RBPMail 6.07, July 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 emialed 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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American Beer Month has begun in style across the nation. Happy beer drinkers jammed festivals from Florida to Oregon on Saturday. In Philadelphia, brewery representatives from more than 20 states climbed the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum (yes, just like in the movie "Rocky"). Kalamazoo Brewing Co. president Larry Bell asked those on hand to take the "American Beer Pledge" and also administered the oath last month at the National Homebew Conference in Livonia, Mich.

On my honor, I do hereby pledge,
That for the month of July I will celebrate the breadth and diversity of the beers and ales of the United States of America.
That I will recognize the heritage, tradition and future of brewing in our republic,
And that I will savor the flavor of American made beer responsibly, moderately and exclusively.
Hail to beer, America's beverage!

Read on for more about American Beer Month.

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The state of Wisconsin showed its brewing muscle in New York last month when the World Beer Cup medals were handed out in 64 categories. Wisconsin breweries captured 18 medals, more than any other state or country. United States breweries won 65% of the medals (and had 63% of the 1,127 of the entries). Three U.S. breweries -- Rogue Ales of Newport, Ore., Montana Brewing Co. of Billings, Mt., and Brew Moon Restaurant & Microbrewery in Boston -- won three medals apiece. The winning breweries represented 19 countries. Breweries in 30 U.S. states captured medals.

"Winning a gold medal means everything for our brewery," said Mark Szymczak of the Piast Browery in Wroclaw, Poland, which won a gold medal for its Piast Premium Beczkowe in the European-style Pilsener category. "For our workers this is a fantastic reward for their dedication and hard work and delivers a sense of pride in being the best in the world."

The results:

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Belgian brewing giant Interbrew will acquire the brewing unit of Britain's Bass for 2.3 billion ($3.4 billion). The acquisition comes less than a month after Interbrew bought Whitbread's beer interest and gives the Belgian brewer 32% of the UK market, including the top-selling UK beer Carling. The Bass deal will vault Interbrew, which makes Stella Atrois, past Heineken as the world's No. 2 brewer. Anheuser-Busch is No. 1. "It was an important transaction in a very important beer market," said Interbrew Chief Executive Hugh Powell. Powell said Interbrew expects more acquisitions. "We certainly have the means. Our declared interest is in playing the role of consolidator," he said. "We will continue a process of organic growth and where transactions become available completing them."

In the deal, Bass also sold Interbrew its UK joint venture with Royal Grolsch and its Czech beer interests including the Staropramen brand. Bass, which controls 24% of the UK market, said the transaction requires approval by the European Commission but not Britain. Analysts indicate that the Commission may make Interbrew divest some brands. Bass ends a 223-year connection with the beer industry, from when William Bass started brewing in England's brewing capital of Burton-on-Trent in 1777.

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Carlsberg sold its 43% share of Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens amusement park to Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni, Scandinavia's largest tobacco producer, for $40 million. Carlsberg will use the money to fund brewery acquisitions, and is looking to the British market after Interbrew outbid it for Bass' beer business. "We will use the funds to buy breweries," said Carlsberg chief executive Flemming Lindeloev, "but I don't want to go into details now. We are definitely interested in looking at what other parts will be available after Interbrew buys the Bass operations."

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Sales of wine for consumption at home are growing more rapidly than those of any other alcoholic drink in Great Britain. The switch is at the expense of lager beer, traditional ales and spirits. Heineken dropped out of the country's top 10 alcoholic drinks, although other lager brands are still selling well, with Stella Artois and Carling growing more than 20% apiece and holding the top two spots. American- made Budweiser is fourth in total drink sales. The survey showed that more alcohol was bought from supermarkets than from off-licenses. It does not take pub sales into account. Stephen Foster, editor of Checkout magazine, said that the survey "confirms we are no longer a nation of warm ale and low-quality plonk drinkers. The UK consumer is becoming a more discerning alcohol drinker as we continue to shift towards a continental pattern of consumption."

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Daleside Brewery's FCP (Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas) Ale was chosen Britain's "ultimate fish and chip" beer by a panel of Britain's top brewers, beer writers and fish friers. The competition was devised by the National Hop Association of England, who grow England's hops, and HRI, who develop England's world-leading new hop varieties, to develop new commercial opportunities for Britain's brewers. FCP was specially brewed for the competition using the new dwarf hop First Gold, with Challenger hops for bitterness and Fuggles for spiciness and depth. The Beauty Of Hops English Ale Awards 2000 winners:

Also read a report on the event from Roger Protz:

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Irish Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy is considering ordering pubs to cut the price of beer in order to help fight soaring inflation. Inflation in Ireland has reached a 15-year high of 5.2%, the highest in the European Union. Michael Kilcoyne, chairman of the Consumers Association of Ireland, said 20% of the current inflation rate was caused by the rise in the price of drinks. "The drinks industry in Ireland is a protected cartel which needs to be broken up," he said.

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Pizza Hut in New Zealand may soon deliver customers beer to go along with their pizza. Restaurant Brands, which operates Pizza Hut and the KFC chain, plans to leverage its recent $28.3 million purchase of 53 Eagle Boys stores and expand into home delivery of liquor and other products, possibly including videos. Chief executive Jim Collier said a trial will begin in Auckland Pizza Huts later this month.

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Corona Extra, the No. 1 import in the United States, is available in cans for the first time this summer. The can has a "wide mouth" opening to accommodate the lime wedge that is often served with Corona. "For years our customers have asked us to offer a Corona can and we're excited that our Grupo Modelo partners have committed to producing this new package for the U.S. market," said Alexander Berk, CEO of Barton Inc., one of two companies that import Corona. "Corona in the clear bottle will remain the primary Corona Extra package, but the can will offer consumers the opportunity to enjoy the number one imported beer in places where they previously could not," said Carlos Alvarez, president of The Gambrinus Co., the other importer of Corona.

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****WEB WATCH****

This first-event celebration gives us another excuse to drink American beer and reflect on its role in more than 400 years of U.S. history. We've got special things planned every day this month at, so stop by daily.

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Among the unique events are online tastings. Check out our moderators' tasting notes and add your own comments.

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Make sure to enter our sweepstakes to win a trip for two to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. No essay required.

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Roger Protz has searched 25 years for the best beers and the best pubs and bars in which to enjoy them. Often editing the Campaign For Real Ale's "Good Pub Guide" and sometimes its monthly "What's Brewing" newspaper that goes to members, his books are a must addition to any serious library, and his contributions to a variety of periodicals are timely. He is not only one of the leading advocates for what the British call "real ale," but an authority on beer on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Nobody makes it to more beer events between Minneapolis and Chicago than "Whispering Jeff" Platt -- and we mean nobody. He accumulates information so quickly that he'd put out a daily brewspaper if there were a market for it. Instead he jams all the news and events into the CCS website, sometimes updating it more than once in the course of a day.

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

Alexander's is well known for its malt extracts and custom blends crafted to fit any need. It also offers a range of quality specialty grains as well as selling grape concentrate and grape juice. Brewing authority Dr. Michael Lewis had a major role in the design of the system that produces California Concentrate's extracts and has called Alexander's the "finest pale malt extract with the lightest color of any on the market today."

Having built a reputation for quality products and service in automotive chemicals, this Boston-based Company has expanded its service area and line of products. For the brewing industry, it's well versed in handling the challenges of your glycol delivery.

Need an elegant traditional turned tap handle in natural wood? Maybe a more creative one-of-a-kind molded handle? Located in Oak Harbor -- a town known for the works of its artisans -- at the north end of Whidbey Island in Washington, What's On Tap specializes in taps that look as good as customers' beer tastes.

California-based William's has been selling supplies to homebrews just about everywhere since 1979. The store offers everything from kits for beginners to a full menu of ingredients to sophisticated testing equipment. The website also includes a list of items currently out of stock from the print catalog and dates they are expected to be restocked.

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Thanks to all who have been replying to our Quickie Surveys. We draw one winner each month for a prize. Because of technical difficulties last month the results were not recorded and there is no winner. We'd appreciate it if you'd take the time to answer two questions this month. We'll be awarding prizes for both.

Have you ever taken a brewery tour?

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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 Boston-based Harpoon Brewery has finalized its deal to buy Vermont's shuttered Catamount Brewery. Harpoon acquired a state-of-the-art plant that might have cost $5 million to build as well as the Catamount brands for a reported $1 million. The Boston-based brewery plans to continue brewing Catamount products in the Windsor, Vt., facility as well as its popular Harpoon beers. With annual beer production exceeding 60,000 barrels, Harpoon has reached capacity at its Boston brewery. Acquiring Catamount's modern facility, which has been closed since March, will help Harpoon meet its increased capacity needs. "All of us at Harpoon have a great deal of admiration and respect for the Catamount Brewery and the pioneering role it played in New England craft brewing. We plan to continue brewing and selling Catamount and at the same time expand Harpoon's brewing operations to meet the growing demand of our New England customers," said Dan Kenary, Harpoon co-founder and President.

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The Senate has passed a measure that would make .08% blood alcohol content the allowable limit for drivers nationwide. The proposal faces opposition in the House as negotiators from both houses try to adopt a transportation spending bill. The House has blocked past Senate efforts to make the standard 0.08, which is now the limit in 18 states and the District of Columbia. The other 32 states allow 0.10% levels. In the past two years 31 states have rejected .08.

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A study by the Harvard School of Public Health finds that current laws are little deterrent to underage college students who want to drink. "Students today come to college expecting to drink," said Henry Wechsler, director of Harvard's College Alcohol Studies Program. "They think that's what you're supposed to do in college, and they find plenty of ways to do it." The study found that underage students either have older friends buy for them or frequent local bars and on-campus parties.

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The Hops, Bar & Brewery chain passed Rock Bottom Restaurants to become the largest-selling brewpub group in the United States, according to figures compiled by the Institute for Brewing Studies. Hops, which operates more than 70 pubs, estimated selling 37,500 barrels of beer in 1999, compared to 33,500 by Rock Bottom. Brew Brothers in Reno, Nev., remained the highest-selling single-site brewpub in the U.S. with sales of 5,240 barrels.

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The Kansas City Biermeisters were honored as Homebrew Club of the Year during the National Homebrew Conference in Livonia, Mich. More than 250 of the nation's most avid homebrewers gathered in Livonia, Mich. from June 22 to 24 for the conference presented by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). Winners of the 2000 AHA National Homebrew Competition were announced during the conference. The National Homebrew Competition, the largest homebrewing competition in the world, awards gold, silver and bronze medals in 29 categories. Homebrewer, Cidermaker and Meadmaker of the year are awarded to the top amateur brewers in the nation. Winners were selected from more than 2,700 entries. The results:

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Jennifer Barker was chosen Virginia Beer Lover of the Year. Barker, a recent University of Virginia graduate majoring in Psychology, called upon Ernest Hemingway to help her win the first-ever award. In her short essay answer, she wrote: " 'Beer is good for you.' -- Hemingway. I agree whole heartedly with Hemingway, a well-renowned author and alcohol lover too. I love beer -- it's a cross cultural, interracial, class- undifferentiated medium, fostering social interaction. If only such social cohesion were accepted by our political leaders, the world might be a happier place." The contest was part of "May is Virginia Beer Month" festivities, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Craft Brewers (MACB). Barker teaches special needs children and is assistant manager at an ice cream shop. She has also just started working as a hostess one night a week at a Charlottesville brewpub, South Street Brewing Co.

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American Beer Month kicked off this past weekend with a great deal of hoopla across the country. We hope the fun is just beginning. There's plenty of time to join the celebration, whether at a major event or with a toast in your local pub.

For instance, Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. in Flossmoor, Ill., marks its fourth anniversary this weekend by pouring 1906 Pilsner. In this classic American pilsner, brewer Todd Ashman used flaked corn, an ingredient not often associated with craft beer, to make it historically accurate.

"I wanted our customers to envision the original Flossmoor train station being built (in what is now the suburbs, but 100 years ago was in the country south of Chicago) and the construction crew getting off work and sitting down in front of an iced down bucket of bottles of locally brewed beer," he said.

It's not hard to find an excuse to drink a beer or to make it American, and American Beer Month certainly must be about drinking beer. But its also a time to remember how American beer fits into our lives today and how beer has been a part of American culture for 400 years. On a hot and muggy Illinois afternoon an iced own bucket of beer seems like a particularly good reason to celebrate, and worthy of anybody's Top 10. It's where our countdown begins.

9. Beer is the drink of moderation. Nearly 400 years ago, the Puritans understood that the early American settlers were going to drink and promoted beer over "demon rum" and whiskey. Today, two cold pints will quench a considerable thirst on a hot July day, and your blood alcohol level should safely remain within legal limits.

8. Beer belongs. Following World War II, the Brewers Foundation commissioned popular magazine artists to produce a series of 115 paintings using the theme "Home life in America" and showing folks socializing at home with beers at hand. These portraits appeared as advertising in all the popular publications, noting "perhaps no beverages are more 'at home' on more occasions" than American beer. The tagline on each -- "Beer belongs ... enjoy it" -- is just as timely today.

7. Beer is a social lubricant. During our colonial period, the tavern was the focal point of the community. In the 19th century, the union movement found its early home in saloons. In the past 20 years, the addition of more than 1,000 brewpubs to the landscape has helped return the word "pub" to our vocabulary -- a public house where you can escape the private domains of home and work.

6. Beer drinkers don't spit. Do you really want to be there for American Wine Month?

5. You can drink it where (or very near where) it's made. There's nothing quite like a fresh pint from your local brewpub or the microbrewery across town. Peter Austin (the father of microbrewing in England) once said that beer should be sold no farther from the brewery than a horse can walk in one day. Technology has changed that, but fresh beer still has a home court advantage.

4. Hops. Let's not argue about balance or what styles such as IPA tasted like 100 years ago. American brewers plus hops equals innovation.

3. There's a beer for every occasion, be it a special event or an everyday pleasure. Thirst-quenching? Try a traditional pilsner. Sociable? A hand-drawn brewpub bitter. Greet friends with a wheat beer. Serve an American pale ale with steak or a Vienna with pizza. The list doesn't end -- there's a beer to celebrate the birth of a child or a raise at work, for after work or for before bed ... or to have while you think about the next beer to drink.

2. The time to be embarrassed about American beers is not history. As beer writer Michael Jackson points out: "If I wanted to find a traditional Marzen-Oktoberfest, I would have to look harder in Bavaria than the U.S. Should I desire a true India Pale Ale, the style's country of origin, England, would have a hard time delivering; the American examples are far more assertive."

And the No. 1 reason to celebrate American Beer Month is ...

1. Prohibition lasted 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours, 32 1/2 minutes. That was long enough.