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Thursday, November 30, 2006

To Your Health: Red Wine Benefits Arteries

Most of the recent good news about red wine and health has involved a compound called resveratrol, which is found in a thin layer between the skin and flesh of the grape. There's one hitch to the research: while resveratrol can do some amazing things and it is found in red wine, you would need to put away massive amounts on a daily basis to replicate the dose that appears to have benefits in lab mice.

Now comes a study from Queen Mary's School of Medicine in London that says another substance found in red wine may have even more benefits -- and procyanidins appear in high enough natural concentrations that scientists don't have to figure out how to concentrate them into pill form. A glass or two of red wine a day should do the trick, helping repair cells in arteries that feed the heart.

In a study being published in the journal Nature, scientists looked at the increased longevity in certain regions of France. They found that Madiran wines produced in the southwest of France, where men live longer than the average, have higher levels of procyanidins. Winemakers in the region use tannat grapes and soak them longer with their seeds than most wineries, boosting the amount of procyanidins in the juice.

Madiran wines produced in the region are often about 70 percent tannat, blended with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Tannat grapes have also been widely planted in Argentina and Uruguay.

Procyanidins have also been found in dark chocolate, cranberries and apples.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

World's Oldest Whisky Sells for $28,895 at London Auction

A bottle of Scotch that experts claim could be the oldest in the world has sold in London this evening for $28,895 to an anonymous bidder. The Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky was put up for sale at Bonhams Auction House by an Irish woman who said it had been in her family for generations.

Glenavon, which was located in Banffshire, operated during the 1850s before it was absorbed into The Glenlivet Distillery. Estimates are that the Glenavon was bottled between 1851 and 1858. Some questioned whether the bottle was produced at the original distillery or later, after the consolidation, at the site of the present Glenlivet facility. In either case, whisky experts believe it was produced no later than the 1870s, making it an extremely rare Scotch.

The 14-ounce green bottle was said to appear to have been full and unopened. The whisky created interest among collectors around the globe and the auction house was ready to accept bids from the United States and Asia.

Steam Whistle Brewery Thanks Canadian Troops

Thanks to the management and staff at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto, Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan will be able to enjoy a brew this holiday season. Beer is not readily available in the Muslim country, but Canadian troops are allowed to have alcohol on base three times a year: Oktoberfest; an event in November; and Christmas.

Steam Whistle employees donated their weekly beer allotment and it was matched by the company co-founders Cam Heaps and Greg Taylor. The Canadian Armed Forces agreed to accept the shipment of Steam Whistle Pilsner in holiday 12-packs.

The gesture of the Steam Whistle Brewery staff should remind us all that freedom is not free. Politics is politics, but no matter what your feeling is about the fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq the fact is that there are thousands of men and women half way around the world paying the tab for you and me.

While we cannot ship alcohol to our troops, we can show our support and concern through letters and care packages. If you know someone serving overseas, take the time to send them something today. You can also reach out to troops through a number of organizations. One of the best can be found at www.anysoldier.com. You can get a look at photos of the men and women, where they live and what they do on a daily basis. Many also provide a list of things they just cannot get in the field. Until they build a Wal-Mart in the Sunni Triangle, things like tooth paste, snack foods and American magazines are hard to come by and appreciated by those who we count on to defend freedom.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Christmas Comes a Little Early for Beer Drinkers

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste four holiday beers.

A time honored tradition of the brewer's art is to create special beers to mark the seasons and holiday celebrations. The first of these beers were likely brewed in connection with pagan celebrations marking the winter solstice. Later the Catholic Church would permit churches and monasteries to brew special beers for special occasions to reward the faithful and provide an income flow to local orders.

I find holiday and winter beers to be among the most intriguing brews on the market. My love affair with the category -- it's not really a style since these brews can be all over the board from golden ales to dark lagers -- started back in the early 1980s with F.X. Matt's Season's Best. I not only enjoyed finding the first 12-packs of this brew at retail each year, but I also used bottles of this beer to trade with contacts at breweries across the U.S. for seasonal brews I could not easily find in Upstate New York. It was the days before Anchor Our Christmas Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration or Pyramid Snow Cap Ale made it to the east coast. Thanks to a few phone calls and the fact Season's Best was not shipped beyond Ohio I was able to horse trade to build a stock of 10-12 different holiday beers to share with close friends.

Thanks to the popularity of craft brews, I don't need to wait for the UPS truck to enjoy some interesting seasonal beers.

Anchor Our Christmas Ale: On a recent trip to Syracuse, N.Y., a good friend, Barron Boyd, reminded me that we had stored away for safe keeping in his basement fridge a magnum of Anchor Our Christmas Ale, vintage 2004. Brewed every year since 1975, this ale's recipe changes annually, as does the tree featured on the label. I found the 2004 version to be a mellow and slightly sweet ale. It had a creamy head and was a rich dark color. Age hard not hurt this brew.

Sierra Nevada Celebration: I had the chance to sample the 2006 edition of this beer on draught recently at the Flying Saucer in Charlotte with Darrin Pikarsky. It is a dry-hopped 6.8 percent alcohol by volume beer that is a tarnished brass color. It has a rich creamy head, extremely fresh hop nose and lovely bitterness throughout. If you are a hophead, missing this beer would be a major mistake.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale: This copper colored ale proclaims it is made using 10 ingredients -- including a variety of hops, "free range coastal water" and Pacman yeast. The result is a brew that packs plenty of hops, but is nicely balanced with a slightly roasted malt character. When you see Rogue on the label you expect a quality brew and this one delivers the goods.

Corsendonk Christmas Ale: Direct from Brouwerij Corsendonk in Belgium, this dark ale is 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. It is remarkably smooth given the alcohol content, with hints of fig and spices and a sweet malty finish. We tried this in a 750 ml bottle, perfect for sharing with guests at a holiday celebration. I'd match this ale up with a roasted turkey or goose on the holiday table and be quite happy.

There are plenty more holiday beers on the market. Since I'm not able to get to Portland, Ore., for the 11th annual Holiday Ale Festival taking place Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at Pioneer Courthouse Square, which features an amazing array of three dozen winter craft brews on draft in a heated tent in view of the city's Christmas tree, I'll need to keep an eye out at beer stores and ale houses during my travels. I'll update you on what I've encountered later in the season.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flying Right at Airports

Vino Volo is a wine bar and retail store chain that thinks consumers might want to gain a little altitude before they board a plane. They are not alone. A number of airports in the United States have wine bars and brewpubs offering quality beverages for thirsty travelers.

Vino Volo, which in Italian means "wine flight," has locations at Dulles International in Washington, D.C., and Sea-Tac Airport in Washington State. Others are on the drawing board for Baltimore, Md., and Sacramento, Calif. Busy travelers can grab a quality glass of wine and a decent plate of food, or if they have more time enjoy a flight of wine featuring several vintages. The wines offered are premium labels and priced accordingly.

At my home airport, Charlotte Douglas, North Carolina vineyards have set up a tasting room that I have enjoyed a couple of times during flight delays. The Albany, N.Y., airport has a Saranac Brewhouse that features craft beers. Similar beer friendly locations can be found at several airports, including Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando and others.

The concept of good drink and food at an airport sounds like a winner to me. Too often I've had time to kill and have found the only airport options to be a Sbaro or a smoke-filled lounge serving Bud Light and Sutter Home. If I don't drink it at home, chances are I'm not thrilled paying airport prices for the product while on the road. Think about it for a moment: even during the age of deregulation where many air travelers are dressed more appropriately for a Greyhound bus than an Airbus, airline passengers still tend to have higher per capita incomes than the average U.S. consumer. Many are traveling on business and can expense meals. Why wouldn't more airport locations that cater to the tastes of these customers pop up?

Starbucks appears to do just fine selling premium priced coffee. I'm happy I have that option in the morning. I feel the same way about locations like Vino Volo in the evening.

Minnesota: Supermarkets Want to Sell Wine

Supermarkets in Minnesota are again raising the concept that they should be able to sell chardonnay and merlot along side steaks and poultry. Liquor stores want the Minnesota State Legislature to maintain a Prohibition-era law that does not allow food and alcohol to be sold under the same roof for off-premise consumption. This debate has come up from time to time during the last three decades.

Minnesota grocers are using a recent legislative study indicating that the current rules limiting where alcohol is sold costs consumers millions of dollars. The study found that wine prices in Minnesota were 5-7 percent higher than Wisconsin, which allows grocers to sell wine, beer and liquor. Messages about the situation are being sent to consumers to try to put pressure on legislators. The supermarket lobby points out that 33 states allow food stores to sell wine.

Liquor stores have countered saying that allowing groceries to sell wine would dramatically impact their businesses. They say that wine is their most profitable product line and increased competition could threaten their businesses. It may be true, but they will likely also need to use some of the tactics that anti-grocery activists used in beating back a similar proposal earlier this month in Massachusetts. In that ballot measure, package stores were able to convince voters that allowing grocers to sell wine would increase the amount of underage drinking and cause a greater driving while intoxicate problem on the state's highways. Total spending by both sides in that race set a new record for a ballot initiative at $11 million.

It looks like the grocery effort in Minnesota will mean fat paychecks for lobbyists.

Brewing News: Beer Dispatches From Around the Globe

Fuller Set to Grow: After experiencing a 31 percent jump in profits during a six month period following the acquisition of George Gales & Co., executives at British brewer and pub company Fuller, Smith & Turner said its thirst for acquisitions has not yet been quenched. Fuller is said to be placing a greater emphasis on food in its pubs as Britain prepares for a pub smoking ban in 2007.

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SABMiller Plans More Investments in India: Fresh off its acquisition of Foster's Group holdings in India, SABMiller says it plans to pump $125 million into existing operations during the next two to three years. The money will be spent on marketing and brewery expansion at nine plants in India. The company's brands in India include Royal Challenge, Haywards 5000 and Castle. The company is the second largest brewery operation in the country behind and United Breweries.

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Beer Too Cheap?: A beer price war among supermarkets in the United Kingdom looks like it might also spread to wine. Beer pricing is said to be at an all-time low when adjusted for inflation and one chain, Sainsbury's, will give customers 25 per cent off wine or champagne when they buy six bottles or more. Sales are going up, prompting some groups, including doctors, to criticize retailers for using alcohol as a loss leader to boost business.

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Vietnam Brewery in Play: The Communist government in Vietnam has plans to privatize some businesses, including the Habeco Brewery in Hanoi. About a year ago Carlsberg of Denmark signed a letter of understanding regarding a possible acquisition of the brewery, but now several competitors have expressed an interest in the brewery. Carlsberg is currently the third largest brewer in Vietnam and wants the Habeco operation to assert market dominance in the northern part of the country.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brewery is Home to a Church

You probably know someone who claims to have had a religious experience in a bar. If they happen to live in Wisconsin they just might be telling you the truth.

Adullam Vineyard Church in Green Bay, Wisc., is a start up church with a bit of twist. Services are held in a meeting room at a brewpub. Bill and Teresa Sergott left the Catholic Church and became licensed pastors with Vineyard Community Churches. They came to Green Bay in 2002 and began forming the church. In April, Adullam started meeting in a room at Titletown Brewery. About 40 people attend the weekly services.

Titletown Brewing Co. opened on December 3, 1996, in a disused train depot that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1899, the station was the arrival point in Green Bay for Presidents Taft, Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Mushroom Man: You Never Know Who You Might Meet in a Bar

You never know who you are going to meet when you head out for a brew at a local bar. Last night was a case in point. I headed up to the Flying Saucer near the UNC-Charlotte campus for a couple of beers with my Brother-in-Law Darrin Pikarsky and ended up meeting the Mushroom Man. At least that's what Darrin called him.

The Mushroom Man is actually Jim Marcinko from Harrisburg, N.C., and he does spend some of his time in the North Carolina woods gathering wild mushrooms and honey. Jim is also a homebrewer and on this night I'd get to sample one of his brews, a mead, and a Turkey Tail mushroom he had gathered earlier.

The mead was actually an interesting cross between a cyser (mead made with apple juice) and a melomel (a honeywine made with fruits). It was a mellow two year old brew that was a combination of honey, blueberries, molasses, green tea and apple juice. The purple beverage was as good as or better than a number of commercial meads that I've tasted recently.

The Turkey Tail mushroom was something new to experience. It gets its name because of the band of tan and brown colors that form a fan that looks like a turkey's tail feathers. You don't cook with Turkey Tails, which grow on downed trees in the woods. They are too tough for culinary purposes, but Asian medical research recognizes the Turkey Tail mushroom as a key adjunct to conventional cancer treatments. They believe that Turkey Tails have anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-oxidant and immune boosting properties. It is also said to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I got a small piece of the mushroom and kept it between my cheek and gum for a good part of the evening. I gave off a nice mushroom flavor and just might have helped ward off the second-hand smoke in the bar.

The experience of meeting the Mushroom Man reminded me of why the tavern is one of man's greatest inventions.

City Brewing Looks for Government Help to Retool Former Rolling Rock Plant

City Brewing, which earlier this year acquired the Latrobe, Pa., brewery that used to make Rolling Rock, is getting help from the Latrobe Municipal Authority to apply for more than $7 million in state grants and loans.

City Brewing would use the funding to build a new wastewater treatment plant at the brewery. The company says it needs the new treatment plant to handle increased volume at the brewery and because the plant will also make different types of beverages.

City Brewing is based in LaCrosse, Wisc., in the former Heileman Brewing plant. The company's brands include City Lager, City Light and La Crosse Lager. It also makes ice tea, energy drinks and malternatives.

Friday, November 24, 2006

BenRiach Unleashes Four Wood Finishes

BenRiach Distillery, which has been turning out Scotch in Speyside wince 1898, plans to ship the BenRiach Wood Finish Series to the U.S. during 2007. The four 15-year-old whiskies were initially aged in American oak barrles that had previously held Bourbon and then the whisky was moved to the finishing barrels.

Preiss Imports will be bringing these limited quantity varieties to the U.S.: BenRiach 15-year-old Pedro Ximinez Finish, barrels sourced from the bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, Southern Spain; BenRiach 15-year-old Madeira Finish, barrels sourced from producers Henriques and Henriques, from the semi-tropical Portuguese island of Madeira; BenRiach 15-year-old Dark Rum Finish, barrels sourced from the Caribbean island of Jamaica; and BenRiach 15-year-old Aged Tawny Port Finish, hogsheads sourced from the Douro region, northern Portugal.

Each of the whiskies will be non-chill filtered, natural color and bottled at 92 proof. Worldwide availability of these whiskies will be limited to a range of 340-510 cases. Once these wood finishes are gone the distillery plans to replace them with new styles.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Illinois Community Acts to Ban 40 Ounce Brews

After debating a ban on all beer in bottles and cans in sizes of 24 ounces or larger, the Granite City, Ill., Council compromised and voted this week to prohibit beer in bottles that are 40 ounces or larger.

Local police said the law would help them crack down on public drinking and littering. The 40-ounce bottle is a popular package for malt liquor brands. The law does not cover beer in containers that are three gallons or larger.

This type of law always makes me shake my head, because the likely results are (a) Consumers will simply switch to alternative packages, and/or (b) Someone in the packaging department at a major brewer is already hard at work on a 39-ounce bottle. There are already laws on the books in Granite City regarding public drinking and littering. Enforcing those laws by arresting or ticketing the violators would appear to be a more effective means of dealing with the problems than banning the 40-ounce bottle. That, however, would require actual work. The anti-40-ounce law is good for a few headlines, which politicians have been known to covet.

New York State to Massachusetts Beer Importer: Bah Humbug

The New York State Liquor Authority has decided that three beers being imported by Shelton Brothers of Belchertown, Mass., have labels that might appeal to children so the brews have been banned in the Empire State.

Seriously Bad Elf Double Ale, Santa's Butt Winter Porter and Rudolph's Revenge Winter Ale have all received the Scrooge treatment from Albany bureaucrats. In response Shelton filed a lawsuit earlier this week in New York Supreme Court claiming the Liquor Authority has violated freedom of speech rights granted by the U.S. Constitution and the state's liquor laws.

Shelton's suit points out that a number of other holiday themed beers have been allowed into New York. The Bad Elf brand ran into a similar issue last year in Connecticut, but the state reversed its initial ban and allowed the beer to be sold.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks: The Greatest American Tradition

In nearly every nation and culture on Earth there is a holiday where we pause to say thanks. Some have more of these types of celebrations than others. Often these observances are tied to religion. It is the same in America, but we have one day that -- while many families bow their heads before the traditional turkey feast to say thanks -- does not require a trip to the church, synagogue or mosque. Thanksgiving may indeed be the greatest of American traditions.

From its founding, Thanksgiving has been different than many of our other holidays and observances because it actually causes us to reach across differences in race, religion and culture to embrace our fellow man. History tells us that Pilgrims escaping religious persecution and Native Americans experiencing the first white people they had ever encountered celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast together. Could there have been a wider gap in diversity between peoples? Could there be a better example of what is good about mankind? If we could only apply the simple logic of peace and coexistence displayed at that first Thanksgiving to each of our daily lives, the world would be an amazing place.

So you might be asking, "What is this doing in the midst of Lyke2Drink? I come here to read about beer, wine and spirits." OK, here's the beverage part.

Most of you likely know why the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts. It was not because that was where it was originally headed. The Pilgrims were supposed to land in Virginia, but passengers and crew were running low on beer. "We could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer," is a quote in a log attributed to colonists William Bradford and Edward Winslow.

You might also be interested to know that the Mayflower and her captain, Christopher Jones, spent most of their time before and after the trans-Atlantic voyage to the New World as a merchant ship that regularly hauled wine from the Continent to England. There were 102 passengers and a crew of around 25 on the trip to Massachusetts aboard a ship that was 90-110 feet long and 25 feet wide. It is reasonable to assume they knew each other pretty well by the time the 66-day journey had ended.

In doing some work on my family tree during the last year I have found some interesting information about why I find myself a citizen of the United States. One of the limbs on the tree can be traced back to 1650 when Dutch-Belgian ancestors arrived in New Amsterdam -- modern day Manhattan -- aboard the De Bonte Koe (The Spotted Cow). Another limb traces its route from Poland in 1902 aboard the Graf Waldersee. (Interestingly enough, part of my wife's family would use the exact same Hamburg-Amerika Line ship two years later to arrive in America. Both families would end up in Syracuse, N.Y.) While two and a half centuries transpired between the sailings of the De Bonte Koe and Graf Waldersee, both required courage and faith that few of us can really comprehend.

This Thanksgiving I will say thanks to all that I have and for the health and happiness of my family. I will also take a minute to think about people I never had the chance to meet and thank them for having the guts and determination to give up what they knew in favor of what they believed could be in a place they had never seen. I can only hope that they would be pleased to see how things have turned out so far.

Beverage Bulletin

No More Pesky Wine Bottles: Palandri Wines of Australia believes it can significantly boost sales during the next several years by pushing an alternative to the traditional wine bottle. Palandri has developed a recyclable plastic and aluminum package it calls the "Cheer Pack" for its Baldivis Estate brand. The winery sees the package as easier for consumers to use and believes it could open up airline in-flight business because it saves weight and space when compared to traditional bottles. Palandri is exporting 3,500 cases of merlot, shiraz and chardonnay to Canada as the first major overseas shipment of the new package.

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Pittsburgh's Plan: The bankrupt Pittsburgh Brewing Co. said this week it will present a financing plan for $7 million to $10 million to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge M. Bruce McCullough by the end of November. The brewery, which makes the Iron City brand, says it has an investment group from outside of Pittsburgh ready to step forward with the funding. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2005.

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Polish Brewery Upgrade: Three breweries in Poland that produce the Tyskie brand are about to get a $100 million upgrade thanks to parent SABMiller. Brewery capacity of a Krakow-area plant is being expanded to become SABMiller's largest European operation. Tyskie sales in the United Kingdom have increased dramatically this year and SABMiller plans to roll the brand out across the U.S. in 2007.

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Government Issued Vodka: On the heels of recent poisoning deaths involving bootleg vodka, Rosspirtprom, the Russia state-owned alcohol producer, says it will produce a $3 per half-liter bottle "people's vodka." The company says the vodka is basically being sold at cost to eliminate the need for Russians to turn to bootleg vodka, which is often not safe.

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Bud or Bordeaux?: Saying it needs an alternative to compete with beer, French company Michael Paetzold has launched a 6 percent alcohol by volume wine -- with one twist: by law the new drink is too low in alcohol to be called wine, so the company is calling it Lir. The company is marketing red, white and rose Lir and expects to sell a million bottles this year. French wine consumption has dropped and the company hopes the lighter version of wine will appeal to drinkers who have reduced consumption because of health concerns and tough French driving while intoxicated laws.

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Ice Whisky: Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia is releasing a first among the various wood finishes in the spirit world: Glen Breton Ice, a single malt whisky aged in an ice wine barrel. Using the company's signature Glen Breton Rare 10-year-old , the brand is aged for four months in a barrel that had previously held ice wine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Washington Beer Commission Formed to Hawk Craft Beer

Washington has become the first state in the nation to officially sanction a promotional commission to help sell craft beer.

The Washington Beer Commission represents breweries that produce less than 100,000 barrels annually per location. Washington is said to have 84 microbreweries that will be supported by commission activities.

The commission will be funded by a 10-cent per barrel assessment on a maximum of 10,000 barrels per brewer, and generate revenue from festivals and events.

State Department of Agriculture Director Valoria Loveland recently appointed the commission's members: Bob Maphet, Diamond Knot Brewing Co.; Mark Irwin, Northern Lights Brewing Co.; Doug Hindeman, Elliott Bay Brewing Co.; George Hancock, Pyramid Breweries; Jeff Smiley, Baron Brewing Co.; and Allen Rhoades, Anacortes Brewing Co. Arlen Harris was named executive director.

Government sanctioned agricultural promotion boards have been successful in selling everything from milk to raisins and pork to wine. Washington is one of the nation's leading craft beer producers and the top domestic hop producer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

College of the Holy Cross High on Wine

Development offices at universities nationwide might want to consider offering students wine appreciation courses after they hear that the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts is on the receiving end of a multi-million donation thanks to the sale of graduate's wine collection.

Park B. Smith, a 75-year-old home furnishings entrepreneur and restaurateur, raised about $4.3 million for the school after the buyer's premium was paid to auctioneers Sotheby's and Aulden Cellars. Previously he had donated approximately $20 million to the school.

The highlight of the sale was the $1.05 million price paid for 50 cases of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, recognized as one of the best Bordeaux wines ever produced.

Kegs Made in the U.S.A.

Swiss firm Franke Beverage Containers has acquired the beer keg production facilities of Spartanburg Stainless Products and plans to move that capability from South Carolina to Louisiana. When Franke's new manufacturing operation opens in the second quarter of 2007 it will be the only beer keg plant in the United States.

Franke plans to supply the U.S. market with kegs during the interim from its European
production facility in Kreuztal, Germany. This acquisition will give Franke the ability to better serve North American brewers through improved delivery times. As part of the move, Franke also plans to establish a nationwide keg service and maintenance operation.

Franke already has a kitchen sink production facility in Ruston, La.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

To Your Health: Red Wine Compound Boosts Endurance

Resveratrol, a component in red wine that has recently been credited with a number of potential health benefits, appears in a new study to make muscles burn more energy and work more efficiently. Mice treated with resveratrol could run twice as far as normal.

The Institute for Genetics and Cellular and Molecular Biology in Strasbourg, France, conducted the study that is being published in the journal Cell. The study also produced evidence linking the biological channel used by resveratrol to humans, indicating that it can help by increasing human endurance.

Researchers say they still need further study on resveratrol and how to more effectively concentrate the compound in pill form. Resveratrol is found in red wine, grapes, peanuts and other foods.

Prince Charles Launches Scotch Brand to Raise Charity Funds

Prince Charles, first in line to the British thrown, is the man behind a new blended whisky, Barrogill. The Prince of Wales, known to enjoy Scotch, selected the blend from four options made from whiskies distilled by Inver House in Airdrie in northern Scotland.

Barrogill, the previous name for the Prince's holiday retreat Castle of Mey in Caithness, will be released in 2007. A watercolor painting of the castle by Prince Charles appears on the label.

The whisky will be priced at $37 a bottle and help fund Prince Charles’s North Highlands Initiative, which supports economic development programs in remote northern Scottish villages.

Prince Charles has been criticized for his involvement in some commercial ventures. There is no word on the reaction of the House of Windsor to his involvement with a whisky brand.

Weekend Watering Hole: Sackets Harbor Brewing Co., Sackets Harbor, N.Y.

As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we head to the shore of Lake Ontario to a town that played a central part in the War of 1812.

Sackets Harbor Brewing Company
212 W. Main St.
Sackets Harbor, N.Y. 13685

Housed in an old railroad station, Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. is part of a three restaurant empire on the shore of Lake Ontario that includes Good Fellos, an Italian restaurant that features wood-fired oven pizza, and Sackets Cantina, a Mexican restaurant. When my wife Sandy and I visited this weekend with family members Barron and Bette Boyd for lunch Good Fellos was opened and we had the chance for a quick tour and tasting at Sackets Harbor Brewing.

Sackets Harbor Brewing opened in May 1996 in the village where America's Army and Navy were headquartered during the War of 1812 and were twice attacked by British and Canadian troops. Later future President U.S. Grant was stationed at the Madison Barracks twice during the 1840s and 1850s. The military would leave and time would pass by Sackets Harbor for many years, but recent investments in the community are bringing residents, tourists and boaters back. Sackets Harbor has one of the best sunsets on the Great Lakes -- the brewpub has a waterside deck perfect for warmer weather -- and also has some of the best beer.

The meal at Good Fellos was excellent from salads and pasta to gourmet pizza and deserts. Barron and I then went next door to the brewery where owner Steve Flynn had arranged for us to be allowed in before the place opened. It was my first visit back since the year the brewpub was launched. We had the chance to try several beers and really enjoyed the Thousand Islands Pale Ale, a fresh hoppy ale at 6.3 percent alcohol by volume and a 1.056 gravity, and St. Stephen's Stout, a creamy espresso and chocolate stout that is 5.6 alcohol by volume and 1.056 gravity. The compact brewing operation serves not only the brewpub, but also bottles and kegs beer for sale around the region. The company also contract brews its 1812 Pale Ale and Thousand Islands bottled beers at Saratoga Brewing.

We were in Sackets Harbor long after the high season had ended, yet we found the service, food quality and beers to be of superior quality. It is worth a side trip the next time you find yourself in Upstate New York.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Micro-Distilleries in Wisconsin Look to Change Law

Wineries and breweries in Wisconsin can sell directly to visitors. For small operations that face challenges in breaking the strangle hold that larger producers have on the distribution system, sales to tourists can make the difference between earning a profit and going out of business. Small distillers in the state would like to get the legal right to sell direct.

The Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have joined forces to block the move.

There is just one distillery in Wisconsin at the moment, but several wineries and fruit growers would like to set up stills to produce brandy and sell it in their tasting rooms. State Rep. Samantha Kerkman sponsored legislation last year to allow samplings and direct sales of spirits at distilleries. After receiving approval in committee, the bill was held hostage in the Rules Committee and never made it before the legislature for a vote. Rep. Kerkman plans to reintroduce the bill during the 2007 session.

Perhaps Brewers Should Take Shorter Showers

The folks at Bear Republic Brewery in Healdsburg, Calif., took home the Small Brewery of the Year honors at this year's Great American Beer Festival. The celebration likely ended when the brewery was hit with a $220,000 sewer bill from the City of Healdsburg.

Local businesses expected a hike in fees brought on by the construction of a new $31 million sewage treatment plant and enhancements to the water and sewer system, but about 100 businesses were told they were using more water and generating more waste than allowed under connection fees paid previously. Healdsburg officials gave the businesses the choice of paying their new larger bills by Dec. 29 or paying a one-time fee in January 2007.

Property owners and businesses have complained the the Healdsburg City Council, which voted to delay the fees until July so that officials can study the issue. The city has already been increasing sewer fees quarterly since 1995 to help fund the sewer improvements.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Will Work for Beer

In September Lyke2Drink reported from the Great American Beer Festival that Four Points by Sheraton was kicking off the Best Brews program nationwide to position the chain as beer friendly. Now the company has launched a nationwide search for a part-time Chief Beer Officer.

According to a press release for the company "Candidates should possess a bubbly personality, brew eloquence, and a rich knowledge of beer." The Chief Beer Officer will start their duties in mid-January as an independent consultant and will chronicle beer activities on a Four Points beer blog. Ads for the position have been placed in the Wall Street Journal, HotJobs and Monster.com.

The Brewers Association has designated Four Points as the group's preferred hotel. Four Points hotels around the world will offer local, regional and imported craft beers from a list of 300 bottled and draught beers. Participating properties will offer a minimum of four draught beers and a selection of up to 20 bottled beers.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

China: Two Budweisers Are Better Than One

China's High People's Court has issued a ruling that puts a new twist on the running legal battle between Budejovicky Budvar NP of the Czech Republic and Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. of the United States. Basically the Court, by rejecting an appeal by A-B, is allowing both companies to use the Budweiser brand in China.

The Chinese court ruled that Budvar's trademark cannot be confused with Anheuser-Busch's trademark. Now both companies have legally registered brands in China using the Budweiser name. Budvar and A-B have fought in courts around the world over the trademark. Both companies have won various legal rulings. In the U.S., Budvar's Budweiser is sold as Czechvar. In some locations around the world A-B's Budweiser is sold as Bud.

Budvar now plans to enter the fast growing Chinese beer market, where A-B has been selling beer since 1995.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oregon Democrats Ready Beer Tax Increase

As part of the national wave that swept Democrats into control in last Tuesday's elections, the Oregon Legislature will have a Democrat majority for the first time in 18 years. One of the first steps party leaders may be planning is an increase to the beer tax.

Oregon is one of the top craft beer producers in the United States. Beer taxes in the state are relatively low and have not been increased since 1976. One election issue that dogged incumbent Republicans during this election cycle were reports that several lawmakers were the guests of beer industry lobbyists for conferences in Hawaii. That may come back to haunt brewers who might find it difficult finding elected friends will to fight a tax increase

Media reports quote state Sen. Bill Morrisette, a Democrat from Springfield, as saying he is drafting a bill to increase the tax on beer from 0.75-cents per 12-ounce bottle to a nationwide high of 10.5-cents per bottle. Previous attempts to raise the tax on beer failed in 2001 and 2003 when Republicans in the Oregon Senate blocked the measure.

Sen. Morrisette says raising the 1,400 percent tax is necessary to fund alcohol and drug abuse and prevention programs. He claims that 75 percent of the inmates in Oregon's prisons committed crimes related to alcohol or drug use.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Belgian Brewer in Quebec Says Water will Fuel Growth

Brewmaster Jean-Louis Marcoux, president of Brasserie Belgh Brasse in Amos, Quebec, is planning to use water left over from an ice age glacier as the catalyst to expand his brewery and start exporting to the United States.

Located in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region in northwest Quebec the brewery makes a light lager called Taiga that is being sold primarily in small stores around Montreal, but at the start of 2007 distribution will expand to include several supermarket chains. The company's 60,000-case a year production is being doubled. The company plans to expand into Ontario and then into the U.S.

The brewery was originally founded in 1999, closed for a short period of time and then reopened in 2004. The Belgian-born Marcoux says the water used in the beer is the best in the world. It comes from an esker, a geological formation holding melted glacial ice. Marcoux believes the superior water results in superior beer.

Widmer Bros. Pumping $22 Million into Hefeweizen Expansion

One of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., Widmer Bros. of Oregon, is spending $22 million on an expansion aimed at spreading the availability of Widmer Hefeweizen to additional markets.

New fermentation tanks and an additional keg line will nearly double Widmer's capacity. Anheuser-Busch, which has a 40 percent share in the brewery, handles distribution for Widmer. A-B has been on a mission to supply its distributors with craft products so they can grab a larger share of the growing segment. Hefeweizen is Widmer's flagship brand and accounts for the majority of brewery output. The company hopes the added capacity will also allow it to brew some other styles to broaden its appeal with craft beer fans.

The groundbreaking for the new facility has taken place and construction should take about 18 months. The company says the expansion could create up to 45 jobs.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Careful How You Order This One: Muckle Flugga Whisky

Blackwood Distillers is planning to enter the market in 2007 with a vatted whisky matured on the island of Unst and named for the most northerly piece of Britain, Muckle Flugga in the Shetlands. Blackwood plans to use earnings from the new brand to build a new whisky distillery on the site of the disused Royal Air Force base at Saxa Vord.

Drips of Muckle Flugga have started to appear at some charity auctions. At the recent American-Scottish Foundation's annual dinner in New York a bottle was auctioned for $650. The first Muckle Flugga is expected to be on sale in May.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

CN Tower Lands in Guinness Record Book for Tallest Wine Cellar

Today is designated as World Record Day by the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records as a way of trying to concentrate record breaking performances as a publicity stunt to draw coverage to the guide book for all things big, tall, fast and long. Guinness came a calling recently at Toronto's CN Tower, already recognized in the book as the world's tallest free-standing structure, and gave it another title: 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower was recognized as having the world's highest wine cellar.

The 1,151-foot high wine cellar was added to the structure in 1997 and can hold 9,000 bottles. The wine list at 360 is one of the best in Toronto and all of Canada, with 550 different selections. The cellar in the sky is kept at 55 degrees and 65 percent relative humidity.

The CN Tower was completed in 1976 and I've been lucky enough to travel up to the observation levels several times. The views of the city of Toronto and Lake Ontario are spectacular. Even without the two Guinness World Records, the structure defines the Toronto skyline.

Rum & Basketball: Bacardi Sponsors the Celtics

Bacardi Rum has signed a three year deal with the Boston Celtics to promote the Bacardi brand while emphasizing social responsibility. During the 2006-07 season, Bacardi and the Celtics will host post-game parties around Boston and the spirits maker will support Celtic charity events, appearances by Celtics legends and members of the Celtics Dance Team.

Promotional radio, print and broadcast messages supporting the partnership will urge legal-drinking aged consumers to drink responsibility.

The Boston Celtics have been a part of the National Basketball Association since its inception in 1946. They have won a record 16 NBA Championships.

Art of the Drink: The Lyke2Drink Tapes

At the recent World Beer Festival in Durham, N.C., I had a chance to meet Anthony Caporale of the Art of the Drink podcast, a great tool of the Internet age to learn about making great cocktails at home.

Anthony and I spent a few minutes talking about beer, drinks travel, blogging and the festival. We were in Art of the Drink's booth in a noisy tent as festival goers tried to avoid the rain that had started to fall, so the sound on the interview is a little rough. You can check it out at http://www.artofthedrink.com/podcast.html, plus take a look at some of the other episodes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Results: Some Voters Decide to Get Wet, Others Stay Dry

The Democrats wresting control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate leads local, national and international newscasts. While I agree this is certainly important, a number of races around the country determined whether our fellow citizens will be able to legally enjoy an adult beverage in a responsible manner. The results are a mixed bag, with some communities going wet and others staying dry. Lyke2Drink has been tracking the results of ballot initiatives across the country and has been able to gather these results.

Alabama: In Arab voters decided to stay dry by a margin of 1,566 to 1,548. We are still trying to determine the results of the vote in Lee County on Sunday alcohol sales.

Alaska: Voters in the Village of Togiak turned down a proposal to make alcohol legal for the first time in 24 years.

Arkansas: By a count of 3,600 to 2,487 Marion County residents reversed a 60-year ban of alcohol sales. Marion is the first county in the state to go wet since 1978. A total of 41 of Arkansas' 72 counties are still dry.

Georgia: Voters in Grayson County passed two referendums for liquor by the drink — one for Monday to Saturday sales and the other for Sunday sales. A mixed drink law also was approved in Norcross. In Dalton, 54 percent of voters approved Sunday sales.

Illinois: We have not been able to learn how residents in Chenora voted in a non-binding advisory regarding Sunday alcohol sales in the community.

Kansas: Kechi and Park City residents approved Sunday sales of liquor and malt beverages, while Clearwater approved the sale of packaged liquor. Voters in Sterling kept the town's 134-year ban on alcohol by a 316 to 302 vote. In Russell County, voters approved Sunday sales by a 249 to 247 vote. In Harper County, liquor by the drink was approved by a 1,304 to 827 vote.

Massachusetts: Voters in the Bay State defeated a proposal to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin. The ballot question broke a state record for campaign spending as more than $11 million was spent on advertising by both sides. Opponents put on a last minute blitz against the proposal after polls showed the measure might pass using a message that grocery sales would increase drunk driving and under age drinking.

Michigan: Zeeland voters approved alcohol sales by a vote of 1,425 to 1,385. Grandville voters approved Sunday beer and wine sales at restaurants by 4,324 to 2,894.

Mississippi: Pearl River County voters defeated a proposal to allow liquors sales by 7,279 to 6,132. You can buy beer in the county.

New York: Voters in the Town of Rose in Wayne County approved the sale of alcohol by a vote of 360 to 165. We have not learned the results of a similar proposal in Harmony in Chautauqua County.

Ohio: Voters in Precinct C in the Village of Bethel approved the sale alcohol, except for Sundays.

Oklahoma: Voters approved a proposal to allow liquor stores to remain open during voting hours on Election Day. Voters in Murray and McClain counties approved allowing bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks, but voters in Garvin County rejected the issue. Statewide, 45 out of 77 counties have now passed liquor-by-the-drink legislation.

South Carolina: Residents of Rock Hill approved the selling alcohol on Sundays.

Tennessee: Dalton residents voted to allow Sunday sales of alcohol. Voters in Haywood and Hardeman counties approved liquor by the drink, while in Townsend a liquor by the drink proposal failed. The city of Alcoa voted to allow liquor sales within the city. Soddy Daisy approved lifting a ban on alcohol sales, while Collegedale turned down a similar proposal.

Texas: Odem, Coppell, Angelina and Richardson voters approved more open alcohol sales laws, while voters in Mathis, Irving, Cockrell Hill and Lancaster turned down sales liberation proposals. Glenn Heights voters said no to alcohol sales for off-premise consumption, but approved mixed beverages in restaurants.

Virginia: We have not discovered news on how Frederick County voters cast ballots regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages in the presently dry Tuscarora district.

Euro-Brew: News from European Brewers

Romania Brewery Grows: European Food & Drinks' brewery in Draganesti has tripled its production capacity and is now the largest in Romania. Brands produced at the plant include Servus, Meister, Burger and Dracula.

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No EU Beer Tax Increase: Germany and the Czech Republic have used veto power over a proposed increase in taxes on beer, liquor and fortified wine across Europe. German and the Czech Republic are the top two beer drinking countries and believe an increase was unfair without a tax on wine. Beer has been taxed by the European Union since 1992.

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UK Sales Lag: Scottish & Newcastle said its beer shipments in Britain were down during the last quarter by 6.7 percent, due in large part to stockpile of beer remaining after this summer's World Cup soccer championship. The company also warned that a smoking ban taking place in British pubs in 2007 could have an adverse impact on beer sales next year.

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Polish Brewery Closing: The Bydgoszcz brewery operated by Grupa Zywiec is being closed. Zywiec had been trying to find a buyer for the plant. The company is consolidating operations at other breweries.

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Beer Sales Up in Russia: Baltic Beverages Holding has posted a 9 percent increase in beer sales through the first nine months of the year. The company says shipments to its key Russian market enjoyed an extremely strong third quarter caused in part by disruptions in wine and spirit shipments in Russia.

Pittsburgh Still Brewing: Closed Door Meeting Holds Out Hope

Iron City Beer is still flowing today from Pittsburgh Brewing after a closed door meeting in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday. The 145-year-old brewery received a reprieve after a hearing on the brewery's unpaid federal excise taxes.

The U.S. Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau told the court it did not want to shut down the brewery as long as Pittsburgh Brewing follows an earlier order for payment of its excise tax obligations. According to the federal government, Pittsburgh Brewing is the largest brewer in the country behind in excise tax payments.

Pittsburgh Brewing filed for bankruptcy in December 2005 after the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority said it would terminate service unless more than $2 million in unpaid bills were brought current.

A creditor's committee has filed an objection to Pittsburgh Brewing's plan to emerge from bankruptcy and is said to be considering proposing alternative executives to take control of the company.

A Costly Champagne Hangover

Pernod Ricard, the international drinks firm that markets the Mumm and Perrier-Jouet Champagne labels, says it will launch the world's most expensive Champagne in 2007.

The news was delivered by company Chairman Patrick Ricard during the Pernod Ricard's annual shareholders meeting held this week. Plans are for the Champagne to carry a price tag of about $1,250. The brand will be produced in limited quantities and not be sold in France.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Rittenhouse Rye 21-Year-Old

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we head to Kentucky to try a 21-year-old rye.

There is something about whiskey when it has been aged 12 or more years. The marriage that takes place between the distilled spirit and the wood barrel can be magical. Younger whiskey can be full of flavor, but a mature whiskey has an extra level of character that only time can supply. That's why I expected quite a bit recently when I had the chance to try Heaven Hill Distillery's newly released 21-year-old Rittenhouse Rye. I was not disappointed.

This 100 proof whiskey has a rich nose, with hints of vanilla, toffee, marzipan and cherries laced together throughout a broad flavor profile. There was plenty of toasted wood in the base, making this a drink to linger over. At $145 a bottle, this is a special occasion beverage and we should all hope to have plenty of celebrations giving us an excuse to consume this fine whiskey.

This has to be one of the top whiskeys of any type to be released during 2006. I have grown to enjoy rye whiskey and Rittenhouse only further increases my appreciation of the style. If you see it on the market don't miss your chance to give it a try.

Can Beer Cure Chapped Lips?

No one has made any scientific claims that beer can reduce your chances of developing chapped lips and as far as I can tell none of the government warnings printed on beer labels say anything about alcohol increasing your chances of having chapped lips, but a Colorado microbrewer is releasing a lip balm made from beer ingredients to sooth and protect lips.

Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colo., is marketing Old Chub Stick, which it describes as a small-batch gourmet lip balm made with natural moisturizing agents, including sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter and chocolate, plus the company's Old Chub Scottish-Style Ale and the malts and hops used to brew Old Chub.

The lip balm has a SPF 15 rating and carries with it malty, chocolatey aromas and the flavor of Old Chub. The brewery is selling Old Chub Stick for $3 a tube at its brewpub and on its website at www.oskarblues.com. The company is currently working on a distribution deal to sell Old Chub at beer stores and specialty retailers
in Colorado and other states where its beer is available.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Voters in 16 States to Consider Alcohol Proposals at the Polls on Tuesday

Most of us think that Prohibition was repealed in the United States in 1933, but the reality is that it lives on in many places across the country. On Tuesday voters in at least 16 states will go to the polls with the chance to reverse restrictions on the sale of beer, wine and spirits. Lyke2Drink will be watching at least 38 different races around the country and report the results later in the week. Everything from repealing Blue Laws to turning dry counties to wet counties are being considered. Here's a recap of the ballot questions around the country:

Alabama: In the Marshall County city of Arab voters will decide on the legalization of alcohol sales. Lee County voters will decide on whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales. The cities of Auburn and Opelika in Lee County already allow Sunday sales.

Alaska: Village of Togiak voters will head to the polls to decide whether alcohol should be legal for the first time in 24 years. It is one of about 80 villages that voted to go dry in the last 25 years. Liquor is illegal but arrives by plane, boat and snowmachine. Bootleggers can get $150 a bottle for whiskey in the community.

Arkansas: In Marion County voters will consider reversing a 60-year ban of alcohol sales. In Arkansas, 42 of 75 counties are dry. The last to go wet was in 1978.

Georgia: Voters in the city of Dalton will consider sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink in restaurants and hotels on Sundays, while another measure asks all county voters if restaurants in unincorporated areas should be permitted to sell distilled spirits by the drink. The county currently permits the sale of beer and wine in restaurants.

Illinois: Voters in Chenora will vote in a non-binding advisory regarding Sunday alcohol sales in the community.

Kansas: Voters in the towns of Kechi and Park City, both in Sedgwick County, and Ossage County will be voting to allow Sunday alcohol sales. Meanwhile, voters in McLouth will be deciding if they should go dry and force the lone liquor store in town to close.

Massachusetts: Voters will decide on Question 1 to determine whether grocery stores statewide can sell wine.

Michigan: Residents of Zeeland vote to end a 100-year-old Prohibition, while citizens of Camden and Grandville will vote on whether businesses with liquor licenses can sell alcohol on Sundays.

Mississippi: Pearl River County voters will consider a resolution on the ballot to allow alcohol sales in the county.

New York: Voters in the Town of Rose in Wayne County and Harmony in Chautauqua County will vote on whether businesses can sell and serve alcohol. While you might think dry laws are a Bible Belt phenomenon, but 12 towns in New York prohibit alcohol sales.

Ohio: Voters in Precinct C in the Village of Bethel will vote on whether it is OK for businesses to sell alcohol.

Oklahoma: Voters will decide if liquor can be sold in stores statewide on Election Day. McClain and Garvin County voters will be voting to repeal a Prohibition on liquor by the drink sales. Statewide, 43 out of 77 counties have passed liquor-by-the-drink.

South Carolina: Residents of Rock Hill will be voting on the legality of selling alcohol on Sundays.

Tennessee: Townsend and Haywood County residents will cast ballots on a proposal that would allow liquor by the drink to be sold in the county. Soddy-Daisy and Collegedale each have ballot initiatives that would allow the sale of alcohol.

Texas: In Hardeman, Wolfforth, Odem, Rio Vista, Burleson, Angelina, Lancaster and Cockrell Hill voters will decide if the sale of alcohol in their communities will be legalized. In Irving voters will decide if it is OK to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell beer and wine. Meanwhile, voters in Hutto will decide if restaurants can sell alcohol. In Lumberton voters will decide if alcohol can be sold in a limited area of the city. Texas voters have considered 177 alcohol resolutions since 2003. More than 80 percent have been approved. Mathias will vote on allowing the sale of beer at city festivals.

Virginia: Frederick County voters can approve the sale of alcoholic beverages in the presently dry Tuscarora district.

Buckeye Ban on Bottles as Clash with Wolverines Approaches

The Ohio State Buckeyes are 10-0 and ranked on top of the Bowl Championship Series standings, but residents looking to celebrate with a cold Miller High Life or Coors Light near campus will have to settle for beer in cans.

Three United Dairy Farmers convenience stores near the Ohio State campus have agreed to stop selling domestic beer in glass bottles through the end of the school year at the request of Ohio State officials. You can still get imports in bottles, since the school does not feel students tend to buy the more expensive brew. The school is concerned about past incidents of students throwing glass bottles at police and complaints from neighbors near campus about broken glass.

Ohio State faces Northwestern this week and rival Michigan Wolverines on Nov. 18. Michigan is currently ranked second in the BCS standings and that game will likely determine one of the teams that plays in the national championship game in January.

The University is talking to other retailers and bars near campus about serving alcohol in cans and plastic bottles or using plastic cups.

Mike Ditka Launches Wine Brand

Mike Ditka, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a Super Bowl Champion as both a player with the Dallas Cowboys in 1972 and as a coach with the Chicago Bears in 1985, now has his own wine label.

Ditka has five wines made in California that are now being shipped to retailers. A zinfandel-syrah-petite sirah blend carries the label Mike Ditka Kick Ass Red and will retail at between $40-$50 per bottle.

Ditka has become a brand outside of football. His name is on a successful Chicago steakhouse and on frozen pork chops, barbecue and steak sauces, and cheese spread. He also has a brand of cigars set to debut.

Mule Kick: New Specialty Beer from A-B

Anheuser-Busch has selected its latest regional specialty beer with the help of votes cast by Missouri residents. Mule Kick Oatmeal Stout, out polled Confluence Amber Wheat and Pilot House Imperial Pils and will be brewed at the company's flagship St. Louis brewery.

Mule Kick Oatmeal Stout is described by the brewery as a medium-bodied oatmeal stout with flavor notes of caramel, chocolate and roasted coffee. The label salutes Missouri's official mascot, the mule. The 5.9% alcohol by volume is due on the market on Jan. 8, 2007.

A-B has two of the regional specialty brews on the market launched in June, Demon's Hop Yard IPA in New England and Burnin' Helles in Ohio.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vodka Brands Battle Over Russian Title

The U.S. importers behind the Stolichnaya and Imperia vodka brands are heading to Federal Court in Manhattan to battle over which one is more Russian.

Imperia vodka calls itself "a truly authentic Russian vodka of the highest quality." Stolichnaya's handlers made a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. The Imperia's people turned around and filed a federal lawsuit in which they claim much of Stolichnaya's production takes place in Latvia.

It will be interesting to see how this Martini war turns out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Get Out and Vote on Nov. 7th

Election Day is next Tuesday and Lyke2Drink continues to learn about votes taking place around the country that would end Prohibition in villages, cities, towns and counties. Democracy is a great thing and we urge you to get out and support these measures. Responsible adults should be able to enjoy a cold drink without the interference of local governments.

You can check out my earlier posts about a number of ballot initiatives to end Blue Laws and decriminalize the sale of alcohol. Here are some additional votes taking place around the country:

Virginia: Frederick County voters can approve the sale of alcoholic beverages in the presently dry Tuscarora district.

Alabama: In the Marshall County city of Arab voters will decide on the legalization of alcohol sales.

Texas: In the Wolfforth and Burleson voters can approve the sale of beer and wine in their communities.

Michigan: Residents of the village of Camden will vote on whether businesses with liquor licenses can sell alcohol on Sundays.

South Carolina: Residents of Rock Hill will be voting on the legality of selling alcohol on Sundays.

Tennessee: Haywood County residents will cast ballots on a proposal that would allow liquor by the drink to be sold in the county.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

To Your Health: Red Wine and Obesity

A study by Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging indicates that heavy doses of resveratrol, an antioxident compound found in red wine, cuts the rate of obesity related deaths by 31 percent in mice.

According to the researchers, resveratrol lowers the rate of diabetes, liver problems and other diseases common in obese mice. Obese mice receiving the resveratrol also remained as agile as lean mice. The mice in the study receiving the wine extract lived longer than expected and the organs of the treated fat mice appeared normal. Researchers are now studying whether red wine might extend the lives of normal-sized mice.

The study is being published in the journal Nature and a pharmaceutical firm, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., is testing to see if the extract can safely be used to treat people with diabetes. Resveratrol is found in the skins of grapes, berries and peanuts. The mice in the study received supplements with an amount of resveratrol equal to a human consuming 100 bottles of red wine a day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fighting Fake Scotch

The Scotch Whisky Association is fighting to eliminate brands that try to pretend they are Scotch by pushing for legislation that would reserve the use of words like Highlands and Islay for Scotch labels.

The term "Scotch" already has protection in international trade agreements, but that has not stopped some companies from trying to market spirits using the international popularity of Scotch whisky. The Scotch Whisky Association points to Highland Gold Finest Whisky, which is actually made in the Netherlands and Surinam, Lowlands Blended Whisky from Spain and Islay Whisky Cream, made in Italy, as brands sold across Europe that attempt to confuse consumers.

The move would protect the names of Scotch appellations, much the way Cognac for a regionally produced brandy or Champagne for a sparkling with from a certain geographic region enjoy protections in trade laws. Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown would get a designation permitting only brands produced in specified regions of Scotland the right to use those words on labels.

The European Union maintains a list of what it calls "Geographic Indicators" that the World Trade Organization follows in protecting unique products produced in a certain style that originates from a specific locality. Distillers believe that the designation will help protect the $4.2 billion export market for Scotch.