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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.

In this issue:

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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%.

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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%)."

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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.

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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 as Anheuser-Busch.

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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.

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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.

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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 ($675,900).

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****WEB WATCH****

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:

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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 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.

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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:

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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:

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

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:

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 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 Beer 2000 Calendar. Last month's winner was Pat Rooney.

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.

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

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:

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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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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:

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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 changed.

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.

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 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.

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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.

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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)

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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?