RBPMail 5.11, November 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 emialed 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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BreWorld, the leading online beer publisher in Europe, has joined with Real Beer, Inc. The result will make beer information more easily accessible for interested readers around the world. Look for an enhanced and personalized beer experience, easier searches for everything from events to brewery locations, more news and stories of special interest, plenty of additional fun features and just about anything else you could want to know about beer.

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South African Breweries won the bidding battle to acquire Pilsner Urquell and Radegast, the Czech Republic's leading two breweries. SAB will initially buy a 51% interest in a joint venture with Nomura International for $321 million. Following completion of the acquisition of Radegast by Pilsner Urquell, the joint venture will own 96% the combined business. SAB will buy the remaining holdings in the companies by June 2001 for a further $308 million. Pilsner Urquell, with its long history and premium status, is considered a brand with tremendous international marketing potential.

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The European Commission has widened its antitrust investigation of the Belgian brewing industry, suggesting it is controlled by a cartel. EU investigators raided the offices of the Alken Maes brewery and the Confederation of Belgian Brewers last month, said EU spokesman Michael Tscherny. In July, investigators searched the offices of Belgium's largest brewer, Interbrew. "This is a spin off from the Interbrew affair ... we stumbled across things that suggest (the three) could be operating a cartel," Tscherny said. He said the Commission suspected brewers were guilty of price fixing and carving up the beer distribution market in Belgium.

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Brick Brewing Co. has made its line of craft beers available online in the Toronto area through Grocery Gateway at "Grocery Gateway customers can log on to the company's Web site ... and purchase Brick products along with their grocery order that will be delivered to their homes the next day," Brick wrote in a press release. Customers must place a minimum $45 grocery order and be of legal drinking age. Identification is requested on delivery.

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Grupo Modelo, Mexico's largest brewer, plans to spend $750 million over five years to boost beer capacity to meet growing demand at home and abroad. The money will come from cash flow and would increase the brewer's capacity about 50% from 39.5 million hectoliters to 60 million.

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The Australian and New Zealand Food Authority has proposed new warning labels for alcoholic beverages. The authority is considering an application calling for alcohol labeling to read: "This product contains alcohol. Alcohol is a dangerous drug." Anti-alcohol groups such as The Society Without Alcoholic Trauma and the Australian Medical Association have lobbied for the new labels.

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Big River Breweries Inc. of Chattanooga, Tenn., has purchased all 12 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. brewery restaurants. Gordon Biersch will continue to own and operate its large-scale brewery and bottling facility in San Jose, Calif., where it brews and distributes German- style lager beer. The 12 brewery restaurants will continue to operate under the Gordon Biersch name and serve the brand's beer. Big River, which already operates nine brewpubs throughout the Southeast, plans to open as many as eight new Gordon Biersch restaurants, including one in Atlanta.

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Stephen Mallery, former publisher of BrewingTechniques along with Linda Starck, formerly heading sales for the leading industry association, have joined Real Beer, Inc. Stephen will be responsible for the duties of publishing, including reach, distribution, content integrity and more. Linda will be focusing on industry suppliers for advertising placements. We welcome both to our team.

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****WEB WATCH****


More than 20 years ago, Michael Jackson wrote: "British beer is an acquired taste, but so are oysters, steak tartar, or marron glace. Before British beer can be enjoyed, experience is required, but the same could be said for sex. In both cases, mistakes are inevitably made, but the triumphs make the disasters worthwhile." This month, take a look at the country and the beers at:

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Those independent thinkers at Boston Beer Co. and the Sundance Film Festival are part of a promotion that will send a lucky winner and friends to Sundance this year. As well as offering a chance to win, the website will soon allow visitors a chance to create their own digital movies and have them viewed and judged by those who visit the Sam Adams Online Independent Film Festival.

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The fun-loving brewers from the Mid-Atlantic certainly had a good time at the Great American Beer Festival. When they weren't busy handing out those "Virginia is for Beer Lovers" buttons, they mugged for the camera. A collection of those photos is available at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Craft Brewers website:

And if you'll be in the area on December 8th in the evening, make sure you head by the association's local tasting of "12 beers of Christmas." More information is online at:

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On Oct. 10, Dave Gausepohl -- known to many simply as "Beer Dave" -- visited his 1,000th brewery in the United States when he sampled the brews at Twisted Pine Brewing in Boulder, Colo. When Dave started his tours in the late 1970s the number of breweries in the nation was shrinking and would fall to 80 in 1983. Since then more than 1,000 new ones have opened and Dave's done his best to visit every one of them.

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


The Sleeman family has been brewing beer in Canada since 1834, the year John H. Sleeman, arrived in Ontario from Cornwall, England. The brewery still uses the book he wrote in making its beer. The site is rich with history about Sleeman and about brewing in Canada, but also has plenty of current information about Sleeman's popular craft products. Stop by and hear what John Sleeman has to say:


You may know the members of this restaurant and brewery clan by any of many names -- Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, ChopHouse & Brewery, Old Chicago or Walnut Brewery. As well as casual dining, each offers fresh microbrewed and specialty beers, often made on site. Although the family was born in Colorado, it has grown into a national group. Find a restaurant at:


The unique beers from the "Hammond squares" fermenters in this small brewery in Hammond, Ind., have lived up to the company's slogan, "It's not normal" since the first day they went on the market. The beer is as distinctive as the labels at the website. The taste? Consider this quote from brewmaster Nick Floyd: "I love the smell of hops in the morning. It smells like victory."


The West Coast's largest premium distilled spirits show open to the public promises to pack more into the evening of March 22, 2000, than one person can see. A visit to the website is a must for those who don't want to miss the internationally known speakers they want to hear, spend time in the Connoisseur Room of limited editions and rare bottlings, see the cask building demonstration or enjoy the rest of the events. Learn more now -- by visiting areas such as the regularly updated Whisky on the Edge page -- at:


Get a taste of the great outdoors with Moosehead beer. Feel free to laugh at the Top Ten list or enter the contests. You'll never have to venture far to find a smile. Virtually every page has a whimsical sidebar, perhaps offering a tip for "outdoor self defense" or how to "keep things lively" when enjoying the great outdoors. Answer the "Call of the Wild" by heading to:


A-Best ships a wide range of restaurant, bar, beer and other supplies to both restaurants and homes everywhere. Of particular interest to beer enthusiasts are items such as a portable beer dispenser and high quality brewing pots, but this is also a place to find bar supplies and even bar foot rails. Pull up a stool (if you don't already have one, you can buy it here) at:

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***************NEWS AT REAL BEER******************


Excuse us if we seem immodest, but last month the North American Guild of Beer Writers honored Real Beer and many of the writers whose work appears in our network when it handed out the 1999 Quill and Tankard Awards. Stan Hieronymus and Mark Silva won first for editorials that appeared here in RBPMail. Stan, Real Beer's editor, captured two other golds and was chosen 1999 Beer Writer of the Year.

Daria Labinsky ( and Alan Moen (whose work is featured in Real Beer's Authors area) were among those who shared 1st Runner-Up for Beer Writer of the Year and Gregg Smith (Authors) was a 2nd Runner-Up. Gregg also won gold for his book, "Beer in America."

Also honored were Michael Jackson ( with a gold in Columns, and Authors Lisa Variano and Kurt Epps. Partner publications BrewingTechniques, BrewPub, Brew Your Own and Celebrator Beer News all published award winning stories. We toast all the winning writers and publications because they are at the fore in spreading the word about specialty beer. For the complete list of winners and to learn more about the North American Guild of Beer Writers, go to:


Forward thinking and artisinal integrity have been honored for years at the Great American Beer Festival -- which is one of the reasons we stepped up as the official online sponsor of the 1999 GABF. It's a privilege to be associated with winners, and we're proud that winning breweries make their internet connections with Real Beer. We offer congratulations to these medal winners from our online family of breweries 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 Tim Ahaus. He wrote: "Hey, it's New Years Eve, of the 2000 Millennium ... as much as I hate to say it because frankly, champagne sucks ... I've gotta celebrate it with a toast of the old bubbly. But, I've got 6 bottles of Hair of the Dog Adam and 6 bottles of Golden Rose that have been sitting for about 2 years now that will have to be un-topped and used to it's fullest ... gotta let the beer breathe too ya know????"

We asked: How does beer fit into your plans to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000? What will you be drinking on New Year's Eve? While a majority of those who answered indicated that champagne will be part of their celebration, beer did even better. Fifty-two percent plan to drink both beer and champagne on Dec. 31 and another 38% beer only.

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


Special prices, advertising and awards won may look good, but visitors to the Real Beer Page poll area say they rely first on friends when deciding to try a new beer. A resounding 40% indicated they count on recommendations from friends when trying a new beer, while 12% look to expert picks first. This month you can vote for your favorite food to have with beer. Head to 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 diver who recovered a 105-year-old bottle of beer from a shipwreck didn't realize it might be worth 1,000 before he went ahead and drank it. Jim Phillips said that the beer, rescued from the wreck of the Loch Shiel off the Welsh coast, was the most expensive pint he had drunk. The ship sank on its way from Glasgow to Adelaide in 1894 when it hit rocks off Thorn Island, Pembrokeshire. Phillips and fellow divers found eight pint bottles. When they surfaced, the cork in one bottle popped and Phillips gave it a taste. "The first thing I noticed was the very strong smell of hops. It certainly didn't put me off, so I took a swig," he said. "We later had the find valued at 1,000 a bottle, so that was certainly the most expensive pint I have had. It had popped its cork anyway so I couldn't see the point in wasting it. We still have seven bottles to auction."

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Beer sales in the United States are expected to rise 2% this year, due mainly to light styles. Light beers, including imports such as Corona, have driven the growth. Light beers accounted for 38% of the US market at the end of 1998, up from 35.7% in 1997. Four of the year's top six beers were light styles. Analysts predict that foreign beers will represent at least 12% of the US market by 2002.

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Anheuser-Busch celebrated Tequiza's first nine months on the market by announcing the beer is its most successful non-brand extension introduction ever and that it has exceeded all expectations. Although A- B would not say what specific targets Tequiza had bettered, it said Information Resources Inc., which tracks supermarket sales, recently ranked Tequiza as one of the top four best-selling high-end beers in supermarkets in the time it's been available nationally. IRI also said Tequiza is in the top 30 list of best-selling beers in supermarkets, surpassing brands such as Samuel Adams. Industry analysts pointed out that while this indicates that A-B has made roads into the popular Mexican- and Mexican-related beer market that the industry has witnessed other new products do well in their first year, including dry beers, only to go flat after that.

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When beer aficionados talk about pairing beer and food they don't include animal feed, but a Kentucky biotechnology firm plans to make just that sort of pairing. No, not to mix the two in production or serve the two at beer dinners -- but to brew beer and do biotech research in the same building. Alltech Inc., a Nicholasville firm, bought Lexington Brewing Co.'s equipment and lease on its building on the west edge of downtown Lexington. "We needed a place where we could put fermenters. They have a fermenter," T. Pearse Lyons said. "It's a good fit." Alltech needed another lab in which to research diets that reduce waste from hogs and dairy cows, Lyons said. Lexington Brewing Co. will no longer brew beer but plans to continue selling its Limestone Ale and Kentucky Hemp Ale brands. It will have them made by an out-of-state brewer. Lyons has a brewing degree from a school in England and plans to develop his own line of beer, which will be produced at the former Lexington Brewing site.

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Travelers who missed the free beer on Horizon Air flights in September will get another chance to sample Portland Brewing beers this month and in and December. "When we announce that we're serving free beer, and then tell them it's craft beer, they start talking amongst themselves," said Brenda Ellering, Horizon Air's Purchasing Assistant. "It's very well received, and as far as I know, we're the only airline offering this kind of service." Horizon Air, which serves the Western U.S., Canada and Mexico, is offering Icicle Creek free of charge this month and its new winter seasonal, BobbyDazzler, in December.

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In one of many entertaining sideshows at this year's GABF in Denver, Larry Bell of Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Kalamazoo, Mich., won the Alpha King Challenge. The competition set out to find the best hoppy brew in the United States to match (or better) Alpha King Ale from Three Floyds Brewing in Hammond, Ind. - which checks in at 60.2 International Bittering Unites (IBU). Bell's Two-Hearted Ale was the hands-down favorite of the judging panel, which included Ralph Olson of HopUnion USA; Dave Suurballe of the Toronado, San Francisco; Northwest Beer Notes' editor Alan Moen; Bill Klinger of KClinger's Tavern, Hanover, Pa.; and Nick Floyd of the Three Floyds (the Alpha King Ale was tasted, but not officially judged in the event). Second place went to Rogue's Shakespeare Stout, and taking third was Midnight Sun's Sockeye Red Ale.

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The Boston Beer Co. will auction the first bottle of Sam Adams Millennium, the strongest commercially brewed beer in the world, on Nov. 15 at The starting bid for the bottle, which comes in a cherry wood case, was set at $1,000. The brewery debuted the beer at the Great American Beer Festival. After the auction, Boston Beer will offer just 3,000 750 ml bottles, each numbered and signed by company founder Jim Koch, for sale at about $200 apiece.

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Speaking of auctions, here is part of the lengthy description of an item that sold in last month for $9.99: "Would you like an all natural, botanical complex derived from precisely cultivated and chosen cereals, grains, and plants and produced under the most stringent manufacturing procedures, that will give you a bigger bustline? There are no chemicals, artificial ingredients or hormones. THESE ARE THE INGREDIENTS: Barley Bran, Hops, L-Ornithine Hydrochloride, Barley Malt, Rye Flour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Microcrystaline Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Silica." Based upon the ingredients, particularly the barley malt and hops, we expect it works as well for those seeking a larger beer belly as those whom want a bigger bustline.

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Heineken USA recently launched a new responsible consumption program titled Safe Call. It is intended to aid bar and restaurant staff in dealing with customers who have had too much to drink. The program will offer pre-paid 5-minute phone cards to restaurant staff to allow them to call a cab for patrons who are too drunk to drive. The program kicked off in four US markets this fall and will spread across the nation in the first quarter of 2000. Those who use the service will hear a pre- recorded message thanking them for "doing the responsible thing" and not driving while intoxicated.

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The second Poetry Olympiad at New York's Brooklyn Brewery is set for Nov. 13. The Poetry Olympiad is a "game show/athletic competition" parody meant to foster an appreciation of poetry. Five New York metro- area university writing programs will compete for the coveted Silver Barrel in events such as Dead Poet's Slam, Instant Haiku and the Bad Sonnet Contest. Admission is free. During the event, the Art of Fine Beer Contest 2 will be held and four winners will be awarded $500 for the best poem or artwork on the back of a Brooklyn Brewery bar coaster.

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Association of Brewers founder Charlie Papazian recently posed an interesting question in the Institute of Brewing Studies' Brewers Forum:

"Who is in charge of informing the public that American craft and specialty beers will be in short supply for the New Year's Eve celebrations? People better stock up with specialty beers and perhaps think of getting the most expensive beers they can afford. I think that with specialty American craft beers only commanding 3% of the market and about 98% of the beer drinking public wanting to have something special there will be a shortage. Perhaps it's worth recommending that Americans make sure they have an adequate supply of those special beers and uppriced ales and lagers that will make their segue into the millennium all the more memorable."

What a wonderful thought. A full 90% of those who answered the Real Beer monthly email poll in October indicated they plan to make beer part of their New Year's Eve celebration (see above), but they are going to need a lot of help if we are actually going to see a run on (fill in the blank with the name of your favorite specialty beer).

You have to do your part. If you plan to dine out or attend one of those extravagant parties in a hotel or restaurant, make sure in advance that specialty beers will be available. If you plan to celebrate quietly at home or host a party then start planning the beer menu now. And if you will be partying in a friend's home now is a good time to offer to bring a few special beers, and suggest that others do the same.

You don't have to wait until Dec. 31. When you get together with friends and family for Thanksgiving, you can take a poll about the best beers with which to celebrate the holidays. Start the discussion then about better beer and you'll have even more opportunities to enjoy it before the millennium arrives.

Everybody who sells craft beer -- from breweries to wholesalers to brewpubs to retail storeowners to bartenders -- must contribute. They may choose to be as bold as Boston Beer Co., where founder Jim Koch says he challenged brewers several years ago to come up with something special for the millennium. The result, called Millennium, is the strongest commercially brewed beer ever and 3,000 hand-signed bottles will sell for about $200 each.

They may decide to do something a little fun. Brewer Richard Stueven -- who you may know better as "gak" of -- began earlier this year setting back special beers at Egan Brewing in DePere, Wis. He will release the five beers throughout December, noting, "If you can survive these five beers, you're ready for the next thousand years ..."

Most important they must recognize, as Papazian points out, that consumers will be looking for something special. Importers certainly understand that. Special 3-liter bottles for Duvel and Paulaner Salvator were announced long ago and Merchant du Vin has been promoting Lindemans lambics as an alternative to champagne.

Gerd Borges, owner and brewmaster of Franz Joseph Sailer brewery, came up with two different packages for his Rauchenfels Steinbier. The History line of the German brewery's unique steinbier has labels that depict major events during the last 1,000 years. It comes in a space helmet beer cooler. A special millennium package features a 2-liter white stein inscribed with the words "America's Millennium 1000 A.D. - 2000 A.D." as well as a montage with scenes from U.S. history.

Rauchenfels Steinbier doesn't come cheap, and don't expect to see the bottles marked down in January. "Our plan is to sell the product for the whole year," said Charlotte Rowell of Noble Union Trading, which imports the beer. "This is an opportunity to get people to try something new."

The arrival of a new millennium (whether you think it will actually happen this Dec. 31 or next) is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It gives all of us interested in specialty beer an opportunity to make sure drinking it is a little more commonplace.