|Cinco Beats St. Pat's
Cinco de Mayo has grown into one of America’s
booziest holidays – with revelers consuming more
beer on this day than on the Super Bowl or even
St. Patrick’s Day this year for the first time.
Alhough a lot of people are convinced the holiday
celebrates Mexican independence, which is actually
celebrated on Sept. 16, it actually marks the
anniversary of a small skirmish, the 1862 Battle of
Puebla, when a desperate group of fighters
defeated a French Army in part of the War of
Just release statistics show that during the week of
Cinco de Mayo last year, Americans bought more
than $735 million worth of beer and related malt
beverages. Mexican imports did especially well.
Corona beer, Mexico's top-selling brand in the
U.S., spent more than $2 million on national TV
spots for Cinco de Mayo – or $1 for every case
Corona sells during the week leading up to May 5.
US macro producers were not far behind.
Beer Into Booze
A growing group of producers are turning craft beer into booze. Even the Germans have been
distilling beer into the hard stuff for generations, typically in the form of slightly sweet products with
names like bierschnaps or bierbrand—takes on schnapps or brandy, respectively, made from beer.
Recently, G. Schneider & Sohn, producers of the classic German beer Aventinus, added a distilled
version to their portfolio called Edelster Aventinus. Meanwhile, Japan’s famed Kiuchi Brewery has
been distilling beer for over a decade, making a boozed up verison of their Hitachino Nest White.
The godfather of American craft beer distilling is Marko Karakasevic, Master Distiller, took the
highly rated Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA, and processed it into what might have been the first—
whiskey distilled from an American IPA, the Charbay Whiskey R5.
In a basic sense, all whiskey begins life as beer. Whiskey distillers start by fermenting grains (just
like beer brewers do) to release sugars that yeast will eventually convert into alcohol. But, the
primary difference with whiskey is that this fermented product is never intended to be drank. So,
producers never refine the mixture with additional ingredients, like hops. What sets all beer spirits
apart is that, before distillation, the beer has been finished in a way that makes it drinkable—
identical to the kind of brew you’d find in a six-pack on store shelves.
And there’s a reason most beer rarely becomes a spirit. Working with a finished beer product is
what makes beer spirits so unique, but it’s also what makes them more costly, both to produce and,
ultimately, to buy. For example, if you get a 6,000 gallon tanker of gold medal-winning IPA (a huge
expense) and then you'll have to sit on it for like years and watch it evaporate away. You’re losing
three to four gallons a year, and after 10 years there’s 40 gallons gone out of one barrel. So your
yield goes down and your cost goes up, and it’s harder to sell a $75 bottle of whiskey because
everyone likes to spend $35. None the less, the future of distilled beer is bright as long as
distillers concentrate on bring the complexities of beer’s delicious flavors to the liquor.
the crossroads of the beer world
Craft brewers draw inspiration from all sorts of
unusual sources including now, Broadway shows.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's insanely popular hip-hop
musical "Hamilton", which just won a Pulitzer, has
spurred a new craft beer from a brewer in the
Bronx NY called Gun Hill Brewing Co. The new
brew is a collaboration between the craft brewer
and two Broadway actors, Mark Aldrich and
Jimmy Ludwig, who dreamt up the idea of
Broadway-inspired beers last year — but
producers were mostly befuddled by the idea of
such a collaboration, at least until the duo
approached Hamilton with the idea.
The creators wanted something "really drinkable,
really accessible" with "a distinctly American
quality so they chose to utilize rye, which was a
popular crop for the colonies during the
Revolutionary era. The result is Rise Up Rye,
The beer will be available at local NY bars but
strangely not at the play itself despite the fact
that beer and drinks are served before, during
intermission, and after the play.