RBPMail 5.05, May 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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Whitbread, a drinks and leisure group, is in advanced talks to buy
Allied Domecq's pubs division. If the deal succeeds, it will create
Britain's largest pubs and restaurants group with more than 7,200
outlets. The two companies have been in talks for weeks. After the deal,
Whitbread is expected to put its brewing division up for sale to comply
with the industry's strict competition regulations. The dramatic deal
will transform both Britain's brewing industry and the pubs and eating
out sector. Whitbread will dominate the pubs business and own more than
1,000 restaurants across Britain. Allied, meanwhile, will be able to
focus on its worldwide spirits interests.
BECK'S TO BE BREWED IN CHINA
Lion Nathan Ltd. of New Zealand is nearing completion of an agreement
that will allow it to brew and market Brauerei Beck & Co.'s Beck's brand
beer in China. The brewer estimates consumption in China at 17 billion
liters per year, second only to the U.S. Lion Nathan expects production
at its Suzhou brewery will rise 30% to 145 million liters per year.
GERMANY'S TOP BREWER SHOWS A LOSS FOR 1998
Brau und Brunnen AG of Dortmund, Germany's top brewer, posted a loss for
1998. The loss, a net of $7.6 million, is attributed to slumping sales
due to a chilly summer season. Beer sales dropped 6% in 1998 compared to
U.S. SALES MAKE INTERBREW OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 1999
Belgian brewer Interbrew expects 1999 results to be good, in part
because of continued growth in its U.S. market. "I believe they (current
trends) are generally good," Interbrew Chairman Paul de Keersmaeker
said. Interbrew's Chief Executive for the Americas, Hugo Powell, said he
expected the group's performance to be boosted by rapid expansion in the
specialty beer market in the United States. "We are growing at around 20
percent per year in the United States," Powell said. Interbrew's
specialty beers Leffe and Hoegaarden are selling well in New York and
Boston. "The early results in the first months are very strong. Belgian
beer in New York is chic ... We're very pleased with progress," he said.
Sales of Stella Artois lager also increased since the company earmarked
the Belgian market leader for global promotion, Interbrew said.
Sun Brewing Ltd., Russia's largest brewer, has joined with Interbrew,
the world's fourth largest brewer, to compete with rival brewer AO
Baltika. Interbrew will invest $130 million in Sun and start a new
company, Sun Interbrew. Baltika recently expanded production and
projects an increase of 22% this year. The Russian/Ukrainian beer market
has opened up for local, cheaper brands after the ruble fell more than
75% since August. Import brands have become too expensive for the
average Russian consumer.
Tsingtao Brewery Co., China's second largest brewer, said its net profit
for 1998 rose 34.8%. The increase can be attributed to 40 new
distribution points throughout China.
Bavarian beer gardens have imposed a strict noise level after a federal
court ordered they close early. Noise levels must be kept below 65
decibels within town centers, while residential establishments must keep
it to 55 decibels. Complaints about the noise prompted Berlin to impose
a 9:30 p.m. closing time. Bavarians are furious over the ruling. The
lower noise standards are said to be "Berlin-proof." The Bavarian
Environment Minister stated, "This ensures Bavarian Beer Garden Culture
will survive into the next millennium."
THE MICHAEL JACKSON WORLD BEER TOUR
For years, beer writer Michael Jackson has resisted associating his name
with a beer-of-the-month club. He said, however, that consumers still
approach him to ask questions like, "Why can't I get Sheaf's Stout in
the U.S.?" "It's as though I'm personally responsible for what is
imported," Jackson said, smiling. Working with the World Beer Tour he
can pick special beers for the U.S. market. The tour offers club members
beers not available in the U.S., or available only on a very limited
basis. The club is Internet based and fully interactive. Members will be
provided with a password and be able to go on-line to compare their own
tasting notes with those of Jackson and/or other members. The first
shipments go out in June but you can join now at:
EXPERIENCE ENGLAND'S FINEST
Merchant du Vin will send one lucky winner and guest to "Experience
England's Finest." The sweepstakes grand prize includes a one-week trip
for two to London, the unmatched countryside of Yorkshire and Samuel
Smith's Old Brewery in Tadcaster. A visit to the Old Brewery, founded in
1758, is an unforgettable experience. Now in its fifth generation of
family management, Samuel Smith still draws its brewing water from a
well sunk over 200 years ago, and is the last brewery to use the
Yorkshire slate square method of fermentation. Of course, the best way
to experience Yorkshire and England's finest beers is firsthand. Here's
MID-ATLANTIC NEWSLETTER FEATURES LOCAL BREWS NEWS
Find out what's brewing at your favorite Virginia and DC breweries with
a free subscription to Mid-Atlantic Beer Online. The Mid-Atlantic
Association of Craft Brewers is publishing a new monthly e-mail
newsletter highlighting the latest local brew news, descriptions of the
newest seasonal beers, reminders of area beer festivals and events, and
the inside scoop on the VA/DC brewing scene. The newsletter will also
feature a special contest each month for subscribers only.
Lovers of Canadian beers may welcome spring on the Ale Trail May 15-16.
The tour offers visitors a chance to tour the breweries, meet the
brewers, sample the beers and learn about the craft of brewing. The
website includes information on all seven 1999 tour weekends, maps to
the breweries, information on the breweries, bars & restaurants,
accommodations and still more about the attractions in Ontario's brewing
heartland. It begins at:
What's better than one Jupiter beerhouse? Two, of course. A second
Jupiter has joined Berkeley's "church of beer" in Walnut Creek. Although
the new Jupiter has U-shaped booths made from recycled pews, it's not
decorated in dark, cave-like "Beer Gothic" decor of the flagship.
Jupiter-Walnut Creek is bright and lively, with a more modern European
look. With a full-size brewhouse, Jupiter-Walnut Creek focuses more on
in-house beers than at Berkeley (which offers 40 beers on tap as well as
its own), but still features guest brews. To celebrate the arrival of a
second pub, Jupiter rolls out a refurbished web site at:
Don't tell Jon Bloostein, a.k.a. Farmer Jon, how tough the New York City
brewpub market is. After stints running his own ice-cream vending
business (he was the first person in New York City to sell Ben & Jerry's
ice cream) and as an independent banking advisor on Wall Street, he
started the tri-state area's largest brewpub, Heartland Brewery in Union
Square. He proved that pub's success wasn't a fluke by opening a second
brewpub in Midtown. Visit them at:
*********** Brewed Fresh For
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
QUICKIE EMAIL SURVEY
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 Thames Fulton, who wrote: "Online time at
the office not only provides essential research, it allows even more
essential screwing around."
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
Last month we asked where you spent most of your time online. About half
of you answered home, while another 36% wrote work.
In our April Fool's edition of RBPMail, we asked how many Bud's you
enjoy a week. 86% answered "less than zero."
FULL SAIL EMPLOYEES TO GET SHARE OF BREWERY
As part of a new American Homebrewers Association program, Association
of Brewers founder Charlie Papazian recently toured the Northeast and
Southwest, meeting often with homebrewers and other beer enthusiasts.
Along the way he conducted a series of blind tastings. "I have to tell
you when they learned what they were tasting and saw the results they
were very surprised," Papazian said. In Cambridge, Mass., at a Samuel
Adams beer dinner, Samuel Adams Golden Pilsner beat Corona 25-4; Samuel
Adams Boston Lager shut out Heineken 29-0; and Samuel Adams IPA draft
bettered Bass Ale 23-5. In a gathering at Rio Grande Brewing in
Albuquerque, N.M., Rio Grande's Desert Pils and Grolsch tied; Samuel
Adams Boston Lager outpolled Heineken 11-5; and Cabezon Stout (from
Cabezon Brewing in Albuquerque) beat Guinness 12-4.
CRAFT BEERS FARE WELL IN INFORMAL TASTE TESTS
The Oregon Brewers Guild and the Oregon Restaurant Association recently
introduced a bill in the Oregon State senate to allow brewpubs to self
distribute limited amounts of beer themselves. Currently, holders of
microbrewery licenses can self-distribute, but not holders of public
house (brewpubs) licenses. The proposed law would allow brewpubs to
distribute up to 500 barrels of beer a year.
BEER BUSINESS CONTRIBUTES NEARLY $200 BILLION TO U.S. ECONOMY
The Beer Institute puts the full economic impact of the brewing industry
on the U.S. economy at $187.1 billion. "The brewing industry is a
dynamic part of our national economy, with more than 90% of the beer
consumed in the U.S being produced domestically," Institute President
Ray McGrath said. "Brewers, along with their wholesale and retail
partners, directly and indirectly employ approximately 2.5 million
Americans. These workers earn $60 billion in wages and benefits. Diverse
interests, such as in agriculture, transportation, packaging and
advertising, also benefit from the strength of the brewing industry."
The Beer Institute is the national trade association for the brewing
Anheuser-Busch Co. announced that its first-quarter net income rose a
better-than-expected 20 percent, to $319.1 million, as beer sales
improved. Gross sales, which exclude excise taxes, rose 7 percent to
$3.16 billion from $2.95 billion a year ago. Anheuser-Busch said the
higher earnings reflected stronger domestic beer sales volume, increased
revenue per barrel and better earnings from the company's investment in
Modelo, the Mexican brewer of Corona beer. The gains were partially
offset by increased marketing, distribution and administrative expenses.
"If there is a heaven for beer companies, it was in this quarter," said
Emanuel Goldman, beverages analyst at Merrill Lynch. "They're in very
good shape going forward."
Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Colo. reported a 22.4% first quarter
earnings jump largely due to escalated sales of its Coors Light product
and increased prices. This increase indicates the third largest U.S.
brewer has gained ground on No. 2, Miller Brewing. Price increases are
considered a large factor in the increase in revenue. The 3% price
increase is the largest in three years.
Anheuser-Busch abandoned its latest tests of how well beer would sell in
16-ounce plastic bottles only a month after it started. The company said
the early research indicated "limited public interest."
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION HONORS ALASKAN BREWING
The United States Small Business Administration selected Alaskan Brewing
Company's co-founders Geoff and Marcy Larson as the 1999 Small Business
Persons of the Year for the State of Alaska. "Marcy and I are clearly
honored by this selection. We've always stood by our mission to make a
great beer in a place we love. This award recognizes the years of hard
work and the dedication of all our employees to deliver a quality
product in a constantly changing market place," said Geoff Larson.
A Northampton, Mass., woman has begun selling "Gay Pride" beer in
Massachusetts. Jenn Wolper said she developed the idea in 1997 as she
scanned the beer list at the Grotto, a gay bar in Northampton. "How come
we don't have our own beer?" she asked. The contract-brewed pale ale
features the initials "GP" and a banner saying "Gay Pride" on its label.
The Queer Brewing Co. sells Q Pale Ale, a year-old beer, mainly around
the San Francisco area. 10% of its profits are earmarked for gay causes.
YUENGLING BUYS SHUTTERED STROH PLANT IN FLORIDA
D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. is buying the shuttered Stroh plant in Tampa
so it can make and sell its Yuengling beer in Florida. Dick Yuengling
Jr., president of the Pottsville, Pa., company, said he hopes to hire
many of the 154 people put out of work when Stroh closed the facility in
January. With sales thriving in its market area of Pennsylvania,
Delaware and New Jersey - Yuengling has quadrupled production in nine
years to 635,000 barrels a year - the company is building another plant
near the original site. That facility is set to open in 2001. The Tampa
plant will also add to production and help the company grow
geographically. "We will grow our production carefully in Tampa,"
Yuengling said. "We will send some of the beer back north, but also hope
to sell a lot of it in Florida."
ANOTHER STUDY FINDS BEER GOOD FOR WHAT ALES YOU
A researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
reports that men and women who consume moderate amounts of beer (one to
two a day) have a 30-40% lower rate of coronary heart disease compared
to men and women who didn't drink. The positive health effects of light
to moderate consumption of beer match that of previously released
studies regarding red wine and provides more benefits than white wine.
The report states that "per drink, beer contains a similar amount of
polyphenols (antioxidants) as red wine and 4-5 times as many polyphenols
as white wine." A Texas beer distributor partially funded the research
by Margo Denke, M.D., Associate professor of Internal Medicine at UT
CLOSED MICRO WILL BE TEST BREWERY FOR SHINER
San Antonio-based Gambrinus Co. has purchased the defunct Frio Brewing
Co.'s equipment to produce test beers for the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner,
Texas. "It's basically going to be a brewing laboratory for Shiner,"
said Gambrinus Co.'s Jaime Jurado. Frio opened five years ago, but
remained in business for less than three. It took two years for
Gambrinus to close the deal for the plant. Frio's 30-barrel kettles and
fermenting tanks are one-sixth the size of those at Spoetzl. The
purchase makes Spoetzl the smallest brewery in the country with a
separate test brewery, Jurado said.
Mississippi is no longer the only state in the nation without a brewpub.
Coast Brewing Co. has opened in the Beau Rivage Casino Resort in Biloxi.
Under construction are another casino brewpub in Biloxi plus one in
Jackson. Mark Admire of Rockhouse Development Group indicates several
other projects are likely. "Brewpub projects under consideration or
development (six currently) are located from the Gulf Coast to Oxford in
the northern part of the State," he said.
SAN DIEGO REAL ALE FESTIVAL MAY 14-15
The second San Diego Real Ale Festival is scheduled for May 14-15,
adjacent to the Pizza Port Brewpub in Carlsbad. The festival will be the
largest real ale festival in the country this year as there is no
Chicago National Real Ale Festival (delayed until Spring 2000).
Organizers are anticipating 40 casks from breweries in five different
Western States including one from Big Wave Brewery in Hawaii. They will
also conduct the West Coast Cask Ale Championships in conjunction with
- The biggest commodity of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament was
beer. Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill on Central Avenue across from Tropicana
Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., went through 3,500 cases on the Final
Four Saturday night alone.
- Taco Mac in Cumming, Georgia, now offers more beers on tap "than any
other bar in the world." The Taco Mac at 525 Lake Center Parkway has 224
taps, each pouring a different beer. The Yard House in Long Beach,
Calif., has 250 taps but repeats several handles and usual offers about
180 different beers at any time.
- When Great Lakes Brewing Co. celebrated its 10th anniversary, the
brewery got out the calculator and discovered that more than 2 million
guests have visited the brewpub.
EDITORIAL: AN INDUSTRY GETTING BACK TO ITS ROOTS
We are just back from the annual Craft-Brewers Conference, held this
year in Phoenix. We go there to do business, of course, but also with
the goal to have more fun than anybody else. With the Ralphs
(http://www.HopUnion.com) on hand, that's quite a challenge. It's a
fine opportunity to catch up with old friends, many of whom were around
long before craft beer was a "hot industry" and have remained leaders in
marketshare, vision and quality as the business matures.
With more than 10 years in the rear view mirror, John Hickenlooper,
co-founder of Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Co., is fond of pointing
out how different things were in the 1980s. "It was like being the first
one on the Santa Fe Trail ... a lot of boulders to move," he's said.
Yet as the conference was drawing to a close, Ray Deter echoed the same
idea. Deter runs Manhattan beer haven d.b.a. 41 first avenue, and served
on a panel with other bar owners who have proved bars can flourish
serving quality beer. "Not every bar owner is going to be like us," he
said, "but I think it will happen - one bar at a time."
Charlie Papazian, founder of the Association of Brewers, said the same
thing at a makeshift press conference on the last day of the CBC
tradeshow. During the discussion, both Papazian and Michael Jackson
noted it is hard to get mainstream media attention when the "newness"
wears off. (Most of the beer press didn't show up for the press
conference, adding an exclamation point to that thought.)
"If you are going to make an impact on the national level it has to be
drip, drip, drip," Papazian said.
And, unlike two years ago when the CBC was in Seattle, that's just fine
with some people. Then the Institute of Brewing Studies announced that
year-over-year growth had slowed to 26% in 1996, and many reacted like
the sky was falling. In 1998, IBS figures showed zero growth and the
reaction wasn't nearly as sullen.
"It's good to see us getting back to our roots," said Bill Sugars of
Mickey Finn's Brewery in Illinois, "instead of talking about expansion
IBS director David Edgar used the same phrase the next day. "The
industry is returning to its roots ... emphasizing locally produced
fresh beer," he said.
We were reminded of that during our annual Cigar Hospitality, put on
this year at Leinenkugel's Ballyard Brewery (http://leinie.com) with
plenty of support from our sponsors. There's nothing like a great beer
in one-hand and a cigar in another to get the community of brewers and
Among those arriving early was Mitch Steele. Mitch used to be head
specialty brewer at Anheuser-Busch, but since has been promoted to
overseeing production of some of A-B's mainstream beers. Late in the
evening, he was just another of many brewers, stout in hand, talking
about a product that binds so many together.
He had tasted the cask-conditioned version of the stout that Ballyard
Brewery head brewer Chris Swersey rolled out in a firkin as an event
surprised. "Nice. Really nice," Steele said of the cask ale. "But this
is nice, too," he said, pointing to the nitrogen-poured stout he had in
his hand. "I hadn't intended to stay this long, but I'm really enjoying
For those of you who are consumers who wonder if the beer business is
really as good as it seems, it is. For those of you who are in the biz,
thanks for keeping it friendly. We're looking forward to participating
in our little corner of the industry and sharing the stories of better
beer for a long, long time.