RBPMail 4.02, February 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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:

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


Diageo Plc, the British company formed from the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan, reported that trade in the Asian Pacific markets, particularly Thailand, has slowed since September, 1997, when those markets began experiencing weakness. The report noted especially that trade had slowed in Thailand. It was noted that their spirits business in Asian Pacific markets was only 8% of Diageo's profits.

Return to Top


Canada's Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd. ended its 150th anniversary year with 15% annual increase in earnings. The company, which is part of the Interbrew S.A. brewing groups, also reports record profits in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean/Latin America.

Return to Top


Amstel, a part of Dutch brewing entity Heineken, has recalled all bottles of its non-alcoholic Amstel Malt beer marked "best before May 1998" after several customer complaints about the flavor. The brewery has reported that the off-flavor was probably related to the new hop harvest, but the company was still in the process of examining the beer. Over one million bottles are involved.

Return to Top


Coors Brewing and Golden, Colorado chroniclers are wrestling over Sam's Land Tavern, a local watering hole and landmark recently purchased by Coors. Built in 1873, the establishment was the oldest continually operating bar in Golden and one of Adolph Coors' first accounts. Coors bought the venerable bar in December and has announced plans to demolish it in April of 1998. The tavern is the last German-built structure of the once bustling enclave now buried under the brewer's parking lots. "Coors has already destroyed maybe 80 percent of the buildings in Goosetown," say Richard Gardner, of the Golden Landmarks Association, "and because the neighborhood is so decimated it's even more imperative to save the ones that are left." To appease local historical groups, Coors offered to donate the building to any non-profit group that could pay to remove it. The deadline for removing the building is April 1, after which Coors will begin demolition.

Return to Top


Sleeman Breweries Ltd. announced it would launch a $27 million ($18.85 million U.S.) cash and share bid for rival Upper Canada Brewing Co. Ltd. Upper Canada's chairman and CEO would both tender their stakes, about 14 percent of the company's shares, according to Sleeman. Sleeman Chair John Sleeman stated that the arrangement would increase his company's market in Ontario from 2.15 percent to over 3 percent. Sleeman plans to keep three of Upper Canada's six brands, including the dark ale, lager and light beer. Some critics have stated that the deal seems "a little expensive," and point out that Upper Canada has lost money in the past two years.

Return to Top

*** Regional Spotlight: England ***


Scottish and Newcastle Plc, Britain's largest brewer, will lose its exclusive right to supply beer to the 4,300 pubs in the Grand Pub Company. Since 1989, S&N brewing arm Scottish Courage had the exclusive right to supply all the pubs in the chain with its own or its agency beer brands. This deal will end in March. The deal had been described as "uneconomic" for GPC publicans as the prices they had to charge were based on 1989 rates when beer prices were much higher than today. Analysts, however, feel that drinkers have gotten used to the SC brands. The Grand Pub Company was formed in September 1997 by Japanese investment bank Nomura after it acquired the Inntrepreneur and Springs Inns chain of pubs formerly joint owned by Australian brewer Foster's Brewing Group Ltd. and Grand Metropolitan Plc.

Return to Top


British brewing-to-leisure conglomerate Bass Plc recently announced its intention to return approximately 850 million pounds ($1.4 billion) to its shareholders after agreeing to sell over 1,400 of its leased pubs. The pubs were to be sold for 564 million pounds to a management team, BT Capital Partners Europe. Bass retains its 2,500 managed pubs and plans to spend about 300 million pounds on developing them, creating about 4,000 jobs. A managed pub is wholly operated by Bass; manager and staff are appointed by the company. A leased pub is not owned by Bass; the building is. The building is rented out to an independent operation. The brewery makes a profit on the beer it sells and the rent it is paid.

Return to Top


Whitbread Plc, Britain's third largest brewer, plans to close two of its five breweries in a move to cut costs. The company is doing this because of declining beer sales, according to industry sources and analysts. The total British domestic market is, according to the release, 36 million barrels of beer a year. The Whitbread share of that is about five million barrels and one industry source is quoted as saying that Whitbread does not need five breweries to produce that annual volume (5 million barrels).

Return to Top


Two Young's Brewery pubs have been renamed as a memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. Both pubs were originally called Prince of Wales (after Edward VII), one is located in Merton and the other in Clapton. Princess Diana had been a patron of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Bloomsbury, of which John Young is a former chairman. On hand to attend the ceremony of the unveiling of the new pub sign in Merton were eight Americans representing Portland, Oregon's Horse Brass pub, which is twinned with the new Princess of Wales.

Return to Top


Guinness is interested in winning younger drinkers in the 20- 25 year-old age group. Currently their core group is the 25-35 age group. The approach Guinness is taking is to be proactive in areas appealing to that age group specifically. A couple of Guinness' projects have been sponsorship of the Fleadh festival of Irish music in London and a chain of comedy clubs called Jongleurs. Also, the Guinness Quarter-Day was held in London in October, and is based on an ancient Irish pagan festival. The company also plans to sponsor the Inter-Celtic Watersports festival in Cornwall this coming summer.

Return to Top


Britain's Labour MP (and former actress) Glenda Jackson is spearheading the UK Labour Party's drive against alcohol- related violence. Ms. Jackson's son lost an eye during a bar brawl where beer glasses were used. The intention is to outlaw "assault beer glasses"; customers will use toughened glass containers instead. The problem is that when new, the toughened glass shatters into granules, useless to use in a brawl. However, after use and many washings, the glass shatters into knife-like shards.

Return to Top



According to a January 12 bulletin from Kyodo news service, Japan's four major brewers reported shipments for 1997 were down 2.2% from 1996. This was the first shipment drop in two years. A factor in the drop was said to the consumption tax in April of last year, which went from 3% to 5%. Kirin Brewery Co. reported the largest share of the domestic market, 43%, followed by Asahi with 34.7%, Sapporo, 17% and Suntory, 5.3%. Although market share rankings remained stable, the gap between Kirin and Asahi narrowed from 16.3 percentage points in 1996 to 8.3 percentage points in 1997. Asahi's Super Dry accounted for 32.3% of total beer shipments. Kirin's Lager, Japan's best-selling beer since 1954, lost 16 percentage points to account for 25.3% of the market.

Return to Top


Mexico's conservative National Action Party (PAN) has stated that it was in favor of reducing excise taxes on beer and other alcohol after a recent increase. PAN's congressional delegation indicated that it was taking this position following the receipt of a petition from beer and liquor companies, who had been taken unawares by the recent tax increase which had occurred just before Christmas. Beer excise taxes had been increased from 19% to 25% and liquor taxes from 50% to 60%; the increase was apparently a last-minute adjustment to the 1998 budget. Also, the tax applies almost exclusively to Mexican companies, giving an advantage to imports.

Return to Top

*** WEB WATCH ***


The online resource for maps leading to the nation's top brew spots. For travelers or those who want to be reminded of where they have been. Coop's maps offers a series covering the United States by region. To complement these real world maps, check our interactive online mapping feature by doing a search in the brewery database

Return to Top


The latest breaking news from Stephen Beaumont, our correspondent up North. Tune in here for the latest musings on the state of the beer world, travels and tastings.

Return to Top



Everything you need to brew beer, make wine, make cheese, grow mushrooms, create vinegars - and more! This site is one- stop shopping for the do-it-yourselfers out there. It'll take you some time to delve through the many products available here; from books to equipment to homebrew kits as well as some cool animated gifs throughout the site. You can have it all at:

Return to Top


The South-Eastern Microbrew Invitational has grown into the premier craft-brewing event in the South since its inception 5 years ago. In addition to the impressive array of beers from the southeast and beyond, this year the festival twins with a conference covering topical and ground breaking seminars and forums touching on every aspect of the craft-brewing industry. Surf through the web site to see photos from events past, find out where to get your tickets, what beers you want to sample, and how to get there.

Return to Top


The Home Brew Supply Store online is the brainchild of the Four Corners folk, a site that provides a model of internet commerce and ease of online transactions. In addition to an online shopping cart, you can check your order history, request a refund and track your order. A partnership with brings you superfast online book orders, and an array of home brew supplies. The web site is as worth visiting as the 4000 sq. ft. real-life store in Northern Baltimore County, MD.

Return to Top


Yakima Chief is a corporate name of several hop-growing families in Washington's Yakima valley growing region. Together, they farm over a fifth of the countries hop acreage. The array of hop varieties is staggering, and a glossary is there to assist the unschooled in their viney ways. Check out:

Return to Top



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 John Troxler, who comments, "I'm not really interested in eye candy for the Real Beer Pages. Pack more content in my download time, but let those who want more graphics and Java animations enable them."

Last month we asked you how your surfed the web, enabled for graphics or text-only. Looks like most of you prefer to surf the web ready to experience all the eye-poppin' wonder of images.

The results were:
Disabled - 9%
Text Only - 7%
Fully Loaded - 84%

Return to Top

*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

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

Return to Top


The premier craft beer event in the southeast, The Southeastern Microbrewers' Invitational and Conference readies for its fifth annual celebration of American craft brewing. The 1998 Southeastern Microbrewers' Invitational and Conference, presented by T.S. Elliott's City Market Bistro- Groundhog Tavern and The Real Beer Page on the Internet at, is scheduled for April 10-11, 1998 at the Omni Durham Hotel and Durham Civic Center in Durham, North Carolina. A portion of all proceeds will benefit Visual Arts Exchange of Raleigh, North Carolina. Information and ticket locations are available at (919) 484-1128 or

Return to Top


It's almost time for the Spring 98 edition of Oldenberg's Beer Camp. Cost for Beer Camp is $369 per person, double occupancy. Camp is held at the Oldenberg Brewery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, with accommodations at the adjacent Drawbridge Inn. The spring version (you can also camp in the Fall) will be held over the weekend of March 6-8, 1998. Call 1- 800-323-4917 for more information or to make reservations, or visit the website at:

Return to Top


Alcohol will not be served at the Boston Red Sox opener on April 10. The game, which starts at 3:05 p.m. falls between Good Friday afternoon church services and the first night of Passover. The team had attempted to reschedule, but could not. The Red Sox, which have the highest ticket price in the major leagues, also has the smallest ballpark in the majors.

Return to Top


John Hansell, publisher of Malt Advocate magazine has announced a ten-city Malt Advocate Scotch Whisky Academy, between February and April 1998. The Academy, designed to promote the Scotch whisky industry and educate consumers about single malt scotch, will consist of a two-hour classroom- style lecture, tasting and slide show. Seven different single malt whiskies will be tasted during each event. Attendance is limited to 100 people. Proceeds from the $20 admission fee will be donated to charity. Admission includes hors d'oeuvres, tastings, seminar, handouts and certificate. Advance reservations only. For information, contact Amy Westlake, 620- 967-1083. To order tickets, phone 1-800-610-MALT.

Return to Top


Wendy Littlefield tells BeerWeek ( that the man who designed gates and other ironwork for Yoko Ono, Bette Midler and Gwyneth Paltrow is creating ironwork for Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. Ommegang, built to make Belgian-style beers, commissioned Roland Greefkes to do design work for them. At this time he is making handles for the brewery.

Return to Top


Molson Breweries announced on January 5 that they have been awarded the marketing and selling of Heineken in Canada's four western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Molson will offer Heineken in Western Canada in early 1998. Currently, Molson markets and sells Heineken in the rest of Canada. In Ontario and Quebec, sales have tripled over the past four years (under Molson's management). Adding Heineken to its roster means a strengthening of position in the super premium import category. Heineken competes mostly against those beers, at the same time complementing Molson Breweries beer roster. Also, Molson's will now carry Murphy's Irish Stout, produced in Ireland.

Return to Top


As a cost-cutting move in response to losses in the fourth quarter and for the full year, Redhook Ale Brewery (Nasdaq: HOOK) said it will scale back operations at its Seattle Brewery and re-locate corporate offices to that building. The landmark Trolleyman Pub at the Fremont Brewery will remain open and tours of the brewery will continue, president Paul Shipman said. However, he added, the scale-back will force the company to lay off approximately ten employees. While the Fremont Brewery's equipment will be maintained and there will be periodic brewing on a limited basis, almost all of Redhook's brewing for its markets in the western U.S. will now take place at the Company's brewery in Woodinville, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Redhook's brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which serves the eastern U.S., will not be affected by the Fremont consolidation.

Return to Top


Broadway Brewing LLC announced on January 12 that a complaint had been filed on its behalf in Colorado State Court against David Reitz, Director of the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division. The complaint was over the banning of the original Road Dog (TM) label in September 1995 on grounds that the label was deemed obscene. The complaint was filed by the Colorado affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The label, created by famed illustrator Ralph Steadman, contains the phrase "Good Beer . . . No Shit." The lawsuit alleges that Reitz has violated the First Amendment and seeks an injunction to permit Broadway to resume the original Road Dog label. When the label was first created, the brewery had already produced 1,200 cases. When the label was submitted for approval, it was found to be obscene, but the brewery was allowed to sell any remaining ale that had been produced. The label was changed temporarily to "Good Beer . . . No Censorship."

Return to Top


Adams Publishing, New York, NY, has suspended publishing Beer Connoisseur Magazine effective immediately. Sources also suggest that several parties have inquired about the property and that a sale may be pending. Beer Connoisseur had published four issues of the "beer life-style" magazine before suspending publication and laying off their staff.

Return to Top


Minnesota Brewing Company has announced that it filed for state permits to produce ethanol in commercial quantities at its Saint Paul, MN, plant. In a statement, the brewery said it has not as yet made a firm decision to convert a portion of its facilities over to the production of ethanol.

Return to Top


The Brewers' Association of America (BAA) has formed a search committee to find a successor to President Henry King, who is stepping down after six years. Serving on the search committee are FX Matt, FX Matt Brewing, Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing, Richard Doyle, Harpoon Brewing, and Henry King. The BAA was founded in 1942 and is the voice for small and regional brewers in the United States. For further information on the position of president, contact Richard Doyle, 617-574- 9551.

Return to Top


A very rare pre-prohibition etched glass from North Star Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN, was sold during the 18th mail, phone and FAX auction held by Glasses, Mugs & Steins on November 29, 1997. Over 1,500 items were up for bids. An Anheuser-Busch "Faust's Own" pre-prohibition stein sold for $454. It had been made in the late 1880s for Faust's Restaurant in St. Louis, MO.

Return to Top


Entry dates for the first round of the National Homebrew Competition are between Monday, May 4 and Friday, May 15, 1998 at eight designated sites nation-wide. The final rounds will be held at the 1998 Homebrewers Conference in Portland, Oregon, July 22-24, right before the Oregon Brewers Festival. The American Homebrewer's Association 1998 National Homebrew Competition Rules and Regulations and 1998 AHA Style Guidelines are available by contacting Amahl Turczyn at (303) 447-0816 ext. 116, e-mail:

Return to Top

Guest Editorial: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington & Beyond

by Gregg Smith

When beer drinkers think back over the past year or so, they'll recall a period unlike any other in beer history. What made it so different had nothing to do with the state of the industry. There were no great leaps in brewing technology, no introduction of fabulous new beer styles, no reductions in craft beer prices, and congress passed no brew-friendly legislation. What was notable were the release of several scientific studies. Of benefit to the consumer, the reports verified what we thought all along - Beer's good for you.

Little more than a year ago drinkers were stunned by a Department of Agriculture announcement that consumption of one alcoholic drink per day promoted health. Shortly after, officials from human services issued a supporting statement. Suddenly the government was saying it was okay to drink.

It leaves us wondering - 'what took so long?' Over 200 years ago Dr. Benjamin Rush was credited with undertaking the first scientific study on the consequences associated with drinking. Rush was appointed the country's first 'Physician-General of the Continental Army', a fore-runner of today's 'Surgeon General', and he issued a pamphlet entitled "Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body and Mind." Within his work Rush suggested beer produced no harm; furthermore, he postulated that moderate consumption improved health and enriched life. In the wake of the government reports it seemed as though Dr. Rush was finally acknowledged. Of more importance, supportive findings quickly appeared. First was a report that beer had an equal or better effect on health than red wine. Authorities confirmed that moderate amounts of alcohol, such as that obtained from beer, enhanced physical well being. Throughout the country bottle caps popped in celebration of the news, but the best was yet to come.

In early December of '97 the American Cancer society revealed findings generated by the largest study ever conducted on the effects of drinking. Unique in its approach, the researchers attempted to consider both positive and negative effects of drinking and to calculate the overall effect on human health. Negative influences of consumption were reviewed and risk factors associated with increased chance of liver damage, breast cancer and the like were weighed against any good derived from alcohol.

Surveying 490,000 people over a nine year period, the American Cancer Society calculated the results only when 10% of those enlisted in the study died. What they found was astonishing. After adjusting the figures to include the full impact of negative effects they discovered that men and women who had at least one drink a day averaged a 21 percent lower risk of death than nondrinkers. Moreover, drinkers reduced their risk of heart disease by 30 to 40 percent. In part, the lower chance of heart disease was attributed to higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) produced through moderate alcohol consumption. In fact, contrary to previously held beliefs, those who already suffered from heart disease had the greatest gain from drinking. Additional figures provided further encouragement.

What if you sometimes exceed that drink-a-day advice, or what if you "save" them up to happily guzzle all at once during the weekend? Breathe easy, the report also contained good news for you. Averaging four or five drinks a day continued to reduce the likelihood of death by over 10 percent.

Responses from those usually voicing opposition was unexpectedly conciliatory. Head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Enoch Gordis, was quoted as saying "...since it was done so carefully with a large number of people. I think it is a valuable piece of work." Indeed, the figures were backed by independent research conducted in the Nurses Health Study and Physicians Health Study associated with Harvard University. Their study found a 17 percent lower chance of death in women drinkers and a corresponding 22 percent lower death rate in men, well in step with the 21 percent reduction found by the American Cancer Society. Of course the reports all indicate the best results were obtained through moderate drinking, a position supported for years by this publication. It's great news. Remember Grandma saying the greatest gift of all was good health? Maybe she knew even more than we thought. Regardless, it makes the past year or so one of significance for beer drinkers. It vindicates our enjoyable consumption; it literally says that not only is beer good for what 'Ales' you, it's a part of good health.


The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily the publisher. But they probably are... We're working on expanding the debate about the wide breadth of beer culture at large. If you have thoughts or comments you wish to respond to this editorial, post them online at:

Gregg Smith was named the "1997 Beer Writer of the Year" by the North American Guild of Beer Writers. His third book "The Beer Drinker's Bible is available from Brewers Publications. You can find his archive online at: