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Apr 16, 2014

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RBPMail 4.06, June 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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http://www.beerweek.com

PETE'S BREWING ACQUIRED BY GAMBRINUS AFFILIATE

Pete's Brewing Company, Palo Alto, CA, announced on May 22 that it has agreed to a definitive merger agreement with PBC Holdings, Inc., an affiliate of The Gambrinus Company, a privately held company located in San Antonio, TX. The agreement provides for PBC Holdings to acquire 100% of the outstanding common stock of Pete's at $6.375 per share in an all-cash transaction, and will result in Pete's becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of PBC Holdings. There are some 11 million outstanding shares of Pete's stock involved in the deal. Pete's Brewing Company was founded in 1986 by Pete Slosberg, and is the second-largest craft brewer in the United States. Gambrinus is the exclusive importer of Corona, Grupo Modelo in the Eastern United States, and of Moosehead Lager for the entire US. The company also owns Spoetzl Brewery in Texas and Bridgeport Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon.

http://www.shiner.com

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DRUNK DRIVING BILL FAILS

The proposed national standard for BAC has been dropped from the $200 billion transportation bill. Congressional negotiators stated on May 18 that a broad agreement had been reached on the bill itself, but that a higher BAC standard had not been included. Congressional leaders were concerned that a long, drawn-out fight over the issue would stall passage of the bill which it was trying to complete last week. Legislators had attempted to tie a lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 to states receiving federal monies for highway, bridge and mass transit construction.

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BRAZIL RESTRICTS BRAHMA-MILLER JOINT VENTURE

Brazil's anti-trust, Economic Defense Council (CADE) voted to allow the joint venture between Miller Brewing Company, U.S. and Cia. Cervejaria Brahma to continue, but with restrictions, according to a brewery announcement. CADE had earlier ruled against the JV, established in 1995. The two conditions CADE has requested are (1) Brahma is to provide the opportunity for small breweries to bottle at its facilities. (2) Brahma will have to offer technical assistance to microbreweries. Both these provisions are to make it easier for smaller breweries to launch new products in Brazil's beer market

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BOTH BUDS WIN THE DAY IN UK

The High Court in Great Britain has ruled that both U.S.-owned Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. and Czech-owned Budejovicky Budvar were entitled to register British trademarks in the "Budweiser" name. This ruling is only the latest in a series of court cases involving both breweries. A-B is the world's biggest brewer; Budweiser is the world's best-selling beer. The Czech company called its beer Budweiser Budvar, but, since the late 60s, had given preference to the "Budweiser" name alone.

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INDONESIAN RIOTING LEADS TO PLUNDERED HEINEKEN BREWERY

The fierce fighting in Indonesia has led to looting and rioting. On May 14, Multi Bintang, a brewery that is 80-percent-owned by Heineken NV (The Netherlands) was plundered by a crowd. The brewery is located 30- kilometers from Jakarta, which has suffered extensive damage from the rioters. According to a Heineken NV spokesman, a large group plundered the beer warehouse and took computers and office furniture from the office building. The spokesman stated that nobody had been harmed, so far as he knew, and that the brewery had advised its people to stay put. The rioting has been directed against President Suharto, and not against Heineken.

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JAPAN BEER SHIPMENTS TAKE A TURN FOR THE BETTER

Japan's four major brewers report that they have shipped 7.7% more beer in April of this year than in the same period last year. April 1997's level of shipments were down owing to an increase in the consumption tax that month. Three of the breweries posted gains, Kirin, Asahi and Suntory. Kirin's shipments rose 11.3%; Asahi's, 7.0% and Suntory, 21.8%. Sapporo's shipments fell 5.1%.

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UNION REJECTS ANHEUSER-BUSCH CONTRACT OFFER

Teamsters workers have rejected a contract offer from Anheuser-Busch management negotiators worth a reported $100 million. Union negotiators voted to reject the offer but sent the package to the rank and file for their vote. There will apparently be more bargaining talks to try to resolve labor's misgivings about the contract. Meanwhile, in an article in the Hayward Daily Review, May 2, 1998, it was suggested that management had been training to take over brewery operations if a strike were to happen. Inventories had also been increased as a precaution in the event of a work stoppage.

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LONG ARM OF A-B REACHES TO THE PHILIPPINES

Anheuser-Busch Co. Inc. is one of the companies interested in buying the 27% sequestered bloc in San Miguel Corp., the Philippine food/beer colossus. A three-person committee has been assigned to sell the shares, and a list of interested buyers has been submitted. While the list is currently confidential, a newspaper report revealed that A-B was one of the prospective buyers, and the company's spokesman confirmed that. The 27% stake is reportedly the biggest share holding bloc in San Miguel.

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EGYPTIAN BREWER TO BREW GUINNESS FOR MIDDLE EAST

An Egyptian company, Al-Ahram Beverages Company, has announced it has signed an agreement with Guinness to produce non-alcoholic beer for its Middle East and North African markets. ABC will be the exclusive local production and regional distribution hub for Guinness' non-alcoholic brand, Kaliber. Areas will include Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Bahrain, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Lebanon. The company will also brew and distribute Guinness beers in Egypt. ABC has been selling beer in Egypt since 1897.

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MILLER LOSES LICENSE IN MEXICO

The Mexican customs service canceled the import license for U.S. beer giant Miller Brewing Co., a unit of Philip Morris Cos. Inc. (MO.N), according to a May 4 article in the Monterrey-based El Norte newspaper. The cancellation stems from a problem with Miller's labeling. "We have not received a response from the government as to what the problem is," Miller spokesman Michael Hennick was quoted as saying in El Norte. Foreign beers have less than 1% of the market share in Mexico, where sales are dominated by the Mexican duopoly of Grupo Modelo (GMOc.MX) and Femsa (FEMb.MX). Miller sold 1.3 million cases of beer in Mexico in 1997.

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AMSTEL LIGHT KNOCKS SISTER BREWS OUT OF US MARKET

Heineken NV has announced that it will stop selling its Amstel and Amstel 1870 brands in the U.S. in order to devote more time and attention to its Amstel Light, which has been its best selling beer in the U.S. According to Koos Woltjes, Heineken NV spokesman, Amstel Light was the best selling imported light beer in the U.S.

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GLOBAL BEER GROWTH PREDICTED BY FRENCH MALTSTERS

Sustained growth in global beer consumption, mostly driven by merging markets, will boost demand for malt and malting barley in coming years, French malt producers reported. Growth in the beer market would be driven mainly by demand from Asia and South America as beer production would continue to decline in Europe and North America. In 1980 Europe and North America accounted for over 75% of global beer production of 922 million hectoliters (773 million barrels), Asia and South America for no more than 8% each. Estimates for 2000 suggested that the share of Europe and North America would decline to slightly over 50% while Asia would reach nearly 30% and South America nearly 13%.

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*** WEB WATCH ***

FATHERS DAY GIFT GUIDE

Fathers Day is right around the corner - have you found the right gift? The crew at Real Beer have put together a how-to guide. If your Pop is any kind of beer lovin' all American fella, this here's the place to shop. A wealth of sites offer great craft beers delivered to your doorstep, a how-to video instruction on growing your own hops, beer gear, homebrew kits, books.. the list goes on. See for yourself at

http://www.realbeer.com/rbp/promo/fathersday98/

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BREWING TECHNIQUES ONLINE

New articles, including a feature on Belgium's Orval beer, are in the May/June issue online.

http://www.brewingtechniques.com

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*** REAL BEER PICKS ***

ADD A BREWPUB

Lee Beadle, the self proclaimed Mr. Homebrew It Yourself has devised an ingenious professional malt extract brewing system. Easy to install, space saving and way less expensive than a traditional all-grain brewing system - Specialty Products International offers an option for restaurants and pubs that want to offer house beer without hiring a professional brewer and purchasing a system. Based in North Carolina but available on the web at:

http://www.addabrewpub.com

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AMERICAN WHITEWATER RAFTING EXPEDITIONS

Seeking a little summer excitement combined with a great get-away? Get your gear up to Placerville in Northern California and spend some time with Jon and Nancy Osgood's whitewater rafting corps of trained staff. With the added luxuries that make "roughing it" a little easier for city folk, this company ensures great eats, comfortable accommodations and a hot shower when you get off the river. With different classes of rapids to please all classes of thrill seekers. Best of all, Jon stocks his coolers with local microbrews. Check out their site and book a trip at:

http://www.americanwhitewater.com

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BREWERS ART

Brewers Art is a Baltimore brewpub delivering on a philosophy of fresh, unpretentious and delicious food (with a vegetarian emphasis) and deliciously crafted Belgian-style beer. Head to their website to find photos of fun-loving regulars, a Brewers' Talk area, along with menu and beer information to tempt your tastebuds. In addition to their own craft brews, fine wines and scotch are offered to satisfy any palate. The location is in Baltimore's Mt. Vernon/Belvedere district - if you love things Belgian-style, get there as fast as you can.

http://www.belgianbeer.com

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BEER, BEER & MORE BEER

The web is a great place to look for homebrew supplies and information. And Beer, Beer & More Beer, a retail outfit from Walnut Creek, CA have crafted a fantastic resource for the advanced and first time Homebrewer. If you have always wanted to brew but have been put off by the array of equipment and options out there - surf over to these folks. They offer advice, instructions and one of the best darn homebrew kits available on the market today. In addition, an online cigar selection will help you choose a smoke to enjoy with your fresh homebrew. Cheers!

http://www.morebeer.com

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DOUBLE SPRINGS HOMEBREW SUPPLY

Double Springs Homebrew Supply, located in Valley Springs, CA. offers a fine selection of equipment, supplies, books and retail items for home beer and wine making, They offer competitive prices and discounted shipping on most orders. The site is built around a clean index of items and is highly navigable. Check out the gourmet food items, liqueurs, coffee beans and hot sauces. A gourmet life awaits you at:

http://www.doublesprings.com

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GET YOUR HOMEBAR GIGGED WITH PUBGEAR

If you've been looking for that special set of Pub Glasses, a great dartboard, maddening tavern puzzles, or a unique gift set for your favorite Dad or Grad - look no further. PubGear is an on-line store that features an eclectic selection of beer, whisky and cocktail glassware, home bar essentials, pub games, lighting and decorative accessories to make your home feel as inviting as your favorite corner pub. PubGear enjoys a steadily growing list of customers worldwide, with orders shipped to destinations as far as Japan, Russia and England. You can join PubGear's Pub Club for updates on what's new and receive members only specials and discounts. PubGear has a very special offer just for RBPMail subscribers -when you sign up as a Pub Club member, identify yourself as an RBPMail subscriber in the "comments" field to find out what's in store for you!

http://www.pubgear.com

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SCHREIER MALTING CO.

Schreier Malting Company has 140 years of Quality and Good Old Fashioned Know-How poured into a new web presence that debuted in early May. Based on the Schreier trade ad campaign where specialty malt grains are heroes, three "pointy heads" welcome users to the Home Page. Several interactive features let you dialogue with the Schreier folks. An "Ask the Maltster" page allows users to send off questions and see their answers online on the FAQ page. Full malt descriptions of both Schreier and their Belgian partner, DeWolf Cosyns Malts create a reference area for users. Surf over to their site and click through the pages to see for yourself.

http://schreiermalt.com

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*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:
http://www.alaskanbeer.com
http://www.gooseisland.com
http://members.aol.com/kegworks/kegworks.php
http://www.monitor.net/beerfest
http://www.beer-wine.com
http://www.dmebrewing.com
http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com
http://www.homebrewsupply.com
http://www.hopunion.com
http://www.netcom.com/~dluzanp
http://www.rcbequip.com
http://www.tacomac.com
http://www.vintagecellar.com
http://www.vinosbrewpub.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. Last month's winner was tashman@techinter.com whose first real beer was sipped in a brewpub.

THIS MONTH'S QUESTION:

Last month we asked how you experienced your first "real beer." The results were as diverse as the beers you love, but there were some telling stats: brewpubs, friends and travel lead the list for most influential moments in your discovery. So, if you want your friends to learn about craft beer, stop into a brewpub next time you're on the road. Here's a breakdown of how you experienced your first real beer:

  • Brewpub - 35%
  • Friend - 18%
  • Travel - 13%
  • Imports - 10%
  • Micros - 8%
  • Military - 8%
  • Other - 8%

This month's quick question:

Every so often we check in with you about how you rate our services. We do this because the 'net is changing fast and we want to continue to provide relevant services for your changing needs. For the next several months we'll be asking you usage questions, and feeding back the results with some actions from us. Here's your chance to influence how your Real Beer Page information is formatted. This month, we'll ask you about RBPMail, the email newsletter you're currently reading. How do you like it? Please select the email address that best describes your impression of the newsletter:

vote.justright@realbeer.com
vote.toolong@realbeer.com
vote.wantmore@realbeer.com
vote.morefrequently@realbeer.com
vote.lessfrequently@realbeer.com
vote.other@realbeer.com

Please send email to one of the appropriate addresses above. A winner will be randomly drawn from all the entries.

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CRAFT SEGMENT CONTINUES TO GROW

The Institute for Brewing Studies announced that the craft-brewing industry grew by 5% in 1997. This equals 250,000 barrels, 13.8 million six-packs or 82 million twelve-ounce bottles of beer. Craft-beer sales continued to increase in an overall flat beer market. The market share for domestic specialty or craft beer also increased from 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent. As of January 1998, there are 35 regional specialty breweries, 399 microbreweries and 845 brewpubs in the United States for a total of 1,279. The brewpub share of the craft-brewing category increased by 25%. During 1997, 184 brewpubs opened and 38 closed. The failure rate for brewpubs since 1982 is one in seven or 14 percent, which is much lower than the failure rate for restaurants. According to IBS statistics, brewpubs accounted for 73% of all new craft-brewery openings in 1997, up from 66% in 1996.

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SEAGRAM SHIFTS FOCUS TO MUSIC

Beverage behemoth Jos. Seagram & Sons has just announced a further acquisition in the entertainment industry with their purchase of music behemoth PolyGram for a reported $10.6 billion. This would be the first time in the history of the wine, beer and spirits giant that a majority of its business is not in the beverage alcohol industry. With their acquisition of Time Warner shares in 1993 and MCA/Universal Studios in 1995, the direction was clearly to diversify into the entertainment business. If the deal is completed, some 70% of Seagram's revenue would come from entertainment interests in music, movies and theme-park operations. Seagram owns and markets the Devil Mountain Brewing Company brand.

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ANHEUSER-BUSCH SETTLES LAWSUIT AGAINST MILLER

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. announced on May 19 that it had reached an agreement to settles its lawsuit against The Miller Brewing Company, Inc. The suit had been filed in February by A-B when Miller sought to terminate distribution contracts for Miller beers with 50 beer wholesalers who sell both A-B and Miller product. Anheuser-Busch agreed to send a letter to its joint A-B beer wholesalers to reinforce that there were no requirements in A-B's contract to suggest these wholesalers diminish or lessen any efforts required by the Miller agreement. In return, Miller agreed to drop its counterclaim against A- B, and agreed to drop separate lawsuits filed against a handful of joint Anheuser-Busch/Miller beer wholesalers.

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*** AD WATCH ***

PORTLAND BREWING CO. OFFICIAL BEER OF VINTAGE CAR RACE

Portland Brewing Company will be the "official beer" at the Zupan's Markets Historic Races July 10-12 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR. This marks the eighth straight year the brewery has been involved with the event, which features cars from the early 1900s to the 1970s, including classic, muscle and pre-war cars. (503-224-4400 for tickets).

http://portlandbrew.com

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NO STUNT DOUBLE FOR PETE SLOSBERG

Pete Slosberg, founder of Pete's Brewing Company, continued the company's campaign to increase public awareness of "Pete" by suspending himself on top of a billboard in San Francisco above rush-hour traffic on May 1. The premise of the stunt is that people think ad spokespeople are not real (Betty Crocker, Juan Valdez, Mr. Whipple, etc., but Pete, on the other hand, is real.

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CORONA EXTRA TO SPONSOR WORLD CUP BROADCASTS

Corona Extra beer will be a sponsor of 1998 World Cup broadcasting on the Spanish -language network, Radio Unica, with a total of 2,700 spots aired during the approximately 30 days of the Cup schedule. The broadcasts will reach about 80% of the key Hispanic market in the US. This year's World Cup takes place in France.

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THE SKIES JUST GOT FRIENDLIER

Mesaba Airlines, operating as Northwest Airline, announced on May 13 that it will offer Wisconsin Brewing's Whitetail Cream Ale on its entire turbo-prop network. The ale will replace a portion of the airline's current domestic selection. The airline has signed a three year agreement with WBC to supply the airline with over 50 cases of beer a month. Host Marriott Corporation has selected Circle V Brewing Company's Brickyard Red Ale to serve at the Indianapolis International Airport. It is the only locally produced beer offered at IIA.

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CANADIAN COWS "DRINK" BEER WITH THEIR FEED

A Canadian brewery and a research team from the University of Alberta are attempting to determine if cows can consume waste beer that might otherwise be dumped. According to a spokesman for Molson Breweries, the brewery regularly dumps stale beer, beer from improperly filled containers, and fresh brew from incorrectly labeled bottles. A single Molson's brewery dumps nearly 5 million bottles of beer each year. Beef cattle in Kobe, Japan are regularly fed beer.

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*** FINANCIAL WATCH ***

PETE'S BREWING Q1 RESULTS

Pete's Brewing announced its results for first quarter 1998. First quarter shipments were 61,000 barrels and net sales were $9.8 million. Same period 1997 showed 75,300 barrels and $12.2 million net sales. First quarter 1998 net income and earnings per share were a loss of $1.8 million and $0.16, respectively, compared to a loss of $2.8 million and $0.26 in the first quarter of 1997. The company explained the 19% decline in shipments as due to three factors, including (1) the previously announced discontinuation of four products which represented 9.4% of first quarter 1997 shipments; (2) a problem at the Winston- Salem, NC, brewery that resulted in a delay of shipment of 5,000+ barrels of confirmed customer orders for several weeks; and (3) a continuation of 4th quarter baseline depletion trends in advance of the company's previously announced 2nd quarter brand initiatives.

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REDHOOK Q1 RESULTS

Redhook Ale Brewery, Inc. (Nasdaq: HOOK) reported its results for first quarter 1998. Redhook reported a net loss of $715,000 and $488,000 for the quarters ended March 31, 1998 and 1997, respectively. With a decline in barrels sold, operating results and cash provided by operations still improved in the first quarter of 1998, compared to both the 1997 first and fourth quarters. Sales totaled $8,505,000 and $8,868,000 for the three-month periods ended March 31, 1998 and 1997, respectively, a decline of 4.1%. Sales volume declined 4.9% to 48,900 barrels compared to 51,400 barrels for the quarter ended March 31, 1997. Due to decreased production costs the gross margin percentage remained unchanged compared to the first quarter of 1997 despite the sales volume decline and an $85,000 increase in depreciation. Additionally, selling, general and administrative costs decreased 3.8% as a result of reductions in both sales and marketing, and administrative costs.

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PYRAMID Q1 RESULTS

Pyramid Breweries, Inc., brewer of Pyramid Ales and Thomas Kemper Lagers and Sodas, reported net sales of $5,849,000 for first quarter ended March 31, 1998, compared to $5,804,000 for first quarter last year. The company lost $635,000 or $0.08 per share for Q1 1998, compared to $362,000 or $0.04 per share in Q1 1997. The brewery stated that the gain in net sales resulted from increased sales of soda products and higher restaurant sales, which were offsetting lower craft beer sales. The brewery also stated that it has withdrawn marketing support from its Northeastern markets, and that it had been hit by a decline in the fruit beer segment. Thomas Kemper Soda products increased by $586,000 to $755,000 over the prior year's period (which was incomplete). Retail sales, which includes Pyramid's Alehouse restaurants in Berkeley, CA, and Seattle, WA, increased from $1,388,000 to $1,450,000.

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ROCK BOTTOM Q1 RESULTS

Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc. (NASDAQ:BREW), operator of Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery restaurants and Old Chicago restaurants, reported an 18% increase in revenues over Q1 '97 and a decrease in net income for the same period. Net income for the three months ended March 29, 1998, was $522,976, or $.06/share compared to $860,208, or $.11/share on 7.9 for the same three-month period in 1997. The decrease in net income is primarily attributed to higher interest expense in the first quarter of 1998 compared to 1997, and anticipated severance costs associated with first quarter 1998 closings of four restaurants. Revenues for Q1 '98, increased to $38.6 million, compared to $32.7 million for Q1 '97.

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GAMBRINUS COMPANY REPORTS RECORD Q1 SALES FOR CORONA

The Gambrinus Company announced record-breaking 1998 first quarter sales for Corona Extra. The brand outperformed all expectations with a 43 percent increase in the first quarter, succeeding 1997 first quarter results of 40%. Corona Extra achieved the number-one position in the US. import beer category in 1997.

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BIG BUCK BREWERY ANNOUNCES Q1 FIGURES

Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse, Inc., Gaylord, MI announced that its $3,964,935 revenue for 1st quarter 1998 was an increase of 255% from 1st quarter 1997. There was a net loss of $489,053 or 9 cents per share this year, compared to a net loss of $355,186 or 7 cents per share in the same period 1997. In further news, Big Buck announced it has entered into a letter of intent to purchase an existing restaurant building in East Lansing, MI. The plan is to convert the building into a Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse. The contract is subject to approval of a remodeling permit by the local township.

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MOLSON FISCAL YEAR RESULTS AS OF APRIL 1, 1998

Molson Breweries announced that its sales revenue for the twelve months ended April 1 was $2,156.3 million, an increase from $2,120.5 million for Fiscal 1997. Net income for Fiscal 1998 was $143.8 million versus a net loss of $16.8 million for Fiscal 1997. The company explained that it recorded $100 million in full settlement of all legal proceedings with Coors Brewing Company and other charges totaling approximately $76.5 million in severance and other costs. In Fiscal 1998, Molson recorded a charge of $17.9 million related to severance and other costs from the continued reorganization of the Partnership's operations. Molson Breweries' estimated market share of all beer sold in Canada for 4th quarter Fiscal 1998 was 45.7%, compared to 45.8% for same quarter 1997

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LINDEMANS FRAMBOISE EARNS NY TIMES APPROVAL

A short piece in the April 29 New York Times by William Grimes gives enthusiastic recommendation to Lindemans' lambic beers, including raspberry, peach and cherry, and refers its readers to a highly respected Manhattan alehouse, The Ginger Man. To quote Grimes, "This may be the most perfect lawn-mower beer ever created."

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BIG BREWERS GOING DIRECT TO RETAIL ACCORDING TO WSJ

Laws dating from the end of Prohibition have separated brewing, distributing and retailing of beer. In recent years, exceptions have been made for smaller, independent microbreweries. Now larger breweries are taking advantage of those exceptions and selling at their own retail outlets, according to a May 18 article in the Wall Street Journal by Bob Ortega. Adolph Coors Co. owns Sandlot Brewery in Denver, CO, and sells Coors and Coors Light. Miller's Leinenkugel Brewing opened Ballyard Brewery in Phoenix, AZ, and Anheuser-Busch opened Budweiser Brewhouse in Tampa Bay, FL. State laws vary, and breweries have accommodated to those laws accordingly. In Arizona, for example, Miller had no problem brewing and selling beer at its ballpark facility. If a brewery offered a name and decor to a retailer at no cost, that might have been a problem, as producers of beer are not allowed to give anything of utilitarian value to a retailer. The big breweries generally don't get retail licenses either, and most are not interested in brewing on as small a scale as a retail outlet would demand. According to Anheuser-Busch Vice President, Joe Corcoran, the main reason for a big brewer to have a retail outlet is marketing. It's a way for the big breweries to get their beer before the public, not to make sales.

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SAM ADAMS SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED

The winner of the second annual Sam Adams Short Story Contest has been announced by the Boston Beer Company. Winner Chris Mohney, Birmingham, AL, will attend the Zoetrope Writer's Workshop in Belize, Central America for a week in July of this year. The contest is sponsored by BBC and Zoetrope: All Story, a quarterly literary magazine published by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

http://www.samadams.com

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IMPORTER CREATES VINTAGE BEER COLLECTION

Importer B. United International has created a new division, the Vintage Collection. The beers are selected on the basis of their ability to age. The company created space to cellar hundreds of cases in a temperature and light-controlled environment. The vintage beers in the B. United portfolio include beers from Germany, England, Belgium, Finland and Sweden. In connection with this project, B. United has launched what it calls its Research & Development Studies. The objective of this project is to age vintage beers in wooden barrels formerly used for other alcoholic beverages to determine the effect different styles have upon the flavor and aroma of world-classic beer brands. Beers for this project include JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale, Harvey's Elizabethan Ale and Prize Old Ale. Wooden barrels used in this project include those formerly used to age single malt scotch, port, cabernet sauvignon and calvados.

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ROGUE RELEASES LIMITED OFFERING OF MICHAEL JACKSON BOTTLE

Rogue Ales has produced an Anniversary Ale, brewed in honor of beer writer Michael Jackson and Richie Stolarz; pictures of them both are on the bottle. Stolarz founded Beers International, an educational organization, in 1983. Jackson has attended each annual BI tasting since 1988. The brew is limited to 900 bottles. For information,

http://www.rogueales.com

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EDITORIAL: ZEN AND THE ART OF BREWING

"And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good --
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

After ten years and twice as many attempts, I finally finished a book that defied completion for me. Dog-eared from so many good-intentions, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig has traveled the world with me on over a decade of vacations. It's not that I lack attention span nor intelligence -- it wasn't the big words that slowed me; just the big thoughts. I'm not alone on this one either. Many friends fall into the "too late to try it," "I never got past the X chapter" or "I've always wanted to finish that book" fraternities. We're not pathologically avoiding completing the task. The book just seems to have a destiny, much like a person. A message for each reader, delivered in the right time.

For me, the book spoke to some of the passion I feel about craft beer and the brewers who make them. We're often told that there is no difference between what industrial brewers can do and what the micros and specialty segment produce. This has always sounded like a hollow argument, fabricated from the same incredible might of Ford's conveyor belt. Still, what does a technically sound industrial beer lack over one handed to you by its craft-brewer? Taste it. Savor it. And you'll know.

"Insofar as you identify yourself with the consciousness that moves and lives in your body, you've identified with that which you share with me. And on the other hand, if you fix on yourself and your tradition, and believe you've got It, then you've removed yourself from the rest of mankind." -- Doesn't that sound like the whole spirit that drove the diversity and innovation in the craft segment?

For those who will never read the book, fortune shines upon you: I'll spare relating the secrets of the book in detail. I will however, share excerpts for pondering. Instead of motorcycle maintenance, imagine we're talking about the brewer's art.

"Zen Buddhists talk about 'just sitting,' a meditation practice in which the idea of a duality of self and object does not dominate one's consciousness. What I'm talking about here in motorcycle maintenance is 'just fixing,' (just brewing) in which the idea of a duality of self and object doesn't dominate one's consciousness. When one isn't dominated by feelings of separateness from what he's working on, then one can be said to 'care' about what he's doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one's doing. When one has this feeling then he also sees the inverse side of caring, Quality itself."

And about the moral nature of brewing:

"I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there."

IMHO, the reason why craft beer is so vital is because thousands of individuals decided to pursue an artform through their interpretations. The quality of the end product is in the caring, which can not be reproduced by a manufacturing process of exasperatingly precise modeling. In the end, you can tell the difference: it's in your heart, your mind, your connection and the brewer's eyes.

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