Beer News Flows Through the Holidays

Suds with a sack of sliders? White Castle is testing beer and wine sales at one of its stores in Indiana. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

White Castle burger chain considers alcohol sales

The holidays are normally a slow time for news, which is why so many media outlets resort to year-end “listicles” to tide you over. Not so with beer news, apparently, which came at a furious pace this week. Here’s a recap of what you may have missed from around the country:

• A federal judge in Texas struck down a longtime Lone Star State statute that required breweries to label any beer containing more than 4 percent alcohol by weight “ale” (anything less could be called “beer”). As any beer geek will tell you, all ales are beers, but not all beers are ales (some are lagers). So it was silly that brewers of, say, a Vienna lager had to put “Ale in Texas” on the beer’s label. Not anymore. Calling the requirement a restriction on commercial speech, Judge Sam Sparks compared the antiquated law to “defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ ” Props to Judge Sparks for making me Google “echolocation,” and to Austin, Texas, craft brewery Jester King, which helped champion the litigation against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

• White Castle is testing beer (and wine) sales at its Lafayette, Ind., store. A spokesman for the slider slinger says the chain may expand the concept to other locations, depending on sales in Lafayette. I can’t imagine craving a chardonnay with my sack of burgers at 1:30 a.m., but a beer sure would be nice.

• Get ready for a new “taste-flow can” coming this spring from MillerCoors. The technology includes puncturing a second hole in a can, so the beer flows better. Where I come from, that’s called “shotgunning.” Perhaps that’s why MillerCoors CEO Tom Long tells the Wall Street Journal, “Young people really like it.”

• Bud Light is looking for someone to be its Super Bowl XLVI correspondent. The reporter would set up camp in the “Bud Light Hotel” in downtown Indianapolis and file video dispatches for the brand’s social media channels. A unspecified salary is promised, but I’m guessing the line about exclusive access to a Playboy party will entice plenty of applicants.

• Without the multimillion-dollar marketing budgets of megabreweries, craft breweries are always looking for efficient (read: cheap) ways to spread the word. Mother’s Brewing Co., a small, brand-new outfit in Springfield, Mo., seems to have hit the jackpot with its riff on the old “Laverne & Shirley” opening credits. The video, complete with a workglove on a bottle of beer, has racked up nearly 40,000 hits in less than a week. That’s more beers than Mother’s has sold in its brief lifetime.

• Mother’s isn’t the only Missouri brewery having some fun at work. New Haven’s 2nd Shift Brewing Co. has received federal label approval for the next beer in its Big Fancy Bottle Series. Brew Cocky is described as an India pale ale with 9 percent alcohol by volume and hopped with Falconer’s Flight, a blend of Northwest hops.

• For good measure, here’s one listicle: My Top Beers of 201

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