RBPMail 3.02, February 1997

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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Nested in a generally favorable review of August Busch IV, the "Bud-weis-heir" to the Anhueser-Busch throne, Fortune Magazine reported about a Chappaquiddick-like auto accident during his second year at the University of Arizona at age 19. According to police, August IV left a local bar early one morning and was rounding a sharp curve in his new, black Corvette when he careened off the road. His passenger, a waitress from another bar, flew through the sunroof and died. August IV left the scene. Police found him, still bloody, hours later at his townhouse in Tucson. For 8 months the Busches wrangled with police and prosecutors. Evidence--samples of blood and urine taken from August IV the day of the accident--was lost or damaged. Authorities finally decided not to charge him with manslaughter. "They couldn't prove blame," says August Busch IV. The tragedy haunts him, but he insists he has no idea what happened that day in 1983. "I had a bad head injury. I don't remember that part of my life." Now here he is, poised to lead the world's largest alcoholic beverage company. "His past isn't an issue anymore," insists his father. (Source: Patricia Sellers, Fortune, January 13, Features; Pg. 90)

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The American beer market grew unexpectedly last year for its first gain since 1990, according to a new estimate. The increase was reported by the Impact Databank unit of M. Shanken Communications in New York, which collects information about the alcoholic-beverage industry. Impact, in a newsletter published by Shanken, estimated that beer shipments in 1996 rose eight-tenths of 1%, to 187.1 million barrels, from 185.6 million barrels in 1995. For the top five brands in 1996, Impact listed Budweiser, sold by the Anheuser-Busch Companies, in first place, with 36.5 million barrels, down 1.9%. That was a smaller decline than in previous years. Bud Light was second with 20.2 million barrels, up 12.8%, the largest gain for any leading brand. Miller Lite, from the Miller Brewing Company unit of the Philip Morris Companies, had an estimated shipment of 15.9 million barrels, up five-tenths of 1%, the second consecutive growth year for that brand. Also, Coors Light, sold by the Coors Brewing Company unit of the Adolph Coors Companies, was estimated at 13.3 million barrels, up 3.1%, and Busch, was estimated at 7.9 million barrels, down 2.5% (Source: Stuart Elliott, The New York Times, January 24, 1997, Friday, Section D; Page 5; Column 1)

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A-B said it sold a record 91.1 million barrels of beer in 1996, up 2.8%, or 2.5 million barrels, from the previous year, after adjusting for a 1995 inventory reduction. In doing so, Busch captured 45.2% of the U.S. beer market last year. The company's strong growth in an otherwise flat industry surprised some industry analysts. (Source: Jeffrey Leib, The Denver Post, January 25, Saturday, Business; Pg. E-02)


The beer industry finds itself in the same boat as distilled spirits--flat at best. Brewers did eke out a 1 percent gain in shipments in 1996-- nothing to write home about, though it marked the fourth year since 1985 that sales have shown an increase. According to the Maxwell Report, more than 60% of the beer sold off-premises (six-packs and other beers from stores) was on promotion. In other words, price discounting figured heavily. (Source: George Lazarus, Chicago Tribune, January 21, Tuesday, Business; Pg. 2)

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With the new year, Coors Brewing Co., based in Golden, Colo., began offering health insurance to live-in partners of homosexual employees at its Memphis brewery and at its holdings in Virginia. Coors employees in Colorado have had the option since mid-1995. At Coors, an internal employee group called Lesbian and Gay Employee Resources (LAGER) lobbied the corporation's board of directors for same-sex partners of employees to receive benefits, said Joe Fuentes, a company spokesman in Golden. "Coors is the kind of company that says, 'OK, if you have a need and it makes sense, then let's do it,' " He said legal issues in different states were one reason the company offered domestic partner benefits in Colorado before doing so in other states. The term "domestic partner" includes opposite-sex and same-sex couples. A May 1995 research paper by Hewitt Associates reported two-thirds of the couples choosing domestic partner coverage were opposite-sex, and one third were same-sex. The report also said extending the benefits has not increased health-care costs for companies. (Source: Kevin McKenzie The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), January 19, Sunday, Business, Pg. C3)

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BEERWeek Stories:

If you were subscribed to BEERWeek, you would have already read the following headlines and sample articles:

BEERWeek of December 30 - January 6, 1997

* Micro Sales Down

* Anderson Valley Brews More Beer

* Copperhead Still on Labatt's Case

* Imports Keep on Comin'

* Coors Authorizes Expenditure Of $40 Million

* Vermont's Catamount Expands

* AmBrew: 20 Craft Breweries in 25 Months?

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COORS AUTHORIZES EXPENDITURE OF $40 MILLION According to New York Newsdesk, Adolph Coors Company stated that its board had authorized the expenditure of up to $40 million to repurchase its Class B common stock from time to time during 1997. Repurchases, which should begin early in January, may be made through the open market or through privately negotiated transactions.

BEERWeek of January 6 - 13

* Bootlegging in the Big Apple?

* Rhode Island brewery-to-be Offers IPO!

* Alaskan Brewery Celebrates Ten Years

* Pyramid Wins Web Site Award

* Beach Chalet Brewing Co. Opens in San Fran


New York City - For over a year, a dozen New York City tax agents toted thousands of cases of beer into some of Manhattan's top bars and restaurants. The hard-working agents were on a mission to nail down the existence of a bootlegging operation that was costing both the City and the State of New York about $50 million per year (the total of these taxes turned over to the state and city in 1995 was $160 million). Beer wholesalers sold cases from upstate and out-of- state suppliers to taverns in NYC and got payments in cash. The wholesalers would pretend that beer had been sold to other wholesalers. This evaded excise and sales taxes, allowing the wholesalers to charge an extra dollar or two per case. Tavern owners gained by keeping the 8.25% combined city and state sales tax plus city excise taxes. In 1993, the NYC Finance Department budgeted $6,000 to create and outfit a bogus wholesaler, Brian's Brew. In 1993 and 1994, about 50 firms ordered $200,000 worth of "Brian's Brew" beer. (The agents bought the beer originally from franchised dealers who were cooperating with the inquiry.) Brian's Brew employees rented trucks for deliveries and wore concealed mikes. After records were seized, following incriminating statements made by owners or employees, the Manhattan DA's office obtained court-authorized search warrants in 1994 and 1995. In the final months of 1996, eight owners have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. Fines and back taxes paid by the businesses pleading guilty have so far totaled over $600,000. Source: Selwyn Raab, December 27, New York Times.

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BEERWeek of January 13 - 20

* Fire at the Herb Farm

* I Want My BeerTV

* Colorado Micros Merge

* Canadian Brewery Gets Ok From Toronto Exchange

* "Czech, Mate," Sez Bass Plc

>From the January 9 Canadian NewsWire:

Big Rock Brewery Ltd. received conditional listing approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange. This listing is subject to Big Rock's fulfilling all the requirements of the TSE on or before March 19, 1997. The Calgary, Alberta brewery is a regional producer and marketer of premium craft beers. Currently its common shares are listed on the Alberta Stock Exchange under BR" and are quoted on the National Market System of NASDAQ as BEERF" Contact Ed McNally, 403-720-3239. (See story by Steve Johnson, Celebrator Beer News, Feb/Mar 1997)

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BEERWeek of January 20 - 27

* Schirmer to Leave GABF

* Dorber Back at The White Horse

* Rogue's Ashland Pub Suffers Pacific NW Flooding

* Beaumont's Top 10 Picks

* Guinness plc Earnings Up for 1996

* A-B Hire Freeze to Meet Earnings Target

* Czechs Back on Track to Privatize Budvar

* Pabst Closes Milwaukee Brewery


In the current issue of the Wine Enthusiast, Celebrator Beer News writer and World of Beer writer Stephen Beaumont lists his top ten beers of 1996 (in alphabetical order):

Adambier, Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.

Bayrisch G'frorns Eisbock, Reichelbrauerei

AG Ipswich Ale, Ipswich Brewing

Old Foghorn, Anchor Brewing Co.

Pike Street XXXXX Stout, Pike Brewing Co.

Quelque Chose, Unibroue

Red Tail Ale, Mendocino Brewing Co.

Seigneuriale, La Brasserie Seigneuriale

Tutankhamun Ale, Scottish & Newcastle

Westmalle Tripel, Westmalle Trappist Abbey

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BEERWeek of January 27 - February 3

* 1997 Still Looks Bright for Industry

* Bobsled Team

* NH Expands to CT

* Miller Ueber Alles?

* OBF Marks Tenth Anniversary


Miller Brewing Company became the number one American import in Germany, just one year after the beer has been made available there. In addition, Miller's popularity in the UK has been growing. Miller's ad campaign on British TV was named "Campaign of the Year" by the UK's top advertising and marketing publication. Miller is now being produced at the Hau Du Brewery, part of the Five Star Beer Group, China's second largest brewing group. Miller acquired a minority in Five Star in 1995. China is the second largest beer market in the world. Miller campaigns continue in Japan, South Korea - where Miller is top import - the Philippines, Micronesia and Taiwan. Latin American Miller markets have experienced substantial growth as well. (January 24 PRNewswire)

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This concludes our BEERWeek excerpts. Each edition of BEERWeek features headline news articles like those sampled above, along with press releases, promotions, opening & closings and events. Want it weekly? Go to to subscribe today.

You have less than four weeks to subscribe to BEERWeek for the charter rate of $25.00 per YEAR. Starting March 1, the annual rate will double.

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Sayyid M. Sayeed, general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield, Indiana said he has called on basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, to ask Coors to stop running television ads featuring the former athlete. Under Islamic teachings, he is not allowed to drink or sell alcohol. Although he is not shown actually consuming alcohol, his presence in the ad suggests his support for alcohol consumption, Muslim critics say. The Islamic Society of North America is an affiliation of about 900 mosques and Islamic centers throughout the United States and Canada. (Source: Judith Cebula, The Indianapolis Star, January 21, Tuesday, Extra; Pg. D02C) Abdul-Jabbar said he is mystified by criticism of his appearance in a television beer commercial, pointing out that throughout his career his photo has been used in beer ads and he has never espoused the use of alcohol. "They did promotions using my picture. I had no control over it. They didn't require me to say that I drank beer. That was enough for me." Abdul-Jabbar, who describes himself as a "practicing" Muslim, said, like most religions, adherence to rules is a matter of culture and interpretation. (Source: Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, January 23, Thursday, Sports; Part C; Page 1)

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All across the country brewers' dinners are being hosted by restaurants of every caliber and style, from brew pubs to palaces of haute cuisine. Great and famous chefs are preparing food that is complimented by beer as well as cooking with beer. Beer is finding its way into sauces, marinades, breads and desserts. New cookbooks devoted to cooking with beer are appearing in bookstores. Among them are "Cooking With Beer" by Lucy Saunders (Time-Life Books, $12.95) and "Famous Chefs and Other Characters Cook With Beer" by Scott Griffiths and Christopher Finch (Doubleday, $25), which includes recipes created for the book by such restaurant luminaries as Andre Soltner, late of Lutece in Manhattan, Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu in Tribeca and Bradley Ogden of the Lark Creek Inn in California. Beer is proving to be a versatile ingredient, its most notable properties being a subtle, bittersweet taste and, for meats, a tenderizing effect. Saunders, a food writer based in Milwaukee whose specialty is beer-based cuisine says beer can be put into a misting bottle and sprayed on salad greens, used to poach fish, incorporated into sausages or even used in combination with unflavored gelatin to make a glaze for poached salmon. Saunders also likes to combine beer with grain dishes, particularly rices and pilafs. "You can even make pasta with beer," she noted. One of Saunders' favorite recipes is a pumpkin bisque made with amber ale. "Most people don't expect a pumpkin soup to have as much zesty flavor." (Source: Alan J. Wax, Newsday, January 15, Wednesday, Food & Dining; Page B21)

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Citing excess capacity in Western Canada, growing global competition and declining beer consumption, Molson Breweries today announced the closing of its Redwood facility in Winnipeg, effective August 1, 1997. The 91 hourly and salaried employees were told of the decision during meetings held at the brewery January 28. "Our Manitoba team worked very hard to save the brewery, particularly during the 'Brewed With Pride In Manitoba' campaign," said Blair Shier, President, Molson Breweries Western Canada. "Despite the best efforts of the union and management, we have not been able to raise sales in Western Canada to a level that would significantly increase the utilization of the Redwood brewery." Once production officially stops, usable equipment will be redeployed to other Molson breweries throughout the country. Molson is Canada's leading brewer with eight breweries across the country. (Source: Canada NewsWire, January 28, 1997, Tuesday, Financial News)

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More than a million Miller Lite specialty cans commemorating the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl victory began rolling off Miller Brewing Co. assembly lines the day following the game. The 16- ounce cans feature the Green Bay Packers logos and the phrase "Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XXXI Champions," as well as a wrap-around design of a football field. "We hope these commemorative cans become a reminder of when the Packers returned the title to Titletown and Wisconsin celebrated Miller Time," said John N. MacDonough, chairman and chief executive officer for Miller and a Green Bay Packers board member. Miller is the official beer sponsor of the Super Bowl. In addition to the commemorative cans, Miller offers specialty Super Bowl XXXI apparel and other Packers memorabilia. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 27, News Pg. 8)

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In a testament to the influence of the St. Louis brewer, Anheuser- Busch Cos. Inc., Missouri is the first state in the nation to force beer companies to list on the label the brewer that actually makes the beer. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, is aimed at companies that hire brewers to make their beer. The practice is used by several beer companies such as Pete's Brewing Co., which markets Pete's Wicked Ale and other malt beverages. Pete's actually contracts with Stroh Brewing Co. and others to make the beer. Last year sales of these boutique beers exceeded $3 billion, or nearly 4% of total beer sales. Boutique beer sales have been growing while the overall market has been flat. Last January, A-B sought a federal ruling to require the brewery making the beer to be listed on the beer label. That effort is still pending. But it is also taking another approach. It is going to state governments to require the disclosure. Efforts similar to Missouri's are under way in Oregon and Maryland, and more states are expected to consider the issue. The Missouri Division of Liquor Control, issued an emergency order on Dec. 19 stating that the law would be enforced starting Jan. 1. That meant wholesalers would be prohibited from buying beer that didn't conform to the new state law. (Source: Steve Everly, The Kansas City Star, January 22, Wednesday, Business; Pg. B1)

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


BiereMag Joins Real Beer!

A recent conversation with our friends at BiereMag went something like this:



"May oui (we) speak with Mario or Freddy?" "Je ne comprends pas."

"Freddy? Speak Englaze?"

"Je ne comprends pas."


"Parlez plus lentement, s'il vous plaît."

Et cetera. It turns out Mario, Andre and Freddy, based in Quebec and Ontario, are fluent in English and have a sense of humor which they are prepared to exercise at our expense. They publish in French, though, and this is exciting news to our Francophone friends around the world. Enjoy BiereMag, our most recent publishing partner in conjunction with our Real Beer Canada Pages. And please let us know what they are saying about us when you're through.

And here's a useful phrase: "Voulez-vous prendre un verre?"

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An Events Event

We're making an event of our Events database. It's a regular party over on our new events pages: you can now search by event type, name, city, state, dates, etc. in the past and future and/or see events by calendar format and event type. We have hundreds of Beer Festivals, Homebrew Competitions, Beer Dinners & Tastings, and Technical Conferences for you, thanks to the great efforts of our readers and Copper Kettle Concepts -- the ultimate Beer Calendar people (btw, there's still time to deck out your cubical with a cool year of beer by ordering right off of their site...). So, pull out your favorite Fest gear and head over to:

Beer Stocks Offered On Web:


Draught Horse


Choose Your Mailed Brew

Ale By Comparison has launched their MicroDirect program. This is a program that allows you to pick which beers from their MicroDirect member breweries you'd like each month. This is a novel approach to Beer of the Month offerings that you can learn more about on their Web site at:

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

Food, Fun & Beer At the Bear Republic

Bear Republic is this month's featured brewpub, staffed and owned by our kind of people. You gotta love Head Brewers like Richard Norgrove that pay tribute to their roots with comments like, "I feel home brewing is the laboratory where true advancement of beer styles is coming from." Meanwhile, the kitchen at Bear Republic is orchestrated by big Chef John Cammack. They turn out about 400 meals on an average day with weekend lunches topping 300. If you can't make it by the brewpub soon, you can still find their beers on tap when you're in the Sonoma, Napa and S.F. Bay Areas. Visit their Web site for more details:

Bert Grant: Character with Beer

In a newly designed site by Landor Associates of Seattle with Web implementation by Incommand Interactive, Yakima Brewing Co. breaks out a site that can only be described as, well, classic Bert Grant. Where else will you hear a brewery describe their Russian Imperial Stout as "very big flavor -- definitely not for weenies"? Or announce with shameless self-congratulatory aplomb, "I suppose I should tell you what foods go well with [Grant's Perfect Porter] -- oysters, spicy Mediterranean dishes, things like that -- but when I drink it, I very often drink it by itself....That makes sense to me. What could I do to improve on perfection?" About his Scottish Ale? "I have some good news for you. I'm willing to share." They say craft beers are more charactered. You won't find more of a character than microbrewing's pioneer and statesman, Bert Grant.

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To Infinity, And Neon!

Have you seen the cartoons where a character gets a big idea and the light bulb flashes brightly in the thought bubble over their head? The folks at Infinity get this all the time in the real world and on the Web -- except their lights are Neon. Their big idea is high quality, low cost neon signs. Custom-designed for breweries large and small (check out the cool cow-skull, Rio Grande sign and the always hehaw-larious Red Ass sign). They also have a a full line of stock neon designs for wholesalers and retailers. Zing! Let's go see them:

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Aloha, Molokai

The Moloka'i Brewing Company -- this month's featured virtual brewpub -- in planning for Kaunakakai, Hawaii, has opened its doors on the Web. The eighty-seat brewpub will be the first of its kind on Moloka'i. Of special note: the brewer will be the amazing Gak, author of CD-ROM and Web site, Beer Is My Life, and evaluator of thousands of beers. Check out their menu, press, progress and merchandise on the Web while they navigate investment challenges and regulatory challenges of opening a brewpub:

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Reccow Debuts Fest in S.F.

On January 17, Reccow Brewing company introduced Fest beer and the concept of Spannungsbogen to San Francisco. Pronounced "Span-nungs-boo-gen," the German word means "the self-imposed delay between the onset of desire and its eventual fulfillment." Brian Reccow and brewer Brendan Dobel suggest that their Fest beer is "the burning tumescence of unbridled, emphatic, and, yes, unbottled spannungsbogen." To this end, Reccow has provided a web site for directions about scratching that spannungs-itch at:

Introducing The Premier Midwest Equipment Supplier W.M. Sprinkman Corporation (WMS) was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1929 by Walter M. Sprinkman, and has been in the Food & Beverage Processing industry ever since. Grandsons, Brian & Chad Sprinkman, are heading up the Micro-brewing division of WMS, building upon a foundation of selling the highest quality breweries available today with service that is unmatched. To learn more about their history, the Sprinkman Brewery System Design & Installation and Fermentation Tanks, Brew Kettles and assorted equipment, visit their site at:

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Sam Adams Redesign

Boston Beer, Co. has just implemented some neat new features to their Web site, including beer styles sheets, distribution database, merchandise processing and more. A special no-prize to anyone finding the distributor's list.

Brewery Atlantis comes to the web

Brewery Atlantis, soon to be San Francisco's newest microbrewery and brewpub has started drafting plans for its location at 17th and Connecticut in San Francisco's Portrero Hill area. They currently have beer on tap around the San Francisco area but have big plans for their own location in the near future. Keep an eye on their web site for more details and sign up for their email newsletter at:

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Thanks to all who responded to last month's Quickie Survey. Unfortunately, a cigar is still just a cigar and not a statistic because our data went up in smoke. So, we'll repeat last months survey Please re-submit your answer if you responded last month.


Real Beer Page User Demographics:

Technical Purchases Planned in 1997

Computer 45%

Modem 36% (the price of the leading edge)

Printer 33%

* 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:


Heartland, NY

AAA Metal Fabrication

Anderson, Will

Brew Moon

Copper Kettle

Danse Skjold, CA

DeGroen's Beers/Baltimore Brewing Co

Gritty McDuffs

Northampton Brewery

Packaging Plus

Vanberg & DeWulf

Wit Beer (new url)

World of Beer

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The Czech Agriculture Ministry announced plans to privatise Budejovicky Budvar n.p., brewers of Czech Budweiser beer, through a management buyout after lengthy talks with Anheuser Busch Cos broke down last September when the U.S. company said it would market its brew in much of Europe under the "Bud" name. The plan is to sell a 10% stake in Budvar to management with an option for them eventually to buy a further 41%. Budvar is based in the southern Czech city of Ceske Budejovice, the German name of which is Budweis. The new plan fits the government's desire to privatise the makers of one of the country's most famous exports but keep the company primarily in Czech hands. Budvar is one of the five largest Czech breweries, and Budweiser is one of the country's best-known exports. Budweiser beer has been brewed for centuries but the Czechs did not register the trademark until late last century. The conflict with A-B began in 1911 when the American brewery first insisted that it had registered the brand name before the Czechs. (Source: Jan Lopatka, The Reuter European Business Report, January 21, Tuesday)

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Darker drafts appear to be the hit product that Japanese brewers have been waiting for. The trend appears to have been sparked in part by deregulation several years ago that let smaller brewers into the market. The success of the darker brews made by these local producers evidently got the attention of Japan's brewing giants. Kirin Brewery Co.'s Half & Half, launched in October, is off to a smooth start, selling an average 700,000 20-bottle cases per month. The company is confident it will hit its sales target for the first year of 1.2 million cases. Asahi Breweries Ltd., which is battling Kirin for the top spot in the beer market, scored a hit by introducing its Kuronama label last fall. Based on Kuronama's success, Asahi introduced another dark beer, called Kohaku no Toki (Amber Time). Asahi has also begun importing a dark-red, cherry-flavored beer, Belle-Vue Kriek, made by major Belgian brewer Interbrew SA. Budweiser Japan Co., 90% owned by Anheuser-Busch Inc., began marketing Red Wolf, a reddish-brown beer, in the Tokyo area and in the Koshin region south of Tokyo. According to industry estimates, dark beers accounted for about 1.5% of the total market in 1996, up 1.2 points from 1995. Shipments totaled about 8 million cases and are projected to top 10 million cases in 1997, with market share climbing close to 2%. (Source: The Nikkei Weekly, January 20, New Products, Science & Technology; Pg. 16)

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An upstart little beer maker from New Orleans plans to go head-to- head against Mexico's brewing duopoly. And that, analysts said, could change the flavor of the country's beer industry. American Craft Brewing International said last week it will open a microbrewery in the northern city of Tecate, Baja California Norte, this April to produce premium lagers for sale in Mexico and export to the United States. It will be the third brewery in Mexico: Grupo Modelo SA holds around 54 percent of the market, while Fomento Economico Mexicano (Femsa) has another 45 percent. Imports have less than a 1 percent market share. What could emerge if the microbrewery succeeds, analysts said, is a Mexican beer market that not only offers the traditional favorites, but also ice beers, raspberry ales, premium lagers and other specialty brews. The microbrewery doesn't plan to capture significant market share. It will produce only 200,000 cases, or about 442,000 gallons a year. By comparison, Modelo brews 600 million gallons annually and Femsa 520 million. (Source: Monica Gutschi, Austin American-Statesman, January 25, Business; Pg. D1)

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If you watched the Superbowl -- or more to the advertising event surrounding the traditional trouncing -- you'll know that a new generation may grow up thinking the chicken crossed the road due to blind brand loyalty to Budweiser. They'll think that "born-on" dates speak to their youth and may never consider that some beers cellar well and grow character with age. "Isn't it ironic?" the pop star sings, about situations that lack irony and bear more resemblance to coincidence and ill-fate. This whole generation may grow up to consider bad luck irony. But there's great hope. A myth returns to us. This is a defining myth that arrived at the dusk of the "me" generation in the 70s and the dawn of unfettered corporate expansion at the expense of the corporate contract in the 80s. It valorized the marginalized few willing to stand against the will of conquest. I'm speaking, of course, about the return of Star Wars to the theaters this month.

Isn't it ironic that Star Wars is being released in a year when, in our niche, A-B makes its strongest push into the specialty beer segment? Here's a version of Star Wars that won't make the big screen, but will amaze and horrify those that dare watch. Star Wars delivers the perfect metaphor for this situation. The omnipresent Empire -- with nearly 50% of the beer market and pushing for 60 -- seeks total control of the galaxy. To this end, they are building the Death Star, a force so destructive, it can annihilate anything in its path. It is ruled by the dark side (enter Darth Vadar waving his sword at freshness-dating to distract the audience from the evil emperor manipulating the larger plan at hand).

RBPMail is a hologram sent to you via your trusty R2-D2 unit. And it shares with you the plans for the Death Star. Small rebel bands form pockets of resistance throughout the galaxy. They have become strong enough for Empire to notice, and now they are looking to crush the revolution through targeting certain leaders. The Death Star, in this case, is made up of disinformation, illegal influence over the distribution channel, immitation micro strategies, enormous advertising and legal resources and plans to revive an old form of totalitarianism called the Tied House.

Recently, contract brewer, S. Adams, was ambushed by attack ads and an NBC Dateline piece intercepted and discoverd to be corporate stenography disguised as consumer advocacy. S. Nevada is being betrayed by those seeking to cull favors from the Empire in the distribution channel by ousting the regional brewer from their portfolio. And now, the Empire has unleashed a flavorless, souless clone, Pathetic Ridge, to recruit less-informed rebel sympathizers and create confusion in the class. It's themeline, "Think Galacticly, Drink Locally" appropriates the battle cry of craft- brewers. Meanwhile, across town, another adjunct-fed beer takes the same strategy by claiming to be "the last real beer."

Suddenly that now-famous Star Wars theme song resounds to a new generation as Jedi Knights pass on ancient secrets and the craft grows strength. Driven by "the force", long-haired wookies and rogue-ish ne-er do-wells find themselves drawn into the battle. An amazing network of communications -- sometimes almost etheral, no, internet-like -- organize a swell of support that actually cripples the well-laid plans of the Empire. They'll be back, but we consumers may be the Ewoks on the next planet.

Yep, we're the equalizers. Boycott of products are no longer sufficient. We rebels must each attack where the Empires large marketing machines trounce. We must weaken the brand stronghold on consumers like dad and aunt martha. We must show them the truth and fire the force-led missle into the Death Star.

We're in our third year of bringing you craft-beer information. In this short time we've seen years of 50% growth, the pace of brewery openings increase to nearly six per week in 1996 (3.7 brewpubs and 2.3 microbreweries, according to the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, CO), and the success rate of brewpubs rise to 80%. What a great time to be involved.

Many of our editorials last year sought to inform you of schemes announced by the world's largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch, to kill the diversity and creativity born from the craft. As consumers, it's important that we rally around our local artists and drive the lies and deceptions of the Industrial Brewer into the light. It's a right, a privilege and a duty of craft-beer lovers to support the artists of the community by pointing out the fakes.

It's not ironic that Star Wars is back in the theaters this week. It's a great metaphor for the times. A myth with hope. One of my favorite stories. Timeless classics foretell and retell the story of all times.