RBPMail 6.02, February 2000
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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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SAVE THE GRAND CRU CAMPAIGN BEGINS
Beer enthusiasts around the world hope that an Internet-inspired
campaign will save one of the world's classic beers from extinction.
At stake is the future of Rodenbach Grand Cru and quite possibly
two other outstanding beers from Belgium, Oerbier and Stille Nacht
from De Dolle Brouwers. Dann Paquette, head brewer at North East
Brewing Co. in Boston, began spreading this news in late January.
"Yesterday I got five emails while I was writing just one," Paquette
said just a week later. He began by posting one message in an
Internet newsgroup and sending a few individual emails.
They reported that the Palm Brewery, which acquired a controlling
interest in Rodenbach less than two years ago, already stopped
making Rodenbach Alexander and reportedly put the Grand Cru on
a one-year trial. Palm also informed De Dolle that it would no
longer receive yeast from Rodenbach. De Dolle is a small brewery
and has none of the technology to repitch its yeast; without the
distinctive Rodenbach yeast, it may not continue making Oerbier
or Stille Nacht.
HISTORIC BREWING SCHOOL CLOSES
Siebel Institute of Technology, the last of the founding brewing
schools of the 1800s, ceased most of its operations last month.
In a letter addressed to friends of the Chicago-based institute,
chairman and CEO Bill Siebel wrote that all courses, programs
and other education activities were ended. Siebel was more than
a North American brewing school -- it attracted students from
more than 60 countries. Enrollment had dwindled, however, from
a high of 1,200 in 1997 to 500 last year. In the weeks since Bill
Siebel made his announcement, many interested parties have discussed
efforts to save the school, but there are no indications that
any of the plans will bear fruit.
SOUTH AFRICAN BREWERIES INTEREST IN BASS REPORTED
The London Telegraph reports that South African Breweries (SAB)
and Bass have held preliminary discussions about SAB acquiring
Bass Breweries. SAB acquired the Czech Republic's two largest
breweries, Pilsner Urquell and Radegast, just a few months ago.
Bass plans to sell its brewing interests to concentrate on its
hotels and resorts business and managed pubs; however, it wants
top dollar for its beer business -- apparently more than SAB has
offered. Speculation holds that Heineken may also enter the bidding
for the Bass beer business. Analysts have been predicting widespread
consolidation in European brewing with SAB, Heineken and Interbrew
all interested in making acquisitions.
AMBEV MERGER HITS ANOTHER BUMP
The debate over a merger that would create the world's third
largest brewing company took another detour when Brazil's federal
police asked the Justice Ministry to suspend upcoming deliberations
over the merger while it conducts an investigation into alleged
influence-peddling surrounding those deliberations. Brahma and
Antarctica announced the merger last summer that would create
a new company, AmBev. Justice Minister Jose Carlos Dias has asked
Gesner Oliveira, the president of the Conselho Administrativo
de Defesa Economica (Cade), the Justice Ministry's anti-trust
agency that will rule on the AmBev merger, to suspend deliberations
until the police probe is over in 30 to 60 days. The federal police
are investigating an allegation that a Cade board member had been
warned by a third party of an attempt to influence the Cade board's
vote on the brewery merger. The Justice Ministry advisory board
has recommended that AmBev sell one of its three brands -- Brahma,
Skol or Antarctica -- to gain approval for the merger. AmBev has
indicated it will contest that ruling and take its case to Cade.
MEXICAN GOVERNMENT PROBES PRICE HIKES
The Mexican government launched an investigation after the country's
two leading breweries both raised domestic beer prices within
a day of each other. The Federal Competition Commission (CFC)
"launched an investigation over the identical beer price hikes,"
said a spokesman for the agency. Modelo and Femsa dominate the
market, selling 99% of the beer Mexicans drink. They typically
raise prices by the same amount each year, but this price hike
drew authorities' attention when the nearly identical increases
were announced within a day of each other.
EC SUSPECTS CARTEL, RAIDS HEINEKEN, FOOD GIANT
The European Commission suspects Dutch brewer Heineken and French
food company Danone of running a price-fixing cartel in France's
beer market. EU officials searched the offices of Danone's Kronenbourg
brewing unit in Strasbourg, France, and the Paris offices of Danone
and Heineken as part of the investigation. "We suspect a cartel,"
said spokesman Michael Tscherny. "If they have a cozy relationship
about prices ... or how not to compete unnecessarily with each
other, you can imagine the impact on consumers." The two companies
account for as much as 80% of the French beer market, he added.
'BRITISH BEER ORDERS ACT' REVIEWED
British regulators plan a review of restrictions on the number
of pubs that a brewery can own or have an exclusive beer supply
agreement with. The implementation of the Beer Orders Act in 1989
forced many British breweries to sell off thousands of pubs. The
Beer Orders were designed to cut beer prices and improve consumer
choice by increasing competition between pub operators. Large
brewers now own only 16% of U.K. pub licenses, compared with 50%
10 years ago. One analyst said that if the review results in a
relaxation of the Beer Orders Act that it could open the door
for international brewers to accumulate large pub chains. "Once
the act is reviewed and the competition rules are newly defined,
companies such as Carlsberg and South African Breweries might
take a new look at the market," the analyst said.
LION BREWERIES SUES FARMER FOR RIGHTS TO STEINLAGER.COM
Lion Breweries of New Zealand is suing a local farmer in an effort
to obtain the use of steinlager.com for its Internet website.
The Lion, which brews Steinlager beer, is filing an action with
the Swiss-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
to claim back the Steinlager domain name. Wallace Waugh registered
the steinlager.com site more than two years ago. He and his son
use the steinlager.com name for an electronics business. "We actually
needed that (site) for a job and we got it. A considerable time
later (Lion) rang up and said they wanted it," Waugh said. "They
tried to bully us into it. I said, 'no.' We had spent $20,000
on developing our website on it, and they offered me beer." Graham
Seatter, Lion corporate affairs director, said the company was
willing to compensate Waugh for any costs in establishing and
maintaining the domain site, but no more.
SPOTLIGHT ON BELGIUM
No other country has among its native styles of beer such diversity,
individuality, idiosyncrasy and color as Belgium. Nor does any other
country present beers so beautifully. Real Beer's Spotlight focuses
on the country, its unique beers and its influence on brewing in
the United States.
WIN FREE BELGIAN-STYLE BEER GLASSES
Just about anywhere you order a beer in Belgium you can expect the
beverage to be served in its own brewery-personalized glass. In
that tradition, New Belgium Brewing Co. commissioned one of Europe's
most respected glass purveyors to make glasses bearing the company's
logo. Real Beer and New Belgium are combining to give away some
of those glasses. Enter to win at:
MICHAEL JACKSON'S TOP HOPS SPOTS
In taking a look at the breed of new beer drinkers, Michael Jackson
also offers tips on where to drink and what to sample in 10 cities
around the world. It's one of several new stories posted at the
Beer Hunter. Start with the Hops Spots at:
NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL BEER AWARDS
Inaugurated just last year, this event was established to promote
the brewing industry in its entirety from hops to the finest beer.
The awards, of course, are at the center of attention and this year
there are 28 categories in four sections. The competition is April
13-16, but the deadline of March 10 is fast approaching and the
details are at:
*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
KONA BREWING CO.
Kona Brewing has been supplying Hawaiians with local beer since
1994, and tourists tend to haul home both its beers and distinctive
merchandise. Kona also operates the only brewpub on Hawaii's Big
Island. A virtual visit makes an in-person visit more tempting,
and you can stock up on plenty of Kona wear and accessories at:
LOUIE'S CUSTOM TAP HANDLES
If you've seen Louie's Louisiana-made tap handles before you'll
remember them well. They are turned from solid hardwoods and stained.
Then labels are affixed and a plastic-like coating is applied. The
finished product looks just like the beer it represents and good
enough to drink. For a look, grab a spot by the bar at:
OLDENBERG BEER CAMP
What is Beer Camp? A weekend of learning about beer -- how beer
is made, the history of beer, beer styles, beer ingredients, beer
and food, and just about any other excuse you can think of to drink
beer. Coming off hiatus, it returns March 24-26. The time to start
training is now, the place to find out how is at:
Schreier Malting's redesigned website reflects its dedication to
quality. The new site is more than just good looking -- it's easy
to navigate, offers the latest Schreier news right up front and
plenty about malt throughout. Visit the line of custom processed
Schreier Specialty Malts, exclusively imported Belgian malts from
DeWolf-Cosyns and extensive line of Brewer's Grains at:
Newcastle-upon-Tyne has more than 300 licensees in 1 square mile,
which is a big part of the reason it was voted one of the top 10
cities in the world for partying. That gives Newcastle Brown's website
something to live up to, and the Ultimate Party does. You can download
a rave to your desktop, play interactive darts or a sport trivia
game, win a trip to Newcastle, send some quite nice postcards ...
and learn about one of America's fastest growing imports.
BEVERAGE MACHINERY SERVICE
Beverage Machinery supplies a wide range of engineered products
for the brewing industry. It offers a comprehensive and versatile
line of filtration systems, as well as filling and kegging machines.
The quality of its work is affirmed by its customers -- who range
from microbreweries, brewpubs and contract breweries, to soft-drink
companies located throughout Canada, the United States, and other
countries around the world. See who they are and what Beverage Machine
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 2000 Calendar. Last month's winner was Kevin Brown,
who wins a Beerheads 2000 calendar.
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
Last month we asked about your level of education. Almost four
of five of you who answered have a college degree or advanced
**********REAL BEER ONLINE
I'LL HAVE A DRAFT BEER, THANK YOU
Real Beer readers certainly like their draft beer. A resounding
two- thirds who visited our Voting Booth in January noted they
prefer draft/keg beer, while 30% voted for bottled beer and just
2% for beer from a can. This month you can let us know how many
brewpubs you hope to visit in 2000. Head to the Poll area, Spotlight
or vote in any of our City Guides. Here's a shortcut:
*********** Brewed Fresh For You!
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
PORTLAND BREWING, SAXER MERGE
Oregon breweries Portland Brewing Co. and Saxer/Nor'Wester Brewing
Co. of Lake Oswego plan to merge. Specific terms of the deal have
not been disclosed. But Saxer president Steve Goebel said Portland
Brewing Co. now owns the intellectual rights to the 13 Saxer and
Nor'Wester brand beers. In exchange, Goebel and his wife, Liz
Goebel, become "significant shareholders," and gain a shared seat
on Portland Brewing's board of directors, said Tony Adams, Portland
Brewing Co.'s president, chairman and chief executive. The combined
company has a brewing capacity of about 75,000 barrels. It will
be the 12th largest craft brewery in the United States and third
largest in Oregon.
INCREASE IN U.S. BEER SALES LARGEST IN 10 YEARS
U.S. beers sales increased 1.6% in 1999, the biggest jump since
1990, according to Beer Marketer's Insight, an industry newsletter.
Anheuser- Busch was the biggest beneficiary, selling 96.8 million
barrels of beer to increase its market share to 47.5%. Overall,
beer sales rose from 196.6 million barrels to 198.8 barrels. Second
place Miller Brewing gained 1.6 million beer-barrel sales, primarily
because of its purchase of brands such as Henry Weinhard's and
Mickeys from Stroh Brewery Co. Miller sold 44.6 million barrels
and boosted its market share to 21.6%.
In order, the top selling companies were: 1. Anheuser-Busch (96.8
million), 2. Miller (44.1), 3. Adolph Coors (21.9), 4. Pabst (14.0),
5. Heineken (4.0), 6. Labatt USA (3.6), 7. Gambrinus (3.4), 8.
Barton (3.1), 9. Guinness (1.6), 10. Genesee (1.3). Both Gambrinus
and Barton import the popular Mexican beer, Corona.
TAXES AND ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION DEBATED
Are higher taxes an effective way to regulate consumption of
alcohol? Recent studies come to conflicting conclusions.
- Two economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research
received national attention for a report that determined that
for every 10% rise in the price of beer, the percentage of students
who commit violent and nonviolent campus crimes would be lowered
by 4% overall. Michael Grossman and Sara Markowitz correlated
the price of beer in different regions of the country to a variety
of behaviors, such as getting into trouble with police or other
campus authorities, arguing verbally or fighting physically, damaging
property, pulling a fire alarm and sexual misconduct.
- Meanwhile, two Florida State University economics professors
have published research that refutes the belief that higher taxes
on beer and other alcoholic drinks reduce drunken driving traffic
fatalities, BEERWeek reported last month. David W. Rasmussen and
Bruce L. Benson noted that after researching other factors that
contribute to beer consumption, like religious beliefs and beer
market regulations, taxes "simply didn't matter."
CORONA USES END AROUND TO ADVERTISE DURING
Much of the attention on Super Bowl advertising focused on Anheuser-
Busch and "dot-coms," but Corona did a little end around to get
beer drinkers' attention during the game. Gambrinus Co., which
distributes Corona in 26 states, bought local advertising time
in 15 major markets to debut a new commercial during the Super
Bowl. Corona couldn't advertise nationally because A-B was the
exclusive beer category sponsor. "This is an opportunity to jump-start
our activities earlier in the year," said Don Mann of Gambrinus.
Historically, wholesalers don't start making a push to sell Corona
to stores, restaurants and bars until spring. The Super Bowl tie-in
was designed to "motivate the wholesalers to get out and sell
WINE ENTHUSIASTS SUE FOR RIGHT TO BUY OVER
Wine enthusiasts in five states have sued to overturn state laws
that prohibit adults from buying wine from out-of-state sources.
Another in Kentucky launched a grass roots effort to get legislators
to rescind a similar law. Those who buy beer through the mail
or over the Internet would also be affected if the laws were changed.
Suits have been filed in New York, Indiana, Virginia, Indiana,
Texas and Florida. An Indiana judge ruled that state's law was
unconstitutional, but the state has indicated it will appeal.
In Florida, six Florida residents have filed a civil-rights complaint
that the state is violating their constitutional right to engage
in interstate commerce by preventing them from ordering fine and
rare wines that are not available from in-state retailers. Lauren
Abel, who collects wine, chose to try to change the Kentucky law
through legislation rather than a lawsuit. That law prevents residents
from ordering wine from out-of-state sources and having it shipped
directly to their homes. She is circulating petitions in an effort
to get the law overturned.
ARIZONA OFFICER HAS MORE THAN 3,000 DUI ARRESTS
An Arizona police officer who made 85 DUI arrests during the
holiday season added a few more strange ones to his list. Officer
Tim Gaffney has made nearly 3,000 drunken-driving arrests in his
career with the Mesa police force. Among the drivers he arrested
this most recent season: one was passed out at a traffic light;
one was arrested twice in an hour; and another had pulled over
to throw up. He arrested at least five people who were sipping
beer at traffic lights. Statewide, police made 2,754 DUI arrests
over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the most in five years.
Several intoxicated drivers pulled into task force command centers,
asking where they could find a bar. A man who had been drinking
at a Christmas party called his wife while being pulled over to
tell her to pick up his car. When she got there, officers arrested
her for DUI as well.
MICHAEL JACKSON TO BE ROASTED IN PHILADELPHIA
A roast honoring/skewering world beer authority Michael Jackson
is set for March 3 at the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and
Anthropology in Philadelphia. The event will feature many beer
industry professionals and consumers celebrating Jackson's 10
years of tutored tastings as part of Philadelphia's The Book and
the Cook and his contributions to the world of beer. Proceeds
from this evening benefit the work of the Sumerian Dictionary
Project of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Sumerian tablets
with the earliest known commercial beer transactions (3400 B.C.)
will be on display. The Black Tie event is open to the public
at $150 per person. For details, call 215-898-4089.
NO GUINNESS PUB CONTEST THIS YEAR
In case you've been wondering about when Guinness will provide
entry information for its annual contest to win a pub in Ireland
-- it won't. After six years, Guinness has put the contest on
the shelf for 2000 at least. "It was really captivating and made
a major contribution to our double-digit growth over the past
few years," said Guinness marketing director Howard Pulchin. More
than 70,000 contestants entered last year. Guinness will focus
on its Great Guinness Toast this year, set for Feb. 26.
FULLER'S GOES ORGANIC
Fuller's is to launch what it claims to be the world's first
organic honey ale in March when it revamps its Honey Dew ale as
Organic Honey Dew. "This is our first move into the organic sector
and we were determined not to launch a 'me too' ale," said Fuller's
beer and brands director John Roberts. "By using honey in the
brew, we are able to offer consumers a distinctly different organic
product and a delightfully flavoursome beer." Organic Honey Dew,
brewed to 5% ABV, will be available in 500-ml bottles and as a
limited edition spring beer in cask at a slightly lower 4.3% in
selected pubs. (breWorld BeerBulletin, Jan. 31, 2000)
WOMAN LOCKED IN PUB WINS SUIT
An Irish woman who was locked overnight in a pub was awarded
$5,135 in damages from the pub's owners. Marian Gahan fell asleep
on the toilet at Searsons Pub in Dublin. When she awoke at 2 a.m.
the pub was locked. She sued Guinness Ireland Group, which owns
the pub, for failing to check the toilets before locking up.
STOUT MONTH IN BOULDER
You don't have to wait for St. Patrick's Day to drink stout in
Boulder, Colo. Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery kicked off its Seventh
Annual Stout Month on Feb. 1. Twelve of Mountain Sun's taps did
a "fade to black," carrying local and regional dark beers. Included
are Mountain Sun's own Double Imperial Stout, Anakins Dark Lager
and Dandelion Stout. Featured guests are Zonker Stout from Snake
River Brewing, Alaskan Oatmeal Stout from Alaskan Brewing, Obsidian
Stout from Deschutes and Shakespeare Stout from Rogue. Local favorites
include Left Hand Brewing's Imperial Stout, Redfish's Swollen
Delta Stout, H.C. Berger's Chocolate Stout, Oskar Blue's Cherry
Stout and Avery's Out of Bounds Stout. (BEERWeek TM, Week of Jan.
EDITORIAL: SAVE RODENBACH GRAND CRU
Fans of Rodenbach Grand Cru mounted a vocal campaign in the last
two weeks to save it after reports that Rodenbach might discontinue
brewing the classic Belgian red ale. Even beer drinkers who don't
like Rodenbach Grand Cru -- and more don't than do -- should care
just as much. There is more at stake than a single beer.
It sounds alarmist to suggest that not only a 4-star beer but
eventually a treasured Belgian brewery and perhaps even a beer
style might be lost. The reports are not confirmed, and right
now the brewery continues to craft the beer. Generations of Americans,
however, have suffered through the mainstreaming of beer. Thus
when it appears others may be headed down that ugly road it's
hard not to run out, arms waving, yelling, "No, no! Don't do it!"
The Palm Brewery has made changes since it took controlling interest
in Rodenbach less than two years ago. Now come these reports that
it has already discontinued making Rodenbach Alexander and put
the Grand Cru on a one-year trial.
"Rodenbach has been losing share in Belgium," said Wendy Littlefield
of Vanberg & Dewulf, which imports Rodenbach to the United States
and has not been informed of the rumored changes. "Children are
growing up with Coke, developing sweet tastes and they don't have
the palate for these sour beers." Beer drinkers have always hated
or loved the distinctive West Flanders sour beers. Today, it seems
fewer than ever love them.
Littlefield's husband and partner, Don Feinberg, was recently
in Belgium. Palm officials told him they want to concentrate on
using the beer known simply as Rodenbach to build its brand. Rodenbach
currently is a blend of two beers: one stronger and aged from
18 to 24 months, and the other not quite as strong and aged five
to six weeks.
The aged beer, unblended, is bottled as Rodenbach Grand Cru.
Clearly, the future of Rodenbach (often referred to as Rodenbach
Classic in the U.S.) comes into doubt if the older portion of
the blend is eliminated. Michael Jackson describes these West
Flanders red ales as "the most refreshing beers in the world."
"We've been getting calls from bars across the country," Littlefield
said. "It's obvious that people in the states want (the Grand
Cru)." Most learned of its possible demise through the Internet.
Dann Paquette, head brewer at North East Brewing Co. in Boston,
began the grassroots campaign after returning from a trip to Belgium
where he was told about the changes.
In little more than two weeks, his original message was forwarded
thousands of times and copied into numerous newsgroups, inspiring
even more messages. Some have focused on saving the beer, others
on attacking Palm. Littlefield said the attacks are unfair. "There
are white knights and not-so white knights and Palm is one of
the good guys," she said. "Palm and Duvel have really championed
the independent breweries."
The Rodenbach Brewery and its Grand Cru are both treasures. Rodenbach's
maturation halls are spectacular; one holds more than 100 oak
tuns. One tun dates back to 1868, many to the turn of the century
and it takes four coopers to maintain them. Oak, multiple yeast
strains and multiple fermentations are the keys to producing Rodenbach's
"There isn't a brewery like it in the world," Littlefield said.
"Nobody would open a brewery like it today."
Paquette agrees. He knows that if Grand Cru production were
halted, it likely would not be revived and would be nearly impossible
to duplicate elsewhere. "You don't just start up a new brewery
like that," he said. "Once they stop doing what they are doing
the way they are doing it, it's gone."
Grand Cru isn't gone yet. "It will make a difference if thousands
of emails demonstrate the seriousness of people's affection for
this beer," Littlefield said. Vanberg & Dewulf will collect any
emails sent to its website (http://www.belgianexperts.com)
and forward them.
Many may choose to contact the brewery directly at:
Brouwerij Palm N.V.
P.R. Department-Peter Buelens