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Sep 18, 2014

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RBPMail 4.04, April 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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

http://www.beerweek.com

TEAMSTERS REJECT AB OFFER

According to a report in the March 27 Wall Street Journal, strained contract negotiations continue between AB and the Teamsters Union. The contract under discussion, which covers 8,000 workers, was to expire midnight Sunday. AB claims the current contract offer will both promise job security for employees, reduce absenteeism, increase safety and introduce a minimum $250-year bonus. They propose changes in the calculation of a 40-hour week and the policy for qualifying weekend work for overtime. The Teamsters are concerned that the brewer will increase seasonal and temporary jobs and contract out minor jobs such as maintenance. The Union's National Negotiating Committee voted to reject the company's final offer. The membership's final vote was conducted by mail last week.

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BUDVAR CLAIMS PROFITABLE 1997; DESPITE AB THREAT

Budejovicky Budvar n.p., makers of Czech Budweiser beer, announced February 24 that its gross profit was 430 million crowns ($12.7 million) compared to 320 million the previous year. Economic Director Petr Jansky stated that Budvar had sales of 1.62 billion crowns in 1997, production grew 8% and that Budvar was now exporting over 50% of its production. These figures are based on unaudited results. Budvar has been involved in a dispute with Anheuser-Busch over the use of the name "Budweiser." Under a 1911 agreement Budvar retained the right to the name "Budweiser" and still has that right in most European markets.

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UB GROUP MAKES ANOTHER US ACQUISITION

Carmel Brewing Co. in Salinas, CA, was recently purchased by the UB Group in Sausalito, CA. The deal is reported to be complete. Sources said that the bottling line would be moved to the new Mendocino Brewing facility in Ukiah, CA Carmel Brewing Company brands would be retained for continued production and the rest of the brewing equipment offered for sale. Carmel Brewing's Peter B's Brewpub in Monterey was apparently not included in the sale. The UB Group took controlling interest in Mendocino Brewing Co., Hopland, CA late last year.

http://www.mendobrew.com

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ASAHI GAINS ON KIRIN MARKET SHARE

Japan's Asahi Breweries Ltd. reports a rise in its 1997 earnings, with record highs for the second consecutive year. Asahi has led competitors in sales growth, helped by the healthy showing of Super Dry beer. Profits declined in 1997, on the other hand, for Kirin, Japan's largest brewery. Kirin now claims 41.5% of total shipments by the top five Japanese beer makers, while Asahi claims 39.1%. In 1997, however, Kirin's shipments declined 10%, while Asahi's increased by 11%.

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BREWERIES STAND TOGETHER AGAINST UK TAX

Shepherd Neame Ltd. won the right to lodge an appeal in the London High Court challenging the Treasury's decision to increase beer duty by a penny a pint in last year's budget. The 300-year old family brewery argues that raising the beer tax in Britain runs against to the Treaty of Rome European Union target of harmonizing excise duties. Currently they are much lower for beer on the Continent than in Britain. Britain's largest brewers, Bass Plc and Scottish & Newcastle Plc have also protested the recent increase in the excise duty on an English pint. The British duty, as of January, 1999, would be 32p a pint. Neame claims that one in every three pints of beer drunk in Kent comes from Calais, France, and that shoppers are crossing the Channel to buy cheaper beer. Average European beer duty is about a sixth of that of Britain.

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GERMAN BARLEY GROWERS CONSIDER CUTBACKS

Low prices in 1997 have caused some German farmers to consider cutting back on their planting of spring barley this year. German farmers harvested 4.16 million tons of spring barley last year. Over half qualified for malting, according to Jochen Mautner GmbH, a company that issues surveys on acreage and varieties. For several months, European malting barley prices have been low, especially in France and Denmark, because of light demand and oversupply.

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RUSSIA IN DARK RE:US CRAFTBREW?

The message of a March 19 dispatch from Moscow to the NY-based Journal of Commerce read, "I've been in America several times and I haven't seen anything worse than American beer," claimed Vladimir Shishin, general director of Pivoindustriya, Russia's beer industry association. Shishin told the Journal of Commerce that Russian preferences in beer are so strong, they have created a natural taste barrier to imports. The report said that the import decline was disputed by Boston Consulting Group, whose Moscow branch has conducted several studies of the Russian beer market for foreign and Russian brewers. Stanislav Tsyrlin, the Group's beer expert, contended Shishin's data come from official Russian Customs records that understate the volume of imports being smuggled into the country. Russia's beer imports aren't declining, but they aren't growing either, the group concedes. Tsyrlin also believes the Russian preference for bitter, dark and thick beer consistency works against American brands, which he told the newspaper "have the reputation for being too light, too sweet or tasteless, and too watery."

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INTERNATIONAL DRINKING TRENDS CHANGE

Although European consumers are still the major beer drinkers in the world, energy drinks are rising in the marketplace. Two phenomena are currently affecting the global beer industry. One is the rise of energy drinks; the other is the sinking buying power of consumers in Asia. Health or "sporty" drinks are being purchased by German young people, who are turning away from their national tradition of beer drinking, according to Ludwig Narziss, professor of brewing technology at the Technology University of Munich. Germans still drink more beer than most, at 230 pints per capita each year. Bavarians drink 370 pints per person every year. Japanese beer drinkers drink approximately 44 pints of beer each year.

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JAPANESE MICRO BEATS THE ODDS

While the Japanese microbrewing industry has been growing rapidly, with approximately 100 currently in existence, one has closed down. Csarda Brewpub in Kobe closed at the end of January. According to Kobe locals, business had been very bad. The location was far away from downtown, with no nearby public transportation, and the quality of both the beer and the food was not up to the standard expected by Kobe residents, among the most sophisticated in Japan.

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HEINEKEN'S NET PROFIT INCREASED IN 1997

Heineken N.V., one of the world's largest brewing companies, announced on March 13 that its net profit for 1997 rose by 16% to NLG 761 million ($376 million). Net revenues rose by 11% and operating profit rose by 19%. Sales volume in the American market rose by 5%. Sales in Spain rose, while sales in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, although rising, showed lower revenues in Dutch guilders, owing to the fall of several currencies in that region in the second half of 1997. Breweries were consolidated in Ghana, Italy, and Chad.

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***WEB WATCH***

CRAFT BREWER'S CONFERENCE ONLINE

Real Beer, Inc. will be providing reports from the Craft Brewer's Conference in Atlanta. For those traveling to the area or from the area, check out the In- Sighter's Guide put together by our friends at Southern Draft Brew News (southerndraft.com) which covers the better beer places in Atlanta. For those in the industry attending the event, consider RSVPing online for our annual Cigar Hospitality. Or come by and see us at Booth #604 during the conference. We would love to see you in person. The conference site is at:

http://www.probrewer.com/cbc98/

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GOOD BEER AND FOOD PAIRED IN NEW BOOK

International beer writer Stephen Beaumont has compiled over 100 brewpub food recipes, with dishes from calamari to chili to cheesecake, all cooked with beer. The book is softcover and 208 pages deep. If you love the best of gourmet beer and food, this is a must-read. Beaumont has also written "A Taste for Beer" and publishes the outstanding, "World of Beer" website where his books and tapes are also available.

Stephen Beaumont's Brewpub Cookbook
Brewers Publications
ISBN 0-937381-64-0
$18.95

http://www.worldofbeer.com/brewpub.php

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***REAL BEER PICKS***

SECRETS TO GROWING HOPS VIDEO

From one hop lover to another - here is the definitive source on the how and why of growing hops. Patrick Luzansky, author of the video, has also penned articles on hops for Zymurgy that are available online. "Secrets To Growing Your Own Hops" makes great family viewing, and will contribute to awesome homebrew. Celebrate rhizome love and order a copy of your own at

http://www.netcom.com/~dluzanp

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ODELL BREWING CO.

Odell's holds claim to being the second micobrewery to open in Colorado, versus the ninety or so micros and brewpubs that are now operational in Colorado. They also hold claim to brewing some of the best beer in the state. For Odell's award-winning brews, events, directions and an online store, go to:

http://www.odells.com

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RCB EQUIPMENT

Fermenters and brewers of all levels take note: RCB Equipment is the premier business in obtaining, and reselling quality used kegs. Located near Sacramento, CA, the focus on quality materials and low overhead operation allows them to offer kegs to the market at extremely competitive prices, frequently the lowest available in the nation. Check out their site at:

http://www.rcbequip.com

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TACO MAC

Taco Mac -- more accurately, those run in Sandy Springs and Snellville by Andy Klubock -- are the ultimate better-beer taphouses in Atlanta, GA. Now, Andy has debuted a brand, spanking new website to cater to their informed customer base, and it's got the foundations of being an incredible resource for the better drinks category. The site contains a database with detailed information about many of the 600 or so beers sold. This tool allows users to sort the beers by draft or bottle, geographic origin, style or brand. Whoa. Up-to-date information about products, subscriptions for e-mail notification of new beers and menu items, as well as a calendar of upcoming events prepare you for the pilgrimage to the real world sites. Website was designed by Relevant Arts Enterprise (www.raenet.com) in Atlanta.

http://www.tacomac.com

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VINO'S PIZZA, PUB AND EATERY

Take a wild ride into the world of Henry Lee, proprietor of Vinos Pizza, Pub and Eatery, the coolest and funkiest spot in Little Rock, AK. This site has a Quick Time tour to take you through the establishment; Henry even offers a slice of pizza to the viewer at the onset of your virtual journey. Warning: viewing close to lunchtime may influence your appetite! Live music, menus, and virtual postcards make this a destination site on the Internet - as much as you'll want to head to Little Rock's Original Brewpub. Can you tell? We're crazy about these folks:

http://www.vinosbrewpub.com

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VINTAGE CELLAR ON-LINE HOMEBREW SUPPLIES AND INGREDIENTS

The real-world location of Vintage Cellar (note: that's "Cellar" in the singular) in Blacksburg, VA is a one-stop mecca for homebrew supplies, craft- brews, crush-your-own and bottled wines and all kinds of gadgets, toys, hoses and books to assist in the process. Now, Vintage Cellar can be found on-line. The Wizards behind the Cellar can also be reached via email for all manner of compliments, advice, questions and general rap about the joys of brewing. Surf over to:

http://www.vintagecellar.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. This month's winner was Bryan Harrell who prefers the ales of the Belgian kind.

Last month we asked which country you prefer your imports from and we got some great response. Consistent with past surveys about beer preference, our viewers love diversity. Here's a summary of results:

Nearly three quarters prefer imports from England, Belgium and Germany by a measure of 31%, 25% and 18% of respondents respectively.

The next-highest category behind the top three was "other."

There was pretty much a tie between runners-up Canada and Czechoslovakia with Mexico and Australia right behind.

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*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:
http://www.ager-tank-equipment.com
http://www.alaskanbeer.com
http://www.beer-wine.com
http://cornucopia1.com
http://dmebrewing.com
http://www.dosx.com
http://eco-pakproducts.com
http://www.freshops.com
http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com
http://www.homebrewsupply.com
http://hopunion.com
http://imperialtourtravel.com
http://www.microbrew-invitational.com
http://oakenbarrel.com
http://www.srss.com
http://www.yakimachief.com

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SENATE WANTS LOWER BLOOD ALCOHOL LIMITS

The U.S. Senate voted last week to establish an allowable blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent from coast to coast. The provision was approved as an amendment to the $173 billion six-year highway spending bill under consideration by the Senate. The amendment requires that states not choosing to accept the tougher standard would lose 5% of their federal highway money in fiscal 2002, and 10% thereafter.

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WSJ EDITORIAL TAKES STAND AGAINST NATIONAL BAC LAW

On the same subject, the March 5 Wall Street Journal ran an editorial by Jim Holt entitled "A MADD Law." The editorial pointed out the following:

*Average blood alcohol limit of drivers in drinking-related accidents is 0.18.

*A driver in the 0.08 to 0.10% range is about as likely as sleepy, depressed or distracted drivers to cause an accident.

*Cell phone users have an accident rate close to that of drivers with a 0.10% blood alcohol level.

*Elderly and diabetic drivers with hypoglycemia have higher accident rates; the diabetic's is 19 times higher than normal.

*Teen males have accident rates 40 times higher than the general population.

Holt asks why the light drinker is to be made a criminal, while those in the above categories are allowed to continue to drive.

For more information on this issue, see the Editorial below.

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COURT RULES AGAINST BUD GEAR

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced on March 11 that an agreement had been reached in Los Angeles Superior Court in which Anheuser-Busch Corporation stipulated to a permanent injunction on any further illegal ad campaigns similar to the Bud Gear promotion of 1997. ABC sought an injunction in June, 1997 against the "Buy the Beer, Get the Gear" marketing campaign, on the grounds that California law prohibits giving anything free as an inducement to drink more alcohol, and these promotions are considered illegal. Under the stipulation, A-B has agreed not to conduct the Bud Gear promotion or any similar promotion in California.

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MILLER SUED BY AB IN COUNTER-STRIKE

Anheuser-Busch has filed a lawsuit that alleges that one of its competitors, Miller Brewing Co., is trying to interfere with A-B's wholesaling agreement with 54 distributors who sell the beer of both breweries. The wholesale agreement states that each of the distributors that handled both companies' product must "maximize" sales of A-B in its distribution areas. Miller's answer was to contact the distributors by mail stating that they must refuse the pact or Miller would sever their contracts. A spokesperson stated that Miller had gone to federal court earlier in the month to terminate distribution agreements with three wholesalers also selling A-B brands. Miller claimed in its lawsuits that the distributors had broken their agreement with Miller when they agreed to give preferential treatment to Anheuser-Busch beers.

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***BUSINESS WATCH***

BIG ROCK BREWERY ANNOUNCES POSITIVE 1997 3RD QUARTER

Big Rock Brewery Ltd., Calgary, AB announced that its revenues for third quarter 1997 increased to $6.12 million. Net income was $108,195. Year-to-date revenue, for period ending December 31, 1997, showed revenue of $20,004,422 -- an increase of 5% over same period 1996.

http://www.bigrockbeer.com

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FREDERICK BREWING RESPONDS TO SHAREHOLDER QUESTIONS

Responding to inquiries from shareholders about recent decline in stock prices, Frederick Brewing Co. CEO Kevin Brannan states that the decline was the result of short selling and discounted conversions of preferred shares to common stock, in a March 9 release from the brewery. Brannan stated, "When all these shares are absorbed by the market, the artificial downward pressure should ease and we would hope the share price will become more accurately reflective of the company's value." The company went from little or no cash to net assets in excess of $6 million in 1997. Its Hempen Ale product line has been hugely successful, and Frederick recently acquired two local competitors, Brimstone and Wild Goose.

http://www.fredbrew.com

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GORDON BIERSCH CLOSES ONE; PLANS TO OPEN MORE

Gordon Biersch has sold their Brewery Restaurant operation in Sunset Station Casino just outside Las Vegas to Station Casinos. The move is designed to reposition the operation to locals in the south Las Vegas area which differed from the Gordon Biersch concept. The new facility, called Sunset Station, will feature Gordon Biersch beer brewed off site and live music. Plans for Sunset Station include lowering beer and food prices to better appeal to the locals. Corporate headquarters will move to Las Vegas by summer. Brewery restaurants are slated to open in Tempe, AZ in May, at the Las Vegas Airport expansion in June, in San Diego by September and in Seattle's trendy new Pacific Place by November.

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CRIPPLED CASINO OFFERED TO HIGHEST BIDDER

A minimum of $395,000 will buy a casino in Cripple Creek, CO. The Old Chicago Casino is one of three casinos that will be auctioned on April 7, 1998 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Doubletree World Arena, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd. in Colorado Springs, according to the Rocky Mountain News. The three casinos sit next to each other near the entrance to the town, and can be bought individually, as a pair and a single, or all together. The historic buildings that house them could eventually form a single large casino.

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OZZIE PUBS OPEN IN EUROPE

Scottish and Newcastle Plc announced its intention to open its first managed pub overseas. The establishment, Cafe Oz, will be an Australian-theme pub, and will open in Hamburg, Germany. Australian beer and wine will be sold at Oz. (Scottish & Newcastle brews Foster's under license in the U.K.) S&N has plans to open five more Oz bars in Europe in 1998, possibly in Italy, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland.

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IRISH MAN DENIED DAMAGES AFTER BARSTOOL FALL

A Northern Irishman filed suit for one million in damages as a result of falling off a bar stool. William Joy has been paralyzed from the waist down after falling in the Copper Room Bar in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. He tried to sue for damages in Belfast's High Court, but the judge ruled that the bar stool had been stable and that Joy's condition -- after consuming 13 vodkas and four pints of beer -- had been the contributing factor. Joy had fallen off the stool, broken his spine, and become paralyzed from the waist down.

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RUB-A-DUB BRAU

The Kloster Brewery in Neuzelle near Berlin is planning to sell three-quart bottles of dark beer concentrate for bathing. Four bottles of the beer, mixed with water, will fill the average 32-gallon bath tub. The difference between this beer concentrate and "drinking beer" is that the yeast, which would normally be filtered out, is left in. Helmut Fritsche, the owner of the brewery, states that the beer is soothing to the skin and is helpful in treating eczema.

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FOLLOW THE ALE TRAIL IN ONTARIO

Six craft brewers in Southern Ontario province have launched an Ale Trail to showcase their brews. From April through October, 1998, the breweries will host monthly open houses on Sundays, when visitors can sample brews, meet the brewmasters and tour the breweries. Breweries participating include Brick Brewing Co. Ltd., F & M Brewery, Gold Crown Brewery, Old Mill Brewery, Sleeman Brewing & Malting and Wellington County Brewery.

http://realbeer.com/canada/

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BREWERS WIN SCHOLARSHIPS

Two brewers have been awarded scholarships in the American Brewers Guild's 1998 Diploma Programs. Richard Amacher, assistant brewer at Great Basin Brewing Co., Sparks, NV, and Larry Chase, head brewer at 4th Street Brewing Co. in Sioux City, IA, were chosen from over 20 applicants. The scholarships are granted annually to working brewers in the craft brewing industry for the Guild's "Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering Course."

http://www.abgbrew.com

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LONG DRY SPELL ENDS IN MISSISSIPPI

On March 10, 1998, Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice signed into law SB 2826 that legalized the operation of brewpubs in the state, effective July 1, 1998. State Senators John Horhn (D-20) and Bob Dearing (D-37) have sponsored the "brewpub bill" for five years. It was championed in the House by Representatives Charlie Williams, Alice Clark and Jim Simpson. After the bill failed in the House on March 4, a 24-hour grass roots campaign of House members brought about another vote on March 5, when it passed by a 3-vote margin. The new legislation effectively ends 90 years of prohibition of craft brewed beer within the state.

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IBS REPORTS BREWERY OPENINGS OUTNUMBER CLOSING 4 TO 1

The Institute for Brewing Studies released a statement on March 5 stating that craft beer sales increased by three to five percent in 1997, and that openings outnumbered closings. The following is a list of craft-brewing companies whose increase in volume of beer sold during 1997 was greater than 10,000 barrels (or 150,000 cases) in order of total volume increase:

COMPANYVOLUME% INCREASE
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA.+38,000 bbl.13%
New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO.+25,200 bbl. 46%
Alaskan Brewing & Bottling Co., Juneau, AK.+18,200 bbl. 56%
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR.+17,400 bbl.36%
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA.+15,400 bbl. 74%
Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL.+12,800 bbl.52%
Yakima Brewing/Grant's Ales, Yakima, WA.+11,600 bbl. 108%
Breckenridge Brewery, Denver, CO.+11,100 bbl.53%

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HARD ROCK CAFE JUMPS ON BANDWAGON

Hard Rock Cafe announces it will offer its own beer brands to its restaurant customers in March and to retailers in April, according to a company bulletin. The beers, Hard Gauge and Light Gauge, will feature specially designed caps that will include rock n' roll symbols, the names of some Hard Rock Cafes around the world and the dates they opened.

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MONTANA STATE BREWERS ASSOCIATION PUSHES NEW LAW

The newly formed Montana State Brewers Association is attempting to work together with the Montana Tavern Association and the Montana Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association to create legislation that would not be detrimental to the interests of the members of either organization. The bill, would allow breweries to bypass wholesalers and the current retail licensing system to sell beer for consumption at the brewery "on-premise" without a beer and wine license. It is being opposed by the Montana Tavern Association and the Montana Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.

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PETE'S ROLLS OUT NEW LOOK; EXTRA SPECIAL BREW

Master brewer Pat Couteaux, V.P. of Brewing, has designed a new beer called ESP (Extra Special Pub) which is an all-malt European-style Export lager. This new product and a re-launch of the flagship Pete's Wicked Ale will be marketed through extensive outdoor advertising, Other Pete's beers include the Honey Wheat, Strawberry Blonde, Pete's Signature Pilsner (featuring Saaz hops) and the Springfest.

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FRENCH LAUNCH SEASONAL ALE TO BOOST BEER INDUSTRY

France's President Jacques Chirac was present at the public unveiling of "March beer," according to a thread on the internet from a Reuters dispatch. Nine years ago, France revived a 600-year-old ritual by releasing a new vintage of seasonal ale every March. The French brewers association strictly control the style of the March beer. It must be a light copper-colored ale with less than a 5.5 percent alcohol content. The beer is now available on draught -- only in France.

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BERT GRANT OFFERS "HOMEBREW SWEEPSTAKES"

Yakima Brewing & Malting Company, producers of Bert Grant's Real Ales, is running a consumer "Homebrew Sweepstakes" from March 1 through August 31, 1998. The company's "Brew a Batch with Bert" contest offers 50 annual memberships in the American Homebrewers Association, 25 deluxe homebrewing kits and the Grand Prize, the "ultimate homebrewing kit," worth more than $1,000. The Grand Prize will also include a personal visit from Bert Grant, who will help the winner brew. Entry forms for the sweepstakes will be available in all states where Grant's Ales are available.

http://www.grants.com

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MILK STOUT FIRST BREW OF COLLABORATOR PROJECT

The first beer has been brewed for the Collaborator Project developed by the Oregon Brew Crew and Widmer Brothers Brewing. The Project was created to introduce new, unusual and under-represented beer styles. The beers are designed by the OBC, brewed by Widmer and distributed by Maletis Beverages. Three local charities will receive contributions from Widmer from sales of the beer, and a brewing scholarship, funded by OBC, is to be established at Oregon State University's Fermentation Science Program. The first beer in the series is a Scottish-style Milk Stout, to be released by the end of this month. The next beer in the series, an English Brown Ale, will be available in late April. The Oregon Brew Crew is Oregon's largest homebrew club. It organizes and provides volunteer assistance for the annual Oregon Brewers Festival, to be held this year July 24-26 at the Waterfront Park in Portland, OR.

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GUEST EDITORIAL: NATIONAL .08 BAC IS BAD LAW AND BAD SCIENCE

(Editorial from Tom Dalldorf, The Celebrator Beer News)

The President of the United States recently endorsed federal legislation that would criminalize anyone found driving with a .08 BAC and withhold federal highway funds to states that did not comply with the new BAC level. On hand at his press conference was a young mother whose daughter had recently been killed by a driver with a .08 BAC. Her tears were both tragic and compelling. We later learned that the driver was in his early 20s and that the accident occurred at around 8:30 in the morning. There was no mention of the extraordinarily high accident rate for people in his age group, why he was drinking so early or whether the .08 ABC was a contributory factor to the fatal accident. This incident became such a huge "media event" that these questions, as impolite as they may be, deserve further inquiry. Science gives us precise, measurable and reproducible data we can use to formulate policy. The political arena, however, rarely uses the results of scientific inquiry to guide their deliberations. Rather, such data are used to substantiate preconceived beliefs. In this case, we know that drunk driving is bad and needs to be eliminated from our highways.

Our problem is, at what point do social drinkers become impaired to the point of being "drunk drivers." Where's the data? Does lowering permissible blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) reduce accidents caused by drunk drivers? Verifiable data remain ambiguous partly because the data are skewed by the term "alcohol related" which has nothing to do with drinking and driving. We do know that the average BAC for a driver in a fatal accident is .17. Lowering the BAC to .08 seems to have the same logic as lowering the speed limit to 55 mph to prevent accidents. More arrests, more disrespect for the law, and the problem (speeding, drunk driving) remains unresolved. Some countries have zero tolerance laws (again, flying in the face of science which shows that the body produces .01 to .03 BAC naturally) and a few have the death penalty for drunk driving. France's tough .05 BAC law failed to save a young Princess' life. Who will benefit from .08?

The 30 states that capitulate to the federal blackmail and lower their laws to .08 BAC will get their highway funds, the President will have a popular issue to diffuse attention from his scandal ridden administration, and vested interest (lawyers, tow truck operators, bail bondsmen, etc.) will have newfound wealth from our criminalizing a new strata of society. Will fewer people die at the hands of drunk drivers? Since the vast majority are already covered by existing law, it is doubtful. The U.S. Senate has already endorsed the new law. (To oppose it, given how politically charged this issue is, could be viewed as an endorsement of drunk driving.) The House of Representatives will consider it next. Your voice needs to be heard. We changed the absurd 55 mph law. It's time we went back at least to .10 BAC for criminalization - at least until such time as scientifically verifiable evidence compels us to do otherwise.

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