RBPMail 2.02, February 1996

Real Beer Page Mail (RBPMail) began as a modest update to craft-brew events on the WWW. It evolved into a news digest and sometimes editorial forum. We present its contents here much as they were emialed to subscribers. Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.

In this issue:

You Think You've Got A Monopoly? Try South Africa!

This story falls under the "you think you got it bad..." genre. It's monopoly one-upmanship in the industrial beer world. You may pause in awe, amusement or disgust when you consider that nearly half of all the beer sold in the U.S. is produced by Anheuser-Busch. That includes industrial beers by Miller and Coors (see next article) and the second shelf of national brewers. Imagine this stat as a single consumer, pouring an average beer -- 45 parts A-B, 22 parts Miller ... etc. You get the idea -- you get an average, industrial, "fizzy beer." As you'll see in some of the remaining articles, the big brewers are responding to the consumer spending message with concern, attention and -- at times -- deceptive or misleading strategies. Off the Associated Press newswire, we read of two areas that may have it worse off than the U.S.

In Thailand, Boon Rawd, producer of Singha, claims 82-85% of the market, a slight drop from 90% when government regulation handed them the monopoly. That drop, represented by incoming Carlsberg and Heineken, does not affect Boon Rawd's bottom line as household income increases in Thailand. Their total beer sales for 1995 were 635 million liters, up from 505 million in 1994 and more than 2x the 288 million 4-years earlier. Averages annual sales growth has been just under 20% and is expected to double by 2002.

Meanwhile, over in Africa, South African Breweries (SAB), have been implementing an aggressive expansion strategy through buying into money- losing breweries in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, China and Hungary as cash-strapped governments privatize them. The $8.7 billion dollar conglomerate, third largest of in the country behind two mining giants, controls 98% -- **98%** -- of the South African beer market of 23.5 million liters, the continent's largest. Flagship brands are Castle and Lion. Boycotting these brands will literally leave you dry.

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Who Cares? They'll Drink It!

Miller has splashed the media with a new beverage creatively dubbed "Miller Beer." The brand experts must have been trying to justify their salaries when they came up with this one: the press release describes the beer as targeted at Bud, "full-caloried", price-pointed at $3.50-$4.25/six pack and rolled out in Texas, Florida and Louisiana in February. Did we miss something? Conspicuously overlooked are small details about the qualitative experience of the beer. What flavor profile will the beer have? Do they plan on using any detectable hops? Will the alcohol be created by corn sugars or rice grits? Gravities? Follow our lead on this one brethren and sisteren, only trust a beer that 's produced by a real brewer who cares about the details.

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More Industrial Beer Inanity

None of the "bigs" are off the hook this month. Hoof-in-Mouth award goes to Coors spokesperson, Jay Downer, while describing a new beer produced exclusively for Tennessee called Memphis Brown. The beer is described as "a low-calorie dark beer ...[with] the molasses taste of a dark beer, but the thick flavor disappears quickly." Here comes the winning quote: "It's easier to drink low- caloried dark beers compared to other dark beers that can leave a customer falling asleep or feeling full," said Downer (perhaps he deserves an award for his name, too) In the world of mass-consumed beers, one might feel full or drowsy after polishing a twelve-pack of any beverage. But craft beer wasn't designed to be consumed massively. Downer must be assuming that their move into more substantial beers will bring the same drinking habits the large breweries have traditionally banked on by creating beers that can be consumed without notice. By the way, the opening market slogan for the beer is "Don't Fear This Dark Beer." We should all feel a little uncomfortable that these guys are educating the market with their advertising weight. Source: The Commercial Appeal, Memphis 1/10/96, Business pg. 9B.

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Wildlife Banned In Ohio

Both the bird and the frog were banned from Ohio in a single swift decision by the Ohio Liquor Control Board. Actually, it was a frog flying the bird -- you know: the finger; the international peace sign; the victory or "we're number one" salute sans the index finger -- on the label of Bad Frog Beer that was considered obscene and banned for sales in the state. The beer with questionable taste apparently tastes good -- it won a bronze medal in the ale category at the 1996 World Beer Championships conducted by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago. Bad Frog is contract brewed at the Frankenmuth Brewery. To see the logo and learn more about the beer in question, check out: (No longer available.)

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Home Brewers Beware Of Chronic Yeast Infections

If you or your spouses gets a yeast infection that won't quit regardless of remedies, your brewer's yeast may be to blame. According to a report published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, brewer's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, may also give rise to vaginitis. Although it looks and acts like an ordinary yeast infection caused by Candida albicans, treatments are necessarily different. Through DNA screening of four "incurable" patients exposed to live yeast, Paul Nyirjesy, M.D., director of Temple University's Vaginitis Referral Center, discovered that the yeast from the subjects matched samples of yeast from their environment. Yeast infections due to casual encounters with S. cerevisiae are relatively uncommon. Nyirjesy estimates not more than 5% of chronic yeast infections stem from casual contact. He recommends that those exposed to the live yeast with recurrent infections should ask for a culture; standard smears studied under a microscope don't always reveal its presence. Treatment includes 600 milligrams of boric acid in suppository form for 14 days. Prevention is easier - wash hands with soap and water along with scrubbing under finger nails following handling live yeast. Source: Shape Magazine, 2/96 pg. 30.

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Home Brewers Make A Little, Sam Makes Out Big

Boston Beer, contract brewers of the Sam Adam's brand, announced the winners of their World Homebrew Contest. 1620 beers from seven countries were judged, ten were chosen to brew small pilot batches from which three finalists were selected. The grand winners are James Simpson of New York for an American Pale Ale, Jeffrey Grisold of British Columbia for a Bavarian Black Beer and Doug Parker of Florida for a Hazlenut Brown Ale. All entrants received a tee-shirt and some hops. Grand winners earn $2000 in travel vouchers to a national beer event of their choice and $5000 royalty on the commercial beers that will be made from their recipe. That's comes to $21,000 for grand-prizes as the cost create three new brand products for a company that spent 46 million in advertising in 1994. Pretty thrifty and sharp, Mr. Koch.

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Two's A Trend, Five's A Movement

Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, CA is commonly credited with reviving the craft-brew movement in the U.S., and nowhere has the movement taken off so quickly, loyally and early as the Northwest. So, it should be no surprise to craft-brew web surfers that the Northwest has grown fastest in embracing the Web as another forum to express their enthusiasm and spread the good word. Join us here for a quick brewtour of the Pacific Northwest on the Web:

We start our journey at one of the earliest Northwest breweries to the web, where the active surf rests beneath cliffs topped with giant redwoods near the Oregon border of California. Lost Coast Brewing Company ( was founded by, Barbara Groom, one of the country's first female microbrewers since revolutionary time and produces the delicious and beautifully labeled Downtown Brown in Eureka, CA. Traveling up the scenic stretch of coastline to Newport, OR you'll find the dastardly hopped creations of John Maier at Rogue Brewing ( In Portland, the city with more breweries per capita than any other city in the world, you'll enjoy Portland Brewing ( Across the Willamette River that divides the City of Roses you'll arrive at Nor'Wester ( One hour by car or a millisecond by hyperlink will land you at the very cool Heart Brewing in Seattle, WA, producers of Thomas Kemper Lagers and Pyramid Ales ( Take the tour online by opening saving this mail to disk and opening the file with your web browser:

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The Name Thorn - Editorial

Would a rose by another name smell as sweet? The big news in the last week was a complaint lodged with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by Anheuser-Busch and 35 microbrewers asking for rules requiring the label to contain the real brewer's name.

Miller struck back the next day in a statement that said "As quality beers ...continue to build popularity, Budweiser continues to suffer significant declines in sales. The industry leader is looking to use a government agency to stifle competition." Lori Handfelt, a Coors spokes person echoed these sentiments saying that A-B's petition is "a response to a competitive situation" stoked by the market popularity of microbrews and specialty beers. The BATF responded the same day saying that it may force brewers to list brewing origin information on their labels.

At the Real Beer Page, we're all for consumer advocacy and accuracy in marketing, which often starts at the label. So, what does Coors and Miller have to hide? George Killian's and Blue Moon, both Coors products, use the Unibev label. Miller's Red Dog, Icehouse and Southpaw brands are sold under the Plank Road Brewery name. A-B may be lobbing rocks at glass houses - their Elk Mountain has the Anheuser-Busch name displayed on the back of the neck label in letters 1/8 if an inch high. All of these brewers are trying to distance their company name with these products to fool an uninformed public into thinking there is something special about their industrial brew. It's branding that attempts to exploit the good name created by the hard work, passion and dedication of craft-brewers who invest more in their cost of materials than any major brewer ever will. We've heard reports that the craft-brewers amount to less than 2% of sales in the U.S., but up to 10% of hops sales. Ralph Olson puts the number at a more conservative 5-6%, which is still three times more than large brewers.

We think the issue differs when it comes to some contract brewers, but the outcome should be the same. Pete's Brewing does not pose as a microbrewer, although they may soon be able to if recently plans to build their own brewery succeed. Boston Beer's commercials used to be misleading about the nature of hand-craftsmanship among other things. But now both of these marketing companies, along with Rhino Chasers in Southern California are investing in educating about beer styles, quality, character and diversity. For the most part, what they do is great for the business. We still would like to see mention from Sam Adams that it is brewed by Stroh and G. Heilman. Petes should say "brewed under contract" by Stroh until they get their own brewery. And so on.

Want a true microbrewed red canine beer? Onalaska Brewing Co. who's annual production is below 300 bbls/year, built and run by Dave & Sue Moorehead, are the producers of the "original" RED DAWG ALE. "In Washington we spell 'Dawg' correctly," writes Dave. For brewers like Dave and Sue, we advocate better labeling and support the A-B initiative, however competitive be their motivation.

While we're on the topic of factual labeling there's another thorn that's been in our paw. If we accept that brewing is an art steeped in tradition and culture, and -- like wine -- receives prominence and position from this historical context, we should respect beer definitions as well. In the wine industry, the names Bordeaux and Champagne are appellations -- reserved exclusively for wines made in these regions. All other wines, even those emulating the style of wines from these areas, have earned new names. Lambic, Trappist and Kolsh beers are also appellations. Sam Adams did not make a lambic this year, but they named a beer "Lambic." Many breweries we've seen across the states are breaking out beers designed after those made in the Koln/Cologne region. The problem we have is that American Brewers are calling these beers Kolsh. We prefer Hart Brewing's nod to tradition with their "Kalsh" beer, a combination of "Kolsh" for the style of beer and "Kalama" where much of the product is brewed. And any brewer passing off a Trappist beer better have a Belgian Monk in their brewery. As an industry it's important that we maintain the integrity of our tradition.

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Real Beer Page Additions

New Companies:

Bad Frog Brewing Blue Hen Brewing Company DME Equipment Manufacturing: Nor'Wester Brewing Shipyard Brewing New Content: Check out the excellent editorial by Ben Myers and Gregg Smith at

Both are extremely knowledgeable and gifted writers and their topics span the range from beer styles to beer festivals, homebrewing to beer poetry. Both also hold the distinction of heading up the North American Guild of Beer Writers.

New People: We've put in place a growing national network of representatives to service the U.S. Craft Brew Marketing effort on the WWW. We are also in the process of creating relationships in Canada and other parts of the U.S. To support the marketing infrastructure and continue to evolve the Real Beer Page into a world-class site, we've also added technical and design specialists to our team. Please join us in welcoming:

Representation: Sebbie Buhler - NY, PA Jamie Magee - MA, CT Scott O'Neill - CO Steve Strong - Midwest

Administration Sadie Honey

Technical Resources Mike Wood - Sys Admin John Keeling - Communications Design John Par... - Technical Support