Stevens Point Nude Beach: ‘Clothing optional’ beer

Point Nude Beach beerWisconsin brewery Stevens Point has introduced a new beer: Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat.

“It’s the perfect summer brew for summer thirsts. What can be more fun than a nude beach?” said Joe Martino, Stevens Point Brewery Operating Partner. “Where and how you enjoy Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat is up to you. Clothing is optional.”

A company press release notes the beer is brewed with “au naturel” raw white wheat as well as traditional malted wheat and barley.

Wheat beers are among the best selling craft beers, and in the Midwest are the No. 1 craft beer style.

– Leinenkugel’s, also in Wisconsin, has brought back its Summer Shandy, which became the brewery’s best selling seasonal ever when it was originally introduced last year. The company describes it as “an adventurous blend of select malted wheat and barley, lemonade flavor and a hint of Wisconsin honey.”

A “shandy” (which is short for “shandygaff”), as it’s called in England and Germany, is typically a mixture of beer and soda or lemonade and has been enjoyed across Europe since the 17th century. Another variation of a shandy is the “radler” which is a German term for cyclist.


Magic Hat will acquire Pyramid

Thomson Financial reports that Pyramid Breweries and Magic Hat Brewing Co. have signed a letter of intent for Magic Hat to acquire Pyramid through an all-cash tender offer.

Magic Hat will pay $2.75 for each Pyramid share. The offer represents a 56% premium over Monday’s closing price of $1.76 for shares of Pyramid, a Seattle-based beer brewer.

The closing of the proposed transaction is anticipated to occur no later than August 31.

According to a joint press release, the board of directors of Pyramid has approved the transactions contemplated by the Letter of Intent.

“The combination of these two well established, high profile craft breweries will be very complementary given our respective brand portfolios and the geographies in which we predominantly operate. Additionally, there will be a number of important benefits for Pyramid to be part of a private company versus continuing to operate as a stand alone public entity. This consolidation makes both good strategic and financial sense and is well timed, particularly as the beer industry’s competitive dynamics continue to intensify,” Pyramid CEO Scott Barnum said for the press release. “The Company will continue to have offices in Seattle, its historical home, and will seek opportunities to capitalize on the enhanced assets and capabilities of the new combined entity.”

Martin Kelly, CEO of Magic Hat said, “We have a great deal of respect for Pyramid’s brand heritage, award-winning beers and its dedicated employees, and look forward to consummating this transaction, which provides both strategic and financial benefits both to Pyramid’s and Magic Hat’s stakeholders.”

Kelly previously served as CEO at Pyramid before joining Magic Hat.


InBev ready to announce higher beer prices

Brewing giant InBev says it will increase prices because of the rise cost of ingredients, including malt, hops and aluminum.

InBev chief executive Carlos Brito said the beer industry was now facing a different environment “that pressures everybody” as inflation bites and basic costs continue to go up.

“You see the possibilities to pass some of the cost to prices,” he told reporters after an annual shareholders’ meeting. “If your brands are strong enough, you should take that opportunity.”

He said the company had already implemented some price rises but refused to give details on future pricing plans. The company would provide more information on the regions and brands where it believes it can hike prices when it reports first quarter results on May 8.

Brito the company will report lower growth for the first and second quarters of 2008 when compared with strong results for the same period last year.


New beers galore: Avery Fifteen and counting

Avery Brewing debuts its anniversary beer Wednesday with party in its Boulder taproom before rolling out bottles early next month. The recipe for Fifteen includes black mission figs, hibiscus flowers and white pepper and the beer was fermented with Brettanomyces (wild yeast).

The Wednesday tasting begins at 4 p.m. and costs $10.

Flossmoor Station beersFlossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, the 2006 Great American Beer Festival Small Brewpub of the Year, has begun packaging three of its beers in silk-screened bottles. These include Pullman Brown — which has won a total of nine medals in GABF and World Beer Cup, and is brewed with eight malts, toasted oats and a dollop of blackstrap molasses — Station Master Wheat and I.P.A., which is generally brewed to a different recipe for each batch.

– Sierra Nevada Brewing has added a third “harvest ale” to its lineup. Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale is the first fresh hop ale available in America in the spring since hops are harvested in the fall in the northern hemisphere. A company press release explains, “To make this project happen, Sierra Nevada traveled to New Zealand to harvest fresh hops, and then transported them from the southern hemisphere to Chico where they were immediately used in brewing. Like their award-winning Celebration Ale, the fresh hops in this beer are dried right after being picked then shipped immediately to Chico for brewing, so that they retain their peak aromatics and flavors.”

Southern Hemisphere Harvest features fresh Pacific Hallertau, New Zealand Motueka and New Zealand Southern Cross hops, all from New Zealand. In addition to Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Sierra Nevada produces Chico Estate Harvest in late summer and its original Harvest Ale in early fall.

– Rogue Ales will add two beers to its XS line in July, all of which are packaged in ceramic swing top bottles and are available on draft. Imperial Younger’s Special Bitter was first brewed in 2006 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, Oregon. Imperial Porter was first brewed for the Oregon Brewers Festival in 2007 and is a strong version of the Mocha Porter.

– The Spoetzl Brewery in Texas has released Shiner Leicht, a light beer (99 calories) available through August.


Oregon craft sales increase 8.1%

From the Oregon Brewers Guild:

Figures released today by the Oregon Brewers Guild show 2007 was a banner year for Oregon’s craft brewing industry as production across the state grew at a rate of 8.1 percent. Total beer production for the state was approximately 860,000 barrels, or 285 million bottles of beer. That is an increase of more than 64,000 barrels, up from 796,000 barrels in 2006.

The industry posted strong growth despite increases in hop and barley prices, the two main ingredients in craft beer. Portland, Oregon currently has 32 microbreweries within its city limits, more than any other city in the world. The state of Oregon has 64 brewing companies operating 90 brewing facilities, with strong growth anticipated throughout 2008.

“The impact of the brewing industry stretches far beyond the breweries themselves,” said Brian Butenschoen, Executive Director of the Oregon Brewers Guild. “A strong production year supports a variety of local products including barley, hops, yeast and glass producers as well as providing nearly 5,000 family wage jobs and a draw for tourism across the state.”

Oregonians don’t just love to make great beer, they love to drink it, too. Of the beer brewed in-state, more than 11.4%, or 308,000 barrels, were purchased and consumed in Oregon. For draft beer, that percentage is even higher, with Oregon breweries producing 42% of all draft beer consumed in the state. This is the highest percentage of local craft draft beer consumption in the country.

You might want to read that last part again. Nearly one half of the draft beer sold in Oregon is produced in Oregon.


Adnams launches carbon neutral beer

Adnams has launched what it calls the first carbon neutral beer brewed in the UK.

According to Adnams managing director Andy Wood, East Green is 25% less carbon intensive to produce than other beers. It has 1p-worth of carbon emissions per bottle, which the brewer has pledged to offset.

“If this beer sold in comparative volumes to Broadside it would be the equivalent of taking six cars off the road a year,” he said. “It is a great-tasting light golden beer and it is greener than any other beer on the market.”

Supermarket giant Tesco, which has begun a massive campaign to inform consumers of the carbon footprint of all products it sells, has struck an exclusive six month distribution deal for the beer. He will be available on draft sometimes after that.


Outside magazine calls New Belgium best place to work

Outside magazine has tabbed New Belgium No. 1 on its initial “Best Places to Work” list.

New Belgium Brewing is tops among companies with 250 or more employees. The full list and related stories is published in the May issue of Outside magazine, now available on newsstands.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized as a company where people love what they do and truly enjoy coming to work,” said Bryan Simpson, media relations director for New Belgium Brewing. “One of New Belgium’s core values is having fun, and that’s actually a very important and fulfilling piece of our culture.”


Hoegaarden brewing remains in Hoegaarden

InBev says all production of its famous white beer (which Saturday won gold in the World Beer Cup) will be transferred to its revamped Hoegaarden brewery by June 1.

A spokesperson told Thomson Financial News that currently 80% of its Hoegaarden white beer is being produced at the facility, while 20% is being manufactured at the group’s Jupille site.

This reverses a decision announced in 2006 that would have seen the Hoegaarden facility closed.


Lost Abbey, Pelican shine in World Beer Cup

The Lost Abbey and Pelican Pub & Brewery, two of America’s most heralded small brewers, came up big in the World Beer Cup.

The Lost Abbey and brewmaster Tomme Arthur won the Small Brewing Company category, while Pelican and Darren Welch won Large Brewpub. Both topped those same categories last fall at the Great American Beer Festival.

Brewers from 21 countries won medals in 91 categories, with 2,864 beers entered by 644 breweries from 58 countries. The beers were evaluated by 129 judges from 29 countries, with 64% of the judges from outside the United States. Brewers from the U.S. won 158 medals, with German breweries capturing 25 and Belgian 11.

Among the happiest winners was Tonya Cornett, who became the first woman to win brewmaster of the year when Bend Brewing from Oregon won two golds and Small Brewpub of the Year.

The complete results.

The fact sheet.


BA honors Vinnie Cilurzo, Michael Lewis

Three predominant members of the brewing community were recognized with awards for their dedication and service to the industry at the opening session of the Brewers Association’s annual Craft Brewers Conference.

The Brewers Association Recognition Award went to Dr. Michael Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis. With over 30 years of teaching experience, many of Lewis’ former students hold prominent positions in the American brewing industry.

The Brewers Association presented the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing to Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. Cilurzo received this year’s award for demonstrating creativity, excellence in brewing and substantial contributions to the craft brewing community.

The Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing was first given in 1997 to honor Russell Schehrer, who died in 1996 at 38 years old, for his contributions to the brewing industry. Schehrer was a founding partner and original head brewer at Colorado’s first brewpub Wynkoop Brewing Co. He was also one of the first brewers to produce mead, doppel alt, cream stout and chili beer.

Brewers Association brewery members submit nominations every year for the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing. The winner is chosen from the slate of nominees by a vote of the previous award winners.

The Brewers Association presented the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry award to John Carlson, Executive Director of the Colorado Brewers Guild.

The F.X. Matt Award is given in honor of a champion of small brewers, F.X. Matt (1933-2001), president of the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, New York from 1980-1989 and Chairman from 1989-2001.


Colorado to allow Sunday liquor sales

Beginning July 1 Colorado will end a 75-year-old blue law and allows liquor stores to open.

Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill Monday that allows the sale of buying wine, spirits and beer stronger than 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% abv) on Sunday. Previously, grocery and convenience stores could sell 3.2% abw beer and liquor stores were kept closed.

Ritter rejected arguments from grocers and convenience stores that the law makes an unlevel playing field more lopsided. The convenience store industry has said that 80% of its 3.2 beer sales in Colorado occur on Sundays.


My taste buds got a workout at the Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest

The Spring Beer & Wine FestReported by Banjo Bandolas

Take a native Oregonian with time on his hands like Steve Woolard, weaponize him with a passion for great food and drink, and assign him the mission of educating the community about great Northwest fare and you’ll have some idea of what the nation’s largest springtime sampling event, The Spring Beer & Wine Fest, is all about.

The event started in the spring of 1994 as the Spring Beer Fest, the “& Wine” wasn’t added until 2001 when vintners and wine became more prominent. Another addition to the Spring Beer & Wine Fest that same year was the Culinary Stage where Master Chefs create dishes using the beverages available at the festival.

Though the Fest has been around for quite some time it was my wife Bonne, and my first trip to the event. The Oregon Convention Center seemed cavernous as we walked what seemed like a mile from the elevators to the hall that held the event. I was surprised that, after 14 years, the event wasn’t as big (or as loud) as many of the other festivals I attend. In fact the size of the room seemed to dwarf the actual event. There seemed to be plenty of people in attendance but the space and the layout kept people dispersed and allowed for a comfortable expectation of personal space.

The Fest lived up to its motto “A Taste of the Best,” as we sampled top-shelf local and regional wine, beer, spirits and food. What does an education taste like? Well, I’m used to beer festivals. Places where bratwurst, BBQ, pretzels, and chili-fries reign. To be fair I have been to wonderful tastings pairing beer with cheese, chocolate, and all sorts of wonderful things, but this was something different.

The Spring Beer & Wine FestWe’d select a beer then stroll over to one of the many food booths to combine flavors like Mom’s Booze Balls (who could resist?) with Rogue Shakespeare Stout, and Pelican Doryman’s Dark Ale with a bite of Rogue Creamery’s Pesto Cheese Curds. Oh…My….God! I could go on and on, and we did.

I wanted to attend the seminars like the Cheese Smackdown, a “battle” between wine and beer experts as they match their beverages with selected cheese, letting the audience decide which pairing is best which is described by fest Marketing Director Lisa Morrison as “kind of like the American Idol of food.” Other seminars like Chocolate 101, Classy Cocktails With Indie Spirits and the panel discussion on beer and food pairings were forgotten as we conducted our own little seminar called, “what do you think would go good with this?”

Time flew! The next thing I knew, 5 hours had gone by and it was time for us to go meet friends. Next year I’m going to allow more time and actually attend the planned seminars. Probably, maybe, okay I make no promises. The Spring Beer & Wine Fest has so much going on that it’s just too much fun running around. I guess I’ll have to come for both days next spring just to be on the safe side.

People’s Choice awards for 2008 Beer Competition, from

For the second straight year, Astoria Brewing Co.’s Bitter Bitch Double IPA grabbed the People’s Choice Award.

Despite the brew’s bitter name, the win is an especially sweet one for owner Steve Allen, who lost his brewer right before the Spring Beer & Wine Fest. Allen was considering having to miss the fest this year after he learned that they didn’t have enough of the award-winning beer for the festival. But in true “beer community” spirit, a Portland-based brewer from another brewpub, Vasilios Gletsos, stepped in and brewed up a batch of “the bitch” just in time for the fest!

The Spring Beer & Wine FestThe competition was a tight one this year, with many beers garnering numerous votes. Bitter Bitch only beat the second-place winner, Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Survival Stout, by three votes!

The People’s Choice Award is the result of ballots fest-goers submit as they are sampling among the more than 80 beers at the Spring Beer & Wine Fest.

The 15th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest is slated for April 10 & 11, 2009 at the Oregon Convention Center – always Easter weekend.

Peoples Choice Awards:

1st Place – Astoria Brewing – Bitter Bitch
2nd Place – HopWorks Survival Stout
3rd Place – Tied – Calapooia Chili Beer & Ninkasi Tricehops Double IPA

Winners of the Saturday Morning Beer Judging:
Amber, Brown & Red
Gold – Pelican Pub & Brewery Anglers Amber
Silver – Lost Coast Brewery Downtown Brown

Gold – North Coast Brewing PranQster
Silver – Widmer Belgian Golden Ale

Double IPA and other Strong Ales
Gold – Stone Brewing Ruination IPA
Silver – Lang Creek Brewing Zeppelin Imperial Ale


Heineken acquires Swiss brewery

Dutch brewing giant Heineken has struck a deal to acquire the beverage unit of Switzerland’s Eichof Holdings for $279 million.

Eichof operates a Lucerne brewery, which has production capacity of 400,000 hectoliters (about 320,000 barrels) and 2007 domestic beer sales volumes of 361,000 hectoliters.

Heineken said the latest acquisition will give it a 10-percentage-point boost in its Swiss market share, bringing it to nearly 25%.

Heineken’s also getting Eichof’s wine, mineral-water and soft-drink operations in the deal; they represented 45% of total volumes.


Craft breweries donate $20 million to charity

American Craft Beer WeekThe Brewers Association has announced it estimates U.S. craft breweries made more than $20 million in charitable contributions in 2007.

The BA made the announcement in prelude to American Craft Beer Week May 12-18.

“In addition to being recognized for making world-class beer, independent craft brewers are amazing community citizens,” said Julia Herz, a BA spokesperson. “Craft brewers are an integral part of many communities’ charitable efforts. They donate to everything from fire departments, disaster relief efforts, local events, educational fundraisers and so much more.”

Breweries across the nation will celebrate during the week (events will be listed here), but for many the highlight will be SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience May 16-17 in Washington, D.C.


Scientist warns global warming will push up beer prices

Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, says climate change likely will cause a decline in the production of malting barley in parts of New Zealand and Australia.

“It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up,” Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention.

His is a longterm prediction, looking 30 years out, although brewers around the world experienced the domino effect of a poor crop in Australia last year. China, which now consumes more beer than any country in the world, relies heavily on barley malt from Australia. When that wasn’t available prices around the world went up.

“It will provide a lot of challenges for the brewing industry,” even forcing breweries to look at new varieties of malt barley as a direct result of climate change, Salinger said.

Similar effects are expected worldwide, and barley prices also will be affected as farmers are find it lucrative to grow crops other than intended for malt.