
Brewery has a special line of “Ancient Ales” that it brews following instructions derived from
archaeological finds and traditional recipes. One beer, called “Midas Touch,” was inspired by a
chemical analysis of a beer discovered in King Midas’ tomb that dated back to 700 B.C. Another,
called “Theobroma,” is made with cacao and based on an alcoholic beverage that the Aztecs
served to sacrificial victims before ceremonial rituals. Another is based on a traditional Peruvian
drink called “chicha,” that is made by chewing up raw corn and spitting it into the brew bucket .
the crossroads of the beer world
|Market Bears Attack Boston Beer
Shares of Boston Beer Co. fell as much as
12% recently after the craft brewer announced
weaker-than-expected first-quarter 2016 results.
Quarterly revenue fell 5% year over year, to
$188.8 million, as a 6% decline in core shipment
volume was only partially offset by price
increases over the past year. That resulted in a
48.8% drop in net income. The lower volume
combined with the higher planned spending and
excess brewery capacity significantly affected our
financial results for the quarter
Boston Beer is scaling back advertising,
promotional, and selling expenses to a smaller
than planned increase They are also reducing
capital spending by over $10 million.
Boston Beer is having a more difficult time taking
market share of late as competition intensifies
from not only larger brewers muscling their way
into the space but also smaller brewers
expanding regional distribution.