A-B Likely To Accept InBev’s Latest Offer

The AP is reporting today that Anheuser-Busch is “likely to accept a sweetened buyout offer from the Belgian-based brewer InBev SA as early as this weekend, a published report said.” On Friday, InBev upped their offer to from $65 per share to $70, a nearly 10% increase in the price. As noted by the AP story, “A deal would be a stunning turnaround from the often heated rhetoric between the two companies over the last several days.” On Friday, the news helped boost A-B’s share price to $66.50, an 8.6% rise. Juli Niemann, an analyst with the investment firm Smith Moore & Co. likewise believes an agreement will be forthcoming any time now.

“It really is all about the money,” Niemann said. “We just had to get a little bit more on the table. Bottom line is the rest is just housekeeping – what’s going to be the name of the new company, that sort of thing. The layoffs will go ahead. Asset sales – you’ve got to pay for it.”


Looking at American Craft Beer with a Japanese Tongue

With talk about the new TV show “I Survived a Japanese Gameshow” burning up the internet I couldn’t have planned a better time to discuss my recent adventures in Japan. Initially I planned on titling this article “How to get arrested in Japan without really trying” because the hot topic of our gathering of friends and family was my recent sort-of-arrest by the local beat cop. It wasn’t my fault, Ma! I was just minding my own business, sitting on a curb in Kawasaki, Japan at 6am. I was focused on my laptop screen, checking my email with a little Wi-Fi mooched from the local grade school when a shadow passed over me, hesitated, returned and cleared its throat.

Looking up, I locked eyes with a frowning policeman. “ここで何やってるのですか?” he said as my brain seized in panic. I knew what he wanted to know. Who am I? What was I up to in the wee hours of the morning, sitting on a curb with my laptop? I was a deer in the headlights. My limited grasp of the Japanese language went into hiding as I searched my brain for a response.

“Email! Email!” I blurted out as I scrambled up and turned my laptop towards him, figuring everyone knows the word email. My 6’2”, 210lb. frame towering over him like a redwood didn’t work in my favor, and he jumped back grasping the handle of his nightstick.

Long story short, I ended up getting perp-walked back to the family home. The Neighborhood stopped what they were doing and leaned out their doorways to witness the spectacle. They whispered to one another as we passed. “We knew there was something strange about that man, always saying hello and smiling at people…I wonder who he killed? At the family home the policeman agreed to wait at the gate while I went in and woke someone to verify I was not a mass murderer. The neighbor, a woman I had viciously “good morninged” and bared my teeth at many times was talking to the policeman in hushed tones as I went in.

When I came out a few minutes later with my very sleepy sister-in-law he was gone. I guess I’d been cleared by the neighbor or some other major villain had struck in the area and drawn him away. This is how the seeds of great family stories are germinated. I am now “he-who-was-brought-home-by-the-police,” a family badge I will wear with honor as I perpetuate and expand on the story until the movie comes out in a theater near you.

After everyone at the party had finished laughing about my unfortunate encounter I announced I’d like them to participate in a tasting of a handful of American Northwest Craft Beers I’d brought for just this purpose. I had a captive audience, and lots of food; it was too perfect an opportunity to waste.

Banjo with Rogue

I explained, as those who spoke English translated, that we would sample small quantities of the beers with and without food and then discuss how they taste and if we like them or not. Seemed simple enough and the Japanese, as a culture, are well versed in the art of food and beverage evaluation.

The beers I’d brought were: Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Ninkasi Tricerihops, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Tracktown Honey Orange Wheat, and Rogue Brewer’s Ale. I know what you’re thinking. I went a little heavy on the Rogue. During the selection process I chose beers that I felt would be more interesting to my audience and the Rogue styles seemed to jump out at me. Also, Rogue is available in the Tokyo area so they could buy more if they liked it.

Beer Tasting

Japan, more so than anywhere I’ve ever been, is a food culture and the Japanese seem keen on trying and evaluating anything and everything. Japanese travel agencies use food and beverage as one of the main engines of international travel. Whereas America is famous for food consumption, Japan is famous for savoring and evaluating each and every element of the meal. Watch one day of Japanese television and you’ll get an idea of how prevalent matters of the palette are.

My research says TV food shows account for an estimated 35 to 40 percent of domestic programming. Talk shows seem to take up a large chunk of the rest and those programs all seem to have a cooking segment or fieldtrip segment, where someone goes somewhere to eat or drink something specialized to a region. After showing all aspects of preparation, the camera goes into a close up and they make the food look extra delicious, giving whatever is being consumed a big jiggle and then following it from plate to mouth after which the taster exclaims, “Oishii desu!” Delicious!

One of these shows was on when a familiar face filled the screen. Harrison Ford was on a TV show plugging his new Indiana Jones movie. After they talked about the movie Harrison had to judge a cook off where 3 sets of chefs prepared special entrees and Mr. Ford had to taste each one, comment on the dish, then choose his favorite. I’ve never seen Harrison Ford more uncomfortable and out of his element as he tasted each dish, but he handled it like a pro. The camera zoomed in and followed the food to his mouth and we all held our breath as he chewed and chewed. His face didn’t betray anything. He could have just as easily been gumming creamed corn. He could use a couple “Ummmm, Ahhhhh” lessons in Japanese food tasting etiquette. Finally he was able to clear his mouth and exclaim “Oishii desu!” Way to go Harry, you pass.

Food Detective

Japan’s obsession with food even crosses lines into other TV genre’s. There’s a Japanese TV mystery drama series called Food Detective 2 (Kuitan 2), where the “Big-Eating” division of the “Holmes Detective Agency” lead by detective Seiya Takano, finds food somehow plays a part in solving every case! Think “Monk” with food rather than OCD. I think you get the picture…let’s get back to the beer.

Though Japanese Craft Beer has made great strides in the new millennium they capture a very small percentage of the overall market share. Most Japanese drink the mainstream lagers and happoshu produced by the big breweries Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. This would be the first time most of the people in the room had ever tasted craft beer.

Japan Tasting

I decided to start light and move gently towards the stronger, more complex beers. The first beer sampled, Tracktown’s Honey Orange Wheat, from Eugene City Brewery where I live. The beer delighted the group and there was a lot of chatter about its soft sweetness, the general consensus, “Oishii desu!”.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar met with a similar reaction. It was the introduction of the Rogue Chocolate Stout that the group started to splinter, some finding the chocolate sweetness behind the slightly bitter finish, others blanched at the tasted malt. The Alaskan Smoked Porter, one of my personal favorites was unanimously rejected; they did not like the smoked flavor.

Rogue Chocolate Stout

I followed up with another favorite of mine, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, a german-style maibock. A good 90 percent of the group said they liked it very much and they especially liked the Dead Guy Logo. I took a deep breath as my niece, Minami, made the rounds and rinsed our glasses. I had two beers left, Ninkasi Tricerihops, a double IPA and a great example of Northwest hopitude, and Rogue Brewer’s Ale, a strong ale with tons of hop flavor and a huge malt backbone.

“These people aren’t ready for this.” I thought as I filled the glasses and passed them around. I was right, I didn’t even have to ask, the scrunched up faces told the story. Though a few finished their Brewer’s Ale, they all rejected the over-the-top hoppiness we take in stride here in the Northwest.

Japan Tasting

How the beers ranked in taste with my non-craft beer savvy group – Honey Orange Wheat got the big “Oishii desu!” award, followed closely by Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Dead Guy Ale, Chocolate Stout, Smoked Porter, Brewer’s Ale, and Tricerihops.

My results indicate, and this is a very small sampling and not even on speaking terms with anything scientific in nature, that for now Wheat’s, Sweets, and Session beers would be my choice for winning Japanese consumers over to craft beer. I suspect, just like most people who choose the craft beer path, their tastes will develop over time and before you know it they’ll be clamoring for the bigger, more complex offerings we enjoy here in the Good old US of A. As long as there’s some left for me I’m all for it.

To see more pictures of our American Beer Tasting in Japan click link below.
Looking at American Craft Beer with a Japanese Tongue


Illinois Governor Declares July 10 “Beer Distributor Day”

Illinos Governor Rd Blagojevich signed a proclamation today declaring July 10, 2008 to be “Beer Distributor Day,” “commemorating the efforts of beer distributors small and large who have worked in cooperation with the state to regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol for more than 75 years.”

From the press release:

“This proclamation by the governor honors and recognizes all of the hard work that beer distributors have delivered for over 75 years to keep the marketplace fair and competitive for business, good for the economy and safe for the consumer,” said Bill Olson, president of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois. “We commend the Governor for his unwavering commitment to Illinois businesses and maintaining a safe marketplace for consumers.”


Multiple Therapists At Beer Therapy

As many of you probably know, Stan Hieronymus, who’s been dishing out the beer therapy here for many a moon, is on the road. Stan and his wife, Daria Labinsky, along with their daughter, Sierra, are currently on a 15-month trip around the world. You can follow their exploits on The Slow Travelers, a running blog written by the entire family. Stan will continue to post the occasional story here at Beer Therapy, but there will be times when he’s out of range for internet access and times when he’s just too darn busy having fun.

So I’ll be filling in for Stan and taking over the day to day duties of Beer Therapy. I’ll continue to write at my own blog, the Brookston Beer Bulletin, too, and I encourage you to read both. Beer Therapy will remain the place to go for news about the world of beer, whereas I’ll continue to analyze that news on the Bulletin.

Jay Brooks


Welcome to Popeye Beer Club

Posted by By Banjo Bandolas

When the subjects of Beer and Japan cross paths, a discussion about Tokyo’s infamous Popeye Beer Club isn’t far behind. I’d heard the stories about Popeye’s for years. Every time I came back from a family visit to Japan someone would ask “Did you make it up to Popeye’s?”

Since my wife and I were in Kawasaki to celebrate her birthday with her twin, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to finally make the pilgrimage to the heart of Tokyo and experience Popeye Beer Club for myself.

The trip from Kawasaki station to Tokyo’s Sumida-ku station in Ryogoku would take about an hour each way on one of Tokyo’s infamous commuter trains but what the heck, how often does a guy get to go to a world famous beer bar?


A little history on Popeye’s (pictured above) and the Japanese craft beer industry. Waaaaay back in 1994, when the Japanese government lowered the legal limit for a brewing license from 530,000 to about 16,000 gallons a year the Japanese craft beer movement was born.

A small restaurant owner, Tatsuo Aoki, saw the writing on the wall and wasted no time in learning all he could about craft beer, soon he began offering samples to customers at his small Western-style “snack pub” called Popeye Beer Cub.

The Japanese are by nature an openly curious people, especially when it comes to food or drink, and demand for the new craft beer styles surged. Aoki soon had to remodel to accommodate more customers and expand the number of taps to keep pace with Japan’s growing craft beer industry. Forward thinking, and enthusiasm for craft beer, has made Popeye Beer Club Tokyo’s best pub for Japanese craft beer and “clubhouse” for local and visiting beer geeks.

Cold rain fell as our motley little crew gathered under umbrellas at the Tokyo Edo Museum. The group consisted of me, my wife, Bonne, her sisters Mayumi and Rieme, and Rieme’s husband Kaname. Later we expected to be joined by local beer writer and official expert on Japanese craft beer, Bryan Harrell of Celebrator magazine and at Popeye’s.

We planned to meet Bryan at 8 p.m. but we’d opted to arrive in Ryogoku early (4 p.m.) to avoid the crush of rush hour crowds on the trains. To fill the time we visited the Tokyo Edo Museum and planned to sample the fare at a small brewpub in the area called Beer Station. I’ve always found Japanese addresses confusing and this situation was no different, but it wasn’t just me this time. None of us could find Beer Station’s address, 1-3-20 Yokozuma. It was actually kind of funny watching locals flail around just as lost as I would have been.

We wandered around for quite some time before finally breaking down and asking a security guard at the Sumo Stadium if he knew where it was. He knew all right, the brewpub had closed over a year ago. It began to rain harder as that information sank into our collective consciousness. There was nothing else to do, we turned and made our way to Popeye’s 2 hours early.

For a pub with a worldwide reputation, it wasn’t the flashiest place I’d ever seen. In fact, if I wasn’t looking for it, I probably would have strolled right on by. Walking in I immediately felt at home, the place was reminiscent of a good western style pub. Breweriana, a lot of which came from Oregon, filled the walls and dangled from the ceiling.

The good thing about arriving early was we had our choice of tables. We chose a corner spot with a view of the bar and the deck. When we took our seats we were immediately presented with beer lists and hot towels. The towel was a delicious welcome, coming out of the cold, wet weather, and a great start for what would be a memorable evening.

Turned out it was Happy Hour, (I didn’t even know they had Happy Hour in Japan.) with each beer ordered we’d get a complementary plate of food. (Score!)

Our servers Ayano Ishibashi and Kyohei Makajima, were very knowledgeable about craft beer, and very attentive to our needs. I looked down at the list and immediately knew how the Japanese must feel when they come to one of our high end craft beer pubs.
Ayano and Kyohei were about to earn their wages. Most of the breweries weren’t familiar, and quite a few I couldn’t even pronounce. (Especially after a few pints) Although the website and everything else at Popeye’s screamed 40 beers on tap that wasn’t the case when we arrived…they’d recently expanded their offerings to 70 beers on tap.

It felt a little surreal being surrounded by American breweriana and reading at a beer list that looked so alien. Mayumi waved for my attention and pointed up. My eyes followed her finger and I focused on dozens of bottles hanging from the ceiling over my head, many familiar American craft logos were in the bunch. An Oregon brewer’s guild sign on the wall seemed to reach out to me from across the room, saying “you ain’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy.”

Our servers were delighted to make recommendations and tell us the stories behind the beers as we studied the menus. There were several American craft beers on the list; Full Sail, Rogue, Sierra Nevada, Fish, and Speakeasy. I also saw tap handles for Great Divide and Mendocino behind the bar. Lindeman’s and several other European brews were there too.


Rogue was the best represented with 6 styles. Not too surprising when you consider Rogue was the first American microbrewery to enter Japan. They began shipping beer to Japan the same year the beer laws changed (1994). Phred Kaufman of Mugishutei (Beer Joint) was instrumental in the successful introduction of Rogue Ales, and the Rogue mystique to Japanese craft beer consumers. It was a match made in beervana, the Japanese appreciate craftsmanship, and they’re willing to pay for it. Rogue punched all the right buttons from labeling their bottles in Japanese Katakana, (the first American craft beer to do so) to choosing styles that matched the Japanese palate Phred Kaufman knew so well.

Interesting, but I didn’t come to Popeye’s to drink American craft beer. I recommended several familiar beers to the group and concentrated on the Japanese offerings. Last time I’d really immersed myself in the Japanese craft beer culture was when I attended the Great Japan Beer Festival in 2001.

That was a turbulent time for the Japanese craft beer industry, not unlike the shakeouts experienced in the American craft brew revolution, where many microbreweries go under due to poor quality, business sense, or just plain bad luck. People in the Japanese craft beer community simply refer to the beginning of the decade as “The Crash”. I hadn’t found a lot to get excited about at that 2001 event. Now I was looking forward to evaluating the evolution of Japanese Craft beer since. What I found was a craft beer culture that has grown and matured, carving out a flavor niche that is distinctively Japanese.

The Japanese craft beers I sampled weren’t clones of those from other countries. Sure, they share the names of a wide array of styles we’re all familiar with in American craft beer, but you’ll be hard put to find the bold slap-in-the-face taste common to American microbrews. Whereas big hop taste and high alcohol identify the Northwest beer culture, subtlety and balance seems to be the goal for Japanese microbrewers. I like to savor the interplay of multiple flavors and actually prefer a well balanced beer to many of the over-the-top microbrews.

The bar began to fill up as we received our food and beer. If I closed my eye’s it could be a pub anywhere in the world. (Except eavesdropping on conversations around me was virtually impossible) I watched a mixture of Japanese nationals and foreigners fill the tables. They all had that familiar universal smile I see when people have come to talk about beer.

Riemi, who is very bold in her tastes, selected a Rogue Imperial Stout, a big beer by anyone’s standards. “Whoa!” was about all she could get out initially. I offered to get her a new beer and finish it myself (can’t waste good beer!), but she declined and took another, smaller, sip and smiled “I like it.” Mayumi started with the Hidatakayama Weizen which she really liked and I found very nice as well. She seemed to lean towards the softer weizens, porters, and bocks thru the evening. Kaname was more mainstream in his taste; he tried several styles but ended up going back to pilsner, though he did find a pilsner from Echigo Brewery that he liked much better than the Asahi he usually drinks. Bonne found a new favorite in Swan Lake Golden Ale. I tried a glass. It was the finest golden ale I’ve ever tasted, incredibly clean in taste and clarity; it seemed to glow like liquid sunshine when held up to the light.

We’d already gone thru 15 or so beers and as many plates of food when Bryan Harrell arrived at 8 o’clock. I think he was a little distressed he couldn’t lead me thru the beers, introducing each with a pedigree and brief history on the brewery. I apologized and explained why we’d gotten such an early start on the evening (early by Tokyo standards at least.) But I thought I had a few more in me if he had some suggestions.

“You’ve got to try the Asahi Stout.” he said signaling the server. “It’s a limited draft only release. Popeye’s receives one keg per month and this is the only place in the world you can get it on draft.”

I tried it and found it to be an excellent, well built, stout.

We discussed some of the other beers I’d already sampled and the state of the Japanese and American craft beer industry. I told him I was very impressed with the advances I saw in the beers since 2001 and I presented him with a bottle of 2008 Rogue Brewer’s Ale I’d brought over to give him. I figured it would be something special he couldn’t get in Japan.

“Hey, they had a keg of this on draft here last month,” he said admiring the bottle, “nice.”

“Damn, I thought this would be a special treat!”

“Believe me, it will be. I’ve got some good friends I plan to share this with who will be very impressed.”
Bryan returned the favor by buying me a bottle of Babakan Catfish Head IIPA (a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Dogfish Head) to take home. I tried a pint and found it very complex and interesting, but using Dogfish Head as a benchmark, it didn’t quite hit the mark. I think I’ll let the bottle age a bit and try it in a year or two, like the Japanese microbrew industry, it’ll only get better with age.

The Japanese Craft Beers we sampled:
Iwatekura – Oyster Stout
Hidatakayama – Weizen
Iwatekura – IPA on cask
Baird – Stout
Minamisinsyu – Winter Ale
Hakusekikan – Dia Brown Ale
Baird – Rising Sun
Isekadoya – Pale Ale
Swan Lake – Golden Ale
Ozenoyukidoke – IPA
Fujizakura Kougen – Dunkle Weizen
Nasukougen – Barley Wine
Ohnuma – Kolsh
Hakusekikan – Pale Ale
Babakan (Catfish Head) – Double IIPA
Echigo – Pilsner
Asahi – Stout

Other organizations that got their start or meet regularly at Popeye’s:
• The Good Beer Club, Japan’s answer to the UK’s Campaign for Real Ale
• Tokyo Real Ale and Nippon Craft Beer festivals began here.
• Members of the Beer Enjoyment, Education and Research Society (BEERS), an English-speaking beer club in Tokyo, are frequent patrons.

Popeye Beer Club
2-18-7 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Phone: 81-3-3633-2120

Other pubs worth checking out when you’re in Tokyo:
Ushi-Tora Pub
Sankyu Building 2F,
2-9-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Phone: 81-3-3485-9090
26 beers on tap and a selection of freshly made bar food. It’s on the second story and can be difficult to find, but local shops will help you find it.

Nakameguro Taproom
Nakameguro GT Plaza
C-Block, 2nd Floor, 2-1-3 Kamimeguro
Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5768-3025
Baird Beer Tied House, Twenty taps and four hand-pumps are devoted to the largest lineup of Baird Beer available anywhere.

Northern Japan:
Phred Kaufman’s Beer Joint)
Onda Bldg, B1 S.9W.5 Chuo-Ku
Sapporo, Japan
Phone: 512-4774
300 varieties of beer from over 50 countries. The largest selection of beer in the orient.

For a comprehensive source of information on Japanese beer, bars, food, and restaurants go to

To see more pictures from our visit to Popeye Beer Club go to:
Welcome to Popeye Beer Club


Duvel buys bankrupted Liefmans Brewery

Duvel Moortgat Brewery has reached an agreement to buy Liefmans Brewery. Both Belgian breweries produce highly praised beers.

Liefmans has been in existence since Jacob Liefmans established his brewery in Oudenaarde in 1770, but the brewery declared bankruptcy and stopped production in late 2007.

Duvel acquired a large portion of the assets of Liefmans, including all the machinery, all brands and recipes. According to a company press release, Duvel will concentrate on Liefmans brown ales and fruit beers brewed in Oudenaarde. Several of the beers have gone back in production and will return to distribution in the near future.

Duvel remains in negotiation for the real estate in Oudenaarde and will invest to revitalize the production site and the well-known visitors’ center when the acquisition is complete. The price of the transaction, including real estate, is 4.5 million euros, or $7.1 million.


Warner resigns as Flying Dog ‘lead dog’

Eric Warner has resigned as “lead dog” at Flying Dog Brewery.

Warner, who served as CEO for eight years, is turning the lead dog position over to Jim Caruso.

“Eight years as CEO is a long time in that position in this or any other industry. I could not be prouder of all that’s been accomplished and I want to make a change while I’m at the top of my game,” Warner said for a company press release. “I would not be comfortable making this move unless there was someone who I felt shared the same passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to Flying Dog that I do and who could seamlessly step in and build on the momentum we’ve created.”

Caruso has been affiliated with Flying Dog since 1995 and has served as the company’s chairman since 1999. “There is no greater joy than being part of the wonderful, wacky and irreverent world of Flying Dog,” Caruso said. “I love beer, and I have extraordinary respect for the talent and dedication of all the people who are the company, and I could not be prouder of what Flying Dog stands for.”