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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Virginia College Professor Crowned 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year

Diane Catanzaro, of Norfolk, Va., has been named the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year in the 11th annual edition of the competition held at Wynkoop Brewing in Denver.

Catanzaro, 48, is a homebrewer, beer judge and a professor of industrial/organizational psychology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. She is the second woman to win the competition.

Catanzaro was a finalist in last year's Beerdrinker contest and beat out Logan Perkins of Denver and Phil Farrell of Cumming, Ga., to take the crown this year.

The finalists weathered two hours of difficult questions from the judges. The queries stretched from questions about beer chemistry, styles and history, to the finalists' abilities to sing old beer-advertising jingles and recall esoteric beer trivia.

Catanzaro's 2006 beer resume included tasting beer at numerous breweries, bars and festivals in the U.S. and Belgium. She also led students on a tour of Belgium that included education on the country's beer culture. On her beer resume, she outlined her philosophy about beer drinking: "People who say they don't like beer just haven't met the right beer! I'll be happy to arrange an introduction... I can be a positive role model for more women to discover the joy of beer and break stereotypes."

As the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year, Catanzaro wins free beer for life at Wynkoop Brewing and a $250 beer tab at the Biergarden, her favorite bar back in Virginia. She also wins clothing proclaiming her the 2007 Beerdrinker of the Year and has her name etched on Wynkoop's Beerdrinker of the Year Trophy.

Maryland Considers Alcohol Tax Hike

Maryland faces a $1.3 billion budget gap for the fiscal year that starts July 1st and lawmakers are looking at several ways to bridge the chasm. A boost in the state sales tax is on the table, as is a proposal that would increase the excise tax on alcohol.

Gov. Martin O'Malley says he would like to look at cutting government waste before considering tax hikes, but members of the Maryland House of Delegates are already discussing various tax hikes. The sales tax increase is likely to be the more controversial solution and could be pushed into next year in favor of other options.

Besides a tax hike on alcohol, other proposals include a sales tax on certain professional services that have previously been exempt.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: Talisker on My Tongue

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 the Isle of Skye for a great flight of Scotch.

The Talisker Distillery was built in 1830 on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. The brand is part of the Classic Malts collection that is widely distributed by Diageo. The Talisker range includes five products. In addition to the three tasted, Talisker also markets a 25-year-old whisky and a 175th anniversary bottling.

Talisker 10-Year-Old ($45): The golden colored Scotch is 91.6-proof. There is a slight citrus hint in the nose and a rich smoky peat flavor, supported by roasted pepper, hints of the sea and a long, rich finish.

Talisker Distillers Edition ($75): Distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2005, this 91.6-proof whisky offers subtle tones of smoke and earthiness. Finished in Amoroso sherry cask, this Scotch is a bright brown color. This is a nicely put together Scotch that finishes very much like a fine Caribbean cigar.

Talisker 18-Year-Old ($70): This Scotch is a multi-level flavor experience in a 91.6-proof package. There are hints of oak and fresh grass often found in somewhat younger whiskies, but it also has a nice balance of smoky peat, vanilla and almonds.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Washington State Considers Grocery Sampling Program for Beer and Wine

A bill has been introduced in the Washington State Legislature that would authorize a limited pilot program allowing small samples of beer and wine to be handed out to adults in grocery stores.

Under the program, 30 grocery stores would be involved in the test. They would be allowed to give customers no more than 4 ounces during a tasting session and would only be permitted to host the in-store tastings once a month. The program would enable consumers to try various wines and beers before plunking down their hard earned money to buy a full bottle or six pack.

Not so fast says the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. The group claims that sampling beer and wine in grocery stores would send the wrong message to underage shoppers. The group is lobbying that the program would show community support for alcohol use and lead to more abuse of alcohol by young people.

Grocers in the state argue the program would help educate consumers and support smaller brands from the region. The Washington Liquor Control Board has said it does not believe the program would create a legal issue because the stores would monitor sampling in the same way they do sales to prevent underage drinkers from taking part.

Moreover, sampling beer and wine in an environment where it is sold along side food and suggested as an accompaniment to meals is exactly the responsible consumption message that substance abuse organizations should advocate for in the legislature. Wine and beer have been a part of the diets of man for thousands of years. The more modern day consumers see them as part of a healthy lifestyle and teach responsible consumption patterns to youth, the less of an alcohol abuse problem we will encounter.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How Many Beer Styles Are Enough? The Brewers Association Says 125 and Counting

To most Americans there are just three styles of beer: regular domestic lager, imported lager and light beer. Chris Swersey knows better.

Swersey from Salmon, Idaho, spent time as a brewer at Heavenly Daze in Colorado, Mickey Finn's in Illinois and and the Ballyard Brewery in Arizona, and still consults with breweries in addition to running a river guide business. He is also the Competition Manager for the Brewers Association, which runs two of the most prestigious judging events for beer in America: the annualGreat American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, held every other year.

Swersey will tell you that there are 125 different styles of ales and lagers in the world. It's not a guess. That is the official number according to the Brewers Association 2007 Beer Style Guidelines.

"The style list is a living document. It has changed over time to reflect what is happening in the brewing world," says Swersey. For instance Pumpkin Beer is a new category on the list. It used to be part of Fruit and Vegetable beers, but because of growing popular and acceptance was given its own spot on the list. American-style Wheat Wine has found its own place, as has Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, which used to be lumped into the Experimental Beer category.

The Guidelines are the handy work of Charlie Papazian and a committee that includes Ray Daniels, Paul Gatza and Swersey. The Guidelines have been copyrighted since 1993, but really go back to 1979 when the Brewers Association first attempted to provide style guidelines to brewers. The works of English beer journalist Michael Jackson and German professor Anton Piendl contributed greatly to defining various beer styles. The committee that reviews the Guidelines looks at market trends and takes comments from the beer industry.

"The guidelines were first developed for breweries and for the judges," said Swersey. "But there are also very sophisticated beer consumers these days. The guidelines really help them."

The Guidelines are also used to help group beers together for judging events. Brewers association rules say that each category must have at least three entries for medals to be awarded. Swersey and his team uses the guidelines, along with the number of entries from breweries, to shape the competition. At the most recent Great American Beer Festival there were 69 categories in the competition.

"We don't police where brewers enter," says Swersey. "The judges fill out written comments on each beer and these are sent back to the brewers." The comments can then help brewers decide if the next time around a beer might be a better fit in a particular category.

UK Doctors Push for Total Ban on Alcohol Advertising

The new president of the Royal College of Physicians in Britain is calling for a total ban on all alcohol advertising. Professor Ian Gilmore also urged that taxes be raised for stronger alcohol level products and he said supermarkets selling beer as loss leaders to pull in business were being irresponsible.

The ban would have its greatest impact on sports in the United Kingdom, particularly soccer. It is estimated that alcohol brands spent more than $1.6 billion on advertising and sponsorship of sporting events in Britain in 2004. That number has increased since then and covers a range of sports from tennis to rugby.

The Royal College of Physicians says that alcohol consumption in the U.K. is increasing, while consumption in France, which has an advertising ban, has declined.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More Than Once in a Blue Moon for Molson Coors

During our reports last fall from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver we mentioned stumbling upon a consumer research session at Coors Field where some new flavors for seasonal Blue Moon products were being taste tested among baseball fans at a Rockies and Dodgers game.

It looks like Molson Coors has decided that Blue Moon Belgian White will soon have year round seasonal companions. Paperwork filed with the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau indicates that Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale will fill out the line up.

Blue Moon has had a fall Pumpkin Ale seasonal for a number of years and just added a Winter Ale and Spring Ale to the line up.

Heineken Hiking Prices

There is further confirmation that we will soon all be paying a bit more for our brew. Dutch brewing conglomerate Heineken says rising costs for everything from barley to aluminum will require price hikes to consumers.

Heineken said aluminum, energy costs and a poor Australian barley harvest, coupled with increased competition for agricultural products, are driving up the price of beer. The company said the emergence of the biofuels industry, and the growing demand for barley in China and other Asian markets are putting a squeeze on the world supply.

Heineken reported profits last year of $15.8 billion.

A-B Has Bucket Full of New Launches

Anheuser-Busch is rolling new beers off the assembly line at a pace that is nearly impossible to imagine. The launch schedule is so frenetic that even A-B distributors must have difficulties at times figuring out which brands in a supermarket cold case belong to them.

On Tuesday the St. Louis based giant will release Spring Heat Spiced Wheat, a Belgian-style wheat ale that was available in limited markets on draught last year. This year it will be on draught and in 12 and 24 ounce bottles. The unfiltered 5.2 percent alcohol by volume beer is flavored with orange, lemon and lime peels, plus coriander.

In a move that is an obvious counter to Miller Chill, media reports say that A-B has a chelada or two of its own ready to roll. Applications before the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau indicate Budweiser and Clamato and Bud Light and Clamato cheladas are on the launch pad. The 24 ounce cans for the products will carry both English and Spanish language labels.

If tomato juice and beer is not your style, how about a tea-flavored beer? A-B is prepared to break with a brand called Evolve in black and green tea flavors. The drink is expected to weigh in at 4.2 percent alcohol by volume.

Finally, the company showed off Bud Extra, a 6.6 percent alcohol by volume beer infused with guarana and ginseng, to attendees at the National Association of Convenience Stores recent annual meeting.

It appears A-B is prepared to keep the new product development activity cranking as it works to get above the magically 50 percent share of the U.S. beer market.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bordeaux Heist: Look for a Drunk Sommelier

When 3,000 bottles of some of the world's best wine goes missing where should the police look first?

In France earlier this week the management of Seignouret Frères, one of the oldest negociant houses, reported they were missing $1.17 million in 2004 grand cru Bordeaux, including cases of Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Latour and other top labels. The wine had been in Seignouret Frères' warehouse for a very short period of time.

Police believe wine savvy thieves spent several hours picking out the wine they wanted and loading pallets on a truck. They left behind lower priced wine and concentrated on famous makers. There was no sign of a break in. Because of tracking numbers on the bottles it is believed the wine is being shipped outside of France.

Heaven Hill Looking to Barrel More Bourbon

Heaven Hill Distilleries is planning a $3.9 million expansion of its Louisville distilling operations and has received backing in the form of state incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

Heaven Hill plans to add new milling equipment, a mash cookers and fermentation equipment that will allow it to expand Bourbon, rye and wheat whiskey production by 40 percent.

Among the brands Heaven Hill makes are Elijah Craig and Henry McKenna Bourbons, Rittenhouse Rye and Bernheim Wheat.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Craft Beer Sales Up 11.7% in 2006

Craft breweries in the U.S. continued to pump out more beer in 2006. The Brewers Association says craft beer volume was up 11.7 percent for the year.

The 2006 numbers are on top of significant growth during each of the three previous years, causing the Brewers Association to use the word "surge" to describe what is happening among artisan American brewers.

The Brewers Association estimates 2006 sales by craft brewers at more than 6,600,000 barrels. For 2006 craft beer posted a retail sales figure of $4.2 billion.

The growth is impressive because it does not include imported brands, which are also surging, and new products launched by large brewers that are all-malt or traditional styles. The Brewers Association definition of craft beer is: "An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Craft beer comes only from a craft brewer. Small = annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent = Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional = A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor."

Budweiser Coming to India

India is one of the world's most populous countries with a rapidly expanding economy and growing world influence. Now it is also home to a new brewery that will soon be turning out truckloads of Budweiser.

Anheuser-Busch International and Crown Beers have signed a joint venture agreement to brew, market and distribute The King of Beers and other brands in India. Crown Beers India Ltd. includes a new 500,000-hectoliter brewery in the southern city of
Hyderabad. The brewery will be operational next month.The joint venture is expected to employ 150 people.

Kentucky Moving to Allow Liquor Sales on Election Day

The Kentucky State Legislature is considering a bill that would signal last call for a decades old prohibition on election day liquor sales.

State Rep. Arnold Simpson's reform bill to allow liquor sales starting at noon on election day passed through committee this week and was sent to the full Kentucky House of representatives for a vote.

Kentucky, the home of Bourbon, has banned liquor sales in bars and retail stores during voting since the repeal of Prohibition.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Idaho Looks at Bumping Tax on Beer

In what has become an all too common refrain from state legislatures this session, Idaho has become the latest state to consider hiking the tax on beer to meet budget shortfalls.

Idaho state Sen. Joe Stegner is one of those calling for a review of the beer tax. The 6 percent excise tax has remained constant for 46 years. During the same time period the sales tax in Idaho has doubled.

Sen. Stegner and others in the Idaho legislature say increases to the tax could help fund alcohol treatment programs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Czech Newspaper: Budvar Could Go on the Block

According to the Hospodarske Noviny daily newspaper, the Czech government is considering the possible sale of Budejovicky Budvar, a Communist-era holdover as the last major brewing firm to be state run.

Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman and Environmental Minister Martin Bursik are both quoted as saying that they see no reason why the brewery should be government owned. Riman estimated the brewery could fetch $900 million to $1.4 billion to help close Czech budget shortfalls.

Previous Czech governments have waved off suggestions that Budvar should be privatized, fearing that foreign ownership might have a negative impact on the Bohemian brewery.

Budejovicky Budvar has been in a protracted worldwide legal battle with Anheuser-Busch for decades over ownership of the Budweiser trademark, although the two companies recently signed a U.S. distribution deal for A-B to handle Czechvar, the name used to brand Budvar in America.

Tuesday Tasting: Bluecoat American Dry Gin

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 the City of Brotherly Love for some gin.

Andrew Auwerda, president of Philadelphia Distilling in Philadelphia, Pa., say his company decided to make a gin as their first product rather than a vodka because "gin is all about adding flavor and with vodka you are stripping away flavors." Robert Cassell is Philadelphia's master distiller. Cassell’s comes from the craft brewing industry, having worked at both Victory Brewing and Harpoon Brewing. The company shipped its first cases of Bluecoat American Dry Gin in May of 2006. In a relatively short period of time they have managed to master this "adding flavor" concept.

Bluecoat American Dry Gin comes is a bright blue bottle with gold lettering that will standout on any back bar. This 94-proof gin has plenty of aromatic botanicals. The aromas of this gin pour from your glass like a perfume factory. There are a ton of good flavors that finish with a bright orange peel note. This is a fresh and robust gin that just might make some of the gins you are used to drinking taste a bit subdued.

Philadelphia Distilling uses 100 percent certified organic botanicals in making Bluecoat, named for the color of the uniforms of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. Pennsylvania supplied the new national army with spirits and was the first distilling center in the U.S. It will be interesting to watch the development of this young brand.

Monday, February 19, 2007

EU Parliament Votes Against Proposal to Rip Out Nearly a Million Acres of Vineyards

A solution to the oversupply of grapes across Europe will not include the destruction of 988,000 acres of vineyards as the European Commission had recommended. In a vote last week the European Union Parliament rejected the reform proposal.

In 2005, the EU paid $666 million to turn surplus wine into industrial alcohol and disinfectant. Estimates are that about a year's worth of wine is held in bulk storage across Europe.

The EU voted 484 to 129 against the proposal. The European Commission had said the vineyard destruction was necessary because of declining consumption in the EU and increased competition from the United States, South America, South Africa and Australia. Those voting against the proposal said it would devastate the economies of rural areas in many European countries.

Europe makes and consumes about 60 percent of the world supply of wine.

Anheuser-Busch Closes in on Old Dominion Deal

It has been in the rumor mill for several months, but it now looks like Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Virginia might come under the influence of America's largest brewing concern in a matter of a couple of weeks. Like similar recent deals, Anheuser-Busch is set to partner with another craft brewer in the transaction.

Old Dominion was headed toward an employee buyout last year, but that deal fell through. Now Anheuser-Busch and the Fordham Brewery/Ram's Head Tavern group in Maryland have applied for an alcohol license under the Coastal Brewing Co. banner.

While Old Dominion, A-B and Fordham/Ram's Head would not comment, The Washington Post reported that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed it had received an application for a license under the Coastal Brewing name at the end of January. It typically takes about a month for the review of these types of applications to be completed.

A-B already has ownership positions and distribution alliances with a number of craft brewers around the U.S. These include Redhook Ale Breweries, Widmer Brothers, Goose Island and Kona Brewing. The company purchased the Rolling Rock brand in 2006 and has been rolling out a number of regional brands, organic beers and gluten-free products under labels that often do not list any connection to the mother ship in St. Louis.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reunion Beer: A Round Worth Buying

Pete Slosberg, who founded Pete's Wicked Ales, Alan Shapiro and Virginia MacLean became friends nearly two decades ago in the early days of building that brand. Now they have come back together under less fortunate circumstances, but with a much more important mission.

MacLean was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a form of bone cancer. She is one of about 1,000 people a day worldwide who learn they have this currently incurable form of cancer. The trio have decided to come back together with the mission of raising funds for the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research in Los Angeles.

Reunion: A Beer For Hope, an organic imperial brown ale brewed at Bison Brewing Co. in Berkley, Calif., is being sold in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Illinois. The 22-ounce bottles sell for $4.99, with all profits going to support the efforts of the IMBCR.

If you see this beer at a local retailer, buy it. Without even tasting it I can tell you it will be the best beer you buy all year.

College Prohibition: Could Massachusetts Schools Go Dry?

Massachusetts Rep. Frank Hynes has introduced a bill that would ban alcohol from all state university campuses. Under the measure even legal drinking age students, faculty and visitors would not be allowed to have a drink.

Rep. Hynes says that he doubts the bill has a chance to pass, but he introduced it after recent alcohol-related incidents, including a student death. He points out that most undergraduate students are not 21 years old and are already drinking illegally.

Several college officials said they doubted a new law would be anymore effective than existing laws or campus regulations. The fact is that they are right. Based on my time at college decades ago and more recent experiences seeing two daughters off to schools large and small, keeping alcohol from the lips of college students is impossible. Schools would be much better off imposing realistic regulations and trying to keep a cap on the amount of alcohol available to all students.

The only thing an on-campus ban in Massachusetts would do is generate more business for nearby off-campus bars.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Weekend Watering Hole: 100 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die

As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we depart a bit from our normal single location review to publish a list we hope might start some conversations, and perhaps a little debate.

Here's the Lyke2Drink 100 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die:

1. Great American Beer Festival, Denver, Colo.
2. Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium.
3. U Flecku, Prague, Czech Republic.
4. Great British Beer Festival, Earls Court, London, U.K.
5. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany.
6. Augustiner Keller, Munich, Germany.
7. Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval, Orval, Belgium.
8. The Gravity Bar, Guinness St James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland.
9. Monk’s Café, Philadelphia, Pa.
10. The Great Canadian Beer Festival, Vancouver, BC.
11. Hofbrauhaus, Munich, Germany.
12. Clark Street Ale House, Chicago, Ill.
13. Sand Lot Brewery, Coors Field, Denver, Colo
14. The Brickskeller, Washington, DC
15. Rick’s Café, Negril, Jamaica.
16. The Market Porter, Stoney Street, London, U.K.
17. Cat’s Eye Pub, Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Md.
18. Seats on top of the Green Monster in Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
19. Mondial de la biere, Montreal, Quebec.
20. Horizon’s Café, CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario.
21. Clubhouse Box Seats at the Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
22. Beer Club Popeye, Tokyo, Japan.
23. The Publick House, Brookline, Mass.
24. Infield at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
25. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, Portland, Oregon.
26. French Quarter during Mardis Gras, New Orleans, La.
27. Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.
28. Zum Uerige, Dusseldorf, Germany.
29. Toronado, San Francisco, Calif.
30. The Lamb, Lamb’s Conduit St., London, U.K.
31. Turn 4 Suites at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Ind.
32. Rogue Brewery, Newport, Oregon.
33. The Wynkoop Brewery, Denver, Colo.
34. Spuyten Duyvil, Brooklyn, N.Y.
35. Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, Ohio
36. McMenamin's Kennedy School Hotel, Portland, Oregon.
37. Atelier am Dom, Cologne, Germany.
38. Anchor Brewing Tasting Room, San Francisco, Calif.
39. Hopleaf Bar, Chicago, Ill.
40. The Flying Saucer, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas
41. Arend’s Nest, Amsterdam, Holland.
42. Blues Bar, Stone Town, Zanzibar.
43. Tailgating at a Southeastern Conference Football Game
44. Selin’s Grove Brewing, Selinsgrove, Pa.
45. The Great Lost Bear, Portland, Maine.
46. The Map Room, Chicago, Ill.
47. The Blue Tusk, Syracuse, N.Y.
48. Woolwich Arms, Guelph, Ontario.
49. Beach Bar at the Atlantis Hotel, Paradise Island, Bahamas.
50. The White Horse Pub, Parsons Green, London, U.K.
51. Redbones Restaurant, Somerville, Mass.
52. Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Sydney, Australia.
53. Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, Colo.
54. Sleeping Lady Brewery/Snow Goose Restaurant, Anchorage, Alaska.
55. In de Wildeman, Amsterdam, Holland.
56. Andechs, Boston, Mass.
57. Charlie’s Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark.
58. PINT Bokbierfestival, Amsterdam, Holland.
59. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, Calif.
60. Krcma, Ceske Krumlov, Czech Republic.
61. Sapporo Beer Garden, Higashi-ku, Japan.
62. Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan.
63. Sail and Anchor Brewpub, Freemantle, Australia.
64. F.X. Matt Brewery Tasting Room, Utica, N.Y.
65. Delerium Café, Brussels, Belgium
66. Birreria l’Orso Eletricco, Rome, Italy.
67. Gosser Bierklinik, Vienna, Austria.
68. Bariloche Ski Resort in Rio Negro, Argentina.
69. d.b.a., New York, N.Y.
70. Brewer’s Art, Baltimore, Maryland.
71. Au General Lafayette, Paris, France.
72. The Schlenkerla, Bamberg, Germany.
73. De Hopduvel, Antwerp, Belgium.
74. Die Weisse, Salzburg, Austria
75. Halve Maan Brewery, Bruges, Belgium.
76. Tinkoff, Moscow, Russia.
77. Le Bier Circus, Brussels, Belgium
78. TY Harbor Brewery, Tokyo, Japan.
79. Irseer Klosterbrauerei, Irsee, Germany.
80. Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival, Stockholm, Sweden.
81. Goose Island Brewing, Chicago, Ill.
82. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
83. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, N.Y.
84. Deschutes Brewery & Publick House, Bend, Oregon.
85. Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern, Monroe, Wisc.
86. Icebergs Bar, Sydney, Australia.
87. Cantillon Brewery and Gueuze Museum, Belgium.
88. Belgo Central, London, England.
89. Bruxellensis Festival of Characterful Beers, Brussels, Belgium.
90. Felix in The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong.
91. Brasserie Federal, Bahnhof Zurich, Switzerland.
92. Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam, Holland.
93. Clark’s Ale House, Syracuse, N.Y.
94. The Shakespeare, Aukland, New Zealand.
95. Mahar’s, Albany, N.Y.
96. Steamworks Brewing, Vancouver, B.C.
97. Cooter Brown’s, New Orleans, La.
98. McSorley’s Ale House, New York, N.Y.
99. Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery, Key West, Fla.
100.Rose & Crown Pub, Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Diageo Pouring Money into Scotch Production

London-based Diageo Plc says it plans to invest nearly $200 million to build a new distillery and expand an existing plant to keep up with the growing worldwide demand for Scotch.

The company plans to open a new distillery in 2009 in Roseilse on Speyside, in northern Scotland. It also plans to expand its Cameronbridge distillery in Fife, plus invest in expanding warehouse facilities for aging the whisky.

Diageo makes and markets a variety of Scotch brands including Johnnie Walker, J&B, Talisker, Royal Lochnagar, Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Oban. The company says this move will boost its whisky capacity by more than 10 percent.Diageo is the world's largest alcohol marketer, also backing the Guinness Stout, Jose Cuervo, Smirnoff Vodka, Captain Morgan Rum and Beaulieu Vineyard brands.

Beer Stocks Jump on Rumors of Anheuser-Busch and InBev Merger, Sapporo Takeover

The stock prices of most major beer companies got a healthy bump on Thursday as rumors swirled that the makers of Budweiser and Stella Artois might merge, while at the same time a U.S. hedge fund said it would like to take a controlling interest in Japan's Sapporo Holdings Ltd.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch were up more than 3 percent, while Belgian brewer InBev were up more than 4 percent on the news of merger talks reported in a Brazilian paper, Valor Economico. InBev has major South American holdings.

The rumors caused the shares of other major brewers, from Heineken to Molson Coors, to rise based on the assumption that an A-B and InBev merger would cause other brewers to look for alliances.

While the two giant brewers have not commented on whether or not the rumors are true, Steel Strategic Partners Fund said it is considering taking a majority holding in Sapporo. Steel already owns 17.5 per cent of Sapporo.

Beer Blogging Day: March 2nd Kicks Off Monthly Event

Author, journalist, blogger and good guy Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer has come up with an interesting idea that appears to be gaining some traction in the beer blogging world. Borrowing from similar wine and food blog-ins, Stan is organizing a monthly themed beer blogging day on the first Friday of every month. He's still trying to work out the name, but he has selected the topic for the inaugural event on March 2nd: Not Your Father's Irish Stout.

Bloggers are encouraged to post that day on stout with a simple ground rule from Stan: blog "about any stout that isn’t Guinness, Murphy’s or Beamish (the Irish old guard - good beers but we’re writing about others)." He will collect all of the links and post them on his site, which you can reach through my blog roll.

It sounds like an interesting project and I love the fact that stout is the first style out of the gate. It is a favorite of mine, which presents a bit of a problem since I'm having trouble deciding which brew to cover. The beer I write about may be a last minute selection, because the styles of stout vary quite a bit. It might just depend on the mood I'm in that day.

As Roger Protz said in his 1997 book, Classic Stout & Porter: "Thanks to that Irish devotion, it has flourished internationally. Stout and, to a far lesser degree, porter, pop up in places far removed from Ireland -- Africa, the Baltic countries, the Caribbean, Scandinavia and Sri Lanka. The beer style was part of the baggage of early imperialism and put down deep roots in countries with climates that seem unsuited to the consumption of a bitter and roasty type of ale. Today, with the revival of ale, antient versions of porter and stout are being dusted down and sold with some enthusiasm. In Briatain and the United States, the blossoming of hundreds of new-wave 'micro-breweries' has brought with it fascinating new interpretations of the style."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Grape Glut or Wine Shortage?

Following the news about grape harvests around the world is a little bit like listening to OPEC or big oil companies. First there is an over supply of grapes that drives down prices and is bad for vineyards. Then there are harsh growing conditions, which cuts supplies and is bad for vineyards.

A case in point is the 2006 harvest in California, the largest wine producing state in America. Headlines screamed: "California Grape Crush Down 20 Percent In 2006," making some think they should run out and grab a couple of bottles of their favorite Cabernet Sauvignon before the price increased. Not so fast.

California's grape crop was 3.5 million tons, a pretty decent year. It was off from the 4.3 million ton record set in 2005. Average prices paid for red wine grapes were up a fraction to $634 a ton, while white wine grapes dropped slight to $502 a ton. In the U.S. new vineyards are popping up in places like North Carolina and Illinois, adding to the supply.

Other news that has been reported lately includes the drop in the Australian harvest, because of a very hot and dry growing season. This one year trend does nothing to reverse the fact that Australia vineyards have rapidly grown during the last 10 years, flooding the market with some pretty decent wines at very consumer friendly prices.

In Europe, there still is about a year's worth of wine grape juice in bulk storage, with no decent prospect that this liquid will reach our tables as wine. The European Union has a major political headache to grapple with in the coming months as it looks at what to do with the situation.

A wild card coming into the mix is China, which is rapidly planting vineyards and building a wine infrastructure. Perhaps the growing Chinese middle class with drink up this supply as it comes on line during the next decade. If not, the world's supply of moderately priced wine will only grow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fortune Brands Betting on Bourbon: Company Invests $120 Million to Expand Distilleries

Follow the money. If you take that advice and look at Fortune Brands you will come to the conclusion that Bourbon is back in vogue.

The company is heavily investing at facilities in Kentucky. The Booker Noe Distillery in Bardstown that makes Jim Beam is getting a $70 million upgrade that will enable it to boost production by 50 percent to 15 million gallons of whiskey a year. Meanwhile, almost $50 million is being spent by Fortune Brands at the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto and another facility in Frankfort.

The investment is being prompted by the biggest boom is Bourbon consumption since just after the end of World War II. Much of the growth is coming from higher end products and distillers are expanding now anticipating they will need the whiskey several years down the line to keep up with worldwide demand.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: A Trio of Spirits from Edgefield Distillery

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 Oregon to taste some micro-distilled spirits.

The Edgefield Distillery opened its doors in February 1998. Part of the McMenamin's group that includes brewing, winemaking, distilling, coffee roasting, pubs and hotels, the company turns out whiskey, brandies, gins and a coffee liqueur from its pot still 20 miles outside of Portland. Head Distiller Ty Reeder got his start in the brewery, then trained as a fill-in distiller. He took over the job a few years ago and is turning out some pretty decent products. Recently I had the chance to sample three of Edgefield's offerings.

Edgefield Distillery American Distilled Gin($26): From Oregon, this 90 proof Dutch-style gin is reserved with a nice balance of spices and touches of floral notes.

Edgefield Distillery Hogshead Whiskey ($32): This Oregon whiskey is made from 100 percent barley malt that is pot distilled to 92 proof. The color of new penny copper, it has an attractively sweet base with a nice peppery edge.

Edgefield Brandy ($28): There is a nice oak base to this 80-proof brandy made from the distillation of two Edgefield wines, one aged in French and the other American barrels. Rich vanilla nose, good fruit throughout and very warming.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Miller Lite Challenges Budweiser to NASCAR Duel

This is a bet that is sure to be ignored, but the marketing people behind Miller Lite are placing the naming rights that they own for the baseball stadium in Milwaukee on the table in a challenge to Budweiser's NASCAR team.

The proposed bet goes like this: whichever brand's sponsored car ends up with the most points at the end of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season will get the chance to rename the other brand's ballpark for a series between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals for the 2008 Major League Baseball season. Based on the annual costs for the naming rights at Miller Park in Milwaukee, that wager is worth around $78,000 for a three game series.

The Miller Lite #2 is driven by Kurt Busch, while the Budweiser #8 is driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last year the Miller Lite brand offered up a wager that the Budweiser team ignored that would have called for the paint scheme on one of the cars to be switched for a NASCAR race to the winning brand based on Nextel Cup points. Budweiser did not accept the bet and would have won based on the 2006 final standings. The value of that bet, using prevailing sponsorship costs, would have been around five times this season's proposal.

A certified letter was dispatched from Miller Lite to Anheuser-Busch President and Chief Executive Officer August Busch IV with the rules for the wager. The ground rules state that play-off games were not eligible and that temporary banners would be draped over interior and exterior signage as part of the name change. The loser would pay for the signage production.

Left out of Miller Lite's offer is the #40 Coors Light NASCAR team. The Colorado Rockies are also in the National League and play in Coors Field in Denver.

Bulgarian Rakia Rebellion

America had its Whiskey Rebellion. It appears a Rakia Rebellion just might be brewing in Bulgaria.

For centuries Bulgarians in rural parts of the country have made homemade rakia, a brandy distilled from plums and grapes. Rakia has been a fairly cheap way to get a buzz on. Enter the European Union.

Bulgaria became a member of the European Union at the start of the year. The EU has a provision that calls for an excise tax on any homemade alcohol that is made in a public still. The cost of making 40 liters of rakia would jump from around $13 to $130 under the new rules.

Bulgarians are not about to take this lying down. A national protest is planned for Wednesday. Feb. 14 marks a holiday for St. Trifon "The Pruner" (Trifon Zarezana), to celebrate the annual trimming of grape vines.

Support for the Rakia Rebellion appears fairly strong. More than 250,000 have signed petitions against the EU tax. Bulgaria is one of the poorest members of the EU and making rakia is one way rural citizens have traditionally come together.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Clean Zone" Would Bar Beer from Area Around NCAA College World Series Stadium

Having a beer in the stands at a baseball game is pretty much an All-American activity, but not during the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Rosenblatt Stadium is dry during the annual championship event, as are an increasing number of college stadiums. Now the NCAA is going one step further and calling on city officials in Omaha to establish a so-called "clean zone" around the stadium where temporary beer garden licenses would not be allowed.

NCAA officials and some neighbors that live near the stadium say that the sale of beer, along with vendors hawking everything from food to unlicensed merchandising, has gotten out of control. The new zone would ban alcohol sales at temporary locations and restrict advertising to only companies sponsoring the tournament.

Omaha will play host to the College World Series through at least 2010. NCAA officials say they want the event to have a family atmosphere. It will likely make the clean zone concept part of future host city contracts.

In 2006, Omaha granted seven temporary licenses for beer gardens near the stadium.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Brewery Art From the Land of Sky Blue Waters Up For Auction

Before there were the Budweiser Frogs or Stroh's Alex the Dog, there was the Hamm's Beer Bear. First launched in a black and white television commercial in 1952, the animated character hawked Hamm's beer from Minnesota, or as the spots said "from the land of sky blue waters."

An auction is scheduled for Feb. 15th in Medina, Minn., of nearly 100 drawings of the Beer Bear by Bill Stein, an illustrator for the St. Paul brewery. The work includes pencil sketches and finished drawings showing the famous Beer Bear in action. The auction will also put 20 other pieces of Hamm's memorabilia up for bid.

More information on the sale and the chance to bid online is available at www.schultzauctioneers.com.

NASCAR Fans and Wine

It might not appear that way at the track on an average Sunday as you watch cars painted like rolling billboards for Miller Lite, Budweiser, Coors Light, Crown Royal, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and other brands flash by, but a study release this week by the Nielson Co. shows wine consumption among NASCAR fans nationwide shot up 22 percent in 2006.

Before you start to think fans in the infield at the Daytona 500 later this month will be sipping $50 bottles of California zinfandel, keep in mind that the growth is on a fairly small base total. The annual average wine purchases by NASCAR fans went from $66.80 in 2005 to $81.40 last year.

The study backed up the perception of NASCAR fans bleeding red, white and blue. Almost 70 percent of all of their wine purchases are domestic labels. Approximately 75 million Americans identify themselves as NASCAR fans and those fans are sought after by brand marketers because of an intense level of loyalty to the sport's sponsors.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anheuser-Busch Dialing Up the Malt in Michelob

Michelob was first introduced by Anheuser-Busch as a draught-only brew back in 1896. It was a 100 percent barley malt product until 1961, when rice was added to the recipe. The St. Louis brewer has decided to turn back the clock and re-introduce the Michelob family as a 100 percent malt brew by the end of this month.

This is just the latest move on the part of America's largest brewery to appeal to a wider group of beer drinkers, including those that have turned to more flavorful craft beers.

Interestingly, Michelob will be relaunched in the teardrop bottles that had been dropped back in 2002. That teardrop shape was first rolled out in 1961 when the brewery altered the all-malt recipe. Anheuser-Busch plans to promote Michelob as the
“beer for connoisseurs” as part of this move.

Anheuser-Busch holds a 48.8 percent share of the domestic beer market. It has made a concerted effort introducing new products and signing import agreements during the last two years in order to fuel additional growth. This comes at a time when spirits have been growing at a rapid rate, taking share from the beer segment.

To Your Health: Red Wine Reduces Rate of Abnormal Growths and Intestinal Tract Cancers

A study at the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that adults consuming at least three glasses of red wine per week reduced their chances of developing abnormal growths or tumors in the intestines by two-thirds.

The researchers believe this may be linked to resveratrol, a compound that is found in higher amounts in red wine than white wine because the skins remain on the grape for much of the red wine making process.

The study was conducted by Dr. Joseph C. Anderson and included 1,741 people. The study found a 9.9 percent incidence of colorectal neoplasia, cancers and polyps that can become cancerous among those that abstained from alcohol and an 8.8 percent rate among those who drank three glasses or more of white wine a week. Those who consumed at least three glasses of red wine a week had a 3.4 percent incidence rate, a 68 percent reduction.

Dr. Anderson said he does not advise patients to drink.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

When is a Beer Too Cold?

We should expect more from the Metromedia Restaurant Group, which runs 800 Bennigan's, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Bonanza Steakhouse and Steak and Ale locations in 16 countries, but once again a major restaurant chain is letting consumers down when it comes to beer. News reports this week out of Metromedia's Plano, Texas, base of operations say the chain is testing a concept called the 29 Degree Tavern that it is considering rolling out nationwide.

The name of the new chain refers to the temperature at which beer will be served at the bar. The 29 Degree Tavern touts a special refrigeration system used to maintain the temperature of beer from the keg to the tap. There is just one problem: 29 degrees is just too darn cold. Look at any draught beer system manual and you see that the recommended temperature for draught beer to be properly served is between 36 and 40 degrees, with 38 degrees being optimum. Some brands, such as Guinness Stout, call for a slightly higher temperature range at between 39 to 45 degrees. This is also the case for real ales and some other types of craft beer.

The proper temperature is critical for a number of reasons. First and foremost, beer served too cold will chill your palate beyond the point where you can really taste the product. That might be a good thing for some beers, but for most brands I'd like the opportunity to taste the delicate hops and get the full impact of the malt.

There is also a physiological reason that 29 degree beer is a bad idea, for the consumer and the bar operator. Colder beer will dissolve more carbon dioxide, keeping it suspended in the liquid. That means the beer going into the glass will appear flatter. For the consumer, this is a visually less appealing drink. Once the beer is consumed and starts to warm, the gas is then released in the stomach. This bloats the customer and makes them feel overly full. For the bar owner, a beer with no head means more liquid in each glass and less profit per keg. Consumers who fill up too quickly tend to drink less and order less food, further cutting into profits.

Metromedia is calling its 29 Degree Tavern concept a steakhouse with a sports bar feel. The first location opened on Tuesday. They are likely to be advertising "the coldest beer in town."

Anyone want to bet 29 Degree Tavern serves its beer in frosted mugs?

Iron City Fans Circle Feb. 27th on Their Calendars

What might happen to the bankrupt maker of Iron City beer is likely to be determined in the next three weeks. Lawyers for Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition LLC say they need that long to conclude negotiations with the brewery's creditors.

Pittsburgh Brewing went into bankruptcy in December 2005. Multiple extensions have been granted by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh since that time and the company has failed to make some promised payments to creditors. The acquisition group, led by John Milne of Connecticut, emerged late last year and has been negotiating deals with a number of creditors and got unionized brewery workers to make concessions.

Attorneys for Milne's group told the Bankruptcy Court that it was still an open question as to whether they could successfully conclude the negotiations. If the deal making works out the group would present a formal reorganization plan on Feb. 27 and then creditors would have 60 days to approve the plan.

Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition is said to be ready to invest $7 million in the operation. It has also sought help from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the form of loans and grants.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The World's Most Expensive Cocktail: The $1,475 Mai Tai

A Belfast, Northern Ireland, hotel has laid claim to a Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail -- a $1,475 Trader Vic's Mai Tai.

Unlike many hotel bars that may clip you for a drink in their lounge, the Merchant Hotel claims the hefty price tag is justified because only 15 servings of the classic, made with 17-year-old Wray and Nephew Rum, are available. The Merchant Hotel owns one of six bottles of the rum known to exist. Trader Vic Bergeron is said to have used the Wray and Nephew rum to make the first Mai Tai some 60 years ago.

Wray and Nephew stopped making the 17 year old rum, but recently released a small number of bottles. Each is said to be worth more than $51,000. Merchant Hotel officials said two of the cocktails have been sold and a third Mai Tai was made to celebrate the Guinness World record presentation earlier this week.

Tuesday Tasting: Three Beers From the Mail Bag

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 three beers shipped to us from craft brewers.

It is the drinks journalist's version of pennies from heaven -- only better. The arrival of the FedEx truck can be a very happy experience. Depending on what I'm writing about the delivery might be a rare Scotch, a bottle of California chardonnay or some pretty decent beer. In recent days, three packages have arrived at my doorstep from brewers, two in Vermont and the other in Colorado. Each beer was a unique treat, worth some cyber ink.

Gordon Imperial IPA: Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado made this limited release brew to honor of the late Gordon Knight, a craft brewing pioneer. A Vietnam War veteran, Knight died when the helicopter he was piloting to drop water on a forest fire crashed. The beer is a fitting honor to a legendary man. Dark, with a firm head and a chewy flavor. Very hoppy, this brew weighs in at 8.7 percent alcohol by volume.

Magic Hat hI.P.A SeasonAle: Bright gold, with a rocky head, this brew has one of the freshest hop aromas and flavors that I can recall in a bottled brew. The Stanley Mouse designed label is not the only piece of art that comes with this brew. The flavor profile is what all IPA makers should strive for in their beer. The ale is dry hopped twice, which explains the burst of rewarding flavor.

Otter Creek World Tour Otter Kilter: This Scotish-style wee heavy ale is a rich reddish brown. A moderately decent head remains throughout the glass. This brew has a pronounced malty sweet flavor that lingers. It is the sixth in a series of limited edition beers part of the Middlebury, Vt., brewer's salute to the world's beer styles. I cannot wait for the next stop!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Miller Hopes Hispanic Drinkers Want to Chill

SABMiller is courting the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. with a new beer heading into test markets. Miller Chill is a salt and lime flavored brew the company is calling a chelada-style beer.

The beer is going to be released first in markets in Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. Chelada refers to the practice popular in Mexico and other countries of adding spices to a glass of beer or coating the rim of a glass with salt or chili powder.

Miller Chill will be a low calorie beer. The brewery plans to back the introduction with television advertising support with the tag line "Se habla Chill."

SABMiller already imports beers from Columbia and Peru, distributing these brands primarily in cities with large Hispanic populations.

Beverage Bulletin: News from the Drinks World

Crown Royal Keeps Flowing: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 200D members at Diageo's Gimli, Manatoba, distillery voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three year contract. The plant is the only location where Crown Royal whisky is made.

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Moosehead Goes Its Own Way: Moosehead Breweries of Canada and The Gambrinus Co. have ended a 10 year relationship. Moosehead USA will now handle importing the lager into the United States.

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Women and Wine: The first National Women’s Wine Competition will select the Wine Women Want in March based on a blind tasting by women judges. The competition will be held in Santa Rosa, Calif. According to organizers, women make most of the wine purchase decisions in the U.S., but most competitions feature male judges. During the event a special Women Winemakers Challenge will be held, a competition among wines made by female winemakers.

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Spain Wine Sales Decline: Wine sales in Spain were down significantly in 2006. Wine sales in the country were down 11 percent, including an 18 percent fall in restaurants blamed in part on new drinking and driving regulations.

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More Alcohol Taxes: Jonesboro, Ark., is the latest municipality to consider a per drink tax for bar and restaurant sales of alcohol. There are 12 clubs in the city with permits to pour liquor. The city want these establishments to close by 2 a.m., pay a franchise fee and charge a 5 percent tax on all alcohol sales. Jonesboro wants to approve all hiring at the clubs, so that criminal background checks can be run on new employees, and the law would ban nudity. The city says it would spend 90 percent of the tax collected on enforcing drinking and driving laws and the rest would go to fund DARE programs in local schools.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Time for Brewpubs to Step it Up

My wife and I came to Florida this week to meet old friends, spend time on the ocean and see St. Augustine and Jacksonville. As usual, I was on the lookout for good beers, wines and spirits, with an eye towards finding a candidate for a Weekend Watering Hole or Tuesday Tasting spot on this blog. For a moment I thought we might have found one in the River City Brewing Co., but the experience was a reminder that it takes hard work and dedication to run a good brewpub.

River City has tons going for it. It sits along the St. John's River not far from the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars and local arts and entertainment venues. It has a million dollar view of the river and city skyline, plus a marina for boaters. River City is in an attractive building, with a taproom, dining room and facilities for banquets. There was a wedding reception being held at the location on the day we visited. We arrived just before the start of happy hour, where River City offers $2 pints of craft brew. It should have all added up to a great experience.

So what could be wrong? It appears that River City, which was founded in 1993, suffers from what I believe is a problem at as many as 25 percent of the brewpubs across America. The days of announcing "we brew our own beer" and having people turn up because of the novelty factor are long gone. River City felt like a place riding on past success and its location. When we walked into the taproom we were hit by a stale air odor. No one came to our table and it took a couple of minutes for the bartender to get to us when we came to the bar, even though only a few others were in the place. The salsa we ordered arrived with mostly small broken pieces of bottom-of-the-bag chips. The Riptide Porter and Jag Light we tasted were just OK, not crisp or fresh like you should expect from a brewpub. In short, River City Brewing gave us no reason to hang out or come back on future visits.

It's important to note that not everyone coming through the door of a brewpub is going to be a beer geek. On this trip to River City, I was out numbered 3 to 1, so the food, service and atmosphere has to carry the day with the rest of the group. It is a bit embarrassing to bring friends into a brewpub and have a poor experience.

River City is not alone in my recent experience. I had similar types of mediocre brewpub journeys to spots in Morgantown, W.Va., and Syracuse, N.Y., in the last few months. Where is the passion to make great beer and serve it in a friendly and welcoming environment? The investment to get one of these places up and running is huge, but it takes an equally high investment in daily energy and commitment to deliver a great experience for everyone who walks through the door.

It's time for brewpub operators across the country to take a closer look at everything from the cleanliness of their restaurants to the training of their staffs. The failure rate of restaurants is traditionally quite high. With a limited number of brewpubs in most cities, it is important for beer fans that they beat the odds. I'm hopeful that every brewpub -- including River City -- steps it up and meets the challenge.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Group Wants Bud Out of the Super Bowl

When fans tune into tomorrow's Super Bowl match up between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts they will see five minutes of advertising from Anheuser-Busch spread throughout the game. One anti-alcohol group thinks the right amount should be zero.

The Marin Institute, which promotes a neo-prohibitionist agenda, says that Anheuser-Busch is using the game to aggressively target under-age viewers. It is expected that 90 million people will watch the game. The brewer is the largest single sponsor of the championship contest, which is annually one of the best watched television events. The Marin Institute points out that beer industry standards say that ads should only be placed in television programs with audiences that are at least 70 percent adults. The Marin Institute uses a Weekly Reader survey of students after last year's game to make the claim that more than a third of the game's viewers were under 18 years old.

The Marin Institute would like to remove alcohol advertising from nearly all venues. It claims that brewers, wineries and spirits companies use ads to encourage young people to drink. The group claims that underage drinkers spent nearly $50 billion in 2001 on alcohol.

Friday, February 02, 2007

U.S. Will Bypass France as World's Largest Wine Market By the End of this Decade

According to an annual study commission by the VinExpo trade show held in Bordeaux, the United States is poised to become the world's largest wine market.

The study found that American wine consumption would rise to 27.3 million hectoliters in 2010 from 23.0 million last year. At the same time French consumption would drop from 27.4 million to 24.9 million hectoliters.

The world wine market is a $117 billion industry. For the first time ever, Russia and China appear in the study among the top 10 consuming countries.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Got Bilk?

I can hear it now, thousands of Japanese husbands will be telling their wives: "Honest honey, I just had five or six glasses of milk with the boys."

Consumers in the city of Nakashibetsu on the island of Hokkaido can now enjoy an ice cold brew made from cow's milk. A local brewery is working with a farmer who wanted to find a way to use surplus milk. The end result is something they are calling bilk.

The brewery says it is using the same technology employed to make conventional beer, but it heats the wort with hot air instead of a flame because milk boils at a lower temperature. The end product looks like standard beer, but is said to have a slightly fruity taste. It sells for about $3 a bottle.