RBPMail 6.09, September 2000
Real Beer Page Mail (RBPMail) began as a modest update to craft-brew events on the WWW. It evolved into a news digest and sometimes editorial forum. We present its contents here much as they were emailed to subscribers. Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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LONDON TO REVIEW INTERBREW-BASS DEAL
The European Commission has referred part of Belgian brewer Interbrew's
acquisition of Bass to U.K. regulators. The referral only affects
the parts of the deal relating to the U.K. beer sector. Stephen
Byers, Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, had asked for
the chance to investigate the deal. The Office of Fair Trading
will now have four months to decide whether to allow Interbrew
to hold on to a position giving it at least one third of the U.K.
beer market. Interbrew will also hold supply agreements with about
one quarter of the U.K.'s pubs.
Analysts speculated that U.K. regulators would force the Belgian
brewer to dispose of some brands, leaving it with a market share
of no more than 30%. Lobbying has already begun. Hugh Osmond of
the Punch Group, Britain's biggest publican, said Interbrew and
Scottish & Newcastle, the Edinburgh-based brewer, controlled more
than 80% of this market and could prevent competitors gaining
access to pub chains. "I think it is a pretty dubious thing to
allow to happen," he said.
AUSTRALIAN BREWING GIANT BUYS BERINGER WINES
Foster's may be Australian for beer, but from now on Beringer
is Australian for wine. In a $1.5 billion deal that creates the
world's largest purveyor of premium wines, Melbourne, Australia-based
Foster's Brewing, snagged Beringer Wine Estates Holdings of Napa,
Calif., one of the largest U.S. wine companies. Foster's, best
known for lager beer in big cans and commander of 55% of Australia's
beer market, will now be able to claim ownership of Beringer's
stable of six highly regarded labels, among them Beringer, Stag's
Leap and Chateau St. Jean. It was a Stag's Leap Cabernet that
vaulted California into the top echelon of world winemaking in
1976 when it knocked off France's best Bordeaux wines in a blind
tasting in Paris. The gives Foster's room to expand in the lucrative
U.S. market, while Beringer will get its longstanding wish to
grow internationally through Mildara Blass, which sells into 67
overseas markets. Beringer ships less than 5% of its wine outside
TSINGTAO BUYS TWO CHINESE BREWERIES FROM U.S.
China's Tsingtao Brewery has reached agreements with a U.S. investment
company to purchase its stakes in two Beijing breweries. The $22.5
million deal includes cash payment to Asian Strategic Investments
Corp. for its 63% share of Beijing Asia Shuang He Sheng Five Star
Beer Co. and its 54% stake in Beijing Three Rings Brewery, according
to a Tsingtao spokesman. Foreign brewers have been selling their
stakes in China for the past couple of years. Of the 60 foreign
breweries operating in China, only one is profitable. The Beijing
deal is Tsingtao's latest move to close the gap with rival Beijing
Yanjing Brewery Co., currently China's largest brewer.
FINNISH COURT DENIES A-B EFFORT TO OUST BUDVAR
American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch had mixed success at best
last month in its continuing battle with Czech brewer Budweiser
Budvar. The Court of Appeals in Finland ruled that the Czech brewery
can continue to use its registered trademark Budejovicky Budvar
when selling the beer in Finland, although it cannot include Budweiser
as part of its name. Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, took
court action against the Czech brewery with the following aims:
to forbid Budweiser Budvar from marketing and selling its beer
under the brand name Budejovicky Budvar and a ban on the use of
the trade name Budweiser Budvar; receive damages totaling 10 million
Finnish marks; force the destruction of goods, advertisements
and other documents bearing the trademark Budejovicky Budvar;
and receive payment for legal costs. The Finnish court ruled in
favor of Budweiser Budvar on all counts with one exception: the
Czech company, which is still state owned, cannot use the word
GUINNESS SALES DROP FIRST TIME IN 241 YEARS
Guinness beer sales apparently fell in 1999, the first decline
in the 241 years since Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease
on the famous Dublin, Ireland, brewery. Diageo, which owns the
Guinness brand, is expected to report a drop of 3-4%. Analysts
indicate that even though Guinness spends £200m a year on marketing
that it is fighting a change in drinking habits among those in
its home markets of Britain and Ireland. Lorna Harrison, editor
of the trade magazine Publican, said: "There has been an explosion
in the choice of beers available to drinkers, particularly with
premium lagers and pre- prepared cocktails. This is accompanied
by the fact that women are the growth area and they don't want
to drink something like stout. It all adds up to a hard time for
RETIREES WIN BATTLE FOR BEER IN PENSION PACKAGE
A German court in Erfurt has ruled that two retired brewery workers
should receive 264 pints of free beer a year as part of their
pension package and also receive back pay for three unpaid years
worth of beer. The retirees spent three years in court fighting
for the beer. The brewery originally promised workers and retirees
422 pints of free beer a year, but reneged after changing ownership.
Get out the lederhosen and get ready for the beer and sausages.
The original and biggest Oktoberfest begins Sept. 16 in Munich,
Germany, but there are Oktoberfests all across North America most
weekends from now until the end of October. We've got the history,
a calendar of events and even a primer on how to do the Chicken
THE ART OF BEER
An extraordinary exhibition of historic beer posters in St. Louis
gives Real Beer good reason to look at not only classic beer posters,
but also beer labels -- many of them works of art themselves on
a three-by-four inch canvas. You can even win your own set of labels
from My Own Labels.
GOING FOR GOSE
Michael Jackson reports live from Leipzig on a major new brewpub
reviving a classic style. A new brewery and pub specializing in
the salty, coriander-spiced, acidic, wheat beer called Gose is the
centerpiece in the restoration of a city landmark: the former starting
point and terminal for one of Germany's most important north-south
routes, the Saxony-to-Bavaria Railroad.
DRINKING WITH THE BIG GUYS
In "The Premium Beer Drinker's Guide" author Stephen Beaumont focuses
exclusively on the biggest, boldest, strongest, most expensive and
most interesting beers in the world. He explains why and writes
more about the book at
THE MICHAEL JACKSON REAL BEER TOUR
Not only has the World Beer Tour been renamed the Real Beer Tour,
but the web site has been totally overhauled. Stop by to learn about
the club or just to poke around. Be sure to take the virtual tour
Derek Hamilton began designing equipment for home vintners and brewers
in 1987, out of necessity, so he'd have tools he wanted to use himself.
Fermtech's product line then expanded with the same main objective:
To ease some of the repetitive chores so the homebrewer or winemaker
can enjoy the hobby to the fullest.
The big draw is an event for adults called "The Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin
Carving Contest." But you'd expect something different in a neighborhood
that bills itself as the center of the universe. Fremont Oktoberfest
includes beer from 25 local breweries.
MIDWEST HOMEBREWING SUPPLIES
The "King of Kits" specializes in both home brewing (72 kits) and
wine making (65 kits). The kits are put together from fresh supplies
and can be customized, serving both new and advanced brewers. Of
course there's also a full inventory of equipment and ingredients
beyond the kits.
Mixology's has remodeled its store, adding to its already gigantic
inventory of barware for use at both home and upscale drinking establishments.
Also new are drink-related features with tips on travel, festivals,
drink history and more.
MY OWN LABELS
These small-batch labels look like they are your own and custom
made because that's just what they are. Labels add a special touch
to gifts from cooks and winemakers as well as brewers. Picking out
a design, adding your name and choosing colors is almost as much
fun as brewing -- and it takes a lot less time.
RAPIDS WHOLESALE EQUIPMENT CO.
Rapids began serving the beer industry more than 60 years ago and
today sells a full line of restaurant and bar supplies from three
different locations. Its catalogue features everything from beer
faucets to frying pans to neon signs.
QUICKIE EMAIL SURVEY
Thanks to all who have been replying to our Quickie Surveys. Each
month we draw a winner from those who respond. This month's drawing
is for a Real Beer T-shirt. Last month's winner was Karen Robertson.
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
If you take beer to a party, are you likely to take a more expensive
beer than you drink at home or a less expensive one? 59% of those
who voted said they would take the same price beer, while 17%
said they would take a more expensive beer, 12% less expensive
and 12% would take homebrew.
*********** Brewed Fresh For
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
MANAGEMENT TEAM BUYS GENESEE
A management-led team has completed arrangements to buy the Genesee
Corp. brewing unit, maker of Genesee beers. The Rochester, N.Y.,
company said it agreed to sell its brewing arm to a group led
by Chief Executive Samuel Hubbard Jr. for more than $22 million
as part of its plan to sell all of its assets. The No. 5 U.S.
brewer said it also would sell its Ontario Foods division to Ralcorp
Holdings Inc. In addition to making its Genesee, J.W. Dundee and
Michael Shea's brands, Genesee is under contract to brew Samuel
Adams beer for Boston Beer Co. Pabst had offered to buy certain
Genesee labels, but the brewery would have closed if that deal
had been consummated.
SAFETY BOARD WANTS TO TAKE AIM AT 'HARD-CORE'
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
to Congress on the "hard-core drunk driver" concludes that an
increased focus on those hard-core types, rather than an across-the-board
tightening of laws, is the best way to fight drunk driving. The
NTSB recommends: frequent and well-publicized sobriety checkpoints,
not limited to holiday periods; penalties that include vehicular
impoundment for repeat offenders; legislation to require that
repeat offenders maintain a zero blood alcohol content while driving;
higher penalties for BAC above .15%; restrictions on plea bargaining
in drunk-driving cases; and alternatives to jail time, such as
house arrest or "intensive probation."
STUDY FINDS NEW LIMITED HEALTH BENEFIT FROM
First the good news: Researchers have discovered that beer contains
a powerful antioxidant more potent than those found in red wine,
soy, even green tea. Now the bad: They estimate you'd need to
drink 117 gallons of beer a day to obtain the maximum health benefits
of the compound, which is derived from the hops in beer. "I tell
people they can't cure their disease by drinking beer, but it
might just help," said Donald Buhler, a professor of environmental
and molecular toxicology at Oregon State University in Corvallis
and lead author of a report on the substance in the September
issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. "The
bottom line is that you're going to get some, but not preventative,
levels of antioxidants by drinking beer," Buhler said.
IOWA TAVERN OWNER SUES UNDERAGE DRINKER
Mitchell, Iowa, tavern owner Stan Walk has sued an underage drinker
for ordering a beer. Dustin Weiner, a 20-year-old Iowa State University
sophomore, said the suit is "really unfair" and intends to fight
it. "I ordered a beer, I was playing Foosball and I was arrested
and went to jail," said Weiner. "Now I'm getting sued." Usually,
Weiner would get a $100 fine for his first offense. Walk says
it's unfair that businesses stand to lose their liquor licenses
for selling alcohol to minors. "Bars have always just taken the
heat," Walk said. "We said to heck with that. He (Weiner) really
threatened my livelihood." Walk wants Weiner to pay $2,500 for
accusations that a bartender did not check for proper identification,
and an additional $60 for time he spent convincing prosecutors
that the allegations were false. Weiner showed fake identification
in his bar, according to Walk, but the college student claims
that police didn't find a fake ID when they searched him.
ROCKIES GET TASTE OF THE COORS
The Coors Brewing Co.'s brewery in Golden, Colo, accidentally
dumped 77,500 gallons of beer into the creek last month, killing
thousands of fish and prompting health warnings. Spokeswoman Aimee
St. Clair said an employee flipped the wrong switch, emptying
beer from fermenting tanks and washing it through a wastewater
treatment plant before it ended up in Clear Creek. "Somebody made
a mistake," she said. "We're trying to track down how it happened
so it doesn't happen again." Officials with the state Division
of Wildlife could not give an exact number of fish killed, but
estimated it was thousands.
MILLER ENTERS HARD LEMONADE MARKET IN NORTHWEST
Miller Brewing Co. is the latest brewer hoping to squeeze additional
sales from a popular drink trend by introducing a lemonade alcohol
in the Pacific Northwest. The new brand, Henry's Hard Lemonade,
will be available in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
The lemon- flavored malt beverage is part of Miller's Henry Weinhard's
brand franchise and is designed to tap into the rapidly growing
taste for lemonade alcohol, said Rob Gregg, Weinhard's senior
brand manager. The nation's top four hard lemonade brands -- Hooper's
Hooch, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Two Dogs Alcoholic Lemon Brew and
Jed's Hard Lemonade -- posted a sales volume of 320,000 barrels
in 1999. Those sales drove a 10% increase in 1999 alcohol refreshment
beverages -- a segment that includes wine coolers, hard ciders
and other flavored malt beverages, such as Adolph Coors Co.'s
Zima brand. By comparison, overall U.S. beer sales grew 1.6% in
DRINK MIXES BEER, VODKA, GINSENG, VITAMINS
A California beverage maker is serving up an alcoholic concoction
for people who are looking to get a buzz without losing their
energy. Hard E Beverage Co. of Corona, Calif., is marketing what
it calls the world's first "hard energy" malt beverage, a mixture
of beer, vodka, vitamins and ginseng, which the company believes
will appeal to partiers in their 20s and early 30s. Scientists
say the manufacturer's claim that Hard E will keep consumers both
tipsy and peppy is suspect and that the drink may actually be
dangerous. "People are taking illegal drugs to dance all night.
This is an alternative," said Mark Hall, senior vice president
of marketing for Hard E Beverage, a division of Hansen's Natural
Corp. that has contracted with Gluek Brewing Co. of Cold Spring,
Minn. to produce the drink. "It might mislead people into thinking
they actually could drink more without becoming impaired at the
same rate as drinking anything else," said Mark Willenbring, who
has studied alcoholism extensively as an associate professor in
psychiatry at the University of Minnesota. "If they've got a beverage
that's about 5% alcohol ... there's no difference in the level
of intoxication that occurs."
NEW BELGIUM BREWING SPONSORS TOUR DE FAT
Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Co. began its first Tour de Fat
on Labor Day Weekend, a six-city festival tour and tribute to
the classic cruiser bicycle. Tour de Fat began Saturday in Seattle.
The New Belgium tour crew now heads east through the Bitterfoot
Range to Missoula, Mont., for the second stage on Sept. 9. Two
Saturdays later, Sept. 23, they hit the Kansas pastures of Lawrence
then go south toward the border for the Austin Tour de Fat on
Sept. 30. Then they venture west along Route 66 to the mountains
of Arizona and Flagstaff Oct. 7, and finally bring the festival
finale to the front lawn of the brewery in Fort Collins Oct. 21.
PETE'S WICKED, BLAIR WITCH TEAM UP FOR HALLOWEEN
Pete's Brewing Co. is giving consumers a chance to win a part
in the next Blair Witch movie, due out in 2001. Pete's and Artisan
Entertainment are teaming up on the Pete's Wicked Ale Halloween
promotion, with a sweepstakes and special rebate offers for a
copy of the original "Blair Witch Project" on video or DVD. In
addition to a part in "Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows," sweepstakes
entrants can win cast-signed posters of the second movie, videos,
DVDs and video games. Rebate offers and sweepstakes entry pads
are available on special Pete's displays. Online sweepstakes entries
will be accepted beginning in mid-September.
EDITORIAL: AN ELECTION YEAR VOTE FOR
This week we launch a new newsletter from Real Beer called
Beer Break. It will focus on beer tasting and beer appreciation.
As you know, this is hardly new territory for us. The Real Beer
Network is stocked with resources focusing on appreciation --
from Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter to Beer Is My Life, from Stephen
Beaumont's World of Beer to Beer Travelers.
Last month we turned over our Spotlight section to a collection
of primers intended to sharpen your tasting skills. We'll offer
more beer education features soon -- that's both school for newcomers
and continuing education for you Master Beer Drinkers -- and Beer
Break fits right in there. We don't mean to sound like Al Gore
or George W. Bush, but we are committed to education. Teaching
people to appreciate beer is vital if the specialty beer segment
is going to continue to grow.
Stephen Beaumont makes this point very well in the preface of
his new book, the "Premium Beer Drinker's Guide":
"Confronted by an ever expanding list of beers, we often close
our minds to the new possibilities and turn instead to the tried-and-true
brand that fits us as comfortably as an old sweatshirt. Still,
forever lurking behind that safe decision is a nagging doubt:
What if that other beer really is better?"
Don't worry, Beer Break won't be snooty (or elitist, to use a
snooty word). Yes, we may offer tips on what Belgian beers go
well with pate, but we may take a look at beer and pizza as well.
We hope the newsletter will broaden your understanding of beer
and expand, not narrow, your interest. That's why it will include
tips for aficionados and novices alike. That's also why it will
be short -- so you have more time to put the lessons to use.
The fact is that beer has all the complexity and variety of flavors
that wine has. We can celebrate that without giving up the fact
that beer is also the world's favorite alcoholic drink, a truly
democratic beverage. Curiously, we feel we must reassure you,
our regular readers, that we haven't gone snooty on you. Meanwhile,
there are still plenty of folks who react to the concept of "beer
appreciation" by asking if we'll link to film clips of Homer Simpson
The newsletter wasn't created to change those silly notions.
However, there's an exhibition of beer posters in St. Louis right
now (see story above) that is doing just that, and had we been
publishing Beer Break a month ago we probably would have made
the display a featured topic.
"At first, I thought, beer posters -- whoa!" said Gerald Brooks,
the director of marketing and public relations for the St. Louis
Public Library. "But people will be surprised. It's actually art,
and some of it is really fabulous."
We expect to offer that kind of surprise on occasion, and good
advice all the time. Within the first month or so, for instance,
we plan to:
- Give you a simple way to test your tasting skills.
- Provide a list of beers to bring home from Colorado (useful
if you are attending the Great American Beer Festival or know
somebody going to Colorado).
- Help you count calories, and figure how beer and a diet may
- Tell you how to get the most out of a beer festival or wine
- List tips for storing your beer (for the short or long term).
And that's just for starters. We'll welcome your input along
the way. In case you haven't noticed, or have just been too polite
to point it out, we've got a lot to learn too. That's probably
why we're doing this.