RBPMail 4.01, January 1998

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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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A December 12 Wall Street Journal, article announced that Anheuser- Busch was going to court to appeal a ban on selling US.-brewed "Bud" in Switzerland. The Swiss trade tribunal chief banned "Bud" due to potential consumer confusion with "Budweiser," produced by Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar. While the matter has been in dispute in nearly 20 European nations, this is the first time a court has barred the use of the "Bud" name, according to A-B attorney, Georg Krneta. In November, the Czech authorities turned down an arrangement whereby A-B could use the name "Bud" in disputed markets in exchange for A- B's agreeing to buy Czech hops for the next ten years. Budvar's reason for rejecting this deal was that to give any ground to Anheuser-Busch regarding this matter could start "an irreversible process." The Swiss trade tribunal also stated that, in 1983, A-B removed "Budweiser" from the Swiss register of brand names after a Czech protest. "Bud" was not mentioned. Mr. Krneta argues that the ban cannot therefore extend to "Bud," and has recommended that A-B appeal its case before Switzerland's supreme court, the Federal Tribunal. (BeerWeek, 9/8; 6/29)

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The Bailiff's Court in Denmark has issued an injunction against a company that is importing beer from the Czech Republic's Budejovicky Budvar brewery until it stops using the word "Budweiser" on the label. In the past this beer had been sold in Denmark as Budweiser Budvar. Anheuser-Busch maintains its right to the Budweiser moniker.

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Foster's Brewing Group Ltd. announced that it was considering forming more international brewing alliances in the Chinese beer market. Currently, Foster's has three Chinese breweries running at half their capacity. These breweries need to reach full capacity to be competitive in the huge -- but oversupplied -- Chinese market. A brewing alliance would help in that direction. About 40 major brewers have set up joint venture breweries in China. Chinese drinkers consumed 16 million tons of locally brewed beer. Most breweries, however, are not yet turning a profit..

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British small brewers are upset about government plans to add a penny to the existing tax on a pint of beer as of January, 1998. Kent brewery Shepherd Neame has taken legal action against the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, over the increase. British regional brewery Morland Plc's CEO Mike Watts and Anthony Fuller, chairman of London brewery Fuller, Smith & Turner Plc pledged support for Neame's action. The action is being taken on the grounds that it ignores Britain's obligation to move towards consensus on excise duties with other EC member states; this is under the Treaty of Rome. According to Watts, "We are supposed to be in Europe and on a level playing field." Today in Britain, 1.3 million pints are exported from the European continent daily -- 5% of total British beer consumption.

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*** WEB WATCH ***


BrewingTechniques, the magazine for home and professional brewers, extends its offer for an information-packed, money-saving gift package. For a limited time, you can get a one-year subscription to the magazine, plus a copy of the 1997 Brewers' Market Guide (, plus a collection of stellar homebrew recipes from BrewingTechniques' editorial advisers, all for just $30! You can save even more if you buy the two-year package, which gives you a two-year subscription, both the 1996 and 1997 Brewers' Market Guides, and the recipe book for just $60! To order, use the online order form listed below or contact Damara Dufrene, BT's circulation manager, at or 1- 800-427-2993.

By the way, if you haven't been by the BrewingTechniques pages in awhile, check out their redesign, expanded library, powerful search and index tools.

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This month's Stephen Beaumont's World Of Beer finds Beaumont reviewing 24 hours of tasting specialty beer in Antwerp, Belgium, a family Kitchen Table Tasting of primarily west coast Winter beers, and a comparison of the Seattle and Vancouver beer scenes. When you're finished reading that, leave no stone unturned and no page unclicked -- there are great gems of information on his quotes, feedback and events pages as well. While there, make sure you subscribe for Beaumont's monthly email newsletters, which uniquely supplement the content on the web page.

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We've just implemented a cool new feature: get a sample issue of BEERWeek for free. Almost all of the great, international beer news in RBPMail comes out of BEERWeek, which is great for those of you who like it free and don't mind waiting for information. If you're in the biz or you just have to know about beer industry info as the story breaks, BEERWeek is a must-read for you. Every week you can be getting instant news updates, new events, openings and closings, press and new beer releases and more. All for less than $1/issue. See what you're missing by trying a BEERWeek on us at:

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Red Ass Brewing Co., purveyors of the fine Buckin' A Pale Ale, Red Ass Wheat and Red Ass Amber, gallop onto the WWW scene with this high-stepping site. Users can purchase Red Ass merchandise, download a Buckin' Bucky screensaver and check out Red Ass events. Guess what people who surf the whole Red Ass site are called?

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If you've ever met the brewers or tasted the beers from Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio, you've discovered their fanatical pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their business. Their beers are freshness dated, use only the finest ingredients and are distributed through a carefully monitored, cold storage network. Their brewpub location, menu and service are outstanding. The GLBC beers draw their names and inspiration from local legends the likes of Rockefeller, Elliot Ness and Commodore Perry. And now, the GLBC web site delivers the same level of experience. Dive deep into the site to learn about this regional leader... and a lot more.

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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. The lucky winner this month is Shelley L. Hays, and recreation topped her list.

Last month we sat you on our virtual Santa's lap and asked what product area was on the top of YOUR wishlist for the holiday season. 92% of your wishes fell into seven categories. Considering our editorial focus, it should be no surprise that BEER topped wishlists at 25%, followed by computing items at 18%, with the catch-all recreation coming in at 17%. You were just as likely to wish for world peace as for apparel items; slightly more likely to want housewares and slightly less for tools of your profession.

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*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:
Alaska Brewing
BJs Brewhouse
Briess Malting
Hollywood Blonde
Hogshead BOTM
Imperial Beer
Northern Brew Systems
Academy of Homebrew
Cymba Openers
Hempen Ale
Portsmouth Brewery
Shiner Bock

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An update from a story breaking in RBPMail July '97, Budweiser will be produced in Brazil after all. The nation's top competition regulator will allow a joint venture between Anheuser-Busch Cos. and Antarctica of Brazil. The regulator had ruled in June 1997 that the original arrangement was not in the interest of Brazilian consumers. After A-B and Antarctica presented counter-proposals, raising A-B's stake in the venture, the decision was reversed. Antarctica will produce Budweiser for the Brazilian market at a new plant in Rio de Janeiro state. It will also produce its new Cristal brand, which A-B will market in the U.S.

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Russian drinkers are turning more and more to beer . According to British broker Robert Fleming, potential for beer market growth in Russia is "enormous," partly because Russian consumption is still very low. Fleming predicts that Russian beer consumption will grow by at least 7% a year for the next 7-10 years. Fleming has a buy recommendation on Sun Brewing, Russia's largest brewer. A December 16 PRNewswire from SUN Brewing Limited, Russia's largest beer brewer, reported record sales and earnings for third quarter ending September 30, 1997, excluding the operations of its Yekaterinburg (the infamous resting place of Czar Nicholas II and family) brewing company, where a dispute with management is continuing. SUN's financials are prepared in strict accordance with U.S. GAAP principles and not Russian tax regulations. Russian tax rules, used by most other Russian enterprises, tend to highly overstate true profitability.

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Heineken NV of the Netherlands has acquired a 49% stake in Karsay SRO, the fifth largest brewery in Slovakia. Karsay employs 300 people in the western Slovakian town of Nitra, and markets Corgon lager and Maurus dark beer. Heineken acquired a 66% stake in another Slovakian brewery and malting company, Zlaty Bazant AS in 1995. Zlaty Bazant AS is in the southwestern town of Hurbanovo. With its acquisition of Karsay SRO, Heineken will have a share of about 20 percent of Slovakia's beer market.

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Switzerland's highest court has ruled that Swiss who grow hallucinogenic plants to make beer or other legal products cannot be prosecuted under drug laws. According to the court, an investigating magistrate in the canton of Valais had acted precipitously when he seized 8.5 tons of Indian hemp from a commune that grew it. The commune stated that it used it to fill industrial orders, including one for 1,100 pounds of dried hemp blossoms from a brewery specializing in hemp beer. The blossoms can now be released to the brewery on confirmation that it had indeed placed the order, and provides assurances that the crop will be used only to brew.

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Frederick Brewing Company, Frederick, MD, announced on December 15 its acquisition of two Maryland breweries, Wild Goose Brewery, Cambridge, and Brimstone Brewing Company, Baltimore. Frederick Brewing Co. will pay approximately $3 million for Wild Goose Brewery, and will also issue 80,000 shares of stock for the brands and formulas of Brimstone Brewing Company. The merger creates the Mid- Atlantic region's largest craft brewery, according to the company's press release. Wild Goose, founded in 1989, produces eight styles of beer, brewed in the classic English style. Brimstone is family-owned, produces six styles of beer, and is known for its classic "Stone Beer." Frederick Brewing Co. was founded in 1993; it is Maryland's largest brewer. It produces Blue Ridge and Hempen beers.

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Rogue Ales, Newport, Oregon, was the only foreign gold medal winner at the International Beer Summit in Osaka, Japan. It was the only brewery to win more than one medal. The event drew 120 entries from 25 Japanese breweries and 26 foreign breweries. Judges included Charlie Papazian and Bill Siebel and drew 20,000 people over three days. Rogue was awarded the gold medal for Phred to Bed, its Japanese version of Old Crustacean Barleywine, in the specialty ale category. Brown Bear Stout (Shakespeare Stout) won a bronze in dark ales; Chitose Hasscup, an herbal beer brewed especially for Japan, won the bronze in specialty ales. Rogue is the first American brewery to label products in kanji, the traditional Japanese script.

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Governor Engler signed House Bill 4850 on December 2, 1997, formally recognizing the home production of beer along with wine and cider. Up to the signing, Michigan was one of 20 states that did not have specific legislation to allow for the home manufacture of beer for personal use. The existing statute, written in 1933, provided for making wine and cider but not beer. Home brewing of beer was recognized federally in 1978, subject to age restrictions and amount (up to 200 gallons of home made beer per two or more adults within a household), provided such production is not a violation of state law. Since that time, 30 states have written provisions to allow homebrewing. (Source: Rex Halfpenny, Michigan Beer Guide)

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Celebrator Beer News correspondent CR Saikley reports: "On December 5th in 1933, the 31st Amendment to the U.S. constitution was ratified, bringing an end to Prohibition. By the end of the month, 605 brewing licenses had been issued nationwide."

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Essex recently received a letter from the Redhook Brewery asking Essex to stop using the name Hooker for their beers. Essex Brewing, a Niantic, CT micro in business for less than a year, named its product line after a fictitious historic figure, S. G. Hooker. According to Essex co-owner Steve Pietryk, Redhook considers any beer name containing the word "hook" to be a copyright or trademark infringement. Redhook CFO Brad Berg says that although he doesn't have the details on the letter to Essex, "Redhook does stay vigilant and assertive on protecting our trademarks because they're only as good as we protect them in the marketplace." In related news Essex Brewing and Connecticut's Trout Brook Brewhouse, another less-than-year-old micro, are also in contention over the use of the name "Hooker." Trout Brook sells Hooker Ale on draft in Connecticut, but has not received a "cease and desist" letter from Redhook.

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*** AD WATCH ***


Miller Brewing Co. is readying sales forces to roll out Chia Pigs for their St. Patrick's Day Point-of-Purchase promotion. Miller Brewing wholesalers are reportedly blanching at the idea. According to an article by Gerry Khermouch in the December 1, 1997 Brandweek, wholesalers are nervous about the unusual idea. "...This Chia pet thing is scary. March and St. Patrick's Day is the first quarter. We're very concerned," commented one wholesaler. Some wholesalers are squirreling away conventional materials featuring shamrocks only and the Miller Time logo.

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Anheuser-Busch announced its partnership with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team effective in December 1997, making Budweiser an official sponsor of Tropicana Field and giving A-B exclusive signage and branding rights to the "Budweiser Brew Pub" at the Field. A-B also revealed plans for the Budweiser Brew House, a retail establishment within the Field that showcases Budweiser history. The Brew House will feature A-B beers, including Michelob Specialty Ales and Lagers, along with a light food menu. The interior of the Brew House will feature interiors reminiscent of the early years of this century, and will have a replica 1931 Budweiser beer truck parked inside the establishment.

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Boston Beer Company has created sweepstakes to celebrate the introduction of Samuel Adams White Ale, the company's new winter seasonal, brewed in the Belgian style. Forty winners and their guests will be sent on an all-expenses-paid trip to Club Med resorts in the Caribbean and Colorado. Sweepstakes entry forms can be found on table tents and tear pads at participating establishments. Entry deadline is April 15.

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The employee lawsuit set off by a Seinfeld episode is costing Miller a $30 million bond. A judge ordered Miller to post the amount while it appeals the $24 million plus verdict ruled against it in July. The story began when an executive was dismissed after telling a co-worker about a racy episode where a character's name rhymed with part of the female anatomy. The punch line was, "Deloris."

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In a company press release, publicly traded Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc. (NASDAQ) announced the appointment of company founder and Chairman of the Board Frank B. Day as President and Chief Executive Officer. He will replace Thomas Moxcey who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Fourth quarter results of operations to date have been lower than expected, according to the news release. The company has grown to include some 69 Rock Bottom Brewery restaurants, Old Chicago restaurants and other properties across the nation. The company will take further write-offs in Q4 "relating to underperforming restaurant assets that would likely include the closing of certain restaurants in 1998." Mr. Day commented on the need to tackle several aspects of restaurant operations. "While the vast majority of our restaurants have strong operating results, some are underperforming," he said. The company has also adopted a shareholder rights plan to protect shareholders' investments in the event of a takeover of the Company.

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As reported in this area for the last several years, beer's healthy affects are coming to light in study after study. The most recent and most comprehensive to date, a 9-year study of 490,000 adults between the ages of 30 and 104 released by the American Cancer Society, shows that drinking a little bit of alcohol every day could help your heart. Researchers found that for adults over the age of 30, one alcoholic beverage a day can lower the risk of death from heart disease, stroke and all other causes by about 20%. The most powerful effects of this limited alcohol intake appear to be felt by the heart. Researchers said that alcohol, taken in moderation, seems to reduce the risk of blood clots and raises levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, benefiting the entire cardiovascular system. (Source: Southern Draft Brew News)

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As of January 1, 1998, all California bars, taverns and gaming clubs are smoke free. Barley & Hopps, San Mateo, CA, opened a Cigar Bar & Smoking Lounge to be in full compliance with the new code requiring elimination of indoor smoking where employees work. The Cigar Bar & Smoking Lounge will be 320 square feet, furnished with cocktail tables, high back smoker chairs and a TV. There will be a state-of-the-art ventilation system and a smoke ionizer. The new code requires that no employees enter the room during operating hours. The brewpub has installed an intercom phone system allowing patrons to call directly to the bar to place their orders. The customer will step outside the room to receive the order from the waitperson. Says B&H managing partner, Tom Halen, "...Short of having our staff don gas masks to enter the room, it is the best solution we could offer."

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Happy New Year. January is a great time to review the year and make some informed guesses about things to come. Last month's editorial covered where we think the specialty beer industry is headed. This month we'll look at the Real Beer Network.

For Real Beer, 1997 was a critical, pivotal year in our development. We've turned the corner on critical mass in audience, content and industry participation. The Real Beer strategy from enception was to build a resource that we would like to use as an audience and in doing so, create a site of value for others. Our vision is to be a leader in this medium through publishing integrity and growing the niche category of beer. First and foremost in this vision is our audience, which is why '97 saw us enriching our online offerings and tools.

A small list of additions from 1997 includes: improved search and search results formatting; greater integration of our databases and navigation; more online publications; deeper content base; enhanced tools for our publishing partners. In terms of content, we released the ProBrewer pages for industry and just completed our first successful year of a fee-based industry email newsletter, BEERWeek, in partnership with The Celebrator Beer News. We've added more network resources to meet increased traffic demands and more staff to keep pace with the rigors of updating content daily.

Publishing partners Brew Magazine, BrewingTechniques, BrewPub!, Brew Your Own, The Celebrator, Great Lakes Brewing News, Midwest Beer Notes, Southern Draft and Yankee Brew News have maintained or increased their commitments to online publishing, deepening the high-quality, journalistically produced content in our network. World-class writers like Lisa Variano, Ben Meyers, Gregg Smith, Greg Glaser and Alan Moen have contributed to our author's section. We've been fortunate to host and present: Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer -- subscribe to his biweekly newsletter if you get a chance; With over 2000 beers tasted and most reviewed, Gak's Beer Is My Life; Homebeervana, The Brewery; Belgian-styling listserver, the Lambic Digest; homegrown New Mexico Virtual Brew Pub and more. By our report card, we're pretty satisfied with the content track.

In terms of the online community, you've grown with us. This RBPMail newsletter was subscribed to by 15,000 people by the end of '95, 30,000 by end of '96 and ended '97 with about 60,000 live email subscribers. Our web traffic increases this same 100% growth rate each year, putting our monthly visitors in the 200,000 range. These are significant numbers for publishers in any medium and we see no end to the growth of our audience.

So, what do we do for an encore? We may have telegraphed our direction in the last couple of RBPMails through the announcement of relationships such as Michael Jackson with The Beer Hunter site and expanded International coverage, as well as with the introduction of the Real Beer Channel for MSIE 4.0. For those that thought we were playing browser preference, fear not: our intent is to spread the word of the craft as broadly as possible, not to limit it to elites. In 1998 we will be building more brand-to-brand and international relationships and pushing content out in new ways -- through channels, hypermail and more. We will also be calling on our audience to get politically active on causes that affect the craft -- neoprohibitionist legislation, distribution and capacity laws all affect the craft's long-term health. We envision building communications tools to allow you to let your local legislators know where you stand on issues affecting your rights as a consumer. We think '98 will be a great year to be a consumer and to watch the Real Beer Network.

Feel free to send us mail letting us know what you want to see from Real Beer in 1998. We've set up a special mail box for this purpose. Send e

It's your publication. We're just publishing it. If your ideas make sense and we have the resources to pursue them, we'll put them in the plan. Maybe this time next year we'll be including your ideas as one of our '98 accomplishments.