RBPMail 5.11, December 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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BELGIAN BREWERS SUE COORS
The Confederation des Brasseries de Belgique has filed suit against
Coors Brewing Co. It charges that the Colorado brewing company is
misleading the American public into believing that Blue Moon Belgian
White is brewed in Belgium instead of the United States. Blue Moon
Brewing Co. is a subsidiary of Coors, and Coors makes those beers in
Colorado and Tennessee breweries. The CBB asserts that Coors has damaged
the market for authentic Belgian beer and is seeking an injunction to
prevent Coors from "falsely and deceptively" labeling and advertising
its beer as originating from Belgium. The CBB complained about the
Belgian White last year to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
which regulates beer labels. A Coors spokesman pointed out that the
company then added the letters "U.S.A." and the phrase "Belgian-style"
to the bottle. The wording, however, is small, and no changes were made
to the six-pack carton or the advertising, said Bart Lazar, a lawyer
representing the CBB.
UNION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO BOYCOTT MOLSON
The Canadian Auto Workers union has launched a campaign to boycott beer
from Molson Inc. as union members continue to occupy a Molson brewery in
Barrie, Ontario. The 30 workers took over the brewery in late November
and halted production. They are protesting job losses caused by Molson's
decision to close the brewery. The CAW has run full-page advertisements
in the Globe and Mail and National Post, national newspapers, and major
newspapers in Ontario. In addition, the union is putting ads on
billboards and bus shelters. "They're (ads) urging people to not
purchase Molson products while this dispute is going on," said a union
KIRIN, A-B JOINT VENTURE DISSOLVED
Anheuser-Busch terminated its six-year-old joint venture with Kirin
Brewery Co. effective Jan. 1. A-B, the world's largest brewer, has been
disappointed in the slow sales in Japan and will fire all but four of
its current 96-person Japanese team at year's end. A-B volume sales in
Japan dipped 15% last year to 4.5 million cases of Budweiser beer, or
only 1.3% of the Japanese market, 40% of which was shipped from Los
Angeles. A-B will discontinue two of its products in Japan, Buddy's low
malt beer and Budweiser Fine Malt.
GIANT BRAZILIAN MERGER NEEDS CHANGES TO GET APPROVAL
The Finance Ministry of Brazil recommended that the merger agreement
between Brazilian beverage companies Brahma and Antarctica will need to
be altered before it will be approved. The sale of some assets belonging
to the two companies, such as the Skol beer brand, is suggested so as
not to create a situation where the giant conglomerate would control the
Brazilian beer market. If approved as it stands, the agreement would
create a company called Cia de Bebidas das Americas, or AmBev, the third
largest brewer in the world and controller of 25% of Brazil's soft drink
market and 70% of Brazil's beer market.
INVESTMENT GROUP MAY ACQUIRE GENESEE BREWING
The same group that bought the former Heileman brewery in LaCrosse,
Wis., reportedly is negotiating a deal to acquire Genesee Brewing, which
has operated in Rochester, N.Y., since 1878. Platinum Holdings -- which
bought the Heileman plant from Stroh Brewery earlier this year -- would
use the Rochester brewery to produce both beer and ethanol, according to
industry sources. Reports are that if the sale goes through, Platinum
Holdings would move some production of some of Genesee's beers, such as
J.W. Dundee Honey Brown Lager, to the Wisconsin plant to minimize
shipping costs in the West and Midwest. Genesee's core brands, including
Genesee Beer and Genny Light, would still be brewed in Rochester as well
as J.W. Dundee for the East Coast.
SOUTH AFRICAN BREWERIES STILL HUNTING
South African Breweries indicates it is still hunting for European
acquisitions, even after seizing control of two Czech beer companies in
October. Graham Mackay, chief executive, said: "The Czech deal was very
much in line with our strategy, but it doesn't mean we've got to the end
of the journey." South African Breweries expects its purchase of Czech-
based Plzensky Prazdroj and Pivovar Radegast to be completed in January.
"We've put ourselves in London (where the company's stock is listed),
with access to a large capital market. If the right projects come along,
we will act," said Mackay.
FIRE DESTROYS FAMOUS SALVATOR BEER HALL IN MUNICH
Paulaner Brewery's famous Salvator Beer Hall in Munich was destroyed by
fire on Nov. 27. Three people were reported injured, and arson was
suspected because the fire reportedly broke out in four different places
simultaneously. Some 150 firefighters responded to the blaze. This
reporter visited the fabled beer hall several years ago for the annual
Salvator Bierfest held in February of each year. The hall was really
several massive indoor halls adjacent to the Paulaner Brewery. The
buildings were stuffed with German decorations and brewing collectibles.
Damage to the structures is said to be in the millions of marks.
(Contributed by Tom Dalldorf, The Celebrator Beer News and BEERWeek)
BUDVAR TOPS A-B'S BUD IN ST. LOUIS TASTE TEST
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently hosted a blind taste-test to
determine which beer drinkers prefer -- Budweiser from Anheuser-Busch in
St. Louis or Budweiser Budvar from the Czech company called Budejovicky
Budvar. Budvar is not available for sale in the United States, and the
breweries continue to fight for use of the name "Budweiser" in countries
around the world. There were four judges, two who brew their own beer
and two who just like beer, with preferences for Bud Light and other
The judges were asked to score each beer from 1 to 5 on color, aroma,
bitterness, malt character and clarity. Budvar beat out its American
competitor, garnering a third more points overall with the regular A-B
drinkers giving it higher marks than the home brewers. Although Budvar
won the contest, the judges didn't appear to be ready to pay much of a
premium for the beer. The two A-B drinkers said they would pay $4 -- at
most -- for a six-pack of Budvar. That's 49 cents less a six-pack than
the price of the Budweiser used in the test.
REAL BEER SPOTLIGHT: 'TIS THE SEASON
What's Santa's favorite beer? Beer Hunter Michael Jackson has the
answer. How should you celebrate New Year's Eve, with a $200 bottle of
beer or at a special party? There are plenty of answers this month in
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
With only a limited number of shopping days until Christmas, Hannukah,
and the Winter Solstice, there's little time to make a list let alone
check it twice. So, to make things easier for you in shopping, we've
organized a beer-lover's resource to locate all your presents on the
TASTING BARLEY WINES
Get up close and personal with different vintages of Anchor Old Foghorn,
BridgePort Old Knucklehead and Rouge Old Crustacean. In October, Real
Beer hosted a Barley Wine Vertical Tasting during the Great American
Beer Festival. Read the comments our guests offered about these beers.
MORE SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE
Stephen Beaumont asks and answers the question: What cork or cap should
I pop when the clock strikes twelve on the 31st and, for the first time
in one thousand years, all four digits on the calendar change over?
THIS JUST IN ...
Looking for more Beer News? Drop by the Real Beer Page News section for
frequent updates put in perspective for beer lovers. For Beer News
oriented toward the east side of the Atlantic check out the News Archive
at BreWorld. And to receive news of a similar bent in your e-mail box,
sign up for the newsletter at Beersite.com
You'll recognize the Flying Dogs labels -- created by Gonzo artist Ralph
Stedman -- immediately. Just as important, you'll recognize these ales
by their distinctive taste. The Flying Dog beers were born in an Aspen,
Colo., brewpub but now come out of a full-fledged Denver brewery and are
the No. 2 selling Colorado craft beer outside of the state. The website
has a personality all its own, so head there. Make sure you check out
the beer descriptions and you'll see what we mean.
SPEND ST. PATRICK'S DAY IN IRELAND
The affection for Irish pubs has become a worldwide phenomenon, but
there's still nothing like the real thing in the homeland. Irish Pub
Tours offers travelers a glimpse of Ireland that many seldom see. The
company has put together a special package that includes St. Patrick's
Day in Dublin. Wouldn't you like to find that under the Christmas tree?
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 Beer Calendar.
Last month's winner was Alan Bona.
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
textWomen users now outnumber men at America Online, so we decided to check
with RBPMail recipients to see what the mix is. Four out of five who
answered are male.
**********REAL BEER ONLINE POLL***************
PIZZA, BARBECUE, EVEN BREAKFAST GOOD WITH BEER
*********** Brewed Fresh For
The November Real Beer Page Poll confirmed that readers think beer goes
with most of their favorite foods. The poll asked: What is your favorite
food to have with beer. Pizza was the most popular answer, receiving 20%
of the vote and barbecue garnered 16% of the vote. Many readers reminded
us why we have this in the Fun area, as 9% voted for breakfast. This
month you can let us know how many holiday beers you hope to try this
season. Head to the Poll area, Spotlight or in any of our City Guides.
Here's a shortcut:
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
BIDDER PAYS $4,910 FOR BOTTLE OF SAM ADAMS MILLENNIUM
A college professor paid $4,910 for bottle No. 1 of the new Sam Adams
Millennium beer from Boston Beer Co. in a charity auction at Yahoo.com.
The winning bidder, who prefers to remain anonymous, lives in Boston. He
bought the bottle for his wife in celebration of their 10th wedding
anniversary. Enthusiastic bidding for bottles of the Millennium didn't
stop with charity. Bottles sold for more than $1,000 at both Yahoo.com
and eBay.com, although prices realized have dropped since. In auctions
that closed before No. 1 was sold, bottle No. 2020 (of 3000) brought
$1,110 in a Yahoo! Auction, and a bottle fetched $1,025 on eBay. A few
days later a bottle went unsold on eBay because it did not meet the
seller's reserve despite drawing a bid of $560.
BEERWEEK ENTERS FOURTH YEAR
BEERWeek, the leading beer industry news digest published jointly by The
Celebrator Beer News and Real Beer, Inc., enters its fourth year of e-
distribution this week. The publication targets industry professionals
in need of timely news and is designed for the e-attention span. "We
created a low-bandwidth solution for beer marketers, producers and
distributors to keep abreast of the diverse and fast-moving business,"
said Tom Dalldorf of The Celebrator Beer News. "And we priced it so that
everyone could afford it, and low enough that the guilt-factor would
deter corporate users from passing it on without paying for an annual
subscription." The proof of the concept is a subscriber base that
doubles each year. BEERWeek is a lead source for RBPMail and offers free
LOOK OUT BUD -- BUD LIGHT'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU
Not even Budweiser, the dominant beer brand in the United States, is
immune to the growth of light beer sales. The good news for Bud producer
Anheuser-Busch is that the light beer nipping at Bud's heals is Bud
Light. The light beer category is even newer than craft beer, having
been created 17 years ago with the introduction of Miller Lite. It will
claim about 40% of the market when the 1999 figures are totaled. Since
1995, Budweiser case sales in supermarkets have fallen about 6%, and Bud
Light sales are up 42%. Overall, A-B continued to claim a larger share
of the U.S. beer market, increasing its stake to 46.6%. Beer Marketer's
Insights shows the company's shipments to be up some 3.3% for the first
nine months of this year.
OCCASIONAL DRINK MAY REDUCE STROKE RISK
A new study finds that an occasional drink may lower the risk of having
a stroke. Numerous studies have shown that modest drinking reduces the
risk of heart disease. But until now, the evidence of an effect on
strokes has been less convincing. The study, which appeared in the New
England Journal of Medicine, found that light to moderate drinkers can
lower their risk by about 20% compared with teetotalers. It showed that
as little as a single glass of wine or beer per week could significantly
reduce stroke risk.
GROUPS PUSH FOR LARGER WARNING LABELS ON BEER
The American Medical Association and other groups have petitioned the
government to make the warning labels on beer, wine and liquor easier to
find and read. The groups claim that the Treasury Department's Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been lax in enforcing a 42-word
warning since it was first required 10 years ago. The warning says that
"women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of
the risk of birth defects" and that drinking impairs the "ability to
drive a car or operate machinery." The petition asks for something akin
to the stark, rectangular warning labels that must appear on packs of
MOST ARE IGNORANT OF DRUNKEN DRIVING LAWS
Four out of five Americans surveyed know little about their own state's
drunken driving laws. "Seventy-eight percent of the drivers who were
polled did not know what constituted drunk driving," said John Lawn,
chairman of the Century Council. The typical respondent to the survey
put the maximum blood alcohol limit at .20 percent. In fact, 17 states
and the District of Columbia use .08 percent, and 33 states allow .10
percent. Many drinkers pass out before reaching a blood alcohol level of
COORS DISPUTES WISCONIN BREWERY'S USE OF WINTERFEST NAME
Coors Brewing Co., the third largest U.S. brewer, filed a cease and
desist order against Capital Brewery of Middletown, Wis., over the use
of the Winterfest name for its seasonal brew. Capital, which has brewed
beer under the Winterfest name for ten years, will comply, but will use
the remainder of its stock of Winterfest packaging inventory. This year,
the Capital beer will be available under the Winterfest name as well as
the new Winter Skal (pronounced "skole") label.
RAY DANIELS TO EDIT NEW BREWER, ZYMURGY
Ray Daniels has taken the job as editor-in-chief of The New Brewer and
Zymurgy magazines. Amahl Turczyn will join Daniels as the associate
editor of both publications. Daniels wears many hats in the beer world.
He is an award-winning home brewer, was 1998 Beer Writer of the Year
(he's written three books and is a frequent contributor to several
periodicals), is an active member of the Chicago Beer Society and
organizer of the Real Ale Festival in Chicago.
SANTA CRUZ PUB SERVES 5 MILLIONTH PINT
The Santa Cruz Brewing Co. & Front Street Pub has now served five
million pints of beer since opening in 1985. The California pub passed
the landmark Nov. 4. Anticipating the event, the pub offered a contest
to guess when pint No. 5 million would be served. Joseph Jonstone of
Santa Cruz won a growler of fresh beer a month for the next year for
ordering the magic pint. Pub customer Roger B. of Santa Cruz won a
choice of a case of beer, a growler a month for a year or a pitcher a
month at the pub for a year because he guessed closest to the date.
ALASKAN BREWING RAISES MONEY FOR RAPTOR CENTER
Alaskan Brewing Company raised over $1,400 in 5 hours for the Juneau
Raptor Center. Alaskan donated 100% of the proceeds from its beer garden
at the Juneau Empire's Food Fest '99 to the Juneau Raptor Center's
building fund. The center is dedicated to the treatment, rehabilitation
and release of injured or sick birds of prey in Southeast Alaska.
EDITORIAL:THE YEAR IN BEER PART I
This is the season when we like to look back at the past year. As Y2K
nears, however, it's hard to consider the past year without first
viewing it from perspective of what's occurred in the past century.
In 1900, 1,758 breweries operated in the United States. Less than 20
years later national Prohibition struck. After Prohibition ended in
1933, the number of operating breweries quickly grew from zero to 756 by
1934. A 50-year decline followed. By 1984, just 44 brewing concerns in
the United States operated a total of 83 breweries. And only one
company, Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, was brewing beers other than
brewing international/industrial pilsners.
Earle Johnson, who has been serving real beer at Quenchers Saloon in
Chicago for more than 20 years, didn't like what he saw. "We were moving
to all mainstream beers. There wasn't much choice," he said.
Yet the sum of U.S. breweries in operation increased in 1985, and again
in 1986, and we may soon reach the same number of breweries as there
were in 1900. By mainstream media coverage, however, you wouldn't know
that the number of breweries is still growing, that import, craft and
specialty beer sales continue to increase or that the interesting
choices available to beer drinkers is expanding. Because the heady 40%
per year growth rates of the mid-1990s in the national craft segment
have slowed to a trickle, many are ready to write off the craft
Such nay-sayers need to put things in perspective. Sure, a list of the
top 10 U.S. beer stories would include the rise of Anheuser-Busch to its
position as the world's dominant brewer, but the emergence of craft
brewing would be there too. Meanwhile, non-mass-produced beer played a
roll in many of the top beer stories of 1999.
* 1999 brought the completion of the three-way deal involving Pabst
Brewing, the Stroh Brewery and Miller Brewing. As a result, Stroh no
longer exists, and Miller is brewing more beer (Pabst bought the Stroh
brands but not its breweries and has contracted with Miller to make more
beer). One historic brewery, the Blitz Weinhard facility in Portland,
Ore., was lost in the process. However, after closing briefly, the
Stroh-Heileman plant in LaCrosse, Wis., opened under new ownership --
and now that investment group is looking at Genesee Brewing in
Rochester, N.Y., an old regional brewery whose financial woes have been
well detailed. Another former Stroh brewery stayed in the beer business
when Pennsylvania's Yuengling Brewing bought Stroh's Florida plant, in
order expand its market but also to keep up with demand at home. On the
downside: One other regional brewery, Dubuque Brewing in the Iowa city
of the same name, was lost. On the whole, about 10% of the U.S. national
beer capacity was squeezed from the system, one of the reasons the
largest breweries successfully implemented price hikes (see next item).
* The Big Three of Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors increased both
prices and profits. According to Benj Steinman of Beer Marketers'
Insights, the basic structure of the business remains a dominant A-B
with 47% share of the market, Miller with 21% and Coors at 10.5%, for
nearly 80% of the market. Large brewer price gains include A-B up 2%,
Coors up 4% and Miller, though not disclosing these numbers, estimated
at 2% increase. On average prices are up 4% this year and 5% at peak
sales seasons. The impact of these price increases have A-B up 13% in
profit from nearly $2 billion in sales, Miller up 9.8% from $451 million
and Coors up 15% from $123 million in sales for Q1 1999. In addition to
decreased brewing capacity, a big reason they were able to post these
gains is that micros and imports have taught consumers it is OK to pay
more for beer.
* Imports continued to claim a bigger share of the market as Corona, in
particular, maintained a stunning growth rate. Heineken, which lost its
position as the No. 1 import to Corona in 1997, fought back with a $42
million ad campaign. The Dutch brewery reported increased sales and
increased profitability in the states because -- you guessed it -- it
was able to successfully institute price hikes.
* Beer was big business around the world. South African breweries struck
a deal to acquire Pilsner Urquell and Radegast, the Czech Republic's
leading two breweries. Brazilian brewing giants Brahma and Antarctica
planned a merger that would make them the third largest brewing company
in the world. In England, control of breweries and pub chains continued
to change hands. Around the world, skirmishes between Anheuser-Busch and
Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar continued for the rights to use the
name Budweiser. And so on.
* Brewpubs were big business. The Florida-based Hops chain opened its
50th brewpub and kept right on going, with plans to reach 300 or more.
Big River Breweries Inc. of Chattanooga, Tenn., purchased all 12 Gordon
Biersch Brewing Co. brewery restaurants in a deal industry insiders said
was in the $50 million range.
There were plenty of other significant stories, but also those that just
made us smile. Mississippi became the last state in the union to
legalize brewpubs; both the Boston Beer Co. and Dogfish Head brewed
beers stronger than ever made commercially, just to do something
special; Full Sail Brewing Co. became employee owned.
Peeking ahead, we see that demographics are on our side. The population
of those in the prime beer-consuming category is growing. "Nationally
there will be no restraints on the growth of the high price segment,"
says beer industry economist Robert Weinberg. "The general outlook for
the brewing industry is going to be sensational out to 2010."
We see no reason to think that beer with flavor won't claim its fair
share of that growth -- and believe that those brewers who have proven
themselves adept will do even better. This includes both imports and
U.S. craft beers. "I think imports are eating your lunch," Weinberg told
craft brewers in May. His point was that it could change. Imports moved
quicker, at least recently, to take advantage of growing demand in the
high price arena and have invested significantly in building brands in
the U.S. "It is important to have a notion of your market potential,"
Weinberg said, "and a notion of how timely the potential is."
There probably was no better beer story in the '90s than when New
Belgium Brewing Co. Jeffrey Lebesch and Kim Jordan started the brewery
in a tiny commercial space attached to their home in 1991. By 1998
they'd outgrown two breweries and production had passed 100,000 barrels.
Weinberg likes to point out that it's easier to celebrate large
percentage growth -- as craft beer did in the mid-1990s -- when it is
off a small base.
After a brewery reaches 100,000 barrels it gets tougher. Sure. New
Belgium expects the final numbers will show 1999 production up almost
40%, to about 145,000 barrels. "People say, of course New Belgium is
growing, they are adding markets," said Greg Owsley of New Belgium.
Actually, New Belgium began distribution in just one state, Texas, in
1999. Sales in Colorado, its original market, were up a healthy 10%.
Why hasn't New Belgium hit a wall? "As does Sierra Nevada, as does
Deschutes and some others, we've done a good job of staying regional,"
Owsley said. "We're not throwing a net farther than we should."
Of course, there's another reason too. "Hey, the beer still has to taste
really, really good," he said.
That was the lesson somebody should have learned somewhere along the
line this century. When French chef Paul Bocuse was asked his thoughts
about the future of food in the new millennium, he said, "In 1942, I was
told we'd be eating pills in the year 2000. We're on the eve of that
year, and we're still eating real food."
And drinking Real Beer.
Next month: The Real Beer Page in 1999 and 2000.