What’s hot? Miller Chill and Blue Moon White

What do Coors Blue Moon White Ale and Miller Chill have in common?

The grabbed the No. 1 spots on “Top 30 Beer Brand Performers in 2007” and “Top 15 New Beer Brands in 2007” list announced by IRI Beer, Wine and Spirits Practice.

For the Top 30 Beer Brand Performers ranking, IRI analyzed volume growth, share of segment trends, everyday base pricing, and incremental sales growth in 2007 versus 2006 to determine the brands with the strongest performance in the beer industry.

Samuel Adams Seasonal was right behind Blue Moon White on the list, with Heineken Premium Light Lager, Stella Artois Lager and Newcastle Brown Ale grabbing the next three spots. Samuel Adams Boston Lager, New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Shiner Bock also made the list.

Miller Chill was followed by Bacardi Silver Mojito, Anheuser-Busch’s Landshark Lager, Bud Light Chelada and Smirnoff Ice Pomegranate Fusion in the ranking of New Beer Brands.

“The historic trend of consumers trading up and paying a premium price for their favorite brands continued in 2007,” said IRI general manager Bump Williams.


The perfect summer job? Best Brewers Summer intern

Turns out being Chief Beer Officer for Four Points by Sheraton is a real job.

In fact, CBO Scott Kerkmans has discovered he needs help and the company has announced a “world wide” search for a Best Brews Summer intern.

As part of his undertaking the resident CBO is seeking a yeasty soul over the age of 21 with a love for lager and a thirst for industry knowledge. “I am excited to share my knowledge and experiences with someone who is as passionate about the brewing community as I am,” said Kerkmans.

The search for the Best Brews Summer Intern kicked off with ads in the Wall Street Journal and a number of intern job boards like MonsterTrak and craigslist.

Those interested in applying for the position should email their resume to Four Points Chief Beer Officer, Scott Kerkmans at along with a cover letter. The letter should include facts about the applicant, as well as a list of his or her f our favorite simple pleasures in life. The deadline for applicants is April 26.


A-B gives Michelob brands ‘creative license’

The St. Louis-Dispatch reports Anheuser-Busch is creating Michelob Brewing Co., a new unit that will encompass A-B’s fuller-flavored beers, such as Michelob, and spin-offs such as Michelob Porter and AmberBock as well as newer beers that have not yet been released.

This “formally gives new autonomy and creative license to its 112-year-old Michelob brand family.” Keith Levy, vice president of brand management at the company’s domestic beer division, said the company expects it will elicit appreciation of Michelob’s “authenticity.”

The P-D reports Michelob’s march toward autonomy started about a year ago, when A-B reintroduced Michelob Lager as an all-malt beer — which it was in 1896, when it was introduced as a “draught beer for connoisseurs.”

Now, the brewer is trying to wrap Michelob in the mantle of fast-growing specialty beers. Its new advertising tagline, for example, is “crafting a better beer.” Television commercials featuring brewery employees — Steve “the barley guy” and “Mel the maltster” — tout the care that goes into selecting and testing Michelob’s ingredients.

The story says A-B soon will introduce Michelob Dunkel Weisse — the company previously brewed a dunkelweizen only for the Colorado market — and expand Michelob Pale Ale into a year-round offering.

The Michelob family also includes Porter, Marzen, Wheat, Honey Lager and AmberBock — on top of the basic Michelob and Michelob Light. All of those beers, plus seasonal brews such as Sun Dog Amber Wheat, Beach Bum Blonde Ale and Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, will be wrapped into Michelob Brewing Co.


Heineken acquires Czech brewing group

Dutch brewing giant Heineken has struck a deal to acquire Czech brewer Drinks Union, which will boost Heineken’s share of the Czech market from 9% to 12%.

The company cites “considerable growth opportunities in the Czech market” as the reason for the acquisition.

Drinks Union owns the popular Zlatopramen brand and three regional brands, Breznak, Louny and Dacick. Heineken already operates Starobrno, Hostan, Zlaty Bazant, Krusovice and the Heineken brand in the Czech market.


Georgia bar gives customers own personal taps

A sports bar in Atlanta now allows customers to pour their own beer while seated at their own table.

Jeff Libby, 26, invented and patented the system.

Taps boasting two beer spouts are built into tables dotting Atlanta’s swanky STATS sports bar. Each is hooked into a cooler of kegs in the bar’s basement through a network of tubes and pipes.

To fly with state officials, serve-yourself beer had to include some built-in deterrents.

A waitress must first check IDs before turning on the tap. When the digital ticker counting each ounce hits 180 — or about three pitchers — the taps shut off until a server comes by to check on the table. Bigger parties keep servers running back and forth fairly often, while it’s rarer for smaller groups to hit the limit.

Each tap has two spouts offering a selection of the bar’s more than a dozen beers, including Miller Lite, Guiness Stout, Newcastle and a house brew called Numbers Ale. Customers can only pick which taps they get by reserving a private party table.

Call is customer friendly.

“Sometimes you’re with your husband and he drinks twice as fast as you _ and you can only down a quarter beer,” said 31-year-old Jennie Olshaske, nodding toward her husband. Now, she said, she can pour as little beer as she wants.

Libby is looking to expand, and has approval from the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and California.


New beer alert: Shiner 99, ‘Hopsinjoor’ and more

Shiner 99The Spoetzl Brewery in Texas has released the fourth beer in the countdown toward its 100th anniversary in 2009. Shiner 99 is brewed in the style of a Helles.

A brewery press release notes: “Some people think ‘helles’ is German for ‘pale.’ But it actually means ‘bright,’ and that’s just what Shiner 99 is — a bright gold lager.” Shiner 99 is malt-accented, fresh almost-grainy sweetness nicely balanced by spicy Hallertau Tradition hops.

Spoetzl, one of America’s oldest independent breweries, began the special releases with Shiner 96, an Oktoberfest-inspired beer. Shiner 97 proved so popular it has become a regular offering, now called Bohemian Black Lager.

Belgium’s Het Anker brewery has added a fourth beer to its line. Hopsinjoor contains four different noble hops and checks in at a robust 50 IBU. “Opsingjoor” is a puppet closely linked to the history of Mechelen, where Het Anker is located.

Moosehead USA will ship Moosehead Light to ten markets beginning in April: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. The beer contains 4% alcohol and 112 calories.


Joe Sixpack’s Philly Beer Guide released

Philly Beer GuideEven though Philly Beer Week has ended, Philadelphia continues to celebrate beer on a daily basis, and beer writer Don Russell has written a guide to drinking in his hometown. “Joe Sixpack’s Philly Beer Guide: A Reporter’s Notes on the Best Beer-Drinking City in America” cites more than 300 places and is thick with maps and photos.

“Philadelphia is unmatched as a beer town,” Russell said for a press release. “The fact that our bars are woven into the fabric of each neighborhood makes it a world class beer city.”

The book has already earned enthusiastic endorsements. “. . . useful information bulges out of this book,” Lew Bryson writes as Seen Through a Glass.

“Useful information for the beer drinker, that is. Don’t come here looking for much else: Don’s total focus is admirable. There are beer bar walking tours (excellent, with maps), lists of the local breweries, Philly beer and bar history, take-out tips (absolutely necessary in Pennsylvania, a very useful guide to the beers you’re most likely to find here (that would be everything), even a welcome chapter on where to find your favorite beer-linked “Amusements” — darts, pool, shuffleboard, good jukes — but don’t expect to find much in the way of filler on what to go see in Philly. This is about finding your way through the gloriously rich jungle of beer that is Philadelphia.”


4,000-year-old skeleton still clutching beer mug

The Daily Mail found the perfect headline for a story after construction workers uncovered a skeleton that archaeologists believe is 4,000 years old and holding a type of beer mug: “At least he died happy.”

Marion Green, of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, said that the find last week was one of the best preserved Bronze Age skeletons she had ever seen.

She added: “It is a beautifully decorated pot which could have been used as a type of beer mug.”

Here are the photos.


Beer better for your brain than wine

A new study finds that wine may do more damage to your brain than beer.

The study, reported in the medical journal Alcohol & Alcoholism, saw researchers carry out detailed brain scans of men and women diagnosed with alcoholism and compared them with brain scans of healthy adults. The size of the hippocampus was largest in the healthy group – 3.85ml. In beer drinkers it was 3.4ml, while the average for spirit drinkers was 2.9ml, and for wine drinkers, 2.8ml.

The study shows that the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory, spatial tasks and many other functions, was more than 10 per cent smaller in those who preferred wine to beer.


Michigan barber can’t serve beer with haircut

A Michigan barber hopes to convince the state’s attorney general’s office to reinstate his cut-and-a-beer service.

Thomas Martin, who has 11 shops in the Grand Rapids area, used to offer customers one complimentary beer until authorities told him to stop.

State Rep. Kevin Green says he doesn’t see why Martin’s clients can’t have a beer since no one is looking to get drunk. The Wyoming Republican has asked the Michigan attorney general’s office to research whether giving customers a beer violates state law.


UK raises taxes on alcohol

Excise duty on alcohol will rise by 6% above inflation from midnight on Sunday, Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced. The government has taken the action in an effort to curb binge drinking.

Duty on beer will rise by 4p a pint, cider by 3p a pint, wine by 14p a bottle and spirits by 55p a bottle. Duties will continue to rise by 2% above inflation for each of the next four years.

The increase comes at a time when Britain’s pub industry is suffering. Already truggling in the wake of smoking ban laws, pub trade has been steadily losing ground to supermarkets offering deeply discounted promotions on multi-packs of beer.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: “The government is punishing all beer drinkers rather than punishing the minority of drunken hooligans.

“Its policy is fueling Britain’s binge drinking problem by driving people away from beer, out of the pub into the arms of the deep discounting supermarkets.”


Boston Beer profits surprise Wall Street

The brewer of Samuel Adams beers surprised Wall Street with its earnings. Boston Beer reported profits were up more than 270% in the fourth quarter.

The company also forecast 2008 earnings above analysts’ estimates, and said it plans to increase prices by 5 percent to counter rising costs.

The company posted fourth-quarter earnings of $6.8 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with $2.5 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.


Heineken rolls out BeerTender in U.S.

Heineken BeerTender

Heineken USA launched of BeerTender for the U.S. market. The devide is designed exclusively for the Heineken and Heineken Premium Light DraughtKegs. The countertop cooler uses a patented carbonator pressure technology to “deliver a perfect pour every time.”

Engineered by Krups, the BeerTender works this way: Insert a Heineken or Heineken Premium Light DraughtKeg into BeerTender, connect the included disposable draft tube, close the lid, and serve.

“BeerTender is an innovation in draft technology and a must-have for any beer aficionado who values a premium-quality draft beer experience and stylish product design,” Ken Kunze, senior vice president, chief marketing officer Heineken USA, said for a press release.

Not surprisingly, he is referring to drinking Heineken products.

Selected models allow the consumer to adjust temperatures to 36°F, 39°F or 42°F to accommodate a personal drinking preferences. And there is a 30-day freshness count-down indicator available on some models.

The BeerTender, designed to sell for between $279 and $299 depending upon the model, is already available in the Netherlands, France, Austria and Switzerland. More information is available at


Angel’s Share release Saturday – and other new stuff

Port Brewing In San Marcos, California, will release the 2008 Bourbon Barrel-Aged version of Lost Abbey The Angel’s Share on Saturday. This first bottled release of the highly coveted beer.

Expect a line by the time the doors open at 10 a.m., so the brewery has set some ground rules:

– Bottles will be $15 per cork finished 375ml bottle.
– Limit of 12 bottles per person.
– Beer will be sold only at the brewery. No email orders or holds for pick up at a later date.
– There are approximately 120 cases available. Once it is gone, it is gone.


– Be on the lookout for Terrapin Hop Shortage Ale some time this month. The Georgia brewery is celebrating get the doors open for its new brewery by creating a “Side Project” series to be sold in 22-ounce bottles. From the press release

2008 will forever be known in professional brewing circles as the year of the hop shortage. Brewers everywhere are scrambling to find hops just to produce their standard line of beers. Some brewers are so nervous, they are even cutting back on brewing hoppy beers. “Not us,” states John Cochran, Founder & President of Terrapin Beer Co. “If there is going to be a shortage of hops, why not put them all into one hop bomb of a beer?”

Look for a new “Side Project” beer every few months.

Mendocino Brewing has released its Limited Edition Spring Seasonal Bock Beer. A press release describes the beer as “golden hued lager . . . created to celebrate the coming of Spring and the start of a year that is replete with the promise of things to come.”

Anheuser-Busch has a new spring release and is making a beer previously sold regionally available across the country. Sun Dog Amber Wheat is the spring release, replacing Spring Heat Spiced Wheat. That beer became redundant when A-B rolled out Shock Top Belgian White on a full-time basis.

“Wheat beers are one of my favorite styles to brew because of their versatility. From Bavarian to Belgian to American, each style has its own color, aroma and taste,” Florian Kuplent, brewmaster, said for a company press release. “Our take on the American amber wheat ale is a luminous deep amber color with a slight caramel sweetness and refreshing citrus note.”

Previously available in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri, Wild Blue Blueberry Lager now will be sold nationally. The beer was created by Blue Dawg Brewing – a group within Anheuser-Busch.

“We’re focusing our efforts on getting Wild Blue in adults’ hands at local food and film festivals and even fun events like pet parades, where dog lovers can get to know Wild Blue, with its feisty bulldog label,” said Jeff Pierson, innovation manager, Wild Blue. “We aren’t taking this beer down the traditional path. Wild Blue is going places we haven’t been before and we know having the beer at places where adults like to get together, socialize and try new things will be key.”


Texas A-B distributor adds to craft portfolio

File this press release under the business of beer.

Fort Worth-based Ben E. Keith Beverages — one of the largest beverage distributors in the United States and one of the largest independent Anheuser-Busch wholesalers — has acquired the Texas division of College Station-based C.R. Goodman Distribution Company, a distributor of more than 60 high-end craft and import beer brands. As part of the deal, Ben E. Keith assumes ownership of C.R. Goodman’s business in Texas, while C.R. Goodman’s founders retain ownership of its Colorado business and its import company, Belukus Marketing. All Texas operations, which include 63 employees in its Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio facilities and sales offices, will remain the same under the Ben. E. Keith Beverages’ name. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition increases Ben E. Keith Beverages’ overall beverage distribution area to include the entire state of Texas. The company’s distribution area for Anheuser-Busch products will not expand.

“We are thrilled to add so many key specialty brands and dedicated employees to our company,” said Kevin Bartholomew, president of Ben E. Keith Beverages. “C.R. Goodman is renowned for its strong craft and import brands portfolio, and it is our number one priority to continue to build this business.”

Founded in 1982 by Ken Goodman and Chuck Robertson, C.R. Goodman distributed more than 60 brands of high-end craft and import beers, including Spaten, Fireman’s #4 of Real Ale Brewery, Full Sail, Anchor Steam, Dogfish Head, Ace Cider, Breckenridge, König Stone, Duvel, Samuel Smith and Chimay. The company sold approximately 700,000 case equivalents in 2007.

There’s a reason that distributors want more specialty beers in their portfolio. That’s what consumers are buying.