RBPMail 5.08, August 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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:



The Champion Beer of Britain, 1999, is Timothy Taylor's Landlord, from the North of England. This is the fourth time Landlord has won the title in the past two decades. Michael Jackson writes: "I loved the length of its hop character: aroma, flavour especially, and bitterness, in a beautiful interplay with malty sweetness." The Real Beer Network provides full festival coverage:

Beer Hunter festival report:

The complete results:

Stephen Beaumont on judging specialty beers:

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In the latest round of the ongoing battle between Budweiser and Budvar, American-based Anheuser Busch has taken Czech-owned Budejovicky Budvar to court in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Sunday Morning Post reported that A-B said in court papers that Budejovicky Budvar beer had infringed on the Budweiser trademark since Budejovicky is the Czech word for Budweiser. The U.S. brewer is seeking a court order to have the Czech company's products taken off the shelves in Hong Kong, the report said. Anheuser-Busch has launched similar lawsuits in Europe and the United States. More on the story at:

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South African Breweries, the fourth largest brewer in the world, has announced plans to build a brand new $120 million brewery near the city of Port Elizabeth on the eastern cape of South Africa. The old brewery accounted for about half of the company's profit during the past year. The new brewery "will help support the growing national demand for SAB's brands, particularly in the Eastern and Southern Cape," the company said. The new facility, one of seven in South Africa, will have a capacity of 230 million liters of beer annually.

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Kirin Brewery, Ltd., Japan's largest brewer, showed a 14% profit gain for the six months ending June 30. The increase is said to be due to strong sales of its low-malt product Tanrei and cost-cutting efforts, analysts said. Tanrei sells for less due to a tax loophole relating to low malt content, but is just as profitable. Kirin has closed two breweries in Tokyo and Hiroshima as cost cutting measures, firing 180 workers and saving 16.9 billion yen. It plans to close another brewery in Kyoto and fire another 90 workers.

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Ukraine, another former Soviet state, has ended duties on imports of malt and hops, and has set up quotas for minimum imports. The quota for malt is set at 50,000 tons per year; the quota for hops is 200 tons per year. Ukraine has seen a decline in beer production of 60% over the past decade, and only 55 of 180 breweries are still in operation at this time.

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Carlsberg of Denmark, Scandinavia's largest brewer, will soon sell beer in plastic bottles, as well as the standard glass. "This isn't an attempt to turn the beer market around," said Lars Kjaer, Carlsberg division manager. "The aim is to make it easier for the consumer and develop a bottle-return system." The bottles weigh 1/10 that of glass and hold 15% more beer.

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In Shigatse, Tibet, China, the inclusion of a casino and a German brewhouse in the Hamburg Beer City, is meeting with "bitter denouncement" from the exiled Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama calls the development the "economic colonization of Tibet by its Han rulers." But according to Nuo Jianrong, the Chinese manager of Shigatse's only microbrewery, German ale serves another purpose. "We're helping the Tibetan people to develop," she said. "The quality of the locals is very, very low. The government welcomes us -- but ordinary people have a very low level of culture. Of course, their thought processes are much less complicated than ours." Hamburg Beer City is decked out in a Teutonic coat-of-arms and a model of a medieval knight in armor.

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Venezuela's Supreme Court has ruled that a series of beer advertisements are sexist and encourage infidelity and ordered that they be withdrawn. The advertising campaign by Cerveceria Regional included television commercials and roadside billboards depicting a scantily-clad blonde woman who says "I'm the other one. If you try me, you'll stay with me." Regional calls its beer "the blonde" and "the other" in an effort to distinguish itself from market leader Polar, which controls about 80% of the Venezuelan beer market. "In the publicity messages of Regional, one can easily detect the continual reference to infidelity as something positive or at least amusing," the court ruled. The court said the advertisements were "offensive to public morals given the numerous psychological incitement to depersonalize women and transform them into a sex object."

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Producers of some of Great Britain's most popular alcoholic beverages will soon begin adding even more alcohol content information to labels. Unlike in the United States, the percentage of alcohol in drinks is already clearly stated on labels. The new system -- which large companies such as Guinness and Heineken beers, Bacardi rum and Johnny Walker whisky have committed to -- will use little bottle- or can-shaped icons to show how many units of alcohol are inside. The Department of Health, which is promoting the new labeling system, recommends that men drink a maximum of three to four units a day, and women two to three. An average bottle of wine holds nine units and a 330 ml can of 5% (by volume) strength beer has 1.7 units.

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********************WEB WATCH******************

No other country (even those with far more breweries) has among its native styles of beer such diversity, individuality, idiosyncrasy and color as Belgium. Michael Jackson offers a complete guide to enjoying the country and its beers. Find out everything that you need to know, from understanding the styles to locating the great beer restaurants and hotels.

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To celebrate the harvest of the seasoning element in beer, Real Beer's Spotlight focuses on hops this month. Learn the vital role hops plays in beer, take a tour of two hop farms, meet the brewmaster behind Sierra Nevada's hoppy beers, get a recipe for hop shoots and more at:

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Each week, the USA TODAY Online Career Center asks a variety of folks what makes their jobs great. Recently featured was Kurt Epps, whose stories appear in the Real Beer authors area. From the story: "Sometimes it seems as if the previous week's Dream Job can't be topped. Then the next one comes along and we find ourselves even more jealous than before. Such is the case for this week's Dream Job, Kurt Epps." After you read whole story, you may want to browse through some of Kurt's stories:

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

If you say "Aplenty Bahl Steinber Horn" in Anderson Valley, California, the locals know you mean "Really great beer." That's not just because Anderson Valley Brewing Co. makes good beer, but because the Boonville brewery has done its best to keep "Boontling" alive. Boontling is a regional dialect that dates back to the turn of the century. You can learn more about the language as well the beers from this award-winning brewery at:

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Unlike The North Stars, Honeywell, Chuck Knoblauch, and Bob Dylan, when Northern Brewer moved its St. Paul, Minn., homebrew supply shop, it stayed in the neighborhood. However, Northern Brewer doesn't offer only those in the Twin Cities a full line of homebrewing resources for both entry-level and advanced brewers -- they make shopping and ordering online easy for everyone at:

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Bison Brewing remains an innovative brewery-restaurant but has now spread its distribution wings. It has reintroduced its beers to the market in and beyond Berkeley, and the bottle labels of old have been modernized. Brewmaster Daniel Del Grande scanned rocks into the computer to create striking labels. Bison celebrates its 10th anniversary Aug. 28 with menu specials all day. More on the celebration and new brews at:

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Local legend has it that when the Father of Waters passed by the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa, he was so tantalized by the beauty of the surrounding land that he turned his head to admire the view. That is said to be why the Mississippi River runs east and west through the cities. Bent River, just a block from the Big Muddy in downtown, takes its name from its location and has helped revive the region's rich brewing tradition. As the locals say, "Get Bent" at:

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Remember the Feb. 26, 1998 Seinfeld when Kramer passed out cigars because he was headed to Florida to retire? Those were Big Butt cigars. Big Butt Cigar Co. makes not only premium Nicaraguan cigars but also great-looking apparel and accessories. You may shop for them at:

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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 a prize, which this month will be a Real Beer T- shirt. Last month's winner was Jennifer Conway, who wrote of our new City Guides: "Very nice ... lot's of hard work compiling this goodie!"

Last month we asked which of the new features at Real Beer you like the most. Support for additions and improvements was spread evenly across the board, but City Guides were the most popular, receiving 21% of the votes. We've made guides to eight cities available now with more planned every month. To reach them, go to:

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**********REAL BEER ONLINE POLL*****************

Brewpubs edged "home" as the preferred place to drink beer by those who participated in the July Real Beer poll. Both earned 19% of the vote, with brewpubs receiving a single vote more. A solid 15% of readers voted for a neighborhood bar, and indicating the diversity of those who responded, a combined 19% chose an Irish, British or German drinking spot.

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***********BREWED FRESH FOR YOU***************

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

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Workers at a La Crosse, Wis., brewery that will close this month have new hope the brewery will resume operation. A New York investment firm announced that it intends to buy the former G. Heileman brewery from Stroh Brewery Co. and use it for producing beverages, possibly including beer, on a contract basis. A spokeswoman for Stroh confirmed that a letter of intent has been signed. Platinum Holdings, a New York-based investment company owned by La Crosse native James Strupp and John Mazzuto, plans to buy the brewery. More on the story at:

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The Portland, Ore., Blitz-Weinhard Brewery won't be saved. After 143 years of operation it has brewed its last batch of beer. Sale of the property, which is located in what has become a hot real estate area, is expected to be announced soon. The Portland Oregonian newspaper points out the effects of the closing will be felt not only by brewery workers. Bottlers, marketers, railroad workers and even cows will feel the ripples. Northwest Brewers Grain, which delivers spent barley grain and has six employees, lost all its business with the closure. It delivered the spent grain -- Blitz-Weinhard used enough barley malt to fill an 11- ton dump truck every two hours -- to farms outside of Portland where it was consumed by dairy cattle.

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Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, announced its second quarter earnings to be up some 10% over the second quarter of 1998. Net income was reported to be $431 million and sales increased 2.5%, boosting A-B's domestic market share .8% in the first half of 1999 to 46.1%. The company indicates additional price increases are being considered for the fourth quarter.

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Adolph Coors Co., parent of the third-largest U.S. beer brewer, sold more beer than in any previous quarter as second-quarter net income rose 17 percent. Coors said the strongest sellers were Coors Light, Killian's Irish Red beers and Zima, the carbonated, clear alcoholic drink created by the company.

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Colorado-based Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc. announced that its stockholders have approved the acquisition by RB Capital, Inc. of the company in a "going-private" transaction. The approval came at a special meeting of the company's stockholders. At the meeting, approximately 71% of the company's stockholders voted to approve the merger, in which the company's public stockholders would receive $10 in cash for every share of the company's common stock.

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Samuel Adams lagers and ales resoundingly won blind taste-offs against worthy popular imports Heineken, Corona, Bass and Guinness at nine "Liquid Lunches" hosted by Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch in recent weeks. Samuel Adams and other microbrewed beers fared just as well in separate taste tests conducted by Association of Brewers founder Charlie Papazian. In 38 out of 39 tastings at the "Liquid Lunches," Samuel Adams beat the imported competition (Boston Ale and Bass Ale tied in Denver): Samuel Adams Boston Lager was preferred to Heineken by 217 drinkers; 22 picked Heineken. Samuel Adams Boston Ale beat Bass Ale 160 to 84; Samuel Adams Summer Ale was preferred to Corona 193 to 46; and Samuel Adams Cream Stout was chosen over Guinness 129 to 64. (In cases of a tie, each beer was given a point.) Read more at:

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Producer-actor Dave Thomas told the Toronto Sun that he is considering legal action against the Toronto-based company that failed to deliver on financing the movie "Home Brew." The $15 million movie was to be a sequel to 1982's "Strange Brew," with Thomas and Rick Moranis as Bob and Doug MacKenzie. Thomas said production was shut down after he discovered that certain "Home Brew" money arrangements weren't in place. Moranis and Thomas created the beer-drinking Canuck characters for SCTV skits, and subsequently released the movie, "Strange Brew."

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In the poll just completed in Real Beer's "Voting Booth," just 32% of those voting said they prefer to drink beer in their home or at a friend's as opposed to a more public venue, like a brewpub, a neighborhood bar or an Irish pub. This stands in stark contrast to reality in the United States -- where more than three-quarters of beer is consumed in the home.

Granted, we asked readers for preference rather than reality. Also, we know that Real Beer drinkers aren't exactly typical. However, the poll and a recent trip several Real Beer staffers took to Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival reminded us of the symbiotic relationship between specialty beer and bars.

Portland likes to call itself "Beervana" and is alive with breweries and brewpubs. Not to be overlooked, however, is that so many bars and restaurants offer interesting beer. Fine dining and specialty beer. A neighborhood bar atmosphere and craft beer. A music club and interesting beer. A movie theater and quality beer. Take your choice.

Don Younger, proprietor of the Horse Brass Pub ( since 1976 and partner in the Rose & Raindrop, will take you to Produce Row Cafe and tell you that is where Mike McMenamin (of McMenamins Pub fame) started the renaissance. Others maintain Younger is just being modest. Say "DY" in the beer community and almost everybody will know whom you are talking about.

After more than 20 years in the business, Younger's passion burns brighter than ever. He still reserves taps at the Horse Brass for new brewers, nurturing those who produce quality beer. His voice takes on an excited hush and his always dancing eyes do a jig when he starts talking about a new beer on tap, maybe something from a newcomer like Terminal Gravity.

This passion doesn't stop with beer, which is only one thing done right at the Horse Brass. The food is excellent, the atmosphere is terrific, the service outstanding. When we look across the country, how well this works strikes us. Bars are the foundation for spreading the word about craft beer -- where bartenders tout a new offering to customers, where one beer drinker may ask another, "Hey, what are you trying there?" -- and the ones who do everything else well seem best at that too.

A Real Beer staff member was in the Sunset Grill & Tap in Boston on a weeknight not long ago and the hour was nearing midnight when owner Marc Radish came strolling through the bar area. He was still wearing a kitchen apron, still at work. Sunset offers 100-plus beers on tap, 400- plus in bottles and portions of food that take your breath away. It gets so crowded that Kadish had to open another place, called Big City, right next door. It has 82 beers on tap.

It is dangerous to start listing bar owners like DY and Marc, who have both nurtured the growth of Real Beer and inspired others to do the same, because the list gets thankfully longer each day. For instance, John Clinger took over a spot in Hanover, Pa. that was a diner for 30 years and an Italian restaurant for 17 after that and turned it into a great beer bar. KClinger's Tavern ( has 38 taps, two handpumps, 400 bottle choices and manages to serve both a family dining crowd and the younger set later at night.

"I think it will happen one bar at a time," says Ray Deter, proprietor of d.b.a. 41 1st avenue (, a Manhattan bar that brewers and beer drinkers wish were everywhere.

Nonetheless, when we think of the Bars of Summer, here are just a few more of the names that pop into mind:

* Tom Peters, Monks' Cafe, Philadelphia ( He deserves all the credit he gets for the influx of Belgian draft beer into the U.S. in the last four years. But as impressive, is the story a reader recently sent: He was in Monks' and struck up a conversation with Peters. Next thing he knew he was in the backroom sampling beer from an unmarked tapped, just because Peters thought he would enjoy the beer.

* Chris Black, Falling Rock Tap House (, Denver. When he has time off (a relative term when you work 90 hours a week) he'll pile a bunch of staff members into a van and drive them to a brewery in the region, where they learn more about beer in general and that brewery in particular. They also have a lot of fun since Black is the designated driver.

* Andy Klubock, various Taco Macs (, Atlanta area. When the Olympics came to Atlanta in 1996, Klubock viewed it as an opportunity. "I think this is a chance to show the rest of the world that the United States has some of the best brewers in the world," he said.

* David Keene, Toronado (, San Francisco. There is nothing subtle about Toronado's annual barleywine festival -- it is simply the best of its kind in the world. Non-regulars sometimes forget Keene also hosts a great Belgian beer and food dinner each December, where there are subtle joys like comparing a current vintage with and an older version of the same beer (that appears magically from Keene's cellar). Nowhere is the feeling stronger that the publican has crafted the beer menu of his choice and decided to share it.

* Judy Ashworth, former owner of Lyon's Brewery in Dublin, Calif. Ashworth was known for pampering beer at Lyon's -- and offered customers tours of her wood-paneled cooler. She demanded commitment. "There's no way I'd have somebody on my staff who didn't drink beer," she said. "That's who your customers are going to learn from."

* Chip McConnell and David Evans, The Great Lost Bear (, Portland, Maine. Don't try to tell the residents of Maine that this is the "other Portland." The state has about the same number of breweries per capita as Oregon, and the Bear -- which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary -- generally devotes three-quarters of its 50-plus taps to regional beers. A while back, the Maine Brewers Guild honored the Bear for "outstanding contribeartion" (really) to Maine's brewing industry.

The bottom line: These are people who love beer and their work, as Kahlil Gibran would say, "is love manifest." Just the kind of folks we like to drink beer with. So, join us this month in toasting and visiting the bars of summer.