Coopertown festival sold out

Brewery Ommegang has announced tickets for its its Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival are sold out.

As you may recall, the brewery put a cap on tickets this year of 800 (last year 1,400 attended) – and they are all gone. In a press release, Ommegang reports, “Sorry, that means no walk-ins, drive-ins, fly-ins, or crawl-ins. (If you parachute in, we’ll consider it)!”

Those with tickets for July 21 should bring proof of reservation via e-mail or personal identification (there will be a master list of names).


Guinness considers closing original brewery

Guinness breweryMight Guinness close its St. James’s Gate brewery, where the famous stout was first brewed in 1759?

The Sunday Independent reports owner Diageo might move the brewery to a new site to the north of the city and sell the existing property for as much as 3 billion euros ($4 billion).

The company is “considering a number of important investment decisions on upgrading and renewing its brewing facilities in Ireland in the coming years,” Diageo replied in a statement today. “No decisions have been made or will be made until the assessment is completed.”

The St. James’s Gate brewery exports Guinness extract, the “essence” of the drink, to more than 45 countries. The brewery also makes all Guinness for Ireland and the U.K.


Pizza beer, revisited

Pizza beer, reported on here in April, gets more attention from the Illinois press.

The Chicago Tribune has an extensive story about homebrewer Tom Seefurth’s plan’s to incorporate still more food flavors into beers in a movement he calls “culinary brewing.”

Salsa beer. Curry beer. Oatmeal raisin cookie beer. He has tried them all.

The Tribune talked with Randy Mosher, author of Radical Brewing, who complimented Seefurth for trying to come up with a beer that accompanies Italian food — a niche that is currently unfilled.

“It’s much better than you might think,” Mosher said. “It’s definitely gimmicky, but sometimes gimmicky is what you need. People have their habits, and sometimes a gimmick jars them out of their complacency.”

The beer is available at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora, Ill.


Homebrewers head to Denver

Eight hundred or so homebrewers will gather this week in Denver for the American Homebrewers Association’s national conference.

Last week the Rocky Mountain News had a story about how the hobby contributes to Colorado’s economy – including the fact that perhaps 90% of professional brewers got their start as home brewers. The Denver Post had a similar story about “Making leap from beer to there.”

The conference itself runs Thursday through Friday (details), but there are official pre-conference events beginning Tuesday.

Additionally, Flying Dog Brewery and Wyeast Laboratories, Inc. are hosting a reception Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Blake Street Tavern, next door to Flying Dog Brewery in Denver.

Reception attendees will be treated to presenting speakers from both Flying Dog and Wyeast, an array of door prizes, complementary hors d’oeuvres and samples of Flying Dog’s barrel-aged Horn Dog Barley Wine release. Admission is FREE, but limited to the first 75 people.

Speakers scheduled to present:
Eric Warner – Lead Dog, Flying Dog Brewery: Discussing his background, the importance of homebrewing and how to get into the beer business
Matt Brophy – Head Brewer, Flying Dog Brewery: Flying Dog’s Open Source Beer Project
Jon Graber – Wyeast, Marketing and Sales Manager: Wyeast’s “Very Special Strain” (VSS) promotion
David Logsdon – Wyeast, Founder/Owner – The importance of yeast health
Greg Doss – Wyeast, QC Manager/Brewer/Microbiologist – The benefits of using the Wyeast Activator package.


Beer Activist alert: Help needed in Georgia

Beer ActivistsThe Support Your Local Breweries web site has issued a Beer Activist Alert in Georgia.

John Cochran of Terrapin Beer Co. explains the situation:

All Georgia breweries need your help. We recently received notice that the Georgia Department of Revenue has decided to change the rules that apply to tours at breweries in Georgia. The new proposal calls for a limit of a 2oz pour of each beer style on the tour with a maximum limit of only 16oz. The 16oz pour is only possible if we have eight different styles of beer to offer on the tour. If a brewery only has four beers available to taste, then only 8oz can be poured at the tour.

It is the belief of the Georgia breweries, and our wholesalers, that the proposed rule change would effectively kill the tours. Since the breweries have spent significant sums of money on tasting rooms for the purposes of conducting tours this investment would be lost. In addition it would cause the layoff of employees who now operate as tour guides and could cause serious harm to the bottom line of all breweries. The tours are our main marketing tool and by losing the ability to continue tours as they are currently structured, we would lose customers, lose sales, and find it much more difficult to continue in business.

You’ll find information about how to protest this proposal here (scroll down) – the deadline for comments is Monday.


Craft beer distributors to be honored

The National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Brewers Association plan to begin presenting an annual Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award. The award will recognize the beer distributor in America who does the most to market, sell and promote craft beer in their market. A Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award and Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award will also be presented.

From the press release:

Craft brewers, beer distributors or representatives of NBWA and the BA are welcome to nominate any distributor they believe deserving of the award. Nominations can be made through August 15, 2007. For complete information about the award and how to nominate a distributor, please visit the NBWA website. Winners will be announced on October 13 at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo.

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Smoking bans boosts Washington beer, food sales

What were the effects in the state of Washington of banning smoking in bars, restaurants and gambling establishments?

The Eugene Register-Guard reports that food and beer sales rose, but gambling income was down.

“The numbers suggest that bars and taverns may have lost some smokers but gained customers drawn to a smoke-free environment,” Revenue Department spokesman Mike Gowrylow said.

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European court backs A-B branding rights

A European court has upheld Anheuser-Busch’s right to use Budweiser and Bud brand names on merchandise including T-shirts and barbecue sauces, rejecting a challenge by Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar.

Budvar, which sells its beer under the name of Czechvar in the United States, sought to prevent Anheuser-Busch from registering the brand names as trademarks for non-beer products in the 27-nation European Union, saying Budweiser comes from Budweis, the name its home town Ceske Budejovice went by for centuries.

“The court finds that the appellations of origin relied on by Budejovicky Budvar are protected . . . only for beer and similar products,” the Court of First Instance, the EU’s second-highest court, said.


German beers sales up, but for how long?

German beer consumption was up in 2006, but brewers aren’t optimistic about the future.

Sales have been declining since 1995, and the increase – from 115 liters per resident in 2005 to 116 in 2006 – has been credited to the World Beer Cup (which won’t be around this year, next, etc.) Per capita beer consumption was in the 150-155 liter range in the mid 1980s.

“Ninety percent assume that in the coming five years they will decline or remain stagnant,” the accounting firm KPMG reported in a press release announcing the results of its survey.

The survey found that mixed-beer drinks and specialty beverages were growing in popularity, with breweries estimating that sales of drinks mixed with beer will increase by 6% in the next five years. Wheat beer and alcohol-free beer sales are also expected to rise.


Gluten-free Belgian beers US-bound

Green's beersU.S. importer Merchant du Vin will begin selling three gluten-free beers from U.K. brewing company Green’s Beers in July.

The beers should be available on the East Coast early in the month and on the West Coast later in July, but availability will likely vary by region.

Green’s sells gluten-free beers in a variety of styles in Europe. These three Belgian-inspired ales are brewed under contract at de Proef Brewery in Belgium. They are made with millet, rice, buckwheat and sorghum, and bottle-conditioned with a Belgian yeast strain. Green’s advertises its beers do not contain any of the following: gluten, barley, wheat, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide, nor sulfites.

The three beers are Discovery Amber (6% abv), Endeavour Dubbel (7% abv), Quest Tripel (8.5%).

According to government statistics, more than 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease. The genetic disorder causes stomach cramps and digestive problems and can lead to other serious health risks. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. Those are the grains traditionally used to brew beer.


‘Old-fashioned’ beer fights image problem

Graphic warning: If you click over to read the following story you will see perhaps the grossest photo of a beer belly every published.

Market analyst Datamonitor forecasts beer consumption will continue to decrease in both Europe and the United States because of health concerns and image.

“Health concerns along with changing alcoholic drinks preferences are having an impact on consumers’ patterns of consumption,” said Matthew Adams, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor.

The report also said beer is seen as old-fashioned: “The appeal of a beer belly is apparently diminishing for many consumers.”

Particularly the one the Morning Advertiser came up with to illustrate the story.

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St. Ambroise vs. St. Urbain

Peter McAuslan, of McAuslan Brewing, isn’t happy with a new beer from Canadian brewing giant Labatt – or the way the company is advertising it.

The Toronto Star suggested it is a “battle of the saints.”

McAuslan called a press conference last week during Mondial de la Bière in Montreal to lodge his complaint. Labatt’s new beer is called St. Urbain, and its logo features a Montreal street sign. McAuslan’s flagship beer is its St. Ambroise Pale Ale, and the brewery has long played up its Montreal roots, using a street sign in its marketing campaigns.

“Labatt is trying to confuse the consumer. That hurts us,” said McAuslan, unveiling a T-shirt and poster campaign with the slogan “Beware of False Saints.”