Canadian beer industry ‘disappearing’

Steven Poirier, president of Moosehead Breweries, sounded an alarm about the future of Canadian brewing in a speech delivered Monday.

‘‘Close to 90 per cent of all beer sold in Canada today is controlled by foreign brewers,’’ Poirier said. Moosehead is now the largest independent Canadian brewery, with just 5.5% of national beer sales.

Poirier said the three fastest growing beer brands in Canada are U.S. brands.

‘‘Are we destined to become the largest consumers of American beer outside the United States? From our perspective it certainly appears so,’’ he says.

The story.


Supermarket beer choices increase

What would you think a headline reading “Beer Fragmenting in Supermarkets” would mean?

That there are broken bottles all over the floor?

No, Miller’s Brew Blog reported: “For the 13 weeks ended April 28, the top 20 beer brands commanded 72.3% of supermarket volume, according to beer sales statistics from Nielsen. That’s down a point and a half from 73.8% share in 20004.”

That means more diversity and more access to what the blog calls “worthmore” brands.


Samuel Adams sales, profits soar

Boston Beer Co., brewer of the Samuel Adams beers as well as other products, reported fiscal first-quarter profit more than tripled due to greater sales and higher prices.

Boston Beer said it sold nearly 400,000 barrels of its beverages, or 22% more than what it sold in the prior-year period.

Not all of that was beer, but by comparison only two other craft breweries in the country – Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Belgium Brewing – produced as in all of 2006 as Boston Beer made in the first quarter.

Martin Roper, Boston Beer Company President and CEO, predicted a good year, but not necessarily as robust as the first quarter.

“Looking forward, we remain confident that our full-year depletions growth will be in the low double digits just below last year’s depletions growth performance,” he said. “While we believe as the leading craft brand that we are well positioned in the better beer category, we anticipate increased competition this summer and matching first quarter depletions and shipment growth trends for the full year could be challenging.”


Alcoholic beer taster blames brewer

A Brazilian court has ordered local brewer Ambev to pay $49,400 to an alcoholic beer taster who drank more than three pints a day. The employee alleged that the company did not provide the health measures needed to keep him from developing alcoholism, a labor court in the Rio Grande do Sul state said in a statement Friday.

The employee said in his lawsuit that for more than a decade, he drank between 16 and 25 small glasses of beer during his eight-hour shifts at the company.

An initial ruling had favored Ambev, or Companhia de Bebidas das Americas, which can still appeal the decision. The company alleged the employee already was an alcoholic before becoming a beer taster.

[Via Yahoo! News]


Craft Beer Week caters to beer tourists

Great American Beer TourIs your passport up to date? That is your beer passport.

Small breweries across the country will be stamping those passports during American Craft Beer Week May 14-20. Frequent visitors on The Great American Beer Tour can earn a variety of prizes, including a trip to the American Beer Festival.

“America’s small brewers are part of a movement, a shift in consciousness, and the trading up of what beer people drink,” said Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the Brewers Association. “American Craft Beer Week will highlight craft brewers and the beer drinkers that support this grassroots effort.”

The tour supports the week’s theme – “Visit your local brewery.” Participants earn points for each brewery visit, allowing them to earn premiums such as beer mugs and logo shirts. The beer tour traveler who accumulates the greatest number of points will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two to the 26th Great American Beer Festival held in Denver, Colorado October 11-13, 2007. More than 850 Brewers Association member breweries will have passports to validate. They are also available online.

Many breweries plan special events during the week, and a list can be found at the Craft Beer Week website.

Among those with special plans is Flying Dog, which will conduct tours and give away prizes at both the Flying Dog Brewery in Denver and the Wild Goose Brewery in Frederick, Md.

In Denver, tour-goers will be registered to win a variety of Flying Dog prizes, including pint glasses, and one grand prize winner will receive a three-day pass to the Great American Beer Festival in October. All week, tours will be given by Flying Dog’s brewers, culminating with German-trained brewermaster and CEO Eric Warner giving the brewery tour on May 18. (Here’s a complete tour schedule).

“It’s rare that the brewers have a chance to get away from the Brewhouse to give a tour, so we think it will be a special treat for visitors to get an extremely inside look at our brewing process,” said Flying Dog’s director of marketing Neal Stewart. “And Eric probably only gives four or five tours a year, so this is an excellent opportunity for Flying Dog fans to interact with one of the country’s most knowledgeable brewers.”


World Beer Fest – Raleigh

Posted by Banjo Bandolas

Let me preface this fieldtrip report with a simple declaration. “I am not a beer writer, a beer judge, or a brewer. I simply work for a beer magazine and enjoy the side benefit of visiting breweries and attending beer fests immensely.” I recently returned from attending the World Beer Fest and thought I’d share the experience with fellow beer lovers in the Real Beer community.

There’s only one thing I like more than a Carolina pulled pork BBQ sandwich, that’s a fine beer to enrich the experience. So my attendance at the bi-annual World Beer Fest in Raleigh, NC was as close to a nirvanic experience as this son of the south has ever gotten.

The day was picture perfect in North Carolina’s capital city. Though the weatherman had been forecasting doom and gloom all week, the predicted storms never materialized and perfect spring weather rewarded the thousands of beer enthusiasts who attended the sold out event.

World Beer Fest

The festival was held downtown in Moore Square, a short walk from the capital building. The park was large enough to give everyone plenty of space to spread out and relax, unlike some fests I’ve been to where sitting in the grass to enjoy a beer puts you in serious danger of being trampled by other attendees.

The first thing I had to do upon entering the fest was decide which of the two huge tents sheltering the beer stations I’d visit first. With over 400 beers to choose from and only 4 hours to act on my selections I didn’t make the choice lightly. Fortunately I found Flying Saucer had created eight flight lists that took the pressure off.

The flights were as follows:

  • Hop Heads Delight – The festivals bitterest beers.
  • Going Green – Organic beers
  • Brews from Belgium – Belgian originals and American interpretations.
  • Tar Heel Beers – North Carolina breweries
  • Not Afraid of the Dark – Dark flavorful beers
  • Classic British Ales – Beers that were the inspiration for the American craft brew revolution.
  • Culture Clash – Original European styles and American interpretations.
  • You Put What In My Beer? – There’s more to beer than barley, hops, yeast, and water.

    I admit I felt a bit ambitious when I checked Tar Heel Beers, Not Afraid of the Dark, and You Put What in My Beer?. I took a deep breath, unsheathed my festival glass, closed my eyes and threw myself into the crush of humanity. It wasn’t too bad. The lines were seldom longer than 3 or 4 at any of the stations I went to as I sampled and checked off beer after beer.

    World Beer Fest

    I admit, my palette was a bit jaded, I live in Oregon and I’d just attended the Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas the week before. That combination can make it a daunting task to find something really new and interesting. I was working my way thru the Tarheel beers which, though they were all well-built microbrews, didn’t really stand out for me, when a tall, flush-faced man broke from the crowd in front of me.

    I was at station 6, cleansing my palette with a sample of Rare Vos by Brewery Ommegang when he appeared and muscled his way thru the sea of happy beer drinkers. He squeezed by me and grabbed the arm of the young man directly behind me.

    “You have to try the Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale!” he shouted over the din.

    “Yeah I’ll work my way over there!” the young man shouted back.

    “It’ll be gone! There’s a line and and and … it’ll be all gone dude!” the tall man said dragging his friend away.

    That sounded like a beer worth sampling to me so I leapt into action. Struggling against the tide I went for the nearest exit, burst from the East Martin St. beer tent, quickly consulted my station map, then ran (yes I said RAN) around the outside of the tent and dove into the crowd clogging the South Person St. beer tent entrance and worked my way to the Clipper City Brewery station.

    Compared to other stations there was a pretty good line. A dozen people waited in front of the popular Baltimore brewer’s station when I arrived and joined the queue, panting and clutching my glass. They all seemed to be asking for the Loose Cannon. I greeted the guys I’d heard about it from with a smug grin when they showed up minutes later. Yes! Beer fest training pays off once again.

    Two ounces of Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale was worth the trouble. It was a complex with sweet and tart components that blended beautifully with the hop punch. I enjoyed it immensely and plan to work my way thru the rest of their Heavy Seas series when I get the chance.

    World Beer Fest

    After checking off several more good but, sorry, unremarkable North Carolina beers I made a beeline for the All About Beer tent for the first of three presentations slated for the afternoon.

    The sight of two clowns lounging on a bench pulled me up short half way to my destination. I’m not talking about people acting like jerks … These were actual clowns in full clown regalia. And they were, how can I put this nicely…a bit creepy. It was kind of a Stephen King moment that I decided to let go of before my mind went too far down that dark dark road. I did snap a picture though. You never know when the picture of a creepy clown might come in handy, like the next time a toddler gives me some sass. “You don’t want to see me mad son … I’ll go full blown clown on you!”

    The presentations; A Lightning Tour of Classic Beer Styles, Pairing Food and Beer, and Weird Beers of the Fest, were set and hour apart.

    I settled into my seat and beer writer Gregg Glaser launched into his talk about different beer styles and the history behind them. That’s when a wonderful thing happened. Servers started bringing beers to me! Excellent! Here I was, comfortable… getting educated on beer…and being served a selection of great brew. I could get used to this. In fact I decided to do just that. At the end of the first presentation, which was very interesting by the way, I searched out a few select beer stations for untried beers I’ve wanted to add to my list and hustled back for the next presentation. Weird Beers of the Fest with Rick Lyke. There seemed to be a problem with accessing the chosen beers unfortunately and in the end the beers presented weren’t nearly as weird as I hoped but it was all good. The one beer that really turned my head was…and I’m sure no one will be surprised…a Dogfish Head brew. I don’t know how Sammy does it but my god he comes up with some fantastic taste bud teasers.
    Dogfish Head Immort Ale is brewed with organic juniper berries, vanilla & maple syrup then aged in oak and fermented with a blend of English & Belgian yeasts. My first thought was a long Ernest worthy … ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

    Thankfully I’d already tried some before I heard the ingredients. It was, in a word, fabulous. The beer is a burnt orange in color and emitted a sweet aroma with hints of malt, juniper, and oak. The flavor was a smooth and sweet mixed with a gin-like juniper tartness that finished lightly bitter and dry. Very pleasing.

    World Beer Fest

    This time I filled the break with a wonderful combination of North Coast Red Seal Ale and a bit of BBQ at the bandstand. The band, Guta, was a cover band that did a pretty good job of reproducing a lot of great hits from the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. The music and food put me in the perfect frame of mind for that third and final presentation, Pairing of Food and Beer by Julie Bradford, editor of All About Beer Magazine. Now, not only was I being plied with beer, but getting fed as well. Score!

    Julie did a great job choosing and pairing the cheese, sausage, and chocolate to world class beer. It was a perfect end to the session for me and I enjoyed and savored all of it and unfortunately I can’t remember the name of a single beer from the presentation. Sorry, what can I say, I’d been drinking for over four hours by that time and even if I could find my notes from that presentation I doubt I could read them. So suffice it to say, it was all really, really good.

    The World Beer Fest, created and produced by All About Beer Magazine, was one of the finest beer fests I’ve ever attended.
    I don’t know if it was the perfect weather, the great selection of Import and American craft brew dispensed at the optimum temperature (not a clinker in the bunch I sampled), the food, the music, the mellow happy crowd, or the interesting beer education side events that pushed my pleasure buttons. But the overall effect wrapped it up into a pleasant little package and made it a great day to share beer and cheer with friends and family.

    Well done All About Beer, I look forward to WBF in Durham this fall.

  • archives

    Going green with New Belgium

    NBC Nightly News featured New Belgium Brewing in Colorado as part of its “America Goes Green” series.

    The report started with the rules that founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch set from the outset: “Having fun, brewing world class beer, promoting beer culture and being environment stewards.”

    It included the fact the brewery is wind-powered, its treatment of waste water, its efficient use of water (in a water-intense business) and more.

    You can read the story at the MSNBC site or use the link there to watch the video.


    Czech Zatec bound for US

    ZatecImporter Merchant du Vin will begin distributing a Czech beer with decidedly Old World links in June.

    Zatecky Pivovar, which brews Zatec beer, claims a heritage that goes back to paying brewing taxes in 1004. The town of Zatec is located in the The Zatec region, famous as the home of aromatic Zatec hops, better known by their German name of Saaz.

    While brewing originally was conducted to supply beer for the castle on the site the brewery now occupies, the present complex was built in 1801. Many of the brewing vessels date from the later part of the 19th century.

    British beer writer Roger Protz visited the brewery in 2002 and described brewing conducted in a most traditional manner, starting with a double decoction mash and continuing through lengthy lagering. He wrote:

    “The lager cellars at Zatec are 80 feet below ground. There are 120 tanks, of which 68 are currently employed. They were installed in 1863: prior to that, the lagering tanks were made of wood. The tanks are ranged horizontally: there is a firm belief in the Czech Republic that lagering or cold conditioning is slower in horizontal tanks than in upright conical vessels. As a result, some malt sugars remain in the beer, creating a fuller and more complex palate.”

    Zatec brews beers that are 10, 11 and 12 degrees, using the Czech Balling rating. The brewery will ship the 11 degree beer, 4.6% abv, to the United States.


    Barley demand could brew higher beer prices

    Canada’s beer companies have issued a news release stating they want Prairie farmers to grow malting barley.

    Ron Waldman, president and CEO of Saskatoon’s Great Western Brewing Company and a board member of the Brewers Association of Canada, says the brewers association is only taking the first step to “open a dialogue” with farmers. He says Western Canada remains one of the best places in the world to grow top-quality malting barley, but the beer industry is worried recent trends, such as farmers growing grain for biofuel production, will affect traditional agricultural land use.

    A poor barley crop in Europe in 2006 and rising demand for biofuels worldwide already have beer drinkers in Germany worrying about higher beer prices. The long term implications apply to beer drinkers across the globe.


    Plant your own beer garden

    Before you gets your hopes up, the Canadian humor site The Toque may be funny but not authoritative. Still you have to love this idea:

    People will generally buy bottled beer out of convenience, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as the sweet nectar grown from your very own beer garden.

    It even includes handy tips:

    – Plant your beer garden in a secure place, away from curious teenagers or alcoholic neighbors.
    – Long-neck bottles are easier to pull out of the ground than stubbies.
    – Don’t drink your beer before its time. Green beer is often sour or tart, and you’ll probably have to chase it down with a shot of whiskey.
    – Avoid over-planting. Too many beers in one garden will result in a watery, low-alcohol “lite” beer.

    The story is good to the last drop.


    Wyeast debuts gluten-free yeast

    Wyeast Laboratories will soon begin selling two of its most popular yeasts to homebrewers in gluten-free form. The Oregon yeast lab already offers the yeast to commercial brewing companies.

    Wyeast 1272 GF American Ale II and Wyeast 2206 GF Bavarian Lager will be sold in Activator Pure Pitchable Yeast packages.
    The gluten-free yeast will be offered to home brewers via Wyeast’s quarterly VSS – Very Special Strains – Promotion beginning July 1. The VSS Promotions feature strains of yeast otherwise unavailable to homebrewers. Wyeast expects these gluten free strains to be continued as permanent offerings when this introductory promotion has ended.

    Jess Caudill, product and process development microbiologist at Wyeast reports that these strains have performed well in test brews at the lab, and at independent test breweries and labs. Yeast vitality and overall cell count will be comparable to Wyeast’s current popular products.

    Due to an increase in celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat and barley allergies, gluten-free products are one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry. While much of the attention has centered on find grains to replace barley and wheat malts – the two most commonly used in brewing – using gluten free yeast is just as important.

    Until recently, commercial or homebrewers who want to brew beer free of gluten had to propagate their own yeast in a gluten-free medium.


    Aussies get lower alcohol choice

    Headline: Boutique beers sales up 12%, mainstream sales flat.

    Just another quarterly update from the United States? No, this is from Australia.

    In reaction, Foster’s has decided for the first time to produce a weaker version of Victoria Bitter (also known as VB), putting a yellow-label on the 3.5% abv beer. VB, which has been around 113 years, is 5% and is known for its distinctive green label.

    Reuters reports that hundreds of craft breweries are opening and aiming to rival small European makers, turning Australians away from traditional lagers and on to more complex beer styles.