German beer consumption tumbles . . . again

German beer sales continued their downward spiral in 2009, falling 2.8%. The drop was the biggest since 1998.

The only break in the ongoing decline came in 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup and sales rose marginally. Overall, beer sales have declined 30% in the past 20 years although consumption of alcohol, reduced to pure ethanol, has remained constant.

Krombacher Brauerei, which brews Germany’s best-selling lager, expects beer consumption to decline in its home market this year, blaming an aging population that drinks less.

German brewers export 14% of the beer they produce, mostly to nearby European countries.


New beers: Jubel 2010, Top Sail Bourbon Barrel

Deschutes Brewery in Oregon has bottled a beer otherwise known “Super Jubel” for the first time in 10 years, with Jubel 2010 set to reach store shelves soon.

A brewery press release explains the orgins: “Jubel was discovered by accident two decades ago when a clumsy burglar didn’t realize the weight of his stolen keg of Jubelale (the brewery’s winter seasonal). He dropped it outside to freeze in the season’s sub-zero temperatures – only to be discovered the next morning by Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewery owner. More than half the liquid in the keg had frozen and the remaining beer was a very cold, highly concentrated ‘Jubelale on steroids.’ It was so good that the brewers set about recreating it, coming up with an annual ‘Super Jubel’ that is aged in Oregon oak pinot barrels.”

Deschutes usually sells the beer only at its pubs around the holidays, previously bottling Jubel 2000. A limited amount of Jubel 2010 will be available in 22 ounce wax-dipped bottles and on draft all over the west. The beer contains 10% alcohol by volume.

– To celebrate the release of Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Porter Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing will host two horizontal tastings next week. The imperial porter (9.85% abv, IBU 65) was brewed in February 2009 and aged almost a year in bourbon casks from Maker’s Mark, Stranahan’s and Four Roses.

The special tastings will feature the components as well as the 2010 release. “Since Top Sail is a blend of the three barrel varieties, we thought it would be interesting to try a bit of each before blending, so
we kegged off a very small stash of each variety for the release,” said executive brewmaster Jamie Emmerson.

The special tappings are set for 5 p.m. Monday at Full Sail’s River place brewery in Portland and Feb. 4 at the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub in Hood River.


Beer Label Evolution

Below is, as far as I know, the most recent label for Budweiser, updated in 2000. We all know that labels change over time, sometimes dramatically, but usually more subtly with just small tweaks from time to time. But even small changes over a long period of time become dramatic in the long view. So this is a fascinating peak into those changes.


Etiquette Systems, a label manufacturer, has an online gallery showing what they call the Evolution of America’s Most Famous Beer Label. It shows a dozen different versions of the Budweiser label, from the first 1876 version up to the 2000 latest one, with all of the changes in between.


Belgian beer blockade holds strong

Belgian beer union officials are talking about intensifying their strike against Anheuser-Busch InBev’s plants in Leuven and Liege although the company said it plans fresh talks with the union today.

A second round of talks ended Tuesday ended without agreement. Staff at the AB InBev plants have been blocking the plant entrances for two weeks.

Production at its Belgian breweries has come to a complete standstill. Company spokeswoman Karen Coeck said walls of beer crates erected since Jan. 7 have prevented the company from bringing raw materials, empty bottles and packaging goods into the plants.

“Also, the storage facilities are full of beer that cannot be shipped out,” Coeck said.

A Belgian union official said it was calling on the company to withdraw its restructuring plan, which would cut about 800 jobs in Europe, including 263 in Belgium. “We will continue with the blockades and will discuss whether to intensify our action,” he said.

In announcing new talks today AB InBev said the possibility of up to 150 early retirement plans and 70 new positions would considerably lesson the impact of the job cuts.


Zwickelmania: The perfect Valentine

How’s this for some back-to-back romance in Oregon?

Feb. 13: Zwickelmania.

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day.

Close-toed shoes required.

The Oregon Brewers Guild has extended the scope of the Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour after last year’s successful debut. Breweries across the state will host open houses and special tastings From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 13.

“Last year we had more than 10,000 visitors from across the state participate in Zwickelmania,” Oregon Brewers Guild Executive Director Brian Butenschoen said for a press release. “This year we have extended the hours to make the experience more enjoyable and allow participants to experience more breweries.”

Zwickelmania takes its name from the zwickel, or sample valve which is mounted on the outside of fermentation or conditioning tanks and allows brewers to take samples for quality assurance and control.

Admission to all Zwickelmania events is free, with some breweries offering complimentary sample tastings, food pairings and other activities. The guild will provide buses in Portland and Eugene to shuttle visitors to multiple breweries throughout the city. Close-toed shoes will be required for any visitors entering brewing facilities.

For a complete list of Oregon breweries participating in Zwicklemania and sample itineraries visit the guild website.


Narragansett tie design contest deadline near

The deadline for Narragansett’s Third Annual Father’s Day tie design contest is Friday.

The winning design will be featured online at and ties will be distributed throughout New England’s package stores in June. Judges will choose winners based on three main criteria: creativity, wearability and overall ‘Gansettness. Therefore all designs must incorporate Narragansett Beer elements and imagery

Winners will be announced Jan. 30 at a ‘Gansett Unveiling Party in Providence, Rhode Island.

For full rules and regulations and to review last year’s winners, visit the company website.


A-B InBev bosses taken hostage

Workers at an Anheuser-Busch InBev brewery in eastern Belgium briefly took some bosses hostage after the world’s largest brewery announced layoffs, local media reported.

The company will cut 800 jobs across western Europe, 10% of its 8,000 workforce in the region. It said the move was a response to falling beer sales, with the layoffs spread across Belgium, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

RTBF radio reported that about 10 managers at the Jupiler brewery were held in a meeting room in an office building located next to the plant.

“We are demanding that the (company’s) senior managers come here and call off the lay-offs,” Marc Devenne, a union representative was quoted as saying by the Belga news agency. Denis Gobert, another union spokesman, later said the managers had been released.

Anheuser-Busch InBev was formed in 2008 when Belgium-based InBev bought Anheuser-Busch.


Here come the bocks – and other releases

  • The Spoetzl Brewery’s latest seasonal is the new Shiner Fröst, inspired by lagers brewed in Dortmund. From the press release: “Shiner Fröst has a rich malt aroma, a firm body with a bittersweet finish and a late burst of hops. Two-row malted barley, malted wheat and Munich malt plus Hallertau Tradition and Spalter Select GR hops all combine to create a clean, crisp, full-bodied flavor that is perfect for this time of year. Fröst has 5.5 % abv, an original gravity of 13.5 Plato and and 25 IBU.”
  • Leinenkugel’s 1888 Bock will be available through March nationwide. The brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, first made the beer in 1888 after one of the harshest winters anybody in the region could remember. It was the brewery’s first seasonal brew after 21 years of operation. From the company press release:

    “Leinenkugel’s 1888 Bock’s robust head seizes the rich aroma of toasted and caramel malts. The flavor of this full-bodied brew is heavily defined by the Munich malts and the 20 to 25-day cold lagering process, which creates a smooth, toasted malt flavor. Leinenkugel’s 1888 Bock also features Caramel, Pale and two-row Chocolate malts while Cluster hops add a touch of citrus character.

    “‘For 142 years Leinenkugel’s has been sharing adventurous craft beers with our loyal fans and we’re delighted to bring back the original Leinenkugel family bock recipe again this year,’ says Jake Leinenkugel, fifth generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. ‘1888 Bock brings to life the flavors of Leinenkugel’s five generations of brewing history and the brew’s robust, yet smooth character makes it ideal as we move from winter into spring.’”

  • Mendocino Brewing’s Spring Bock becomes available next week. From the press release: “This Limited Edition Spring Seasonal Bock Beer is a rich, malty, full bodied and traditionally brewed pale lager. This golden hued lager has been created to celebrate the coming of Spring and the start of a year that is replete with the promise of things to come. Our Spring Lager is brewed with the finest malted barley and a luscious blend of aromatic noble hops for a unique drinking sensation. At 7.0% abv, this lager is a perfect compliment to those days when the cool crispness of spring blends deliciously with the oncoming warmth that will herald the earth renewing herself once again.”
  • Aspall Cyder House of Suffolk, England and SBS Imports of Seattle have announced Aspall Cuvee Chevallier Double Fermented Cyder has been added to the Aspall lineup that includes Aspall Dry, Semi-Sec, Organic, and Perronelle’s Blush cyders.

    From the press release: “Cuvee Chevallier is produced from apples that are higher in acid and lower in sugar content – much like the grapes used for Champagne. The double fermentation process increases alcohol content but also provides greater structure and mouthfeel. This production method was first explored at
    Aspall in the 1920s & ’30’s by ancestor JB Chevallier and was only recently rediscovered after a visit by one of JB’s assistant cydermakers.”

    Cuvee Chevallier sells in a cork-finished 750ml champagne style bottles at a suggested retail price is $15.99 per bottle. It contains 11% abv.