RBPMail 6.11, November 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.
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INTERBREW, OTHERS ACCUSED OF COLLUSION
The European Commission has accused Interbrew and Alken Maes,
Belgium's two largest brewers, of operating illegal cartels in
an EU-wide crackdown against anti-competitive practices in the
beer industry. The commission said it had sent a formal legal
warning to Alken Maes and Groupe Danone, its parent at the time
of the alleged infringement, and Interbrew, the world's second
largest brewer with brands such as Bass, Stella Artois and Rolling
Rock. Two other smaller Belgian brewers, Haacht and Martens, were
also sent warnings. It is the first time in EU antitrust history
that the commission has acted against possible collusion among
brewers. The companies have two months to present a defense in
writing or ask for a hearing. If the commission decides a cartel
has been operating in the beer market it can levy significant
SCRUTINY CASTS CLOUD OVER INTERBREW-BASS DEAL
Meanwhile, the latest round of scrutiny could put Interbrew's
£2.3 billion acquisition of the Bass brewing interests in jeopardy.
Officials of Britain's Competition Commission have requested new
details on the likely effects of the deal amid growing signs it
intends to take a tough stance on the deal. Interbrew could even
be forced to sell Bass. The Interbrew deal was referred to the
Commission by Stephen Byers, the trade secretary, following a
report from the Office of Fair Trading. The commission is focusing
on the control of beer distribution in the UK that Interbrew --
which has also bought Whitbread for £400 million -- would enjoy
in addition to its share of beer production through brands such
as Carling, Stella Artois, Tennants and Boddington's.
CARLSBERG ACQUIRES SWISS BREWERY
Danish brewing giant Carlsberg is buying the beverages business
of Swiss-based Feldschloesschen Huerlimann Holding. Carlsberg
will take over the entire beverage business, including beer, mineral
water and soft drinks, as well as the wine activities, excluding
Weinkellerei Emil Nuesch in Balgach, which will be sold separately.
Carlsberg, which produces the Carlsberg and Tuborg brands, has
about 100 subsidiaries and 90% of its sales are outside Denmark.
SAMICHLAUS IS BACK
As reported first by Michael Jackson at http://www.beerhunter.com,
Samichlaus is back. The much-loved strong Christmas beer was not
produced for three years. It is being brewed by Austria's Eggenberger
to the same recipe as when it was made by Hurlimann of Switzerland
and using the same yeast. Karl Stohr, managing director at Castle
Brewery Eggenberg, noted that the Internet -- and specifically
a campaign launched by breWorld (http://www.breworld.com)
-- was vital in saving the classic beer. Read more at:
WHITBREAD TO SELL PUBS
Whitbread took another step away from the beer business last
month with an announcement that it will consider selling its 3,000
pubs to focus on its more lucrative hotels, leisure and restaurant
businesses. Whitbread, until recently one of the largest brewers
in Great Britain, recently sold its brewing interests to Interbrew.
It hopes to complete the sale of pubs by mid-2001.
JAPAN MAY BOOST LOW-MALT BEVERAGE TAX
The Japanese government is considering raising taxes on low-malt
beverages to about the same level as those imposed on beer. Sales
of low-malt brews, known as happoshu, have boomed in recent years
because of a tax break that makes them about one-third cheaper
than beer. Government officials calculate that as much as 100
billion yen could be generated by raising the tax on low-malt
brews to that of beer.
'BEER GUT' GENE?
British scientists have bred rats with beer bellies and expect
the rats may reveal why middle-aged men accumulate fat around
the middle. "We know that fat in the abdomen is associated with
a range of risks including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and
hypertension, but we don't yet know why, and these rats may help
us find out," said Professor Iain Robinson of London's National
Institute for Medical Research. His team of researchers dubbed
the rats SLOBs -- Severe Late Onset oBesity -- and they are the
first test animal with true middle-aged spread. This "beer gut"
typically hits men in their forties and women after menopause.
Robinson told the 11th International Congress of Endocrinology
that his research team had not yet proved that there was a "beer
gut gene," but it was likely that it would be demonstrated to
be one of several genes influencing obesity.
GERMAN BEER CONSUMPTION CONTINUES SLIDE
Beer consumption in Germany fell in the first three quarters
of the year, continuing a trend that began in 1995. Beer sales
were down 0.2% through September, according to the Federal Statistics
Office. Although some of this was blamed on cool drizzly weather,
the practice of mixing beer with soda also was a factor. A drink
call "Radler" -- German for biker -- has been particularly popular.
It is half beer and half soda, lessening the alcohol content.
Younger drinkers feel the cocktail does not inhibit their ability
to bike or inline skate, but many also prefer the less assertive
flavor. Consumption of such diluted beer mixes was up 31%, the
federal statistics show.
STUDENTS OFFERED FREE BEER FOR OLD BOOKS
British college students are being offered free beer in return
for trading their old course books through Books4Beer.com. Registered
users of the site have a chance to win 76 free cans of beer. A
computer randomly picks three winning users each month. The site
matches up users who want to sells a books and persons who want
to buy them, and also offers a guide to local pubs, clubs and
live music venues.
HERE COME THE HOLIDAY BEERS
Making a unique beer for Christmas is a tradition that dates back
to medieval times, when most European brewers were monks who saved
their finest ingredients for a special brew to honor the birth of
Christ. The 2000 crop will include hundreds of beers. We'll review
what we can and invite you to join in the discussion.
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
Sometimes the best thing to get a beer lover is ... beer. But if
you are looking something out of the ordinary we have a few ideas
for you. Stop by, feel free to include a few suggestions of your
own, or join a discussion about what's on your wish list.
NEED A BEER LINK?
Looking for a beer related web site? This is the place to start.
It's the largest depository of beer and brewing links on the Internet.
Look for sites by category, by how users rate them or with an easy-to-use
search. Make sure to add your own ratings.
THE BEER HUNTER AT THE GREAT AMERICAN BEER
Michael Jackson offers his personal reflections on the medal winners
he helped choose during Professional Panel Blind Tasting at the
Great American Beer Festival. They included some unusual beers --
such as a Juniper Stone beer which was lautered over juniper boughs
after the wort was partially heated by tossing in hot stones, and
a beer that included soy as an ingredient.
SPEAKING OF BEER AWARDS
Our hats off not only to the brewers who captured awards at GABF
but also to the writers honored by the North American Guild of Beer
Writers. A special tip of the cap to 2000 Beer Writer of the Year,
Kerry Byrne, but also to all the award-winning writers whose work
you'll find featured at the Real Beer Page. And, at the risk of
seeming immodest, a pat on the back for ourselves. Real Beer Page
Mail editorials won gold for the second consecutive year. Check
out both the winning writers and winning brewers.
*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
Founded in 1876 to provide beer to the local Bedfordians, Charles
Wells is now the largest independently owned, family run brewery
in the United Kingdom and is, in fact, the country's fifth largest
brewery. Five generations of the Wells family have worked at the
brewery, and there are currently three members of the Wells family
involved on a day-to-day basis.
DiversyLever uses its global expertise to meet brewery needs at
a local level, tailoring its products for both small and large brewers.
Its chemicals are matched with dosing, control and monitoring equipment
in applications tailored to meet customer needs.
Morland's history goes back to 1711, when John Morland purchased
his first maltings, and it's been a brewery since 1861 -- using
the same strain of yeast since 1896! The British brewery's site
seeks to be both fun and informative. Visitors who study the "Beer
Drinkers Guide" won't have to ask the landlord if they the are drinking
a good or bad pint. They'll already know
OLD SPECKLED HEN
Old Speckled Hen is a strong pale ale that owes its distinctive
character to a unique strain of yeast and its unique name to MG.
As the 50th anniversary of the MG car factory approached, MG asked
Moreland to produce a special ale. It named it after a one-off saloon
made in 1927. Residents call it the Old Speckled 'un, and typical
of names passed by word of mouth this became the Old Speckled Hen.
THE OLD TIME SIGNERY
"The Nation's Little Signmaker" offers the largest assortment of
old wooden signs and classic photos available. There are signs and
photos for any wall, but they are particularly well suited for a
home bar or recreation room. Personalization is a specialty.
SEVEN BRIDGES COOPERATIVE
Seven Bridges Cooperative is the world's most complete resource
for homebrewers who wish to brew organic beer. Seven Bridges Co-op
is a worker owned cooperative corporation that has been providing
homebrewers all things organic since 1997. Seven Bridges recently
became the first homebrew supplier in the United States to receive
the national "Socially Responsible Business Award."
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 is a
Real Beer T-shirt. Last month's winner was Glyn Crossno.
LAST MONTH'S QUESTION:
We asked readers how many beer-related websites they have bookmarked
on their browsers. A solid 44% have bookmarked seven or more beer
sites, while almost 12% (bless you) have one beer bookmark:
*********** Brewed Fresh For You! **************
The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites
to check out:
Hopunion U.S.A. is a leading supplier to the craft brewing
industry, providing a full service organization catering to brewers'
needs. Quality products and outstanding service come first. Start
by contacting one of the Ralphs -- Olson or Woodall.
ABESTKITCHEN.COM'S BAR SUPPLIES
Abestkitchen.com ships a wide range of restaurant, bar, beer
and other supplies to both restaurants and homes everywhere. Of
particular interest to beer enthusiasts are items such as a portable
beer dispenser and high-quality brewing pots, but this is also
a place to find bar supplies and even bar foot rails.
AMERICAN BREWERS GUILD
Dedicated to meeting the training, education and staffing needs
of the craft brewing industry. ABG offers courses and consulting
services for professional brewers, aspiring professional brewers,
brewing entrepreneurs and allied industry members.
BRIESS MALTING COMPANY
Briess Malting Co., Chilton, Wis., domestically manufacturers
base malts and more than 30 types of kilned and roasted specialty
malts, including organic malts. Briess also produces brewers flakes,
torrified brewers grains, liquid and dry 100% malt extracts; and
REAL BEER TOUR BEERS AT BEVERAGES & MORE
California-based Beverages & More, one of the top alcoholic beverage
chains in the country, has begun offering beers from Michael Jackson's
Real Beer Tour for sale in its stores. Consumers have the option
of buying a specially selected 10-pack for personal consumption
with the option to join the club or buying it as a gift to put
under the tree along with a club membership for up to a year of
home delivery. "We see this as a great opportunity to provide
our customers with something original this holiday," said Jay
Brooks, beer buyer for Beverages & More. "We are also pleased
to be associated with Michael Jackson, the world's leading beer
authority, because he represents the kind of quality our customers
expect from Beverages & More." Beverages & More will feature the
beers from the Michael Jackson Real Beer Tour with tastings at
all stores every weekend throughout the holiday season. To learn
about tasting times and dates at a store near you, call 1-888-380-
NATIONAL DRUNK DRIVING LIMIT NEARER
President Clinton signed a bill last month designed to toughen
the national standard for drunken driving, forcing states to lower
the legal blood alcohol limit or lose millions of dollar in federal
highway construction money. Clinton said that the lower limit
of 0.08% will save 500 lives per year. Nineteen states and the
District of Columbia currently have a 0.08% limit. Thirty-one
states define drunken driving as 0.10 limit blood alcohol content
or do not set a specific standard. States that fail to adopt the
0.08% standard by 2004 would lose 2% of their highway money. The
penalty would grow by an additional 2% each year up to 8% by 2007.
States that adopt the standard by 2007 would be reimbursed for
any lost money.
BREWING ALLIANCES SHUFFLED
Foster's Brewing Co. of Australia, Miller Brewing Co. of Milwaukee
and Molson Inc. of Canada all pronounced themselves pleased after
Foster's renegotiated its brewing, marketing and distribution
accords with both North American companies and redoing contracts
with each other. Then two weeks later Adolph Coors Co. entered
the mix by agreeing to form a joint venture with Molson. As a
result of the deals:
- Miller agreed to an early termination of a 1997 agreement that
gave Miller the right to sell Molson brands in the United States.
Montreal- based Molson Inc. agreed to pay $133 million to regain
total control over its brands in the United States.
- Molson agreed to strengthen its commitment to marketing and
distributing Miller brands in Canada.
- Miller will continue to market and distribute Foster's brands
in the United States through a joint venture with Foster's Brewing
- Molson will make all Foster's beer -- 10 million cases worth
-- that is sold in the United States. Molson also agreed to boost
marketing of Foster's beer in Canada.
- Coors Co. has agreed to pay $65 million for 49.9% of a joint
venture to sell Molson brands in the United States. U.S. sales
currently account for about 20% of Molson's sales. Coors also
reached agreements in principle with Molson on a contract brewing
arrangement and on amendments to their existing Coors Canada partnership.
NEW WEAPONS AIMED AT ILLEGAL INTERSTATE ALCOHOL
The House of Representatives has approved legislation to make
it easier for states to fight illegal interstate alcohol sales.
The Senate is expected to follow suit this week. Although the
measure deals with all alcohol sales, most of the attention has
focused on wineries. It does not affect companies shipping alcohol
in compliance with the nation's three-tier system, such as wine.com
and The Michael Jackson Real Beer Tour. The bill passed by the
House allows a state's attorney general to seek an injunction
in federal court to stop illegal shipments of alcohol into the
state. Thirty states do not allow interstate alcohol shipments.
U.S. BREWERIES TOAST STRONG SALES
It's looking like 2000 will be a profitable year for large breweries
and some not-so-large ones. A few examples:
- Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, announced record
sales and earnings for the third quarter and nine months ended
September 30, 2000. Earnings per share for the third quarter and
nine months increased 14.3% and 15%, respectively, compared with
last year. Domestic revenue per barrel grew over 3% in the third
quarter 2000 and is up 2.5% for the nine months, compared to the
same periods last year.
- Adolph Coors Co., the third largest U.S. brewer, announced its
third quarter results were up 23% over last year's third quarter.
Sales were up 11% compared with the third quarter of 1999, and
year-to-date sales are up 7.9% versus the first three quarters
- Pyramid Breweries of Seattle reported a fivefold increase in
third quarter net income compared with a year ago as net sales
increased 5%. It was the eighth straight quarter sales have grown.
Overall, sales are 7% higher in the first nine months of 2000
than the same period a year ago.
- Redhook Ale Brewery, also of Seattle, reported a 6.4% increase
in third quarter sales compared with 1999.
SAM ADAMS, ROGUE BACK AMERICAN BEER MONTH
A $25,000 pledge from Boston Beer Co. and Rogue Ales has jump-started
the fundraising efforts for the second annual American Beer Month
to be held in July 2001. The pledge was announced at the Great
American Beer Festival. Organized by the Institute for Brewing
Studies, American Beer Month is a promotion that celebrates the
heritage, diversity and exciting future of American beers. Larry
Bell, an IBS board member and president of Kalamazoo (Mich.) Brewing
Co., followed the announcement of the $25,000 pledge with one
that his brewery and Wynkoop Brewing Co. of Denver would contribute
$1,000 each to the effort. He challenged brewers across the nation
to add their own contributions.
NO BEER AT OKTOBERFEST IN ALABAMA
Not only do the folks in Cullman, Ala., not serve German beer
at their Oktoberfest -- they don't serve any beer. Cullman County,
which includes the city of the same name, is legally dry. Residents
celebrate by dressing in German-style lederhosen, eating bratwurst
and downing soft drinks. Some festival-goers have compared the
occasion to a Fourth of July without fireworks.
HOW STRONG WAS THAT BEER?
Last month, a U.S. soldier fined in Canada for resisting arrest
and insulting the police blamed high-alcohol Canadian beer for
his disorderly conduct, pointing out the confusion that results
because of the different way beer alcohol content is listed in
the United States compared with the rest of the world. Army cook
Jason Dalgai from Flagstaff, Ariz., told a Kingston, Ontaria,
court that he was not used to Canadian beer, which news reports
stated has higher alcohol content than American beer. A story
by Reuters, a respected news agency, noted: "Most American beers
contain between 3 and 5% alcohol content while Canadian beers
contain as much as 7%." In fact, a beer labeled 4% in the United
States is listed at 5% in the rest of the world because the U.S.
lists alcohol by weight and almost everybody else lists it by
volume. For more on the difference:
BART SIMPSON WOULD BE PROUD
This is one of those stories that's been bouncing around the
Internet long enough we thought it might be an urban legend (in
other words, a fabrication). So we tracked it down, found it was
reported in the Red Deer Advocate newspaper in central Alberta,
Canada, and now feel comfortable passing it along. Last year,
18-year-old David Zurfluh tried to eat his undershorts in the
hope that the cotton would absorb alcohol before he took a breathalyzer
test. He had been flagged down by a constable when his vehicle
was seen weaving as he drove. The constable told a provincial
court that Zurfluh ripped the crotch out of his shorts and stuffed
the fabric in his mouth while sitting in the back of the patrol
car. He was subsequently acquitted of impaired driving because
he blew .08% on the breathalizer, which was within the legal limits.
EDITORIAL: MAKE DRUNKEN DRIVING LAWS
TOUGH IN THE RIGHT PLACES
We have our doubts about whether a new law designed to
mandate a lower national standard for drunken driving will save
as many lives as advertised. What we don't doubt is that it was
a victory for neo- Prohibitionists.
In essence, the law signed by President Clinton last month put
the federal government in charge of setting the standard for when
a driver is drunk. States that don't comply with the national
rules will lose federal highway construction money. Nineteen states
and the District of Columbia currently use the 0.08% blood alcohol
content (BAC) limit set by the new legislation. Thirty-one states
define drunken driving as 0.10% or do not set a specific standard,
and most of the legislatures in those state have recently rejected
proposals to lower that.
They've chosen to fight drunken driving with other legislation.
For instance, Wisconsin -- where the limit is 0.10% -- has a new
law that doubles, triples and quadruples fines for habitual offenders,
depending on their blood-alcohol levels. The law also lowers the
legal blood- alcohol level for drivers with three or more convictions
"I never liked the federal government threatening states by withholding
federal funds," Gov. Tommy Thompson said. "I wish they would take
into consideration what we've done here in Wisconsin."
One of the state's leading law enforcement officers agrees. David
Schumacher, Wisconsin's State Patrol chief, said crashes, injuries
and deaths due to drunken driving were at the lowest level ever.
Fatalities last year totaled 270, or 54% less than the 1979 total
of 593. "Wisconsin has among the most effective drunken driving
laws in the nation and is committed to improving safety on our
highways," he said.
Faced with losing $90 million in federal funds, Wisconsin has
little choice but to make 0.08% part of its law. What does that
mean will happen to the state's other tough standards? That will
be determined by the political process, but Congress has set the
criteria for now.
President Clinton says the law will save 500 lives per year.
We've heard convincing arguments that the number is wildly inflated,
but we've also heard some say it could be even higher. That's
why we're not going to argue that a 0.08% standard can't be part
of a comprehensive plan for some states. But we think the federal
government should have taken note that Wisconsin came up with
an effective program that included a 0.10% limit.
We're worried that if 500 lives aren't saved, the anti-drinking
lobby will be back in Washington, D.C., saying, "Well, that didn't
work, let's try a 0.05% limit." The neo-Prohibitionists learned
that actually outlawing drinking doesn't work 80 years ago during
the failed experiment called Prohibition. By pushing for a constant
lowering of legal blood alcohol limits, however, they can make
it impossible to have even one drink -- let alone to drink responsibly
-- and drive safely.
We're not saying that everybody pushing for a lower blood alcohol
level is a neo-Prohibitionist or that neo-Prohibitionists aren't
concerned about saving lives. But we know they are going to keep
coming at us. The Clinton Administration suggested it was open
to a 0.05% limit and legislation to that effect has already been
authored in some states where 0.08% is the current limit.
Our concerns about the neo-Prohibitionists' agenda aren't the
reason why we hope the new law not only saves 500 lives, but 5,000.
We're talking about human lives here. We're all for anti-drunken
driving laws that work. Federal statistics show that in 1999,
drivers in 74% of fatal accidents involving alcohol registered
BACs of 0.11% or greater; most of them were double the legal limit.
Let's get those guys off the road and, as in Wisconsin, make it
darn hard for them to get back behind the wheel.
Let's make sure we pass laws that save lives rather than criminalize
responsible, social adult behavior.