Craft beer sales climb 12% in 2007

Craft Beer Growth

The Brewers Association reports it estimates sales of what it defines as craft breweries rose 12% by volume in 2007 and 16% in dollars. Craft brewers’ share of the beer category is 3.8% of production and 5.9% of retail sales.

“Since 2004, dollar sales by craft brewers have increased 58 percent,” Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, said in a press release. “The strength of this correlates with the American trend of buying local products and a preference for more flavorful foods and beers.”

The BA estimates the actual dollar sales figures from craft brewers at more than $5.74 billion, up from $4.95 billion in 2006.

More craft beer statistics from the BA.


KLCC Brewfest fieldtrip report

KLCC BrewfestBy Banjo Bandolas

A combination of bass and brass flooded the room as I entered Eugene’s KLCC Brewfest. Classic R&B from local UofO student band “The Essentials” played to the crowd who leaned more towards 40-somethings like me than beer guzzling 20-somethings. I found myself singing along to almost every song as I perused the program and checked my “must haves.”

When KLCC took the fest over in 2001 they had about 20 breweries…this year it was up to 48.The festival, KLCC’s biggest fund raiser of the year, is in its seventh year, and 2008 attendance is expected to top 3,700 people. (Thank god I got here early!)

The KLCC brewfest isn’t really very big as brewfests go, but Eugene, Oregon isn’t real big as cities go, so it’s size-appropriate. Attracting 48 breweries to our little berg is an indication of how strong the beer community is here. The breweries (half of which were from the Northwest) were a cross section of the big players in the craft brew scene, Widmer, Rogue, Lagunitas, Dogfish Head, Deschutes, as well as up and coming envelope pushers like Cascade, Ninkasi and Hopworks Urban.

Oregon beer gear was heavily represented on the attendees. Rogue Dead Guy Ale being the most popular T-shirt in the crowd, I gave up counting at 50.

I’d brought along my designated driver/wife Bonne, so I planned to enjoy a full lineup of craft brew. I figured a good place to start would be the festival’s collaboration brew. All five local Eugene breweries (Eugene City, Ninkasi, High Street, Steelhead, and Willamette) used the same base recipe and yeast (along with their own personal twists) to create a Bavarian Dunkelweisen.
A Dunkelweisen’s is a wheat beer, similar to a Hefeweizen, except it’s brewed to be darker (Dunkel = Dark). Most are brown and murky (from the yeast).

KLCC Brewfest

I quickly worked my way through all five (hey no lines yet!). They were all soft, bready, and smooth with small nuances that set them apart from each other, but none seemed remarkable. I guess this is what it’s like to be a beer judge. Maybe it was me, I’d just returned from the Rogue Imperial Red launch in Newport and my palate may have been suffering from the Impact of a lot of big beer.

“Okay, if that’s the case,” I thought as I made a beeline for the Deschutes table, “there’s no reason not to go right to the big guns.”

The Abyss is the second of the Deschutes Brewery’s Reserve Series launched last year with oak-aged Mirror Mirror. The Abyss is a Russian Imperial Stout aged in French oak bourbon casks and packing a whopping 11%abv. If I couldn’t taste it, all was lost. The pour was BLACK topped by a nice, well laced, tan head. The nose wasn’t what I expected, very light aroma with sweet notes of chocolate, smoke, and cherry. The flavor was strong. Bittersweet chocolate, molasses, spicy hops, coffee, and the slight burn of alcohol. Nice dry finish. Wow!

Obviously my taster was in working order so I moved on to the next beer on my list a couple tables away, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. I love the fun themes Lagunitas uses in their marketing. This beer reminded me of the Frank Zappa IPAs, with little dryer finish. It’s a good sweet beer with lots of fruit at the entry balanced by a bitter finish. A very drinkable big session ale.

The band was really rolling now; did I mention it was a ten piece band with a brass section and everything? They were playing every song I’d ever danced to when I was young and I felt myself swaying to the beat as I moved from table to table. Looking around I noticed I wasn’t alone in enjoying the tunes and the open area in front of the band was filled with gyrating baby boomers.

One of my favorite Steelhead beers is Hopasaurus Rex, a recipe developed by brewer Jamie Floyd who now owns Ninkasi Brewery. So I had to try his Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA. The pour was a dark apricot with a soapy white head. Strong hops with citrus nose. Big hop flavor balanced well with the malt. Smooooooooth! Jamie’s double IPA is something even a non-hophead could enjoy.

I was starting to feel the impact of my selections so I decided to check out the LP, tape, and CD music sale in the corner. Cheap prices on hundreds of artists I’d never heard of. A friend came over and shared her Eugene City “100 Meter Ale, which is an anniversary brew celebrating the 100th batch of beer by Eugene native, Trevor Howard. Trevor combined two of his award winning recipes, Natty Red and Track Town IPA to create an ale he claims is the best of both. Nice floral aroma with slight fruit notes, definitely India style. Dark red with a tan head. Oh man, this is nice! The hoppiness of an IPA paired with the smoothness of red ale.

KLCC BrewfestThe hall was beginning to get kinda crowded and loud, time to finish my list and move on out. Hopworks Organic HUB Lager was a nice change after all the heavy beers I’d had. The beer pours a beautiful clear golden color with a tall white head. Crisp hop nose, spicy and floral, a great pilsner.

I attributed the long line at Lost Coast brewery’s table to its cult-like status with many beer enthusiasts and a taste of Downtown Brown was worth the wait. Lost Coast Downtown Brown pours a clear dark reddish brown. The taste is chocolaty with berry fruit notes and a mild hop finish. Love it!

I saved my last taste for Pelican Brewery where my buddy Darron Welch is brewmaster. MacPelicans Wee Heavy Ale – a Wee Heavy” Strong Scotch Ale. This ale is a batch of MacPelican’s Scottish Ale brewed with half the water and twice the boiling time, creating a massive malty flavored beer with a deep red color. The nose is rich caramel, cocoa, and fruit. The taste is sweet with a slightly dry finish. Dangerously drinkable at 8%a bv and a sweet relief after an evening of powerfully complex beer. And I’m done! (in more ways than one! Thank god I’ve got a Designated Driver)

What did I think of the KLCC Brewfest? Good tunes, great brews, and low impact crowds. What’s not to like?

1st Place: Lagunitas – Hop Stoopid
2nd Place: Willamette – Espresso Stout
3rd Place: Ninkasi – Tricerahops Double IPA

KLCC Homebrew competition winners.


Matt Venzke 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year

Beerdrinker of the YearMatt Venzke of Yorktown, Va., has won Wynkoop Brewing Company’s 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year contest.

Venke, an aircraft maintenance manager, is the second straight Virginia resident to win the competition. Diane Catanzaro of Norfolk won in 2007.

Venzke beat out finalists J Mark Angelus Oregon and and Richard Pedretti-Allen of Texas.

As the 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year, Venzke wins free beer for life at Wynkoop, a $250 beer tab at the Taphouse on Queensway and clothing proclaiming him the 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year.


Colorado may OK Sunday beer sales

The Colorado Senate has approved a bill that would allow Sunday alcohol sales. Sponsor Jennifer Beiga said that when the old law was passed, most businesses already were closed Sunday. Now, she said, Sunday has become a day when consumers do a large amount of their shopping and businesses get a sizable amount of their revenue.

The measure must still pass another vote in the Senate and then would move on to the House, however Friday’s vote indicated a change from three years ago, when the proposal never made it to the Senate floor.

More liquor store owners support Sunday sales this time. They see it as an alternative to allowing supermarkets to sell full-strength beer and wine.


A-B upbeat about 2008 outlook

Anheuser-Busch August A. Busch IV presented analysts with a positive outlook for 2008 despite the increasing price of production.

Busch told analysts at a conference in Boca Raton, Fla., that A-B is focused on raising U.S. beer sales and strengthening its core brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Natural Light and Busch beer.

The country’s biggest brewer plans to boost its total media spending by 10 percent this year. Together, Budweiser and Bud Light will get a 24 percent boost. Spending on digital media will jump by 55 percent this year.

“We believe we are adapting well to the changing landscape” of the U.S. beer industry, said Busch.

Busch also said A-B will change its exclusivity incentive, known to demand “100 percent mindshare.” The long-standing program was designed to entice beer distributors to focus only on Anheuser-Busch brands. He said the program’s current configuration may work against the brewer, because competing wholesalers were able to add more profitable beers. He did not give details of the planned changes.


Heineken prices going up, but not in U.S.

Heineken expects the cost of producing beer to increase 15% in 2008 and plans to pass those costs along to consumers, reports the Morning Advertiser in Great Britain.

Heineken’s announcement is the third warning of rising beer prices in two days following Carlsberg and S&N yesterday.

Heineken said the intended acquisition of S&N’s UK business would help it drive “premium Heineken brand growth.”

It said: “The acquisition will also add attractive brands such as Newcastle Brown Ale, Foster’s, John Smith’s Bitter and Strongbow cider to Heineken’s brand portfolio.”

The list is noteworthy for the brand not mentioned —Kronenbourg. Speculation is that the brand will be axed in the UK in favor of Heineken.

Added later Feb. 20: The Associated Press reportts that in the United States Heineken already raised wholesale prices, leading to a 5.5% increase for consumers at the cash register.

“Seeing that the domestic brands are not following that, we have not planned a price increase in the USA for 2008,” a spokesman said.


Sam Adams shares hops with smaller breweries

Boston Beer founder Jim Koch revealed a plan Thursday to supply smaller breweries with 10 tons of hops they might not otherwise have access to.

“. . . we looked at our own hops supplies at Boston Beer and decided we could share some of our hops with other craft brewers who are struggling to get hops this year.”

Details about the offer have been posted at the Samuel Adams website – look for “Hop-Sharing Program.”


S&N will shutter largest UK brewery

Scottish & Newcastle, the biggest brewer in Britain until it gets taken over by Carlesberg and Heineken, will close its largest brewery in the UK and eliminate 362 jobs.

The brewery at Reading produces 6 million hectoliters (more than 5 million U.S. beer barrels) of S&N’s biggest selling UK brands, Kronenbourg and Fosters. About 3 million hectoliters will be outsourced to Molson Coors, while the rest will be made at remaining S&N breweries.

“It is well documented that there is general over capacity in the UK brewing sector, and these proposals have been put in place to address this issue,” said S&N operations director Stephen Glancey. “The nature of the Reading site, the amount of investment required to make it competitive and its relative cost compared with other UK facilities means there is a strong case for closure.”

Reading is the 48th major brewery to close since 1990, according to figures from the Beer and Pub Association.


Bud joins the lime crowd

Anheuser-Busch will roll out Bud Light Lime in May, backing it with a $35 million marketing campaign.

“We’re treating this as a big launch,” Dave Peacock, vice president of marketing at the company’s domestic beer subsidiary, said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Last year A-B rival Miller Brewing introduced Miller Chill, a beer flavored with lime and salt. It was one of the year’s hottest beer product launches.

Miller’s “Brew Blog” has been predicting that A-B would counter with a product like this, and reports on it today.

Peacock said Anheuser-Busch and Miller had independently concluded that flavored beers — including ones that evoke brews popular in Latino culture — can attract a wide following.

A-B’s confidence in the product is illustrated by its decision to take it directly to a national launch without testing it in regional markets. “We can’t remember a Bud family product we didn’t put into a test market,” said Peacock.


Russian River to distribute Port/Lost Abbey beers

Port Brewing announced today that Russian River Brewing Company will distribute Port’s beers in the San Francisco Bay and Northern California regions.

A press release states that under the agreement Russian River will provide Port’s full range of products, including the much heralded Lost Abbey labels, to Russian River draft and bottle accounts.

“We’re very excited about this agreement,” Port Brewing director of brewery operations Tomme Arthur said for the press release. “Russian River is one of the most respected breweries in the world and serves the top draft houses and bottle shops in Northern California. Having them distribute our beers is great for our business.”

“There is a real buzz in the Bay Area regarding Port Brewing / Lost Abbey beers,” said Russian River owner/brewer Vinnie Cilurzo.
“We’re happy to have a hand in making sure that Northern California beer lovers can enjoy these great beers.”

Russian River will distribute Port Brewing/Lost Abbey beers to its accounts in the city of San Francisco and the East Bay, as well as Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties in the northern Bay Area. Deliveries are expected to begin in March, 2008.


New beer alert: Beer for Hope, and more

The second annual Reunion: A Beer for Hope unveiled at the Celebrator Beer News’ 20th anniversary party Sunday.

A year ago, Alan Shaprio, president of SBS-Imports, suggested brewing the beer after he and brewing pioneer Pete Slosberg learned that Virginia MacLean had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Shapiro and MacLean joined Sloberg at Pete’s Wicked in 1989 and helped him turn the company into what was briefly the second largest craft brewery in the country. All then went on to other businesses.

MacLean lost her battle with Multiple Myeloma last June.

The organic red rye has once again been brewed at Bison brewing.

100% of the profits generated by SBS-Imports will benefit the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research. Donations to IMBCR also may be made at

“To date almost $100,000 has been raised by the Reunion team’s creative approach,” said Dr. James R. Berenson, CEO and President, Medical and Scientific Director at IBMCR.

Firestone Walker Union Jack – Firestone Walker Brewing has released Union Jack, the first India pale ale under its own brand name.

“Union Jack is an American-style India pale ale that represents a flavorful twist on our British brewing heritage, as well as our singular focus on pale ales,” proprietor David Walker said for a company press release. “It also echoes some of the intensity exhibited by our recent limited-edition beers.”

Firestone Walker recently intensified its focus on pale ales under the banner of “Passion for The Pale.” Union Jack is the third pale ale of the group, joining DBA (British-style pale ale) and Pale 31 (American-style pale ale). Meanwhile, Firestone Lager is being discontinued to make room for Union Jack and to keep the Firestone Walker portfolio focused on pale ales.

Union Jack is 7.5% abv and 70 IBU. Firestone Walker also brews the award winning Humboldt IPA Nectar, 5.3% abv and fermented with a different yeast.

Samuel Adams Irish– Samuel Adams newest beer looks a little like a seasonal, given that March is right around the corner, but Irish Red Ale (the release) could just as well have been Dunkelweizen.

Irish Red beat out Dunkelweizen in the company’s third annual Beer Lover’s Choice contest, with voting conducted at more than 1,000 tastings during August and September.

The Irish Red styles is said to have originated in 1710 in the Irish town of Kilkenny. The beer is brewed with traditonal two-row Harrington and Metcalfe malts and a solid does of Caramel, and the beer is balanced toward those malts. It is hopped with East Kent Goldings that add an earthy note and some lingering spiciness.

Deschutes Green Lakes Organic Ale has begun to arrive on grocers’ shelves in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Green Lakes, 5.2% abv and 45 IBU, is Deschutes first organic beer.

“Green Lakes is a classic amber ale,” said brewer Paul Arney. “We used caramel and Munich malts for a nice color and six different varieties of hops.” The reddish colored brew has a nicely balanced taste with a distinctive but restrained hop profile that includes Salmon-Safe certified Sterling hops.


And there were 3 . . . for Beerdrinker of the Year

The finalists will travel from Texas, Oregon and Virginia to Denver in a couple of weeks to determine who become the 2008 Wynkoop Beerdrinker of the Year.

The finals begin at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at Wynkoop Brewing and are open to the public.

The three finalists are:

Richard Pedretti-Allen, a McKinney, Texas, recording producer. An avid homebrewer and certified beer judge, Pedretti-Allen has visited over 100 North American brewpubs, won numerous homebrewing awards, and owns over 7,000 beer coasters.

J Mark Angelus, a Nehalem, Ore., semi-retired prosecutor. Last year Angelus sampled 916 beers, visited 68 breweries and attended nine beer festivals.

Matt Venzke, a Yorktown, Va., aircraft maintenance manager. Venzke has visited 454 breweries in 16 countries and 39 states, and logged 3,000 miles in 2007 visiting breweries.

The event is open to the public and admission is free. Wynkoop beer will be served at the event, including a special lavender-infused, saison-style beer based on a recipe by 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year, Diane Catanzaro of Norfolk, VA.

The 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year will win free beer for life at Wynkoop, $250 worth of beer at their local brewpub or beer bar,
and clothing proclaiming him the 2008 Beerdrinker of the Year.

He will also have their name engraved on Wynkoop’s Beerdrinker of the Year trophy.


Pope gets sample of Holy Grail (the beer)

When the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, went to visit Pope Benedict XVI in Rome he took him an unusual gift — Holy Grail, a beer brewed by the Black Sheep Brewery located in Masham, England.

The archbishop was in Rome to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to strengthen ties between the two churches.

Monty Python’s Holy Grail was specially commissioned to mark the 30th anniversary of the famous television program.

The Pope is said to prefer beer to wine and water and this wasn’t the first time that he had sampled one of the brewery’s beers. Managing director Paul Theakston said, “We were absolutely delighted, if not a little surprised, when we received the request from the archbishop to provide the Pope with a bottle of Holy Grail. We do not imagine that His Holiness will be swapping holy water for Holy Grail just yet, but to have him enjoy one of our favorite tipples is a real honor for the whole brewery and give the Holy Grail ale name a whole new meaning.”


Beatles artist creates beer label

The man who created the Sgt. Pepper album cover has designed a beer bottle label to celebrate Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year.

Peter Blake’s creation features a Union Jack with his signature, and is featured on Cains’ Best of British lager bottles.

Cains Beer plans to produce 250,000 bottles.

Sir Peter said: “Cains wanted a bottle that would encapsulate the ‘Best of British’ activity and provide a fitting tribute to Liverpool during its Capital of Culture year,” Blake said.

The specially-labeled bottles will be available until December &#151 including at the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern galleries.


Grolsch deal makes SABMiller world’s biggest brewer

SABMiller, previously the world’s second-biggest brewer, has completed its deal to acquire Dutch brewer Grolsch and become the largest brewing company in the world.

Reuters writes: “The deal is a sign of consolidation in the global brewing industry as brewers look to cut costs as input prices for malting barley and aluminum cans have risen and to create a bigger platform for their top brands.”

SABMiller, which makes Miller Lite, Castle and Peroni beers, has said it plans to expand the Grolsch brand across Africa and Latin America.

With the deal SABMiller passes InBev as the world’s largest volume brewer.