RBPMail 3.03, March 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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SHIFTY BREWERY OWNER FLIES COOP
Reading like a spy novel, several articles published in the Lawrence Journal- World forwarded by Kansas Brewer Rob Moline spin a tale of shady pasts, investor fraud, attempted arson and family abandonment. Headlines included: 12/1/96 - Brewery opening delayed; 12/20/96 - Arson probe on tap at brewery; 12/21/96 Probe, beer taps turn up empty; 12/27/96 - Front man for brewery is missing; 12/28/96 - Missing brewery owner faces legal problems; 12/28/96 - Local, state, federal authorities extend brewery probe; 1/197 - Lien filed against Sports Page Brewery.; 1/9/97 - Burned: Investors, bankers, suppliers and others involved in two breweries; 1/12/97 - Breweries audit on tap; 1/17/97 - Troubled brewery waiting for a buyer. Allen Salah, the missing president of Brauereihaus, Inc. of Kansas City, MO was a convicted felon for previous fraud crimes. Salah left behind his wife and family along with investors and employees. Speculation place him out of the country or in the New Orleans area. For more details of this bizarre story, see the stories reported by Mark Fagan on the web at:
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SUPREME COURT THROWS OUT LABATT ICE APPEAL
Without comment, the Supreme Court declined to consider Labatt's appeal of a St. Louis jury trademark infringement verdict that favored St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch. The court also declined to hear Anheuser-Busch's plea to reinstate the jury's $5 million award. Labatt's began marketing Labatt Ice in the United States in August 1993, and A-B began selling its Budweiser Ice Draft two months later. Labatt accused Busch of infringing on its trademark, and both companies sued in federal court in St. Louis. A jury found that the terms "ice beer" and "ice brewed" were not trademarks and that Labatt's had engaged in "injurious falsehoods" by advertising that "If it's not Labatt's, it's not ice beer." The jury awarded Busch $5 million in punitive damages, but a judge overturned the award because lawyers for Busch hadn't given Labatt's enough notice that they intended to seek the damages. In July, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict. (Source: Tim Poor; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 19, Wednesday, News, Pg. 05A)
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********** SPECULATION & RUMORS **********
A-B TO BUY INTO MID-ATLANTIC REGIONAL?
In a letter to the feature editors of "Ask the Beer Geek," a favorite column in the BarleyCorn beer magazine, an anonymous writer inquired about rumors of Anheuser-Busch buying into respected regional brewery, Old Dominion Brewing Company. While confirming rumors were passing through the community, the editors were unable to validate the claims. Dominion president, Jerry Bailey, neither confirmed nor denied the rumors, saying only "Old Dominion is not for sale, nor is a controlling interest in Old Dominion for sale." (Source: BarleyCorn, February 1997, Ask The Beer Geek, Pg. 4)
STROH EYEING PABST?
A deal for Stroh Brewery to acquire rival Pabst Brewing Co. would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. But the suds business has undergone significant consolidation, including Stroh's acquisition last year of G. Heileman Brewing, a move that solidified Stroh as the fourth-biggest brewer. Sources say Stroh and Pabst have held at least informal discussions that could lead to Pabst being submerged into Stroh. These talks have even preceded the Heileman deal, insiders say. Both brewers already have a working arrangement under which the one-time flagship Heileman plant in LaCrosse, WI produces Pabst's beers--including Hamm's--that are distributed in the Midwest. Pabst has undergone a considerable amount of bleeding, and a combination with Stroh would stanch its losses. Pabst over the last two years has lost $40 million. While a Stroh spokeswoman said the firm routinely doesn't comment on speculation or rumors, Los Angeles-based attorney William Bitting, a trustee of the estate that owns Pabst, told this column, "We've got a good relationship with Stroh and anything is possible." Pabst also has breweries in San Antonio, TX and Tumwater, WA. The combination of Stroh and Heileman last year shipped 16.7 million barrels, down 8% from 1995. Pabst was off 14% in 1996. Stroh has 10 breweries, a number of which do contract packaging for other beer labels. Last year, more than 25% of Stroh's total production was for other brewers. (Source: George Lazarus, Chicago Tribune, February 14, Friday, Business; Pg. 3)
IS IT MILLER'S TIME?
Miller Brewing Co. says it is not for sale. Parent Philip Morris Cos. Inc. agrees. Yet rumors to the contrary will not die. Recently, they have been given impetus by a statement from Philip Morris that it was "disappointed" with the launch of a new Miller brand and the fact that, although profitable, Miller churned out money less quickly in 1996 than did other Philip Morris operations. Miller had an operating profit of $437 million in 1996 on operating revenue of $4.3 billion. It has assets of $1.7 billion. Large numbers, indeed but they represent only about 4% of Philip Morris' operating profits, 6% of revenue and 3% of assets. And while Philip Morris could get billions for Miller, the No. 2 U.S. brewer, it might get more if the company were performing better. Estimates of what Miller might bring in a sale range of $3 - $5 billion. If Miller brought $5 billion, that would be about $6 per Philip Morris share, before taxes. Not much for a stock that closed Tuesday at $121.875. If Philip Morris did decide to get out of the beer business, it could structure a deal for Miller in these four ways, analysts said: An outright sale to another company; A spin-off of Miller stock to Philip Morris shareholders; An initial public offering of Miller stock; A leveraged buyout. All of this is probably academic at the moment. (Source: Avrum D. Lank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 5, Wednesday , Business Pg. 1)
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********** WEB WATCH **********
SITES TO SURF:
Brew Your Own magazine has added an index of all of their past issues with links to the articles available online. And, they were kind enough to organize them by whatever subject/crisis comes up in the kitchen, or where ever you're brewing these days. From Aeration to Yeast, it's online for you at: http://www.byo.com/stryindx.php
BEAUMONT'S ON FIRE
We're proud of our association with premier beer writer and philosopher, Stephen Beaumont, and more so with each month's contribution. At his World Of Beer site, Beaumont provides some world news, a torturous review of Niagara Falls Eisbock vertical tasting, events, and -- perhaps most eloquently and importantly -- a powerful editorial and call to action about the deplorable Crazy Horse Malt Liquor. Don't miss this month's edition of World of Beer at:
EPPS JOINS REAL BEER AUTHORS
The self-anointed Pub Scout, Kurt Epps, may be the first writer outside of Michael Jackson to have his own logo. A teacher by day and writer by eve, Kurt presents the first batch of his pub and brew reviews on the Real Beer Page at: http://realbeer.com/rbp/authors/epps/
BEER STOCKS OFFERED ON WEB:
Draught Horse http://www.draughthorsebrewing.com/
MENDOCINO OFFERING NOW PUBLIC
Shareholders of record had a Priority-to-Purchase period that expired Saturday, February 22, 1997. A second Direct Public Offering of 600,000 shares of common stock, at $8.50 per share is intended to provide working capital through addition of cash reserves and repayment of certain short term indebtedness, complete the build-out of the new brewery building under construction in nearby Ukiah, and expand its production capacity to up to 75,000 bbl. per year, depending on the mix of products brewed. A prospectus request form is available at the company's web site:
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****************** Real Beer Picks ******************
Ambrew is a New Orleans-based national distributor of imported beers. As announced at the time of the Company's initial public offering in September 1996, AmBrew International plans to open up to 20 micro-breweries abroad by year end 1998. Each micro-brewery will produce high-quality, unique, flavorful beers and ales that are fresh and preservative-free, and are literally hand- crafted to appeal to local tastes and local pride. http://am-brew.com/
HAVANA'S FINE CIGARS
Craft-beer enthusiasts index highly with single-malt drinkers and cigar aficionados (see our Quickie Survey below). So it's our pleasure to tip you off to a premier provider of cigars in craft-brew central, Colorado. Look into the humidor, check out the divan, sample the accessories, and make sure you get their one time by visiting the Havana's Fine Cigars web site at:
MISSION ALE HOUSE
Here's another travel destination. If your path finds its way to craft-brew west and the Silicon Valley, you have to check out the cigar-friendly Mission Ale House. It's been described as "Just the right blend of sophistication and fun in the Downtown San Jose area." Featuring a killer selection of microbrews, fine liquors, wines, martinis and premium cigars, The Mission is worth the pilgrimage.
'Seems like there's a joke in here somewhere: what do Kathy Ireland, Michael Jackson, Pato Banton, Ronald Reagan and Herm A. Toba have in common? The answer is a SLO Brew from San Luis Obispo, CA, and you can see why while you learn all about the brewpub, brewery, SLO Brews and more. You can even enter their trivia contest for prizes and fun. Take it SLO at:
TORONTO'S FESTIVAL OF BEER
First, mark your calendars for Aug 8 - 10, 1997. Then spin by the web site to pick up tickets, itinerary, frequently asked questions, info about historical Fort York, directions, a '96 recap and even enter a contest to win a couple of tickets. We'll see you in Toronto and on the Web at:
for more about all things beer and Canadian, check out http://www.realbeer.com/canada/
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QUICKIE EMAIL SURVEY
to all who have been replying to our Quickie Surveys. We usually get a couple hundred responses, so the odds of winning a prize are better than winning the lotto. We've got a great new award to offer each month, as well: Michael Jackson's The Great Beers of Belgium distributed by Vanberg & DeWulf (http://www.BelgianExperts.com).
cigarettes - 33%
cigars - 22%
other - 66%
In case you think that the "other" category is just the wacky stuff, consider that our winner from our February survey, Shann Roberts, smokes a tobacco pipe more than anything else.
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****************** Brewed Fresh For You! ******************
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:
Bear Republic http://www.bearrepublic.com/
Brewery Atlantis http://www.breweryatlantis.com
Copper Kettle http://copperkettle.com
Baltimore Brewing Co http://www.degroens.com
Grant's Ales http://www.grants.com/
Heartland, NY http://www.HeartlandBrewery.com
AmBrew International http://www.am-brew.com
Infinity Neon http://infinityneon.com
Molokai Brewing http://www.MolokaiBrewing.com/
Reccow Brewing http://www.Reccow.com
Sam Adams http://www.SamAdams.com
Sprinkman Equipment http://www.execpc.com/~bsprink/
World of Beer http://www.WorldOfBeer.com
REGIONAL BEERIODICAL INVITES INVESTORS
Brew News, the premier BeeriodicalTM of New England, is interested in forming a strategic alliance or equity partnership in order to capitalize future growth and expansion. The company is most interested in hearing from those familiar with publishing businesses. Interested parties are directed to contact: Donald S. Gosselin: (617) 846-8800 or DSGosselin@YankeeBrew.com.
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KOREAN FIRM CONSIDERS BALTIMORE BREWERY
A&E International Ltd., a Korean manufacturer that bought a dormant Procter & Gamble Co. factory near Baltimore in December for $7 million, is negotiating to buy the former Halethorpe brewery that was closed last year by Stroh Brewery Co. A&E, considering a purchase for about $25 million, would use the brewery to manufacture Soju, a liquor popular in the Far East. It is not clear how many people the new owner would employ. The closing in December eliminated about 430 jobs. Stroh took over the Halethorpe plant -- the state's last major brewery -- in July when it acquired G. Heileman Brewing Co., the previous owner. In October, Stroh said it would shut the sprawling plant because it owned larger, newer breweries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Lacey Logan, a spokeswoman for Detroit-based Stroh, said, "We're interested in selling the property, not in redeveloping it ourselves. But we have no announcement at this time." (Source: Sean Somerville, The Baltimore Sun, February 21, Friday, Business, Pg. 1C)
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********** AD WATCH **********
AD COMMUNITY DIVIDED OVER DICK
A beer campaign is stirring contentious debate & caused a rift between a hot creative agency and a leading trade publication. Opinions about the off-center campaign for Miller Lite beer, by Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis, have been sharply divided since the commercials and advertisements began appearing in mid-January. The campaign features a fictitious "creative superstar" named Dick, whose muse is fueled by six-packs. In one spot, cowboys serenade their beer on the way to the bathroom; in another, a woman grows fur under her arms after a magician's trick goes awry. The campaign, aimed at drinkers in their 20's, was produced by a team of Swedish creative executives, known for hip ads for Diesel jeans. Some critics praise the ads as sly, postmodern sendups of conventional beer pitches, and Miller believes the campaign has improved its sales. But the countervailing complaints -- that they are sophomoric and irrelevant to selling beer -- are perhaps the harshest to be leveled against any recent campaign. Much of that castigation has come from columnists for Advertising Age, a trade weekly. Bob Garfield, the weekly's ad critic, belittled the campaign as "ads about the ad-making process" and thus "a smug, masturbatory sort of advertising." Fallons's creative head, Bill Westbrook, resigned as Advertising Age's chief judge of the annual Best Awards competition, an honor reserved for the top creative talent at the Agency of the Year. "I'm used to getting bouquets for the work we do and I'm used to getting bullets," Mr. Westbrook said, "but these guys crossed the line. It's become personal, about the agency rather than the work... when you assail the agency, that hurts the people who work here. It's mean spirited and I don't understand it." Mr. Westbrook's resignation "is something that's truly his decision," said Gina Shaffer, a spokeswoman in Milwaukee for Miller. She dismissed the attacks because the campaign is "resonating with the contemporary beer drinker," she said, who appreciates the playful "we know that you know this is advertising" tone of the ads. (Source: Stuart Elliott, The New York Times, February 24, Monday, Section D; Page 8; Column 1)
NEW MILLER ADS FROM NIKE AGENCY
Miller Brewing Co. is giving its slumping Genuine Draft brand a whole new attitude. Call it the micro-brew backlash. Unlike traditional beer advertising using leggy female models and their beefy chiseled male counterparts, the star of a new 60-second ad for the brand is an overweight older man doing a cannonball in a backyard pool. Launched during the NBA All-Star game, the new campaign from Nike ad agency Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, OR, tells beer drinkers in a hip, in-your-face style that "it's time for beer to quit acting like wine" and "it's time for a good old macro-brew." Miller executives say the campaign is not focused on microbrews per se, but the brand needed to develop a new attitude to find its place among the hundreds of new choices facing beer drinkers. "We had a number of things to deal with in this campaign," said Jeff Carefoot, the Genuine Draft brand director. "We're in a category that's trending down, and we need to stake out some turf. It is much more about the attitude of the drinkers." Genuine Draft sales are in a tailspin. Last year, Genuine Draft and Genuine Draft light sales combined were down 7.5% for a total of 4.49% of the total beer market.(Source: Jim Kirk, Chicago Sun-Times, February 10, Monday, Fin; Pg. 47)
COULD BE ICE FOR BUD PENGUIN
Munsingwear, nationally known men's underwear manufacturer, is demanding that Anheuser-Busch cease using the penguin character in its new Bud Ice campaign. Munsingwear parent company, Supreme International Corp., registered the penguin as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 1959. Supreme feels that the Bud Ice Penguin is represented as having a demonic attitude and is "extremely prejudicial" to the Munsingwear Penguin that " does not want to promote the use of alcoholic beverages." Supreme also demanded that A-B stop using phrases like "Beware the Penguins" and told A-B to withdraw its application to trademark the penguin. Concern over confusion increases when considering the merchandising of the A-B campaign. A-B has filed suit in U.S. District court against Supreme and Muningswear for rights to trademark the Bud Ice Penguin. (Source: Sara Doersam, Southern Draft Brew News, February/March, Pg. 1 http://www.southerndraft.com/sodraft/)
AD AWARENESS NOT LINKED TO UNDERAGE SALES
Teens may say they love the frogs, penguins and other clever images in beer ads, but they aren't putting their money where their mouths are. While 99% of the 534 kids in grades 6 through 12 polled by USA TODAY were familiar with Bud's ubiquitous frogs, the brand is being passed over for purchase in favor of brands like Molson, Busch and Old English. In focus-group discussions, few said Bud was their favorite beer. The frogs were more popular with drinkers vs. non-drinkers: 71% of drinkers said they liked them vs. 39% of non-drinkers. More than 1/3 said the ads make drinking seem appealing. But only 18% said the ads make them want to try Bud. "Awareness of an ad does not cause drinking any more than ignorance causes abstinence," says Francine Katz, vice president of consumer awareness and education at A-B. Awareness of six brand TV ads USA TODAY showed to teens revealed that four of the six were very familiar to teens, especially ads for Budweiser and Bud Light. A campaign for Coors Light starring "giant people" was known by about half the young people quizzed. Coors spokesman Jon Goldman says the "giant people" ads have aired more than 5,000 times the past two years. The fact that only half of teens had seen the ads more than six times is encouraging, he says: "We are doing an excellent job placing ads so that the primary audience is those who can legally drink." Teens who spoke to USA TODAY said few of their buying decisions are tied to commercials they see on TV, but some are influenced by point-of-purchase displays and price. (Source: Dottie Enrico, USA Today, January 31, Friday, Money; Pg. 4B)
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you were subscribed to BEERWeek, you would have already read the following headlines and sample articles:
BEERWeek of February 3 - 10, 1997
* Nor'Wester Clinches Deal
* Georgia Brewery Closes
* U.S. Senate Intro's National Deposit Bill
* Anheuser-Busch Has GREAT Year!
* Miller Has Fair Year: Philip Morris Smokes!
* Molson Closes Brewery in Winnipeg
* Pabst Hot in China
U.S. SENATOR INTRO'S NATIONAL DEPOSIT FEE
According to a Reuter's press dispatch dated January 28, a bill was introduced on that date by Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) to impose a nationwide 10-cent deposit fee on beverage bottles and cans. In Vermont, according to Jeffords, a similar law resulted in a recycling rate of over 90%. This bill would impose a 10- cent deposit on beer, soft drink and water containers in states with a beverage container rate of less than 70%. To register your views on this bill, contact Senator Jeffords in Washington, D.C.
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BEERWeek of February 10 - 17, 1997
* Pool 'n Brew In Minnesota
* Disappointing Year For Pyramid & Pete's: Q4 Reports Just Released
* Upbeat Report From Institute For Brewing Studies
* Rock Bottom Sales Up
* Redhook Sees Sales Up, Net Down
* Moon Under Water Pulls Plug
GOOD NEWS FROM ROCK BOTTOM
Net income for the fourth quarter in 1996 increased 109 percent to $1.3 million or $.16 per share on 8.0 million shares outstanding, compared to $.08 per share in 1995 on 7.6 million shares outstanding. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery restaurants and Old Chicago restaurants opened 16 new restaurants in nine new markets. The company plans to open seven Rock Bottom Restaurant restaurants and seven Old Chicago restaurants.
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BEERWeek of February 17 - 24, 1997
* CEO Mark Bozzini Out At Pete's
* Georgia Considering Restrictions
* NM Legislature Negs Kegs
* Mid-Atlantic States Pro Craft Brewers
* Abdul-Jabbar Can't Jump for Coors?
* A-B Claims Market Share From Coors
* Guinness Airs TV Ad Campaign
* Paulaner North America Celebrates Ten Years
* Bigger Numbers Through Deep Discounting??
GEORGIA LEGISLATURE CONSIDERS RESTRICTIVE MEASURE HB119, a law to prohibit the shipment of alcoholic beverages by persons in another state or country to unauthorized persons in this state has passed the Georgia House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate. An almost identical law was put in place in Kentucky. Meanwhile, such restrictive measures are currently being abolished in Florida. You can make your views know by contacting the Georgia Legislature directly.
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BEERWeek of February 24 - March 3, 1997
* Wipeout for Rhino Chaser?
* Jim Koch goes HardCore!
* Coors Does Better than Bud Said They'd Do!
* Molson/Coors Work Out Canadian Contract
* Coors Employees "Over the Rainbow" Re New Benefits
* Change in UK's Tied-House Structure
* A-B/Modelo Deal Still Brewin'
WIPEOUT FOR RHINO CHASER?
The quirky contract brewing enterprise called Rhino Chasers (after a surfers term for "chasing the big wave") appears to have ceased business. Repeated phone calls to the corporate offices in Huntington Beach, CA have gone unanswered. The offices are reported to be unoccupied and several distributors are blowing out remaining inventory.
We can't leave you hanging for another month on this story, so here's a follow- up report from BEERWeek, March 3-10:
RHINO CHASERS LIVES - SORT OF
We reported in the last BeerWeek that Rhino Chasers "appeared to have ceased business." Since then, we have received a copy of the following letter written by John Lennon, the company's CEO. In this recent letter - to its distributors - William & Scott/Rhino Chasers announced that William & Scott will "license the Rhino Chasers Brand to Minnesota Brewing Company who will continue to accept, ship and bill orders for Rhino Chasers Beers from the distributor to customers of W&S. Minnesota Brewing Company will cover its production and administrative costs and place the brand's Gross Profits into an escrow account to be administered by an independent trustee for benefit of the company's creditors. Once these transactions are complete William & Scott will be liquidating under U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The plan has the informal approval of the company's two secured creditors and several of its largest unsecured creditors. Effective immediately, Minnesota Brewing Company will take orders for, ship, bill and collect remuneration for all Rhino Chasers Products. Minnesota Brewing Company will bill distributors at the current F.O.B. price for Rhino Chasers Beers. For further information or to order beer please contact Mike Dougherty, Director of National Sales at Minnesota Brewing Company by telephoning 612-228-9173 or faxing orders to 612-290-8211.
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IL LOWERS BLOOD-ALCOHOL LEVEL ON DRIVERS
For the first time in five years, a push to lower the blood-alcohol level for drunken driving advanced in the Illinois Senate Thursday, over the objections of the liquor industry. Secretary of State George Ryan's plan to reduce the allowable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream from the current level of .1 to .08. The measure still faces a long legislative battle this spring in which a prominent opponent figures to be Senate President James "Pate" Philip (R- Wood Dale). In committee Thursday, representatives of the liquor industry railed against the proposal, saying the state should provide tougher penalties against people caught driving well above the current limit. Most drunk driving offenses occur with drivers over the .2 blood-alcohol range. (Source: Dave Mckinney, Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, Friday, NWS; Pg. 1)
ANHEUSER-BUSCH ADDS 4 BREWS
Anheuser-Busch hopes to capitalize on the popularity of microbrews by adding four new brands to its Michelob label. The new beers are Golden Pilsner, Honey Lager, Pale Ale and Porter. The first three are available nationally, while Porter is being test-marketed only in the Northwest. With the latest additions, the St. Louis-based brewery now produces 34 brands of beer and imports about five more. The company said the beers will be made at breweries in Merrimack, N.H.; Fairfield, Calif.; and Fort Collins, Colo. Demand for specialty beers is rising faster than sales of major brands. (Source: The Columbus Dispatch, February 21, Business, Pg. 2G)
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COORS REPORTS GOOD '96
Adolph Coors Co. ended 1996 with a strong fourth quarter that gives the Golden brewer momentum in a tough beer market, according to President Leo Kiely. "Overall, 1996 was a good year for Coors Brewing Co., despite a difficult start," Kiely told analysts in a conference call. "After a tough first quarter, we stayed focused on our core brands and the fundamentals of effective selling throughout the peak season." Net sales of $1.73 billion represent a 3.1% increase over 1995. Net income for 1996 was $43.4 million or $1.14 per share, up 0.6% from $43.2 million or $1.13 per share in 1995. Kiely said key factors that helped Coors earnings included: Close attention to core brands Coors Light and a successful relaunch of Original Coors; Pricing that "held up well all year."; International income increased after Molson Brewing was ordered to pay Coors higher royalties and Coors sales in the Caribbean remained strong; Lower aluminum and freight costs helped Coors absorb a range of expenses. Coors' legal action against Molson added up to a net charge of $6.3 million. Without that charge Coors would have reported an increase of more than 39% in after- tax earnings, Coors said. (Source: Richard Williamson; Rocky Mountain News, February 19, Wednesday, Business; Ed. F; Pg. 2B)
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PLASTIC BOTTLES CONSIDERED BY BREWERS
LE HAVRE, France - Bar fights may never be the same. Sidel SA, a French company that makes machines used in plastic bottling, is trying to persuade breweries that plastic is cheaper, easier and safer than glass. It's already convinced Australia's Foster's Brewing Group Ltd., which in November began a marketing experiment with Sidel to package its Carlton Cold, Australia's second-largest selling beer, in plastic bottles. Sidel holds a patent for making machines to mold polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic that can easily be recycled. If Sidel, the world's biggest plastic bottle machine maker, can show more breweries that it has solved technical problems like beer's limited shelf-life in plastic bottles, and overcome consumer resistance to plastic containers, it stands to tap into an industry that analysts say uses 250 billion glass bottles a year. Plastic bottles are lighter and easier to transport than glass, and therefore cheaper to distribute. Compared with glass, plastic isn't airtight, which means beer in plastic spoils faster. Sidel can only guarantee a two-month shelf life in its Foster's experiment. Analysts say six months would be better. Environmental concerns could be an issue: Western European countries recycle about 6.5% of polyethylene terephthalate bottles, compared with 32% in the United States, said Andrew Simmons of Recovery of Used Plastic (Containers) Ltd., a U.K. trade group funded by the packaging industry. In comparison, recycling rates for glass are much higher, more than 60% in five countries of Western Europe. "We have been thinking about it but there are still some problems," said Koos Woltjes, a spokesman for Heineken, the world's second largest brewer. With plastic bottles, "beer now turns bad faster because carbon dioxide evaporates and oxygen penetrates, which means the beer turns stale earlier. At the moment, it's not an option for us. We are waiting for new technology." (Source: Wendy Gold and Raymond Frenken, Bloomberg News, The Denver Post, February 16, Sunday, Business; Pg. J-11)
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SHAMELESS PLUG FOR CRAFT BREWERS CONFERENCE IN SEATTLE
For everyone who will be attending the conference in Seattle this year, please visit the Real Beer, Inc. booth (Booth 900) to see the new updated Real Beer Page as well as some event specials that we will be offering. We will also be introducing a fantastic new resource for the professional brewer to be seen for the first time in Seattle. If you would like to attend our now famous beer and cigar event point your browser to http://www.realbeer.com/smokeout97 and rsvp. Many of our event co-sponsors will have booths at the conference as well. Stop by and say hello:
Real Beer, Inc. ( http://realbeer.com ) - Booth 900
Source Packaging ( http://sourcepackaging.com ) - Booth 816
Packaging Plus ( http://packagingplus.com ) - Booth 901
Hop Union ( http://hopunion.com ) - Booth 705
Newlands Services Inc. - Booth 332
BrewingTechniques ( http://brewingtechniques.com ) - Booth 928
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MACHO BREW AD REVIEWS - EDITORIAL
Time to look at where beer advertising is headed for the Industrial brewers. We've spent enough e-space on A-B's ad approach, so, what are the other two Big-3 brewers, Coors & Miller, doing? They are busy trying to make their beers macho and combating the decline of their so-called "super premium" products at the hands of imports and specialty beers. Frankly, the Real Beer category should be flattered. The 3-4% of U.S. beer sales, the craft-beer segment, seems to be the tail wagging the (red?) dog. The big brewers are striking back with enormous media clout.
Coors telegraphed its intentions last year when a chesty, breathy brunette welcomed a former beer explorer back his true love -- industrial beer. After you're done with the "fad," you're welcome back to your hot-mama brand. Complete with its characteristic sexploitation. Coors has continued its campaign, with great audacity, claiming to be the last "Real Beer." We could chalk up this kind of ignorance to ad guys drinking from the new wide mouths, but someone at Coors had to approve the campaign. In outdoor ads, the brand uses headlines like "When Hair Stylists Were Barbers and Beer Was Beer." Sounds a lot like the adage, "When men were men and sheep were scared."
Old habits are hard to break and this is especially true of the old-boy network of advertising. As an ad agency alumnus I can assure you that advertising has not changed much in forty years. That may be why the Coors campaign has a nostalgic feel to it. It seems as though the boys at the ad agency and the boys in corporate marketing are waxing sentimentally over the good old days when people just drank industrial beer and the decision was between light or full- calorie beer within a brand.
Miller's new advertising agency may have convinced the company that their old agency lost its way from their original message. A new campaign in print and television brings new commitment to the "Miller Time" marketing message. The subtext tells us that it's not just Miller time, but you better stop messing with the other stuff, too. Call it backlash. We'll call it beer fascism. Here's an excerpt of the 12 page ($$!!) Miller insert into the 1997 Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue (hey, we were just reading it for the ads...):
Cover: Head - "It's that time again." Graphic - Close-up of cigar-chomping tough-guy smiling as he hoists a tapped-keg over head; Pgs. 2-3: Head - "It's time for beer to quit acting like wine" Graphic - Wide angle of cigar-chomping tough-guy hoisting keg; Pgs. 4-5: Head - "It's time to drink beer that doesn't belong on the same shelf as bottled water." Graphic - Bar scene of four 20- something/grunge/gen-X partying women with matronly barfly; Pgs. 6-7: Head - "It's time to drink beer imported all the way from Milwaukee." Graphic - gutter- level shot of grinning stock guy looking up at woman passing with dog while he shoulders two cases up from basement ; Pgs. 8-9: Head - "It's time for a good old MACRO-BREW." Graphic - five guys shaking bottles of beer and the ropes supporting their compadre on a barrel bronco; Pgs. 10-11: Head - "It's Miller GENUINE Draft Time." Graphic - Dock worker in winter-wear throws keg to another loading truck; Pg. 12: Head - "It's time to shut up and drink some beer." Graphic - guy in "let's party!" tee-shirt (suppressing belch?) raising empty bottle to camera.
Like the Coors campaign, Miller is trying to re-assert itself as a Real/Genuine article. The Miller ads should raise some questions for craft-beer enthusiasts and marketers in the craft-beer segment. The Miller's ads regular-guy cast and production values are as seductive as a music video. The message has a class- appeal that understands that 97% of beer consumed in the U.S. is industrial beer, and, perhaps by coincidence, that most people in the U.S. today are feeling the disparity between upper class and even middle class. If microbrewed beers have an aspirational appeal to them, this is a beer for those who no longer aspire to anything but their lot in life. Hard to imagine, but they may actually be making the point is that the most individualistic statement you make is buying what everyone else drinks.
For those of us who understand craft-beer, we know that part of its appeal is that it is approachable to anyone. After all, it IS beer. And part of craft-beer's appeal is the incredible diversity of flavors -- yes, even the wine-like flavors. It fits any party theme -- guzzling or gourmet. The Miller campaign -- and my guess is that some market research -- says that somehow the craft-class has created snobbery. Each of the Big-3 have taken shots at the craft-beer segment as being, well, effeminate. The pinky-up beer. There are implied gender, class and orientation bashing/baiting messages that can be extrapolated from the campaigns. It's implied in all their ads that industrial beer is for real guys. Microbrews are for the former white wine and sparkling water crowd.
This can't be further from the truth, but there is probably suspicion from the big brand loyalist that this is the case, and the Big 3 are exploiting the perception. So, it's time for craft-beer enthusiast to break down these perceptions. Next time you see someone chugging an industrial beer because the mouth is wider and they can, challenge them to do the same with a microbrew. If they are tossing a keg of beer around, invite them to do so with a higher-gravity keg. Yes, drinking microbrews can be more manly than industrial beers by the measures presented in their advertising. Obviously, I'm invoking some satirical license to make the point that you should exposing the lies and innuendoes of the big brands' advertising messages if you get the opportunity. Support your local brewers with pride secure that it represents your own sense of individual choice and exploration.
And chuckle when you see the MACRO-BREW headline. After all, it was inspired by your micro-brew enthusiasm.