Boulevard sales will aid Joplin relief

Boulevard Brewing Co. announced it will donate a portion of its September sales in Missouri to aid victims of the devastating tornado that struck nearby Joplin on May 22.

For every barrel (31 gallons) of Boulevard beer sold in Missouri during the month of September, the company will contribute $1 to the American Red Cross to aid in its ongoing Joplin relief efforts. Irrespective of the Boulevard brand or package — a six-pack, a Smokestack bottle, or a pint at any Missouri bar or restaurant — money will be contributed to the humanitarian organization.

“We haven’t forgotten,” said John McDonald, Boulevard founder and president. “And with 40 percent of our sales taking place in the state, we hope to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the long road of restoration that lies ahead, helping our fellow Missourians rebuild their homes, their neighborhoods, and their lives.”

The tornado that destroyed one-third of Joplin was one of the worst natural disasters in Missouri history. It claimed 134 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 buildings. Analysts estimate the total cost of the disaster could top $3 billion.


New beers: Samuel Adams Rauchbier; MateVeza Morpho

* Samuel Adams has included a new release in its Harvest Collection Variety 12-pack. As the name suggests, Samuel Adams Bonfire Rauchbier is brewed with barley smoked over a beechwood fire. The variety pack includes six beers. Beyond two bottles of Bonfie Rauchbier are two each of Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Octoberfest, Irish Red, Black Lager and Boston Lager.

* Help from The Boston Beer Company’s new microloan program for craft brewers, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, made MateVeza Morpho Herbal Ale possible. The organic ale was brewed with yerba mate, hibiscus flowers and bay leaves. A collaboration with Mill Valley Beerworks, MateVeza’s newest limited release is an ode to the Morpho butterfly of South America.

Morpho Herbal Ale is modeled after gruits, unhopped beers from the middle ages. Gruits rely on a mixture of herbs to provide the bitterness resulting in zero hop bitterness. Morpho Herbal Ale’s bitterness is provided entirely by the yerba mate and bay leaves, providing a completely new and refreshing take on the style. “In a craft beer climate dominated by ales that push the limits of hop bitterness, Morpho Herbal Ale is a rare creature,” said Jim Woods, MateVeza founder and president.


New Beers: Deschutes Stoic; Breckenridge Autumn

* Deschutes Brewery’s newest release, The Stoic, is described as a Belgian Quad. The recipe includes pomegranate molasses and sugar as well as Hallertau, Saaz and Northern Brewer hops. The beer was aged in Pinot Noir and Rye Whiskey barrels. 11% ABV, 21 IBU.

* Breckenridge Autumn Ale is now available in draft and 12-ounce bottles. The recipe was inspired by brewmaster Todd Usry’s memories of fall in Virginia where he grew up . . . the welcome break from summer’s heat, the earthy smells that kick up as one walks through fallen leaves, and the roasty aromas that fall brings as the air cools and folks start burning wood in their fire places again. Roasted barley is used to impart smokey/roasty characteristics and Munich malt for earthiness. 6.7% ABV


Stella Artois Draught Master competition returns

Stella Artois has launched the U.S. portion of its World Draught Masters competition, which challenges entrants to master the Stella Artois 9-Step Pouring Ritual.

From Sept. 9 through Sept 30, seven U.S. cities — Miami, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boston, Denver, New York and Washington, D.C. — will host live competitions in which beer enthusiasts are trained in the 9-Step Pouring Ritual, then have the opportunity to showcase their command of the process. U.S. hopefuls outside those markets can participate via the virtual pour competition on the Stella Artois Facebook Page.

“Stella Artois’ 9-Step Pouring Ritual brings the care and craftsmanship that go into brewing our beer to the connoisseurs who enjoy it, ensuring that each chalice of Stella Artois is perfectly poured and preciously presented,” said Alexander Lambrecht, the brand’s global marketing manager. “Our annual World Draught Masters competition celebrates the brand’s heritage and recognizes the most skillful Draught Masters from around the world.”

Winners from the seven semi-final markets, and one wild-card participant, will advance to the U.S. finals Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C. The wild-card winner will be randomly chosen from the top national scorers in the virtual 9-Step Pouring Ritual game on the Stella Artois Facebook page. To enter, fans can visit now through Sept. 15. Those achieving a score of 90 or higher may fill out the official online entry form for a chance to win the wild-card entry to the Stella Artois U.S. Draught Masters Finals in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. winner will represent the United States at the 2011 Stella Artois World Draught Masters global finals in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Oct. 26.


Boulevard Brewing takes Smokestack beers East

Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City is preparing to dip its toes into the Atlantic, with a September rollout planned for the state of Massachusetts. Boulevard has already enjoyed success selling its Smokestack Series in the Northwest and now will see how the specialty line will do in the Northeast.

“Adding an East Coast market to our distribution portfolio is a big step for the brewery,” said John McDonald, Boulevard founder and president. “The craft beer movement in New England continues to gain momentum, and we are eager to see how our brands will play in that part of the country.”

All year-round, seasonal, and limited-release Smokestack Series beers will be available, some in 750ml bottles and others in 12-ounce four-packs. Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale will also be sold in five-gallon kegs.

“We are very excited that Boulevard Brewing Company has chosen us to represent their brands,” said Bill Burke, president of Burke Distributing of Boston. “They are the first supplier to sign on with MBA, our recently formed distributor network, and we are fully committed to their success. Working with an organization like Boulevard, known for their integrity as well as their fine beer, is a real honor for us, and we look forward to a long relationship.”

Boulevard is set to begin another brewery expansion in October. A six-month, $3 million project will remove six original 105-barrel fermentation tanks, replacing them with eight 300-barrel vessels built in neighboring Springfield, Mo. Upon completion, Boulevard’s annual fermentation capacity will jump by approximately 20%, surpassing 200,000 barrels annually.


Japanese brewery buys cocktail maker

Asahi Group Holdings has struck a deal to buy New Zealand beverage group Independent Liquor for $1.3 billion, giving the Japanese brewing giant a ready-to-drink cocktail maker to add to its stash of assets in the Oceania market.

Japanese brewers have been on an acquisition spree, using the strong yen to pick up foreign companies and to counter slowing sales in their home market. Beer sales within Japan have fallen 15% in the last decade.

Asahi bought all outstanding shares of Flavoured Beverages Group, the parent company of Independent Liquor known for its “Woodstock Bourbon” and “Vodka Cruiser” brands, from private equity firms.


Drinking more craft beer? You’re not alone

The Brewers Association announced that sales of what it defines as craft beer grew 14 percent in the first half of 2011, with dollar sales up 15 percent.

Craft brewers sold an estimated 5.1 million barrels in the first half of the year.

“Craft brewers continue to innovate and brew beers of excellent quality,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “America’s beer drinkers are rapidly switching to craft because of the variety of flavors they are discovering. And they are connecting with small and independent craft brewers as companies they choose to support.”

The association reports that the number of breweries nationally has increased by 165 since June of 2010, to 1,790 breweries. Additionally, it lists 725 breweries in planning today compared to 389 a year ago.

“There is a growing interest in establishing new breweries,” Gatza added. “It seems like every day we are hearing about a brewery in planning. Will they all make it? No, but many will if they produce high-quality, interesting craft beers and can get them to market through self-distribution and beer wholesalers and beer retailers.”


Young’s sells brewing interest; focuses on pubs

Young’s & Co. has ended its last ties with its historic London brewery.

Young’s began operations as the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth in 1831, and until 2006 — when it sold a majority stake to Charles Wells and closed its London brewery — claimed the site was the oldest British brewery in continuous operation, with evidence of brewing going back to the 16th century.

Young is selling its 40% share in the joint venture to Charles Wells for £15 million. The Young’s business now consists of 246 pubs, including 26 sites from the acquisition of gastropub group Geronimo Inns in December.