RBPMail 7.02, February 2001

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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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Europe's brewers plan to lobby the European Parliament for lower taxes on beer. Brewers of Europe, a trade confederation, will attend a hearing at the EU's assembly Thursday to ensure plans to narrow differences in levels of excise duties imposed by the 15 EU governments will bring the levies down rather than up. The brewers are seeking to avoid what happened last time the EU sought to harmonize beer duties, when southern European nations with lower taxes were obliged to raise the level closer to those with higher taxes, such as the UK, Ireland and the Nordic nations. That move in 1993 led to increases in excise duty of 400% in France, 300% in Italy and 250% in Spain.

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Australia's biggest brewers have taken the government to court to recover excess taxes that drinkers have been paying for six months. They want to be repaid tens of millions of dollars in beer excise should the Senate scrap existing increases in the tax. The money could be poured back into drinkers' glasses through cheaper beer, or donated to charities. Drinkers have been paying a doubled excise rate, plus a sales tax, since July 1. The price of draft beer increased as much as 11%, while the tax on packaged beer was up only 1.9%. The tax increase was introduced as a "tariff proposal," a provision instrument by which the government imposes a tax increase on the condition that it will legislate within 12 months to make it legal. However, the Australian Democrats and Labor have said they will scrap the excise increase in the Senate. Both parties say the government promised in the 1998 election campaign that tax reform would increase the price of beer by just 1.9%.

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Belgian brewer Interbrew says it will appeal a decision by antitrust authorities in the United Kingdom to block its $3.36 billion acquisition of the Bass brewing assets, while admitting it will be forced to sell Bass. The legal action is an attempt to make the sale process less damaging to the business. Interbrew wants the courts to look at the decision by Stephen Byers, the United Kingdom trade and industry secretary, to force Interbrew to dispose of Bass Brewers. Hugo Powell, Interbrew chief executive, said the company had been advised that it was unlikely to succeed in overturning the decision by the U.K. Competition Commission. Instead it wants the courts to give it more time to effect a disposal and allow a greater range of possible bidders to be considered -- including financial buyers.

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Diageo, the world's largest liquor company and owner of the Guinness brand,
is rumored to be considering a bid for the Foster's Brewing Group. While
analysts say that such a bid would make sense, they also note that a bid of
$6 billion for Foster's beer and wine business probably wouldn't be enough.
"Diageo and other bigger investors are looking at Foster's and other
Australian liquor companies as part of their expansion plans," said Tim
Powditch, equities manager at BNP Investment Management Limited. "I don't
think Australian fund managers will let Foster's go for that price."
Foster's Lager is the No. 6 brand worldwide and is available in about 150

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A deal with Anheuser-Busch should allow Corona beer sales to keep booming in the United States. El Economista business columnist Tomas de la Rosa reported that A-B has designated Corona a "Budweiser brand," which allows A-B distributors to boost their share of total sales represented by the Mexican beer. Corona became the No. 1 selling imported beer in the United States in 1997, surpassing Heineken, and has extended it advantage every year since. Currently, about 25% of Modelo brands are distributed through A-B's wholesale system. Anheuser Busch has held a stake in Grupo Modelo, which brews Corona, since 1993.

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The European Commission officials raided the Lisbon and Oporto offices of Portuguese brewing companies Unicer and Centralcer looking for evidence of suspected price fixing, market sharing and information exchange. "Any documents seized in this week's inspections would have to be examined carefully, and it is impossible to prejudge the outcome of the investigation or to say when it will be concluded," a statement from the commission read. The two brewers account for about 98% of the Portuguese beer market.

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American brewing giants Anheuser-Busch has pulled Bud Light out of Britain because the lager failed to make enough impact in the fiercely competitive U.K. beer market. Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light to Britain two years ago, hoping it would attract a following among people who wanted to drink beer but worried about their calorie intake. Instead, the drink appears to have fallen into a void between the two, proving too light for serious drinkers and too macho for calorie-conscious women. Bud Light has 25% fewer calories than the regular Budweiser, but is only a little less strong. The alcohol content is 4.3% by volume compared with 5% for Bud. A-B acknowledges that many British drinkers were confused by the word "light," thinking it meant low-alcohol rather than low-calorie.

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The Siebel Institute of Technology of Chicago and Doemens Brewing Academy of Munich, Germany have partnered to form a multinational brewing institute. The new venture will be named The World Brewing Academy, and its mandate will be to revolutionize the form and content of contemporary brewing education. A unique feature of the WBA will be to provide students the opportunity and choice of studying at either the Chicago or Munich campus. The Siebel Institute and Doemens Academy will continue to offer separate educational and research programs, as well as hosting the mutual courses offered by the World Brewing Academy.

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****WEB WATCH****

Everything you've always wanted to know about Belgian and Belgian-style
beers but were afraid to ask can now be found in one place. "Belgian beers
have become fashionable," Michael Jackson writes, "yet the pleasures they
offer have been truly explored by only a discerning minority of drinkers."
Come explore them with us.

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The Scottish language isn't always easy to comprehend -- but you won't have any trouble understanding an authentic Scotch Ale such as Pyramid Tilted Kilt. Stop by this site to learn to speak Scottish. You may not be able to understand exactly what the Scotsman is saying, but it's a good excuse to have a Tilted Kilt and listen again.

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Stephen Beaumont has spotted a sure-fire indicator that craft beer has come of age in North America, and moreover, that it is not about to go away.

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*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
The Boston-area store opened in 1972 has everything needed to brew beer, make wine, make cheese, grow mushrooms, create vinegars - and more. Very beginner friendly, with plenty of kits and useful tips for the brewing newcomer.

Stop by this virtual store and you'll be greeted with the message: "Welcome to a business founded on hobbies gone astray!" The everything beer supercenter has complete catalogs for beermakers, winemakers and beer enthusiasts. Free shipping on all orders over $40 to the continental U.S.

Who is Graham Heffer and just how big a star is this cool spokescow for Boddingtons Ale? Learn more about Graham and the creamy ale that has been enjoyed by beer drinkers in England for more than 200 years. Be sure to visit the history area and the section on serving great beer.

If you've always wondered about the history of the growler, you'll find it here. Since starting to make modern day growlers in 1989, Brew Pack Products has grown into a full service provider of promotional products and packaging items for the micro brewing industry.

Founded in Wiltshire in 1986, Hop Back immediately began winning medals in Real Ale competitions and never stopped. Still growing, it provides a wide range of ales to its own pubs, the free trade and even the United States.

An importer and distributor of specialty beers for 20 years, James Clay imports directly from breweries in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and the United States. Click on "Beer Cuisine" to find out why "life is something that happens between meals."

Mendocino Brewing Co. was born in 1983 in Hopland, Calif., the state's first brewpub since Prohibition and the second in the country. It now produces its distinctive ales at Ukiah, 110 miles north of San Francisco and in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Founder Ian Day stands ready to construct a brewery that most any budget can afford. NABS will assist in initial design layout, in-house training, recipe formulation, installation and sourcing used and new equipment.

Pilgrim was one of a new wave of smaller brewers that opened in England in the 1980s and the original "two men and the dog" operation. The brewery makes a wide variety of award winning beers, has organized an innovative Hop Club and remains true to its motto: "You thirsty fought every day."

The brewpub is located on the Western slope of San Francisco's Potrero Hill. The picturesque backdrop of the San Francisco Fog as it rolls over Twin Peaks makes the roof deck ideal for unwinding, and is soon to be the site of the Potrero Brewing FOG CAM.

Since 1984, Pyramid has been brewing a wide variety of hand-crafted ales and lagers. There's a beer for every occasion. With so many distinctively different and flavorful beers, there's really nothing like a Pyramid. Not even another Pyramid. Sign up for Pyramid's Beer:30 online newsletter at the new and improved site:

Founded in 1866, the Radeberg Brewery near Dresden was the first in Germany to brew a Pilsner-style beer. The much-honored brewery -- it won 13 medals in 1910 alone -- soon became "Royal Court Brewery of Saxony." Now Germany's best kept secret can be found in the United States.

St. Peter's was founded in 1995 with a keen eye toward tradition, locating
in the brewery in a 13th century manor house, and acquiring two medieval
hotels and a 15th century village pub to act as "shop windows" for the
brand. Now its unique bottles are available far from its Suffolk home,
including the United States.

The ultimate film source for the United Kingdom. Stellascreen has up-to-date film news, and invites visitors to rate the newest movies and register to win free beer and movie tickets.

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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 Robert Gehringer.

We asked readers: If you've never ordered beer by mail, why not? A majority of those who gave a specific reason said that it was because beer-by-mail was not legal in the state where they live.

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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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A new survey by Britain's Campaign for Real Ale finds that Real Ale and traditional pubs may be holding their own. "The market share of Real Ale has been falling for the last six years," Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications said, "but this survey indicates that beer drinkers are starting to turn their backs on bland fizzy lagers and head for tastier Real Ales, despite the lack of marketing they receive from big brewers." Among other things, the survey discovered:

- 17% of people would use pubs more if they had a play area for the children.
- 25% of people choose a pub based on the price of drinks.
- 50% of people prefer country pubs, compared to only 16% who favor themed town center bars.
- Nearly a fifth (17%) of pub goers would most like to be seen drinking real ale, but 22% prefer lager.
- 65% of beer drinkers prefer pints to halves
- and one in four women prefer pints.
- 53% of people choose a particular pub because of the people who use it.

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Advertising critics may not have agreed about the best single commercial during the Super Bowl, but they all called the year Anheuser-Busch spent refining its ads for Budweiser and Bud Light time well spent. The Wall Street Journal said the "Whassuppp" in space effort stole the show, USA TODAY rated the spot where Cedric accidentally sprays his dream date with Bud Light the best commercial of the Super Bowl, and Ad Critic picked the Bud spot with the portly dog as A-B's best. However, nobody made mention of what appeared to be perfect product placement by Boston Beer Co. Although Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Sam Adams was officially credited with only one tackle it seemed like you heard his name mentioned every other play.

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The Great American Beer Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has been set for Sept. 27-29. It returns to the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. The festival has a new director, Nancy Johnson, who has served as events director of the Association of Brewers and director of the National Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America for the past 6 years. She was recently named the Director of Brewing Matters, the division of the Association of Brewers responsible for presenting the Festival and the World Beer Cup. The festival moved to the Colorado Convention Center in 2000 after spending seven years at Currigan Hall, which is no longer available.

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Microbreweries from all over the state of Michigan have brewed the same beer using the same ingredients for a public tasting Feb. 18 at Royal Oak Brewery in Royal Oak. The Single Recipe Tasting is one of the main attractions of the Polar Beer Festival. Ingredients for the Single Recipe Tasting were supplied by Schreier Malting Company of Sheboygan, Wis., and Hopunion of Yakima, Wash. The beer is a pale ale brewed to a recipe designed by Tim Selewski of Royal Oak Brewery. "I designed a beer that will allow subtle differences in each brewing system, their local water, and house yeast to be perceived" said Selewski. "So while the beer is the same style with the same amount of malted barley and hops, each example will demonstrate subtle differences between the different breweries."

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The Iowa marching band will no longer sing the words to the polka tune "In Heaven There Is No Beer" because a parent of a band member complained about the lyrics: "In Heaven, there is no beer. That's why we drink it here. And when we're gone from here, all our friends will be drinkin' all the beer." he song has been played for years after Iowa Hawkeye football and basketball games. Les Steenlage, administrative associate in the Iowa athletic department, says the song isn't meant to promote drinking. "I think fans react more to the polka style and upbeat tempo," he said. "To us, it isn't sending a message and isn't meant to send a message either. It's just a celebration song." The band will continue to play the song but won't sing the words.

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The London Telegraph reports that the pig farm owned by the Suffolk brewers Adnams is on the market and the 570 pigs, who gorged themselves daily on up to three gallons of waste beer, yeast, grain and hops, have been sold. The downturn in the pig market has prompted the tenant farmer to sell the herd; the brewery has decided to get rid of the farm. Jonathan Adnams, managing director of the family brewery, said: "The pigs were very pleased with their diet." The brewery's by-products are now being made into fertilizer.

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Will this be the year that a group called Georgians for World Class Beer succeeds in its three-year battle to provide the state's beer drinkers access to popular beers people across the rest of the country already enjoy?

We're rooting for them.

The alcohol limit on what is called "beer" has been 6% alcohol by volume in Georgia since the state repealed Prohibition in 1935. Rep. Stephanie Stuckey, D-Decatur, recently introduced a bill in the General Assembly to boost the limit to 14%. That would mean drinkers could sample strong ales from the U.K., German bocks, Belgian Trappist ales and a whole range of American-made craft beers.

A similar bill passed the House last year but died in a Senate committee. Peter Marte, president of ThunderHead Distribution Inc., an Atlanta specialty beer wholesaler, said one reason was that the misrepresented it as a way to bring "high-octane beer to Buckhead." Another probably was that the measure zipped through the House so quickly that no groundwork was laid for it in the Senate. Stucky has promised that won't happen this year.

"We're not talking about kids getting drunk on the weekend," Stuckey said. "We're talking about an expensive, high-quality beverage that connoisseurs would drink."

That's the point. We're pretty sure neo-Prohibitionists will be checking in on this -- and they'll be playing the underage drinking card. Do they really think youths looking for a quick buzz are going to go out and spend the higher prices (for one thing, beer stronger than 6% would be taxed as twice the rate as 6% and lower) these beers command?

That's why we salute the Georgians for World Class Beer. They don't argue that they have a constitutional right to buy specialty beer. They don't pretend this is the most important legislative issue the state has to deal with this year -- there's the matter of what appears on the flag, for instance. They are simply laying out the facts that 37 states, including neighbors Tennessee and Florida, don't have similar restrictions.

"It's just an educational issue," group member Ted Hull told the Associated Press. "Because it's about alcohol, it's something that folks who are not interested in seeing any changes in alcohol law can sensationalize."

That's for sure. For instance, Rep. Garland Pinholster, R-Ball Ground, was among several Republicans who voted against the measure last year. "My district up in north Georgia is much more a part of the old Bible Belt," he said. "I didn't take a poll and I could be wrong, but my judgment was that my district would not want a higher alcoholic content in their local stores."

The good news is that the bill has already received more media attention this year that includes arguments on both sides. And the Savannah Morning News essentially endorsed it with an editorial title "Bottoms up to beer bill." In part, it noted:

"You can't judge what you can't taste. And that's unfortunate. When state government is playing beer referee at package shops and the corner tavern, something is amiss."

The editorial concluded:

"It's hard to see how such a change would erode morals or hurt public safety. Those looking for a cheap beer buzz aren't going to spend $12 or more for a six-pack of the specialty product. And if individual counties object to alcohol, they have the option to go 'dry.' They have a choice. Those dry 'world-class' beer-drinkers don't."

What can we do to help the cause? We wouldn't suggest bombarding Georgia legislators with email -- we know how we'd react to that. Instead, visit the Georgians for World Class Beer website. You can even donate money to the cause if you want. These are the guys at ground zero, and they'll know best how to use it.