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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.

In this issue:

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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 fines.

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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.

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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.

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As reported first by Michael Jackson at, 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 ( -- was vital in saving the classic beer. Read more at:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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British college students are being offered free beer in return for trading their old course books through 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.

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****WEB WATCH****

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*****************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 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 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 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."

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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.

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:

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*********** 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 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.

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 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 brewing alternatives.

Also visit:

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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- BEER (2337).

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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.

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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 Group Ltd.
- 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.

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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 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.

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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 of 1999.
- 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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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 to 0.02%.

"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.