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Dec 20, 2014

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RBPMail 2.12, December 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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:


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BRITISH BREWERS WANT 20% BEER DUTY CUT

Britain's brewers called for a 20% reduction in beer duty, claiming it would stem the flow of French alcohol into the country. Using the Treasury's own economic model, the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association suggested a 6p cut in tax on a pint of bitter to 24p would be the encouragement consumers need to buy their beer at home rather than across the Channel. Some 1.1 million pints of beer travel into Britain from France, where the duty is only 4p a pint. The research, by Oxford Economic Forecasting, showed that cutting duty would close the price gap between French and British brews. Customs and Excise figures show the Treasury was down L110 million last year in lost duty from beer from the Continent. The research claims the cut would lift beer sales by 3 1/2% to 10.3 million pints a year. (Source: Helen Slingsby, Evening Standard, November 13, Pg. 33)

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COORS DISCRIMINATION SUIT DISMISSED

A federal court in Denver dismissed an age-discrimination suit filed by seven former security employees against Coors. In a verbal summary judgment, the Judge said the employees had signed away their right to sue when they willingly accepted severance packages. The former employees claimed that Coors forced them to leave or retire in 1993, then hired younger replacements. Coors has denied the allegations. (Source: Wall Street Journal, November 19)

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COORS SHARES AGENCY WITH TEXACO

UniWorld Group Inc., the black-owned $133 million advertising agency called in by Texaco to clean up an image and business crisis in the aftermath of settling a large discrimination suit, also represents Coors, Colgate-Palmolive and Phillip Morris' Kraft Foods.

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******* STOCK WATCH *******

MENDOCINO STOCK OFFERING ONLINE

Mendocino Brewing Company, one of the country's first microbreweries continues to innovate with an online prospectus for interested and qualified investors.

http://www.mendobrew.com

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THIS PIECE OF ROCK FOR CANADIANS ONLY

Big Rock Brewery, Ltd. said it is planning a public offering in Canada of between 12 million and 15 million Canadian dollars (US$9.2-11.1 million) of common shares. The Calgary, Alberta beer concern said it intends to use proceeds to finance marketing expenditures in new and existing markets, to fund expansion of its beer-fermentation capacity and to repay debt incurred during recent construction of a brewery. The company said the new shares, which haven't yet been priced, won't be offered in the U.S. (Source: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 2)

http://www.bigrockbeer.com

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MORRIS GETS A BUY; MILLER ONLY DECLINE

Industry analyst Ellen G. Baras recently initiated her company's coverage of Philip Morris Companies Inc. of New York with flair -- and a "buy" rating. "Philip Morris is a cash machine," Baras said in her Oct. 22 report for Nesbitt Burns Securities Inc. of Chicago. "From 1996 through 1999, we estimate Philip Morris' cumulative free cash flow will exceed $13 billion." Baras said Philip Morris has used excess cash to share repurchases and a 20-percent increase in its dividend in recent years. Cigarettes are the fuel that runs the Philip Morris "cash machine, " responsible for about 65% of operating income. "Litigation remains the single biggest threat to Philip Morris and the domestic tobacco industry. Philip Morris has the resources and the determination to aggressively defend itself in court." Philip Morris's non-tobacco businesses, including Kraft, are often overlooked by investors, Baras said. "The Kraft division ($17 billion in sales) is the largest domestic food processor and Miller Brewing ($4.3 billion in sales) is second in beer only to Anheuser-Busch," she said. Beer will be the only Philip Morris business to post a decline in operating income in 1996. (Source: Dan Shope; The Morning Call - Allentown, PA, with information from; Bloomberg Business News, November 24, 1996, Business, Pg. D5)

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STROH SUBPOENAED OVER ADS

Stroh Brewing Co., which received a subpoena December 2 in the Federal Trade Commission's unprecedented investigation of alcohol ads on television, says it was first contact by the agency in July after a commercial for its Schlitz Malt Liquor ad mistakenly aired during a show about teenage girls on MTV. The commercial ran between 8-9pm during "My So-Called Life," a show about girls growing up. Stroh executives said the agency contacted the brewer days later, asking for information on the placement of the ad after an FTC official had seen the commercial while watching the show with his daughter. The company responded that the ad ran because of a mistake by MTV. Stroh informed the FTC that it had put in place "additional procedures" to ensure that beer ads don't run on certain shows, including "My So-Called Live" and "Beavis and Butt-head." A spokesperson for MTV Networks confirmed that the placement was erroneously made "because of a last-minute programming change." (Source: Sally Goll Beatty, Wall Street Journal, December 3)

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DISTILLERS BACK ON BROADCAST

The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., DISCUS, whose members represent 90% of the distilled spirits sold in the U.S., voted to unanimously overturn the industry's decades-old voluntary ban on television and radio advertising. The decision comes five months after Seagram started airing TV commercials for Crown Royal Whiskey. Spokes people for the three major broadcast networks which currently don't air liquor ads, said their policies would remain the same. Privately, broadcasters worry that a government crackdown on liquor advertising could lead to curbs on lucrative beer commercials. DISCUS said its move was designed to "end discrimination against distilled spirits products" and give liquor marketers the same opportunities as beer and wine advertisers. Beer companies spend more than $600 million annually in radio and television advertising, and another $90 million on print ads. Sprits makers spend about $320 million on print annually. DISCUS claims that Liquor's absence from TV and radio had fueled a "mistaken perception" that spirits are "harder or worse" than beer of wine, and thus deserve harsher social, political and legal treatment. To reassure critics concerned about alcohol abuse and excessive youth drinking, DISCUS has also revised its code to include a list of 26 provisions aimed at promoting responsible liquor ad practices. (Source: Sally Goll Beatty, Wall Street Journal, November 8)

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1994 PACKAGED BEVERAGE CONSUMPTION PER CAPITA

** Total 103 gallons

Soft Drinks 51 gallons

Beer 23 gallons

Fruit Drinks 13 gallons

Bottled Water 10 gallons

Ready-Made Teas 2 gallons

Wine 1.8 gallons

Sports Drinks 1.7 gallons

**Does not include coffee and milk

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A-B TO BUY MEXICO'S LARGEST BREWER

Anheuser-Busch plans to exercise an option to acquire as much as 50% of Mexico's largest brewer, Grupo Modelo SA before the options expire on December 31, 1997. The intentions were telegraphed in an SEC filing the week of November 11. A-B paid $477 million for an 18% stake in Grupo Modelo. Analysts say that A-B has been waiting for an advantageous time to capitalize on the peso's value against the U.S. dollar before action on the transaction. (Source: Wall Street Journal, November 18)

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MOLSON CREDIT PROPS COORS EARNINGS

Coors reported profits gains of 13% in the 3rd quarter, but earnings would have fallen except for a $4.1 million after-tax payment from Molson Breweries of Toronto. Without the Molson credit, Coors would have earned $14.6 million for the quarter, well below the $16.5 million a year earlier.

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AMCRAFT ON THE MOVE

American Craft Brewing International announced today that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Atlantis Import Company, Inc., a New Orleans-based national distributor of imported beers. "AmBrew International will gain a domestic distribution channel for micro-brewed beers from our planned network of micro-breweries abroad," states Executive Vice President and COO James Ake. "Most immediately this will involve Crooked Island Ale and selected beers from our South China Brewing Company micro-brewery in Hong Kong. Then, beers from each of the 20 new micro-breweries we plan to open in Europe, Asia, and Latin America over the next 25 months." Mr. Ake notes that while each of the Company's micro-breweries will primarily serve its local marketplace, sufficient capacity will be available to permit limited exports to the U.S. and possibly other markets as well.

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FLORIDA UNHAPPY HOURS :-(

"One of our goals is to eliminate happy hour," said Judy Alexander, state director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Sen. Fred Dudley, R-Cape Coral is working to terminate the predusk ritual, but he faces one of the most powerful lobbies in the state: the hospitality industry. Happy hours, said "encourage a high consumption in a short period of time and put people out on the road." Last year, he proposed a bill that would have made happy hour a financial failure for restaurants and bars. It died a quick death in a committee. So far, 20 states have outlawed happy-hour specials, forbidding such deals as dollar drafts, two-for-one drinks and ladies' nights in an effort to curb drunken-driving incidents. The first restrictions began 10 years ago in Massachusetts after a fatal post-happy-hour accident. (Source: Don Fernandez, Orlando Sentinel Tribune, November 30)

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

BEERWEEK SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED

BEERWeek, the weekly, subscription-based email beer news digest, has delivered its news at 12:01am each Monday morning for the last several weeks. Over 100 readers currently enjoy the new venture, a collaboration of The Celebrator (http://www.celebrator.com) and the Real Beer Page (http://realbeer.com). BEERWeek delivers 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 is entirely subscription and sponsor-based, much like public broadcasting (without the quarterly fund-raising drives). You can sign-up now for the 1-year charter rate of $25.00 U.S. at:

http://BEERWeek.com

Loyal readers of RBPMail should be assured that BEERWeek 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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DO YOUR SHOPPING ONLINE

With only days left before the major holidays, your time and worries can be satisfied by shopping right online. Check out the Real Beer Page merchandise page for beer of the month clubs, magazine subscriptions, calendars, CD-ROMs, books and a veritable "BrewTique" (to use the term coined and trademarked by Gritty McDuff's) of beer tee shirts, mugs, caps and collectibles - literally hundreds of items to choose from. Just added are Great Providence Merchandise, RogueWear and new offerings from BrewTees. Cheers!

http://realbeer.com/rbp/rbp.merch.php

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BEER SITES TO SURF:

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

BIG ROCK BREWERY

The company who has delivered great tasting beers by the names of Buzzard's Breath, Grasshopper Wheat, Albino Rhino and more now bring their great artwork and style to the Web in a new site. Just in time to do some research about their stock offering:

http://www.BigRockBeer.com

STEPHEN BEAUMONT'S WORLD OF BEER

This month's "unapologetically opinionated view of what's brewing across the continent and around the globe" features reviews of elegant and appropriate gifts for friends and family this holiday. In fact, we think we're going to pick up one of those beer tapes of his to listen to while we sip our winter beer in a new beer snifter -- all reviewed in this month's WOB.

http://www.WorldOfBeer.com

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BELGIAN IMPORTER FLOWETH WITH RIGHTEOUS THOUGHTS In his rabid foamings at the mouth this month, Don Fineberg discusses how alcohol "protection" produces anti-competitive red-tape that actually acts as a disservice to the consumer. You can read it at:

http://belgianexperts.com/opinion.htm

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PACKAGING PLUS

One of the nation's leading suppliers of packaging material, including beer glass, crowns and carriers, food glass and cosmetic packaging now has a web site that currently highlights many of their offerings to the beer industry. They

have included the ability to download specifications and blueprints of their beer

glass and soon to come technical information and specifications on all of their

packaging offerings.

......http://packagingplus.com

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BALTIMORE BREWING COMPANY

Make sure to stop by Baltimore Brewing Company, proud creator of DeGroen's beers, updated web pages. Learn about their GABF gold medal winning Pils as well as all of the others products available both at the brewery and from their

web site.

http://degroens.com

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UPDATED BEER EVENTS LIST

When making travel plans for 1997, make sure to visit our updated beer events list at http://realbeer.com/rbp/rbp.events.php. With our recent partnering with Copper Kettle Concepts, creators of the The American Craft Brewers Calendar (http://copperkettle.com), our events list will be updated on a weekly basis and will include all events beer related. This is a free service that we provide so if you know of an event or know someone who is organizing and event, make sure to get us the information. Our events list is one of our most highly trafficked areas so you don't want to miss out on this exposure. Events are also included in our weekly news service, BEERWeek (http://BEERWeek.com). Updates can be posted at http://realbeer.com/rbp/feedback.php or faxed to us at

(415) 522-1535.

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QUICKIE EMAIL SURVEY

Thanks to all who responded to last month's Quickie Survey. Cheers to Kenneth Donahue for winning a brand-new (or hardly used) Real Beer Page Tee in our random drawing. Here's what we learned from the active group of participants last month:

How Many Web Sites Do You Visit Regularly Each Month? 15 or less: 46% of respondents

More than 15 but less than 25: 11% of respondents

25+: 90% of respondents

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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 http://www.gorge.net/business/aaametal

Applied Brewing Techniques http://www.ABTOnline.com

brew moon http://www.brewmoon.com

Boston Beer Co. http://www.SamAdams.com

Faultline Brewing Co. http://www.FLBC.com

Gritty McDuff's Brewpubs http://www.Grittys.com

Hop Union http://www.HopUnion.com

John I. Hass http://www.John-I-Haas.com

Malt of the Earth http://www.MaltBev.com

Real Beer Feedback http://realbeer.com/rbp/feedback.php/

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COORS WORKERS ATTEMPT TO UNIONIZE

Some production workers at Coors Brewing Co. are trying to bring a union into the Golden brewery. Workers have submitted filings with the National Labor Relations Board requesting union votes by four separate groups of production employees: those in the malthouse, brewhouse, fermenting department and conditioning department, said Gene Klitz, a malthouse employee and one leader of the unionization effort. Ben Tucker, a 25-year Coors employee who works in the fermenting department, said he was anti-union during an earlier, 1988 labor vote. Tucker said he has joined the effort to bring an independent union into Coors because workers no longer have a voice in decisions made by managers at the brewery. Klitz, a 27-year Coors veteran, and Tucker said Coors officials are changing the schedules of production workers, reducing some employees income by more than $ 1,000 a year. Coors Brewing spokesperson Kim DeVigil said the four departments include a total of 385 employees, far fewer than the 1000 that has been considered an appropriate bargaining unit at Coors. DeVigil said Coors Brewing is trying to reduce the overtime hours of some employees, especially in this, the brewery's slow season. Coors has nearly 5,000 employees in the Denver area. (Source: Jeffrey Leib, Denver Post, November 26, Tuesday, Business; Pg. C-02)

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BINGE DRINKING - JUST A PHASE

The University of Michigan annually releases the results of its survey on high-school senior drinking habits. Now it has published follow-up data that shows that by age 24 some 80% of high school seniors pooled since age 18 had either stopped binge drinking or rarely binged. Nearly 2/3rds of the "frequent binge drinkers" in their senior year had stopped binging all together. The study concludes that these young people were "at low risk for adulthood problems with alcohol." Researchers write that occasional binge drinking -- whether parents and anti-alcohol activists like it or not -- is part of our culture's rite of passage, and that most teens make the passage safely. Furthermore, for some, moderate alcohol use "appears to be positively related to indices of psycho social functioning and adjustment." (Source: The New Brewer, September/October, Pg. 7)

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******* SPOTLIGHT ON WISCONSIN *******

MICROS POST GREAT GAINS IN WI, 1996

Milwaukee's microbreweries continued to take a toll on Miller and Pabst, figures from the Wisconsin Wholesale Beer Distributors Association, a Madison-based industry trade group, showed. Pabst production was down 71% through Sept. 30 compared with last year. Miller production was down 16% from last year. The story was far different for Milwaukee-area micros. Sprecher Brewing Co. was up 20% from last year; Lakefront Brewery Co. up 44% from last year; Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (http://leinie.com) rose 14% in the state. New craft breweries Wisconsin Brewing Co. and Fox River Brewing Co. had strong showings. Through September, Miller's market share in Wisconsin has dropped from 44.5% to 43.2%. At the same time, Pabst's market share took a nose dive, falling from 8.39% to 5.39%. Anheuser-Busch Cos. increased its market share in the state to 23.51%. Other breweries with strong growth through September included: Stevens Point Brewery up 23%; New Glarus Brewing Co. up 36%; Angelic Brewing Co. up 64.3%; and Gray Brewing Co., up 30.2%. Several breweries posted lower sales, including Capital Brewing down 14% and Joseph Huber, down 20%. (Source: James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 25, Monday Business Pg. 3)

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TOP 15 WISCONSIN BEER PRODUCERS.

1996 Production Barrels Through Sept. 30

1. Miller 5,035,915

2. Stroh* 1,958,904

3. Pabst 519,949

4. Leinenkugel 166, 949

5. Joseph Huber 47,094

6. Stevens Point 33,204

7. Capital 9,344

8. Sprecher 5,343

9. Gray Brewing Co. 4,525

10. New Glarus Brewing 3,542

11. Lakefront 1,958

12. Great Dane Pub 1,190

13. Angelic Brewing 828

14. Touch Inc. 762

15. Wisconsin Brewing 672

*Stroh and Heileman figures combined as of 8/96. Source: Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Wholesalers Distributors Assoc.

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WISCONSIN WINNING ON QUALITY AS WELL

During the 1996 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Wisconsin brewers, comprising less than 3% of all breweries in the U.S. by total quantity, took 12% of all medals. It comes as no surprise to natives of Wisconsin who view their strong brewing tradition with pride. Milwaukee, called the Cream City for its beige buildings, is home to some of the best corner bars outside of Europe. During the winter, you don't want to venture too far from home, so the corner tavern has always been core to each sub-community in the city. Beautiful, 1900s era terra cotta-faced buildings still exist as remnants of the pre-prohibition practice where taverns were tied to breweries. More than any other major city in the U.S., Milwaukee is comprised of over 70% native citizens; seems as though hard for them to leave or stay away too long from Milwaukee. Alumni from the breweries of visionaries like Randy Sprecher and Russ Klish (of Lakefront Brewing) have graduated to start new breweries like Wisconsin Brewing. Former editor of American Brewer, Bill Tressler and wife Michelle have found a home and niche in Green Bay with their Hinterland beers. Perhaps most significantly, a brewer that rumors suggest was being groomed for the top position at Anheuser-Busch, decided to save his soul and invest it into some of the most creative and charactered beers being produced in the U.S. from a little brewery outside of Madison called New Glarus. Dan Carey brews. Deb Carey runs the company. And together they receive our nomination for brewery of the year. Here are the GABF medals earned by Wisconsin breweries in their respective style categories.

Gold - Belgian Red Wisconsin Cherry - New Glarus Brewing Co. - New Glarus, WI Silver - Uffda Bock - New Glarus Brewing Co. - New Glarus, WI Gold - Bacchanal Blonde - Angelic Brewing Co. - Madison, WI Bronze - Kolsch - Water Street Brewery - Milwaukee, WI * Bronze - Pecks Pilsener - Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. - Madison, WI Silver - Garten Brau Octoberfest - Capital Brewing Co. Inc. - Middleton, WI Bronze - Garten Brau Lager - Capital Brewing Co. Inc. - Middleton, WI Gold - Pabst Genuine Draft Light - Pabst Brewing Co. - Milwaukee, WI Silver - Pabst Blue Ribbon - Pabst Brewing Co. - Milwaukee, WI Bronze - Point Special - Stevens Point Brewery - Stevens Point, WI Silver - Mickey's Malt Liquor - G. Heileman Brewing Co. - LaCrosse, WI Gold - Kingsbury Red NA - G. Heileman Brewing Co. - LaCrosse, WI

* As a matter of record, Real Beer believes that "Kolsch" should not be used as a brand name nor as a judging category, as Kolsch is an appellation unique to beers brewed in Cologne, Germany. Like wine appellations such as Champagne and Bordeaux, we need to respect appellations for beer to maintain the integrity of the tradition and our roots. We're not advocating avoiding brewing the style. Simply calling for some creativity in naming the class -- as California Sparkling Wines did in observing the Champagne appellation.

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WISCONSIN BREWER LOOKS AT CONTRACTING IN 50s ANOTHER NEW BREWING FIRM, Wisconsin Brewing Company, has been established in Burlington, Wisconsin. The new brewery will operate the plant of the former Burlington Brewing Company, and will be under contract to wholesale

distributors outside Wisconsin, producing for them beer in cans with private individual labels. (Source: The American Brewer Newsletter, December, 1954 -- American Brewer and Wisconsin Brewing sited in this article folded and are not related to present-day entities)

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MILLER LOCKED IN UGLY BATTLE WITH DISTRIBUTOR

Anthony Distributing Co. Inc. and Anthony Distributors Inc. hold exclusive rights to sell Miller products around Tampa Bay. But if Miller has its way, the 55-year-old arrangement won't last another year. In October, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich threw out what was left of Anthony Distributing's 2-year-old lawsuit against Miller, but left intact a Miller counterclaim that could let the brewer kick Anthony out of the distribution network. Anthony would be ruined by losing its contract with Miller, which accounts for about 85% of its business. To pre-empt that possibility, Anthony filed a bankruptcy court claim two days after Kovachevich's ruling, a move that halted Miller's effort to terminate Anthony. Miller now wants Anthony's bankruptcy court case thrown out, arguing the distributor is healthy financially and using the court to hide from a trial in federal district court. Miller lawyers point out that just a month before the court filing, Anthony attorneys said in a pleading: "In the two years since filing its complaint ... Anthony has sold far more beer, provided more jobs for far more employees and made far more money (for itself and for Miller) than at any time in its 55 years as a Miller distributor."

While Miller has been winning in court, the case has fueled ugly accusations about both the brewer and the distributor:

- That Miller agents bribed tavern owners to take company products. If true, it would be a violation of the quaintly named Tied House Evil Law, a 1930s-era statute intended to separate beer distribution from beer retailing. Miller denies the bribery.

- That John Harris, then director of the Florida Division of Alcoholic

Beverages and Tobacco, hindered an investigation of the bribery allegations. Harris was ousted last spring after a scathing report from the state inspector general about his agency management and judgment. The bribery investigator said Harris was a close personal friend of a former agency lawyer now in private practice working for Miller. Harris has denied allegations of corruption and favoritism toward liquor interests.

- That Anthony systematically repackaged out-of-date, possibly stale, beer in undated cases and then sold it to retailers. Anthony attorneys say that's false, and they may challenge the authenticity of the brewer's evidence. The charges were exaggerated by a campaign to find as much old beer as possible, they say, and other distributors have worse problems on that issue.

Miller maintains its bid to boot Anthony originates with violations of the distributor's contract, specifically the sale of outdated beer discovered on store shelves in 1994. Florida is a state of turmoil for their industry. Distributorship terminations are rare, but the issue has been bubbling up with some frequency in Florida. Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch bought out its Jacksonville distributor after a 2-year court case.

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A-B HUNTING PROMO BAGS CONTROVERSY

Anheuser-Busch's latest promotional effort, timed to coincide with the start of the fall hunting season, seems to challenge one of the hunting world's basic tenets: Gunpowder and alcohol don't mix. Store displays of giant inflatable Labrador retrievers and banners decorated with scenes of ducks flying above beer cans invite the hunting crowd to pick up sixpacks. A new "Official Busch Hunting Gear" catalog touts the Busch brand through camouflage-colored beer holders and a camouflage-colored floating gun case emblazoned with the brand's logo. The promotion represents part of a broader campaign aimed at outdoorsmen from one of the shooting world's biggest corporate sponsors. But the campaign has some consumer advocates up in arms over the issue of responsible alcohol advertising. Wayne Jones, an administrator with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, says, "Gun powder and alcohol do not mix." But August Busch IV, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of brand management, insists the advertisements are responsible. "We in no way, in any of our programs or in any of our materials by any means, advocate consuming alcohol and hunting." He figures the link between beer and hunting is natural. "There's a strong index of beer drinkers with hunters and people that fish and enjoy the great outdoors," Busch says. A-B has also been a generous supporter of the Amateur Trapshooting Association since the mid-1970s. (Source: WSJ Report, The Tampa Tribune, November 20, 1996, Business & Finance, Pg. 1)

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******* NEWS FROM BELGIUM *******

These articles are digested from Vanberg & Dewulf's homepage at http://www.BelgianExperts.com

BELGIUM'S BREWER WINS "GRAND GOLD MEDAL" Paul Vanneste, of De Gouden Boom Brewery, in Bruges, Belgium, received the "Grand Gold Medal" of 1996 from the International Institute for Quality for their beer "La Brugse Tripel".

RODENBACH OLYMPIC MEDALIST & WORLD CHAMPION Frederik Deburghgraeve, World Record holder and Gold Medalist for the breast stroke in the Olympics in Atlanta 1996, also works with a prized brewer. "Freddy" worked at the Rodenbach brewery alternating training in the pool with working with the computers. Freddy's swimming career is a fairy tale story: began swimming at the advice of a doctor to assist with asthma; is much smaller than most sprinters; trains in a non-Olympic-sized pool; coach lives 70 kilometers away and faxes workouts to him. Then of course there's his diet which includes Rodenbach beer. As a result of this winning formula Freddy first won the European Championships then took the Gold in Atlanta.

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SPREADING THE HOLIDAY SPIRITS - EDITORIAL

It's the holiday season all around the world. Last week we had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon. What's this got to do with a beer news editorial? While attending a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at a park lodge, we found beer selection to be disappointing. And this is in no way a unique experience.

With few exceptions, in and around state and national parks, we've found poor beer selection. We mean the standard line-up of industrial beers and a few uninteresting imports, offering little style variety and virtually no craft-products. Contract brews are making their way in, but only the most mainstream brands and styles.

One notable exception is Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. In the park you can find Geary's beers, the oldest craft-brewer in Maine. And in Bar Harbor, just outside the park, a wonderful selection of Maine craft-brews are available. Allegash Belgian-style beers, Maine Coast English-style beers pumped from beer engines, Gritty's Black Fly Stout, Casco-Bay's Katahddin brand and more out-number the industrial beers at nearly every tap house. Two brewpubs also pour fresh and diverse hand-crafted beers.

We can attribute the success of the craft infiltration in and around this park to four factors: vision of the craft-brewers -- with 3-4 million people pouring through a state park each year and many fitting the craft-beer consumer profile, it's a pretty safe bet that the craft will be supported; provincialism - Maine businesses tend to support local crafts-people; consumer demand - because the craft-beer sells, the taps are renewed to the local brewer; informed retailers - the bartenders and owners of the tap rooms spoke passionately about the quality of the local product.

These four elements must work together. When speaking with the buyer at the Grand Canyon, she told me that several craft-beers sold-out every time and that she wished she had a local supplier. Further, she was completely uninformed about the local craft-beer offerings. In neighboring states Colorado and New Mexico, some outstanding stouts, IPAs, Belgian-style beers and more are being brewed at world-class levels. Many of these are available in bottles, so maintaining a diverse inventory would not be as risky as investing in a slow moving keg/tap. To her credit, she took copious notes as I rattled off great craft-beers that should be available in her area and what to provide during the winter season.

In the United States, while traveling on public transportation by sea and by air where beer is served, the selection will disappoint. Most hotel bars will bore the traveling craft-beer enthusiast. Fine restaurants with excellent wine selections often lack the supporting gourmet beer selection. In each of these areas, craft-beer is making slow progress, which is why I scratch my head when people predict the shake-out of the microbrewing industry. The campaign has not even started and many pundits are predicting a maturing market. There is great opportunity for growth in these under-developed markets.

So, what can you do as a craft-beer consumer? Spread the spirits in the upcoming holidays. Chances are, you may be traveling to see relatives and vacation or will be hosting visitors. Here are some concrete ways you can support the industry -- we call it the BEER method:

1. Bring Good Beer. My in-laws don't drink very often, but they will be treated to some New Glarus Belgian-style Cherry beer with the holiday dinner. It's low alcohol but rich and complex and will change perceptions about the classification of beer. Introduce beer as a food companion, rather than just an armchair fixture. Tell them the story of the brewery and brewer who made the product.

2. Evangelize. If you go to a State or National Park, Bar or Restaurant that does not have a good beer selection, recommend beers for them to carry. Local product is an easier sell. Call the brewer as a follow-up and recommend they contact that establishment.

3. Educate. Let restaurant owners know that beer accompanies food as well as wine. Tell resorts and hotels that winter selection should differ from summer selection. Share some history of your beer with Uncle Al or Auntie Dora as they quaff your offering.

4. Re-distribute. Grab extra copies of your regional beer 'zine and leave it with retailers. Let them know if they contact the publishers at the numbers on the masthead, they will likely earn enthusiastic support and a willingness to supply the location with complementary copies for future clientele. You can contact any of the regional publications online in our 'Zines area for extra copies for your mission.

Most of all, demand great beer and inform an establishment if a beer is not up to your standards. Suggest an alternative to the style. For instance, when assaulted by an unbalanced, overly sweet and marzipan-smelling hazelenut brown beer, I returned the beer and recommended Rogue's Nut Brown as a commercially available beer in that area.

Have a great holiday season. If we're successful as a community in conveying our message, we'll enjoy even more those occasions when our paths cross on the road in '97. Cheers!

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