RBPMail 5.01, January 1999

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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Tests by Japanese researchers show that beer may inhibit the action of mutagens caused by some suspected cancer-causing compounds. Scientists at Okayama University near Hiroshima did the research, which appears in the January print issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The peer-reviewed journal is a publication of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. Twenty-four different beers, including 17 lagers, four stouts, two ales and one nonalcoholic, from 11 countries were examined. Nearly all of the beers showed "potent inhibitory effect" against mutagens found in several types of heterocyclic amines (HAs), according to Sakae Arimoto-Kobayashi, Ph.D., lead author of the report. The stout beers were the most potent, claims Arimoto. The nonalcoholic beer and one of the lagers had no effect. The beers tested were from England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. Produced during the cooking of food, HAs are known carcinogens in animals and are believed to contribute to cancer in people.

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In the wake of the recent success of low-malt beers in Japan, Asahi Breweries plans to launch Beer Water, a novelty beer, early this year. Unlike Kirin, Japan's largest brewer, and other breweries, Asahi has not brewed a low-malt beer. As the second-largest brewer in Japan, it has been under pressure to produce something new and different. The enormous success of the low-malt brews is tied directly to the fact that these beers are in a different tax bracket from standard beers; that lower cost is passed along to the consumer.

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Mexico's government has proposed lower beer and liquor taxes as part of its 1999 budget. The move is meant to offset increased taxes on other goods and services. Last year, Congress increased taxes on alcohol and beer, negatively affecting the sales of brewers Grupo Modelo SA and Fomento Economico Mexicano SA because., The tax cut proposed for beer is from 22% to 25%.

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The brewers in Slovakia protested to the nation's economy ministry that it was not protecting domestic brewers against the more powerful Czech brewing industry. In 1997, the Slovak government created an annual import quota on Czech beer. Slovak citizens protested because of the popularity of Pilsner Urquell and Budvar. The new Slovak government recently pledged to remove the quotas, which are set to remain in place in 1999. The Slovak brewers association objected that its economy ministry is protecting Czech product, not Slovak product, and indicated it wanted the original limit cut still further.

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The Chinese government has decreed that its domestic brewers have a 40% market share in China by the year 2000. The country's second largest brewer will absorb its third brewery this year. Tsingtao Brewery will take over the assets, debts and some staff members of Heilongjiang Jixi Brewery in northeastern Heilongjiang province. Annual production for HJB has been 100,000 tons. Tsingtao is looking to increase its own output to 1.4 million tons by 2000. A spokesperson for Tsingtao indicated that the brewer plans to absorb more breweries in 1999.

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More than 100 German innkeepers this week began protesting what they call exorbitant beer prices charged by the nation's biggest brewer and said they would fight back by promoting cheaper beer alternatives. Germany's Association of Hotels and Guesthouses in the Rhine region announced that the protesters would urge their drinkers to buy less expensive bottled beers rather than the beers of Brau and Brunnen. Brau and Brunnen, a national grouping that produces Dortmunder Union among other beers, announced in November it would increase its prices for the first time in more than two years, making a glass of beer 10 to 20 pfennigs more expensive.

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CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has launched a new initiative to promote high quality beer in Britain's pubs. Real ale drinkers throughout the country will be supplied with special postcards to use on pub visits. Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications said, "The national brewers have gone to great lengths to publicize the decline in real ale sales and this suits their strategies of building the profile of their smooth flow beers which need little care in the pub, but lack the depth of flavor offered by real ale. I believe this campaign will show that real ale quality has never been better and that their strategies are misguided." Postcard users are invited to write their views on the quality of the beer and how pub staff responded if they complained. Completed postcards are returned to CAMRA's national headquarters to be sent on to the appropriate head brewers.

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England's Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association says its study shows that cheap continental lager brought into the country and re-sold is "cheating the country out of millions of pounds in taxes, threatening breweries, pubs and jobs". The BLRA figures, based on its own undercover surveillance, suggest that 91,000 vans loaded with budget alcohol entered the country, equivalent to 250 vans a day. The total quantity of beer imported in this way was 1.5 million pints a day - some of it imported for private consumption by tourists and therefore legally exempt from import duty. But the association estimates that 75% of this beer is illegally re-sold by smugglers who are taking advantage of the difference in French duty, standing at 4p a pint, compared with the UK's 32p, which since rose to 33p. The BLRA says the solution is to cut the tax on domestically produced beer and cut the ground from under the smugglers.

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*****WEB WATCH****

Last month we alerted you that Michael Jackson would be appearing on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. The Beer Hunter's evening with Conan and cohorts certainly drew a mixed reaction. Some of Jackson's fans thought he and the beers he brought with him were not treated seriously enough, and suggested he should have known better than to appear on the show. Jackson quickly offered visitors to the Beer Hunter website his opinions on how the "knockabout" went, concluded he would do the show again if asked and invited readers to register their opinions. You can still vote if you want.

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Authors Stan Hieronymus and Daria Labinsky are at work on the next edition of the "Beer Travelers Guide." To make sure they don't leave any places out are asking for your help. If you tell them about one of your favorite bars, you will automatically be entered in contest to win a free copy of the "Beer Travelers Guide."

When the Beer Travelers visited the Northwest to do research for the "Beer Travelers Guide" there was no more valuable resource for finding places to enjoy interesting beer than the Northwest BrewPage. And it's only gotten bigger since then. Whether you are looking for a place serving beer made in-house or one offering the best of the Northwest this is the place to start.

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*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************

This brewery has written one of the true feel-good stories of the craft- brewing movement. What was a basement brewery with a weekly capacity of 8 1/2 barrels is now a regional power that will brew 100,000 barrels of beer in 1999 -- and donate $1 to charity for every barrel sold. It's Fat Tire Amber Ale enjoys the same sort of cult status another better known Colorado brewery had east of the Mississippi in the early 1970s.

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Pete Slosberg of Pete's Wicked Ale has logged more miles on the road telling the story of good beer than just about anyone we know. His mission continues online in an information-rich site perfect for beer lovers of all levels, from the beginner to the enthusiast. Load up shockwave and interact with Pete's landscape of beers, where you can compare Pete's beers with microbrews and world-class beers. You can test your beer knowledge against Pete's in the trivia quiz. And, buy some Wicked Wear to look smart, too. Find Pete at:

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Ever been to a bar where you just know the beer sitting in the keg is better than the one in your glass, and you wonder what happened along the way? The folks at Stainless One developed and patented the "Perfect Pour(tm)" beer faucet. If you're in the beer distribution or dispensing business, head over to:

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Spartansburg has been manufacturing stainless steel container systems for use in beverage, chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries since 1962. It is one of the top producers of kegs in the country.

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Thanks to all who have been replying to our Quickie Surveys. We draw one winner each month for a prize, which this month will be a Real Beer T- shirt. Last month's winner was Curt Weiler, who wrote: "Come winter and the holiday season I look forward to holiday beers that are strong."

Last month we asked what you think of the idea of winter beers. Only 1 in 20 of you answered you don't like winter beers, while nearly half of you noted you like strong beer and 30% indicated what makes winter beers special is they are different.

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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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Although Congress rejected the same proposal in the current legislative session, President Bill Clinton announced in a radio address Dec. 26 that he would ask Congress to impose a lower and uniform blood-alcohol level of .08 for driving across the nation. He also stated that he will have the Justice Department and Transportation Department use leverage to force states to adopt low-tolerance standards on their own.

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Newly-elected California state senator Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) has announced that she intends to introduce legislation this month to increase the excise tax on beer at the brewery by between two cents and five cents a gallon, according to a legislative alert from the California Small Brewers Association. At present, the excise tax on beer is 20 cents per gallon. Speier says she wants to raise alcoholic beverage taxes to provide funding for domestic violence programs. Her belief is that there is a connection between domestic violence and "these products."

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Rumors have been swirling about the future of the ownership of Full Sail Brewing Co. of Hood River, Ore. Full Sail spokeswoman Sandra Evans told BEERWeek that "interest in liquidity on the part of some of the original shareholders" has resulted in the company entertaining offers from a "select group of potential buyers." Among the potential buyers are the employees of the brewery "and two of the working owners who are confident in the future of the company," said Evans. This could be accomplished by a bank-financed ESOP buyout. A similar change in equity ownership occurred at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. occurred last year -- when co-owner Paul Camusi left -- without affecting product quality, sales or distribution channels.

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Miller Brewing scored a victory over state regulators in a California state court last month, allowing it to go ahead with its Super Bowl XXXIII sweepstakes. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has been attempting to banish sweepstakes linked to alcoholic beverages. While Miller won the battle, California is pressing ahead with more regulations that could ban sweepstakes. Miller's annual Super Bowl sweepstakes, supported with in-store displays and signs, competes head-to-head with Anheuser's 11-year-old Bud Bowl football promotion.

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According to the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder, Colo., total U.S. craft-brewing industry sales were $3 billion in 1997. The IBS recently amended many of its figures for 1997, 305 combined microbrewery and brewpub openings for 1997 rather than the 251 originally reported. There were 90 closings for the same period rather than the 75 reported. Preliminary figures for 1998, show microbrewery closures exceeding openings by a 4 to 3 ratio.

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The 1999 American Homebrewers Association Conference is set for June 24- 26 in Olathe, Kansas. The Holiday Inn in Olathe, just outside of Kansas City, will be the host hotel. Room costs will be $75 per night whether it be one or four occupants. This year's conference is being planned and run by AHA-registered club members from throughout Kansas City and neighboring areas in coordination with the AHA staff and Board of Advisors. Registration and other information will be available at or the KC Bier Meisters ( The AHA Conference will again coincide with the AHA National Homebrew Competition second-round judging. Nighttime events include an opening reception, a pub crawl and an awards banquet on Saturday night. Confirmed speakers as of now are Steve Bradt, Ray Daniels, Charlie Papazian, Paul Farnsworth, super beer chef Dan Turner, and David Houseman and Al Korzonas.

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Less than a month after Stroh Brewery Co. said it would shut down its Tampa plant, the University of South Florida began talking with the beer maker about acquiring the 54-acre property. The Stroh brewery land would be particularly plum for a university already bursting at the seams, said Patrick Riordan, special assistant to USF President Betty Castor. The property is appraised at $5.7 million.

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Rhode Island has joined 22 other states allowing the online and mail- order purchase of beer, wine and liquor. Legislators have approved a change in a law dating back to the post-Prohibition era that blocked direct purchasing of alcohol. Rhode Island's Department of Business Regulation concedes that people are already buying liquor online, and the change will just make it legal. Not surprisingly, the Washington- based advocacy group Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access opposes the change. The organization contends that the lifting of the ban makes it easier for children to purchase alcohol. ARAA is sponsored by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. Wholesalers and distributors are left out of the online and mail-order purchase loop.

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Beer in Atlanta became more expensive to sell Jan. 1, so it will probably get more expensive to drink as well. The city hit Atlanta restaurant owners with a 233 percent increase in their license fees. The increase from $1,500 to $5,000 annually was just approved in November, but restaurant owners had to ante up the fees by Jan. 1 in order to be able to continue pouring beer. The new $5,000 fee to pour either wine or beer is the same amount as the combination beer, wine and liquor license typically held by full bars and nightclubs.

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Guinness Import Co. inaugurates its outdoor ad campaign for Caffrey's Irish ale this month in four markets -- Boston, Chicago, New York City and San Francisco. Here's the pitch: "It pours like a Guinness, but looks and tastes lighter, like a lager." Like Guinness, the beer is dispensed with more nitrogen than carbon dioxide.

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One of the oldest alehouses in California, Prince of Wales in San Mateo, was recently voted the No. 1 Bar/Club on the San Francisco Peninsula in SF Chronicle's Readers' Choice Poll. But the really impressive honor may have been finishing second in the "Best Place to Meet Someone Not a Total Geek" category.

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At the end of each RBPMail, 12-times a year, we promise to bring you more breweries and brewpubs along with more quality beer information. Here's a report card on what we accomplished this year.

One of the biggest contributions to the real beer information resources was our re-launch the Michael Jackson Beer Hunter website. Nearly a year in the making, this is one of the glossiest, information rich beer publications on the web or off.

Taking the golden pint award for most current, opinionated and quality beer information has to be Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer, updated often (don't leave without checking out "Bright Beer") and featuring a wonderful mid-month email newsletter.

In the final weeks of 1998, skyrocketing Internet stocks got all kinds of news. The reason: "e-tailing" took off, with signs online shopping had come of age. For those who want to shop with a beer in hand we rolled out BREWMall, with nearly 2000 items for your enjoyment.

We improved what continue to be two of our most popular features in the Real Beer Network and made similar improvements to a third:

Real Beer Page Library Search - We made searches faster and results more relevant. We won't rest there, though. We're already refining the search engine.

Real Beer Brew Tour - The search function has been improved and we added about 2,000 bars and taverns; since they weigh considerably more than one pound each, we think it's fair to call that "a ton of new listings."

And if you like beer news, you'll be excited to learn that we now publish the BEERWeekTM Archive: Old issues are available and searchable (back to November '96).

For those seeking information about the U.S. real beer scene additions included:

The Beer Expedition - we liked this site so much we decided to hire its creator, Jeff Scott. He says he enjoyed building his resume, sip by sip... This site has beer reviews from real people like us, and a killer database of good beer places.

Beer Travelers - Stan Hieronymus (who we also hired) and Daria Labinsky have crossed the country several times to find the best places for flavorful beer, be they bars, brewpubs, restaurants, historic taverns or some other joint they came up with an excuse to visit. Check out the smileage on their site.

On the international scene, we expanded our network to include:

Multimedia Guide to Belgian Beer - Maps will direct you where to look, there's a guide to Belgium's unique beer styles, a list of classic examples and even a key to correct pronunciation of beer styles and classic brewers

The New Zealand Brewers Network - Quite simply everything you could want to know about beer, brewing and breweries in New Zealand is located here.

To support the homebrew community, we added:

HWBTA (Home Wine & Beer Trade Association) - For more than 20 years the association has worked to promote the responsible growth of the home wine and beer making industry.

For regional content, we added:

The Northwest BrewPage - A true users guide for those seeking real beer in the Northwest. The listing of taverns, alehouses and restaurants makes this much more than another list of breweries and brewpubs.

The New Mexico Virtual Brewpub isn't new, but a lot there is. And don't let the name fool you -- it ranges far beyond New Mexico.

As for breweries, we're not quite sure where to start. We launched or re-launched over 40 great beer companies on the web. We also delivered as many great beer suppliers and service companies. The word is out: we do great website design and promotion. So, expect more of the same in 1999.

Meanwhile, back at the home office in San Francisco -- the city most- often credited with the rebirth of the better beer movement -- we added several key contributors to our team. New to our roster, as previously noted, are Jeff and Stan in System Guru and Editorial Management positions respectively; Leslie Gilmore in our account management role and Bill Young as our newest ales -- er, sales -- hotshot.

We couldn't complete our year-end report card without recognizing the contributions of our partner publications that have deepened your surfing and searching experience considerably this year. BrewingTechniques, Brew Your Own, BrewPub!, Celebrator Beer News, Great Lakes Brewing News, Midwest Beer Notes, Southern Draft Brew News and Yankee Brew News. We now serve over 75,000 pages and nearly a dozen databases about real beer. And love doing it.

We want to thank you, the loyal viewer, for your patronage and for continuing to spread the good word about real beer. Your words of encouragement, humor and satisfaction have kept us going through challenging times. We're proud to say that we are one of the rare, profitable Internet stories, and owe much of that to your continual endorsement. In return, we promise to bring you even more exciting developments in 1999. We can't reveal it all now, but you can trust us when we say that all the work delivered in 1998 was a strong start. We're just getting rolling. Hope you'll join us as we grow the category, network and resources for beer online.

Happy New Year! Cheers!

Your friends at Real Beer