RBPMail 6.12, December 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Shares in the world's No. 2 brewer, Belgium's Interbrew, rose 6.7% Friday in their first day of public trading. The price was driven higher on speculation of a merger with South African Breweries. The shares were offered at $33 Euro, at the low end of the pre-IPO range of $30-$38. The company said that 6.2% of the offering were placed with retail investors, adding that institutional demand had been strong. A company spokesperson said: "Sentiment in Britain appears to have changed after initial concerns over competition issues." Institutional investors had previously warned that regulatory concerns and a high price for the shares would make them more cautious when making their orders, and many remained on the sidelines Friday waiting to see where the public took shares prices. Meanwhile, spokesmen for both SAB and Interbrew wouldn't comment on the merger rumors that popped up Friday. But Graham MacKay, chief executive of the South African brewer, told analysts Thursday his company is keen to find a merger or acquisition opportunity in coming months, in part to offset its ailing domestic beer business.

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Rumors of continued consolidation in the brewing industry didn't stop with Interbrew. The London Sunday Telegraph reported that Scottish & Newcastle is talking to Becks, the family-owned German brewer, about a European distribution deal that could lead to a full takeover of Becks. S&N already distributes Becks bottles in the UK and has a large European distribution network after buying French beer Kronenbourg. There were also reports that Danish brewer Carlsberg wants to buy Carling Black Label for 750 million. Interbrew acquired Carling when it bought the brewing operations from Bass and Whitbread earlier this year. Speculation is that British regulators will require Interbrew to some of its beer assets in order to win approval for those acquisitions. Holland's Heineken and South African Breweries are expected to join in bidding on Carling if it goes on the market.

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Canada's Molson Inc. is entering the South American beer market by buying Bavaria from brewing giant AmBev. Molson will pay $213 for the Bavaria brand and five breweries. Brazilian antitrust officials ordered the sale of Bavaria as a condition for the formation of AmBev in March by Companhia Cervejaria Brahma and rival Companhia Antarctica Paulista. Bavaria has a 3.3% share of Brazil's huge market, the largest in Latin America. AmBev, the world's fourth-largest brewery, has 70% share of the Brazilian market. Currently ranked fourth, Brazil is expected to soon surpass Germany and become the world's third-largest beer market with an annual growth rate of 4.5%.

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Consolidating its position as South America's biggest brewer, Brazil's AmBev is buying Uruguayan brewer Cympay for $45 million. AmBev signed a letter of intent to buy just over 95% of Cympay from Oetker Gruppe of Germany. Cympay's brands Nortena and Prinz have a 24% share of Uruguay's beer market. The acquisition was AmBev's second since it was formed last March through a merger of Companhia Cervejaria Brahma and Companhia Antartica Paulista. In September, together with food giant Danone, AmBev bought Compania Salus, also in Uruguay. With Salus' brand Patricia, Nortena and Prinz, AmBev now controls 48% of the Uruguayan beer market.

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The Ushers brewery, well know for traditional ales in Britain's West country, has been sold to North Korea and will be moved to that country to produce lagers. North Korean workers are helping to dismantle the 175-year-old Ushers brewery in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and will rebuild it on the outskirts of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, when it is shipped there early next year. The 1.5 million deal was struck after the North Koreans responded to an advertisement offering the brewery for sale. Peter Ward, the director of Thomas Hardy Brewing and Packaging, the owner's of Ushers, said: "When they first approached us I thought they were South Koreans and I was a bit shocked when I discovered they were from the Communist North." Thomas Hardy Brewing bought the Ushers plant after the brewery closed earlier this year. Ushers began brewing in 1824 was best known for regional ales such as Best Bitter, Founders Ale and Mann's Brown Ale. The Ushers brands is now brewed under contract in Dorchester.

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Miller Brewing Co. plans to sell the Celis Brewery and trademark and close the Austin, Texas, brewery by the end of the year. Pierre Celis, visiting Austin on Friday, said that his family might be interested in repurchasing the rights and recipes to their specialty beer. But they would need a partner. "If there is another brewer, I would be ready. I think that is the best solution," Celis told the Austin-American Statesman. "At my age (he is 75), it is difficult to start alone the brewery. If I have a partner to help, I would able again make the quality beer." The Celis Brewery has 10 employees and sold 15,000 barrels in 1999, a tiny fraction of Miller's overall sales of 44.1 million barrels. Miller bought a majority stake in the Celis Brewery in 1995, then in April purchased the Celis family's minority interest in the business. That sale occurred when the Celis family exercised an option that required Miller to buy their share.

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Moosehead Breweries Ltd. has acquired a 45% share of McAuslan Brewing Inc., allowing the Montreal company to build itself a new Montreal-area brewery designed for lager and double its production capacity. The new brewhouse, which will cost between $5 million and $7 million and begin production next year, first brewing Moosehead Lager. That will allow Moosehead to break into the Quebec market for the first time. The brewery is not permitted to import lager brewed in New Brunswick because of a complex set of restrictions on interprovincial trade.

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****WEB WATCH****

Looking for the perfect beer present? We continue to add to our list of suggestions at Real Beer. You'll even find an entire section for homebrewers, including a Q&A with homebrew store owners. The section is sponsored by:
- Midwest Homebrewing Supplies (
- (
- Beer at Home (
- (

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It can get a little loud in the Real Beer discussion area, because plenty of readers are checking in with opinions about their favorite holiday and winter beers. Read what they are writing and offer your own opinions.

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If Real Beer Page Mail doesn't solve your monthly fix for beer news, several other newsletters are available from the Real Beer Network. Here are some of your choices:

- Sparging Online from New Zealand (monthly)
- Beer Break (weekly - a short and concise newsletter about beer appreciation and beer tasting)
- BeerSite (bi-weekly - new beer websites)
- breWorldMail from Europe's leading beer web site (monthly)

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New Zealand's leading journalists chose their favorite beers for Real Beer-Australia & New Zealand. Their top three choices: First Place - Australis Benediction (Auckland, NZ); Second Place - Emerson's Organic Pilsener (Dunedin, NZ); and Third Place - five beers tied, including two from Belgium, two from New Zealand and one from Germany. Find out what those beers were and the rest of the top 10 at:

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*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
Alternative Beverage has been offering personalized service for those making home beverages since 1973. As well as a vast array of specialized ingredients and equipment and expert service, the store has a wide range of carefully crafted recipes packaged under the name Brewmaster's SELECT.

Wine, beer, mead, cider, soda and vinegar -- they've got ingredients and solid advice for all of those. Hobbyists of all levels of experience will feel comfortable. Witness their approach to beer: "Whether you approach homebrewing simply as something that's fun to make (and drink), or as an art form, a striving for the ultimate in perfection, we will show you the road to success."

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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 Larry Goodwin.

We asked readers how often they visit A whopping 84% of you who answered visit once a month or more often, while a solid 36% stop by weekly or more frequently.

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*********** Brewed Fresh For You! **************

The Real Beer Page announces a diverse group of brew websites to check out:

Baltimore Brewing Company, brewers of DeGroen's beers, melds tradition and innovation, with consistently tasteful results. Their unique culinary approach blends the best of German, American and regional Maryland cuisines. Hearty and satisfying dishes go superbly with DeGroen's fresh beers.

BEERHEADS.COM has shirts, pints, hats and BRAND NEW GIFT BOXED POSTCARD SETS, all featuring the ale-inspired wit and wisdom of Ben Franklin, Churchill, Poe and others. Check out the full lineup of famous folks and see their surprising and humorous quotes about beer.

Larry's Brewing Supply does all it can to make sure that shopping in its virtual store is like shopping in its physical store. That way you know which items are seasonal, which ones might make good gifts, and you can check on items where freshness is a particular concern. The web site was just redone to make shopping for homebrewing supplies and other needs even easier.

The Horse Brass website is lovingly maintained as another room in one of America's most famous pubs, known for both its American microbrewed beer and classic offerings from around the world. The Horse Brass will be celebrating its 25th Jubilee Anniversary in October of 2001, still dedicated to the mission of being "a bit of England, where good companionship is the order of the day."

Since Tom & Fergie opened Monk's Cafe, it has become the Beer Mecca of Philadelphia. Monk's is a casual, affordable, neighborhood bistro offering a selection of Belgian ales that is unsurpassed in North America. Don't forget their award winning Belgian inspired food, often prepared with Belgian ales.

Conceived on a mountain bike trip through Belgium and founded in 1991, New Belgium is dedicated to environmental stewardship, employee nurturing, social responsibility, fostering beer culture and the passionate production of the excellent beer. Visit the first wind- powered brewery in America!

In 1997 Fromm, Mayer-Bass became an affiliate company of S. S. Steiner, Inc., a hop company established in 1845. Effective September 2000, the craftbrewing portion of Fromm, Mayer-Bass was merged into S. S. Steiner. They plan to continue to offer excellent service, competitive pricing and superior hop products in convenient packaging.

Also visit:

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Great Britain has revoked the key element of its 1989 beer orders legislation that limited the number of pubs that a brewer can own or have supply deals. Industry Secretary Stephen Byers announced the decision to revoke some of the provisions due to the changes in the UK beer market. "The beer orders were radical and necessary in their time but, more than ten years on, the market has changed and some of them have now served their purpose," Byers said. The orders limited brewers to owning, or having beer supply ties with, 2,000 pubs plus half the highest number of pubs over 2,000 held by the brewer since July 10, 1989. The rules led to the sell-off of thousands of pubs by the big brewers. The only group for which the pub limits have any real effect is Scottish and Newcastle, which owns 2,678 largely managed pubs, just below its beer orders limit of 2,739. Byers agreed to keep some of the beer orders provisions, such as that on guest beers, which allows tenanted pubs owned by a brewer the choice of serving one beer not from the owning brewery.

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Australian brewers, hotel and club owners and the country's opposition parties have joined to present a petition to the government against taxes on beer. Opposition Labor Deputy Leader Simon Crean and Australian Democrats Deputy Leader Natasha Stott Despoja said their parties will join forces in the Senate, where the government lacks a majority, to block increases in beer taxes. As a result of the government's midyear tax changes, which included introduction of a 10% goods and services tax, the price of packaged beer increased 1.9%. The price of tap or draft beer rose between 7% and 9% because the GST will be applied to the service component of that purchase, according to the government.

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The rock music group the BoDeans has sued Boston Beer Co., claiming the brewer is trying to capitalize on the group's fame by marketing malt beverages under the names of BoDean's Twisted Tea and BoDean's Twisted Lemon Tea. "We do not believe BoDean's Twisted Tea is causing confusion with anyone else's business or product," said Michelle Sullivan, spokeswoman for Boston Beer. BoDean's Twisted Tea is a malt-based, flavored beverage designed as an alternative to beer. Sales have been brisk since BoDean's Twisted Tea was launched in March. Boston Beer is better known for making Samuel Adams beer. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an order prohibiting Boston Beer from using the BoDean's name without permission or doing anything likely to lead the public to believe the band and the beverage are connected. The BoDeans, based in Milwaukee, have been around since the mid 1980s.

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Local investors have banded to buy the former G. Heileman Brewery in LaCrosse, Wis., and save it from being closed. CBC Acquisition LLC, a Wisconsin corporation, purchased the financially troubled brewery from New York investors Jim Strupp and John Mazzuto, who bought it last November and reopened it as City Brewing Co. "We are extremely fortunate to have ownership of the brewery passing into the hands of persons who are willing to invest in its success," said Randy Smith, currently the president of City Brewing and one of the investors in CBC Acquisition. Six of the investors, including Smith, have ties to the former G. Heileman Brewing Co., maker of Old Style beer and once one of the major brewers in the United States.

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Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery now has two Bernie Brewer chalets on display at its brewery. Lakefront owner and Brewers fanatic Russ Klisch bought the final version of Bernie's County Stadium chalet for $18,000 in October, at the first auction of stadium surplus stuff. Klisch then tried to buy the original stadium chalet, slide and mug at an auction of stadium gear Nov. 11. Klisch was outbid by Sun Country Airlines chief executive officer Bill LaMacchia Jr. But when LaMacchia learned how much Kilsch wanted for the original chalet, he decided to let Klisch keep the landmark on display at the microbrewery. Lakefront plans to hold a grand opening for the two chalets at the brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St., on Dec. 20. That will be the first time visitors will be able to slide down from the chalet porch into the giant beer mug. Klisch will charge $1 for children and $2 for adults to ride on the slide, and the money will be donated to Milwaukee's Child Abuse Prevention fund.

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Michael Jackson will deliver the keynote address Jan. 14 at the Spirit of Belgium 2001 conference hosted by The Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP). The two-day event Jan. 13-14 in Arlington, Va., will feature a Belgian-style beer tasting and lectures on various topics such as Belgian beer styles and the brewing process. A Belgian-style beer competition for amateur brewers will also be held. Tickets for the entire event are $120 each, with daily tickets $75. Tickets can be purchased by sending a check made out to BURP to SoB, C/O Kepler, 10715 Jones Street Fairfax, VA 22030-5129.

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Henley on Thames Brewer Brakspear walked off with first and second prizes at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) Organic Beer Competition 2000. Judging was held at the Crown pub in Victoria Park, London, one of the capital's two fully organic pubs. Twenty-two of the UK's growing range of organically certified beers were presented to a panel of expert judges. The top three beers were: First Place - Brakspear's Organic bottled; Second Place - Brakspear's Ted and Bens cask; and Third Place - St Peter's Bitter cask. "With beers entered from firms as large as Fullers and Greene King and as small as Pitfield, it demonstrates just how fast this new niche market is expanding and the interest it is generating in the trade," said SIBA general secretary and competition organizer Peter Haydon.

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During much of the year, we use this space to address beer issues good and bad. During the holidays we've tried to emphasize the former, urging readers to take advantage of the family gatherings to progress the cause of good beer. This year we'd like to alter the approach just a bit, focusing even more on our shared mission: Join us in sharing a passion for beer, educating others and broadening the category by giving a special beer related gift.

It's a simple proposition that has intrinsic rewards for you. After all, the best gifts are the ones that make both the recipient beam when they open the present and that -- as they say in the commercials -- keep on giving. You know what we are talking about. A friend might be grateful when they unwrap a CD with artists singing lullabies to their children, and it's that much better two years later when those parents tell you their kids now sing those songs along with them.

Beer can be that kind of present. You may already think about beer like you would a gourmet item from Harry and David, or a variety of other specialty stores on- and offline, and this is the season when you can teach those on your gift list to do the same. Some examples:

Give the gift of beer
- Beer-of-the-Month clubs actually do keep on giving for as long as you choose. We are understandably biased toward the Michael Jackson Real Beer Tour (, and not only because it is part of Real Beer. We sample the beers every month at in-house tastings, and find our palates and minds learn something new each time from the beer, from Jackson's notes that come with each shipment and from our own discussions. You can buy personal and gift memberships on the Real Beer Tour website at:

Give the gift of beer pairings
- If you choose to give a special beer, or two or three, don't stop there. Think about including a special glass intended to showcase the style of beer you choose. Or extend the gourmet message by adding cheese, chocolate or some other delectable. Perhaps a box of chocolates to go along with a barley wine, or a particularly decadent dark, semi- sweet chunk of chocolate with an imperial stout. Cheese pairings can be moderately exotic, like tracking down a Trappist cheese to go with Trappist beer, but they can feature American beers and European cheeses or vice versa. Match Limburger cheese and bock beer, Gouda and an amber ale, or Stilton and stout. Consider putting together a sampler pack of beers and cheeses and try the various combinations.

Give the gift of brewing
- Brewing beer is, at its simplest, much like cooking. It requires a few special utensils, but can all be done in the kitchen. You can purchase a starter kit for a friend interested in beer or, if you are already a homebrewer, invite several non-brewing friends over for a beermaking party.

Give a gift of beer culture
- Any of Michael Jackson's books makes a great present, but the latest - - the "Great Beer Guide" ( - - epitomizes the gourmet approach. You'll find 500 classic beers, with vital information about each and tasting notes. Jackson doesn't stop there. The "User's Guide" with tips in tasting, serving beer with food, moments for beer, etc. is by itself worth the price of the book.

- For a true beer treasure, the recently published "Premium Beer Drinker's Guide" ( by Stephen Beaumont focuses exclusively on the biggest, strongest, most expensive and most interesting beers in the world. It closely examines the boldest styles and points to the most delicious examples of each.

- And, if like us, you think a barstool is a good place to continue your beer education then "The Beer Lover's Guide to the USA" ( will point you to 2,000 brewpubs and bars where you can find flavorful beer and meaningful conversation about that beer. This guide is written by our own editor, Stan Hieronymus, and wife, Daria Labinsky. If you order now, you can get a personally signed copy for the holidays.

At Real Beer, we've been writing about great beer for more than six years. We're all about changing access for consumers like us to great beer through information. In 2000, we took a bold step to advance our cause. The Real Beer Tour puts the beers Michael Jackson writes so articulately and enthusiastically about into drinkers' hands legally. You can, too. Give a gift of beer this holiday season. Cheers!