Weekly Mix Pack: National Parks, Beer on Wheels, and Gateway Drugs

By Brett Vanderbrook - Six fresh stories for you to crack open and enjoy!

Season two of Beer Geeks is now well underway, and we hope you've enjoyed the Rogue and Noble Ale Works episodes. If this is news to you, I implore you to stop reading this article right now and go watch. For those of you all caught up, you may continue to our selection of beer stories, which we have carefully curated for you this week. You may just get an education about one of Europe's oldest brewing regions today. Read on!

1. Americans Are Drinking Less But Spending More on Fancy Booze
Despite an overall decline in how much Americans drink in recent years, the amount they're willing to spend has gone up. Beer is what experts consider an "affordable luxury" and with a bevy of craft beer options out there, it's easy to see why consumers would be willing to shell out a few extra bucks. The same trend can be seen with wine, spirits, and cider as well.

2. Is Ice Cream Flavored Beer a Gateway Drug?
Recently New Belgium Brewery and Ben & Jerry's teamed up to brew a beer called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. Predictably, critics came out of the woodwork to ask us to "please think of the children" stating fears that beer with an ice cream label might give kids the wrong idea. However, this author aptly points out that Ben & Jerry's is already known for some more "adult" themed ice cream names.

3. Des Moines Bar Features Most American Craft Brews in Country
If you're an indecisive drinker, you'd best avoid El Bait Shop in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. After recently installing 60(!) new tap lines, they now boast over 180 beers on draught, purportedly the most in the country. While that feat is certainly impressive, I'm always weary of bars with too many taps. With that much product, there's never a guarantee that the beer is fresh.

4. Czech Pilsner: Bohemian Rhapsody in a Glass
Although we now recognize the Czech Republic as one of the greatest brewing nations on earth, it has a long and complicated history with some not-so-brights spots. And it wasn't until 1842 that the crystal clear beer made from unkilned grain and spicy Czech hops was first brewed by Josef Groll. The beer still exists today under the name Pilsner Urquell.

5. Beer on Wheels
Considering the popularity of food trucks, it's not entirely unexpected that someone made the logical leap to "beer truck." Mel Wood, owner of The Hop Shop in Spokane, WA recently purchased a 1982 Blue Bird bus that she converted into an 8-tap mobile bar called The Tap Mobile (but affectionately nicknamed Black Betty.) She plans to serve at parties and events, as well as in the parking lot of the Hop Shop.

6. National Parks Ink $2.5M Marketing Pact with Anheuser-Busch
Waiving its own policy about partnerships with alcohol producers, the National Parks Service has signed a controversial 2-year, $2.5 million deal with A-B which will see Bud cans and bottles wrapped in the image of the Statue of Liberty, as well as A-B themed events in the parks. The deal is meant to raise money and awareness for the NPS's centennial, which it celebrates this year.
Tomorrow, Beer Geeks season two continues with Michael Ferguson heading to the Yakima Valley in Washington, the region where the vast majority of all hops grown in the US are found. He'll be visiting the folks at 47 Hops, who are growers and purveyors of hops. For all you IPA-lovers out there, you won't want to miss this look behind the scenes at the men and women who grow and sell those little green flowers that give your beer the floral, bitter kick you so crave!

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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