RBPMail 7.04, July 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 Often, links you will see are out of date, and businesses referred to may also be long gone.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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The talk was mostly about beer last week when Michael Jackson appeared in San Francisco to announce the launch of a beer of the month club devoted only to Belgian beers and limited to 5,000 members. But discussions also wandered onto related subjects that provided an insight into how such a tiny country can produce beers with such diversity and idiosyncrasy.

Rita Marie Bral, Honorary Consul of Belgium who lives in San Francisco, talked about when she was a small girl in Belgium. Her mother was a widow, so each afternoon she would go to her grandmother's house after school. Her grandmother would give her a small glass of Het Peerdeken ("The Little Horse"), a dark beer, and she'd put an egg in it.

"She said that it was good for me, that it would make me smarter," Bral said, almost laughing. She doesn't drink beer every day, but when she does she still favors dark, Belgian-brewed beer. "I'm living proof beer is good for you," she said.

Jackson offered many anecdotes as evidence of the individualistic nature of Belgians and the brewers who make their beer. Those include Pierre Celis -- a man who revived an almost lost beer style in his own country, then helped fuel the American micro revolution at the Celis Brewery in Texas before selling it and returning to Belgium.

"Fifteen years ago Pierre Celis took me to a cave he had bought -- he has had this dream for a long time," Jackson said in discussing the Celis Grottenbier that will be shipped to club members in January 2002. Jackson has visited the caves where Celis is experimenting to see what happens when maturation takes places in a natural, moist, cool setting ... and the bottles are turned regularly.

"They are large caves ... big enough to drive a car in," Jackson explained. "It has a James Bond feel, like you might meet Dr. No at the end of the road." Instead, he noted, there's actually a bar at the end of the road.

Only in Belgium.

The club is limited to 5,000 members, offers beers that have never been seen outside of Belgium, and could be sold out before the first beers are shipped in July. You can view a video of Jackson talking about the club and Belgian beer at:

- Landlord Gary McClure at the Old King's Head in Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, is protesting the sale by canceling his supply of Beck's beer. "We will not be having a German night in this pub. This bank will take all the proceeds from their investment out of Britain and back to Germany." McClure is leader of a vocal group of landlords demanding the right to buy their pubs from Whitbread before the sale to MGPE is complete.

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Whitbread has signed a deal for the sale of its 3,000-strong U.K. pub estate with Morgan Grenfell Private Equity valuing its pubs and bars division at 1.63 billion (about $2.3 billion). The sale follows a hotly contested final round of bidding in which German-owned MGPE narrowly beat Japanese investment bank Nomura, already Britain's biggest pub landlord, Punch Group and a joint bid from Candover and Pubmaster. Whitebread, which owns U.K. family restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut, TGI Friday's and Bella Pasta, plans to focus on the high-growth lodging, eating out and active leisure markets.

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Beijing Yanjing Beer Group has bought three beer factories in east China's Shandong Province that will allow it to pass Qingdao Beer Group (maker of the beer known as Tsingtao in the United States) as the largest beer producer in the country. The company's new venture into Shandong Province, a traditional territory for Qingdao Beer Group and China's largest beer consuming market, signifies upcoming fierce competition among major Chinese breweries. Peng Zuoyi, General Manager of Qingdao Beer Group, said that only some 10 beer manufacturers will survive competition in China in the coming five years a mergers and acquisitions become more common. The Chinese beer market has grown to be the second largest in the world, and is expected to surpass the United States and become No. 1 in a matter of years.

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Australian Democrats and the federal government are near a deal to reduce the beer excise, which could cut up to $200 million from the budget surplus. The government reluctantly agreed to cut beer excise after Labor and the Democrats insisted it stick to a pre-GST promise that the price of ordinary beer would rise by only 1.9% -- but that went up 9% in hotels and pubs. Democrat leader Meg Lees said the party had commissioned independent estimates of the impact of the higher beer prices, especially on country pubs. "It's money that should never have been collected, it should never have been rolled into the budget in the first place," she said. Faced with the higher taxes, many Australians turned to homebrewing. Sales of kits rose 55% at Woolworth, Australia's largest grocer, after the taxes went into effect.

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Great Britain's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was not impressed by Chancellor Gordon Brown's decision to freeze taxes on beer in wine in 2001, and news shortly thereafter that beer prices are headed higher also didn't sit well with drinkers. "Although it's preferable to an increase, this freeze will do nothing to reduce smuggling of cheap Euro fizz which is being sold on to whoever has the cash, including children," said Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications. The United Kingdom has one of the highest excise taxes on beer in the European Union. Estimates are that more than one million pints a day are being smuggled into Britain. Now British drinkers face price increases of up to 10p a pint. Brewers have raised retail prices by a few pence each, but once the cost is passed on to consumers at the pub it will be more.

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August A. Busch III, chairman and president of Anheuser-Busch, collected more than $4 million in salary and bonuses in 2000 (with stock options on top of that), according to a company report. The report was issued in advance of the company's annual meeting April 25. Among the stockholder proposals that will be discussed then is one that calls on the brewery to stop using genetically modified crops in the production of its beers until it can be proven that they cause no harm. In the meantime, the brewery would be required to put a label on its beers saying they might have been produced with such modified corn or other crops.

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Anheuser-Busch and have struck a major advertising deal that is rumored to be worth 7 figures over the next year. For its money, A-B will get much more than traditional "banner" ads across the top of some pages. For instance, the company's Budweiser logo will appear as "wallpaper" in the background of many pages, including those where readers check their stock prices. A-B will also own exclusive ad rights to the's front page every Friday over the next 10 months, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in every U.S. time zone. The idea is similar to TV advertising where advertisers target key demographics during a particular time and day when. In this case, A-B owns the time right before Happy Hour.

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According to the New York Times, we can start looking for more and longer TV and radio commercials from Australian brewer Foster's. It is increasing its advertising budget this year by about 75%, to more than $15 million. The ads will still have the "How to speak Australian" theme but sometimes in more urbane settings. One, called "Keeper," depicts a couple at a bar on their first date; the man is somewhat awkward until his date tops off his glass of Foster's and crushes the empty can against her forehead. A second commercial, "Calamari," shows two couples drinking Foster's on a yacht in Sydney Harbor; one of the men is sucked overboard by a giant squid.

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Cargill is reorganizing and consolidating all North and South American malting operations and marketing, including Ladish and Schreier, into one entity known as Cargill Malt. "We selected the new name to effectively convey to the marketplace the innovative nature and united mission of our ongoing operations, and have consolidated our multiple facilities into a new organization," said Doug Eden, president of Cargill Malt. "We will continue to market malt produced in Biggar, Saskatchewan, under the Prairie Malt Limited name to reflect the joint- venture status of that operation." Eden said that for most customers and suppliers, the name change is merely a formality that acknowledges what they have been aware of for some time.

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****WEB WATCH****

If you haven't visited since March 14, head there now -- we'll wait. By redesigning the front we hope we've made it easier to find all your favorite pages at Real Beer or to buy beer you won't find anywhere else. Don't worry, the underlying structure is the same and you'll even find some new features.

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Along with changing the front at, we added BeerLog because we already scan scores of websites each day looking for interesting bits of beer information. Now we're passing along the best we find each day, and occasionally offering our take on what the stories mean.

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Ray Daniels, editor of Zymurgy magazine, well known homebrew supplier Lynne O'Connor and several homebrewers discuss everything from the state of the hobby to who they might induct into a Homebrew Hall of Fame.

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The Pacific Northwest is known for outstanding hand crafted beverages. Oregon's 2001 Spring Beer & Wine Fest is proud to showcase this bounty. Now in its seventh year, this event's diversity of handcrafted beverages, art, and live music make it a must see.

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*****************REAL BEER PICKS***************
A full-service restaurant and brewery featuring a superb menu emphasizing local, grilled seasonal meats and produce, and a staff focused on service. The brewery serves a variety of unique, house made ales and lagers, including re-creations of historic styles from the 40 breweries that existed in San Francisco at the turn of the century.

Visit for video tours of the world's great breweries. Brewshow plans to travel the world to feature both breweries and the brewers who produce their beers.

Clausthaler beers won first and third place in the non-alcohol competition at World Beer Cup 2000. Its beers have the important nutrients that make beer good for you, but with a limited amount of alcohol -- at levels found in many foods.

Using the traditional methods of Bavarian Braumeisters, Essential Spirits proudly introduces Bierschnaps, a refreshing, un-aged, single- malt spirit. Bierschnaps is microbrewed beer distilled in small batches. The result is a dry, aromatic spirit. Enjoy Bierschnaps as a chilled 2-ounce shot, a martini garnished with a lime zest, or ...?

One of the United Kingdom's leading independent breweries and retailers, famous on both sides of the Atlantic for its beers, as well as its pubs, bars and hotels at home. Beer has been brewed on the Fuller's site for more than 350 years, with London Pride the top- selling brand today.

Founded in 1985, is a family owned and operated business that takes pride in offering quality products, low prices, good selection and prompt reliable service to "what we believe are the greatest hobbyists on the planet." You'll find it all in the online catalog.

MicroStar handles all the administrative responsibilities associated with keg management. Client breweries need no longer worry about wholesaler keg deposits, tracking, retrieval or loss. MicroStar works with 620 beer wholesalers in 48 states.

Britain's oldest working domestic brewery situated in Scotland's oldest inhabited house. Both the castle and the website are steeped in history. Take a tour of the brewery or even think about reserving the house for a wedding.

Essex Craft Brewers went into business in 1998 to boost distribution for the best British bottled beers (and ciders) from the best small brewers and microbreweries. Essex provides small brewers with a range of services. Stop by and visit the new ale shop:

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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 Bill Lambert.

We asked what kind of bar do you prefer? We also asked the same question in our online Voting Booth and were surprised by the difference in results. Of those voting via email, 43% listed brewpubs as their favorite, while 13.3% picked an Irish pub, 13.1% a neighborhood bar and 11.5% a British pub. Then came unspecified other venues, German beer halls and sports bar.

However, online voters gave neighborhood bars a narrow plurality with 23%. Irish pubs received 20.7% of the votes, brewpubs 20.6% and British pubs 16%. Then came German beer halls, sports bars and other venues.

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

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

You may know the members of this restaurant and brewery clan by any of many names -- Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Chophouse & Brewery, Old Chicago, Walnut Brewery, and our newest concept Brew Moon Restaurants. As well as casual dining, each offers fresh microbrewed and specialty beers, often made on site. Although the family was born in Colorado, it has grown into a national group. Find a restaurant at:

Also visit:

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Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar confirmed last week what others have known for months -- that it is selling beer in the United States. It officially launched the beer it calls Czechvar at a press conference in Prague. "Our goal was to sell our beer (in the U.S.) in a non- confrontational manner," general director Jiri Bocek said. He added that the brewery will not be giving up the use of its traditional brand name on other export markets. Budvar and Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis have fought for years for the rights to the Budweiser, Bud and Budweis trademarks. "We made a deep legal analysis and we do not think our new trademark violates the rights of third parties, including Anheuser- Busch," Bocek said. While A-B has so far lodged no legal objections, its lawyers have asked the U.S. Patent office to prolong the public commenting period.

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Craft beer sales growth was the best in three years in 2000, increasing 4.2% compared to 1.9% growth in 1999. Figures compiled by the Institute for Brewing Studies indicate total barrels sold were up 235,000 for the year, to 5.9 million barrels. Craft brewing's share of the total U.S. beer market remained at 3%. "Freshly brewed, flavorful, local beers are indeed here to stay," said David Edgar, director of the IBS. "More brewers today say they are truly optimistic, rather than 'cautiously' so, which is what we heard at the end of 1999. Yet this renewed 2001- style gusto is a more experienced, pragmatic, and healthier confidence than the mid-1990s-style hubris." The combined volume of beer sold by microbreweries and regional specialty breweries increased by 210,000 barrels, bringing their total volume to just under 3.8 million barrels. Among reporting regional specialty brewers, sales increased by an average of 8.7% per company. Among reporting microbreweries in business for more than two calendar years, sales increased an average 6.9% per company.

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Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc. was the highest-selling brewpub group in America last year, according to the Institute for Brewing Studies. Rock Bottom led U.S. brewpub groups with overall beer sales of 34,966 barrels, a 4% improvement over its 1999 performance. Despite a slight decline in beer sales, the Brew Brothers/Eldorado Hotel and Casino Reno, Nev., was the highest-selling single-site brewpub in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year with sales of 5,040 barrels. In contrast to the rest of the American craft-brewing industry, brewpub production fell .2%.

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A British advertising watchdog has rejected a decision to ban brewer Shepherd Neame's Spitfire beer posters from the London Underground. In December, Underground authorities ordered them removed from trains because they were viewed as offensive to Germans. Advertising Standards Authority noted that Germans also have a sense of humor and the references to World War II are light-hearted. Shepherd Neame first brewed Spitfire in 1990 on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and has used the war theme in its advertising since. None of the complainants was German. The Authority also didn't accept that one of the posters with the slogan "Rear gunners drink lager shandy" was homophobic. Shepherd Neame said the complaints had been fuelled by "overzealous" political correctness.

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Being a party animal in college may be less detrimental to your future than you think. A new study, published in "Psychology of Addictive Behaviors," concludes that college fraternity members drink more than non-Greeks, but that heavy drinking does not usually continue after college. "Once the students leave campus they are no longer immersed in a social environment that supports heavy drinking, and their drinking decreases as a result," the study noted.

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A British man who broke the listed world record for drinking a pint of Guinness in 3.9 seconds says he has done it before in 1.5 seconds. Paul Behan, 23, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, broke the record on a morning radio show -- after he already drunk two pints of Guinness before the 8:30 a.m. program to calm his nerves. "I was so nervous I needed a couple of pints," he said. "I'm not a big drinker. I used to play rugby for Saracens before they became professional and maybe I picked it up there."

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A British museum in Horsham, West Sussex, plans to honor the history of a brewery that was shut down in 2000, but will pour its beer down the drain. "I'm not a beer drinker but even I think an ale brewed in 1977 might taste a bit foul now," said Horsham Museum curator Jeremy Knight. He plans to drain bottles produced by King & Barnes to mark a series of Royal events during the 1970s and '80s. The beer was brewed in 1977, 1981 and 1986, to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the marriages of Prince Charles and the Duke of York. The beer will be dumped because if the bottles were broken other exhibits could be damaged.

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A publican in south Wales is considering banning the pub's pet parrot because it thinks it is one of the regulars and has been unruly. He says the bird called Captain has taken to copying the behavior of regulars -- drinking from pints, taking cigarettes from packets on the bar, and even swearing. Lee Jones, landlord of the Penryhys Inn, said "the worst thing is his wolf-whistling -- women hear a loud whistle when they walk in and they think it's me."

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You'll notice a recurring theme in these recent news stories:

- A two-hour Beer Appreciation for Women course at Portland Brewing Co. proved to be so popular that the brewery scheduled another one this month.

- Tesco supermarkets in Great Britain has instituted an all-woman panel of beer tasters, nicknamed the Tesco beer beauties, to work alongside the supermarket's own tasters to try any new brands being considered for the shelves.

- Britain's annual Beauty of Hops competition this year is looking for the "Ultimate Fem-Ale." The beers will be judged by an all-female panel of journalists, scientists and others working in the beer industry. The competition is open to all brewers using English hops.

- As part of its "Ask if it's Cask" promotion, Britain's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has condemned brewers' marketing departments for failing to make beer appeal to women. CAMRA claims that beer is the only product that is still promoted almost exclusively to men, but that pub owners who have made their establishments more friendly to women have seen sales increase.

These initiatives make perfect sense. "Craft-beer drinking is growing in popularity," said Fred Bowman, co-founder of Portland Brewing. "We intend to make sure women are also a large factor in continuing this trend. After all, the larger the beer drinking population, the larger the possibilities for the craft-beer drinking industry."

This isn't earth-shaking news. It was several years ago that John Hall, founder of Goose Island Brewing in Chicago, said he thought that women were much more adventurous when it came to trying new styles of beer. However, with the big brewers/advertisers obviously targeting young male consumers, women beer drinkers continue to be a marketing afterthought.

So we say "cheers" to any program that changes that. Portland's seminars with local beer writer Lisa Morrison are spot-on because they focus on education, with a wide range of Oregon beers for tasting. There are those in Britain who aren't as sure about Tesco's motives, and contend this is a marketing ploy.

Worse yet, they worry that what the women say will be used to try to influence brewers to change their beers, making them lighter in color and taste.

We hope they are wrong -- the women John Hall were talking about certainly didn't guide Goose Island toward producing less assertive beers. We're inclined to trust the women on the Tesco panel. Rebecca Mowling, a beer-drinking advertising copywriter, actually came up with the idea. She found that when shopping for beer the packaging was drab, nutritional information lacking and there was a distinct lack of variety. "You don't have to have a beard and big tummy to enjoy a really good glass of ale," she said.

We're for any dialog that focuses on taste -- something often missing>from advertising aimed at young male beer drinkers. "The macho approach to beer drinking where quantity is sometimes more important than quality holds little appeal for me," Mowling said. "It's the ideal social drink in a pub because it's thirst-quenching and lasts much longer than a glass of wine."

The number of women beer drinkers in Britain has more than doubled in the past five years, but they still constitute a modest 7% of the market. Because big brewers/advertisers don't spend significant time or money courting smaller segments, the opportunity exists for brewers on the fringe of the mainstream on both sides of the Atlantic to reach those markets.

In Britain, that could be good news for real (cask conditioned) ale. "Our research suggests that women who try real ale are attracted by the qualities of the product, like its taste and naturalness," said Mike Benner of CAMRA. "But of those who haven't tried it, it is the image of the product that frightens them off. Poor image is created by poor marketing and it's time brewers stepped into the 21st Century and made a real effort to make their beers appeal to women."

That message doesn't have to be complicated. Shortly after Wisconsin's New Glarus Brewing Co. opened in 1993, President Deb Carey designed a bumper sticker with a message for men and women alike. It read: "Real women don't drink light beer."

Real women. Real beer. It works for us.