Fuller’s shopping for more pubs

UK brewer Fuller, Smith & Turner (Fuller’s ales) may be hunting for more acquisitions given its initial success since buying George Gales & Co. and its pub properties.

“There’s a great pressure on companies to consolidate at the moment and I suspect it will continue,” Michael Turner said. “We would be happy to expand if the right opportunities arose. For example, if a family business was finding it hard to compete we could offer a similar culture.”

[Via The Independent.]


Czechs roll out the barrel in protest

The Czech Republic plans to send a barrel of beer to Brussels as an “extraordinary ambassador” to show its opposition to a proposed rise in EU beer taxes.

Germany has made it clear that a proposed 31% increase won’t fly, but European Union Tax Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs is pushing a proposal that would raise the tax on beer 4.5% in some countries.

“Beer is part of Czech culture, like wine is part of the culture of the French,” Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra said in a statement the accompanied news he’d be traveling with the keg.


Germans drinking different flavors, colors

German brewers are mixing different flavors and colors into their beers in an effort to end a 12-yeard slump in beer sales.

With beer consumption down 15% in the last dozen years brewers hope to capture the attention of younger drinkers by using flavors such as lime, which also adds a bright green color to beer. Red-colored beers are made with cherry or grenadine, and yellows with peach or yellow plum.

The are sold in clear glass bottles, putting the color on display.



Beer 101 – For college credit

This story has been reported before, but we still get a kick out of it.

Metropolitan State College of Denver offers students in hospitality and restaurant administration program credit for learning about beer. Their classroom is the SandLot Brewery at Coors Field.

“They can smell the brewery. They can see the brewery. They can taste the brewery,” said SandLot brewery John Legnard.

He added, “We try to take them from being just beer drinkers to beer geeks.”


Beer mixologist alert

Let Stephen Beaumont (World of Beer) do a little blending for you, in this case at On the House:

Another I enjoy is a beverage of my own concoction in which a wide-mouthed Duvel glass is rinsed with Pernod, shaken out, and then given an ounce of good gin before being filled by the famous Belgian golden ale. I call it The Green Devil.

There’s more, and enough to get you thinking about your own concotions.

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And old friend returns in Wisconsin

White Cap beer returns to Two Rivers, Wis.

The Manitowoc Herald Times recaptures a time when smaller independent breweries still dotted the American countryside.

Two Rivers Brewing produced White Cap from 1939 to 1963, when co-owners George and Harold Liebich pulled the plug because of declining sales brought on by competition from larger brewers like Pabst and Schlitz.

“The big breweries produced in volume and could sell for less, they had money for TV ads, so it was kind of the beginning of the end for the little guys like us,” said George Liebich, now retired and living in Costa Mesa, Calif. “There were 44 breweries in Wisconsin when I came in 1952, half that when I left (in 1966).”

Now locals can drink the beer again, and it is even brewed locally in the Courthouse Pub, using a recipe from George Liebich.

About 200 people gathered at the new Element Bistro in Two Rivers on Sunday for the brewery reunion. The Herald Times reports: “The walls were adorned with old photos from the brewery’s production days. White Cap was poured into glasses with the beer’s signature logo, which also was reproduced on coasters. Servers wore White Cap T-shirts. Music from the 1940s and 1950s helped set the mood.”

Never underestimate the power of a locally brewed beer.

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Beer and food bonanza

Because sometimes you need a little nourishment before the next beer . . .

– What to serve with that turkey next week? The Brewers Association offers a primer: This Year Beer Goes With The Bird!

– Don Russell also mentione beer and turkey in his Joe Sixpack focusing on beer as a gourmet ingredient – recipes included.

– Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has a booth at this year’s BBC Good Food Show. Beer experts and best selling authors Roger Protz, Tim Webb and Jeff Evans will lead a variety of tastings for the Great British Beer Experience.

“Good food and good beer go perfectly together, so it makes sense that they should both be showcased under one roof,” said CAMRA Marketing Manager Georgina Rudman. “More than 130,000 people visit the BBC Good Food Show every year and we are extremely excited to have grasped the opportunity to bring real ale to those consumers who may not have tried it before.”


UK drinkers dial down the alcohol

Reuters reports on a trend toward lower alcohol beers in the U.K.

And they do mean low alcohol – as in 2% alcohol by volume. They are being compared to more commong 4% beers. How strong are those. America’s Budweiser is 5% and when Americans refer to “three-two” beer sold in Utah and Oklahoma they really mean 3.2% by weight, which is 4% by volume.

Analysts say there is a reaction against high-alcohol beers with UK drinkers demanding a “session” beer for drinking more on one night, while the lower-alcohol beers may encourage more “drinking occasions” and attract new drinkers such as women.

“Over the last three years we have seen a bit a pullback from premium beers to more sessionable beers amid a consumer reaction over excessive alcohol,” said one analyst.

The story points out that 50 years ago Britain’s traditional ale-type beers, typically drunk by heavy industry workers, used to be 3% or less.


Budweiser Bucks

Budweiser is basing the majority of its U.K. marketing plans for 2007 around “Budweiser Bucks,” a promotion that will allow consumers to exchange branded “beer tokens” for a range of prizes.

Good luck trying something like that in the United States. As it is “Budweiser Bucks” may prove controversial. News of the program comes just weeks after the Department of Health launched its “Know your limits” campaign, urging young people to drink sensibly.

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Illinois drinkers bid farewell to Bell’s beers

The Chicago Tribune (free registration) details the rather complicated reasons that Bell’s Brewery his quit shipping its immensely popular beers from Michigan to Illinois.

A funeral is under way at bars across Chicago.

The deceased is a lovely shade of brownish orange bubbling to a fizzy head in smooth pint glasses.

The pallbearers are the thirsty souls hoisting their last rounds of Bell’s beer, a stalwart on Chicago’s microbrew menu for more than a decade.

The cause of death is a dispute between Bell’s Brewery Inc. and its distributor.

Long and complicated and more about franchise law than you may want to know. It also examines just how loyal some Bell’s fans are – supporting the brewery even though the decision means they’ll have to drive to a nearby state to pick up the beer.

Or visit Bell’s brewery to get a discount.

Bell, who grew up in Park Forest and maintains a condo in Lake View, came up with an idea last week to show solidarity with his Chicago customers. Anyone presenting a valid Illinois identification at the brewery store gets a 15 percent discount on packaged beer.

“I feel bad,” he said. “If they want to come get it and spread it around, I’ll help ’em out.”

He calls it the bootlegger’s special.


Oregon beer just keeping getting better

Anybody who has been paying attention already knows that Oregon has a beer culture to envy.

The Register-Guard in Eugene (you may need to register – it’s free) reminds us with lengthy piece in the financial section about why craft beer makes for good business.

“More than anywhere else in the country, people drink craft brews in Oregon,” said Jamie Floyd, co-owner of one of the area’s newest breweries, Ninkasi Brewing Company. “I think people in the Northwest really like the fine things in life. They like really good coffee and good food.”


Widmer begins major $22 million expansion

Oregon brewer Widmer Bros. is beginning a $22 million expansion (via The Oregonian).

The company broke ground on a new building that will house fermentation tanks and an additional kegging line. Once the expansion is completed, the brewery will nearly double its annual capacity to 550,000 barrels.

The expansion will allow Widmers make and sell more of its hefeweizen – its distinctly Northwest take on a beer style originated in Germany – which accounted for 82% of its sales last year.

Widmer Bros. plans to emphasize its name more prominently on the label, with “Hefeweizen” a bit smaller, in hopes of training customers to ask for a Widmer rather than a hefeweizen, said co-founder Rob Widmer.