RBPMail 7.09, 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 emialed to subscribers.

In this issue:
* Britain's Largest Independent Brewer Stays that Way
* Study by Brewer Claims CAMRA out of Touch
* Molson Plans to Rebuild U.S. Market Share
* Mexican Brewers Petition for Lower Taxes
* Mendocino Acquires Kingfisher Distribution Rights
* Pint of Lager Tops 2 In Britain
* 'Stone Age' Beer Includes Dung in Recipe
* Study Claims Wine Drinkers Smarter than Beer Drinkers
* Web Watch
    - Michael Jackson Sees Pink Elephants
    - Oktoberfest
* Government Takes Coors to Court on Fish Spill
* Drinkers Feel Happier about Their Health
* Will Volunteer for Beer...
* Microsoft Pulls Beer Book for School 'Care Package'
* A-B Removes Shroud from Michelob
* Coors Sues Bottle Cap Manufacturer
* Fish Brewing and Leavenworth Brewery Merge
* Ukiah Brewing 'First Organic' Brewpub
* Editorial: Beer and Festivals


Wolverhampton & Dudley Brewery shareholders have rejected a hostile takeover bid by Pubmaster. Wolves is the largest independent brewer in Britain and owns brands such as Marston's and Banks. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, cheered the decision. "This is great news for beer drinkers in the Midlands and for the real ale industry as a whole. We look forward to working with the W&DB board to make sure competition, value and choice continue throughout the midlands," said Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications. Pubmaster began its battle to acquire Wolves last year after the brewery had received a takeover offer from hotels magnate Robert Breare and his company Noble leisure.

A report based on research conducted by a British brewer charges that the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is out of touch with Britain's beer drinkers. The research by Cains in Liverpool indicates that terminology used by CAMRA to describe real ale is confusing. It has received additional attention because it comes two weeks after CAMRA was criticized for banning two Greene King ales from the Great British Beer Festival. The study, conducted around Liverpool, reports there is "widespread confusion" about real ale. Many drinkers thought it was the "obscure stuff drunk at beer festivals." CAMRA spokesman Tony Jerome defended the organization, saying the new NaturALE phase of its Ask if it's Cask campaign, which features nude models, had gone a long way towards changing people's perceptions of real ale.

Molson chief executive Daniel O'Neill has promised that Canada's oldest brewer will begin to reclaim its share of the U.S. beer market by fiscal 2003. "With an 11.3% share of the total $50 billion beer market and still growing, the U.S. import segment is even more crucial for us," he said. "We're focusing on the Northeast, including two specific areas, and we'll apply all we've learned to growing our business, targeting entry into Texas and California later." Molson's U.S. sales volume has fallen by half over the last eight years to one million barrels. Overall, Molson products have dropped from third place among U.S. imports to seventh.

Mexico's beer makers are lobbying for a tax reduction. They claim they need a tax cut to remain competitive internationally. The tax reform proposal would maintain the existing 25% special tax on products and services and the 15% value-added tax paid by the beer industry, but would gradually reduce the special tax from 25% to 19% over the next several years. The Mexican beer industry represents 3.8% of Mexico's total tax revenues and 1.6% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Mendocino Brewing Co. has acquired the British corporation United Breweries International Limited, including the wholly owned operating subsidiary UBSN Ltd., in exchange for 5.5 million shares of Mendocino common stock. UBSN is the sole distributor of Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer in the U.K., Ireland, Continental Europe, the U.S. and Canada. This acquisition further solidifies Mendocino's relationship with Kingfisher Beer, both of which are controlled by the United Brewers Group, the fifth largest manufacturer of distilled spirits in the world. It also may be an avenue for shared and increased distribution opportunities, both domestically and overseas.

The cost of an average pint of lager in Great Britain has broken the "psychologically important" 2 barrier, notes The Publican, an industry publication. By this time next year, it claims, lager drinkers will think nothing of spending more than two quid for a pint. Of course, that's been the case in London for a few years. Tokyo Joe's, in Piccadilly, charges 3.95 for 330ml -- little more than half a pint -- of Kirin Ichaban beer, while Point 101 in New Oxford Street sells a pint of the Dutch lager Grolsch for 2.95.

Historians have recreated a "Stone Age" beer flavored with animal dung, and put it on sale in the Orkney Islands off northern Scotland. Merryn Dineley, a Manchester University historian and chief brewer of the ancient beer, told the weekly paper, The Observer, on Sunday that the brew was "quite delicious." The ale is brewed in clay pots with traces of baked animal droppings. He and others recreated the recipe after uncovering what they claim is a 5,000-year-old pub and brewery on the remote archipelago. Dineley examined stone-lined drains running under houses in the neolithic village of Skara Brae in the Orkneys and found evidence of a kiln for malting grain and traces of a cereal-based fermented alcohol.

A study that started out trying to explain the apparent health benefits of drinking red wine suggests that wine drinkers could be smarter than beer drinkers and better adjusted. The report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that moderate wine drinkers experience better overall health than either abstainers or those who choose other alcoholic beverages. The conventional view, associated with the now famous French Paradox, is that red wine contains compounds that raise good cholesterol levels and reduce the blood's tendency to clot, promoting overall cardiac health. However, the researchers conclude, it may not be ingredients in the wine itself. They argue that it's the higher socioeconomic status, elevated IQ, and enhanced personality function of average wine-drinkers that are the probable sources of the good health and comparative longevity they enjoy.

********************WEB WATCH*******************

Visiting eight Belgian breweries in one day with Michael Jackson -- plenty of surprises are in store, including one for the Beer Hunter himself. The story.

Across the United States and around the world, Oktoberfest celebrations are set to start. Find out how the original Oktoberfest began in Germany, learn how to do the Chicken Dance, taste some Oktoberfest beers and more. The story.


The Colorado Division of Wildlife has filed suit in Jefferson County District Court against the Coors Brewing Co. to recover the value of more than 50,000 fish killed last year after the company discharged 77,000 gallons of beer into Clear Creek. Colorado law values each fish at $35, making the potential fine at least $1.75 million, said Todd Malmsbury, a wildlife division spokesman. Wildlife officials said that a year of discussions with the brewing company has not rectified the damage and that it's the division's "duty" to file the complaint to "protect Colorado's aquatic resource and recover damages caused by this discharge."

If drinking beer doesn't actually make you healthier, apparently it might make you feel happier about your health. A study conducted by Autonoma University in Madrid found that moderate drinkers feel better about their health than non-drinkers. Previous studies have suggested that a daily glass of beer or wine helps people stay healthy. The researchers used data from Spain's 1993 National Health Survey of 20,000 Spanish adults. "The results showed that people who drank alcohol, including beer and spirits, were less likely to report ill health than people who abstained altogether," according to the report in the British-based Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. "And overall, the higher the consumption of total alcohol the lower levels of subjective ill health."

The Great American Beer Festival is looking for more than 1,500 volunteers to help put on the 20th annual festival this year in Denver. Volunteers assist in a variety of ways at the festival, including icing kegs and bottles of beer, setting up tasting stations on the festival floor, pouring beer for attendees to sample, working in administration, managing the festival floor and selling brewery merchandise in the retail area. Volunteers receive tickets to the festival, a Great American Beer Festival limited edition T-shirt, on-site meals and more. This year's festival is Sept. 27-29. Those interested in volunteering should call (303) 393-0361.

Microsoft has removed a book on beer drinking games from its MSN back- to-school shopping section. The American Medical Association (AMA) had sent a letter to MSN, chastising the Internet services company for including the book and a brewing kit in care packages for college kids. "It is MSN's current policy not to advertise alcohol-related products targeted toward children," said a company spokeswoman.

The shroud is off: Anheuser-Busch has quietly removed the shroud from the top of Michelob and Michelob Light bottles, abandoning a 40-old tradition. That's fine with Stephen Andrews, a bartender in Little Rock, Ark. "I love the paper off the top," Andrews said. "With the paper on, you always would have to open it twice." Bob Franceschelli, marketing director of Michelob beer and specialization for Anheuser- Busch Co., said the shroud was removed to make the bottle easier to handle and open. "We like to think of this change as a minor adaptation," he said.

Coors Brewing Co. is suing an Oklahoma bottle cap manufacturer for more than $3 million over a batch of Coors Light beer the Golden brewer says tasted like cardboard. "We dispute Coors' characterization," said Denver lawyer Sonja McKenzie, representing the defendant company, Zapata Industries Inc. "We're taking the position that there wasn't a problem (with the twist caps) when they left our plant." The beer, bottled at a plant in Memphis in 1999, never made it to store shelves. Coors said the beer was destroyed after a "drinkability panel" detected a sustained cardboard aftertaste in beer samples retrieved from a special line of 7-ounce Coors Light.

Fish Brewing Co. of Olympia, Wash., is merging with the Leavenworth Brewery of Leavenworth, Wash. "After nearly one year of careful planning between Scott Hansen, founder of the Leavenworth Brewery, and Lyle Morse, CEO of Fish Brewing Co., the two companies will now be combined under one roof with the corporate name Fish Brewing Company, brewing two distinct product lines; Fish Tale Ales and Leavenworth Beers," according to a press release from Fish. The Leavenworth Brewery will phase out its brewing in Leavenworth over the next several months and consolidate all brewing operations in Olympia.

Ukiah Brewing Company & Restaurant, located in California's Mendocino County, claims it is the first brewpub and only the second restaurant in the United States to be certified organic. The California Certified Organic Farmers granted certification in July. Nora's Restaurant in Washington, D.C. is cited as the only other certified organic restaurant in the country. "It's great to be recognized for something that more people should be doing: paying attention to their food sources and supporting local small farmers and suppliers," said Els Cooperrider, co-owner. "We've been in business for only one year, but we were out searching for organic suppliers long before we opened the doors. They're just aren't very many organic producers with enough quantities to supply food service operations."


Later this month about 22,000 beer lovers will sample beers from 300 breweries during the course of three days at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo. Beer writer Fred Eckhardt, who was there for the first festival in 1982 when there were a modest 20 breweries and 35 beers, points out that the GABF "has been instrumental in making America into a true world-class brewing power."

That's indisputable. There are bigger beer festivals -- in the United States, for instance, the Oregon Brewers Festival attracts 100,000 -- but the GABF offers a breadth of choices seen no place else in the world. It shines well-deserved attention on the nation's best brewers. It gives brewers an opportunity to try each other's beers and talk about beer, which lifts the quality of beer across the country. It allows beer drinkers to sample a selection of regional beers they'd otherwise have to spend weeks or months of traveling to reach.

As important as the GABF is, there are other festivals closely associated with beer in the next two months that dwarf the GABF and the Oregon Brewers Festival when it comes to attendance. Oktoberfest- Zinzinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sept. 15-16 will draw a half million people, while the Tulsa, Okla., Oktoberfest next month expects to attract at least 200,000.

Other Oktoberfests not as big but still larger than GABF begin soon across the country and continue through October. They are patterned after the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, which draws 6.5 million visitors. It's the biggest public festival in the world and most accurately described as a folk festival. However, tourists around the world make the pilgrimage to Munich in part because of the beer and call the event a "beer festival." More than 6 million liters of beer will be consumed in the course of 16 days.

Although Cullman, Ala., stages an Oktoberfest without any beer, most U.S. Oktoberfests make beer an integral part of the celebration -- and, again, many of those who attend will refer to them as "beer festivals." We like to say that it's the food, camaraderie and good times -- what the Germans call "gemutlichkeit" -- that bring us together and it's the beer that keeps us here. If it's not about the beer, then why do you think USA Today called last year for a list of 10 great Oktoberfests rather than somebody like

In the years following World War II, German-American societies used Oktoberfests to build positive images of Germany -- but along the way they obviously built up some good will for responsible beer consumption. The choices of beer vary widely from one U.S. Oktoberfest to the next, with some offering only the most popular mainstream beers, some serving German beer and others including U.S. craft beer.

We prefer the beer choices not stop at the mainstream, but we think all beer drinkers benefit when adults can hoist a stein, talk loudly over the oom-pah band and have a good time in a family friendly setting. Besides, when you discover your neighbor is out on the dance floor wearing lederhosen you want to buy him a beer. And when your 8-year-old insists your join her in the Chicken Dance, well, it helps if you've had a beer or two first.

We hope to see you on that dance floor this year.