RBPMail 6.04, April 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 emaaled to subscribers. Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
In this issue:
EU RAIDS OFFICES OF EUROPE'S LARGEST BREWERS
A European Union investigation into possible price-fixing agreement
by European brewers widened last month when European Commission
investigators raided the offices of several brewers. The officials
raided the Dutch offices of Heineken, Carlsberg, Interbrew and
Grolsch, among others. They also searched Heineken offices in
Italy and are examining Peroni and Carlsberg in Italy, as well.
"There are suspicions about possible agreements between the big
brewers concerning fixing prices, sharing of the market and exchange
of commercial information," said commission spokesman Michael
Tscherny. "The investigation is not limited to Italy and The Netherlands
-- some big companies like Heineken are present in several countries,
so there may be cross-country links." The probe casts a shadow
over the proposed takeover by Scottish & Newcastle of Kronenbourg,
Danone's brewing operation.
SCOTTISH & NEWCASTLE, DANONE TO MERGE BREWING
Scottish & Newcastle has struck a deal with French food maker
Danone that will make S&N the second largest brewer in Western
Europe, behind only Heineken. Scottish & Newcastle will pay Danone
5 billion French francs ($740 million) for control of its brewing
assets in France (Brasseries Kronenbourg), Belgium (Alken Maes)
and Italy (24% of Birra Peroni Spa). Officially, the two companies
are combining their brewing interests, but S&N will have management
control. Danone must decide by May 2003 whether to exit the partnership
for 13 billion francs or keep a 25% stake.
BRAZILIAN MERGER APPROVED WITH MINOR RESTRICTIONS
Brazil's antitrust agency has approved the merger of Brazil's
two largest brewers, Brahma and Antarctica. It will make the new
company, AmBev, the world's No. 3 brewer. The antitrust agency,
the Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Economica (Cade), voted
4-to-1 in favor of the merger, with minor restrictions. Cade ruled
that AmBev must sell two minor beer brands, Bavaria and Polar,
with a combined 6% market share, to a brewer with less than 5%
of the market share. AmBev will have to share its distribution
network with the rival brewer for four years. Cade also told AmBev
to sell five factories.
MILLER EYES EXPANSION IN GERMANY
Miller Brewing Co. hopes to double its sales in the German market
within the next three years. Foreign sales (about half of them
in Britain, Ireland and Germany) account for only 7% of the company's
total sales, but are growing. "Sales growth generated on the international
markets will in future outpace that of the U.S. market," chief
executive John Bowlin told Handlesblatt. Miller Genuine Draft
is currently the best- selling non-European beer in Germany. Bowlin
did not rule out the possibility of selling Miller Lite in Germany.
He also said that next year Miller would launch a plastic beer
bottle on the European markets.
CHINA EXPECTS TO SURPASS U.S. IN BREWING
A Chinese official predicts that his country will pass the United
States as the world's biggest producer of beer in the next two
or three years. Sun Jie, an official at the State Administration
of Light Industry, indicated that Chinese production has been
growing at an annual rate of 25% in the past decade.
IRELAND SET TO EXTEND PUB HOURS
Ireland is on the verge of extending pub hours to be more in
line with the rest of Europe. The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2000
would allow pubs to remain open later than 11 p.m. and would also
eliminate the so-called "holy hour" on Sunday. The cabinet already
has approved the bill, and a justice department spokeswoman said
it could be enacted by parliament before summer. It makes Ireland,
most particularly Dublin, friendlier for European weekend tourists,
who are used to later closing hours. The new bill extends trading
hours by one and a half hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays,
and patrons will be given another 30 minutes to finish their drinks
-- meaning everyone must be out by 1 a.m. It extends trading till
11:30 p.m. the rest of the week except Sundays, which retains
the 11 p.m. law.
105-YEAR-OLD BOTTLES OF BEER UP FOR SALE
Six bottles of 105-year-old beer, three full and three half-full,
will be auctioned later this month. Diver Jim Phillips received
considerable attention last year when he drank a bottle of the
beer after it was salvaged from a shipwreck. The ship sank on
its way from Glasgow to Adelaide in 1894 when it hit rocks off
Thorn Island, Pembrokeshire. Much of the cargo, which included
7,500 cases of whisky and 7,000 crates of beer, was smashed or
washed ashore. Phillips and fellow divers found eight pint bottles.
When they surfaced, the cork in one bottle popped and Phillips
gave it a taste. "The first thing I noticed was the very strong
smell of hops. It certainly didn't put me off, so I took a swig,"
he said. It was then estimated that the bottle might we worth
$1,600. We'll on find out April 29 at the Pembrokeshire Shipwreck
Auction in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The proceeds will go to
finance this year's Adventurous Divers Club projects. The beer
is a light ale brewed in the Glasgow area, and there will be no
minimum bid. For more information, write email@example.com.
BUDGET BEER NAMED FOR BUDGET-CUTTING POLITICIAN
The opposition calls her "Brutal Brigita" for her budget-slashing
ways, but Slovakia Finance Minister Brigita Schmognerova is now
promoting an effort to cut some of the froth off Slovak bar tabs.
The Topvar brewery has launched "Brigita" beer for about half
the price of other local beers. Schmognerova -- known for recent
tough austerity measures, although not a beer drinker herself
-- said she was lending her name to the brew for free.
GENTETICALLY MODIFIED BEER HAS MORE FOAM
German researchers are working on a genetically modified beer
with a long-lasting froth, New Scientist magazine reports. Ulf
Stahl and a team of scientists at the Technical University in
Berlin have produced a brewer's yeast used in the fermentation
process that is enhanced with a gene called LTP1 to produce a
better froth. The genetically modified brewer's yeast secretes
so much of the froth-making protein, the beer will produce the
same amount of foam regardless of the quality of the barley. Stahl
said German brewers had expressed interest in his work but at
the moment they don't think there is much of a market for the
beer because of the German public's opposition to genetically
SPOTLIGHT ON CANADA
Canada had almost as quick a jump onto the craft brewing renaissance
bandwagon as did the United States -- several small breweries had
already been established across the country as early as 1985 and
have been making distinctive beer ever since. Check out the Canadian
Beer Index in English or BiereMAG in French.
WIN A 6-PACK OF YOUR FAVORITE BEER
You can win a 6-pack of your favorite beer simply by telling us
what that beer is. We had so much fun reading the responses to our
quickie email question last month about the beer readers would pick
for a deserted island, we decided to keep the dialogue going. As
an incentive, we're giving away 6-packs (or something comparable)
of your favorite beer. Just vote for the beer you'd most like to
share an uninhabited island with and we may buy you that beer.
NEW FEATURE: EDITOR'S CHOICE
There's something new -- and then some -- every day at Real Beer.
To help you be certain you don't overlook a particularly interesting
feature or miss a news item, we've added Editor's Choice, which
will change almost daily. You may access it from the front page
or from the left sidebar of any top-level page. Take a look at:
WORLD OF BEER'S STEPHEN BEAUMONT GOES TO BELGIUM
For most of the first half of April, Stephen Beaumont will be travelling
around the Belgian countryside with a vanload of journalists. It's
part of a press trip called "Belgian Beers and Gastronomy -- A Perfect
Match." You don't have to wait for the trip to end to read his reports.
He's already started posting diary entries at:
WHY BEER IS BEST
Michael Jackson writes: "It would soon be time for dinner and I
proposed a glass of the very hoppy Shepherd Neame Spitfire as an
aperitif. My friends Ms. Timidity Thinlady and her laddish boyfriend,
Jack Behaving- Badly were horrified at such a suggestion. They had
all sorts of reasons why a classic British ale was inappropriate."
He offers 12 reasons why they were wrong.
WHAT'S A BEER WRITER DO WHEN HE'S NOT DRINKING
As many of you readers know, beer and good health mix just fine.
Real Beer Author Bernie Kilkelly is celebrating his 40th birthday
by running the Boston Marathon. He's also participating in the race
to raise money for the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
Cemcorp specializes in complete plant designs, from brewpubs to
microbreweries and large commercial breweries. You'll find lots
of nifty high-tech stuff here, like PCbrew, PC-computer control
systems including hardware and software based on flow logic for
precise control. There's also an absolutely essential primer for
anybody thinking about starting a microbrewery or brewpub.
ARIZONA MICRO MALTING
Arizona is not known for its barley or malting plants -- in fact,
Arizona Micro is Arizona's only malthouse. But the owners found
Harrington barley likes the climate, and with the help of a deep
well and a lot of hands-on care the resulting malt has many of the
attributes of a British "floor" malted barley. Because Arizona Micro
is small it caters to small breweries and even home brewers.
BREWERS WHOLESALE SUPPLY
Brewers Wholesale Supply uses warehouses in four locations to supply
a wide range of fine quality malt, hops, and clarification products.
In the Northeast all products are delivered in company trucks. Outside
of Rhode Island, products are warehoused in Denver, Sparks, Nev.,
and Ann Arbor, Mich.
BEER ON THE WALL, INC.
Imagine a map of California with more than two dozen breweries on
it. Then start picking beers from the breweries. That's sort of
what a visit to Beer on the Wall is like. It's both a beer of the
month club and a California microbrew store that offers plenty of
different ways to pick beer.
No, the Party Pig is not Spuds MacKenzie's country cousin. For the
record, the Party Pig is a self-contained beer packaging/dispensing
system. It replaces bottles and/or kegging systems for finishing
and serving beer. One pig holds 2.25 gallons, and scores of brewpubs
and microbreweries across America use them to sell beer-to-go. They
appeal just as much to home brewers tired of dealing with bottles.
Head for the Pig Farm at:
Chrislan has been turning out some of the most unique and attractive
tap handles around for more than 10 years. Now the company offers
new ceramic plaques -- with 22KT gold and a large custom decoration
-- that bar owners are happily putting on display. Find out why
the company motto is "NO HANDLE ... NO TAP" and check out classic
handles, plaques and more at:
Two-thirds of those voting in a recent Real Beer Page Poll indicated
they prefer draft beer to that from bottles or cans -- and the
popularity of draft beer puts a premium on dispensing it properly.
An integral component of a draft system is the gas that is used
to "push" the product from the keg to the tap. The Pure Draft
product line provides just the right mixture of CO2 and nitrogen.
You can see how it works and what that means at:
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 Sean S. Flint,
who wrote: "If I could have only one beer while stranded on a
tropical island it would be any of the Paulaner Weizens. Crisp
and flavorful, but not too heavy to get old."
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
Imagine you are on a three-hour tour, and the boat is destroyed
in a storm. Good news though -- you and you alone safely washed
ashore on an uninhabited island. And on that island there is an
endless supply of beer, but only one beer. What beer would you
like it to be? We received hundreds of answers. Guinness received
the most votes and Sierra Nevada the second most. We had so much
fun reading the answers we have opened the voting to all visitors
at realbeer.com. Vote and win a chance to receive a free 6-pack
of the beer you vote for:
MAKE MINE A GUINNESS
Readers who voted in our March poll -- and a record number
visited the voting booth -- let us know they consider Guinness
and stout to be synonymous. A solid 53% voted for Guinness, well
ahead of Murphy's 15%. This month you can let us know about which
style of Bock beer you like best. 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:
CRAFT BEER SALES UP 2% IN 1999
The craft brewing industry got back on track in 1999, according
to figures released by the Institute for Brewing Studies in Boulder,
Colo. After a flat year in 1998, domestic specialty brewing sales
were up 2%. IBS figures show that brewpubs, microbreweries, regional
specialty breweries and contract brewing companies sold 5.7 million
barrels in 1999, compared to 5.6 million in 1998. Market share
remained at 2.9% of the total amount of beer sold in the U.S.,
the same share as 1998. Of the top 50 companies in the craft-brewing
industry (based on barrels shipped), 25 enjoyed double-digit growth
in 1999. Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Co. experienced the most
dramatic jump, growing 41%. All the numbers are at:
'GOT BEER?' CAMPAIGN LASTS ONLY A FEW DAYS
Pressure from anti-drunken driving activists forced an animal-rights
group to discontinue its "Got Beer?" advertising campaign after
only a few days. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
said it stopped the campaign out of respect for concerns raised
by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The "Got Beer?" campaign --
parody of the dairy industry's "Got Milk?" advertisements -- generated
plenty of attention for PETA. In it the group urged college students
to replace their milk mustaches with beer. PETA contends that
milk cows and their calves suffer on factory farms and that the
fat and cholesterol in milk make it less healthy than drinking
beer. Although the campaign makes it clear that juice, water,
soda and soy milk are preferable to beer, it was quickly attacked
"MADD got their message out; we got our message out," said Bruce
Friedrich of PETA. "Our goal was always to raise awareness about
the suffering of cows and their calves, and we've certainly done
that." The Norfolk-based group will give MADD $500 collected from
employees and include a link to MADD on its website as goodwill
PHILADELPHIA BAR OWNERS BOYCOTT GUINNESS PRODUCTS
The Associated Press reports a growing number of pubs in Philadelphia
boycotting some products from the Guinness Import Co. At least
10 bars, mostly Irish, have joined the protest of the company's
involvement in starting new Irish theme bars around the country
-- particularly the Philadelphia area. Most of the pubs have discontinued
the sale of Bass and Harp, which Guinness also imports, but four
have even taken the popular Guinness Stout off tap. The bar owners
are upset with Guinness's commercial development division and
its relationship to the Irish Pub Co., which has built hundreds
of Irish theme pubs around the world since 1991. The pubs represent
new competition for existing Irish pubs.
UTAH MICROBREWERIES MERGE
Schirf Brewing Co. and Salt Lake Brewing Co., Utah's two oldest
microbreweries, are merging. Schirf, which makes Wasatch beer,
and Salt Lake, which brews Squatters beer, has begun operating
as the Utah Brewers Cooperative. The brewery will be located in
Schirf's plant and expects to produce about 20,000 barrels of
beer per year. The two breweries will still market their owns
lines of beers. Bottles, however, will bear a Utah Brewers Cooperative
logo. Squatters brewpub in Salt Lake City and the Wasatch brewpub
in Park City will continue operating, but the Salt Lake City brewery
MILLER ROLLS OUT PLASTIC BOTTLES
Miller Brewing Co. has begun selling Miller Lite, Miller Genuine
Draft and Icehouse beers in recyclable plastic bottles, making
it the first brewer to offer widespread distribution in plastic
in the United States. "We understand the skepticism," Miller spokesman
Scott Bussen said. "There is a longstanding emotional bond between
adult beer drinkers and that glass bottle. We don't see plastic
replacing aluminum or glass. But we do think there is a place
for it. It offers a flexible packaging choice we think was missing
in the beer industry." Recycling officials point out that the
bottles are not totally "recycling friendly." The Miller plastic
bottles are brown, and brown plastic bottles cannot be recycled
with other plastic soda and water bottles. The cost of separating
the brown bottles will be economically unfeasible for many recycling
PORTLAND BREWING PUTS MacTARNAHAN'S IN CANS
Portland Brewing Co. will soon be the first Northwest microbrewery
to can its craft beer. The brewery plans to release its most popular
brand, MacTarnahan's, in 12-ounce cans. Cans allow MacTarnahan's
to penetrate "can-only" markets where craft beers have minimal
representation, including airlines, golf courses and marinas.
The bright green cans will be available this spring throughout
the West. "The notion that you can't put a craft beer in a can
is ridiculous," said Portland brewmaster Brett Porter. "There
are a lot of great canned beers out there, like Boddington's and
Guinness, but they're not coming from the Pacific Northwest --
the center of American craft brewing. It's time for MacTarnahan's."
GEORGIA STRONG BEER LAW DIES
Georgia beer lovers will have to wait at least another legislative
session to enjoy beer stronger than 6% by volume. The bill that
the state's House passed, which would have permitted sale of stronger
beer, died in a Senate committee. 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. After the House passed the
bill it received considerable attention, causing neo-Prohibition
organizations and church groups to protest. That gave it little
chance of getting out of committee in an election year.
FIRST LIME, NOW LEMON
Anheuser-Busch continues to roll out malt beverages that don't
resemble traditional beer, last month launching Tequiza Extra
and in May introducing a lemon-flavored alcoholic drink called
Doc Otis. Tequiza Extra has a stronger tequila flavor than Tequiza.
Tequiza -- whose name is derived by combining "cerveza," the Spanish
word for beer, with tequila -- is made by blending beer with blue
agave nectar and a natural flavor of lime and imported tequila
and has been wildly successful since debuting last year. Doc Otis
is made with real lemon juice.
REAL ALE FESTIVAL IV
After a 16-month hiatus, Chicago's Real Ale Festival returned
for its fourth edition last month, this time at Goose Island Wrigleyville.
The event featured 147 brands of cask conditioned ales including
entries from across America and special guest beers imported straight
from Britain, as well as 55 bottle-conditioned beers. "The overall
quality of beer this year was quite remarkable," said Steve Hamburg,
cellarmaster for the event. "It is clear that American brewers
are mastering what it takes to serve beer in casks and that was
very much evident." Competition results:
NATIONAL HOMEBREW DAY FEATURES 'BIG BREW'
The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) will hold its third
annual Big Brew Celebration on May 6, which is National Homebrew
Day. For last year's Big Brew, 2,180 registered participants gathered
at 265 brewing sites in 47 states and 8 foreign countries. During
Big Brew, home brewers from around the world gather at local sites
for a day of brewing and celebration of the hobby. Participants
will brew from the same recipe and share in a simultaneous toast
at noon (CST). The official Big Brew 2000 recipe is based on the
18 attempts of Chris P. Frey of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild and
Fermental Order of Renaissance Draughtsmen (FORD) to emulate Sierra
Nevada Pale Ale.
OHIO BANS MANNEKEN PIS LABEL
The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has banned the label for
Manneken Pis beer because it was deemed "offensive and not in
good taste," according to a Paulaner North America and Intermountain/RKH
press release. The label portrays a statue of a little boy urinating.
Manneken Pis has been one of Belgium's best selling beers, and
the statue is one of Brussels' oldest landmarks and is considered
its official mascot. Ohio officials stated that the label depicted
the statue of a "child who is obviously relieving itself" and
that the name of the beer was a "play on words." The label was
banned in Pennsylvania two years ago. (BEERWeek TM, Week of March
27-April 3, 2000)
EDITORIAL: PLENTY OF REASONS TO CELEBRATE
During months like March we are reminded of what a great perch
we have at Real Beer. Favorable reviews in major publications
such as USA Today, Maxim Magazine and the Los Angeles Times brought
many new visitors to http://realbeer.com,
and they provided interesting input. Meanwhile, our RBPMail readers
responded with great answers to our quickie email question about
a single beer for a deserted island (see above).
Readers write from around the world, and our content covers the
entire world of beer and beer culture, but this coming July we
will pause to look specifically at the American beer landscape.
Sometimes we are so busy editorializing about how to make it better,
or how to deal with those who would limit our choice, that we
may not appreciate what we have.
We should. It was less than 20 years ago that Michael Jackson
-- a protagonist in the Better Beer Movement -- wrote the following
in his 1982 Pocket Guide to Beer:
"The overwhelming majority of beers produced in the U.S. are
of but one style: they are pale lager beers vaguely of the pilsener
style but lighter in body, notably lacking hop character, and
generally bland in palate. They do not all taste exactly the same,
but the differences between them are often of minor consequence."
Jackson will be the first to point out how things have changed.
Those from other beer producing countries who laugh at the lack
of beer culture in the United States are stuck in the '80s. Not
Carlo Petrini of Italy, a European leader in promoting pleasure
through good eating. He'll be among the speakers in June at the
World Beer Cup Awards in New York City. "The United States has
become a type of Noah's Ark for beer making traditions of the
world that are on the brink of extinction," he said.
That's just one of the reasons the Institute of Brewing Studies
(IBS; Boulder, Colorado) and brewers' guilds across the nation
have selected July for the first-ever American Beer Month. The
promotion has been designed to raise awareness of the variety
and quality of American craft beers.
We at Real Beer can barely wait for American Beer Month to arrive
and will offer the IBS and guilds our full support. We view it
as a celebration of American beer culture. We're not advocating
becoming jingoistic about it or asking you to give up your favorite
Belgian ale or German lager for the month. After all, these imports
inspired many American brewers, and some great American beers
are made from imported ingredients. We do think it's time to acknowledge
that we drink these beers not only because they are local, but
because many are world class.
We think this should be a national event. We also think it should
not be disregarded by those who point out that American craft
brewers produce only about 3% of the beer consumed in America,
because that still amounts to something on the order of 1.8 billion
12-ounce servings. Beer is part of the American fabric. A conversation
in a tavern is a conversation in a tavern, no matter what flavor
beer the participants are buying.
Much of the celebration during American Beer Month will focus
on drinking beer (thank goodness), but that's the last step. Let's
not overlook the fact that farmers in the Northwest grow some
of the best hops in the world. Or that barley fields stretch across
the plains. Or that American artists produce everything from engaging
coasters to tap handles. Or that many publicans in the United
States know much more about beer than their counterparts elsewhere.
Hey, it's a big deal. We've begun our planning, but as we've
seen in the last month, Real Beer readers are a source for great
ideas. Send any of your own to firstname.lastname@example.org.