Brew News: Beer Crimes and Beer Miles

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Brew News: Beer Crimes and Beer Miles

Running made better with beer, an heirloom grain sees new life, a spate of beer related crime, Belgian beer gets cultural designation and monks in Italy are brewing beer to restore their town. Read on for all the beer news fit for print.

Austin: The four-minute (beer) mile

You’ve probably been to “beer Olympics” at a local bar comprising of several boozy events that are anything but athletic. Not so in Austin, where the third annual FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships go down on December 17. The beer mile, for those unaccustomed to vigorous sprinting in between rounds, features contestants running four laps of a track and chugging a beer before each lap. Last year, both the women’s and men’s records were broken. The competition should be fierce as “…six of the nine fastest men ever in the beer mile and four of the seven fastest women” will be on-hand. The women’s record was set by Erin O’Mara at 6:08 minutes and the men’s record by Corey Bellemore at a blazing 4:34. You can watch the action unfold for free over at And, in case you were curious, the men’s and women’s records for the non-beer mile currently stand at 3:43.13 and 4:12.56, respectively. Amateurs.

Lansing, Mich.: The grist of the matter

Though the Michigan State Spartans football team may have had a down year, a heritage grain bearing the same name is set to see an upswing. Spartan barley was developed by a breeder at the university back in 1916 and was grown across the state, but as new, more efficient grains gained popularity, it fell out of use and hasn’t been cultivated in more than 50 years. New Holland Brewing plans to use the barley to brew a limited-edition lager dubbed Russ’s Revival, a nod to the MSU researcher who resuscitated the nearly extinct grain. “When I heard about Spartan barley, it struck me as the perfect opportunity,” said New Holland brewmaster, Steve “Bert” Berthel. “This is a way to celebrate not just MSU and its contributions to agriculture but our whole state. When you hear the story behind Spartan barley, it’s pretty difficult not to want to make a beer with that.”

National: Beer crime on the rise…

The cost of beer is proving prohibitive for some leading to several questionable attempts to either acquire malted beverages or express displeasure at the cost of a six-pack. In West Odessa, Texas, police arrested a man after he endeavored to steal a 30-rack with a broken beer bottle. The plan was foiled when deputies rolled in on the heist in action and subdued the suspect. Meanwhile, in Missoula, Mont., an avid homebrewer awoke to find an intruder raiding his refrigerator, making off with a cache of…two beers. The beer bandit was apprehended a block away with plunder matching the description of the missing items in his backpack. Lastly, in Riverside, Calif., a fiery version of Beer Wars broke out when a liquor store went up in flames. The culprit turned out to be the owner of a rival beer seller disgruntled by the loss of business caused by his adversary selling cheaper booze.

Belgium: The eighth wonder of the world

Beer and Belgium have history and now UNESCO has deemed the pairing a significant cultural phenomenon. Belgium applied for, and was granted, admission to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. According to UNESCO, “…the list includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance.” In total the list comprises 281 “elements” ranging from the obvious (Tango for Argentina and Uruguay) to the obscure (the art of Chinese seal engraving) to the badass (Falconry! in Mongolia). Belgium’s application stated that beer “…plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions. Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country including by some Trappist [monk] communities.”

Italy: Devine intervention

While Americans were busy prepping for Halloween, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy. Among those places hardest hit was Norcia, home to Basilica of St. Benedict and their small scale beer making operation. Producers of Birra Nursia Extra and Birra Nursia Blonde, the monk inhabitants returned to find their monastery in shambles but the brewery surprisingly mostly unscathed. According to the The New York Times piece, the monks plan to move brewing operations to a safer location where they can continue producing beer in an effort to raise funds to help in the reconstruction of their town. Head brewing is the responsibility of Brother Augustine Wilmeth who told The Times that Nursia was, “the only monastic beer in the world that is made exclusively by the monks.” Their website goes on to describe the final product as “purely a monastic creation” stemming from complete collaboration throughout the entire brewing process by all monks.

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