NH considers allowing stronger beer

The New Hampshire legislature is struggling with a bill that would boost the ceiling on alcohol allowed in beer from 12% abv to 18%.

A compromise was reached Tuesday that gives the state Liquor Commission the power to approve the sale of specialty beer above 12% on an individual basis.

“This allows the state of New Hampshire to maintain its proper scrutiny of the industry but at the same time achieve economic success in the alcohol selling business,” said Eddie Edwards, law enforcement chief with the SLC.

Also learned in this story: That Vermont caps beer at 8% abv.


Bud.TV not dead yet

It would appear that the rumors of the death of Bud.TV have – in the words of Mark Twain – “been greatly exaggerated.”

The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports, “Despite earlier suggestions that it might scrap its struggling online entertainment channel, Anheuser-Busch has decided instead to revamp the Web site to make it edgier.”

Instead of reinventing the way consumers – particularly young male consumers who drink beer – use the Internet, A-B seems to have figured out those web surfers already know how they want websites to work.

While during the site’s rollout Anheuser-Busch touted its slickly produced original content, Bud.TV will also now begin pulling videos and content from other sites. Its aim is to become an aggregator of cool information for beer drinkers. One idea the brewer is toying with: a “joke of the day.” Anheuser-Busch is also hoping to have Bud.TV content appear on other sites such as YouTube and Yahoo as a way to drive traffic.

A-B need look no further than Rogue Ales for an idea how to do that right.


Smuttynose expansion plans scuttled

A proposal by Smuttynose Brewing Co. to construct a new brewery and restaurant off Route 1 is dead after Portsmouth the City Council denied a proposed zoning change that would have been the first step in the process.

Some of the opposition seems pretty provincial (but then we are biased):

Kathleen Hersey of 1761 Lafayette Road also opposed the change because she worried it would devalue her property.

“I can’t imagine anyone would want to look out their living room window and see an industrial plant in their neighborhood,” she said.

Others like Tim Ellis of 1781 Lafayette Road worried about odors. “How do I live in my house if it smells. You can go by the brewery right now and it smells,” he said.

Some people have short memories. Founder Peter Egelston pointed out he invested in Portsmouth downtown in the late 1980s when he was told it was foolish to do so.


Miller tap on Coors keg equals state fine

The operator of the bar in a Wisconsin American Legion received a ticket for pouring Coors Light with a Miller Lite handle – even though he told his customers it was Coors Light.

The Appleton Post-Crescent has the mildly confusing story:

(Ray) Wendt’s American Legion bar normally serves Miller Lite.

But a wedding party asked for Coors Light for their reception earlier this month.

Wendt ordered it, then found the tap handle he was given didn’t fit his dispenser.

He substituted a Miller Lite handle.

“It’s not like I was pouring different liquor into a bottle,” he said. “The Coors and Miller Lite cost the same.”

The next morning, he served leftover Coors Light to his regulars.

“I said it was Coors Light, not Miller,” he said. “I didn’t lie to nobody.”

He took a few days off and returned to work May 8, when two representatives from the state Department of Revenue and a Port Washington police officer conducted the annual inspection of his bar. They found the Miller Lite handle still connected to the Coors Light barrel.

And that’s against city and state laws.

Is there a commercial, maybe a taste test, somewhere in there?


Beer festival runs out of beer

Oops. The Stratford Real Ale Festival (Stratford-upon-Avon, the Shakespeare place) was supposed to run three days.

But they ran out of beer on the second day.

Organiser Bob Mansfield told the Herald: “We ran out of food at 8.30pm and went dry at 9.30pm. We could not bring in extra supplies from the breweries because real ale has to be left standing for 24 hours. So, sadly, we had to shut the door.”

The Herald wants you to buy the weekly to get the whole story.

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A-B gains, but Bud.TV’s future uncertain

Anheuser-Busch reported short term gains Tuesday, saying that beer sales to retailers have rebounded in May after a disappointing April.

The brewer said sales from wholesalers to retailers for the whole company, as well as just for its core beer brands including Budweiser and Bud Light, rose at a mid-single digit percentage rate. So far, sales to retailers are up 1 percent quarter to date.

Executives also presented a broad overview of the future during A-B’s investor conference in St. Louis.

(The) told analysts that the company is focused on growing its core U.S. business even as it cranks up expansion in China and experiments in exotic drinks like a beer-tomato cocktail.

The nation’s largest brewery said it expected earnings per share to grow more than 10 percent this year, outpacing the company’s goal of 7 percent to 10 percent growth. Earnings per share in the current quarter will probably fall short of 7 percent, but growth should accelerate in the second half of the year, the company said. Last year, A-B earned $2.53 per share.

The company indicated it will again change its online marketing in response to the disappointing debut of Bud.TV.

A-B spent about $12 million to create 2,000 minutes of proprietary content for Bud.TV, which launched on Super Bowl Sunday in February.

But tight controls on the website — meant to stop underage viewers from accessing the skits and shows, some of which included beer — put the company in a “no-win situation.”

The site’s shows will likely be used at other A-B beer sites, although the company indicated Bud.TV would still play a role in marketing efforts.


Miller Chill goes national

Miller ChillIt seems we failed to report this earlier, but having passed test marketing with flying colors Miller Chill is going national.

Miller Brewing indicates the beer – 4.2% abv with 110 calories and 6.5 carbs – should be in all markets by the week of July 9th.

Miller Chill is modeled after a popular style of Mexican beer called a “chelada,” and flavored with lime and salt.


First Sam Adams beers brewed in Latrobe

The brewing kettles at the former Rolling Rock brewery in Latrobe swung back into production Monday with the first batch of Samuel Adams beers that will be made under contract by City Brewery.

Boston Beer Co., brewer of Samuel Adams beers, signed a deal with plant owner City Brewing Co. in April to brew its products. Boston Beer said it planned to invest $3 million to $7 million to upgrade the plant in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, to accomodate its brewing processes, proprietary yeasts and extended aging time of its beer.

The plant expects to produce about 200,000 to 250,000 barrels of Samuel Adams beer through the rest of this year.


Summer beers

Woody Creek WhiteHope we’re not jumping he gun where you live, but everybody seems to be thinking about summer beers, including us.

– Don Russell suggests styles to consider today in his Joe Sixpack column, as well as individual beers to consider.

– Both Flying Dog Ales and Otter Creek have rolled out new Belgian-inspired wit/white beers.

Tom Havey of Wilsonville, Ore., won a three-day trip to Denver for for the Great American Beer Festival and VIP treatment at Flying Dog’s brewery by coming up with the name for the new Woody Creek White (pictured here). Flying Dog’s “Name our Summer Seasonal Contest” attracted about 1,500 entries.

“Woody Creek White was the perfect name because it reinforces Flying Dog’s remarkable story and the collection of social misfits that created the brand,” said Neal Stewart, Flying Dog’s director of marketing. “Woody Creek, Colorado, is a small, yet unconventional, mountain community that many people consider to be “Gonzo Ground Zero” and it is also home to our founder, George Stranahan.”

As you’d expect, Woody Creak White is cloudy – blame wheat proteins and unfiltered yeast – and has the spicy orange peel and coriander flavors associated with the style.

Otter Creek’s White Sail (5% abv) also leans on tradition, with a cloudy presentation and notes of orange and coriander. The brewery suggests serving it with an orange – ala Blue Moon Belgian White, the nation’s top-selling white beer.

Samuel Adams’ Summer Variety Pack offers something of an instant party with two each of six different beers in the 12-pack. Three are wheat-based, including its Summer Ale – which reminds of a Belgian White. It is brewed with wheat malt, lemon zest and Grains of Paradise.

The other five: Boston Lager, Boston Ale, Cherry Wheat, Hefeweizen and Pale Ale.


Coors fights ‘warm beer syndrome’

To promote its new Cold Activated Bottle, Coors Light plans the “World’s Most Refreshing Happy Hour” to help “adult consumers nationwide to stop suffering from warm beer syndrome.” From the press release:

Coors Brewing Company executives, employees and distributors are joining forces to build awareness and trial of the company’s latest innovation, the Cold Activated Bottle. Mountains on the label turn from white to blue when Coors Light is at the optimal temperature for cold refreshment. In cities nationwide, Coors ambassadors will be working with retailers to engage consumers and encourage trial of the Cold Activated Bottle.

“When drinkers choose Coors Light, they’re looking for refreshment. The Cold Activated Bottle is designed to ensure that drinkers experience the coldest, most refreshing beer possible,” said Andy England, chief marketing officer for Coors Brewing Company. “On May 18, we are celebrating our newest innovation by inviting consumers to come out and raise a cold one for the World’s Most Refreshing Happy Hour.”

It seems we all have our own way of celebrating American Craft Beer Week.


How strong is that beer?

CBS 4 in Denver found out not everybody knows even close to how much alcohol is in their beer.

“Twenty eight percent?” said one man. “Seven percent,” said another.

Alan Gionet put together a story that explains why some beers are stronger, as well as listing their strengths. Pretty basic stuff if you’re already a beer enthusiast, but with more consumers turning to craft beer every day quite useful.

Things get confusing when you get to dark beers. Many think they have more alcohol. Not true. The chocolaty colored Guinness Draught sports only about four percent. That’s less than Bud Light, Coors Light or Miller Lite.

“That is one of the classic misperceptions about beer strength,” said Eric Warner, co-owner, or “Lead Dog” as he likes to title himself of Flying Dog Brewery in Denver.

“The strength in beer comes from how much grain you put in, not the color of the grain,” Warner said. “Alcohol actually has, contributes a flavor and a lot of times what you’re doing in the brewing process to create more alcohol, you’re going to get more flavor out of it as well.”

Warner said there seems to be demand for higher alcohol beers right now and his company is responding with some heavyweights.

“As the category of craft beer keeps evolving, people want to try newer bolder products,” Warner said.

We’ve got our own list at that includes not only alcohol strength, but calories and carbs when available.


Westmalle goes big; Stone goes small

New packages for popular beers:

Merchant du Vin announces that Westmalle Dubbel will be available soon in a 750 ml bottle with a cork finish. The Trappist beer currently is sold in 330ml bottles (and still will be). For many, Westmalle Dubbel personifies (if a beer can have a personality) the dubbel or “double” style. The monks at Westmalle began brewing a dark beer in 1836, and in 1922 were the first to use a dark sugar syrup in their beer to make the beer stronger (the Dubbel is 7.3% abv) without bloating the body. That has become a hallmark of the style.

Stone Brewing Co. announces that its Ruination IPA, previously available in 22-ounce bottles, will also be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles. From the press release:

One of the most bitter beers in America, ringing in at over 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), Stone Ruination IPA was first released in June of 2002 and has since become one of the best respected beers in the “Double IPA” style category. Many brewers across the nation have even argued that “San Diego (Style) Pale Ale” is a more fitting name for this category, due to the origination of the style in the San Diego County region. Stone Brewing secured its position in that legacy at the very beginning by releasing some of the very first Double IPA’s in the world: the Stone Anniversary IPAs (1998 to 2001), followed by the release of Stone Ruination IPA in 2002. These beers were an instant hit with fans, many of whom are unapologetic “hopheads” (i.e., people who enjoy very hoppy, bitter beers such as India Pale Ales.) In fact, much of the initial prompting for Stone Ruination IPA, one of the first year-round bottled double IPAs in the world, came right from the fans themselves.

“Regardless of whether or not Stone Ruination IPA and the Stone Brewing Co. created ‘firsts,'” says Stone CEO Greg Koch, “the more important factor is that the beer has maintained its position as one of the principal leaders of the category. And now it leaps forward as being one of the first Double IPAs to be released with year-round availability in 12-ounce six packs.” So, why the change to smaller bottles? Since the beer is not only bitter but also quite strong (7.7% abv), it makes sense to have it available in conveniently sized 12-ounce bottles in addition to the 22-ounce “bomber” bottles (which will still be available). And if fans still want more? Well, there’ll still be five bottles left! Lucky them.


Belgian brewery rolls out Zer0% beer

Alken-Maes has launched a new non-alcoholic beer in Belgium.

The subsidiary of Scottish & Newcastle plans to sell ZerO% in about 300 nightclubs throughout the country beginning in June.

Alken-Maes hopes Maes ZerO% will appeal to young adults who deliberately choose not to drink alcohol when they have to drive. The new beer, with a dash of lime, will be available in a trendy bottle and have a refreshing taste, the brewery says.

Previously, Belgian brewers marketed their non-alcholic beers to those with health concerns.


Lemon your Widmer

Warning: Do not visit if you have any lemons watching your computer monitor.

This will devastate them.

What you will find there is a collection of videos revolving around lemons and Widmer Hefeweizen, the Oregon beer most often served with a lemon in the glass.

How the lemon gets in the glass is subject of many of these mini-movies, some more amusing than others.