RBPMail 4.11, November 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 emialed 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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The end of the 1998 Oktoberfest apparently marked the end of an era in Munich brewing. A source at Paulaner Brewery revealed that the brewing plant for the company's subsidiary business, Hacker-Pschorr, will be dismantled in the near future. Paulaner has expanded capacity at its own brewery over the past few years, gradually shifting production of the Hacker-Pschorr beers to its central brewing operations. The copper brewkettles at the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery were cleaned and polished for tours during the Oktoberfest celebration, but were, in effect, no longer operating. (BEERWeek, 10/19)

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Canandaigua Brands, a New York-based producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits in the U.S., may be close to purchasing Matthew Clark Plc, the second largest cider producer in the U.K. This is on the heals of the purchase of Woodchuck Cider by Bulmer's, the U.K.'s largest cider maker. This could radically change the makeup of the British cider industry. (BEERWeek, 11/1)

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Exploding beer bottles injured nearly 500 people in China this past summer. During the summer heat, glass bottle injuries rose 130% over 1997 and caused 79% of consumer product safety accidents. The root of the problem, besides the heat, is a bottle shortage. Some brewers use the bottles over and over, long past their normal shelf life. (BEERWeek, 10/19)

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Pakistan's only brewery, which can sell very little beer in its own country, has turned to the British market. Murree beer goes on sale in curry houses in London and Yorkshire this month. The brewer of "the Islamic beer" hopes to take advantage of Britain's increasing taste for foreign beers and Indian food. The brewery is prohibited from selling alcohol to Muslims - 97 percent of the population - and must count on Christians and foreigners for its sales. It was set up by the British in 1861 near the hill station of Murree to keep troops happy in British India. Powner Minoo has run the business since his father died in 1961. "Our company motto is: 'Eat, Drink and be Murree'," he said.

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Belgium's brewers have been experiencing a gradual slippage in domestic consumption, while beer exports have increased. Belgian brewers reported an increase in export volume of approximately 2% from 1996 to 1997. Domestic consumption dropped approximately 1%, to 101 liters per capita, which is sixth in the European community. (BEERWeek, 11/1)

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An Oct. 3 fire at Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, Scotland, was the brewery's second major blaze in four years. The fire damaged copper equipment and took the roof off a number of the brewhouse rooms. Fortunately, as a result of a slow summer, the brewery had enough beer on hand to make up the slack until normal brewing resumes this week. Cause of the fire remains unknown at this time. (BEERWeek, 10/26)

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We've tried to make visiting Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter site easier by listing new articles on the front page. However, you don't have to limit yourself to what's new. It's possible to search right from the front page for whatever interests you. This month, as the holiday season kicks off, we suggest reading his thoughts on pairing beer and food.

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If you've promised yourself that this year you won't wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping we're here to help. You can drop by BREWMall right now because the doors are always open. As well as fully stocked shelves, you'll find a special Gift Guide to get you started. Then stick around and browse through the rest of the mall.

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From the time Tom Peters and Fergus Carey opened Monks Café it's been a must stop for any beer lover visiting Philadelphia. Its selection of Belgian ales is unsurpassed in North America and the number of Belgian beers on tap is staggering. Even so, there are people who visit the café only to eat, often choosing the mussels steamed in beer or the award-winning frites (fries).

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The appeal of Irish pub is so broad that versions of them have popped all around the world, but to really appreciate an Irish pub you should really be in Ireland. Pub Tours of Ireland offers a chance to do that. The trips include plenty of pubs, but also a fair sampling of what else the Emerald Isle has to offer. The website includes information about everything from Irish pubs in the United States to how to say and read key phrases in Irish.

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LOGIC, Inc. provides top quality cleansers and sanitizers for all brewing operations. The North Carolina company offers a wide range of products for both professional and amateur brewers, plus consulting for the industrial and institutional cleaning industry. Even if you aren't in the market for cleansers or sanitizers, the site provides information that will help you produce better beer.

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Brewers Heritage offers crystal and collectibles for the beer connoisseur, which means you can find everything from sculptured taphandles to mechanical banks here. Glassware, is a specialty, though because a glass for every beer ... and a story behind every glass. A "How-to Enjoy" section offers tips on choosing the right glass for your beer.

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These folks have rounded up the greatest words on beer from the world's greatest poets, leaders and other drunks and made them available to beer lovers on T-shirts, pint glasses and hats. The words are proof that, although there may be truth in wine, there is humor in beer.

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The folks at Malt of the Earth spend their time searching for hard-to-find high quality products that make great gifts, particularly when you are on the receiving end. Some job, huh? They did such a good job they created three separate clubs for microbrewery beer, cigars and wines.

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The Home Wine & Beer Trade Association is a group of more than 400 retailers and wholesalers from 11 countries. For more than 20 years the association has worked to promote the responsible growth of the home wine and beer making industry. The HWBTA also acts as an advocate to deal with government agencies concerning brewing laws.

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Finally, there's a sure thing at the racetrack. On Dec. 5, Celebrator Beers News offers an opportunity to bet on the ponies at Golden Gates Fields in Albany, Calif., and enjoy a spectacular selection of winter beers. Sign up in advance and admission to the race is free.

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*** Brewed Fresh For You! ***

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

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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, N.Y.-based Brewery Ommegang. Last month's winner was John Abbey, who wrote: "Always our friends look forward to great, hard to find (for us in the boonies, anyway) beers, almost always from Belgium, as their Christmas presents."

LAST MONTH'S QUESTION: Last month we asked you which beer-related items you are most likely to give to friends and relatives. While more of you intend to give beer than anything else, the choices were spread across all categories. You can find books, collectibles, glassware, beer clothing, homebrewing-related items and more at:

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Reports abound that S&P Co. of Mill Valley, Calif., which owns Pabst Brewing Co., will buy Stroh Brewery Co. S&P would then sell off some of its brands, shutter most of its breweries and turn over the brewing of much of its beer to Miller Brewing Co. Spokespersons for the breweries involve deferred commenting on the possible deal, but newspapers from Detroit to San Francisco indicated something is in the works.

Pabst makes Olde English 800, the best-selling malt liquor in the United States, so it probably would be obliged to sell Stroh's strong lineup up of malt-liquor brands -- Colt 45, Schlitz Malt Liquor and Mickey's -- to avoid antitrust concerns. Miller, weak in that market segment, would be expected to buy the brands, which total 55% of malt liquor sales.

Stroh's other brands include Stroh, Lone Star, Old Milwaukee, Rainier and Henry Weinhard's. Stroh has a 6.8% share of the U.S. market, however shipments declined 15% during the first nine months of 1998 after falling 10 percent in 1997. Since Miller already produces Pabst and other S&P brands such as Olympia, Pearl, Falstaff and Hamm's under a contract that started in September, speculation is that S&P would also have the Stroh products made in plants where Miller has excess capacity. It would be cheaper for S&P to have the beer made by Miller than at some of the antiquated Stroh plants. Reports are that of the seven breweries Stroh currently operates only one - G. Heileman Brewing in La Cross, Wis. - or two would remained open. The second would be Stroh's brewery in Allentown, Pa.

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McAuslan Brewing and Verger du Minot Orchard have teamed together to form a new company, Cidrerie Covey Hill. The company is producing Mystique apple cider, made from apples from Verger du Minot and "carbonated" and bottled by McAuslan. McAuslan has been distributing and selling Verger du Minot cider on draught since the summer of 1997, and response has been very positive. Mystique is somewhat dryer and slightly stronger than Verger du Minot's standard cider, according to Peter McAuslan. McAuslan will continue to handle the regular Verger du Minot on draught. (BEERWeek, 10/12)

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Total alcohol advertising rose last year, according to the industry magazine Impact International. The beer industry spent $721.6 million, up 2% from $709 million. Distilled spirits advertising was $272.4 million, up 16% and wine advertising rose a significant 33%, from $66 million to $100.7 million. (BEERWeek, 10/19)

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A study indicating that children who see beer ads with animals and celebrities are at a greater risk of drinking more alcohol more often as they get older was released Oct. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics. At his presentation to the Academy, Joel Grube of the Prevention Research Center, Berkeley, CA, said that teenage alcohol abuse was the result of the prevalence of alcohol-related TV ads, especially during sports programs. Grube, who had conducted a 12-year study on the effects of alcohol, stated that his studies contradicted positions taken by alcoholic beverage companies that their ads are not aimed at young people. (BEERWeek, 10/26)

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The Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing has been awarded to Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY. The award is the industry's top national award for brewmasters, and was announced at this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver. (BEERWeek, 10/19)

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Early October storms that dowsed the Kansas City area with six inches of rains in less than two hours destroyed beer at several breweries. Boulevard Brewing lost 25,000 cases when 2 1/2 inches of water seeped into its warehouse. Flying Monkey in nearby Merriam, Kan., has it much worse. A flash flood sent five feet of water crashing through the brewery's doors and equipment went flying. When the water receded, one-half inch of mud was left behind, beer was destroyed and the bottler and labeler were disabled. Partners Robert Eilert and Drew Jones have vowed to brew again and local musicians are planning a benefit concert Nov. 17th. (BEERWeek, 11/1)

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* The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Milwaukee will likely host the 2000 National Craft Brewers Conference and Trade Show. A final decision on the conventional location hasn't been made yet, said Nancy Johnson, event coordinator for the Institute for Brewing Studies. Johnson said Milwaukee's chance of landing the convention "looks really good". The convention would run from April 26-29 at the Midwest Express Center. Johnson said that Milwaukee and two other cities were being considered. A decision is expected to be made by the end of the year.

* The Beer Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a world class museum, will hold its first public event Dec. 3. "150 Years of Brewing History in Wisconsin" at the Brew City restaurant (1114 N. Water St.) will coincide with the closing of Wisconsin's year of Sesquicentennial celebrations.

Exhibits are planned to give visitors a feel what a Milwaukee Beer Museum will be like. "We want to create an environment for promotional events, hosting guest speakers and educational seminars," writes executive director Jeff Platt. For more information, call 414-645-1585 or write


Four beers earned Best of Fest awards at the third annual Real Ale Festival and National Cask Ale Competition in mid-October. They were chosen from the top finishers in several groups of styles at the festival in suburban Chicago. The festival featured more than 100 cask-conditioned beers. The next Real Ale Festival is planned for Nov. 5-6, 1999. Best of Fest awards went to:
* Cask-conditioned Bitters and Pale Ales: American Pale Ale, Blue Grass Brewing Co., Louisville, KY * Cask-conditioned Dark Ales: Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Rehoboth Beach, DE * Cask-conditioned Strong Ales: Big Grizz Barleywine, Carver's Brewing Co., Durango, CO * Bottle-Conditioned Beers: Obsidian Stout, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR For all the results:

To read what Michael Jackson wrote about the festival:

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Just over a century ago, Boston's Hub district boasted more breweries per capita than anywhere in the U.S. On Nov. 14, Tremont Brewery, Charlestown, Mass., is offering a tour of Boston's "lost breweries." The tour, which begins and ends at Tremont, offers a tour by motorcoach, lunch at North East Brewing, a 46-page Lost Breweries of Boston program and Tremont Ale and IPA at the end of the trip. Michael Reiskind of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society will lead the tour, pointing out the brewery buildings that still exist. (BEERWeek, 10/12)

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A group of homebrewers who were involved with the efforts a few years ago to legalize brewpubs in Georgia have set out to raise or eliminate the restrictions on beer than can be sold within the state. Currently, Georgia sets the ceiling at 6% alcohol by volume, obviously much lower than wine or spirits but limiting the styles of beer than can be sold in the state. The group is working on getting the word out to the public via a petition drive targeting retailers, bars, restaurants and homebrew shops across the state. They are also seeking support from distributors, major breweries and legislators on the Regulated Beverage Committee. Check out their efforts at:

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What might taste the same and might taste quite different? San Francisco beer drinkers will get a chance to answer that question Nov. 9 when seven breweries make Duplicale available. Seven brewers started with the same recipe and ingredients to make the pale ale, then applied their own individual techniques, styles, equipment and yeasts to produce the final product. Brewers and breweries participating: Frank Commanday, E&O Trading; Shaun O'Sullivan, Steelhead; Ron Silberstein, ThirstyBear; Scott James, Twenty Tank; Allen Paul, San Francisco Brewing; David McLean, Magnolia; and Scott Turnidge, Beach Chalet.

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You don't drink Olde English 800 or Colt 45. It's been a while since you ordered a Stroh's, Pabst Blue Ribbon or even Henry Weinhard's. So why should you care if a business with the warm and cuddly name of "S&P Co." buys Stroh Brewery Co. and essentially eliminates a family-owned operation that has been around since 1850?

S&P is a brewery and real estate firm that manages the estate of Paul Kalmanovitz, a millionaire called "the Howard Hughes of the beer world." S&P's biggest brand is Pabst, which closed its Milwaukee brewery in 1996 and now has most of its beer brewed under contract to Miller Brewing Co. Now there are reports that S&P is set to buy Stroh, close five or six of Stroh's seven breweries and turn over most of the brewing of Stroh products to Miller.

S&P founder Kalmanovitz, who emigrated from Poland to the United States as a young man in the 1920s, was already a real estate tycoon when he got into the brewery business in 1958 by purchasing the Maier Brewing Co. of Los Angeles. He quickly began buying up failing breweries and consolidating operations to plants in Milwaukee, San Antonio, Texas, and Tumwater, Wash. His biggest acquisition was the hostile takeover of Pabst for $63 million in 1985.

Kalmanovitz "was very good at cost-cutting," said Jerry Steinman, publisher of trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights. S&P continued the same approach after Kalmanovitz died in 1987. It closed its Fort Wayne, Ind., Falstaff brewery in 1990, shipped the plant's equipment to China and started brewing beer there. One beer industry analyst said that S&P's strategy was simple: Maximize the short-term cash flow of the brands. "You just don't support the brand and you get rich on your way to the poorhouse," the analyst said.

So after 40 years of following what long ago became standard practice for U.S. brewing concerns, S&P appears ready to gobble up a few more breweries, close their doors and turn over actual beer production to one of the Big Three (Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Co. or Coors Brewing Co.). If you listen to analysts, this is inevitable. "I think it's tough when you've got one guy (Anheuser-Busch) controlling 40%-plus of the industry and one guy (Miller) controlling 20%-plus of the industry," said Jennifer Solomon, of New York-based Salomon Smith Barney. In fact, A-B has 46 percent of the market.

The three largest brewers now control 78% of the U.S. market, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. If production of Pabst and Stroh move to the big brewers, then that figure will be 87%. They've set a standard that leaves little room for others to compete. A viable national brewer, operating its plants at average efficiency, needs to produce roughly 18 million to 22 million barrels annually, said Robert Weinberg, one of the beer industry's most trusted consultants. Production at that level allows brewers to generate enough cash to pay for marketing their beer, he said. "That leaves room only for the top three," Weinberg said.

Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors would not be serving their shareholders (or in the case of Miller, the shareholders of Philip Morris) if they didn't try to make that 100%. Consolidation does not guarantee that diversity in the marketplace will be eliminated, but it improves the odds. Now, we're talking about the beer you drink.

Granted, the microbrewery business has soared despite consolidation ... so far. In 1984, there were but 44 brewing concerns operating 83 breweries. Choice? In 1977, Michael Jackson wrote: "A visit to a single beer garden in Germany, or just one English pub, might provide more variety of palates than a coast-to-coast trip across the United States." Today, there are more than 1,000 breweries offering a wider range of styles than has ever been available before.

However, every time a large old brewing beast is shut down, not only are hundreds of jobs and chunks of history lost, but brewing capacity diminishes. Excess capacity helped fuel the microbrewery boom. Stroh, and before that breweries it acquired as part of this consolidation process, produced much of the beer that raised public awareness of craft beer in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1997, Stroh brewed about 50% of Boston Beer's production - more than 650,000 barrels - and an undisclosed majority of Pete's Brewing's beer.

Boston Beer's contract with Stroh expires in February, and analysts don't expect the company will be able to strike as good a deal with Miller as it had with Stroh. A Boston Beer source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the company wasn't overly concerned about what happened to Stroh and that it has other sources to produce its beer; however, good sense would lead one to conclude that half its beer was made by Stroh because that was the most economical choice.

Many of you will gladly go on for several beers about why you don't drink Samuel Adams (made by Boston Beer) or Pete's and will rejoice if they now have to pay more to produce their beer. You forget that the bargains they struck to make beer at breweries with excess capacity left them money for marketing, and that marketing generated attention not just for good ol' Sam and Pete but for the whole industry. It's one of the reasons we have such an assortment of beers to choose from.

There is no immediate danger of that changing, and you can help keep it that way. No, you don't have to go out and buy Stroh so that profits surge and the company decides to keep operating seven breweries. Just continue to support your favorite craft breweries and demand that places selling that beer don't cut back on your choices because three breweries are making 80, 85 or 90 percent of the beer in this country. Continue urging more retailers to stock a variety of beer and keep making affectionate introductions between your friends and craft beer.

No, we're not going to stop this consolidation, but we had better begin paying attention to the potential fallout. "In the long run, I think you will see two or three larger brewers and a thousand smaller ones doing their own thing," Weinberg said.

We hope he's right about the thousand smaller ones. You can make sure he is.

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