California beer lovers remain on call

The Brewers Association, through its Support Your Local Brewery program, asks California residents to continue to be ready for action.

The message:

Dear Beer Activists and Homebrewers,

Thanks to all of you who took the time to contact the five California Senators on the Governmental Organization Committee to express opposition to A.B. 1245, legislation which would greatly expand the limits on what a brewer can give away to a retailer and so put small brewers at a competitive disadvantage to large brewers.

Unfortunately, the bill passed the committee by a vote of 7-1 and has now moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Although it is hard to predict when the Appropriations Committee will consider and vote on the bill, it is likely that this will happen in the next 4-5 weeks. At that time, we will once again send out a call to action and hope you are once again able to make your voice heard in support of California’s small brewers.

For more information contact Tom McCormick.


Miller delays taking ‘craft lite’ national

Miller Brewing has delayed its plans to begin national distribution of the Miller Lite Brewers Collection.

In a memo to distributors, president Tom Long wrote that recent test-market results “indicate a need for some additional and refined marketing elements with greater clarity about the brand’s promise of light beer refreshment combined with craft-style taste.”

“We’re trying to create a new category here,” spokesman Pete Marino said. “And when you do that, you need just a little bit more time.”

The three new craft versions of Miller Lite will target mainstream drinkers and seek to exploit trends that favor light beer, a greater variety of beer styles and a willingness to pay more for higher-quality beers.

More about the beers themselves.


F.X. Matt to resume bottling by June 30

F.X. Matt Brewing Co.will resume bottling beer by the end of the month, “an important step in the brewery’s recovery from a $10 million fire last month.”

“We are well insured and we expect to rebuild the facility as it was or better than that, and probably in the end we’ll end up with a better, newer state-of-the-art packaging facility,” brewery president Nicholas Matt said.


InBev bid official; A-B stock rises

Anheuser-Busch confirmed Wednesday that InBev has made a a $46.3-billion bid to take over the American brewery.

InBev, whose brands include Stella Artois and Beck’s, is offering $65 per share for Anheuser, the leading U.S. brewer with 48.5% of the market.

A-B said its board of directors “will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch’s long-term strategic plan,” and make a determination regarding the proposal “in due course.”

Wachovia analyst Jonathan Feeney said InBev, known for aggressive cost-cutting, could find about $1.2 billion a year in savings.

“InBev would focus its efforts on streamlining the U.S. beer giant, a possibility which might not sit well with Anheuser distributors.”

Not surprising, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a complete rundown.


Deschutes celebrates with two new beers

Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery’s celebrates its 20th anniversary this month with two commemorative seasonal beers — Black Butte XX and the 20th Anniversary Wit.

From the press release:

“Black Butte XX is a tribute to Black Butte Porter, the revolutionary Deschutes Brewery beer that has excited beer enthusiasts since its release in 1988. This special Reserve Series brew is an extreme version of Black Butte Porter that the Deschutes brewers enhanced with several pounds of Bellatazza coffee, Theo Chocolate cocoa nibs and by aging parts in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels. These regional partners from Bend, Seattle and Denver, respectively, each provide quality artisan ingredients that give this commemorative beer a truly handcrafted complexity.

“20th Anniversary Wit, Deschutes Brewery’s summer Bond Street Series edition, offers yet another refreshing, hot weather quencher to complement Twilight Ale. This unique Belgian-style wheat beer was brewed with zested Curacao orange peel and just enough spices to keep your taste buds guessing. The Deschutes brewers tinkered with the recipe for months at the original Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Bend, Oregon, before perfecting what will arrive on shelves in 22-ounce bottles this June. A test batch of the Wit was sampled at Portland’s Spring Beer and Wine Festival in March where it won a gold medal.”


F.X. Matt resumes production

New York’s F.X. Matt Brewing Co. resumed production Tuesday, just five days after a fire that caused more than $10 million in damage and destroyed the brewery’s canning operation. Its bottling line will be down for an undetermined amount of time.

The brewery will have to temporarily outsource to other breweries for canning and bottling, an arrangement that would require approval from federal regulators, president Nick Matt said. Matt said he has been in touch with other beer companies but wanted to select just one, rather than sending the beer out to several different locations. The beer would then be brewed and aged in Utica before being tanked elsewhere, he said.

The fire started accidentally when two employees working on a welding projected inadvertently melted a plastic conveyor belt, fire officials said Tuesday.


Foster’s debuts high-priced lager

Foster’s has created a limited edition beer that will sell for $60 dollars ($57 US for a 750ml bottle).

Foster’s master brewer John Cozens calls Crown Ambassador Reserve lager “luxury beer.”

“It’s expensive to make and it’s expensive to package but it’s Australian, it’s luxury and let’s hope there’s more to come,” he said.

The launch emulates a similar move in 1954, when the premium beer market was pioneered with the announcement Crown Lager would be made available to the public upon the Queen’s first visit to the country.

Previously Crown Lager had been reserved for aristocracy and visiting dignitaries since its inception in 1919.

The advertiser points out that puts Crown Ambassador in the range of Moet & Chandon champagne.