Beer, Wine and Spirits. Tastings and Travel. News and Events. Classic Flavors from Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Across the Drinks World.

Monday, April 30, 2007

World Beer Festival Provides Laid Back Atmosphere and Some Beer Surprises

The World Beer Festival had another successful run on Saturday in Raleigh. The weather was perfect and sell out crowds got to sample a wide range of great beers in park-like Moore Square. The folks at All About Beer magazine sponsor the event, with Daniel and Julie Bradford playing hosts and festival coordinator Natalie Miller keeping a huge team of volunteers running like a well-oiled machine.

I was among the speakers at the event, running a pair of "Weird Beers of the Festival" sessions -- basically a chance to gather some pretty good beers with some odd ingredients together to twist the tongues of festival attendees. I had the chance to sample a number of interesting beers along the way during two four hour sessions. Here is a round up of 10 of the beers from the Weird Beers tasting, and others I came across in the two beer tents and VIP tent:

Dogfish Head Immort Ale: This Delaware brewer pitches itself as making "Off-centered ales, for off-centered people." This brew appropriately breaks any mold you might try to peg it towards. It is an 11 percent alcohol by volume bonanza of flavor. Peat-smoked barley, with organic juniper berries, vanilla and maple syrup that is aged on oak, fermenting away with the help of English and Belgian yeasts. No absence of flavor here, with an almost Scotch like flourish.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red Cherry Ale: The attendees at my tasting were amazed to hear that every 750 milliliter bottle benefits from a pound of Door County cherries. Aged on oak for a year, this brew is carbonated like champagne and leaves you wanting more. This brew can stand up to any Belgian fruit beer.

Alba Scotts Pine Herbed Ale: This beer from Scotland has hints of pine in the finish and is pretty well balanced. It is copper in color and fairly lowly carbonated. It drinks better than it sounds.

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale: I believe this was my first ever beer from Mississippi. They use 20 pounds of roasted pecans in a 15 barrel batch of this brown ale. The nut flavor is fairly subtle and the beer is lightly hopped, so the malts come through. It is a nice mahogany color.

New Holland Dragon's Milk: This Michigan brew starts its life in reused Bourbon barrels, giving the dark ale a somewhat sweet vanilla tone. This is a rich beer for the end of the evening.

Capital City Fuel: What can you say about a beer that brags about using 10 pounds of Sumatra coffee per batch and delivers an almost iced-coffee experience? This is the most coffee of coffee stouts I've ever tasted. Worth taking a trip to Virginia to give this beer a try.

Atlantic Brewing Mount Desert Island Ginger: This beer benefits from having 15 pounds of crushed ginger steeped in the boiling wort. If you want a beer to match with Asian cuisine or seafood, this would be my recommendation.

Scaldis Prestige: This 13 percent alcohol by volume beer is aged on oak and is cloudy and slightly wine-like in many ways. It has some sour edges and is certainly a beer for sharing.

Dogfish Head Red and White: This is a wit beer that is seasoned with orange peel and coriander and flavored with pinot noir juice, giving it a reddish hue. It weighs in at 10 percent alcohol by volume. This is an interesting combination of flavors that envelops your taste buds. Another hit from Delaware.

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale: The Clipper City brewmasters did a nice job with this 7.25 alcohol by volume brew. Strong upfront hop flavors, amber gold color and wonderful aromas.

Michelob Ultra Rolls Out Fruit Infused Flavors

Anheuser-Busch hopes that warm weather puts people in the mood for fruity light beers. The company is releasing Michelob Ultra Fruit Infused beers.

The new Michelob Ultra brews come in three flavors: Pomegranate Raspberry, Lime Cactus and Tuscan Orange Grapefruit. The 4.2 percent alcohol by volume beers are being treated as summer seasonals and will be available through Labor Day.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pittsburgh Brewing Strikes Deal with Water Authority to Keep Brewing

It takes plenty of water to make beer. In the case of Pittsburgh Brewing, water is an even more important ingredient as the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA) remained the final hold out to approval of the brewery's Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

Late last week the brewery and the utility came to an agreement. The PWSA has said it was owed $2.6 million in unpaid water bills. Pittsburgh Brewing went into bankruptcy in December 2005 when the utility threatened to shut off service. The PWSA has agreed to accept $500,000 to settle its claim.

Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition will also have to pay off a lien of $575,000 in claims accumulated after the Chapter 11 proceedings began. The company expects to receive some government funding to help keep Iron City and other brews flowing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

To Your Health: Study Suggests Red Wine Prevents Symptoms of Aging

Researchers at the University of Granada in Spain believe that a hormone found in red wine might block some aspects of aging in humans.

A bottle of pinot noir might not quite be the fountain of youth, but it could help supplement the amount of melatonin our bodies produce, the study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology said. The scientists say that as we age and pass 30 years old the amount of melatonin produced naturally goes down. Substances in grape skins may help replace the missing amounts.

Melatonin is also found in cherries, bananas, onions, oats, corn and rice. However, while these are also good natural sources of melatonin, none are quite as enjoyable as a good glass of cabernet sauvignon.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Churchill Downs Wagers on Wine Line

They will be running for the roses on May 5th. Churchill Downs hopes fans will be running for the rose, chardonnay and zinfandel.

Churchill Downs is rolling out a trio of new wine labels in time for the 133rd Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs Wines will be offered in three lines, Silks, Twin Spires and Winner's Circle. Each wine is made from California grapes.

The Churchill Downs Wines Collection will be available at restaurants, wine shops and at race tracks around the country.

Score Two for the King of Beers: A-B Wins Budweiser Battles in Hungary and Egypt

Anheuser-Busch Cos. continues to battle with Budejovicky Budvar of the Czech Republic over rights to the Budweiser brand name and won two court battles around the world recently.

The Hungarian Supreme Court has ruled that Budvar cannot be sold as "Bud" in that country, while in Egypt judges found that Budweiser Budvar violated the St. Louis company's trademark.

While neither Hungary or Egypt are huge beer markets, the victories are important to A-B as it fights to protect its Budweiser trademark. These battles are long and costly. The Hungarian case was an appeal by Budejovicky Budvar to a 1998 court decision that found in favor of the American brewery.

A-B holds the trademark for the Bud name in 23 of 27 countries in the European Union.

Washington Rings Up 500th Winery

California is still the undisputed king of the American wine world, but Washington State hit a milestone recently when Sweet Valley Wines in Walla Walla registered as the 500th licensed commercial winery in the state.

Here's a run down of the top United States when it comes to the number of wineries:

1. California -- 2,275
2. Washington -- 500
3. Oregon -- 303
4. New York -- 210

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

See You This Weekend at the World Beer Festival in Raleigh

If you are lucky enough to have tickets for the sold out World Beer Fest in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday please plan to stop by the All About Beer magazine Tasting Tent and say hello.

I will be presenting "Weird Beers of the Fest" at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Other presentations include beer journalist Gregg Glaser taking festival attendees on "A Lightening Tour of Classic Beer Styles" and All About Beer editor Julie Johnson Bradford who will be leading "Pairing Food & Beer."

If you missed out on tickets for the event, mark Oct. 6th in your calendar when the World Beer Festival returns to Durham, N.C. Get your tickets early for that event.

Minneapolis Airport Commission Sets Rules to Suspend Cabbies for Refusing to Pick Up Passengers Carrying Booze

Since 2002, there have been 4,800 cases of travelers refused taxi cab service at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Their crime? Coming back from a vacation or business trip with a bottle of alcohol. Now the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is stepping in to raise the punishment for drivers who refuse to serve customers.

Under the new rules that take effect on May 11th, the MAC will suspend a cab driver's airport taxi license for 30 days the first time the driver refuses service and revokes the license for two years after the second violation.

The problem is that more than 70 percent of the cabbies serving the airport are Somalis and practicing Muslims. They say that Islamic law prohibits them from picking up people who are carrying alcohol.

The penalty under the old rules was for the taxi driver to have to go to the end of the taxi cab line up. The MAC says the tougher penalties are meant to insure that customers receive service and are not stranded at the airport.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Woodford Reserve Turns $1,000 Derby Mint Julep into Fundraiser for Retired Thoroughbred Horses

The Kentucky Derby is about more than horses and wagers won and lost. It's full of tradition and a place for marketers to find both the masses and the well to do. For Brown-Forman it has presented the opportunity to elevate the profile and brand aura around its Woodford Reserve line of Bourbon.

In addition to some special packaging marking the 133rd running of world's most famous horse race on May 5th, a select few Derby attendees will get the chance to purchase a $1,000 Mint Julep. An even more exclusive group will get to toast their favorite past winners in jeweled gold cups now being auctioned by Christie's that honor Triple Crown champions. Eleven of the cups will feature three rubies for Triple Crown winners, and two diamond-studded cups will be offered for Barbaro, last year's winner, and the first Derby champ, Aristides.

The special Juleps are made with Labrot & Graham Distillery's Woodford Reserve, mixed with mint imported from Ireland, ice from the Bavarian Alps and organic sugar from western Australia. The cups are made by New England Sterling, which makes the Kentucky Derby winner's trophy.

The jeweled cups auction began on April 17th and ends on May 1st. Proceeds from the sale support the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which helps retired horses and disabled jockeys. You can get more information on the sale at www.woodfordreservemintjulep.com.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tarpoon Spoon is New A-B Local Florida Brew

Anheuser-Busch is releasing another one of its local beers, this time in Florida. The brewer describes Tarpoon Spoon as an all-malt, Bohemian pilsner.

The new brew will be available on draught in bars and restaurants in Florida. The beer is being brewed at A-B's Jacksonville, Fla., facility. Tarpon Spoon is brewed with two-row malt and Saaz and Tettnanger hops. It weighs in at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Anheuser-­Busch holds a 48.4 percent share of U.S. beer market.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brew Cruise a Highlight of Charlotte Beer Week

Creative Loafing's ambitious attempt to launch Charlotte Beer Week has to be admired. The alternative weekly is behind a series of 21 events being held over the course of eight days. The celebration of all things beer wraps up on April 19th.

Last evening Lyke2Drink was on board a party boat on Lake Norman as part of the Brewers Cruise. There was plenty of great beer from North Carolina breweries, some very tasty imports and the hit of the evening, Brooklyn Local 1. Beer chef Tim Schafer provide food for the evening, and the relaxed atmosphere and near perfect weather conditions made for a great event.

Charlotte Beer Week has included tastings, pub crawls, brewery tours and beer dinners. It is pretty remarkable when you stop and think that North Carolina had little or no beer culture just a few years ago. The successful Pop the Cap movement just in 2005 resulted in a change in state law to the limit on the alcohol content of beer sold in the state, increasing the maximum from 6 to 15 percent. Many of the brews served on the cruise and featured during the other events were not legal in North Carolina just two years ago.

It will be interesting to see how Creative Loafing views the success of various events during Charlotte Beer Week. It would be nice to think that this will become a strong annual event, drawing beer fans from not only Charlotte, but also from across the Southeast.

Minnesota Looks at 10-Cent Drink Tax

Lawmakers in Minnesota hope that adding a 10-cent per drink tax will raise millions that can fund efforts to catch drunk drivers.

State Rep. Karen Clark, sponsor of the bill, says drinkers will hardly notice the new tax if it is passed. Supporters say the tax is similar to new fees being charged on cigarettes and will be put towards trying to curb problem drinkers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: A Bunch of Barleywines

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 Common Market in Charlotte to take part in a barleywine tasting as part of Charlotte Beer Week.

From the outside the Common Market on Commonwealth Ave. in Charlotte looks like the typical small grocery store that has disappeared from many American neighborhoods over the years. Once inside, however, you find a great selection of wines and beers to go along with an interesting array of foods. It was a unique setting for Charlotte Beer Week's barleywine tasting over the weekend. The folks at Common Market gathered a nice selection of 11 barleywines, including a trio of Brooklyn Monsters for a vertical tasting. Barleywine is one of those styles that attracts the curious and delivers a very nice high gravity experience.

My senses were dulled a bit by an allergy attack, but the barleywines cut through to offer some great flavors. Here's a round up of the brews tasted:

Avery Hog Heaven (9.2% abv): Golden color with a nice mellow flavor. Decent hops throughout with slight hints of fruit.

Bigfoot Barleywine (9.6 abv): This is a classic American barley wine. A thick and chewy brew with plenty of hops to go around. Perfect ending to a brisk evening.

Great Divide Old Ruffian (10.2% abv): An off gold color provides a full strong flavor that let's you know there is an alcohol punch. This is a beer that says what it is and delivers.

Heavy Seas Below Decks (11.0% abv): From Clipper City in Baltimore this brew starts off and finishes with plenty of fresh hops. There is a slight touch of tropical fruit in the finish.

John Barleycorn (9.5 percent alcohol by volume): From Mad River Brewing, this beer is a reddish gold color with a tan head. It is nicely hopped and a touch sour. An interesting approach.

Rouge XX Old Crustacean (11.3% abv): Cloudy brown and red, with a full hoppy flavor that you would expect from Rogue. Worth trying.

Mendocino Talon
(10.5%): Tarnished copper color, this is a smooth and well balanced barley wine. It could very easily sneak up on you.

Weyerbach Blithering Idiot (11.1% abv): Light amber color, very nice hop aroma with a slightly tart flavor. This well balanced brew finishes dry. A highlight of any barleywine tasting.

Monster Vertical

Brooklyn Monster 2003: Somewhat cloudy, but still very amber. Still offers up fresh hops, but is overall mellow. The alcohol kick is gone, but that's OK.

Brooklyn Monster 2004: Clear gold color, nice malty flavor against the hops. Alcohol kick is present.

Brooklyn Monster 2006: Golden color, very much like a high gravity IPA based on the hops. Crisp with pronounced hops in the finish.

Monday, April 16, 2007

When is a Pint Not a Pint? CAMRA Attacking Short Pour U.K. Pubs

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is on the offensive against pubs in the United Kingdom that pour pints that are actually less than a pint.

According to a CAMRA report, 26.6 percent of pints served in pubs are under-filled by at least 5 percent. No big deal you say? Well, CAMRA estimates that British drinkers are being shorted to the tune of $957 million a year in ale, lager and cider.

CAMRA is calling on the British government to take action. The watchdog group says that in one case consumers were shorted by 13 percent by a pub.

While CAMRA is pushing for pint integrity in the U.K., beer drinkers in the United States are left to the whims of barkeepers and glass designers. I'd estimate that 98 percent of the pints in the U.S. are short pours. Take the standard "pint" most American bars use. Most are the "Shaker Pint" variety that will hold 14 ounces of liquid if filled to the brim, without a head. That means in most cases you are getting 12-13 ounces of beer, not a true 16 ounce pint. If you are in a place using a sham pilsner for 12 ounce draughts, your pour is more like 10 ounces.

Again you say, no big deal. Really? Look at it this way, the Shaker pint means a bar will save nearly four ounces per "pint." That's like them charging you for a fifth beer on every round of four you buy. I prefer to get the beer I pay for and I'm happy to tip.

Sure, everyone knows what's going on, but instead of calling it Pint Night, they should be forced to call it Three Quarters of a Pint Night. Truth in advertising.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Beer by the Numbers: Facts and Figures Behind the Brewing Scene

According to the Brewers Association, based on 2006 sales here are the Top 50 American Brewing Companies:

1 Anheuser-Busch Inc., St Louis, MO
2 Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
3 Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
4 Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
5 Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
6 D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc., Pottsville, PA
7 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
8 Gambrinus San Antonio, TX
9 New Belgium Brewing Company Inc., Fort Collins, CO
10 High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY
11 Widmer Brothers Brewing Co., Portland, OR
12 Redhook Ale Brewery, Woodinville, WA
13 Pittsburgh Brewing Co., Pittsburgh, PA
14 Pyramid Breweries Inc., Seattle, WA
15 Minhas Craft Brewery, Monroe, WI
16 Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY
17 Deschutes Brewery Inc., Bend, OR
18 Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
19 Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
20 The Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA
21 Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR
22 Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA
23 Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI
24 Magic Hat Brewing Co., South Burlington, VT
25 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
26 Bell's Brewery Inc., Galesburg, MI
27 Summit Brewing Co., Saint Paul, MN
28 August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN
29 Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME
30 Mendocino Brewing Co., Ukiah, CA
31 Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
32 Abita Brewing Co., New Orleans, LA
33 Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, VT
34 The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
35 New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
36 Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
37 Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
38 Stevens Point Brewery Co., Stevens Point, WI
39 Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants, Louisville, CO
40 Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
41 The Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, OH
42 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Lewes, DE
43 Straub Brewery, Saint Mary's, PA
44 The Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA
45 Flying Dog Brewery, Denver, CO
46 Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA
47 Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
48 Mac and Jack's Brewery Inc., Redmond, WA
49 Big Sky Brewing Co., Missoula, MT
50 Otter Creek Brewing, Middlebury, VT

U.S. Breweries Operating in 2006:
50 Regional Craft Breweries
364 Microbreweries
974 Brewpubs
20 Large Breweries
24 Regional Breweries
4 Other Non-Craft Breweries
1,444 Total U.S. Breweries

2006 U.S. Openings:
57 Brewpubs
36 Microbreweries

2006 U.S. Closings:
40 Brewpubs
12 Microbreweries
1 Large Brewery

2006 Overall U.S. Beer Market:
- Up 2.2%
- Approximately $94 billion
- Produced 210,078,000 barrels of beer

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A-B Caters to Colorado with Ascent 54

Anheuser-Busch announced this week it is expanding its regional specialty beer program to include a new brew from its Fort Collins, Colo., brewery: Ascent 54 Dunkel Weisse.

The brew takes its name from the fact that there are 54 peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet. A-B says the dark wheat beer will be sold on draught in Colorado bars and restaurants.

A team of A-B employees from the Fort Collins brewery was responsible for selecting the beer style, recipe and naming the brand. In addition to using two types of German hops, Ascent 54 is made using a Bavarian weisse yeast strain. The brew is 5.5 percent alcohol by volume. The brand joins regional beers already on the market from A-B's breweries in New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri.

A-B's plans to use Ascent 54 to support the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a non-profit organization that maintains and improves hiking trails and educates the public about minimum-impact use of fragile mountain areas, by making a cash donation to the group and supplying beer for the Fiesta for the Peaks fundraiser in May.

V-Twin Vineyards Hope Harley Riders Take Wines for a Spin

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle fans will be in hog heaven with the release of some biker motivated wines from V-Twin Vineyards, based in Sonoma County, Calif.

V-Twin 2004 Zin is the first wine from the virtual winery. The company plans to launch the Easy Rider Wine Club to attract collectors and allow members to post photos of their bikes and stories from the road.

V-Twin plans future releases to include River Run Chardonnay, Poker Run Cabernet, Redwood Run Zinfandel and Toy Run Rose.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The American Brew: Here's to Beer

If you enjoy beer or have an interest in American history, you will want to tune in A&E tonight at 10 p.m. (EDT) to catch the debut of The American Brew.

I got an advance copy of this documentary yesterday from Anheuser-Busch, the company that has been backing the Here's to Beer campaign. I was not sure what to expect, but found myself impressed by the quality of the program and the fact A-B is more than even handed in giving screen time to Miller, Coors, Pabst, Anchor and a host of other breweries. The film is loaded with great interviews and tells the story of beer in America -- from the Mayflower to modern brewpubs.

One of my favorite things about The American Brew is its use of the brewing demonstration at Colonial Williamsburg to illustrate how basic the making of beer is and how important it was to early American life.

Directed by Roger Sherman, the DVD includes 42 minutes of extra material that is very much worth watching. You can buy the DVD on the www.herestobeer.com website for $5.49, plus shipping.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Session #2 Dubbels: Maredsous 8

It is the first Friday of the month, that means it is time for The Session. Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog is hosting this month's edition and has selected the theme: Day of the Dubbels. Given the religious significance of this weekend, chronicling a style created by Belgian monks feels wholly (or is that holy?) appropriate.

Belgian and Belgian-style beers are one of my soft spots. I've been lucky enough to visit the country twice and drink in cafes where the beer selection can leave you as bewildered as, well, several 750-milliliter bottles of dubbel. The best Belgian beers are designed to be savored. Packed with flavor and high in alcohol, it might appear a bit odd that The Session is reviewing dubbels, but the truth is that these are indeed session drinks. You linger over these ales, enjoying a meal, talking sports and politics, or just relaxing in a shaded courtyard. And, at around 8 percent alcohol by volume, dubbels have 50 percent less alcohol than many wines -- with enough flavor to stand up to any Bordeaux.

For my dubbel selection I thought long and hard about the options. I considered going with an American produced dubbel -- Allagash Brewing in Maine and Brewery Ommegang in New York were two obvious choices. I decided that the style deserved a brew directly from Belgium. My choice: Maredsous 8, a dark abbey ale that is refermented in the bottle.

Maredsous pours a dark brown with reddish hints around the edges. A thick tan head remains throughout the time this beer is in the glass. You are immediately struck by a malt sweetness, yet a dry finish. The 8 percent alcohol is clearly present, yet not dominating or distracting. The hops do emerge at times and combine with the yeast to create a pleasant aroma that alerts you that you are drinking a well crafted brew.

I have had the opportunity to try Maredsous 6, 8 and 10, and feel that the dubbel is the best built ale of the trio. It commands your attention and never either bores you or overpowers you. I have enjoyed draught and bottled versions of this beer and find both to be extremely enjoyable. The bottled version is conditioned for two months before it is released and properly cared for will improve for sometime. I think it would stand up to just about any roasted or grilled meat, or would be perfect with a gourmet cheese plate.

Duvel Moortgat in Breendonk has been brewing Maredsous for the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous since 1963. The monks maintain control over the recipes and make sure the ales live up to their quality reputation. It's clear from the beer I enjoyed for The Session that the monks and the folks at Duvel are still paying attention to the details.

You can check out the other dubbels over the next couple of days by following the links posted on A Good Beer Blog.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik

Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik provides a compact history of the relationship between beer, food and the development of the American culture.

From beer's influences during colonial times to modern cooking with beer, Skilnik takes us on a journey that shows that beer is food and beer is history. Published by Jefferson Press ($24.95), this book tells us how beer has fit into the lives of Americans of every generation and includes a range of recipes for just about every skill level.

There are interesting directions on making spruce beer and a discussion of how World War II grain rationing changed the flavor of beer and altered the American palate towards lighter lagers for generations to come.

Skilnik is an alumnus of the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and contributes to the food section of the Chicago Tribune. For anyone interested in why certain foods became associated with beer and how segments of our country's beer and food companies have rebounded from bland to flavorful, Beer & Food is a primer that covers some interesting ground.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Scotch Whisky Exports Hit a Record $4.94 Billion

The world's appetite for Scotch whisky continues to grow. You have to wonder how many hangovers the $4.94 billion in export sales caused during 2006.

The Scotch Whisky Association says 2006 was a record year for sales, with exports increasing by 4 percent. The total beat out the old record set back in 1997.

Blended Scotch accounted for $3.79 billion in exports, with single malts increasing sales by 7 percent. Scotch sales in the United Kingdom declined last year.

Manilow Wine: Will They Serve it at the Copacabana?

Barry Manilow is joining the near legion of celebrities with his own wine label.

The man who made hits out of "Mandy," "Can't Smile Without You" and "I Write the Songs," is releasing the Manilow wine line with five varietals retailing for between $20 to $25 dollars a bottle.

In case you have lost track of the 63-year-old former television commercial jingle writer, Manilow has actually been quite busy lately. He was high in the charts last year with an album of 1950s covers and he has a long running stage show at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Anheuser-Busch Investing $63 Million in New Chinese Brewery

In a move to keep up with international rivals that are investing heavily in China, Anheuser-Busch announced today it will build a new brewery in the city of Foshan, in Guangdong province.

This is the first new brewery Anheuser-Busch has constructed outside of the United States. The $63 million plant will brew Budweiser and Harbin for the southeastern part of China. When it comes on line in late 2008 the brewery will have a 2.2 million barrel capacity.

A-B plans to push its brands in to dozens of new markets in China, where Budweiser has been brewed for 11 years and distributed mainly in the northern part of the country.

Beer consumption in China is up 78 percent since 1997.

Rolling Out the Barrels: Samuel Adams to Rock at Old Latrobe Brewing Location

Boston Beer Co., which has been looking for extra brewing capacity and has been talking about building a brewery in Massachusetts, has signed a deal with City Brewing of Wisconsin to contract brew some Samuel Adams products at the former home of Rolling Rock beer.

City Brewing purchase the former Latrobe Brewing Co. plant in Pennsylvania last year from InBev, which sold the Rolling Rock brand to Anheuser-Busch. It is in the process of a major overhaul of the brewery, with plans to reopen the facility in the next few weeks.

Under the deal, Boston Beer will invest $3 million to $7 million in upgrades to the brewery. Boston Beer is also negotiating a possible partial ownership stake in the facility. The company said it expects Samuel Adams to start rolling off the bottling line at the plant sometime during the second quarter of 2007. The company says it is still considering a plan to build a brewery in Freetown, Mass. The latest cost projections for that brewery range from $190 million to $210 million.

City Brewing says it plans to hire about 250 workers, many of them former Latrobe Brewery employees.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday Tasting: Three Island Brews

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we look at three brews from three different countries sampled during a recent cruise aboard the Regent Navigator.

At each port of call we actually found ourselves on an island. Like a Charles Darwin of beer, I decided to try to find a local beer to see if the natural isolation created by island life had any impact on the indigenous suds.

Key West Golden Ale: Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery lays claim to being the southernmost brewpub in the United States. I decided to try this IPA and found that it was a bright golden color with a medium head. There was a faint hop aroma to the beer that I enjoyed at the bar overlooking a lush courtyard. There was a pleasant hop base to the beer, but not quite as pronounced that many IPA lovers have come to expect from American brewpubs. Overall, this beer was very drinkable and a nice find.

Leon: This beer is not actually made on Cozumel, but Modelo does produce it at a nearby Yucatan brewery. Leon is a dark lager, in a Vienna or Munich Dunkel style. The head on the beer did not last very long in the plastic cup I was given after making a request for a glass, but the beer did not last all that long for that matter. It has a very inviting flavor. Slightly sweet, with a nose that gives off a slight hint of the roasted malt. It is one Mexican beer that should never be consumed with a lime. There is a rich subtle character that would be crushed by the citrus.

Kalik Lager: Produced by the Commonwealth Brewery in the Bahamas, Kalik is a pale golden lager that offers up a small but firm head when poured into a glass. I've had this beer a couple of times in the U.S., but because it is sold in clear glass bottles it is easily damaged by exposure to sunlight. The fresh bottles I enjoyed while having grouper on the porch of a local fish fry hangout just outside the touristy Nassau port area was crisp and fresh. Kalik is not the most flavorful beer you will ever drink, but it fits right in with the warm breeze and island music.

Czech Government to Investigate Budvar and Anheuser-Busch Deal

The Czech Republic says it plans to investigate how Budejovicky Budvar is being managed and look into a number of recent contracts, including the U.S. distribution deal signed with Anheuser-Busch Companies.

Budvar is the last major Czech brewer to still be under government control. The government has discussed selling the brewery to close a budget deficit. Trade Minister Martin Riman says he believe the deal with its American rival lowers the value of the company. Riman had said Budvar could fetch between $932 million and $1.4 billion on the open market.

Budvar and A-B have been fighting in courts for decades over the Budweiser trademark. Earlier this year the two companies announced a surprising deal that has A-B distributing Budvar's brands in the U.S., including Czechvar, the name the brand is sold by in this country.

Monday, April 02, 2007

VINEXPO: Wine's Complex Image Turning Off 20-25 Year Olds

Is wine too difficult to understand? According to a study by the organizers of the VINEXPO trade show and France's BVA the answer is yes when it comes to 20-25 year old drinkers.

The internation study on consumers in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France and Belgium found that progress has been made in the last 10 years, but that wine is still too complex a subject for many entry level age drinkers. Wine is, however, viewed as a trendy drink in several countries, helping to fuel trial by new legal age drinkers.

The study found that 20-25 year olds in each country wanted to have a better understanding of wine and that the group felt wine is a refined, mature drink. Young drinkers felt wine pricing, the difficulty in making choices between so many wine options and a perceived elitism surrounding wine was holding them back from consumer more wine. The group felt it takes a long time to fully understand and appreicate wine.

VINEXPO 2007 will be held June 17-21 in Bordeaux, France, with 2,400 exhibitors from 44 countries.

InBev Hiking Prices of Belgian Brews

InBev, the massive Belgian brewing firm, has hiked prices on its brands brewed in Belgium to make up for a new tax on packaging.

InBev's most popular Belgian brands sold in the United States are Stella Artois and Abbey Leffe. The company plans to increase pricing by 1 percent on bottled and canned products to make up for the new tax. Draught beer is not taxed under the new law, designed to encourage recycling and lower the consumption of natural resources.

InBev had already announced it plans to hike prices on all of its brands by 2.5 percent on July 1 to cover the costs of higher grain, aluminun and energy prices.

Venezuela's Chavez Bans Alcohol Sales Over Easter Holiday

It will be a dry Easter around Caracas and other parts of Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez has imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol starting on Thursday and running through Easter Sunday.

Chavez says the move is designed to reduce the number of alcohol related traffic accidents and crimes over the holiday weekend. In addition to the four-day ban, alcohol sales hours at Venezuelan shops and restaurants were reduced starting last Friday to between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The ban prompted a run on liquor stores across the country as locals stocked up before the holiday Prohibition in enforced.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Weekend Watering Hole: Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery, Key West, Fla.

As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we find ourselves in laid back Key West at the southernmost brewpub in the United States.

Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery
301 Whitehead Street
Key West, Fla. 33040
(305) 293-7897

You can hardly turn a corner in Key West without running into a bar. It's a legendary place where pirates and presidents have hung out. Ernest Hemingway called the island home and it has a counter culture feel with more buildings flying the Conch Republic flag than the Stars and Stripes.

Key West is also the home of Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery, which is owned by actress Kelly McGillis. If you start driving on Route 1 at the Canada-Maine border you will eventually find yourself in Key West. Kelly's is your last chance for a freshly made brew in the United States. I found myself in town recently as the winner of a cruise promotion run by the Harris Teeter grocery store chain.

Kelly's is located just off Duval Street, the main drag in Key West, right next to President Harry S. Truman's Little White House. Kelly's is actual several buildings surrounding a tropical courtyard. One of the buildings is the original home of Pan American Airways, which used to fly from Key West to South America and the Caribbean.

The brewpub had three of its draughts on tap when I visited: Havana Red Ale, Key West Golden Ale and Southern Clipper Wheat Ale. We did not eat, but the menu is highlighted by island fare.

If you find yourself in Key West, Kelly's is good place to escape the "t-shirt shop bars" and Bud Light specials. It is relaxed and laid back, like this part of the world was meant to be.