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Sep 02, 2014

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RBPMail 3.12, December 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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:


If you like what you read here and want more every week, subscribe to BEERWeek. Much of the content within is digested from BEERWeek, the paid subscription supported industry email newsletter. Get your free sample today at

http://www.beerweek.com

LABELING CONTROVERSY ON TRIAL

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to bar the state of Missouri from enforcing a new beer labeling law until a December 18 trial. The law requires beer sold in Missouri to bear labels showing the name of the company that owns the brewery and, also, where the beer is made. The law was to go into effect December 10. Eleven brewers, including Coors, Miller, Pabst and Stroh's, filed a lawsuit on Friday, November 21. A temporary restraining order against the law was issued. Because Anheuser-Busch brews its beer in company-owned breweries,the new law would not require changes for A-B brands. Beer makers claim that the law could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in labeling expenses and lost sales, and that it is in violation of interstate commerce laws. The beer makers also say that the law benefits St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch. The U.S. District Judge, Dean Whipple has cited a potential for "irreparable harm" to out-of-state brewers if the injunction were not issued, and that the court would study the law's constitutionality during the trial.

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GUINNESS AND GRAND MET CHRISTEN NEW CORPORATION

Following up on the extensive coverage of the planned merger of Guinness Plc and Grand Metropolitan Plc, The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have chosen a name for their newly created corporation. Diageo (pronounced dee-AH- zhay-oh), was chosen after extensive research in 70 countries and comes from "dia"-- based on the Latin word for "day," and "geo," the Greek word for "world." (Wall Street Journal, 10/30/97) (BeerWeek, 10/20/97)

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MILLER, MOLSON AND FOSTER'S STRIKE A DEAL

Miller Brewing Co. has sold its 20% share of Molson Breweries, Ltd.to Molson Cos. and Foster's Brewing Group Ltd, giving each company 50% of molson Breweries. An article in the Wall Street Journal by Mark Neinzlstates that ownership of Miller's Molson USA, which distributes both Molson and Foster's in the U.S., will now be a joint partnership with Miller retaining a half interest and Molson and Foster's each getting a quartermaster. Miller will benefit to the tune of some $306 million in the deal,according to the article.

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SIBERIAN BREWERY HEAD HIT

According to a November 14 AP bulletin from Moscow, Ivan Bagnuk, the director of Rosar, Siberia's largest beer and soft drink company, has been shot and killed. Ivan Bagnuk was fired upon as he drove his car to the factory gates in Omsk in eastern Siberia. The gunman shot him one more time in the head, then fled by automobile. The ITAR-Tass news agency breaking the story reported that this was probably a contract slaying, as such killings have become a common way for Russian businessmen to "settle disputes."

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BELGIAN BREWERS DEFEND THEIR CATEGORY

The Confederation des Brasseries de Belgique (CBB) has put American breweries on notice that they will fight the use of the term "Belgian (the Belgian Designation)" to promote beer not actually brewed in Belgium. According to CBB's legal counsel, Bart Lazar of Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson of Chicago, "I am a trademark specialist and there are many examples of protected appellations -- Champagne must come from France, Scotch must be distilled in Scotland, and Canadian whiskies must be blended in Canada. The CBB will take action against as many breweries as they can to protect their Belgian designation." When asked if he recognized Belgian ales as a style of brewing, Lazar maintained that trademark law, not brewing, was his area of expertise. Economic survival should not be construed as the motive for this action, since Belgian brewers are doing quite nicely here. According to the Beer Institute, total gallons of Belgian beer imported to the U.S. increased by 39.9 percent thus far in 1997, over the comparable period in 1996.

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SIBA LOBBIED AGAINST SLIDING SCALE ON INTERNET

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the UK's association of microbrewers, has embarked upon an ambitious campaign to convince the british Government to adopt a system of sliding scale duty. When there were only 100 microbrewers in the UK they had 2% of the total beer market. Now there are 300 microbrewers in the UK they still only have 2% of the market. Sliding Scale operates in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The UK is the only 'beer' nation in Europe not to enjoy the benefits of the system, which is deliberately designed to compensate the smaller brewers for the institutional bias against smaller brewers in the market place. The SIBA campaign involved a lobby of Parliament on November 5th. Brewers descended upon Parliament carrying wooden casks to signify that, like Guy Fawkes, they mean business. Supporters of the campaign registered their support with the UK political parties by logging onto HYPERLINK http://www.beertax.org.uk http://www.beertax.org.uk. On Monday 17th November SIBA submitted their final submission to the Government. (Report from breWorld.)

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BASS PURCHASES BREWERY FROM RIVAL CARLSBERG-TETLEY

Bass Brewers Ltd. will purchase a brewery (Ind Coope in Burton-on-Trent) from rival Carlsberg-Tetley. Bass already owns the other brewery in B-o-T and plans to combine the two breweries. Bass will employ the 537 workers from C-T. Bass also indicated that it would close two smaller breweries if it could not find buyers, a move that brought on the wrath of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). Bass stated it would stop brewing at its Cannon ale brewery in Sheffield, England by January 1999 and its ale brewery in Cardiff Wales by January 2000 if it cannot sell them. CAMRA accuses Bass of leaving Britons with fewer choices and higher prices and of "mercilessly stamping out hundreds of years of brewing tradition."(BeerWeek, 7/7/97).

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*** WEB WATCH ***

NO-STRESS SOLUTION TO HOLIDAY SHOPPING

If you're waiting for the last minute to do your holiday shopping, that minute just got a little cozier. From your keyboard you can shop for friends and family while supporting some of the hardest working people in the craft. Check out our gift guide online for starters. You may even want to drop some subtle hints for folks who have you on their shopping list -- email them the url below or one of the ones we link you to:

http://realbeer.com/rbp/promo/97holidays/giftguide.php

GREAT LAKES BREWING NEWS DEBUT

At the end of each RBPMail, you'll notice we always promise "Coming soon to the Real Beer Page: More brewzines and craft-brew marketers." Well, ta-da. This month we add to our ever expanding portfolio of quality publishing partners The Great Lakes Brewing News. If you're headed to the border states between the U.S. and Canada, here's you're first stop for real beer research. Check out their debut issue online and then email publisher Bill Metzger your impressions, support or suggestion. A special no-prize for anyone discovering the nature of a "testigo."

http://www.realbeer.com/glbn

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*** REAL BEER PICKS ***

TIME TO ENROLL AT THE ACADEMY OF HOMEBREW!

Also in time for the holidays, check out this homebrewing virtual store front:The Academy of Homebrew Supply is based in Cleveland, OH. They have pioneered the homebrew supply on-line ordering for their customers, eliminating the need for a print catalog. A useful key word search engine on their page helps the homebrew shopper find just what they need.

http://www.theacademy.com

BIG BUFFED BRONZE BOTTLE OPENERS AND MORE

If you like products that feel like they'll last a couple of lifetimes, you have to drop by Cymba. It's a company founded by Mead Bates -- his real name -- and it specializes in hand-tooled durable products for the beverage industry. Consumers can order one-off bottle openers direct from Cymba (another ideal holiday gift and one is all you're likely to ever need, unless you lose bottle openers the way we do sunglasses). Beer companies looking to merchandise their brand should dial up the site to choose from over 250 implementations available. Handsome bottle openers, tap handles and glassware can be stamped or etched with your company logo.

http://www.cymba.com

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A HEMPEN BREW

The happy hempsters have created a beverage marrying the world's oldest fermented beverage; beer, with an ancient fiber; hemp. Both a political statement and a thirst quenching brew, Hempen Ale is now available in 28 states. Hit their website to learn more about the brand:

http://www.hempenale.com

PORTSMOUTH BREWERY MAKES A SPLASH WITH NEW SITE

This sister brewery of Northampton Brewery and Smuttynose Brewing Co. has established its own colorful web presence. The pages are still being added to, but already reflect the personalities and chummy atmosphere of staff and patrons. Keep checking back for additions -- you won't want to miss the LaPanza lounge!

http://www.smuttynose.com

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SOUTHAMPTON PUBLICK HOUSE ONLINE

The Southampton Publick House extends a rich and colorful history of quality hospitality from the same location in the Hamptons for the last century. During prohibition, the owners defied the Volstead Act with a speakeasy becoming a favorite destination of the famous and the infamous from all over the East Coast. Today, the Publick House serves up tasty fare as well as award winning brews. Swing by their website, and if you're in the area, enjoy some genuine hospitality.

http://www.publick.com

THE STAR OF TEXAS BREWING

Spoetzl Brewery has done for bocks in Texas what Sierra Nevada did for the American Pale Ale as a category and what Widmer did for Hefeweizens in the Northwest: they established the standard by which all beer is made in the category. In addition to being the purveyor of the famous Shiner Bock and proud keeper of Texas heritage, they also deliver direct-to-your-monitor a website with all sorts of interactive features. Our favorite? A QuickTime movie of the brewhouse that leaves you virtually spinning. Make sure you grab the plug-in before heading to the star of Texas brewing.

http://www.shiner.com

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QUICKIE EMAIL SURVEY

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 (http://www.BelgianExperts.com), Importers of fine Belgian beers and now brewers of Belgian-style beer in their Cooperstown-based Brewery Ommegang.

RESULTS FROM LAST MONTH'S SURVEY: Last month we asked how many people you would lay out more than $20 on for holiday gifts. The results were heartening for those on the receiving end: over 65% of you are willing to shell out $20 or more on five or more people. 22% will be shopping at that level for 1-4 folks. We took a quick survey around the office and think it's better to be on your shopping list than ours. :-)

Our winner was Garrie D. Bryant. Maybe this will help out with that holiday shopping budget Garrie.

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*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

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

Alaskan Brewing Co. http://www.juneau.com/akbrew
BJ's Brewery & Pizza http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com
Briess Malting http://www.briess.com
Cornucopia Market http://www.cornucopia1.com
Great Beer Co. http://www.greatbeerco.com
Hale's Ales http://www.halesales.com
Hogshead Beer Cellars http://www.hogshead.com
Imperial Beer http://www.imperial.com
Northern Brew Systems http://www.northernbrewsystems.com
Shipyard Brewing Co. http://www.shipyard.com
Spaten http://spatenusa.com

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SPATEN ACQUIRES MUNICH'S LOWENBRAU

After a long period of confidential negotiations, it was officially announced that Spaten-Franziskaner Brewery would take control of Lowenbrau, Munich. Dr. Jobst Kayser-Eichberg, CEO of Spaten, will be in charge of Lowenbrau as well. The new entity becomes Germany's 10th largest brewer. Lowenbrau will maintain its own identity and product line.

http://www.spatenusa.com

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LABATT SCORES OVER MOLSON WITH HOCKEY DEAL

Canada's National Hockey League has signed a new deal with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for TV rights to NHL games in Canada. The deal, for the next four years, includes double-headers every Saturday night during regular season and nightly coverage during Stanley Cup playoffs. Previously, the NHL has sold the TV rights directly to Molson Breweries; Molson licensed the games to the CBC. This year, the NHL announced that it would sell directly to the broadcasters. Concurrently, the NHL announced that Labatt Breweries of Canada, Molson's main beer competition, has signed with the league as title sponsor for the CBC TV package.

http://www.labattblue.com

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ASAHI PULLS AHEAD OF KIRIN

Kirin Brewery, Japan's largest beer maker, reported that its October beer shipments fell 13.9% compared to same period last year. Kirin spokesman attributed its decline to sluggish sales for its mainstay, Kirin Lager beer. On the other hand, Asahi Breweries Ltd., the country's second largest brewer, reported that beer shipments rose 2.4% from same period last year. An Asahi spokesman stated that Kirin's share of total beer shipments of the top four Japanese brewers was down 4.5 percentage points from a year ago.

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*** REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: AFRICA ***

SOUTH AFRICAN BREWERY

South African Breweries Ltd. has a reputation as one of South Africa'sbest- managed companies and one its toughest competitors. SAB produces 14brands, from its leading Castle and Lion to Heineken, Guinness, Amstel and Carling Black Label, the last four all brewed under license, according to a story in the New York Times. Selling about 98% of South Africa's beer, the company is virtually a monopoly. During the volatile early 90s, SAB trucks venturing into black townships were often hijacked and firebombed. The company loaned its black drivers the money to buy trucks and trained them to run small businesses, hiring them as contractors. The attacks ceased, and many blacks are now in middle management. In fact, 93% of its customers are black. Currently, SAB is expanding overseas very aggressively, including elsewhere in Africa, the European continent and China. It is the fourth largest brewing operation by volume in the world, after Anheuser-Busch, Heineken and Miller Brewing. (New York Times, from an article by Donald G. McNeil, Jr.; August 27, 1997)

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KENYA BREWERIES MANEUVERS FOR MARKET SHARE

Kenya Breweries plans to raise $23 million (1.5 billion shillings) to fund expansion into Tanzania. Kenya Breweries is going up against South African Breweries for market share in east Africa. SAB has moved aggressively into east Africa. It has bought breweries in Tanzania and Uganda and plans a bottling plant in Kenya in 1998. Guinness Kenya, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guinness Plc, owns 25% of KBL. The current move by KBL, backed by an agreement by GK to buy all rights not taken up by other shareholders, has stalled. An editorial in Nairobi's Daily Nation questioned whether KB's plan would benefit all Kenyans or just give Guinness a larger shareholding. As Kenya Breweries provide a substantial source of government revenue, critics question selling what is tantamount to a "birthright" to a foreigner, according to a spokesman for the Association of Kenyan Stockbrokers, Ngenye Kariuki. (Reuters Nairobi News room, 11/11/97) (BeerWeek, 11/10/97)

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SAB LAUNCHES CONSTRUCTION OF NEW KENYAN BREWERY

South African Breweries Ltd. has launched its new Kenyan brewery 25 miles from Nairobi. SAB will have 51% controlling stake in Castle Brewing Kenya; 34% is held by a consortium of Kenyan investors and 15% by FMO, a Dutch company. SAB is expanding production capacity in east Africa after its acquisition of 46% of Tanzania Breweries in 1995. In October, it bought a 40% stake in Nile in Uganda and has bought into breweries in Ethiopia and Eritrea. SAB faces a battle with Kenya Breweries, Kenya's dominant brewer, which opened a modern bottling plant in Nairobi. (see BeerWeek, 11/3/97, 11/17/97)

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EASTERN EUROPEAN SALES OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS INCREASE

Retail sales of alcoholic beverages in Eastern Europe are said to have reached $21.578 billion in 1997, contrasted to $15.931 billion in 1993, according to a report released by Euromonitor, a market research company. The Russian Federation represented the largest single market for retail sales with 58% share in 1997; Poland had a 20% share and the Ukraine, 10 percent. Average amount spent on alcoholic beverages was $68 per person in 1997. Poland was highest, $113. Retail consumption of beer was highest in the Czech Republic at 100 litres per capita. All Eastern European countries except Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary reported an increase in market growth in alcoholic beverages from 1993 to 1997. (Reuter's, 11/20/97)

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INDIAN SUMMER REVERSES DOWNWARD TREND

Unusually warm weather in September caused German beer consumption to increase by nearly 10%, according to a report from the federal statistics office in Bonn. German beer consumption had been down 0.7% in the first eight months of 1997. The big jump in beer drinking in September caused that statistic to change the overall year-to-date figure to an 0.3% increase. In 1972, Germans drank a record 151 liters of beer. In 1996, they drank 127 liters of beers.

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BRITISH DRINKERS TAKING THEIR TIPPLE AT HOME

British brewing executives say that two trends are changing their brewing industry. First, the trend for lager consumption has been growing, with Bass-owned Carling's Black Label leading the pack. British beer consumption has dropped from 42.4 million barrels in 1979 to 36 million barrels today. Lager consumption, on the other hand, has grown from seven percent of total market in 1970 to 56 percent in 1996, and that trend continues. Standard ales sold 13.4 million barrels in 1992, and 11 million in 1996. Adding to that, British beer drinkers are drinking more and more at home, buying beer by the can or bottle at supermarkets and shops rather than buying a pint on tap at the neighborhood pub. According to Whitbread Beer Company managing director Miles Templeman, by the year 2000, one third of all beer consumed will be consumed at home, a one third increase from today. (See BeerWeek, 11/10/97)

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BUSCH BRISTLES AT BILLBOARD BAN

According to the October 30 Oakland Tribune, there has been strong reaction from a major brewer regarding the City Council's recent ban on alcohol and tobacco billboards in the city. Representatives of Anheuser-Busch Co. put the council on notice Tuesday (even before a final draft of the law had been published). The city's legal staff had recommended a partial ban, but the council had insisted on a complete citywide ban. Anheuser-Busch is objecting on the grounds of constitutional rights to free speech for commercial advertisers. The brewing company had challenged a similar law in Baltimore, MD. In an eight-page letter, A-B warned that the proposed law would be invalid under state law, impermissible under the first amendment and expensive to defend, a "fruitless exercise." In Baltimore, that city implemented restrictions on signs in residential areas, after winning a two-year court battle ending in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal.

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LEINIE DEFENDS HOME TERRITORY

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (Chippewa Falls) is suing the Northwoods Brewing Corp. (Eau Claire) for trademark infringement, asking U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to prohibit the defendants from using the Northwoods name. Northwoods Brewing plans to open the Northwoods Brew Pub & Grill in December near the Oakwood Mall in Eau Claire. Consumers seeing "Northwoods" on the brew pub are likely to assume it is somehow associated with Leinenkugel, the lawsuit says. Leinenkugel sells Leinenkugel's Northwoods Lager and uses the Northwoods theme to extend their brand. (Source: Stan Hieronymus)

http://leinie.com

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PENNSYLVANIA STANDS ALONE AGAINST PIS

The Pennsylvania Alcohol Control Board has denied permission to importer Paulaner North America Corporation to sell its Manneken Pis White Ale in the state. The ale, produced by Brasserie LeFebvre in Quenast, Belgium, features a likeness of the famous Manneken Pis statue on its label. The statue has been a Belgian landmark since the 16th century, and shows a little boy urinating. Pennsylvania Control Board official Silvio DeBein made the decision to keep the beer out of the state, and claimed that the label suggests lewd and indecent behavior. PNA LeFebvre Brand Manager Nick Kirbabas says that PNA plans to appeal the decision with the help of the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce and the Wallonia Trade Commission (LeFebvre is Belgium's Walloon region). According to Kirbabas, 25 states have approved the label and are selling the beer; Pennsylvania is the only one objecting to it.

INSTEAD OF FLINTSTONES; BEER SHAPED VITAMINS?

Japan's Kirin brewery is setting up a joint venture with Asupro, a health food marketer. Kirin has developed three products made using beer yeast and nucleic acid. The plan is for the JV to market them. (Advertising Age, September 15)

BEER AND SPROUTS LAUDED AS IDEAL DIET

The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid was developed and released during a three day International conference on vegetarian diets, held November 15-18 in Austin, TX. It encourages the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains daily. The pyramid includes beer, wine and spirits because, according to a spokesperson for Oldways, the Cambridge, MA-based food think tank that produced the pyramid, the organization believes that "alcohol, consumed sensibly and in moderation, promotes a healthy lifestyle." (BW HealthWire, 11/19/97)

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DOES MILK STOUT COUNT?

A November 5 AP bulletin states that Bavarians drink more beer than milk. The Bavarian Statistics Yearbook announced that an average four-person family drinks four gallons of beer every month, about a pint more than the milk they consume. Bavarian families spend about $20 a month on beer, just about the same amount it spends on fresh fruit.

CRAFTBREWS TOP CHAMPAGNE AS YUPPIES DRINK OF CHOICE

According to a recent nationwide survey sponsored by American Express' Platinum Card (R), the "Discreet Elite" -- the Yuppies of the '90's -- 47 percent of those surveyed said that they preferred microbrewed beer over champagne. (PRNewswire, 10/22/97)

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*** AD WATCH ***

SHINER POURS PROCEEDS INTO RIVER CONSERVATION

Spoetzl Brewery, San Antonio, TX, producers of Shiner beers, has partnered up with Water Oriented Recreation District, a nonprofit organization that works to maintain and conserve the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, TX. The brewery donated proceeds from the Fourth Annual Bocktoberfest Music Festival, $25,000 to the Shiner-Guadalupe River Fund.

http://shiner.com

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PLAYS INTO HEINEKEN ADVERTISING

Heineken USA is holding a national sweepstakes in 13 key markets in honor of Black History Month. Grand prize is a trip for two to Ghana in West Africa. The campaign is called "Walk with Pride."

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SAM ADAMS LAGERING AT SOUTH POLE

Boston Beer Company announces it will ship 840 cases of Sam Adams Boston Lager to the South Pole for the U.S. Navy's McMurdo station. A photograph of Sam Adams Lager sitting on top of the South "pole" was taken by a fan in 1996. Each year the "pole" is replaced, as shifts in the ice move it from its original site. Last year's pole was 30 yards east of the 1997 pole. The pole is erected every January 1. by the U.S. Geological Department.

http://www.samadams.com

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GUINNESS LAUNCHES PINT PROSE COMPETITION

The 1998 Guinness Win Your Own Pub In Ireland contest will once again give Guinness lovers a chance to win their own authentic Irish pub.1998 will be the fifth year that Guinness Imports has run the promotion. This year's prize pub, Finucanes' (pronounced fin-u-canes) is located in the town of Listowel in County Kerry. Often referred to as the literary capital of Kerry, Listowel is the birthplace of many of Ireland's famous writers.

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EDITORIAL: DUSTING OFF THE OLD CRYSTAL BALL

Well, it's the year end and as good a time as ever to review the year and make some informed guesses about things to come. We'll cover this in two parts: the Beer Industry this month and the Real Beer Network next month.

From an industry viewpoint, brewers all around the world are maneuvering to compete in a world market place. Even in local markets, brewers are finding it more challenging to compete with Imports and well-backed national brands in the areas of advertising, POS and sales support. American brewers are having to mature quickly and become Brand savvy. 1997 saw some of the first moves to what we believe will characterize the industry in 1998: portfolio marketing.

Let's review some of the moves in 1997 that suggests this direction:

Anheuser-Busch is probably the most important harbinger to watch from a marketing perspective. In 1996 we predicted many of the moves we've seen come to fruition in 1997. First, the emergence of so-called regional brands: Zeigen Bock in Texas and Pacific Ridge in California, seek to emulate and usurp the success of regional specialty brands such as Shiner Bock and Sierra Nevada respectively. In the latter, the most repugnant development was the appropriation of the craft-slogan with "Think Globally, Drink Locally." The packaging and advertising of these brands deceptively try to lead uninformed consumers to the conclusion that these are local/regional craft-beers. Add to the A-B portfolio "Alliance" brands such as Redhook, Widmer and Atlanta Brewing and the portfolio begins to assimilate real craft roots and include the broad range of beer profiles, from ESBs to Stouts, Winter beers to "The" American Hefeweizen. A-B complements the "p-regionals (pseudo-regionals)" and craft brands with Red Wolf, "American Originals" and Michelob brand products that fill nearly every style profile, albeit with less charactered versions than we find in the craft market. A-B chose to exercise stock options with Grupo Modelo earning them over half of the hottest growth market in the import category with leading Mexican brands such as Corona and Modelo. Look to see more of this with other Imports. A final wrinkle to A-B's portfolio in 1997 came with their investment into Ambrew, a company setting up microbreweries in several countries such as Mexico, Ireland, China and more. This puts A-B (further) squarely in the import market as well.

A-B's richly developed portfolio coincides with a push to put a strangle-hold in the distribution channel. Their 100% share of mind campaign calls for distributors carrying A-B products to focus exclusively on A-B products and provides incentives for distributors to kill-off all other brands they carry. The expanded portfolio responds to distributor's concerns about losing opportunities based on flavor profile or import brands. The portfolio becomes a club that cudgels distributors with an answer to nearly any category. Portfolio marketing in the hands of the market share war strategists at A-B is a real threat to the craft and specialty markets because of the stated and implied intent of the giant. A-B seeks to own every segment it enters. And they can bring to bear marketing sophistication and resources, legislative clout, distribution channel and retail space influence, consumer confusion as well as supplier (hops, grains and -- in the case of Pete's -- even advertising agencies!) attrition that this industry and few others have ever seen.

Some small brewers are fighting back with anti-competition lawsuits and we wish them with limited optimism the best success -- we all know that A-B's tactics have been predatory and anti-competitive; we all know that the fight is fixed (as Leonard Cohen sings in his song "Everybody Knows"); we all know that there's no such thing as a level-playing field and that proving any of this is damn near impossible. Still, if we want to play with our illusion of a free market, something's going to have to give. That's why we wish them success.

To compete in this climate through marketing means as well as to address distribution "noise" by so many brands, we've seen companies beginning to bring together portfolios. As you can expect from the brewing industry, creativity abounds in how portfolios are developed -- from distributions agreements to mergers, acquisitions and start-ups. Some examples include:

Gambrinus, with Shiner, Moosehead and Corona: for all intensive purposes in the world marketplace, local brands gaining from the strength of their regional badges.

US Beverage, former Seagram's execs. managing 30-state distribution for strong import and specialty brands such as Rogue, Ipswitch, Staropramen and Tennents.

Labatt USA with Labatt Blue, Boddington's, Leffe, Hoegarden, Dos Equis, Tecate, Sol, Morretti and more. This year they also announced the addition of European uber-brands Carlsberg and Lowenbrau. Expect to hear much more about this in the coming year.

The UB Group is an interesting saga, and could become a strong portfolio if not overshadowed by chairman Vijay Mallya's infatuation with his flagship Indian beer, King Fisher. In 1997 UB Group signed letters of intent with Nor'Wester, Mendocino and Humboldt Brewing Companies. If you've followed this story you know that Nor'Wester ran out of time and business and it's questionable if the Humboldt deal will go through. Currently, Mendocino is the only independent craft-brand in the portfolio, but the possibilities of this one ignited the imagination -- venerable craft brands introducing each other's products into their local markets through a united network.

Ambrew, mentioned above in the A-B portfolio, may be one of the more interesting to watch in 1998 (if they can keep investors patient while they continue an enormous investment burn-rate) as they build their portfolio by building microbrewery brands in different countries: in 1997 their South China and UK beers were joined by "Azteca" brewed in Mexico.

Vanberg & DeWulf have taken an innovative approach to building their Belgian beer portfolio by adding three Belgian-style beers from their own brewery in Cooperstown, Brewery Ommegang.

Left-Hand/Tabernash Brewing Companies merger is one to watch. If you blinked you might have missed this news release last month, but it represents some interesting possibilities. Two outstanding brewers -- one specializing in German- style lagers and the other in charactered ales -- in one market unite their combined resources to offer an excellent portfolio with marketing efficiencies and strength.

Out of necessity we believe that 1998 may become the year of the microbrewing portfolio cooperatives. Here's how it works: through brewing, distribution, licensing and/or marketing agreements brands of similar quality and philosophy begin to collaborate with others in strategic geographic regions. No one has worked harder and developed the mind share and education of their local distribution network than the regional craft brewer. For lack of advertising and marketing budgets, craft brewers have been developing one-to-one relationships, still the strongest for influencing decisions at the distribution and retail levels. By offering more brands to that hard-earned network, each regional player becomes stronger through increased sales/cash flow.

That's what we see in our dusty old crystal ball for the industry in 1998. Yes, more breweries will open at a slower rate than previous years. And the market will continue to expand, but more slowly per brewer because of the influences discussed above. For our money, the most interesting story to watch in '98 for our money will be the strategies developed to address the maturing market.

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