RBPMail 5.10, October 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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A heated bidding war looms for the two leading brewers - including the prestigious Pilsner Urquell - in the Czech Republic that Japanese bank Nomura has put up for sale. Although the suitors haven't been officially announced, among the names mentioned are Bass, Scottish & Newcastle, South African Breweries, Anheuser-Busch and Heineken. Pilsener Urquell is the last beer with Pilsener on the label to still be made in the Czech town of that name. It has been brewed there since 1842 and is the biggest selling beer in the country and a top-selling import in many countries. Radegast, the second brewer for sale, is the No. 2 two brewer in the republic. The bidding has just begun and Nomura officials expect the results to be announced in November or December.

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Sleeman Breweries Ltd., Canada's largest craft brewer, paid Pabst Brewing Co. C$39 million (US$26.57 million) for the rights to distribute Old Milwaukee, Rainier and Stroh's beers in Canada. About 80% of the Stroh Canadian production will move to Canadian breweries over the next two years. Old Milwaukee, the No. 1 selling imported beer in Canada, will move within three months. Sleeman purchased the rights from Pabst, which purchased the brands in a three-way deal with Miller Brewing Co. that liquidated Stroh Brewing in April. "We are basically doubling the size of the company in terms of volume," said Peter Amirault, managing director for Sleeman. Market share is expected to double in Canada from the current 2% to 4.6% next year.

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Scottish & Newcastle, the United Kingdom's biggest brewer, plans to buy Greenalls Group pubs and restaurants, thus becoming a truly nationwide pub chain. Scottish currently runs a 2,650-pub estate while Greenhalls has 821 pubs. Because it is legally prohibited from having a beer supply agreement with more than 2,739, 664 of its pubs will have to be freed from its tie or sold. As a result, Scottish will have a more geographically diverse estate of mostly larger pubs. Just over half the pubs Scottish will acquire are in Greenalls' heartland of north west England, and the rest in the Midlands and across the south of England. Scottish is strong in Scotland, northeast England and southern England.

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Belgium's Interbrew, which brews Sibirskaya Corona beer in Russia, won a trademark dispute with Mexico's Grupo Modelo over the use of the word Corona in Russia. Russia's patent office rejected Modelo's complaint that Sibirskaya Corona, which means Siberian Crown, violates the trademark of Mexico's Corona brand. Made in the Siberian town of Omsk, Sibirskaya Corona is packaged in a dark brown bottle with a light green label decorated with a golden crown and fir-tree branches. The Siberian pilsner is darker than its Mexican competitor. When Modelo entered the Spanish market a decade ago, a sherry bottler already held the rights to the brand Corona, forcing Modelo to change its brand name to Coronita, or Little Crown.

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Heineken, the world's second largest brewer, announced first half profits are up by 11%. Much of the credit goes to increased sales in the United States, which are further helped by rising prices. "(Heineken is) benefiting from trading up in most of the world and the real jewel in that improvement is the US market," said John Wakely, an analyst at Lehman Brothers. Heineken raised prices 1% in three US regions, keeping pace with rival Anheuser-Busch. Further increases totaling 3% are expected by the year's end.

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Duvel Moortgat, a highly respected Belgian Brewer, announced first-half operating profits for 1999 to have increased by some 31% added by favorable exports and domestic sales. Sales to its four main markets, the Netherlands, France, the U.S. and the U.K. were all up at a time when worldwide beer sales were flat.

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Asahi Breweries Ltd., Japan's No. 2 brewer, will close a Tokyo facility in 2002 to cut costs. Five percent of its workforce will face the axe over the next five years. Asahi makes Super Dry, Japan's most popular brand, but has ignored the increasingly lucrative low-malt market and has fallen off in sales. The recession in Japan has fueled growth for the less expensive low-malt products which sell for a third as much as regular brews due to a tax loophole. Asahi operates nine plants in Japan, of which its newest, in Kanagawa, has an annual production capacity of 150,000 kiloliters, twice the Tokyo facility's capacity.

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Cancer-fighting compounds in wine may make it healthier than beer, according to a study of over 36,000 middle-aged Frenchmen. One to three glasses of wine per day can reduce the levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream and lower blood pressure, studies have concluded, and can lessen the chances of a heart attack. The French study concluded that drinkers of moderate amounts of wine had a death rate from heart attack between 45-48% lower than those who do not drink. Red wine in particular contains antioxidants which may prevent heart disease. Beer drinkers were found to have a 42% lower rate of fatal heart attack than non- drinkers do, but not as low as wine drinkers. Wine drinkers were found to have lower death rates from cancer or other diseases due to substances such as resvaratrol which are present in wine, but not in beer.

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The Ripon, England, Cathedral church claims to be the first in its country to launch and bless its own brand of beer. The Cathedral has been granted a license to sell Ripon Jewel in its shop. The bottled beer, which is being made by Daleside Breweries in Harrogate, has been officially blessed by the Dean of Ripon in a special ceremony. A procession then carried the beer through the streets of the city for a civic toast and tasting. The brew will be sold in presentation packs in the cathedral shop and in supermarkets throughout the country. Ripon Diocese communications officer the Rev John Carter said: "The church is against alcohol abuse, but it recognizes that a drink in moderation is a gift from God, and is in many ways central to Christian worship."

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****WEB WATCH****


In 1984, there were 44 brewing concerns in the United States operating 83 breweries. Now there are nearly 1,500. We offer a look at several of them, plus the most complete coverage of the Great American Beer Festival you'll find anywhere. Stop by to read what brewers and drinkers are saying during the festival, and be there Saturday for a complete list of this year's champion beers.

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Milwaukee and Atlanta are the newest City Guides at Real Beer. We're always making additions to the other guides, so make sure you stop in often. For those bound for the Great American Beer Festival, we've added a new feature in Denver. Check out the recommendations from the Real Beer Network as well as Real Beer readers. We'll be doing the same for all the City Guides in the next few months, so tell us about your favorite watering holes now. Just head to:

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Although Stephen Beaumont will be unable to attend the 24 Hours of Beer festival Oct. 16-17 in Belgium this year, he offers "an appreciation and preview of the world's greatest beer festival."

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


Larry Bell founded Kalamazoo Brewing Co. out of his homebrew supply shop, first brewing with a 15-gallon soup kettle in 1985. Bell and an idiosyncratic band of brewers offer a variety of no-holds barred beers and an attitude to match. Here's vintage Larry Bell: "If God had wanted us to filter our beer, he wouldn't have given us livers." Best viewed with a Bells beer in hand at:


Magic Hat Brewing Co. is one of the fastest growing breweries in the Northeast, offering customers great beer and, well, a psychedelic experience. Visit the Magicsphere and the greeting sets the tone: "Visit now the Magisphere. But be aware if you should enter here. There's more afoot than simply beer. So banish fear and plan to steer through things both strange and wondrously queer." It's a trip, and it begins at:


Heavenly Daze Brewery's first brewpub in Steamboat Springs proved to be so popular that "The Daze" expanded into Denver. Visit the website to take a tour of the original brewery with head brewer Andy Stern. Find out where else you can buy this beer and even pick up a coupon for a free beer. Grab one at:


Sabco specializes in both new and used kegs and equipment for brewers of all sizes. Sabco offers the finest in new American-made kegs, and advanced home-brewing systems, as well as quality kettles and equipment for brewers at all levels. To find out why Sabco, with 38 years of kegging, proudly boasts that it offers "A keg-full of great ideas!", head on over to:


Starting with a family-run brewery in Germany in 1858, Drinktec continuously explores and implements the best in brewing equipment and practices. Drinktec Philadelphia has served the North American brewing industry, in particular the craft-brewing segment, for more than 10 ten years with the finest quality equipment. Check out their extensive portfolio at:

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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 Steve Ladobruk.

Looking ahead to holiday shopping online, we asked what improvement in online shopping would most compel you to buy more? Clearly most important to those who voted was "better prices" with 41% making that their top choice. Second was "easier to compare" and third "better security."

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


Blues, Irish music, Rock - they all go well with beer, according to those who visited the Real Beer voting booth in September. We asked what style of music goes best with beer. Blues received 24% of the votes, Irish 21% and Rock 20%. This month's poll asks what most influences you to try a new beer. Vote in the Poll area, Spotlight or in any of our City Guides.

Here's a shortcut:

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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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A new law in Maryland raises the penalty from misdemeanor to felony for any out-of-state liquor or wine dealer that ships alcoholic beverages into that state. In taking this action, Maryland joins a growing number of states that have increased penalties against out-of-state alcohol beverage sellers. It is part of a backlash against the escalating number of Internet and catalog merchants skirting state beverage taxes and sales restrictions, state and industry officials said. "Making it a felony elevates the whole issue," said Charles W. Ehart, the director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit in the Maryland Comptrollers Office. The "goal" of the new law is to serve as "a deterrent to would be shippers," he said.

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Full page advertisements warning about excessive alcohol consumption on college campuses ran early in September in some 100 major daily newspapers as well as national papers including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Washington Post. The headline "Hitting college campuses this fall" played over a bottle of beer labeled "Binge Beer." The text notes, "We need your help in convincing our students of the dangers. Talk to your kids about binge drinking..." The bottle displayed in the ad looks more like a specialty beer than a mainstream, industrial beer.

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Anheuser-Busch announced that it will nearly triple its investment in efforts to combat alcohol abuse with a new series of advertisements. "Public education campaigns are clearly working, so we decided to triple our part in this effort to help keep alcohol abuse trends on a steep decline," said Francine Katz, vice president of Consumer Affairs at Anheuser-Busch. "Rather than declare victory and stop, it's time to recognize what works and do more." A-B's new advertising campaign is entitled, "We All Make A Difference."

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The date of "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day" has been changed from Sept. 18 to Nov. 13. The change was made to take advantage of the holiday brewing season. "For many brewers, mid-November kicks off the holiday brewing season," said Paul Gatza, director of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). "We feel that 'Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day' will experience greater success if scheduled for November." The AHA is teaming up with the Home Wine and Beer Trade Association (HWBTA) to present "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day." The AHA and the HWBTA want homebrewers to find an interested friend who has not brewed before, take them to a local homebrew supply shop, help them select ingredients, and then brew a batch of beer together Nov. 13.

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eBay, the Internet's biggest auction site with easily the largest variety of beer collectibles, has announced it will "disallow listings of certain alcohol and tobacco products on eBay, including wine, beer, hard liquor, cigars, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products." The ban goes into effect Oct. 13. Sales of collectibles associated with tobacco and alcohol, such as vintage packaging or decanters, will still be allowed provided that sellers follow several rules. The action should not effect most items in auction in eBay's breweriana section, which often has more than 20,000 items listed at a time. However, it will have a major impact on wine sellers and buyers. Bottles of wine will no longer be permitted "because their value is based on the wine in the bottle, and not the bottle itself."

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Brewing Techniques, a Eugene, Ore. based magazine, has ceased publication. The last issue was May/June. It was considered by many in the industry to be the best brewing magazine in the country. It offered homebrewers as well as advanced and professional brewers excellent articles and dependable information. The Brewing Techniques archive remains online through Real Beer, and collectible back issues - destined to increase in value at the previously mentioned eBay -are available immediately for sale at:

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We just finished putting together our A-to-Z (Alaskan Brewing to Zebulon's Peated Porter from Phantom Canyon) Primer for the members of the Real Beer staff who will be attending the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver for the first time this coming week. When we got to the letter "I" we didn't scribble in "IBUs," we wrote "Impact...", as in what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial and frontier drive of the U.S. with traditional brewing styles from around the world.

The impact, quite frankly, is incredible. It attracts passionate consumers who evangelize the good beer culture and recruit new drinkers into the category. It builds the import market that serves quality representations from the homeland. It drives artisans and marketing mavens to build breweries and brewpubs in every corner of the country and pursue their interpretation of good beer. And that impact will be on display from Oct. 7-9 at the GABF.

Only a tiny portion of American beer drinkers who will enjoy a specialty beer -- be it American brewed or an import -- this week will do so at Currigan Hall in Denver. However, the festival has mirrored what was occurring in U.S. beer in the last 20 years and influenced what will happen next. Sometimes, like when we were flooded with unbalanced fruit beers in the mid-'90s, this didn't necessarily seem like a good thing... but when you put hundreds of brewers together and let them try each other's beer there can only be one result. More great beer.

Association of Brewers president, Charlie Papazian, loves telling the story about the first festival in 1982. Fred Huber, president of Huber Brewing in Monroe, Wis., looked over the 500 drinkers who had assembled to try 35 beers from 20 breweries. "I never imagined in my wildest dreams that there'd be all these people so enthusiastic about quality beer. I can't believe my eyes," Huber said.

This weekend, tens of thousands of drinkers will be able to choose from 1,700-plus beers from 400 breweries. But the numbers only start to tell the story. Three years ago, Richard Stueven (a.k.a. gak of, who is "G" in our primer) briefly took time from his mission to taste every beer on earth to assess what he had found in one evening at the festival.

"The good beer is really outweighing the bad beer," he said, pausing to make a point. "Unlike two years ago."

You may have read stories in the last year about how Americans who are looking for quality beer have been turning to classic imports. The category is on fire, lead by light lagers such as Corona and Labatt with strong performances by Heineken and Beck's. Michael Jackson ( notes that almost every style of beer made in the great brewing nations is imported to the U.S. Certainly, many of these are great beers. But Jackson also points out that most of these styles are made by American breweries, and sometimes U.S. efforts come closer to the historic style. This is as true for the largest industrial brewers to the smallest brewers.

For instance, since 1993 brewer Chuck Skypeck of Bosco's in Tennessee has been making one of the few "flaming stone" beers in the world. He recently contacted German brewer Gerd Borges, who revived the Rauchenfels Steinbier style in Europe, to see if he could get some of the same Alpine stones Borges uses in his beer. Only an American brewer would go through all that trouble.

While many Europeans like to characterize American beers as being all the same, European brewers decline to export beer to the States because they figure Americans wouldn't appreciate their beer. "The number of Americans who care about beer, who really care, is higher than anywhere else," Jackson said. "When I give a talk on beer in America, the questions I get are far more comprehensive than anywhere else."

Come Thursday, some of those drinkers will be able to choose from a variety of unavailable beers -- literally, beers not found any place else in the world. We plan to visit old friends, both brewers and beers, from every region of the country (sometimes we think they should call this the "Great Regional Beer Festival"). But we also know that within half an hour after the fun begins, we can start asking other drinkers for recommendations and they will send us off to try absolutely delightful beers we've never had before.

That's why the entry for "E" in our primer is "Enjoy."

Don't forget to visit during the festival to read about what beers those attending the festival are recommending.