Dixie celebrates 100th anniversary

Dixie Brewing gateThe owners of Dixie Brewing Co. in New Orleans are holding a Halloween party at the brewery tonight, even though it stands abandoned two years after Hurricane Katrina and looters left the building an empty shell.

“We’ve worked too hard to give up now,” owner Joe Bruno said. “Dixie is fine, a lot of people want it back on the shelves and so do we.”

Although the brewery stands empty the first new pallets of Dixie’s Blackened Voodoo, Jazz Amber Light and Dixie Lager have been shipped and are on sale at select retail markets around the country. The beers are brewed under contract at the Minhas Brewery in Monroe, Wis.

After the party owners Joe and Kendra Bruno hope to get to the business of rebuilding. The initial phase of the plan calls for rebuilding a compact state-of-the-art facility within the historic landmark, along with a rooftop Old World Beer Garden, Gift Shop, and Hospitality Reception Center. The Brunos hope for the brewery to be back in operation within the next 18 to 24 months.


German beer sales decline resumes

German beer sales dropped dramatically in the third quarter, falling 7.2% compared to the summer of 2006.

Officials blamed poor weather and the fact sales were being compared to 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup.

Year-on-year, sales of beer are estimated to have been around 2.3% lower for the first nine months of 2007. German beer sales have been declining for nearly 20 years. Per capita beer consumption was in the 150-155 liter range in the mid 1980s, compared to 116 in 2006.

Poor weather, keeping drinkers out of beer gardens, has made this year particularly difficult.

“The god of weather is still one of the best beer salesmen,” said Peter Hahn, head of the Brewers’ Federation.


Beer tax battle heads to the Internet

Illinois beer distributors have taken their their fight against Mayor Daley’s proposed beer tax increase to the Internet.

Stop Chicago Liquor Tax Increase” gives interested parties a direct connection to the Chicago aldermen who will be voting on Daley’s proposal, according to a press release from the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois.

Mayor Daley’s tax proposal calls for an 87.5% on all liquor sold in the city. The increase would raise the cost of beer 30 cents per gallon, or approximately eight cents per six-pack. The ABDI says this would make Chicago beer one of the most heavily taxed beverages in the nation.


When your name is Sam Adams and you run for mayor . . .

So there’s this guy whose name is Sam Adams.

And he’s running for mayor of Portland, Oregon, and two radio show hosts registers these web domains and for him, and then a brewery headquartered in Boston sees the domain names and . . .

He gets this letter “Boston Beer has used the trademarks SAM ADAMS and SAMUEL ADAMS since 1984,” which asked him to surrender the Web sites.

Turns out the brewery didn’t realize this was a real person.

All the details.

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Wild elephants electrocuted after drinking beer

Wild elephants’ tase for rice beer, which has often led to villages where the beer is produced being destroyed, took a sad turn when six of the Asiatic elephants were electrocuted as they went berserk after drinking the beer in India’s remote northeast, a wildlife official said.

The 40-strong herd uprooted an electric pole while looking desperately for food on Friday in Chandan Nukat, a village nearly 240 kilometers west of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya state.

“There would have been more casualties had the villagers not chased them away,” said Dipu Mark, a local conservationist.

Previous stories.


Lower beer prices? Is this possible?

Observers predict beer prices in the UK will tumble between now and the holidays.

They predict store giants could be selling popular lagers for as little as 30p a pint.

Supermarkets reportedly have warehouses piled high with booze after the summer storms put a stop to barbecues and garden parties.

Top selling drinks such as Stella Artois and Carlsberg dropped to 35p a pint last Christmas, compared to 45p in 2004.

Before you start packing your bags for a beer buying trip you might compare the price of he dollar to the pound.


Firefighters get OK to drink in station

The New Ulm, Minn., city council has approved a measure giving volunteer firefighters the option of consuming alcohol at fire station buildings after fire calls or other related functions.

“I feel these (firefighters) who put themselves at risk in fighting fires are responsible enough to know when they’ve had too much,” said City Council president Dan Beranek, who was one of four members to vote in favor of the measure.

New Ulm is home to August Schell Brewing, the nation’s second oldest brewery.

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WSJ on global beer consolidation

The Wall Street Journal uses the news that Carlsberg and Heineken have formed a consortium to bid for the United Kingdom’s best-selling brewer, Scottish & Newcastle, as an opportunity to explain “Why Consolidation Storm Is Brewing in Beer Industry.

The maneuvers, coming about 2½ years after the most recent wave of beer-industry consolidation, are a reaction to shifts in beer-drinking habits across the globe. In Western Europe and the U.S., beer sales growth is sluggish amid increasing competition from wine and spirits.

Of course the story mentions concerns about the rising cost of ingredients, emphasizing that price and market share are at least as important to the large companies as the beers they brew.

The WSJ points out the S&N takeover is far from a done deal and other companies could enter bids.

Another possible suitor for S&N is Anheuser-Busch, the world’s third-largest brewer by volume. The St. Louis-based beer maker is heavily dependent on the U.S. market and may be attracted to the opportunity to gain a big stake in Russia or the U.K. W. Randolph Baker, Anheuser’s chief financial officer, declined to comment.

Jean-Francois van Boxmeer of Heineken makes the difference between being a giant brewing company and a small-batch brewer quite evident when he says that it takes so much capital that it isn’t worth the expense being in many of the world’s markets unless your company is either the No. 1 or No. 2 player.


Norwegian chosen top Pilsner Urquell bartender

World Beer FestivalErik Jönsson of Norway has won the title of Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender of the Year during competition completed in New York.

Jönsson, 22, triumphed over finalists from 14 other countries.

Finalists took a written exam, were interviewed bya panel of beer experts and demonstrated their skill at pouring Pilsner Urquell according to strict guidelines.

Hanna Michalczyk from Poland and Tatyana Neklyudova, two of the first female bartenders to reach the finals, finished second and third.

After the competition, Jönsson said: “I’ve been really inspired this weekend. Everyone needs inspiration and meeting with bartenders from around the world who all do the same job, but are from different cultures and different countries has been really incredible.”


Heineken, Carlsburg may bid for Scottish & Newcastle

Scottish & Newcastle stock surged Wednesday after two of its European competitors said they’re considering a takeover bid. Carlsberg and Heineken said they were in talks regarding the formation of a consortium to launch a bid for the UK’s largest brewer.

The companies said that it was “currently intended that Carlsberg will ultimately acquire Scottish & Newcastle’s interest in Baltic
Beverage Holdings, France and Greece, and that Heineken will ultimately assume control of Scottish & Newcastle’s business in the UK and other European markets.”

Edinburgh-based Scottish & Newcastle’s top brands include Foster’s, Kronenbourg 1664 and Newcastle Brown Ale, while Heineken’s main brands are Heineken and Amstel and Carlsberg is known for its Carlsberg beer.

If closed the deal would further the ongoing consolidation among the world’s largest brewers. Last week Moslon Coors and SABMiller announced plans to combine their U.S. operations.

archives called flawed, but brilliant

Anheuser-Busch advertising chief Bob Lachky last week described the company’s online channel as a “flawed idea but brilliant concept.”

A-B has sunk millions of dollars into the project with disappointing results.

Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing conference in Phoenix, Lachky blamed much of the problem on the complicated registration process designed to keep underage readers out.

But he also criticized his own company’s approach: ““The other thing that is totally flawed — and I don’t understand this — as you can tell I was doing something else at the time … I don’t understand why you’d have and then not have anything branded on it at all and just have this bizarre content that wasn’t branded.”

Lachky also commented on the merger between SABMiller and Molson Coors announced last week.

“Everyone took that $500 million in efficiencies at face value,” he said. “It means they’re going to be closing breweries and cutting people’s jobs.”


Firestone Walker, Lost Abbey shine at GABF

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Redrock Brewing Co. won five medals each after judges were done evaluating 2,793 beers at the Great American Beer Festival.

Firestone was honored as Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, with Matt Bryndlidson capturing his fourth Brewmaster of the Year award at GABF or the World Beer Cup. Port Brewing and Lost Abbey won Small Brewing Company of the Year. Tomme Arthur won his third Brewmaster of the Year award; the previous two having come at Port Brewing in Solano Beach.

All the brewing awards (brewery and brewmaster):

– Large brewing company and company brewer of the year, Pabst Brewing Company, Woodridge, Ill., Bob Newman.

– Mid-size brewing company and company brewer of the year, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif., Matthew Brynildson.

– Small brewing company and brewer of the year, Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, Calif., Tomme Arthur.

– Large brewpub and brewer of the year, Redrock Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, Kevin Templin.

– Small brewpub and brewer of the year, Montana Brewing Company, Billings, Mont., Travis Zeilstra.

During the GABF awards ceremony, journalists and distributors were also recognized.

The Brewers Association Beer Journalism Awards recognized journalistic excellence in the coverage of American beer. The winner in the Consumer Print media category was Marnie Old for “Beer Takes the High Road” published in Santé magazine in June 2007. In the Consumer Electronic media category the winners were Roger Sherman and Jesse Sweet of Florentine Films for THE AMERICAN BREW which first aired in April 2007 on the History Channel. The Trade and Specialty Beer media winner was Julie Johnson Bradford for “The Men in the Tall Rubber Boots” published in All About Beer magazine’s May 2007 issue.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and the Brewers Association (BA) presented the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award to Monarch Beverage Co. of Indiana. The award recognizes the beer distributor in America who does the most to market, sell and promote craft beer in their market. The Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award went to Louis Glunz Beer Co. of Illinois, and the Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award went to Cavalier Distributing of Ohio.

Complete results.


World Beer Fest, Durham

Text by Banjo Bandolas
Photos by Bonne Bandolas

Okay, I don’t know what happened, but I seem to have been deprived of the gene required to navigate large southern cities. First it was the chaos of Charlotte, now the sphincter tightening confusion of the Carolina Triangle. “The Triangle”, is the region in the Piedmont of North Carolina anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It’s home to over 1.6 million people and our destination for All About Beer Magazine’s World Beer Fest, Durham. After navigating the highways and byways of The Triangle for a few days I feel it should be ranked up there with the “Bermuda Triangle” on the list of places you could enter and never be heard from again.

After circling Durham for a while, a town that even confuses, we stopped at the visitor’s center and got directions to the Historic Durham Bull’s Field, not the shiny new Durham Bull’s Stadium in the center of town, but the original Durham Bull’s Stadium (where the movie Bull Durham was filmed) down in a natural bowl on Corporation street.

World Beer Festival

The event was sold out as usual. World Beer Fest has sold out in advance for both the Raleigh and Durham events in the past so if you plan to attend, buy your tickets in advance.

World Beer FestivalBonne and I arrived about an hour after the first session started and the fest was in full swing. An overcast sky kept the temperature down in the eighty’s but it was a very humid. An immediate cry for beer burst from our poor west coast acclimatized bodies. We hit the tasting tables for something cool to sip while we pondered the WBF program and flight lists provided by Flying Saucer.

The clowns were there again, I really do need to ask the guys from All About Beer Magazine what the deal is with the clowns. At least they weren’t a surprise this time so I wasn’t so creeped out by them. There was even an cute girl clown there this time. Does it make me weird if I find a clown attractive? Boy oh boy, I need that beer more than ever now.

The Whitbread Brewery table was the first we came to and I obtained a generous sample of Mackeson’s XXX Stout for each of us. Bonne was a bit apprehensive about starting with such a dark, formidable looking beer but I explained it was a milk stout and she’d be pleasantly surprised. Mickeson XXX Stout is brewed for Whitbread Brewing Co. UK by Boston Beer Co. at their Cincinnati location (the old Hudepohl brewery).

The pour is as black as burned coffee and light doesn’t penetrate it. Its burnt caramel foam head smells of caramel and roasted coffee. The taste is intense and bittersweet caramel, coffee and chocolate that fills the mouth followed by a great smooth finish, a really pleasing starter.

We found a couple seats over in center field and looked over the flights. Our choices were “Tar Heel Beers” (Nickname for North Carolinians), “Brews from Belgium”, “Culture Clash” (Bold American interpretations of European styles), “Hop Heads Delight”, “Going Green” (organics), “Classic British Ales”, “Not afraid of the dark” (a selection of dark beer styles), and my personal favorite, “You put what in my beer?” (There’s more to beer than barley, hops, yeast, and water.)

Neither of us really felt like sticking to a flight, or sitting under the tent where the tasting tour presentations that I enjoy so much were held. If you’ve ever experienced a truly muggy southern day you may have suffered what we were experiencing. Something I call high humidity madness. You can’t sit down, or even stand still, you’ve got to move, move, move, to create some airflow over your skin as the sweat pools and drips into every crease, fold, and crack on your body.

So, ducking in and out of the tents, (it was even worse in there) we worked our way down each row and selected beers strictly on a whim by whim basis. This lead to an afternoon of what we called “Russian Roulette” beer sampling. If it had a cool name, or there was no line, we tried it. We found some keepers, some blanks, and some duds.

World Beer Festival

Here are some of the keepers:

Polestar Pilsner, Left Hand Brewing, Colorado
Very nice pilsner. Nice clear golden color. Clean taste, the Saaz can definitely be detected. Very well balanced, not over hopped, characteristic bready taste and aftertaste but a little sweeter than your average pils.

Angry Angel, Big Boss brewery, North Carolina
This German-style pilsner is dry-hopped to increase the herbal flavor. Nice balance and a very unusual taste with a big hop finish. This is a very smooth, and refreshing beer.

Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware
This beautiful orange/brown ale smells slightly of pumpkin with some nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste is nice and smooth with zero aftertaste, no hops I could detect. There was a slight pumpkin flavor along with toasted malt. Sam’s created a very drinkable seasonal here.

McEwan’s Scotch Ale
A dark brown ale with a smokey aroma mixed with malt and dark fruits that carries thru to the taste. An excellent scotch ale.

Sea Bee Honey Bock, Moonriver Brewery, Georgia
It was the giant mounds of peanuts they had at their booth that initially stopped us. Bonne’s fest favorite, the Honey Bock was a nice pause from heavily hopped beers. Mead-like in appearance and taste with enough carbonization to remind you it’s a beer. A very soft finish. I don’t know what the abv is but it’s probably high, watch out drinking this. It’ll sneak up on you.

The end of the first four-hour session came too soon and Bonne and I joined the throngs of happy fans streaming from the stadium like hundreds of thousands have in the past. Nostalgia and blessed air conditioning washed over me as we sat in our car afterwards and looked down on the old stadium below. Even with the heat, it had been a beery wonderful day in a unique and kinda quirky venue. There’s a quote from another Kevin Costner baseball movie that explains it, “if you build it, they will come.” All About Beer Magazine built a terrific fest and, boy oh boy, did they come. We’ll be back.