RBPMail 5.09, September 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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:
6 MILLION BOTTLES OF BUD RECALLED
Anheuser-Busch is recalling nearly six million bottles of Budweiser beer
in 12 European countries because the bottles may break when opened. All
twist-off top beer bottles in Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Cyprus,
Malta, Belgium, Netherlands, Latvia, Germany, and Switzerland were
recalled, as well as many bottles in France. Budweiser bottles sold in
the United States are not affected. The company said that the top of
some of the bottles is slightly larger than it should be, increasing the
risk of breakage when they are opened. There is no problem with the
Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo is headed to court to halt the sale of
another beer labeled "Corona" in Russia. "We are going to legally
challenge a Russian company for pirating our brand because it is
producing a beer called Corona," said Graciela Reynoso, a spokeswoman
for Grupo Modelo's subsidiary in Europe. The case goes to court Sept.
22. Grupo Modelo previously won a similar case in France. Russian brewer
Rosar has been selling its own version of "Corona" since 1996. Its
bottle is darker than Corona's distinctive clear bottle. Reynoso said
the company, "registered (the brand) after Grupo Modelo did, taking
advantage of the prestige and international presence of Corona Extra."
HEINEKEN DEAL TO ACQUIRE SPANISH BREWER SCRUTINIZED
The deal that would boost Dutch brewer Heineken's share of the Spanish
beer market will come under additional scrutiny in the coming months.
The European Commission has referred the planned acquisition of Spanish
rival Cruzcampo SA to Spanish authorities, saying they can better decide
if there are competition problems. Heineken plans to take control of
Cruzcampo through a complicated transaction that involves Danish rival
Carlsberg. Cruzcampo accounts for a quarter of beer sold in Spain, the
third-largest beer market in the European Union. Heineken, based in
Holland, already owns a majority stake in that country's No. 3 brewer,
TSINGTAO TO BUY 3 TO 5 BREWERIES BY YEAR'S END
Tsingtao Brewery Co. of China plans to purchase three to five breweries
by the end of the year to extend its distribution network and increase
production. Chinese breweries are trying to boost output as the Chinese
beer drinking market expands and competition increases. Foreign brands
brewed in China, such as Budweiser and Asahi, have put more pressure on
domestic brewers in the tough premium beer market. Tsingtao purchased
Nanjizhou Brewery Group, Rongcheng Brewery and Anqiu Brewery earlier
WORLD BEER PRODUCTION RISES FOR 14TH STRAIGHT YEAR
World beer production in 1998 increased 1.6% from a year earlier to
about 133 million kiloliters, up for the 14th consecutive year. The
biggest five producing countries are the United States (up .05%), China
(up 5.3%), Germany (down 2.7%), Brazil (down 0.3%) and Japan (up 0.5%).
Russia, eighth in output, showed the biggest growth rate of 24.6% thanks
to increases in consumption among women and young people. Increases in
areas such as China, Taiwan and Japan reflect growth of U.S. domestic
brands such as Budweiser (perhaps the world's largest contract brewer)
and international brands like Heineken that are brewed under contract
license by beer manufacturers in those countries.
Although official statistics reported German beer sales were down
another 2.6% in the first half of 1999, breweries indicated they are not
particularly concerned. They said hot weather in July sent people
flocking to the beer gardens and that they don't expect the slide to
continue. German beer consumption has declined steadily in recent years.
Still per capita consumption is 127 liters per year, with only Czech
beer drinkers consuming more per capita. Erich Dederichs, spokesman for
the Federation of German Brewers, said brewers are trying to woo back
drinkers by offering specialities such as beer/lemonade mixtures and
more outlandish concoctions such as beers brewed under a full moon.
Grupo Modelo, makers of Corona, Modelo Especial and Victoria beer, have
raised their U.S. export prices by 4%. This marks the first time in ten
years the Mexican brewer has raised its export prices.
AUSTRALIAN PUB OWNER FINED FOR PATRON'S DRINKING DEATH
An Australian pub owner has been fined $20,000 (Austrailian) as a result
of a drinking competition in his pub that caused the death of the
winner. Allan Taylor, a 33-year-old computer technician, died after
drinking 34 glasses of beer, four bourbons and 17 tequilas in 100
minutes in a Sydney bar in 1997. The courts learned that Taylor died
within hours of the competition. A post-mortem revealed a level of 0.353
grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared to the legal
limit for driving of 0.05. The court fined Brian Whelan of the
Strathfield Hotel because he failed to exercise his license in the
public interest when his staff failed to stop Taylor from drinking.
JAPANESE BREWER WON'T USE GENETICALLY MODIFIED CORN
Kirin Brewery, Japan's largest brewery, has indicated it will stop using
genetically modified corn to produce beer. Beer is exempt from a
Japanese law requiring labeling of genetically altered food by April
2001. Kirin, which uses 200,000 tons of corn a year, previously has not
distinguished between genetically modified and non-modified corn in
making purchases. It intends to sign contracts with U.S. farmer and
distributors to supply non-genetically modified corn.
A study conducted in Finland indicated that drinking a beer a day
reduced the risk of kidney stone formation in men by 40%. The trial of
30,000 male smokers was conducted with beer, wine, distilled spirits,
milk, coffee and tea. Beer was the only drink that significantly reduced
the risk of kidney stones. The hops in beer may be the reason. Hops may
inhibit the release of calcium from bone. Kidney stones are primarily
How big does a bottle of beer have to be before you'd spend $1,000 for
it? Bierodrome, a division of London's popular Belgo restaurant chain,
offers a bottle of Bon-Secours that takes two from the bar staff to
pour, a 15-liter serving that goes for £635 (about $1,000). That works
out to nearly $40 per pint. The large bottles, called Nebuchadnezzars,
hold the equivalent of 20 standard wine bottles and come with a wax
seal. The Bon-Secours at the Bierodrome is made at the Caulier Frères
Brewery in Péruwelz in the Walloon region and bottled to order.
REAL BEER SPOTLIGHT: OKTOBERFEST
More than 6 million visitors are expected in Munich later this month for
the original Oktoberfest. Meanwhile, during the next two months there
will be thousands of similar celebrations across North America and
plenty of beer drinkers sampling Oktoberfest beers. Check out our guide
to Oktoberfest in Munich and North America and learn more about
Oktoberfest beers and German beers at:
VISIT MICHAEL JACKSON'S TASTING ROOM AND LIBRARY
Michael Jackson has just added tasting notes on some recently received
beers (from nine different countries). Stop by to check them out, then
stick around to peruse a variety of articles recently added to the
Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day is Sept. 18. We've got plenty to help you
get ready, with advice from AHA director Paul Gatza, a list of homebrew
clubs online, a primer for beginners, tips from the pros and even
THE SECRETIVE CHARM OF THE BIÈRE DE GARDE
As underappreciated as they may be, the quality of the beers which
emanate from the northern region of France known as Nord-Pas de Calais
comes as no great surprise. This district is but a border's width away
from one of the world's great brewing nations, Belgium. Stephen Beaumont
explains in full at his World of Beer:
IN THE BREWERY, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM
Check out the good fun that Gritty McDuff's Brewing Co. is having with
its legendary Halloween Ale: The "beer so good, it's scary!" Gritty's
owners Richard Pfieffer and Ed Stebbins moved up the usual release date
once again in response to increasing demand (they've heard "screams?").
"We start getting phone calls in the beginning of August," said
Stebbins, "and it just keeps building from there." Halloween Ale is a
limited release, seasonal ale; the brewery advertising suggest you
should get it early or "be afraid, be very afraid...of running out."
*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
FALLING ROCK TAP HOUSE
What's the "attitude" at this 69-tap alehouse along Denver's beer-rich
Blake Street? The T-shirts read "No Crap on Tap!" and the beer list is
kept up-to-date at the website. Whether you are looking for the best of
the Rockies, the best from the world of the taphandle nobody else in
town has, you'll find it here (along with a pretty good crowd during the
Great American Beer Festival).
WIDMER BROTHERS BREWING CO.
What defines a pioneer? In the microbrewery business, opening in 1984 is
a good start. Producing Oregon's top-selling draught microbrew for over
eight years is another one. The brewery is Widmer, the founders are
brothers Kurt and Rob, their America's Original Hefeweizen is an
excellent example of their success and their website a reminder of what
sets them apart. (If you don't believe us, take their bier quiz.) It's
easy to get around at:
On the surface bottling beer may appear straight forward and simple, but
in fact it is one of the most difficult and complex aspects of brewing.
Meheen not only provides computer automated filling and crowning
machines but the expertise it takes to make them work properly. For more
about the Micro Master bottling machines head to:
THE BEER ESSENTIALS
The Beer Essentials has one of the largest selections of beer and wine
making products in the Pacific Northwest. The Tacoma store offers a
wealth of gadgets, equipment and supplies, selling everything you need
to turn your home into a beverage emporium. It caters to homebrewers and
winemakers of all levels of experience. You'll find them at:
You know a store is serious about beer when it has a local microbrewery
make a special ale for its 50th anniversary. John's is an Iowa City,
Iowa, institution, still delivering beer to local customers and offering
a wide variety of products to online shoppers. Whether you are looking
for information about John's Generations Ale, about 400 other beers,
glassware or something else beer related, it's probably here.
MID-ATLANTIC ASSOCIATION OF CRAFT BREWERS
The Mid-Atlantic Association of Craft Brewers (MACB) represents the
leading craft breweries in Virginia and the District of Columbia. The
Association's living up to its goals of education and promotion by
producing a monthly newsletter that should be a model for brewers in
every region of the country. They've got a festival coming up Sept. 18-
19 that features plenty of beer and music performers such as David Lee
Roth, Eddie Money, John Kay & Steppenwolf, Foghat, Pure Prairie League
and War. Check it all out (and don't forget to sign up for the
CHALKERS' REDBIRD BREWING CO.
Redbird Brewing Co. brewer Alec Moss says, "You want people to think
about the beer and remember it." Redbird Brewing, which moved into the
brewing space formerly occupied by Barley & Hopps in San Mateo, gives
customers plenty to remember. Billiards, "city American" food and
distinctive beer are all served in elegant surroundings. To take a look
head to (for an actual taste, you have to visit in person):
**********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 Phil Ullrich, who wrote: "Hard to beat
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
Last month we asked which Oktoberfest/Maerzen beer you liked most.
German-brewed Spaten and Paulaner were the top voters, but American
products received plenty of supports. Overall, 54% voted for a German
beer, 37% for a U.S.-produced craft Fest beer and 9% for others. To
learn more about Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest beers, visit:
**********REAL BEER ONLINE POLL*****************
HOPHEADS STUFF THE BALLOT BOX
Hop growers around the world must wish those who voted in the August
Real Beer poll represented the overall beer drinking population. We
asked: How hoppy do you like your beer (with Keystone registering 1 and
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 6)? Three-quarters of those who voted prefer beer
as hoppy as SNPA or hoppier. In fact, "8" was most popular with 21% of
the vote, and 12% of those voting skipped right to the top (10).
***********BREWED FRESH FOR YOU***************
The Real Beer Page offers a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
OHIO GROUP BUYS FREDERICK BREWING
Snyder International Brewing Group, a Cleveland-based brewer with
aggressive growth plans, acquired into its portfolio the Blue Ridge,
Hempen, Wild Goose and Brimstone micro-brands. Since entering the beer
business last year, Snyder has acquired Crooked River brewery in
Cleveland, the brands of Hudepohl-Schoenling (Little Kings, Hudy Delight
and Christian Moerlein) and now Frederick Brewing Co., its Maryland
brewery and brands. Frederick created the Blue Ridge and Hempen brands
and last year bought the Wild Goose and Brimstone breweries, closed
those breweries and began producing the beers in Frederick. Snyder paid
$2 million in cash for 4.4 million newly issued shares of Frederick
Brewing common stock.
GABF TO HONOR TOPS BREWERS, BREWERIES
The Great American Beer Festival will honor top breweries and brewers
for the first time in 1999. Results from the Professional Panel Blind
Tasting (PPBT), where beers are judged in 54 categories, will be used to
determine a "Brewery of the Year" and "Brewer of the Year" in five
categories. Each award will be decided on a point system, with each gold
medal being worth three points, silver two and bronze one.
Miller Brewing Co. is set to enter the gourmet soda market. Miller is
assuming control of three of Henry Weinhard's brand name sodas -- root
beer, vanilla cream and orange cream -- and will produce a non-alcoholic
beverage other than Sharp's non-alcohol beer for the first time since
Prohibition. The sodas are "higher-priced specialty products" primarily
distributed in California, Oregon and Washington. The sodas were
previously produced in the Henry Weinhard brewery in Portland Oregon,
which closed when Stroh Brewery sold out to Pabst Brewing Co. and Miller
in a three-way deal.
Millstream Brewing Company of Amana, Iowa was sold by its founders last
month to a Cedar Rapids, Iowa couple. Dennis and Joanne Henderson
acquired the brewery for an undisclosed sum. Millstream was the first
microbrewery in Iowa and is reportedly the third oldest in the nation.
It was established in 1984, and began brewing in 1985, well before the
current popularity of microbreweries.
"Mac" MacTarnahan last month became the first-ever Masters athlete to be
inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. MacTarnahan was recognized
as Oregon's most accomplished senior athlete, having garnered more than
50 World Masters Gold Medals in wrestling, steeplechase and distance
running. MacTarnahan is brewer of Portland Brewing Co.'s Scottish Style
Amber Ale and head of the family which has voting control of the
brewery. "In addition to working out, I enjoy a bottle of my amber ale
every day," MacTarnahan said. "It's health food for me."
Wynkoop Brewing Co. has put out its annual call for worthy beerdrinkers.
Deadline for the Denver brewpub's fourth Beerdrinker of the Year Contest
is Nov. 17. Serious beer drinkers are invited to send their resumes to:
Beerdrinker of the Year Competition c/o Wynkoop Brewing Co., 1634 18th
St., Denver, CO 80202. Ten finalists will be selected to have their
resumes reviewed by a national panel of beer professionals. The top
three will be invited to get an expense-paid trip to Denver for oral
exams. The Beerdrinker of the Year is awarded free beer for life.
Hey, homebrewers. That includes those in training, thinking and
drinking. If you ever wanted to make a difference, hop in on September
18th. The big picture about homebrewing can be simplified to two
thoughts: It's slowing and we can help turn that around.
On Sept. 18, the American Homebrewers Association and Home Wine and Beer
Trade Association are promoting "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day." It is
an opportunity for those who already brew to recruit more brewers to the
hobby and for those interested in brewing to take the first step. A big
turnout will be good news.
Want to know more? Go to:
Perhaps we should leave it at that. It's easy to have a positive
discussion about homebrewing these days. Just go to a homebrew club
meeting and listen to the conversations between people interested in
brewing and enjoying better beer.
When the discussion about the homebrewing turns to the big picture of
the industry, it isn't nearly as much fun. We apologize if we appear to
be sticking our collective heads in the sand and pass on that big
picture right now. We don't want to talk about hobby health, retailer
shakeouts nor shrinking association memberships. By taking a small step
we think we all can make that big picture brighter.
We know we'll have to do more than simply wish that factions within the
hobby would find a way to unite. We'll be glad to continue addressing
those issues as we have historically through our evangelical and
publishing roles, and offer any assistance we can to the hobby. That's
part of why we're promoting the Sept. 18 brewday. We also know that
within the hobby, there are factions that find fault with other
organizations under the homebrew tent, and that may be reason enough for
them to boycott "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day."
However, today we'd like to keep it simple. Our wish is that everybody
who learned something from brewing publications online and off -
basically, everybody who took the time to pick up a BrewingTechnniques,
Brew Your Own, Zymurgy or to drive a mouse through Real Beer, The
Brewery, HBD.org or Beertown - teaches a newcomer something about
homebrewing on Sept. 18. Then later the experienced brewer and the new
one can celebrate with a toast:
"Goodbye, old provincialism. The province just got larger."