RBPMail 6.03, March 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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BASS FOR SALE, CARLSBERG ISN'T; WHO'LL BUY
With the consolidation of the brewing business in Europe considered
inevitable, there are new reports -- some confirmed, some denied
-- about what brewing concerns will be sold and which companies
will buy them.
- Bass, owner of Great Britain's second-largest brewing group,
finally acknowledged that it wants to sell its brewing business
to focus on its more profitable pubs and international hotels.
A company release read: "Bass confirms that it is considering
the strategic options for its brewing business. No decisions have
been taken in relation to brewing as to the optimum way of maximizing
value for shareholders." Unlike the UK's other two big national
brewers, Bass owns its top brands including the nation's best
selling beer Carling, together with Worthington, Bass and Caffrey's
ales. Heineken, South African Breweries, Interbrew and even Anheuser-Busch
have been rumored as suitors.
- Danish brewer Carlsberg denied reports that the brewery was
discussing selling out to American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.
The London Mail printed a story that A-B and Carlsberg were talking
about a $3.2 billion takeover deal, and that South African Breweries
and Heineken are also interested in Carlsberg. A Carlsberg spokeswoman
said the story was totally unfounded and that Carlsberg said it
has not been in touch with Anheuser-Busch since it ended a distribution
agreement with it in 1998. Since then Labatt, owned by Interbrew,
has been marketing Carlsberg's beers in North America. However,
the spokeswoman said Carlsberg might bid for the Bass brewing
operation. "We are interested ... and we are going to take a look
at it," she said. Carlsberg's Carlsberg-Tetley division currently
is the smallest of the UK's four national brewers.
- Heineken, the world's No. 2 brewer, said it has entered the
bidding for Bass, but is interested only if the premium to be
paid doesn't exceed the savings opportunities. The Dutch company
hopes to keep profit growing after a 20% increase in the second
half of 1999. "Bass would be a perfect fit in our strategy to
achieve a broad leadership in a large beer market," Chief Executive
Karel Vuursteen said at a company press conference to discuss
its jump in earnings. Vuursteen said the brewery is not interested
in acquiring Carlsberg. Acquisitions, such as that of Brewpole
in Poland, have added to Heineken's bottom line. Heineken raised
its stakes in both Poland's Zywiec and rival Brewpole, two companies
which it subsequently merged to form the country's biggest brewer.
Earnings will be lifted this year by the addition of Grupo Cruzcampo,
a purchase that made Heineken Spain's leading brewer. Growth is
also stemming from a marketing campaign to raise demand for its
namesake Heineken beer and other premium brands. Marketing and
sales expenses rose 22%.
PALM DENIES RODENBACH GRAND CRU 'ON PROBATION'
After reportedly being deluged with email protests that it might
discontinue production of Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium's Palm
Brewery is using return email to deny Grand Cru is on "probation"
and emphasize its commitment to brewing traditional Flanders beer.
Consumers who write Palm receive a reply signed by Peter Buelens,
public relations manager at Palm. It denies that production of
Grand Cru will end, but confirms that Rodenbach Alexander will
no longer be made. He writes that the brewery will focus on traditional
beers like the Rodenbach Classic.
"When the Palm Brewery took a majority stake in the Rodenbach
Brewery in Summer 1998, it declared that it would take full responsibility
for this exceptional brewery. Rodenbach is the only brewery in
the world making a brown-sour beer through the 'mixed fermentation'
process, the so-called Flemish Red Ale.... Palm has always been
dedicated to preserving the unique, authentic Belgian beer culture.
We are keeping our word!" he writes, later adding: "The Rodenbach
Grand Cru beer is the 'mother' of Rodenbach beers.... The good
news is that of course Rodenbach Grand Cru is not being withdrawn.
Palm Brewery has just invested in the re-design of the label.
Rodenbach Classical is a blend: one part aged in oak barrels from
18 to 24 months (20%), and the other aged five to six weeks (80%)."
ENGLISH FIND TWO BUDS BETTER THAN ONE
The Court of Appeal in London ruled that American brewery Anheuser-Busch
and Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar may both use the Bud name
in England. Despite the "danger of confusion" facing the beer-drinking
public, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the names Budweiser
and Bud belong to both breweries. The two breweries have been
fighting around the world for exclusive rights to the Budweiser
trademark. They have been battling in Britain since the 1970s,
when both companies began marketing their products in England.
The Czechs say they had claims to the name long before the Americans
began brewing beer. "Budweiser," named after a Czech village called
Ceske Budejovice, was made as far back as the Middle Ages, they
say. The term Budweiser describes beer from that region, the same
way Burgundy and Champagne describe wine from those wine-making
regions of France, they say. The German immigrants who founded
Anheuser-Busch, and who began brewing Budweiser in 1876, used
the Budweiser name for their beer because it was well known in
their homeland. In Czechoslovakia, the state-owned Budvar brewery
was founded in 1895.
CZECH PM PLANS TO PROTECT QUALITY OF BUDVAR
When it comes to privatization of the country's businesses, Czech
Prime Minister Milos Zeman is all for it, as long as the quality
of the country's beer is not involved. Zeman believes that privatizing
the state owned Budejovicky Budvar brewery, producer of Budweiser
Budvar beer, could result in lower quality beer. "As you know,
American beer is not so good," Zeman said at a meeting of the
Portuguese Industrial Association, "so this is the only case where
we are wary of privatization -- in the name of good Czech beer."
Zeman indicated he was afraid that privatization may lead to the
purchase of the brewery by a large, multinational company such
BREWING INTERNATIONAL AWARDS FINALISTS SET
Young & Co. Brewery of London was the big winner when finalists
were revealed for the Brewing Industry International Awards to
be presented April 11 in London. Three finalists were announced
in each of 20 categories. Young's beers reached the finals in
four categories in judging last month at Burton. The judges have
already determined the ranking and champions, but the decision
won't be announced until April. More than 500 guests and media
are expected for the annual Luncheon of the Allied Brewery Traders'
Association in London Guildhall. The awards, handed out every
two years, date back to the 19th century and are among the most
prestigious in the world.
SMALL BREWERIES PARTNER ON EURO BEER
Two small breweries, one French and the other British, will debut
the first Euro beer next month. England's Swale Brewery in Sittingbourne
and Le Brasserie Thiriez of Esquelbecq will introduce Les Freres
de la Biere at Beer Expo 2000 in Lille. Interreg, the European
inter-regional fund, supported production of the beer with £40,000
of taxpayers' money. "Normally, our funding goes to public sector
authorities. This is unique not just because it is a genuine example
of private sector, cross- Channel co-operation but because it's
about beer," a spokesman said.
STUDY FINDS FOAM CAUGHT ON MUSTACHE COSTS DRINKERS
A study commissioned by brewing giant Guinness discovered that
bearded men waste an alarming amount of beer compared to clean-shaven
men. The study conducted in the United Kingdom -- but not the
Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland -- found that an estimated
92,370 drinkers with mustaches lose about 162,719 pints of Guinness
in their facial hair each year, and that beer is worth about £423,000
SPOTLIGHT ON IRELAND, STOUTS
Ireland, Irish pubs, Irish stouts, they all hold a special appeal.
Get up close with Guinness, read Michael Jackson's comparison of
"draught" Irish stouts from a can and from a tap, take a look with
Stephen Beaumont at the darkest of brews, check out our list of
top Irish pubs and still more at:
PLAN YOUR ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARTY WITH EVITE.COM
Headed to a parade for St. Patrick's Day? Planning to meet with
buddies in a comfortable place that serves beer? Or maybe you'll
be asking a few friends over. No matter what your plans, Real Beer
and Evite.com can make it easier. To add to the fun, we're giving
away Beamish Stout pub towels. We'll give away 10 towels to 20 different
hosts who use Evite to plan a party.
WIN FREE IRISH PUB TOWELS
Real Beer and Scottish Newcastle Inc. are giving away still more
Beamish Pub Towels. We'll draw the winning names of 50 individual
winners at the beginning of April. All you have to do to is fill
in your email address at:
SAM ADAMS' GET INSIDE THE GAME
March Madness has already begun at Get Inside the Game. Every day,
Sam Adams offers different trivia questions, where the quicker you
answer the higher your score (if your answers are right). You don't
even have to play the game to have a chance to win a trip for four
to New York City; a VIP tour of ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn.;
to attend an ESPN Magazine cover shoot and view a live broadcast
at ESPN Zone; tickets to a major league sporting event; and $1,000
cash. There are also daily prizes and still more at:
*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
PUB BREWING COMPANY
The Pub Brewing Company manufactures top-quality standard and custom
equipment featuring the most desirable technological advancements
available to the brewing industry. It provides expert guidance throughout
the project, followed by comprehensive training after installation,
producing systems for 7-barrel breweries, 50-barrel breweries, and
everything between. Beer drinkers across the country have had products
brewed on a Pub system, so take a look at:
BrewSupplies.com is both a low-price superstore -- with more than
1,200 home brewing and wine making items in its well-illustrated
catalog -- and a quick-loading resource for home brewers, wine makers
and even those interested in making root beer and soda pop. Check
out the links to handy charts and useful tips on the right side
of every page at:
If you've watched a bartender take his time pouring a pint of Guinness
Stout you've seen McDantim's work in action. The Trumix blender
was invented to meet the requirements of Guinness for dispensing
its stout. There are over 50,000 Trumix blenders in use worldwide
- not only for dispensing beer, but also in less exciting applications
like welding and food packaging. Beer Gas 101 is essential reading
for anybody who drinks draft beer.
BIG SKY BREWING CO.
Montana's biggest producing brewery has just started bottling, beginning
with its Moose Drool Brown Ale, Scape Goat Pale Ale, and Slow Elk
Oatmeal Stout. The best-selling Moose Drool has gained certain fame
because of Big Sky's battles with Moosehead Breweries over the use
of Moose in the name. For a look at Moose Drool and the rest of
the clan head to:
THOMAS FAWCETT & SONS
The Fawcett family has been making malt in Castleford, West Yorkshire,
since the late 1780s. The company was established officially in
1809, and today the sixth and seventh generation of Fawcetts are
actively involved in running it. You might have tasted their malt
in Morland's Speckled Hen, Bass's Caffrey's Irish Ale and the beers
of the Black Sheep Brewery. Take a look at 200 years experience
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 Pat Rooney.
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
Last month we asked how readers connect to the Internet. A whopping
88% of those who replied use a computer, while 7% connect via
Web TV and just a few currently use a PDA, a web-enabled phone
or similar device.
**********REAL BEER ONLINE
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Since Real Beer readers already told us their favorite place to
drink beer is in a brewpub, it shouldn't surprise us how many
brewpubs those who voted in the February poll plan to visit in
2000. More than 80% plan to visit at least five brewpubs; and
26% hope to check out 15 or more. This month you can let us know
about your favorite stout. 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:
BEER WRITER MICHAEL JACKSON ROASTED
World beer authority Michael Jackson was the honored at a "roast"
hosted last week by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology
and Anthropology. About 150 attendees paid $150 per person to
attend the black tie event commemorating Jackson's 10 years of
beer education and tutored tastings as part of Philadelphia's
"The Book and the Cook." The charity event was held as a fund-raiser
for the University Museum's Sumerian Dictionary Project. World
of Beer's Stephen Beamont, who was one of the roasters, wrote
after the event that as a roast goes, it was a bit more of a gentle
chiding than the whole-hearted ribbing that fans of the old televised
Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts will remember. His account is at:
MAIL ORDER AND INTERNET ALCOHOL SALES IN THE
- SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES '21ST AMENDMENT
A Senate committee approved legislation that gives state prosecutors
stronger tools to enforce their own state laws involving interstate
alcohol sales. Lawmakers first made changes in the "21st Amendment
Enforcement Act" to address concerns of Internet and mail order
sellers. The act would permit the attorney general of a state
to go to federal court to stop shipments into a state when those
shipments violate state laws.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had previously opposed the
bill, got the bill's sponsor, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to incorporate
language making clear that no court can enforce a state law that
is unconstitutionally protectionist and discriminates against
out-of-state sellers. The Wine Institute said the new version
was an improvement over a bill the Senate passed last year. Direct
sales by phone or the Internet are crucial for small wineries
-- they now account for an estimated $500 million of the $17 billion
industry -- but the laws affect all alcohol sales, including beer.
Consumers in many states have gone to court to challenge state
laws, while those in other states are working to get legislation
- TEXAS JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF MAIL ORDER
Consumers fighting for the right to receive alcohol shipped from
out-of- state producers won another victory last month in Texas.
All those who buy beer and wine through the mail or over the Internet
are possibly affected by the ruling. U.S. Federal Judge Melinda
Harmon ruled that Texas couldn't prohibit consumers from buying
and receiving wine from out-of-state wineries. She ruled in favor
of consumers Randy Pennington, C.A. Dickerson and David Vukovic,
who challenged the Texas anti-direct shipping statute that prevented
them from purchasing and receiving wine direct from small California
and Arkansas wineries. Consumers in Indiana recently won a similar
court victory. A total of five lawsuits of this nature have been
filed within the past eighteen months. In addition to consumer
successes in Texas and Indiana, three cases are pending in Virginia,
New York and Florida.
- BEER ACROSS AMERICA TO PAY FINES IN UTAH
In Utah, Beer Across America was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine
to 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City and another $20,000 to
the Utah Department of Public Safety for programs to enforce the
state's stringent alcohol laws. Company President Louis Amoroso
also must pay $1,000 for two separate class B misdemeanors for
unlawful sale and importation of alcohol and has agreed to subject
himself to the jurisdiction of Utah courts if he ever sells alcohol
in Utah again. Many of Beer Across American's beers have a stronger
alcohol content than 3.2 percent -- the limit for beer sold outside
of state liquor stores -- and are not available under Utah's state-run
liquor monopoly. The dispute took nearly four years to settle.
- MICHIGAN STINGS INTERNET VENDORS
Michigan Attorney General Jennifer M. Granholm announced that
criminal and civil charges have been or will be filed against
several vendors for selling alcohol to minors. In the sting, an
18-year-old Michigan minor under the supervision of the Michigan
Liquor Control Commission purchased alcohol over the Internet
from three separate on-line alcohol merchants based in Illinois.
Different retailers shipped gin, scotch and several bottles of
wine into Michigan. Some sold to minors, while others shipped
to adults but did not pay Michigan taxes. The Attorney General's
office alleged that by transporting and delivering alcohol into
Michigan from a supplier unlicensed to operate in the state and
by delivering alcohol to a minor, UPS was in violation of several
provisions of the Liquor Control Code. UPS has agreed to notify
all of its alcohol- shipping customers that it will no longer
deliver alcohol into the state of Michigan from an out-of-state
shipper and will only deliver shipments made legally within Michigan
to a person over 21 years of age.
SIEBEL INSTITUTE TO REOPEN DOORS
Siebel Institute of Technology has been saved. The Chicago brewing
school will resume brewing classes this month. Siebel, the last
of the founding brewing schools of the 1800s, closed its classroom
doors in January. Alltech Inc. of Nicholsville, KY, has acquired
Siebel and will assume control of the day-to-day operations. Bill
Siebel reports that some changes are ahead, "all of which will
be for the better." He added, "We are very excited now as we move
into this new millennium that we do so with even more vigor. We
look forward to the Siebel Institute growing for the next 128
years." Alltech, founded in 1980, is a pioneer in the application
of biotechnology to livestock and poultry production. The company
uses biochemistry, fermentation technology, and scientific principles
to develop, manufacture and support feed ingredients to improve
animal health and performance.
A-B TO BUY BACK SHARES
Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, plans to buy back
as many as 50 million outstanding shares of its stock in a buy-back
program triggered by falling stock prices The program is designed
to help boost the dipping stock, which fell to its lowest level
in more than a year. Share price has dropped 14% over the past
year. "The stock's decline is inexplicable," said John Osterweis,
president of Osterweis Capital Management, owner of about 100,000
shares of A-B stock. "Beer volume and pricing have been strong.
It makes sense to be buying back stock when the price is cheap."
(BEERWeek TM, Week of Feb. 28-March 6, 2000)
GEORGIA HOUSE OKs STRONGER BEER
"Georgians for World Class Beer" can't pop open a barley wine
or Belgian dubbel to celebrate yet, but their efforts to make
a wider range of beer styles available in the state took another
step forward last month. The House voted 126-42 to alter Georgia's
definition of "malt beverages" and allow stronger beers to be
sold. Currently, state law prohibits selling beer that contains
more than 6% alcohol by volume (Budweiser is 5%). The measure
passed by the House would boost the limit to 14% and charge twice
the state tax on the stronger beers. The Senate must still act
on the legislation. As well as permitting the sale of popular
Belgian ales and German bocks, for instance, the legislation would
expand the number of American specialty beers that are legal.
TAX BREAK FOR NEW MEXICO BREWERS
The New Mexico legislature has approved legislation providing
a tax break for small brewers. The measure goes to Gov. Gary Johnson,
who supports tax reductions and signed a similar adjustment for
New Mexico winemakers in 1997. The state liquor excise tax on
beer produced by microbrewers (defined in this law as those producing
less than 5,000 barrels per year, which includes every brewery
in New Mexico) has been 25 cents per gallon. The new law would
reduce that to 8 cents. Other beer is taxed at 41 cents per gallon.
GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL GETS NEW HOME
The Great American Beer Festival is moving -- but not far. The
festival, held in Denver's Currigan Hall since 1993, heads to
Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver for 2000. The city
of Denver passed a bond issue in November 1999 approving the expansion
of the current Colorado Convention Center. The expansion will
take over Currigan's existing location and therefore require its
eventual destruction. GABF 2000 will be Oct. 5-7. Public tasting
sessions will be from 5:30-10 p.m. each night. Winners of the
Professional Panel Blind Tasting judging will be announced Oct.
7 during the Members Only private session, which runs from noon
to 4:30 p.m.
ANDERSON VALLEY TOPS AT TORONADO BARLEY WINE
Horn of the Beer from Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville,
Calif., won the top prize last month during judging at the annual
Toronado Barley Wine Festival in San Francisco. Second among the
41 barley wines from across the country was Old Gubbillygotch
from Russian River Brewing in Guerneville, Calif., while Potrero
Brewing Co., a relatively new brewpub in San Francisco, won third.
Once a year, Toronado -- one of the nation's top beer bars --
turns over virtually all its taps to barley wine for a week. It's
a pay-as-you-go affair with customers sampling what they want
after the opening day of judging.
EARLY WARNING FOR HOMEBREWERS: THINK IMPERIAL
Each year the folks at the Dixie Cup Homebrew Competition add
a special "fun" category for brewers. Even though the contest
isn't until October, now is this year to brew this year's special
style because they are looking for Imperial Beers. Any recognized
BJCP beer style may be brewed, but it must meet the Czar's standards.
Specifically, the beer must exceed the maximum original gravity
specified by the BJCP style guidelines by no less than 20 gravity
points. For example, an Imperial Robust Porter would retain all
the characteristics of a regular Robust Porter, but have a minimum
OG of 1.085. Imperial Beers will be judged based on how well the
increased gravity is handled while still conforming to the style
guidelines of the base beer. They've already specified a "Stout
exception." Because Stouts already have an Imperial version, don't
bother entering one unless it's an Imperial Imperial Stout.
EDITORIAL: ON THE ROASTING OF MICHAEL
A few days ago, a bunch of beer types put on formal attire and
"roasted" beer writer Michael Jackson during a $150 a plate dinner
at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. In truth, it was an
evening of toast more than roast.
Nobody wants to get on the wrong side of Michael Jackson, a.k.a.
The Beer Hunter. A few years ago, when he was researching a book
on American microbrewery beers (unfortunately the book fell by
the wayside), he did a series of cluster tastings around the country.
He would travel to one brewery, and brewers from throughout the
surrounding region would bring their best beers to him.
They'd sit patiently waiting their turn. When the time came each
brewer would take a seat beside him, barely breathing while awaiting
comment. "It was like waiting for an audience with the Pope,"
one said later.
There's another reason we're not surprised that the barbs tossed
at the museum gathering were not too damaging. More than one roaster
asked Jackson's assistant Owen Barstow for dirt, and he kept replying
that Michael's greatest fault is that he can't tell people no.
Even more important than the fact that beer people from across
the country showed up in Philadelphia for the event was where
it was held. This was the 10th consecutive year that Jackson has
held court at the Penn Museum. He does this annually during The
Book and the Cook, a 10- day long fine dining celebration that
attracts cookbook authors from around the world. Jackson's first
tasting in 1991 drew 1,000, a record crowd for a festival event
and a shock for the wine and "haute cuisine" crowd.
Members of the beer industry went to some trouble to attend the
roast and many put great effort into their presentations, like
the Raymond Carver-like story from Sam Caligione of the Dogfish
Head Brewery. Just as important, however, was that consumers turned
out Friday for the roast and again Saturday for Jackson's tutored
tastings. They wanted to honor Jackson, but they also came because
they couldn't wait to see what beers he was recommending.
There's a lesson to be learned here. Nobody in the beer world
thinks you are talking about "Billie Jean" when you say Michael
Jackson. In the non-beer world? Well, when you search for Jackson's
books at Amazon.com, Amazon auctions will also recommend you check
out a "Michael Jackson" necklace with the singer's picture on
it. But every year, a few more people buy one of The Beer Hunter's
books instead of the singer's CDs.
That's what's been accomplished at places like the University
of Pennsylvania Museum. The surroundings are wonderful -- much
of the work on the early history of beer has been done here, and
one wing, entitled "Ancient Mesopotamia: The Royal Tombs of Ur,"
illuminates the practices of some of the first beer drinkers.
And the event's beer lineup is outstanding. The setting is fancier
than many of Jackson's stops, and there were lot more members
of the beer world on hand for the "roast" this time, but we shouldn't
lose track that this is what Jackson has been doing since his
first "World Guide to Beer" was published in 1977.
He is both educator and watchdog, and appreciated for both. There
was a lot of laughing last week in Philadelphia but no serious
blows landed. Nice stories, occasionally embarrassing, but ones
that kept reminding everybody that Jackson puts beer first. He
is beer's advocate.
When he spoke at the 1999 National Craft Brewers Conference in
Phoenix, he played both mentor and preacher, often at the same
time. "Have a crossover beer, have two crossover beers," he told
pub brewers, recognizing their need to sell beer to a wider audience,
"but just in case I drop into your brewpub have something I'd
like to drink, too, please."
Who wouldn't listen?