RBPMail 5.03, March 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Switzerland's highest court has ruled against U.S.-brewed "Bud" beer in a battle over the Budweiser and Bud trade names. Anheuser-Busch took its case to the Federal Tribunal in late 1997 after a trade panel ruled against its "Bud" beer. The trade panel said the U.S. beer should not be sold as "Bud" in Switzerland because of a risk of confusion with the name "Budweiser," claimed by state-owned Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar. Switzerland's Supreme Court has upheld that decision. Anheuser- Busch chief executive and president Stephen J. Burrows said the ruling would not affect the company's pending trademark case against Budvar outside of Switzerland. The two brewers have been claiming rights to the Budweiser name since 1911. Anheuser-Busch still holds unchallenged rights to the Budweiser name in most of the world, including North and South America and virtually all of Asia. It will continue to sell beer in Switzerland, but use a different name.

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The Australian Financial Review reports that Foster's Brewing Group has unloaded one of the two loss-making Chinese breweries it put on the market last August. Foster's sold its brewery in Guangdong province in southern China to a Hong Kong-based investment company and The Princess Group -- the Australian company's original partner in the brewery, which has made losses each year since it was bought in 1993. A spokesperson for Foster's said the sale would deliver an abnormal gain of less than $10 million but the purchase price would not be disclosed. The other brewery on the market is the Tianjin brewery and it is understood that Foster's is in the final stages of negotiations with South African Breweries for its sale.

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British independent brewer Shepherd Neame has lost the latest round in its battle against higher beer taxes in the UK. Three Court of Appeal judges said they were "sympathetic" to the brewery and others fighting for lower beer prices, but said there was "no legal obligation on the UK to abstain" from raising tax on beer. Shepherd Neame vowed to fight on, saying it will appeal to the House of Lords after the court refused to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

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This month, Budweiser Japan launched a new beer in the Japanese market that would certainly surprise American craft beer fans. "Budweiser Fine Malt" is a golden 5.5% alcohol beer made from 100% American malt. With no rice and no corn, it's Anheuser-Busch's first 100% malt beer in Japan. With a metallic brown and gold label with ivory insets, this new Bud product seems to be going after Japan's super premium (mass- produced) beer niche occupied by Yebisu, a 100% malt beer brewed by Sapporo with a similar color scheme on the label. Budweiser Fine Malt is priced the same as popular Japanese beers at 225 yen (US $1.90) per 350- ml bottle. (Reported by Bryan Harrell in BEERWeek.)

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Beer consumption in the Netherlands was reported to be down by 2.4% due to poor weather during the summer. Dutch beer exports are reported to be off by some 3.7% due to slower markets in Russia and Asia. The region is home to the world's second largest brewer, Heineken NV, which sells some 17% of its products in the Netherlands.

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In a cost-cutting move against a deepening recession, Latin America's largest brewer, Cia. Cervejaria Brahma, has laid off 108 workers. The employees laid off comprised 1% of Brahma's work force. Brahma is anticipating that beer and soft drink sales will shrink about 4% in 1999. Brahma controls 50% of the Brazilian beer market, with 25 factories in Brazil and an additional one each in both Argentina and Venezuela.

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Britain's pubs would be allowed to stay open an hour after they stop serving alcohol in an effort to prevent fights at closing time, under plans being considered by the government. But "happy hours" could be outlawed. Reports are that proposals being studied by government ministers, as part of the overhaul of the licensing laws, include allowing all pubs to remain open for 60 minutes after "time" is called. But they would be able to sell only soft drinks, tea and coffee. The move is designed to stop last-minute binge drinking, and to curb the rowdiness and violence that often occur near town center pubs at closing time.

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The Campaign for Real ale (CMARA) has chosen the Fat Cat in Norwich as Britain's Best Pub. Locals regard the pub as a beer drinker's paradise with up to 20 real ales available, many served direct from the beer cask in a unique taproom that can be viewed from the bar. Explaining the pub's success, licensee Colin Keatley said, "Tradition is the cornerstone of our business. We have worked hard to build a good reputation for a wide selection of quality beers at reasonable prices." Ian Woolverton, CAMRA's Marketing and Campaigns Assistant said, "The Fat Cat is a traditional pub serving an excellent range of good quality real ales. It is extremely encouraging to see that community pubs continue to thrive despite moves from certain sectors of the brewing industry to replace them with bland theme pubs."

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****WEB WATCH****

A new contest from the Boston Beer Co. gives readers a chance to check their basketball and beer trivia skills and win prizes. The Grand Prize drawing will select one winner, who, along with three friends, will be flown to New England for a sports fan's ultimate fantasy adventure, a behind-the-scenes tour of the ESPN Studios plus other sports adventures in Boston. Daily prizes include stuff you can wear and play with as well as subscriptions to ESPN Insider from

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Have you been wondering what that beer Michael Jackson is drinking in his picture at the Beer Hunter website? Do you have a question about something you've read in one of his books or his opinion about a particular beer? He receives too much email to guarantee and answer to every one, but he gives it a pretty good try. For the latest set of answers to reader questions head to:

You probably already know how hard it is to shop for St. Patrick's Day - - the lines, the shortages of this year's hot St. Patrick's Day toys, the leprechaun controversy Jerry Falwell has stirred up . . . Wait, there's a less painful way. Just head for BREWMALL. For instance, the book "Clone Brews: Homebrew Recipes for 150 Commercial Beers" has 12 recipes for brewing stout, you can buy a Gritty McDuff's Black Fly T- shirt or you can purchase actual stouts. In fact, there are nearly 3,000 items to choose from, so you might want to get started right now.

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

IBT was formed by brewing industry professions who have been involved in more than 100 brewpub startups, with an eye toward developing a complete set of educational products. IBT has launched the first series in a set of manual specific to the brewpub business, using information gather from wide range of sources, including a survey of the top 200 grossing brewpubs in North America in 1997. Both start-up and existing brewpub owners will find fascinating reading at:

Take a South Island Tour with the New Zealand Brewers Network, visiting places like the Pink Elephant Brewery. Lots of pictures of breweries, brewers and beer. For a taste of what is going on "Down Under" head to:

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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 a prize, which this month will be a Real Beer T- shirt. Last month's winner was Larry Eoff, who wrote: "My Internet connection is very fast at work, much faster than at home. Unfortunately, they say I can get fired for using it for non-work related activities."

Last month we asked how fast your Internet connection is at work. More than three-quarters of those who responded have a 56000 or faster connection, and 96% are at 28.8 or faster.

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After months of rumors and continued reports of lagging sales, Stroh Brewery Co. announced in February that it is quitting the brewing business. The 149-year-old Detroit-based brewer is selling its entire beer operations to Pabst Brewing Co. and Miller Brewing Co., pending approval of the transfer of the brand names that must still be approved by federal antitrust officials. Pabst Chairman Bill Bitting said the purchase would increase his company's share of the nation's beer market from 2 percent to "slightly less" than 8 percent. In the deal, Pabst bought just one of the five Stroh breweries -- its facility in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. If Stroh can't find a buyer for the others they will close, putting more than 2,000 employees out of work. The deal is expected to close in April, after which Stroh will operate the five breweries during a nine-month transition period.

Much of the production of the beer Pabst sells will go to Miller Brewing Co., which will boost its market share (of beer actually brewed) from 21 to 30 percent. Industry analysts pointed out that this will eliminate much of the excess capacity in the industry. However, The Boston Beer Co., which relied on Stroh for about half the production of its Samuel Adams beers, announced that Pabst Brewing would assume BBC's brewing contract with Stroh if the sale is completed and Miller Brewing has agreed to guarantee Pabst's contract brewing commitment.

* What Miller gets from Stroh:
Henry Weinhard's and Mickeys.

* What Miller gets from Pabst:
Hamm's and Olde English 800.

* What Pabst gets from Stroh:
Old Milwaukee, Old Style, Schlitz Malt Liquor, Lone Star, Colt, Stroh 
Brewery in Pennsylvania.

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As a result of the Pabst-Stroh deal, the brand of beer that originated in San Antonio will once again be brewed there, though at a rival brewery. Lone Star beer will now be made at the Pearl Brewery, which is owned by Pabst. The move means more than 200 Pearl Brewery jobs and a part of the city's history are safe for now. The city lost about 175 brewing jobs in September 1996 when Stroh closed the 66-year-old Lone Star Brewery. The production of Lone Star beer, born in San Antonio, moved to a plant in Longview. Now, increased production at the Pearl Brewery is expected to mean an undetermined number of new jobs for San Antonio. Just a year ago, brewery employees were worried that Stroh would buy Pabst and move all Pearl Brewery operations to the Longview plant.

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has ruled that both beer and winemakers may mention the potential health benefits of their products on their labels. The labels may contain the words: "The proud people who made this (beer-wine) encourage you to consult your family doctor about the health effects of (beer-wine) consumption. To learn the effects of (beer-wine) consumption, send for the Federal Government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA, 1120 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 or visit its website."

However, the Brewers' Association of America suggests that its members and all other brewers not use health claims on its labels, packaging and other promotion material. It notes: "Beer labels, packaging and other promotional materials are not the appropriate medium to inform the consumer about the health effects of consumption. The subject deserves more careful and thorough explanation. Any attempt to simplify the message about the potential positive health effects of beer will be used by anti-alcohol forces to further defame the beer industry." It also suggest that brewers may incur legal risks by using the new latitude on health effects for promotional purposes.

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New Belgium Brewing Co. of Fort Collins, Colo. became the largest private consumer of wind power last week with its commitment to buy the equivalent of the brewery's electricity use from wind power. This will make New Belgium the first wind-powered brewery in America. A 660-kW wind turbine will be built next fall at the Platte River Power Authority wind site near Medicine Bow, Wyo. to support New Belgium's subscription to the program. The turbine will produce about 1.8 million kWh of electricity per year, which is about the amount of electricity that New Belgium will consume in the coming year. New Belgium owners Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch did not make this financial commitment alone. Rather, the choice of wind power was presented to the entire New Belgium staff and, although its additional cost would diminish the size of their bonuses (which are paid out on costs-per-barrel), the 70-person vote was unanimously in favor.

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Anheuser-Busch chairman and president, August Busch III, earned a bonus of $1.75 million in 1998, more than double the amount he received the previous year. Busch's 1998 salary of $1,107,750 was unchanged from the previous year, when he received a bonus of $691,000.

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The Boston Beer Company's sold less beer in 1998, but boosted profits. The brewery reports it sold 1,227,000 barrels of beer in 1998, compared to 1,352,000 in 1997. However earnings per share were 0.39 in 1998 -- and would have been .44 without a one-time special charge -- compared to 0.37 in 1997. "Despite the turmoil in the craft segment of the beer market and a modest erosion in volume, our leading market position and aggressive programs combined to produce very satisfactory operating results in 1998," said Jim Koch, president and founder.

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In the light of flat sales, Miller has decided to cancel its McKenzie Brothers TV spots for Molson, a brand the company manages in the U.S. Miller's new ad efforts will focus on product shots, while radio spots will feature CCAN, a fictional Canadian radio station. Molson's U.S. sales were flat during the two-year campaign featuring Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as the Brothers McK. Molson's import rival, Labatt Blue, on the other hand, grew by double digits in 1998, making it the number three best-selling import and the best-selling Canadian import.

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Two New Mexico lawmakers have introduced legislation that would lower the threshold for determining when a driver is legally drunk to become the lowest in the nation. The proposed law would reduce the state's legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05%. "This hopefully would create the kind of awareness we created with earlier drunk driving decisions," said Sen. Cisco McSorley, Albuquerque-D, one of the sponsors of the bill. Sixteen states have adopted a legal intoxication limit of .08% blood alcohol content, with the remaining 34 states setting the limit at .10%. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an organization that lobbies for stricter drunken driving laws, does not support legislation to reduce the legal threshold for drunken driving below .08%, said Brandy Anderson of MADD. Anderson said scientific research has failed to prove that all drivers are impaired at blood alcohol contents of less than .08%.

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Back Bay Brewing Co. in Boston has long taking a whimsical and local approach when naming its beers. That became news in February when a local television story noticed that the pub was serving Boston Stranger Stout, a beer brewer Todd Mott has made once a year for three years. It was named after Albert deSalvo, a.k.a. The Boston Strangler, the serial killer who stalked the Boston-Cambridge for two years in the early 1960s, killing at least 13 women. (He was murdered in his prison cell in 1973.) Edward Brooke, state attorney general at the time of the murders, expressed dismay: "It's not something you want to be reminded of when you're drinking beer." The TV story was then repeated by national news sources. Don't be surprised if the beer has a new name when it is served next year.

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The folks at Great Northern Brewing Co. in Whitefish, Mont., didn't anticipate how seriously some people would take the Black Star Beer Tattoo Contest. The competition was to see who would show up Valentine's Day with the biggest tattoo of the brewery's cowboy/buckin' bronco logo. To inspire contestants, the brewery gave away a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The turnout for the first contest in 1998 was modest and the largest tattoo measured 20-plus inches. This year, that would have placed seventh. In fact, two tattoos at 30-plus inches finished almost two feet behind winner Ken Marvin of Federal Way, Wash., whose wrap- around tattoo covers 50.25 inches. It starts at the top of his back, wraps around his right side onto his chest, and down his leg to mid- calf. Pictures of the tattoo and more from the event are at:

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By all accounts, the first Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing (MCAB), held last month in Houston, was a rip-roaring success, both as a homebrew competition and as a technical conference. John Childs of Lynwood, Wash., captured Best of Show with his American Pale Ale and thus won a Seibel Short Course at the Seibel Institute in Chicago. Brewers interesting in participating in MCAB II, which will be hosted by the St. Louis Brews, must pass through one of the MACB qualifying events. A list of those competitions, as well as the complete results of MCAB I are at:

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It's not unusual for a brewpub's website to linger on after the brewery closes, often leaving readers the impression they can still visit. Not so for the Phoenix Brewing Co. in Atlanta. When the doors closed, webmaster Bill Parks updated the homepage with a classy tribute to what was a fine brewery-restaurant. See for yourself at:


Southern Draft Brew News, a brewspaper that served the Southeast, has ceased publication. The brewspaper served the Southeast since October of 1993 and added a Southwest edition in 1998. Publisher Bill Dickens cited a lack of advertising support in making the decision to discontinue operations.

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With the presidential impeachment trial behind it, the United States Senate, which styles itself as the greatest deliberative body in the world, can now return to the business of the American people. For some senators the most pressing matter on their agenda is regulating the language on wine and beer labels.

As most readers know, the BATF recently announced that it would permit the wine industry to use bottle labels that mention the "health effects of wine consumption." Labels could now say, "To learn the health effects of wine consumption, send for the Federal Government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans," followed by an address at the Agriculture Department. They could also advise consumers "to consult your family doctor about the health effects of wine consumption."

Predictably, neo-prohibitionists and their senatorial allies are outraged. Although the labels would merely refer people to their family doctors or to federal guidelines, the opposition was immediate and vocal. Leading the charge in the U.S. Senate are les grands seigneurs of their respective parties, Democrat Robert Byrd and Republican Strom Thurmond. Both have denounced this seemingly innocuous commercial speech as dangerous and have vowed to pass legislation outlawing it.

At this point, a little background information on Byrd and Thurmond could be instructive. Just as Congressman Henry Hyde admitted to a "youthful indiscretion" -- extra-marital sex three decades ago -- so too did Byrd and Thurmond have youthful indiscretions of their own: hanging out with hate groups. As a young man in his 30's, Byrd was a card- carrying, hood-wearing member of the Ku Klux Klan. In his 40's Thurmond ran for president on a platform of white supremacy, appealing to klansmen such as Byrd.

Although Byrd and Thurmond have since been forced to muzzle their previously overt bigotry, the fires of intolerance still burn in their respective bellies. Both preach a form of "zero tolerance" when it comes to brewers and wineries promoting their products, even if the message happens to be true; and even if the message comes from a family doctor or from the federal government's own dietary guidelines.

As we all know, the country just weathered a major constitutional crisis. Luckily, however, the sage and august leaders of the U.S. Senate, ever mindful of the wisdom and vision of the founding fathers, managed to preserve our republic and the integrity of our constitution. Let's hope they are equally attentive to all of our constitutional freedoms.

I'm specifically referring to the first amendment. It protected Robert Byrd's right to wear a white hood and burn crosses as a member of a hate group. It also protected Strom Thurmond's right to court hate groups with a message of white supremacy. Why shouldn't it protect the right of brewers and winemakers to advise people to consult their family doctors or federal guidelines. Surely, our message isn't nearly so dangerous as that of Byrd and Thurmond.

Tom Schlafly is a recovering lawyer and president of the Saint Louis Brewery.

The views expressed are those of the guest editor and not necessarily of the publisher or its advertisers.