RBPMail 3.11, November 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Real Beer, Inc. will launch the Beer Hunter web site featuring the extensive writings of the beer world's hardest working author, historian and authority, Michael Jackson. Mr. Jackson, who resides in London, was in Denver as a judge for the GABF Professional Panel Blind Tasting and said that he was delighted to be working with Real Beer. Companies interested in charter advertising within this high-quality, branded site can contact Real Beer for more information at (415) 522-1516 x304 or send e mailto:

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Anheuser-Busch is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged violations of trade practices in distribution contracts with their wholesalers. The story, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, states that A- B has confirmed the investigation by the DOJ into its distribution practices. There have been allegations that the industry giant is trying to muscle smaller breweries off the market. Several lawsuits (previously reported in BeerWeek have been brought against A-B by microbrewers in California over pressure exerted on distributors to only carry A-B products as part of their "100% Share of Mind" edict. The WSJ report stated that DOJ investigators are looking into a restrictive wholesale distribution contract that A-B had its distributors sign in August which reportedly gave the brewing giant a say in practically all of the distributor's ownership and management changes. A-B has denied assertions that it forces wholesalers to distribute only A-B products.

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American Brewer's Guild announces two diploma programs will now be offered over the Internet from January 20 through July 10, 1998. The programs, Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering and Craftbrewers Apprenticeship Program, will be the same in material and format as the residential program now taught at the Guild campus in Woodland, CA. The advantage of the on-line course offerings is that the courses, instead of requiring relocation to California for classroom time, can now be taken over the course of six months. The IBS&E will still require a one-week apprenticeship at the Guild, while the CBA program requires five weeks at a host brewery and one week at the Guild. Application deadline for the courses is November 17, 1997. For more information, contact the Guild at 1-800-636- 1331.

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The way has finally been cleared for the much publicized merger between Guinness and Grand Metropolitan, a merger that will form the world's largest drinks company, according to the October 14 Wall Street Journal. Announced five months ago (BeerWeek 5/19), the merger was delayed by the tactics of Louis Vuitton/Moet-Hennessy chairman Bernard Arnault, who had pressed for a three way merger. LVMH will receive 250 million pounds ($405.4 million) to expand its current marketing and distribution joint venture with Guinness to include Grand Met brands. Yet to come is the approval of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which is coordinating its response with that of the European Commission (EU).

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Anheuser-Busch bought 80% of a brewery in Wuhan, China, in 1995. Since then the company has increased its stake to 86.5%. It expects to reach the one- million barrel production level soon, a much faster growth rate than in any other foreign country where it is involved with brewing. Demand for beer in China is expected to outstrip U.S. consumption (now 190 million barrels a year) within eight years. China is already the third largest foreign market for A-B, after Canada and the UK.

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While there are more than 600 breweries in China, most are small and losing money, with half of them in the red -- an opportunity for giant international breweries to step in to consolidate the industry. Only eight breweries have an annual capacity of more than 200,000 tonnes, while the population consumed 16 million tonnes of domestically produced beer in 1996. In September, Chinese communist leaders called for a shake-up of state industry in order to increase profits and efficiency of operation. Mergers and acquisitions are part of that rehab plan, and breweries are an obvious target for takeovers. For example, Yanjing, which controls more than 80% of the Beijing market is considering acquisitions. This year alone, it intends to produce 10% over last year. Complicating things: Chinese breweries are often "protected" in their local area. Protectionism, for example, has prevented Yanjing from marketing outside Beijing. Domestic breweries are also subject to heavy taxation and, finally, Chinese breweries face competition from producers of hard liquor. Since the government cracked down on distilleries to curb consumption of important grain supplies, liquor makers have looked to brewing as a solution to their problems. China has 40,000 distilleries, employing 20 million people. On the other hand, local governments do not want to lose the tax income from the distilleries, which have paid 10 billion yuan annually in the past few year. ($8.3 billion USD).

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Fosters Brewing Group Ltd. has announced expansion into Vietnam, according to an October 20 Reuter's dispatch. The Group bought two local breweries from Brasserie et Glacieres Internationals of France for $78 million. The purchase gives the Australian brewing group 6% of the Vietnamese beer market. The breweries are currently operating at only 40-50% capacity so Foster's can step up production and possibly double its market share. Foster's will continue to brew the BGI brands, but would also brew its own brands as well. Foster's CEO Ted Kunkel stated that the Vietnamese was more profitable than the highly competitive Chinese market, where 40 international brewers are in competition. Other large international brewers in Vietnam are Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd., Carlsberg, San Miguel and Heineken. While Vietnam's population is 76 million, beer consumption has risen about 21 percent a year since 1991, according to Foster's.

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Asahi Breweries Ltd. is considering a second production base in Europe in order to quadruple its beer sales in Europe by 2000. (1996 beer sales in Europe were 506,400 ). A company spokesman indicated that the company had not decided whether to license a European beer maker or establish a subsidiary of its own. Earlier, Asahi agreed to license Bass Breweries Ltd. to produce Asahi's Super Dry beer beginning from 2000. In early October, Asahi Breweries Ltd. announced it would liquidate its Australian unit in the current business year to December 31. The Australian unit was formed in 1990 to globalize and invest in Foster's Brewing Group Ltd. The Asahi unit sold its shares back to Fosters in July. According to Asahi, the Australian unit had suffered from financial difficulties and the Australian economy was sluggish.

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Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont, CO, and Tabernash Brewing Company, Denver, have agreed to form a strategic alliance. Left Hand, emphasizing traditional ales, is the largest brewery in Colorado not yet packaging in 12-oz. 6-packs. The brewery was formed in 1993 by Eric Wallace and Dick Doore, produced 5300 barrels in 1996 and employs 17 people. Tabernash has been the only craft brewer in Colorado specializing in German- style wheat and lager beers. It was founded in 1993 by Mark Lupa, Jeff Mendel, Eric Warner and George Barela. The brewery produced 6500 barrels in 1996 and employs 10. The new entity will be headquartered at Left Hand's current facility in Longmont following expansion, the first phase of which is already underway. Installation of a state-of-the-art German bottling line is to be completed by summer of 1998.

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Only 51 shopping days until Christmas, 50 until Hannukah, and approximately 47 until the winter solstice. Make things easier for your shopping list and surf your presents off the Web. We've put together a dandy of a gift guide for your convenience and -- if you're on the receiving end -- enjoyment. Check it out at:

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Alaskan Brewing Co.'s trademark is not only their award-winning smoked porter (may be the winningest craft-beer in GABF history), but the landscape in which it is brewed. Taking inspiration from recipes brewed in Juneau at the turn of the century, Alaskan has developed one of the most respected house portfolios of craft-beers. The web pages reflect the Alaskan spirit and the history of the company from 1986 until today.

BJ's Brewery and Pizza - a name that you'll be aware of soon, if you are not already. BJ's is an expanding empire of award-winning pizza brewery restaurants. Currently there are 5 locations offering their tasty food and hand- crafted brews, with over 19 more to come soon to locations in the Pacific Northwest.

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Meet the oldest North American maltsters on the Internet. The Briess family have been serving the brewing industry since 1876, and their informative and deep web site suggests their preeminent place in the brewing industry well into the next century. Plenty of construction going on here, so check back often in the future.

Cornucopia Bottle Market pages offer one-stop shopping for the finest MicroBrew & Import Beers, Fine Wines, Cigars, & Herbal Products. Currently the pages do not offer online ordering, but you can peruse their virtual shelves, choose your fancy, and call them at their 1-800 number with your order. Bookmark this site and check back often for Cornucopia's unveiling of an online shopping mecca.

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Founded by a consortium of award-winning Southern California homebrewers and beer-loving businesspeople, and dedicated to excellence in the keg and bottle - The Great Beer Co. lives up to its name. This site offers cool Southern California attitude, and an introduction to the Hollywood Blonde, the flagship Kolsch-style ale. The brewster, Maribeth Raines- Casselman, Ph.D has earned acclaim among brewers for her expertise in both brewing and yeast management; you need only try a taste of her work to learn why:

Hog's Head Beer Cellars offers beer of the month subscriptions, a selection from their great beer cellar, cigars and more. The site includes a newsletter and some great information about featured brewers. They are also developing some online shopping which reminds us of a feeble riddle: How do you stop a razorback from charging online? Call their 800 number. All applicable rules regarding legal age requirements apply.

Head over to the web site of the Black Eagle, Imperial Beer - Costa Rica's own. This month enter the Paradise Giveaway and take your chances at winning a trip for two to Costa Rica. Lush rainforests and sandy beaches await you. Imperial Beer is brewed with pure spring water bubbling from the volcanic mountains of Costa Rica, the highest European brewing craftspersonship and ingredients in the Cerveceria Costa Rica.

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Custom brewing systems are tailored and designed for any brewery by Northern Brew Systems, a family business offering hands-on, quality- intensive brewery installations. Get acquainted with the staff, swoon over pictures of their systems, and check out their impressive customer list.

Spaten-Franziskaner Brauerei - the words evoke the grandeur of their 600 year history. This site offers a wealth of facts on the Reinhetsgebot, brewing history and what is the last word on Maerzen Oktoberfest. Continually changing images, photos and factoids on the site make this a destination. If you love Spaten, brewing or are just a history bug, spend some time at this site.

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Thanks to all who have been replying to our Quickie Surveys. We draw one winner each month for the prize of Michael Jackson's The Great Beers of Belgium distributed by Vanberg & DeWulf (, Importers of fine Belgian beers and now brewers of Belgian-style beer in their Cooperstown-based Brewery Ommegang.

Last month we asked, what screen resolution is your monitor set to? Nearly half use a 800x600 resolution setting and the other two quarters give or take a few points use 1024x768 and 640x480.


1024 x 768 - 28%
640 x 480 - 23%
800 x 600 - 41%
Other - 8%

Last month winners Alfred May, Bob Heubel, Ashley Weber, David Good and JILNICKY won some great looking Spaten Tee Shirts. Congratulations and thanks to Spaten ( for their contribution.

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***Brewed Fresh For You!***

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

Beer Channel
Beer Postcards
Beer Manager (the game!)
Elk Grove
Gregg Glaser
Havanas Cigars
Horse Brass Pub
Molokai Brewing
Shadow Mtn
Smutty Nose

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German brewers face a two-pronged threat, says an article in the September 27 issue of The Economist. Anheuser-Busch and Miller beers are becoming popular with German youth while per capita beer consumption in that country has dropped over the past six years from 142 liters to 131.7 per person. Trend-conscious young people pay DM5 to DM7 ($2.80 to $4) for a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft or "B" beer from Anheuser-Busch. They could buy German beer for half the price of these "imported" adjunct-brews. This trend is not unique to Germany. At the White Horse on Parsons Green, a bastion of real ale in London, a BeerWeek contributor has seen drinkers ignore the exquisitely kept Draught Bass and order imported Michelob, which they consume straight from the bottle. (Martin Morse Wooster and Jim Dorsch contributed to this report.)

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Guinness has developed a successor to the packaged beer nitrogen dispensing "widget" called the "snake." The invention comes from researchers at Guinness in Dublin, Ireland and is reported to have taken 18 months and some $5.5 million to develop. The new device is essentially a tiny ping-pong ball that swirls around the beer dispensing nitrogen gas while the beer is being poured, giving it a much thicker head than the old widget. The new device is called the "snake" because it rattles in the empty can. Additionally, the new "snake" will be possible to serve in cans at room temperature unlike the old widget which had to be served cold. The new cans are being launched in England this month.

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British brewery Bass filed a lawsuit against the IPB group, a group surrounding Czech IPB Bank. (BeerWeek, 9/22) The group holds majority stakes in the two largest Czech breweries, Plzensky Prazdroj and Radegast a.s. Bass is the single largest shareholder in Radegast (33%). Radegast is "the key to the expansion plans of both Bass and IPB in the Czech brewing industry." IPB spokeswoman Barbara Tacheci stated that the company believed the Bass lawsuit to be unwarranted.

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In years past, local Muencheners had accused Oktoberfest officials of inflating estimates for attendance at Germany's world-renowned 16 day beer event, which begins in late September. This year, the festival used an electronic device for greater accuracy. 3.6 million visitors were attracted to the first week of the festival. According to Munich's mayor, Christian Ude, 100,000 more visitors than in record year 1995 had attended in the first week, and beer consumption was up 10%. Spaten-Franziskaner Brewery, brewer's of the original Ur-Maerzen-Oktoberfest beer, celebrated its 600-year anniversary during the 1997 Oktoberfest.

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Over 35,000 people attended this year's Great American Beer Festival held at Currigan Hall in Denver, Colorado. This year's Professional Panel Blind Tasting judged some 1813 different beers in 50 categories awarding a total of 149 medals for brewing excellence. California took the most medals (21) but had the most entries (263). Host state Colorado had the next best showing with 17 medals awarded from 240 entries. This year's competition saw a much better geographic distribution of awards than in the past. Great beer is no longer a regional phenomenon. Wisconsin took a total of ten medals followed by New York and Ohio with seven each. Oregon, Washington and Texas each got six medals. Michigan and Kentucky (thanks to Brew Works at the Party Source!) took five each. For a complete listing of awards, log on to the Association of Brewers web site at:

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The United Brewers Group of India plans to launch an operation, Releta Brewing Co., at the site of the former North Country Brewing in Saratoga Springs, NY. Kingfisher, the UB Group flagship brand, will be one of the beers brewed in Saratoga, to be distributed to Indian restaurants in New York, Boston and Washington, DC.

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The Clinton administration has gone on record as endorsing a lowered national blood alcohol content level standard for driving that would force states to make their laws more restrictive or lose federal highway money. Bill advocates suggest that 600 deaths could be prevented per year, although these numbers are convincingly refuted by informed sources. Bill opponents argue that the bill "tramples on states rights," and that it punishes responsible social drinkers. For more about number inflation, read:

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Oklahoma's Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE) is troubled by the presence of information on the World Wide Web on how to order more than 40,000 kinds of wine and craft beers. Oklahoma has a problem in that, while it can "entrap" a company by ordering beer or wine by mail and file charges against the companies who ship alcoholic beverages across state line, and it can file charges against them, it is not willing to pay the expense to have defendants brought there to appear in state court. State authorities write the offending company and give a trial date, but the companies don't show up. All the state can do is extradite the individual cited. Currently a resolution being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives would allow states to file federal charges. Attorneys General would not be required to bring the accused to their state. Attorney Morton Siegel of Siegel, Moses, Schoenstadt and Webster, which only handles beer industry cases, stated that he did not expect the bill to make it through Congress. Siegel maintains that it is not the company's fault for selling the beer to an anti-direct shipment state and not the shipper's fault either, but the consumer's. A representative of ABLE stated that, "We aren't going to break the law to enforce the law."

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According to an October 14 Reuters dispatch, volume for American Craft Brewing Ltd. was heavy on that day, with 81,000 shares being traded, more than 11 times normal daily levels. While company CEO Peter Bordeaux told Reuters that the company had not released any news to cause sales to accelerate, he did say that the company had started to ship beer from its new location in Tecate, Mexico. The company continues to hold talks on financing with potential lenders. Earlier this year the company opened two new breweries, one in Mexico and one in Ireland. In September, the company announced widening losses for the third quarter.


Boston Beer Company announced that 357,000 barrels were sold for the 3rd quarter 1997, versus 294,000 in 1996. Net sales were $48.6 million versus $46.1 million and EPS was $0.16 versus $0.11. BBC president Jim Koch stated that growth was the result of leadership position in the "better beer" category (imports and craft beers).

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Anheuser-Busch reported that, while its 3rd quarter income grew by 5%, full year results might be off. A-B attributed any decline in growth rate to the challenge of maintaining market share by matching price cuts by competitors. In its report, the company stated that it earned $394 million in the period ending September 30. In the same period a year ago, the company earned $377 million. The company also reported that its market share among U.S. brewers fell from 45.1% to 44.7% in the first nine months of 1997. This is measured by shipments of beer for domestic consumption and export.


The Adolph Coors Co. outperformed their predicted performance. Seven analysts estimated that Coors would report earnings of 45 cents a share for the quarter. Actual third quarter income was 47 cents a share (or $17.4 million). Revenue for third quarter 97 was $489.7 million, from $455.9 million, same quarter, 1996. Coors attributed the statistics to increased sales volume and stronger sales in Canada and the Caribbean.

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At an annual meeting of Genesee Corporation stockholders, it was reported that the brewing company recorded a 4.5% increase in barrel volume in fiscal 1997 despite a 14% decrease in sales of its Genesee brands. Increased contract brewing for Boston Beer Company and a 35% increase in the HighFalls craft brands more than offset the lower Genesee brand volume. Vice President- Finance and Treasurer Edward J. Rompala explained that higher barrel volume, general price increase and lower aluminum can costs in fiscal 1997 resulted in improved operating performance in fiscal '97 but the brewing business still only broke even. Fiscal 1996, however, had seen a $1.3 million operating loss.

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An international symposium of biologists, cardiologists, addiction specialists and sociologists found that older, high risk people who drink one to three units daily of beer, wine or spirits are 25% less likely to suffer coronary heart disease and stroke than non-drinkers.


The American Brewers Guild will unveil two weekend courses for serious homebrewers in 1998: the Home Brewers Weekend Course and the Home Brewers Fantasy Camp. The courses will cover all aspects of the brewing process, including working with raw materials, mashing, lautering, fermentation, filtration, equipment ideas, and sensory analysis. A special discount is available to all who sign-up via the internet. For more information call the American Brewers Guild at 800-636-1331, or send e-mail to

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A recent report released by the Institute for Brewing Studies lists the largest U.S. craft brewers, brewpubs and brewpub chains for 1996:

Largest U.S. Craft Brewers: - Boston Beer Co. - Pete's Brewing Co. - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Redhook Ale Brewery - Pyramid Breweries - Widmer Brothers Brewing - Anchor Brewing Co. - Full Sail Brewing - Portland Brewing - Spanish Peaks Brewing Largest Single U.S. Brewpubs: - Wynkoop Brewing - Rock Bottom Brewing - Boston Beer Works - Lost Coast Brewing - Gordon Biersch Brewery & Restaurant Largest Operating Brewpub Chains: - Rock Bottom Breweries (25) - Hops Grill & Bar (25) - McMenamins Breweries (20) - Big Horn Brewing(14) - John Harvard's Brewhouse (13)

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The 1997 Real Ale Festival, held November 7-9, will be three times as large as the first one in 1996, according to festival organizer Ray Daniels. In fact, they have had to turn beer away for lack of space in which to serve them all. The only beers served at this event are cask ales. This year, breweries from San Diego, Houston, Kansas City, Memphis, Louisville and Syracuse will send their cask ales for a total of about 90, and about a half dozen from Great Britain. Host brewery River West has brewed a special ESB for the Festival. Contact the Craft Beer Institute for ticket information at 773-665-1330.

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The first New York "Poetry Olympics" will be held Saturday, November 15 at 2 p.m. at the Brooklyn Brewery Tasting Room in Brooklyn. Poet and professor David Lehman will direct five metropolitan area graduate poetry writing programs that will compete in events like The Dead Poet's Slam, Instant Haiku, Literary Jeopardy and What's That Line. Teams representing Columbia, New York University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Sarah Lawrence will compete for the "Silver Barrel," a silver- plated beer keg. Members of the winning team will have their names inscribed on the trophy. The event is jointly sponsored by the Brooklyn Brewery and The Best American Poetry series (Scribners), which is edited by Lehman. All participants will receive a case of BB beers and a copy of the 1997 edition of the Best American Poetry. The event is free and open to the public. Soft drinks and beer will be sold.

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Boston Beer Company has created a new short story contest, following the excellent response to the one held this last summer. The prize for this contest will be an all-expense paid trip for two to the World Premiere of Francis Ford Coppola's screen adaptation of John Grisham's best-selling novel, The Rainmaker. To enter the contest, send a previously unpublished short story of up to 3,000 words to Sam Adams and Zoetrope: All-Story, 244 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 2272, New York, NY 10001. The prize will be awarded based on the quality of the short story. The world premiere will be on November 18 in Los Angeles, CA. The Short Story Contest deadline is October 31, 1997.

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This is a call to all beer industry marketers, media and consumers to work with us on growing the category of beer.

Over the last several years we've covered -- among many other issues -- some of the predatory business tactics of companies within brewing, the migration of parts of the business from micro to establishment, advertising messages from those within the segment, the so-called "shake-out" predicted by the mass media and the role consumers play in this theater. We've taken on these subjects as passionate consumer advocates who love the work of the craftsperson. We love the diversity of the segment, from the beers to the stories behind the breweries. And we love that our "weasel-count" dropped dramatically when we entered this business; brewers are great people. So, it's not surprising that our politics call for assisting in their success. We do so by spreading the word of the craft.

Here's the premise of growing the category: When markets become finite and pipelines become full, competition begins. Grow the category/market or change the nature of it and competition decreases. Prices stay consistent allowing the craft-person to earn a living for their vision. There's enough business to go around. Everyone in the segment benefits, from the media to the brewers to the consumer who wins with a diversity of selection. Even the bigger brewers win when they introduce products into a well-informed segment and -- as we've seen -- when lower category beer prices can edge up without notice because of their proximity to the craft portfolios.

Here's the problem with getting the industry to subscribe to growing the category: human nature. People take positions that they see as benefiting their company in the short-run. At its worse manifestation, this would be the quick-buck folks, but even well-intentioned individuals will fall into these pitfalls. Sometimes the sheer will to survive precludes looking "outside of the box." When they feel threatened, they may badmouth others moving into their position. They avoid support or aggressively prey on new players. Others, seeing success, will try to nibble at the position. And, with a lack of perspective or over-riding, higher purpose (like growing the category), provincialism, in-fighting and cannibalism takes root. We're happy to report, that there are more enlightened ways and people at work in the beer business, especially in the specialty segment.

Here's how we've grown the category so far: Beer Magazines, Beer Authors, Beer Festivals, Homebrewing, Retail Experiences (brewpubs, brewtours, etc.), Advertising, Education, Entertainment, Word of Mouth. All of these are critical to our continued success. Real Beer participates in nearly all of these areas because growing the category is a core value in our mission statement.

Here's how we propose growing the category further: Quality Propagation and Playing Nice.

Quality Propagation: No single person in our estimation has done more to grow the category than critic, authority and evangelist, Michael Jackson. His works span the entire category of drinks and food from reviews to business and philosophy. His voice has been heard in so many new venues and occasions through television and print media that the Jackson name is a brand in itself. We believe that the addition of Michael Jackson's work to our portfolio of the world's best beer information sources furthers our mission of category growth through Quality Propagation. Along side of the forthcoming Beer Hunter Site you'll find Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer, one of the most thoughtful and informed resources on the Web, updated monthly by email and on the Web. For sheer quantity of reviews and tireless maintenance of content, Gak's Beer Is My Life site is a must visit as well. Homebrewers will love The Brewery. If you haven't visited in awhile, other quality publication partners in Real Beer the portfolio include: Beer Notes, Brew Magazine, BrewPub!, BrewingTechniques, Brew Your Own, Celebrator, Malt Advocate, Siebel Contributions, Southern Draft Brew News and Yankee Brew News. Using the forms on the homepage to keyword search these resources, you'll find that in the brief four years we've been building the Real Beer Page Quality Propagation has been established.

Playing Nice: In every business there are people you won't hit it off with. Or worse, they may have transgressed in some area and angered or hurt you. As we've grown, we may have contributed to misunderstanding with folks, or left them a little uncomfortable for some reason and vice-versa. We have never done this intentionally. As Joseph Campbell liked to say, the message was "love thy enemies; not don't have any." Where this has happened, we are moving to repair relations or at least to agree to our higher, mutual goals of growing the category. We have to, for the longevity and benefit of our business. Enlightened self-interest may be the best motivation for outreach and playing nice.

We believe that each person participating in the craft -- from the consumer to their friends, publisher to the beer enthusiast, the homebrewer to the professional brewer -- can grow the category in the same ways: Quality Propagation and Playing Nice. The holidays are a great place to make this happen.