RBPMail 2.11, November 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 emailed to subscribers. Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.

In this issue:


Sixty-years ago, the average Belgian consumed 200 liters/year; the average is nearly half that now at 106 liters/year. Breweries' profits have been maintained by increased consumption of more expensive specialty beers. And to counterbalance stale home sales, Belgian beer-makers are looking abroad. From 1980 to 1994, exports doubled to 460 million liters, a quarter of the country's total production. From 1992 to 1994, beer exports to the United States almost doubled to 1.5 million liters. Chimay brewery export manager Michael Weber says that Chimay accounts for 1/3 of all Belgian beers sold in the United States. (Source: Paul Ames, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday March 26, 1996, Business, Pg. 11)

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Microbrewery stocks slipped after Boston Beer Co. Inc., maker of Samuel Adams beers, said its orders were lower than expected in its third quarter earnings announcement. The company's stock dropped 20%, or down $3.50 to $12.50, an all-time low, on the New York Stock Exchange after announcing October/November 1996 orders grew only 5.5% over shipments for the same period last year. It posted earnings of $2.3 million, or 11 cents a share vs. $1.8 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier. Three brokerage firms promptly downgraded the stock. Other specialty-brewing stocks to drop included: Redhook Ale Brewery Inc., down $1. 31, or 8%, to $14.69; Pete's Brewing Co. lost 37.5 cents, or 5%, to $7.375. Pyramid Breweries Inc. and Nor'Wester Brewing Co. also fell.

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China, showing potential to become the world's largest beer market by the turn of the century, has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 22% in the country's beer market since 1983. Per capita consumption a year in China is 12 liters, slower than the 92 liters in the US. China now has more than 800 breweries, but the top ten among them only occupy 10% of the domestic market. And 5% of all beer sold in China is brewed by overseas-funded enterprises in the country. Anheuser Busch invested extensively in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province in 1995, and now holds 80% of the "middle- and high- quality" beer market in the region. The local Budweiser company plans to raise its annual production capacity from the current 60,000 tons to more than 100,000 tons next year. AB also bought 5% of stock share of China's famous Qingdao Brewery, the country's largest brewery, ten years ago. (Source: Xinhua News Agency, 10/19/96)

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If you want to avoid the crowds, concerns about availability or just want a easy shopping experience for friends and family this holiday, try buying online. From Beer Of the Month Clubs to Brew School, Publications Subscriptions to Stocks in Micros, we have it for you. If you like the ideas here for yourself, print out the page and leave it around in handy places as a hint....

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Beer Of the Month Clubs- a great way to introduce friends and family to the craft

800 Microbrew

Malt Of the Earth

Brew on Premise/Custom Label Beers

Custom Brew Haus

Subscriptions - Keep informed year-round


Brew Magazine

Brew Your Own



The Malt Advocate

Midwest Beer Notes

Southern Draft Brew News

Yankee Brew News

Buy a Brewery- for the professional brewer on your list

AAA Metal Fabrication Inc

American Brewers Guild

Bohemian Brewing Co.

DME Equipment

Hop Union

John I. Haas, Inc.

Five Star Products and Services, LLC

Merchandise- Right from your favorite suppliers

Beer Masters Tasting Society

Blue Hen Beer Company, LTD.

Brew Moon

Brew Tees

Clipper City Brewing Company

Danse-Skjold Brewing Company

Faultline Brewing Co.

Flying Fish Brewing Co.

Gritty McDuff's Brewpub

The Hart Breweries, Ltd.

Pyramid Breweries

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.

Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe

McAuslan Brewing

Portland Brewing Co.

Redwood Coast Brewing Company

Rogue Ales

The Shipyard Brewery

Triple Rock Brewing

Twenty Tank Brewery

Vanberg & Dewulf

Books, CDs & Tapes

Will Anderson's Most Recent Book

Beaumont's Books & Tape

1997 Craft-Beer Calendars

Octoberfest CD-ROM

Brew Tours & Camps

Beer Camp!

Portland Brew Bus

Euorpean Brewery Adventures

Stocks- may your generosity grow over time

Boston Beer Co.

Franconia Brewing Company

Pyramid Brewing Co.

Spring Street Brewing

You can also visit a web listing of beer merchandise at:

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Molson Breweries unit lost the rights to brew Coors Light, Canada's top-selling light beer commanding over 5% share of the beer market. An arbitration panel ruled that Molson relinquished its right to brew and sell Coors products in April 1993 when Miller Brewing Co. acquired a 20% stake in the Canadian brewer without Coors' consent, a breach of its licensing agreement with Coors. Molson Breweries is also owned 40% each by Molson Cos and Australia's Foster's Brewing Group Ltd. The panel ordered Molson to pay Coors all the profits it earned from selling Coors beer since 1993, an amount that has yet to be determined. Coors Light and Original Coors brands produced by Molson account for 8% of its sales volume. In a new deal, Coors will likely seek more control over its brands and higher royalties from Molson.

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Under the guise of curbing illegal production of alcohol, the government passed legislation in July which put beer, vodka and other strong drinks into the same category. The law will require producers to apply for a special license as well as attaching a special seal to every bottle they produce. Vladimir Ulanov, general director of Moscow's Tryokhgorny brewery, said the country's beer industry could collapse if the government did not repeal the law. "On Jan. 1, 1997 all Russian brewers could simply be forced to stop producing beer," he told a news conference, adding that the country's major brewers would unite to lobby the government. "Beer is not vodka -- we make it in great volumes. We can turn out 48,000 bottles an hour," Ulanov said. "We are not ready for this law and do not have the machinery to comply with it. We'll have to take on an army of people to add the seals by hand, which will immediately cut production by 75%." The law would put more pressure on Russian beer makers at a time when they were confronted with increasing imports and a simultaneous drop in demand.

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******* WEB WATCH *******


By popular and convincing demand, respondents to our Quickie Survey last month told us to bring on a weekly, subscription-based email newsletter. The new venture, "BEERWeek (TM)," is a collaboration of The Celebrator ( and the Real Beer Page ( BEERWeek (TM) will deliver timely news, events and fun tidbits every Monday and is tailored for the Beer professional and enthusiast who needs up-to-the-minute industry information. The publication will be entirely subscription and sponsor-based, much like public broadcasting (without the quarterly fund-raising drives). On November 18 you will be receiving a complimentary edition of BEERWeek (TM) along with access to an archive of past issues. You can sign-up now for the 1- year charter rate of $25.00 U.S. at:

Loyal readers of RBPMail should be assured that BEERWeek (TM) will not diminish or compromise the free delivery of RBPMail, which we target to deliver to you the first week of each month.

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Founded by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield and based in Cooperstown, NY, Vanber & Dewulf are the leading importers of specialty beers from Belgium and French Flanders to the U.S.. Don & Wendy began importing artisanal microbrews from Belgium in 1982, after living in Belgium for four years. When the ad agencies they worked for in Belgium transferred them back to the U.S., they obtained the importing rights to Duvel, from Moortgat brewery. Since then, the line has grown to 30 beers from 9 independent, family run breweries. They bring their informed evangelism to the Web in their new site that includes news, reviews, food pairings and merchandise for Belgian Beer Culture. Of special interest may be Don's monthly "Foaming at the Mouth," of which the most recent edition adds another perspective to the topic of our editorial this month (see below). Pictures are also available for the progress of their Belgian-style brewery covered in last month's RBPMail. See it all at:

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Self-described as "an unapologetically opinionated view of what's brewing across the continent and around the globe," Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer picks up steam in its third issue. See articles about: Coors Freed From Molson Licence Deal; Les Bières de Montréal; The Basketball Beer Diaries - a story about our favorite brewrs over two meters; The Return of Cantillon for lamic lovers and more. If you have not seen the site, yet, beat a path to a new beer bookmark at:

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************ Real Beer Picks ************



Greetings, Earthlings. We invite you to orbit the Brew Moon web site. Hit the launchpad and download the moonrections if your coordinates are locked in on Massachusetts. New sites are opening around the Boston area and now around the WWW at:


Ale By Comparison has taken the beer-of-the-month club concept, and added a delicious twist. Hot salsa! Diverse flavors such as peach rum, cactus, and garlic zinfandel. So if you're looking for a companion for your monthly beer selection or for that hot, Holiday gift, check them out:


Baltimore Brewing Company, proud brewers of DeGroen's beers, melds tradition and innovation, with consistently tasteful results. Their unique culinary approach blends the best of German, American and regional Maryland cuisines. Hearty and satisfying, their dishes, enjoyed within view of the beautiful copper brewhouse, complement DeGroen's fresh beers superbly. Learn more about what's brewing in Baltimore:



Really...with this hot, new CD-Rom, you can learn the history behind the October Beer Festival, learn to yodel, or play interactive Oktoberfest games! It'll be the hit of your next beer gathering or a great holiday gift, so check it out:



That's really their name and really their URL, sort of. ABT provides consulting services to breweries around the world on everything from equipment acquisition to business analysis. Learn more at:


Spring Street Brewing Co. has a second offering now available at their site at And, if you're interested in what their Internet Stock offering Brew-ha has inspired, see the Internet brokerage and offering company at:


Northampton Brewery of Massachusetts has moved URLs for a final time to:


Beer Master's Tasting Society has added a Beer Glossary and Style Guide to their Master's Corner


Tony and Jan Durning will soon be promoting their dream on the world wide web...Draught Horse Brewing Company of Yardley, PA. Their web site will contain information about the start-up operations of this brewpub and their initial public offering. Keep your eyes peeled!

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Thanks to all who responded to last month's Quickie Survey. Cheers to Jen Sorensen winning a brand-new (or hardly used) Real Beer Page Tee in our random drawing. We wanted to clarify some statistical information about the Real Beer Page audience through querying about gender -- we thought that perhaps our data would change using an email response over a Web form. In fact, our email survey delivered identical results as our Web survey of 3648 Real Beer Page viewers:

Male 90%

Female 10%

We're puzzled by these results because craft-beer seems to be a subject that reaches across every gender, belief-based, racial, geographical, social and economical boundary.


Real Beer Page User Demographics:

25-40 years old 59%

40+ years old 31%

Most Likely Place to Enjoy A Beer:

At home 69%

* From 1996 Survey of 3648 Real Beer Page viewers compiled by PSTAT


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************ Brewed Fresh For You! ************

The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:

AAA Metal Fabrication

Beer Is My Life

Boston Beer Co.

Faultline Brewing Co.

Gritty McDuff's Brewpubs

Hop Union

John I. Hass

Malt of the Earth

Real Beer Feedback

Spring Street Brewing Co.

World of Beer

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In a renewed effort to amend Florida's archaic beer bottle size law, concerned citizens have formed the grass-roots organization, "Florida Consumers Beer Association." For 30-years the state has required breweries to sell their beers in 8, 12, 16 or 32 ounces, prohibiting hundreds of microbrewed and imported beers in 22-oz. and other sized containers from entering the Florida market. The organization is seeking businesses and individuals who support its effort in assembling a list of supporters for presentation to state Senators and Representatives encouraging them to introduce a bill in the 1997 legislative session to eliminate bottle size restrictions. For more information or to share your support, the association may be reached at: O.O. Box 24691, Tampa, FL 33623. 813.977.0141. (Source: Sara Doersam, Southern Draft Brew News, , Oct./Nov. '96 issue, Pg. A-5)

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A Florida bill (H.B. 2709) allowing brewers exemption from the requirement that "Florida" or "FL" be affixed to the top or bottom of beer containers entering the state became law in June. The bill, which originated in the Committee on Regulated Industries, requires that breweries demonstrating 85% efficiency rates in tracing beer from the brewery to Florida distributors may petition for exemption from the crown stamp requirement (FL Statute 563.06). By the year 2000, beer manufacturers will be required to show 90% beer tracking reliability to qualify for exemption. (Source: Sara Doersam, Southern Draft Brew News, , Oct./Nov. '96 issue, Pg. A-5)

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A herd of thirsty elephants 45-strong in search of water destroyed several illegal breweries in Midnapore, India, a district 62 miles southwest of Calcutta. "The elephants destroyed six illegal breweries in two days. They are notoriously famous for their fondness for liquor and are great guzzlers," Indian forest officials said. (Source: item unverified; forwarded by email from Marc Milrod @ University of Washington)

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Before launching into the heart of this editorial, I need to frame the situation at hand: NBC ran a segment on Dateline Sunday, October 13 under the guise of consumer advocacy regarding truth in labeling. I'd like to suggest that it had very little to do with truth or labeling and appeal for all aware to focus on the real issues of the debate.

For the benefit of those who did not see or are unaware of the implications of the piece, let me expand on the situation towards my conclusion that NBC, the same folks caught red-handed blowing up trucks in the past to make a story, have descended into a new low through corporate stenography presented as news.

NBC ran commercials a week before airing the segment teasing the piece with the following: "Those high-priced microbrews Americans are spending millions on... Before you take your next sip, there's something you should know..." An industry moderated listserver forum began a lengthy thread with the following excerpted posting:

"...What are your thoughts on the promos that NBC ran in the days leading up to the story. I've heard from one pub-brewer in Pennsylvania who said his business was down 25% the week before the show because people were scared by the 'Don't drink another microbrew before you watch Dateline' [message]. He said some of his regulars called and asked him, 'What's wrong with microbrew? Is there some health risk?'"

During the actual piece, NBC unfolded what the mainstream public may consider news, but what the beer press and Real Beer has covered since early this year in terms of the "label" conflict. You might recall that we presented the issue through critical analysis as "Legislative Marketing" on the part of Anheuser-Busch and that A-B would be trying to create confusion in the class while building their portfolio. The most glaring flaw of the NBC piece was the lack of investigative reporting to find a story beyond the A-B party line. In the presentation of the issue, NBC implied that contract brewers mislabel their product to deceive the consumer. When Jim Koch, a target of A-B's most aggressive attacks, was interviewed, poor lighting and an implication of a drinking problem ("Jim Koch still tastes from every batch of beer they brew... And he wasn't shy about doing so during our interview" followed by several cuts back to Koch sipping his beer) further slanted the piece towards A-B's Legislative Marketing angle. When a softly-lit A-B spokesperson, Francine Katz, presented her case, she cast aspersions freely on all competitors without debate.

And this brings us to the heart of our case. The pretense on behalf of NBC about the consumer was deceitful. We know that NBC was informed -- as we reported in previous RBPMail -- that A-B spearheaded changing the labeling laws to simplify brewery identity several years ago. This failed to be reported. We know that NBC learned about many of the other factors fueling the growth of the craft-beer segment of the beer industry. The problem we have is that NBC was brewing up a story that fit their angle, which is consistent with the A-B angle. This is the essence of corporate stenography. The most dangerous element of the assumption of journalistic integrity is that the debate is proposed and answered by the corporation.

Why would NBC risk the integrity of a news team that has bears the equity of Brokaw, Rather and Jennings? Let's start with self-interest. As the piece mentioned, A-B is "one of the biggest television advertisers." In fact, they spend $60 million dollars each year with NBC - over $1 million each week. And, GE, parent company to NBC, also has an investment subsidiary that purchased 10% of Red Hook, of which A-B owns 25%. That makes creating confusion in the microbrewing and specialty beer market pretty motivating.

I'm not writing this piece just because of my personal outrage over GE/NBC's corporate broadcasting: the day after the segment aired, I heard a camera-person from another station say "microbreweries are all fakes." You may find this hard to believe if you have traveled to any place brewing charactered beer, but 98% of the market are not as aware micros as you are. And if they saw the Dateline show, they got exactly what A-B wanted them to have - a confusion about the market that they can eventually satisfy with A-B product and marketing. The point is that the debate is about the debate.

When discussing the Dateline piece with other publishers, we found ourselves falling into the trap of considering the merits of truth in labeling. This is a straw-dog argument, meant to confuse the issue and divert attention from A-B's ultimate goal which is control of the market place -- of beer, and apparently, ideas.

What can we do? Talk about the Dateline piece. Not about the labeling, but about how NBC and A-B are trying to influence the debate in American about specialty beer through creating confusion. Bring it up in conversations over the next several weeks to learn who saw the show and what they learned or walked away with. If you can, educate them about the reality of the specialty beer segment: some people microbrew; some contract brew. All have points of contact on the bottle or distributor contacts from the retailers that can clarify whether a beer is contract brewed or not, if that is a vital issue for you. The most important point to make is that the success of the specialty segment has been at the expense of A-B, which is fighting back with their control of the distribution channel, the airwaves and through legislative marketing. But they will not fight back by influencing the debate if we have something to say about it.