RBPMail 6.05, May 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Real Beer, Inc., of San Francisco and of Redmond, Washington, the largest Internet-based beer club, have announced plans to merge operations. The new company, to be named L.L.C., is designed to provide the ultimate beer experience on the Internet. Launched six months ago after nearly a year of research and development, WBT focuses on the developing Internet community to build its brand. It has exclusive contracts with the world's top beer expert, Michael Jackson, to bring Americans some of the best beer in the world -- beer otherwise unavailable in this country. Jackson selects the beers and provides customers with tasting notes as well as brewery history.

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Nearly 150 breweries will collect cups June 19 at the World Beer Cup awards ceremony in New York City. Winners were selected in two days of judging preceding the Craft Brewers Conference in Milwaukee, Wis., but the top three beers in each of 64 categories won't be revealed until next month. Winning beers come from small breweries and large, well known breweries and those you might never have heard of. They are from the United States, Germany, Lithuania, Japan and many other nations. The list of finalists is at:

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New reports indicate that Belgian brewer Interbrew, maker of Stella Artois, is ready to float a stock offer that would raise cash the company could use to make acquisitions. Interbrew denied reports in December that it was considering an initial public offering (IPO). The London Telegraph reports that at the same time the company sent an internal memo that said: "As part of the long range planning exercise, we have reviewed different sources of funding, all based on our own financing capacity, to make further acquisitions."

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Several brewers have expressed interest in acquiring Feldschloesschen- Huerlimann Holding, the Swiss brewery that has decided to quit the business after 123 years. Feldschloesschen plans to become a real estate company. Heineken, Interbrew, Brau-Union, Carlsberg and South African Breweries are all said to be considering offers.

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Two U.S. breweries picked up gold medals at the Brewing Industry International Awards in London. BridgePort Brewing won gold for its IPA, and Alaskan Brewing Co. took a gold for its Alaskan Stout and a silver for Alaskan Smoked Porter. Young & Co. of London captured two golds -- for its Chocolate Stout and its kegged Bitter. 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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King & Barnes, a family run British brewery whose beers have earned a loyal following in the United States, has been sold. The brewery will be closed; the future of its brands is under review. Hall & Woodhouse, which has run a brewery in Dorset since 1777, bought the brewery and its estate of 55 pubs. The amount paid was not disclosed, but Shepherd Neame - one of four principals to bid for King & Barnes - reported making an offer of 23.75 million.

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Philippines brewing giant San Miguel Corp. plans a takeover bid for J. Boag & Son Ltd., a small Australian brewer, in a deal that marks the company's entry into the Australian market. The offer represents a premium of 60.2% over Boag's stock price before the bid. A spokesman for Boag said the Australian company's board would recommend that shareholders accept the bid and that directors would accept it for their own holdings.

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Sales by German brewers continued to decline in 1999 and now are 10% lower than when they peaked in 1994. Breweries will be forced to raise prices to remain in business, said Dieter Ammer, president of the German Brewer's Association. The Olympic games and European soccer championships are expected to help raise sales. "On top of that we need some nice summer weather," said Ammer. (BEERWeek TM, Week of April 24-May 1)

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Britain appears ready to make the most sweeping changes in the hours pubs may remain open since operating hours were imposed at the outset of World War I. Hours were limited to prevent factory workers from getting drunk instead of furthering the war effort. The Labor government is proposing easing licensing laws and strengthening measures to tackle under-age drinking and antisocial drunks. Instead of being forced to close at 11 p.m., pubs will be allowed to stay open until well into the morning hours - and in a few cases may operate 24 hours a day.

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Democrats in Australia plan to use their numbers in the Senate to block a proposed 9% increase in the price of draft beer. Prime Minister Howard had promised that beer prices would rise by only 2%, but now says that "the service component in draft beer" made it exempt from that promise. Majority leader Meg Lees wrote the prime minister to inform him that her party will vote to overturn the Goods and Services Tax which would raise the price of draft beer by 9% while raising the price of packaged beer by only 1.9%. Lees says it is unacceptable to say the promise applied only to bottled or canned beer.

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****WEB WATCH****

New Orleans hosts a jumbo party this weekend when the Jazz & Heritage Festival resumes, but it seems like there's reason to party every weekend in the Big Easy. As in our other City Guides, it is designed for New Orleans area residents and visitors alike. Make sure to check out Cooter Brown's Beer Heaven.

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The Real Beer Page has a cousin Down Under. You'll find the same mix of everything you could ever want to know about beer, beer events, brewpubs, microbreweries, homebrewing, the beer industry and more.

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Stephen Beaumont writes that he's tired of people dumping on beer: "It is not 'just beer,' it is a noble and ancient beverage which, like wine, food and television advertising, can be extraordinarily good or unmercifully bad."

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Bobby Bush, Wynkoop's 1998 Beerdrinker of the Year, writes regularly for several beer periodicals and a weekly column called "Beer and Loafing." He offers reviews of beer establishments, breweries, festivals and much more from across the country.

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Now you can dress like the insiders at Real Beer. We're giving away a dozen blue denim Real Beer Inc. shirts previously available only to Real Beer employees.

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

BEERTRIPS.COM offers adventures that are "hand-crafted" by noted brewmasters (such as Greg Hall of Goose Island Brewing Co.), well- traveled beer lovers, and local beer experts throughout the world. Destinations such as Belgium, Germany, Britain, and the Czech Republic are rich in both culture and beer culture. Plan a fall trip at:

DCI was established in 1955 as Dairy Craft, Inc., producing stainless steel storage tanks for the dairy industry. It brings more than 40 years of expertise to the production of microbrewery equipment. You'll find a full range of products and an impressive list of brewing customers at:

The Grape and Granary is a family-operated business run by folks with equal interest in homebrewing and winemaking. Jim Sr. has been making wine since 1980, and John began brewing beer in 1987. Kelli, Jimmy, Dave and Tony are just as passionate about these hobbies and can answer almost any question you throw at them. Visit them in person in Akron, Ohio, or shop online at:

Since 1985 Lakefront has offered handmade beers designed to honor the tradition of early Milwaukee brewers. The brewery recently added equipment that allows its brewers to make almost as much in one batch as Lakefront sold its first year in operation, but you still wouldn't call the place modern. Check out the beers, take a digital tour and find out what we're talking about at:

Initially focused on supplying local food and beverage industries with stainless steel welding and machining services and bottling and packaging lines, SMS now produces stainless steel vessels and equipment specifically for the brewing industry. It manufactures systems from 3 1/2 barrels to 100 barrels and has its own line of grain mills, glycol chilling systems, tank safety devices and kegging equipment. Look for the "Beer Crossing" sign 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. Last month's winner was Tony Parks. Make sure to reply to this month's question for a chance to win a particularly special prize.

Were Real Beer to host fantasy sports competitions, giving away unique beer- related prizes, would you participate and what sports would you like to see us offer? Baseball was the first choice, but barely ahead of football -- and NASCAR racing was a strong third.

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

This month, you can vote in our RBPMail email survey and/or the Voting Booth to tell us about your homebrewing habits. Last month, readers indicated that two bocks are better than one. We asked about favorite style of bock beer and 34% picked Dopplebock, more than twice the number who voted for second place Bock (16%). To vote this month, 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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The Pabst Brewing Co. has decided to close the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas, transferring production of beer made there to Miller Brewing Co. in Fort Worth. Officials said they will lay off 161 workers in June and close the 114-year-old plant. "It's just too costly to keep it open," Pabst Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Bitting said. "A lot of it is old and inefficient." He said it would have taken $8-10 million to modernize the brewery. Miller now brews about 75% of the 11 million barrels of Pabst-owned beer sold each year, Bitting said. That figure will approach 80% when the Pearl Brewery closes.

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The Miller Brewing Co. has divested itself of one craft brewing company that it took a share of in 1995 and purchased 100% ownership of the other it also bought into in 1995. The Milwaukee-based brewer now wholly owns the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, while Shipyard Brewing Co. founders Alan Pugsley and Fred Forsely are back in charge of their Maine brewery. Miller's other specialty brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., registered a 2.8% sales increase in 1999, selling 329,000 barrels of beer in 1999. Leinenkugel is the nation's third-largest specialty brewer.

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Reports are that employees at Catamount Brewing Co. in Windsor, Vt., were locked out of the brewery by a company creditor in April. The brewery was shut down by representatives of Chittenden Bank, to which Catamount is reported to owe more than $1 million. Catamount was a craft brewing pioneer when it opened in the 1980s in White River Junction, Vt., and was long one of the region's most distinctive and respected breweries. But it has struggled since 1997, when it borrowed $5 million to open a large facility in Windsor at the same time that sales began to plateau. No beer is being brewed and Chittenden Bank is looking for buyer to run the facility as a brewery. (BEERWeek TM, Week of April 10-17)

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Governor James S. Gilmore, III, proclaimed May "Virginia Beer Month." In an official Certificate of Recognition, the Governor cited Virginia's rich brewing heritage, number of award-winning microbreweries, the positive economic impact of local breweries, and the strong commitment of Virginia's breweries to promote responsible beer enjoyment. Highlights of the month include a Virginia Beer Lover of the Year Contest and the River City Real Beer Festival.

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Dutch researchers report that beer could be better for your heart than red wine or spirits. Scientists have long known that red wine helped to protect against heart disease. The Dutch study found that the vitamin B6 in beer prevents the build-up in the body of a chemical called homocysteine, which is thought to be linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease.

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The Institute for Brewing studies honored Mark Carpenter for innovative brewing and Ralph Olsen and Ralph Woodall for their ongoing contributions to the craft beer industry during the Grand Banquet at the Craft Brewers Conference in Milwaukee. Carpenter, of Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco, received the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing. Olsen and Woodall, of Hopunion in Yakima, Wash., were given the IBS Recognition Award, which goes to an individual or company whose inspiration, enthusiasm and support have contributed to the brewpub and microbrewery movement.

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Horticulturists in Nelson, New Zealand, have developed a new hop that makes beer taste like wine, according to a New Zealand Herald article. The new hop, dubbed Nelson Sauvin, is a "pilsner-style lager hop" which gives the beer "aromas of gooseberries, tropical fruits, passion fruit and grass clippings" for "a similar taste experience to Sauvignon Blanc wine." The hop is being used in a new beer called AroMac, brewed by McCashin's Breweries. (BEERWeek TM, Week of April 10-17)

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After nearly 40 years, beer and bowling are almost back together again in Massachusetts. Both houses of the state legislature have passed a bill that would legalize the consumption of alcoholic beverages at bowling alleys. The governor must still sign the measure. The alcohol ban, which affects about 80 bowling alleys statewide, was enacted in 1962 to ensure that the businesses remained family-oriented.

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We usually reserve this space to reflect on the implications of real world events that affect our access to and enjoyment of beer. To expand on our lead story, we believe the World Beer Tour and Real Beer merger amounts to nothing short of earth-shattering news along those lines. Bear with us while we explain the implications for you as we welcome you one step deeper into the good beer community.

We think two of the best things about Real Beer are the beer in all its diversity -- we admit it, it's a great perk -- and our readers. For over five years we've worked to bring the two closer together. We've built databases of breweries and events that help readers find craft beer. We've recruited some of the best beer writers in the world -- Michael Jackson, Stephen Beaumont, the industry's leading publisher and editorial talent, three of the last four writers to win North American Beer Writer of the Year, and many others -- to act as tour guides and taste mavens.

Each year we've vowed to ourselves to do more and do it better. We pledge it to you at the end of each newsletter. Working in an industry where vaporware is all too common, we've been reluctant to make promises to our audience until we knew we could deliver. We take the "Real" part of our name very seriously. We knew long ago what we wanted to do -- share some of the world's finest beers with our friends -- we just couldn't do it all at that time.

Now, with the merger of the World Beer Tour and Real Beer, we can change the way consumers access beer. This merger is exciting because it puts our network to the best possible use: the joining together of readers and extraordinary beers in the real world.

Real Beer co-founder, Mark Silva, likes to say, "The three best beers you can have are the one handed to you by a brewer, the one recommended by an informed friend, and the one you use to turn someone else on to a great discovery." It's been our vision to leverage the internet to facilitate this interaction.

The World Beer Tour gives us the chance to sample some incredible beers, handpicked by beer authority Michael Jackson just for club members. What do we mean by handpicked? Read the articles posted at and and you will realize these are not casual selections. Jackson has personally discovered these beers on his world travels. The beers are distinctive, unique and of extremely high quality. And, most are not available anywhere in the United States except through this club.

We'd love to be able to stick a bottle through your computer screen right now and pour you a glass; unfortunately, the technology isn't quite there yet. Bringing World Beer Tour and Real Beer together, however, is a step in the right direction. Now we can arrange for the delivery of beer to you in many areas of the United States and soon other parts of the world.

You've undoubtedly heard some of the debate surrounding the beer distribution within the United States. We won't bore you with the fine print, but when we say the World Beer Tour is three tier compliant program it means the beer flows through the same system that gets you beer now -- it's just that World Beer Tour brings you beer that the current channel hasn't been able to deliver. The beer is available exclusively to customers of legal age, and only where it is legal to deliver. Right now that's not every state, but we're working on it.

As challenging as delivering beer legally is delivering it with the taste intact. Handling and storage gets a lot of attention. We want the beer to be as good as when Michael Jackson tasted it. The World Beer Tour approach delivers the most direct path from the brewery to you, limiting storage time and handling. As an added measure, the club promises a satisfaction guarantee.

So, how good are these beers? Take it from professional brewers. We just got back from the Craft Brewers Conference in Milwaukee, where we were able to share with American craft brewers the same beers that are sent to WBT club members. We wish you could have been there to see the brewers' reactions to these high-quality beers.

These are the sorts of beers that helped inspire American brewers to make world-class beer. Brewers often tell stories of sampling fine beers like these in other lands and discovering they weren't available in the United States, or due to aging or mishandling barely tasted like the beers they remembered.

In Milwaukee, we watched brewer after brewer sample one beer, then another. "Whew, what's going on here?" said one with delight after a sip of Poperings Hommel. "I've always wanted to try Worthington's White Shield," said another. And then there was the brewer who took a sip of Olde Suffolk, looked at the glass, took another drink, finished the beer and put the glass down, obviously waiting for a refill. "Where do I sign up?" he said.

We're looking forward to having a beer with him. You can too. We started this editorial by welcoming you one step deeper into the beer community. By participating in this club, you can taste and judge your beers against the palates of world beer authorities, brewers and other members. The membership includes a privateweb area for members-only to compare and share notes online. Eventually, you might even be able to influence what beers are offered.

Ready to try? For the next two weeks, you can sample what we are talking about at no risk -- see the ad at the top of this newsletter or go directly to If you don't think it's as good as we've said, you'll get a complete refund from World Beer Tour.

Like firing up a web browser years ago and instantly understanding the implications of the medium, we hope that you can begin to appreciate the implications of the merger between Real Beer and World Beer Tour. It's all about you getting access to great beers and being able to share the experience with family, friends and your community online.