20120707

Push resumes for KY election-day alcohol sales

From NKY.com

FRANKFORT, KY -- A proposed law would allow Kentuckians to buy alcohol on election day for the first time since at least the 1930s.

State Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, next week will discuss before lawmakers in Frankfort a bill he’s tried to get passed in some form or another for four years to make alcohol sales legal on election day.

Kentucky is one of only two states that still bans alcohol on election days, with South Carolina being the other, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). The laws trace back to the early 20th Century when saloons also served as polling places. ...

The state doesn’t need to worry as much about people buying votes with liquor but does need to worry about the loss of both tax revenue for the state and business revenue for restaurants and liquor stores, said Simpson. "Most jurisdictions have done away with this prohibition. We need every dollar in taxes we can generate and permit businesses to work.”

The Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control does spot checks on the primary and general election days to ensure businesses are compliant, said spokesman Nathan Jones. The state law bans alcohol sales on the days of the primary and general elections when the polls are open. It also requires businesses to keep alcohol under lock and key. ...

Simpson will speak before the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations on Friday, July 13 ... .

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The bill has died in committee each of the previous four sessions.

20120619

MA partners making beer-based whiskies

Berkshire's spirits line.
Two Massachusetts adult beverage makers are teaming up to create a pair of craft beer-based whiskies.

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Inc., located in Great Barrington, and the Boston Beer Company, brewer of Samuel Adams, on Monday announced their collaboration in a multi-year project.

The two brews -- Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Samuel Adams Cinder Bock -- will be triple distilled in Great Barrington, then barrel-aged in wood. The collaboraters said because whiskey aging is a very complex and multi-faceted process it is difficult to pinpoint an exact release date. The projected timeline is for 2015.

Representatives of both companies tasted several beer styles and their distilled products from trial distillations before deciding which Samuel Adams brews to use. The two brews have markedly different taste profiles. The hopes are to create two whiskies just as different from each other.

"There are many parallels between making spirits and brewing beer," said Jim Koch, founder of Boston Brewing. "Marrying the two not only makes sense, but will also produce a drink that beer- and spirits-lovers alike can enjoy."

Berkshire Mountain Distillers was created in 2007. It produces Greylock Gin, Ethereal Gins, Ragged Mountain Rum, Ice Glen Vodka, Berkshire Bourbon and New England Corn Whiskey in the Berkshires' first legal distillery since Prohibition.

The Boston Beer Company was founded in 1984 and has become an iconic craft brewing brand. It brews more than 50 styles of beer.

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20120609

Drinking scene rejiggered in Kansas

TOPEKA, KS -- The Jayhawk State's drinking scene is in the midst of major changes.

Under a bill signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback, changes effective July 1 include:

• Liquor stores will be allowed to offer free wine, beer and liquor tastings as of Sunday, July 1.

• Dinner railway cars can obtain a liquor license. State Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, said the measure was aimed at luring a Nebraska dinner train business to operate between Baldwin City and Ottawa.

• Drinking establishments may offer "happy hour” specials. Previously, could offer special drink prices, but those charges had to last all day.

• Micro-distilleries will be allowed to to sell and serve their products on their premises.

Another provision of the law, that went into effect on May 31, allows visitors at wine tasting festivals to taste samples and buy bottles of those same wines at the event. Previously, wine tasting visitors had to go to the individual wineries to purchase those same wines.

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20120404

BeerTender means draft beer at home

Local temperatures may still be bouncing around erratically, but the calendar says it's spring and we're nearing the outdoor dining season.

Going outside, however, doesn't mean you have to give up cold draft beer or settle for purchasing a half-keg or keg. Take this item from Krups, better known for its coffee making equipment.

The Krups BeerTender keeps beer at 37.4°F, an optimal drinking temperature in the minds of most people. The appliance is designed for indoor use, but the drafts can quickly be delivered outside.

The BeerTender is compatible with Heineken, Heineken Premium Light and Newcastle Brown Ale. It features an LED temperature indicator, and keeps the beer for up to 30 days after tapping. It also has a removable tap, a nice security feature to prevent underage would-be drinkers from sneaking a glass.

A package, priced at $149.99, includes the BeerTender, a large stainless steel drip tray and five draught tubes. It's available online or at major stores' appliance departments, such as Macy's. 

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20120320

Table-top beer taps a growing trend

One of several types of table taps.
From Nation's Restaurant News

Personal beer taps installed at restaurant tables not only brew up excitement for guests, but they also are helping boost beer tabs, operators say.

In addition, the pay-per-ounce dispensers encourage guests to linger longer rather than bar-hop, while allowing managers to monitor guests’ drinking and remain compliant with liquor laws.

Rob McGovern, general manager of Park Avenue Tavern in New York, said the restaurant’s six booths equipped with table taps make the operation’s lower level a popular private-party space and after-work spot.

“People really like the novelty,” he said. “They’re pretty wide-eyed when they see it.”
... Much of the activity in pay-per-ounce alcohol technology centers on on-table beer taps at casual restaurants. 
According to advocacy group The Beer Institute, beer sales at restaurants rose 9% in 2011 to $23.6 billion, accounting for about 24% of total beer sales in the United States.

At Park Avenue Tavern, the 50-cents-per-ounce price gives the restaurant a premium -- a pint of beer suddenly costs $8 -- and helps cut down on waste, McGovern said.

[Go here for the full article.]

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20120309

Tempers flare over Genesee Brewing project

• From democratandchronicle.com

ROCHESTER -- A group of Genesee Brewing Co. executives, labor leaders and city officials stood in November inside a partly boarded-up industrial building, saying that by April it would be home to a $2.6 million combination microbrewery, restaurant, visitor center and gift shop.

That scuffed building remains in the same state four months later. And Genesee’s owner, North American Breweries, is saying it may pull the plug on its plans.

" 'Threatening' is not the right word," North American Breweries CEO Rich Lozyniak said Thursday during a news conference, a day after Rochester’s Preservation Board voted to nominate 13 Cataract St. for landmark designation. North American’s brewery plans include demolition of 13 Cataract.

"We want to do this really badly," Lozyniak said, "but if we’re going to spend the next year in court, two years in court, we have much better opportunities within our company to invest."

The Preservation Board decision was made without discussion. But afterward, the board said the century-old Cataract building fits the criteria for landmark consideration.

[Complete story here.]

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Coor to try iced non-tea in UK

We're several centuries away from dependence on Great Britain, but that doesn't mean we don't look to them for guidance in some things. At least, Denver-based Molson Coors is.

The brewing company is about to introduce an iced tea-flavored beer to the Brit market to see it it meets consumer acceptance before trying it in the United States.

It's a daring move, but a necessary one since the company's UK sales have been in a three-year decline.

Coors Light Iced T, according to the UK business publication Daily Finance, will sold in aluminum cans similar to conventional Coors Light. It will have an alcohol content of about 4%. It will contain no caffeine and thus, no actual tea, just tea flavor. Given UK history, that seems like sacrilege of some sort.

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20120308

Changes for Farm Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo may not be the poster boy for grocery stores that would like to be able to sell wine, something he has dismissed out of hand, but he may have won some friends among the state's craft brewers, winemakers and distillers.

Cuomo today proposed legislation that would create a "Farm Brewery" license. It would allow craft brewers who use products grown in the state to operate in a similar fashion to the state's wineries which have flourished under the 1976 Farm Winery Bill, leading to increased demand for locally-grown farm products as well as expanded economic development and tourism.

He also proposed legislation to exempt Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries from the current costly tax filing requirement.

"These bills provide a boost for breweries, farmers, wineries, and communities across New York State," Cuomo said. "This legislation will give our state's growing craft beer industry the tools needed to create jobs, promote agriculture, and encourage environmentally friendly economic development across New York State."

His bill to promote the economic growth of the craft brewery industry includes:

Increasing Retail Outlets for New York Products: The legislation would allow Farm Breweries to sell New York State-labeled wine at their retail outlets. In addition, Farm Wineries would be permitted to sell New York State-labeled beer for off-premises consumption.

Allowing Farm Breweries to Open Restaurants: The legislation would allow Farm Breweries to obtain licenses to operate restaurants, conference centers, inns, bed and breakfasts or hotels on or adjacent to the farm brewery.

Increasing Tastings: The legislation would allow both Farm Breweries and Farm Wineries to conduct tastings of New York State-produced beer and wine at their premises.

Selling Related Products: The legislation would allow Farm Breweries to sell beer making equipment and supplies, food complementing beer and wine, souvenir items, and additional products similar to those allowed under the Farm Winery statute.

To hold a Farm Brewery license, a producer's beer must be made primarily from locally-grown farm products. Until the end of 2017, at least 20% of the hops and 40% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in the state. From January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2022, no less than 60% of the hops and 75% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in the state. After January 1, 2023, no less than 90% of the hops and 90% of all other ingredients must be grown or produced in the state.

The beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated a "New York State labeled beer." The legislation is modeled after the 1976 "Farm Winery Act," which spurred the growth of wine production in the state, including the creation of 237 farm wineries and tripling the number of wineries, which in total now have hit the 316 mark.

Also today, the governor proposed exemptions for Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries from a costly and burdensome tax filing requirement. Currently, all beer, wine, and liquor wholesalers in the state are required to report sales made to restaurants, bars, and other retailers. However, because Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries are small, often family-owned operations, they have struggled to afford the costs of complying with this annual reporting.

According to the Governor's Office, "The burden imposed on them by this filing requirement outweighs the benefit received by the State Tax Department, as purchases from Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries account for a very small percentage of the state's total beer and wine sales. These businesses are already required by law to maintain sales records which the Tax Department may obtain upon request, making the additional mandatory filing requirement not necessary."

Here is some of the pertinent reactions to the proposals:

• Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president: "We've seen tremendous growth opportunities for our farmers from alcoholic beverage license categories that are specifically linked to locally produced farm goods – from the growth of farm wineries to the relatively recent trend of farm distilleries. This is an opportunity for local farmers to bring New York back to being the premier hops growing state that we once were, creating added value markets and new jobs in our State."

• Dennis Rosen, State Liquor Authority chairman: "This legislation will provide a significant benefit to local farmers, by helping to create a sustained demand for their products. Ultimately, by providing incentives for farm breweries to expand, these businesses will become, much like farm wineries, destination locations that will promote economic development and tourism within their communities. This bill will boost agriculture and breweries, as well as create jobs and increased economic development across New York."

• Darrel Aubertine, Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioner: "This bill will exempt Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries from burdensome tax filing requirements that have hurt small business here in New York. Our Farm wineries and Farm distilleries are small, often family owned operations, and they have struggled to afford the costs of complying with this annual reporting. Governor Cuomo has made opening New York State to business a top priority of his administration, and this bill will help cut burdensome costs that have been imposed on small farm wineries and distilleries. New York's craft brewery and farm winery industry is an important part of our economy, supporting jobs and tourism across the state, and I look forward to working together to make sure this legislation becomes law."

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20120220

What do these beers have in common?



They are part of the lineup Esquire magazine has designated the "Healthiest Beer to Drink." Go here for the details.

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20120119

NY seeking a comeback for hops growers

ALBANY, NY -- A bill to help resuscitate the hops growing industry in New York has passed an important step in committee.

S.5078, a bill sponsored by State Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida), on Wednesday made it through the New York State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business.

The bill requires that a large percentage of the hops and other ingredients used to brew beer at a farm brewery be purchased within the state. At one time, that was a given practice since in the late 19th Century abut 90% of the nation's supply of domestic hops was grown in New York. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further review. A companion bill is carried by Agriculture Committee Chairman Bill Magee in the State Assembly.

A sharp increase in recent years in the number of small breweries in New York, with even more in the process of development n such places as Saratoga and Schoharie counties, has given rise to a call for more locally-grown hops. A tangible piece of evidence of that demand came when the Northeast Hop Alliance held its convention and seminar in Troy,NY, back in November.

According to the New York Farm Bureau, the agriculture and beer industries in New York already are major job creating engines, contributing more than $4.7 and $1.2 billion into our economy each year, respectively.

“This bill represents a true win-win,” said Julie Suarez, director of public policy for New York Farm Bureau. “The licensing provisions will allow a farm brewer to bottle and sell their products on or off premises and in the wholesale or retail markets. This opens up new and exciting opportunities for farmers to enter the craft beer business and to increase farm related tourism. At the same time, the provisions that require farm brewers to use an escalating percentage of locally grown hops, will stimulate new opportunities for growers. Hop barns once dotted New York’s landscape, and if this bill is enacted, they will again.”

"This legislation is a real victory for the agricultural community and small businesses. In addition to providing new opportunities for farmers through increasing demand for local products used in beer production, it will stimulate agri-tourism much like we’ve seen with farm wineries in New York, and has the potential to create new jobs," said Valesky, the Senate sponsor.

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Fueling up has new meaning at Sunoco

Sunoco is in the process of expanding its "Craft Beer Exchange" program at its APlus convenience stores across the state.

I first reported on the program last summer back when it began as a pilot program in the Buffalo market. (Details here.) Now, it has been expanded to the Albany, Syracuse and Rochester markets.

It offers a rotating selection of up to 12 craft beers available to-go in 64-ounce growlers. Customers also can create their own six-packs from a range of 12-ounce single bottles for $9.99. Selections change seasonally and include beers from such microbreweries as Long Trail, Ithaca, Victory, Flying Bison, Troegs, Red Hook, Smuttynose and Brooklyn.

A complete tap list for all the 50 or so locations across the state is available online.

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20111231

Happy birthday, dear Guinness ...

Arthur Guinness
Pssst. See that guy over there on the right? He's responsible for the Irish government's major income stream, something more important than ever now that the economic chaos that has roiled around the world has hit Ireland a rollicking good thwack.

Today is the 252nd anniversary of the founding of the iconic Guinness Brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin by that fella, a man by the name of Arthur Guinness. At one time, it was the largest brewery in the world.

Guinness Brewery
(Travelpod photo)
Guinness leased the property for a term of up to 9,000 (no kidding) years at an annual rent of £45 per year. That means the lease will come up for renewal in the year 10759 A.D.

The adjacent Guinness Storehouse is Dublin's No. 1 tourist attraction. The converted brewing factory is a seven-story Guinness museum, the topmost of which is home to the Gravity Bar, where visitors can get a free pint of "the black stuff," as the dark Guinness stout is known.

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20111230

Even in death, Grandpa was a good host

A drawing of St. Ansegisel
I've been researching and writing my family history off and on for several decades. As more and records, documents, church archives and the like are put online, it has become less tedious to reach back many generations to see my roots.

I recently discovered that one Saint Ansegisel, the Bishop of Metz, France, was my 30th great grandfather on my mother's side of the family tree. He lived from 582 to 641 A.D. He also was known as Arnulf, or Arnold in English.

He earned a mention in this column because of one of the legends/miracles attributed to him, "The Legend of the Beer Mug." The story goes that on an extremely hot day in July 642, after Arnold died at the Abbey of Remiremont where he moved after his retirement, the parishioners from Metz showed up to claim his remains.

"They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable," says the story. "At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave ... one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed, 'By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.' Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims' thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz."

And, that's why he became a patron saint of brewers. Not a bad miracle to have in the family archives.

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20111227

Study: Draw one, mix one for health

We've been trying to keep up with the regular stream of studies suggesting wine has all sorts of magical, mystical medicinal properties that will lead to better health, longer life, etc. Now, brews and spirits are getting some extra support.

A two-decade study published in the January issue of The Journal of Studies On Alcohol and Drugs reports on connections between the moderate consumption of all types of alcohol and increased longevity.

It also supports the findings of prior studies that wine has more beneficial effects than any other alcoholic drinks. However, in a twist that always seems to pop up in any study, researchers said that may because the people who choose wine tend to be more naturally healthy anyway. Go figure.

The study of 802 men and women ages 55 to 65. Of that number, 281 "low wine drinkers" consumed less than one-third of their alcohol intake from wine, 176 "high wine drinkers" consumed two-thirds or more as wine, and 345 abstainers. The drinkers had one to two drinks per day, and researchers followed them for 20 years.

Among the findings: Wine drinkers lived longer than abstainers, and high-wine drinkers lived longer than low-wine drinkers.

Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas and lead author of the article, said there may be benefits for older moderate drinkers no matter what kind of alcohol they consume. But, he cautioned, "The study does not encourage initiating wine consumption as a pathway to better health."

Ya gotta love those disclaimers.

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20111216

Barrel-aged beers gaining in Canada

From the Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL, Canada -- On the short list of things that get better with age, beer is not generally included. But with all the talk of oak-aging, vintages and grand crus in the brewery scene these days, it’s starting to sound a lot like wine or whisky. Beer that’s designed to be aged -- whether for months in bourbon barrels or for years in the bottle -- is in high demand this holiday season.

With the rise of the craft movement, sophistication among beer consumers has been growing, and with it the market for artisanal production. In the last few years, brewers around the world have begun taking a page from history, and experimenting with premium products aged in barrels.

Examples range from Innis & Gunn in Scotland, which uses Highland scotch, rum and Irish whiskey casks for its line, to Belgium’s formidable Cantillon brewery, which produces a rare and traditional oak-aged lambic called Bruocsella Grand Cru, to Sam Adams, the Boston-based label, which launched its Barrel Room collection a couple of years ago. With its active microbrewery scene, Quebec is right in the thick of things, reaping awards for innovative beers that make use of barrels that once contained Kentucky bourbon, white wine and apple brandy.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20111215

Some funny beer commercials



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Schumer pushes 'I Love NY Brew' campaign

Schumer at Brown's Brewing in Troy in February.
(Archival photo)
Earlier this year, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer toured a series of Upstate New York breweries to display his support of the industry. On Wednesday, he took the lead role in announcing creation of his “I Love NY Brew” campaign.

The campaign was created, says Schumer, to place more locally-brewed beer in restaurants, bars and store shelves around the state.

In a letter to the National Association of Convenience Stores and Fuel Retailing and to the New York State Restaurant Association, Schumer urged both associations to offer more beer brewed at the 77 micro-breweries, regional craft breweries, and brewpubs across the state that supports what the senator says is "nearly 60,000 New York jobs."

“Craft breweries have catapulted New York to the top shelf of beer states," the statement said, "and our beers are more than ready for prime time. Whether you are searching for a six-pack at your local 7-Eleven or grabbing Buffalo wings with a beer after work, you should have a wide assortment of locally brewed beers to choose from. I’m strongly urging New York restaurants, bars and convenience stores alike across the state to take a close look at New York’s beers, and consider putting them on their shelves or on their menu. It would be a win-win, both for those selling the beer, and for the breweries making it.”

David Katleski, president of the New York State Brewers Association, chimed in, noting, “The growth of the craft brewing industry in New York State is tremendous. Continued growth will greatly contribute to the number of jobs, tax dollars, and economic benefit to New York. Of all the beer sold in New York State, New York craft beer currently represents a 7.5% market share. One can only imagine the economic impact to our state if craft beer sales here reflected that of craft beer sales in Oregon, where they’re 30%.”

Schumer is asking the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) to encourage member restaurants to offer locally-brewed beer on their menu. In addition to getting more beers into restaurants close to where it is brewed, Schumer will be pushing the New York City members of the NYSRA to consider offering beers brewed across Upstate New York and Long Island. While some beers like Genesee and Saranac have gained popularity in the downstate market, Schumer and New York brewers believe this market is vastly underutilized and represents the chance to dramatically grow craft brewing across the state.

Here is Schumer’s breakdown of local brewing businesses and their production levels by region:

• In the Capital Region, six breweries brewed 4,922 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open two new breweries.

• In Central New York, six breweries brewed 287,883 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open three new breweries.

• In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, four breweries brewed 511,063 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open three new breweries.

• In the Southern Tier, 11 breweries brewed 42,279 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open seven new breweries.

• In Western New York, four breweries brewed 31,349 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open two new breweries.

• In the Hudson Valley, seven breweries brewed 11,895 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open seven new breweries.

• In the North Country, five breweries brewed 8,728 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open at least one new brewery.

• In the New York City, five breweries brewed 132,073 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open nine new breweries.

• On Long Island, 10 breweries brewed 54,122 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open five new breweries.

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20111210

Smuttynose Brewery expanding in NH

• From seacoastonline.com

HAMPTON, NH -- The moving of an old farmhouse this week on a 14-acre property on Towle Farm Road signaled the official start to the construction of a new $16 million Smuttynose Brewery and restaurant.

Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston said the farmhouse is being moved 40 yards east to make room for the new 42,000-square-foot brewing facility. Building will begin in spring 2012.

"We will be jumping into this full force in the spring time, and we hope to be moving into a new brewery by the summer of 2013," Egelston said. "What we are doing now is getting a little bit of a head start before the winter sets in, as we all know it will."

Crews are working this week to jack up the farmhouse, raise it from its foundation and roll it to its new location.

[Go here for the full story and photos.]

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20111121

Texas brewmaster headed back to PA

Jaime Jurado  
(William M. Dowd photo)
JENKINS TOWNSHIP, PA -- Jaime Jurado is headed back to Pennsylvania.

Jurado, who had been the master brewer at the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre from 1985-91, is joining the startup Susquehanna Brewing Company, located at 635 South Main Street in this community northeast of Wilkes-Barre.

The site is the former warehouse of United Beverage, the wholesale beer distributor.

Since his Wilkes-Barre days, Jurado has developed a reputation as one of the nation's top brewmasters while he plied his trade in San Antonio, TX, where I first met him, with the Gambrinus Company. (See "Beer Dinner in the Texas Hill Country.")

Jurado has been director of brewing operations at Gambrinus since 1997. His new gig becomes official on January 1, 2012, as operations manager and master brewer.

Gambrinus is the sixth-largest beer company in the nation. Its portfolio includes the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX, the Bridgeport Brewing Company in Portland, OR, and Trumer Brauerei of Berkeley, CA.

The new Susquehanna brewery was founded by Ed Maier, great-great-grandson of Pennsylvania brewing icon Charles Stegmaier, son Fred Maier and partner Mark Nobile. Their initial investment in the craft brewery will be $8 million to $10 million, they said. The German firm BraKon GmbH is the designer and builder of the brewhouse. Plans are to produce four or five year-round beer brands as well as seasonal beers.

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20111120

Resurgent Genesee eyes restaurant next

A vintage print ad.
ROCHESTER, NY -- The Genesee Brewing Company has a long and storied history. It also has received a $20 million investment in upgrades over the past two years by its comparatively new owner, North American Breweries.

So, what next? How about a place to dine?

The company, established in 1878, has decided to convert one unused building on its manufacturing to a two-story bar/restaurant and visitors center to be called the Genesee Brew House.

The $2.6 million project would also see demolition of a cluster of two other unused buildings at the St. Paul Street site, according to a report from WHEC-TV.

Rich Lozyniak, CEO of North American Breweries, said that while North American has invested heavily in the once-struggling brewery, that spending has largely been on efficiency and product quality upgrades and the Genesee Brew House project would be the first "serious investment in connection with our consumers."

Under North American, Genesee has returned to its roots with its iconic “glass can,” the stubby bottle it made famous decades ago.

It recently released the Genesee Heritage Collection, a limited-edition pack featuring Genesee Beer, Genesee Cream Ale and 12 Horse Ale. The latter is the brewery’s most requested legacy beer. It was first brewed in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition. It has not been brewed for years.

“We’re seeing all generations responding to the nostalgia and tradition,” said Janine Schoos, brand manager. “Genesee is taking off all over the country. We hope to be where we were back in the ‘80s when we were synonymous with good times and great American traditions.”

Genesee Cream Ale, also in the Heritage Collection, was first brewed in 1960 and has won numerous awards, including two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. All three beers in the Heritage Collection are embossed with a signature letter “G” for Genesee, and adorned with classic labels reminiscent of the packaging used at the height of the beers’ popularity.

The Genesee family of beers has the highest growth rate among the Top 10 selling brand families in its category between 2010 and 2011.

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20111119

Insider research: Spirits are kicking beer's butt

Frank Coleman, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), passed along this article from Beer Business Daily -- and, given his affiliation, who could blame him?

Spirits Taking Us for a Ride More Than You Think

"Wine and particularly spirits have been kicking our tails. And they have done it by a systematic strategy of increasing its availability in accounts, by investing much more as a percentage of revenue than beer has in its marketing, in growing all of their price segments, in consistently and constantly coming out with new flavors, brands, and packages, and in creating a cocktail culture that appeals to a very broad base.

"That was the intuitive findings of Heineken USA (HUSA) chief Dolf van den Brink at the California Beer and Beverage Distributors annual convention yesterday.

"Dolf had sobering news for beer guys: Through HUSA's proprietary internal research, which he was good enough to share, he showed that we as an industry simply haven't kept up with wine and spirits, particularly when it comes to young Millenials, ethnics, and women. And until we rectify this disparity, it will be difficult to get beer growing no matter what the economy is doing.

"First, Dolf showed that wine and spirits' growth has come almost entirely through getting new drinkers entering the market at the 21-29 age. Over the last seven years, spirits has gained 4.1% of consumer penetration points in the 21-29 age group, coming ominously close to beer's penetration. But the really scary metric is the 2001-2011 percent change in the preferred drink:

"For Millenials, beer is down 14% and spirits is up 13%. In other words, spirits have picked up nearly all of beer's slack. It's a direct trade off.

"Beer lost drinkers in all other age groups to spirits and wine as well, but it was most pronounced in young people. Since in the past young people drink beer and then switch to wine and spirits as they get older, this doesn't bode well, since they are already starting with cocktails. And don't get me started with African Americans. Beer penetration has lost 15 points of penetration while spirits has gained 15%.

"In the general market, beer has lost 8 points while spirits has gained 6. As for gender, beer has lost 13 points for males while spirits has gained 9, and with females spirits has gained 4 points while beer has lost 4 points. This metric, as Dolf said, is very indicative of  "intent to purchase" and so is very distressing to see.

"Across occasions, beer is now only the preferred drink in one occasion: pub/dining with food. In all other occasions, wine or spirits is the preferred drink. What's the world coming to?"

There's a lot more, but you get the idea.

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20111111

Tweeting office beer machine a hit

Ordering a beer from Arnie.
BOSTON -- The advertising agency Arnold Worldwide has an employee perk a lot of people would like to have in their workplace.

It's called Barnold, an in-house bar where employees can socialize and share ideas.

Recently, several employees decided to build on that idea by creating a beer vending machine stocked with agency-brewed and -themed beers that staffers 21 and older can access with a swipe of their key fobs.

They call the machine Arnie, and have given him a touchscreen interface, temperature awareness and a Soundtube speaker.

Arnie also talks, addressing the user by name recognized when the key fob swipe is made. Arnie's touchscreen also handles Twitter communication -- Arnie can tweet you -- and data such as how much beer was consumed each day of the week.

In addition, there’s an "Alepedia" that provides information about six different beers the agency has created, including Arnold Pilsner. According to a spokesperson, the agency "also has experimented with a variety of ale styles, and will be able to brew beer styles specific to seasons, events, people and even clients."

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20111103

NE Hop Alliance gathering in Troy

Tending hop vines.
 TROY, NY -- Things will be hopping at Brown’s Brewing Company this Saturday. That is when members of the Northeast Hop Alliance (NeHA) will gather for their annual meeting and fall conference in Revolution Hall.

The conference, which will begin with a "Hoppy Hour," is for current and prospective hop growers. It  will focus on re-establishing commercial specialty hops production in New York State and other parts of the Northeast. according to Gregg Stacy, Brown's director of marketing and sales.

Topics will include planting, growing and harvesting as well as financial and scientific resources to support growers and local craft brewers like Brown’s who grow some of their own hops.

NeHA’s overall mission is to enhance the cultural heritage of hop production through education, agritourism, and architectural preservation.

Speakers include hop researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oregon State University, the University of Vermont Extension, and Cornell Co-op Extension as well as hop growers and craft brewers interested in expanding the use of locally-grown hops.

Western New York was the largest hop producing region in the world until the early 1900s when a mold and aphid blight destroyed the crop and hop growing. Growing in the U.S. moved to the Pacific Northwest thereafter. NeHA is dedicated to the rebirth of this profitable agricultural segment that thrived in this area for nearly 150 years.

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20111020

Worst NFL beer price: Redskins' FedEx Field

Save On Brew logo.
Prices on most things always go up, but at National Football League stadiums this season, the hike hasn't been too bad.

SaveOnBrew.Com has just released its 2011 beer price findings for all 31 NFL stadiums. The average increase across all teams was just 4%. However, as the website notes, when prices start at $5 for a 16-ounce serving, any increase hurts.

Here's the rest of the report:

"The lowest price to grab a cup of suds was at a Cleveland Browns home game ($5) while the stadium that commands the most expensive brew was Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams, at $9 per 20-ounce serving.

"It's not all bad news, though. Three stadiums actually serve beer for less this year than last. You'll save a few pennies while watching an Atlanta, Kansas City, and Oakland home game.

"While nine bucks per 20-ounce serving in St. Louis is pretty shocking (that works out to 45 cents per ounce), it's not the worst deal in the league. That badge falls squarely on the wide shoulders of FedEx Field, home of the the Washington Redskins, who serve 12 ounces for $7. That's 58 cents per ounce.

"To put that in perspective, at 58 cents per ounce, a six pack would set you back $42."

Here's the chart.


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20111015

Chowder fest conjures images of ... beer

THE RUBBLE OF A CHOWDER COMPETITION.
(Photo by William M. Dowd)
TROY, NY -- After sampling two dozen different entries as a judge in the 6th annual Troy Chowder Fest competition this afternoon, my thoughts turned to beverages. Only natural, considering food and drink are my mainstay topics.

But, what does one imbibe with such a wide variety of creations -- from classic New England clam chowders to such exotica as Guinness scented hickory smoked corn and ancho chilis chowder, jerk chicken, autumn pear and smoked Reuben chowders, varieties that drew several thousand people to the riverside event behind Brown's Brewing despite overcast, rainy skies?

Beer, of course, and that thought comes to mind not only because we were doing the judging inside the brewpub's Revolution Hall event space. Yes, a bold pinot noir, or a tangy malbec or even a citrus-tinged seyval blanc might work if you insist on wine. But, only beer has the tasty edge, the cleansing carbonation to cut through all the creams and hot peppers and mixed spices the chefs used to concoct their chowders. Even if you're not a regular beer drinker -- which seems to be a growing number of the population, according to all sales statistics -- beer will do the trick.

There may be something to the theory that because beer was the drink of the common man and chowder originated as a meal cooked by the lower economic classes, our DNA's palate is hard-wired to pair the two.

Fish chowders were the ancestors of clam chowder. Some of the chowders I sampled today were topped with a bit of puff pastry or a crisp crouton, mimicking the practice of our early settlers who usually broke ship's biscuits into their seafood chowders to help thicken them.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the very word "chowder" can be traced to fishing villages along the coast of France, as well as in southwestern England and Brittany which flank the English Channel. It was the practice in the 16th and 17th centuries to have a large cauldron -- a "chaudiere" -- ready to cook some of the catch when the fishing boats returned to port and celebrations ensued.

There may have been some in the festival crowd here today who were there to escape financial worries for a few hours, but they no doubt were in the minority. That is very unlike the populace of such places as Brighton, England, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chowder-centric revelry probably was helpful in letting the locals forget for the moment the miserable economic and hygiene conditions in which many of them lived. Writing in 1860 in "Brighton As It Is," one J.G. Bishop described the hardscrabble fishing village this way:

"The houses of the poor in Brighton, which are situated in narrow streets and courts, are for the most part ill-ventilated, badly drained, if at all. The numbers which are huddled together in them render decency and decorum next to impossible. Many of them being built with inferior bricks and mortar made of sea-sand are wretchedly damp so that even the walls are covered with lichens, and the miserable tenants, unable to endure the depression of spirits which is the necessary result, try to drown their uneasy sensations in the neighbouring beer shops."

So, count your blessings, cook your chowder and chill your beer. All in all, I’m sure we’d rather be here than in Brighton.

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20111003

Brewing loopholes remain a taxing topic

From The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Plenty of lawmakers are against tax breaks and so-called loopholes. Unless, of course, they personally helped create them. ...

Senator John Kerry, D-MA, says he ... wants to eliminate such breaks, except when it comes to beer. He is one of the main supporters of a proposal that would cut taxes for small beer makers like the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston.

And Representative Paul D. Ryan, R-WI, who leads the House Budget Committee, has privately assured one beer industry group that he would support a second proposed tax break for brewers, even as he has distanced himself publicly from the measure, the beer group’s chief operating officer said in an interview.

The disconnect between the lawmakers’ words and deeds reflects the political hurdles that Congress and the White House face as they look to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the national debt.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20110915

Spike TV renews 'Bar Rescue' series

Consultant Jon Taffer
Gordon Ramsey had a great idea for "reality" programming when he came up with "Kitchen Nightmares." Take a failing restaurant business, give it a good shake, and, in most instances, make it a success.

The trouble is, Gordon Ramsey. The volatile, foul-mouthed celebrity chef relies too much on screams, insults, put-downs and manufactured drama to push his show along. Luckily, there is an alternative: "Restaurant Impossible," hosted by a pumped-up Brit named Robert Irvine.

While he is forceful with the owners and staff of the failing restaurants, he is rarely demeaning to them, and never foul mouthed. He's much more entertaining, his show more realistic -- except for the cliche of made-up pressure concerning deadlines -- and you don't feel as if you need a shower when you're finished watching an episode.

Now, along comes Jon Taffer with "Bar Rescue." The show, which has just been picked up by Spike TV for a 10-episode second season, started off well for a cable show and has steadily gained audience. Last Sunday, against televised NFL competition, it drew 1.3 million viewers, nearly doubling the July 17 premiere viewership of 742,000.

"Bar Rescue" is a bit of a misnomer. What Taffer, a noted New York hospitality industry guru, deals with is full-service eating-and-drinking establishments. And, his shows deal with the food as well as the drinks, along with service, decor and marketing. His on-camera persona is alternately gruff, encouraging, teaching and, ultimately, decisive. Another altogether satisfactory alternative to Ramsay.

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20110914

UK distiller, brewer make a new drink

NORFOLK, England -- Those frugal folks at St. George's Distillery, home of The English Whisky Co., are putting some used material to good use.

They've teamed up with St. Peters's Brewery to create The Saints Whisky Beer, made using the same peated malt that is used at the distillery.

Once the beer is fermented, a portion of Chapter 9 Whisky is added to it, resulting in a peated beer with smoky overtones.

Andrew Nelstrop, managing director of the English Whisky Co., the first English distillery in the country for more than a century, said, "With St. Peter’s penetration in worldwide export markets, we are hoping this product will also introduce consumers to the English Whisky co. and our range of whisky products both abroad as well as in the UK."

The beer has an ABV of 4.8% and is packaged in the distinctive St. Peter’s oval bottles. It will initially be sold on-premises only in the UK, although available from both companies' websites.

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20110901

English whisky begins in a brewery

• From Harpers Wine and Spirits Trade Reviews

CORNWALL, England -- Two Cornish drinks producers have teamed up to create what they claim is the first whiskey to be produced in Cornwall in over 300 years and the oldest whiskey to be launched in England for more than a century.

The limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt 7 Year Old Whiskey is the brainchild of St. Austell Brewery and Healey's Cyder Farm.

Made with Maris Otter barley grown in Trerulefoot, southeast Cornwall, and spring water, the wash was mixed at St. Austell Brewery's traditional Victorian brewhouse, before being transferred to Healey's Farm and passed through a double distillation in a traditional copper pot still. The best cut was then collected and filled into American bourbon charred casks.

"It's taken 300 years to craft Cornwall's first premium whiskey and seven years to age it," said David Healey from Healey's Cyder Farm. "In Cornwall we like to take our time in order to get things right -- and it's well worth the wait."

"We are all delighted with the results which help consolidate Cornwall's position as a leader in the UK drinks sector," added James Staughton, St. Austell Brewery's managing director and great-great grandson of the brewery's founder Walter Hicks.

The whiskey has been bottled unfiltered at a cask strength of 61.3% abv. It is available in 50cl bottles in a wooden presentation box with two glasses, priced at £150 (US$243).

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20110831

Final days for whiskey book discount

My new book, "Barrels & Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y In Jiggers and Shots," will officially be released on September 6.

The retail price then will be $18.95, but you can get a hefty 33% pre-release discount from Amazon.com by going here.

It is a collection I co-wrote and edited with essays from numerous writers famous in the field, from F. Paul Pacult to David Wondrich to Tom Wolfe.

You'll discover the spread of whiskey throughout the world and how it helped build countries. Read profiles of some of the most famous giants of the industry as Jack Daniel, George Smith and the Beam family.

Plus, go behind the scenes of Prohibition to check out the legendary gangsters, small-time rumrunners, a famous NASCAR champion who made his mark as a moonshine runner. And, you'll get insiders' looks at legitimate whiskey-making in such diverse spots as Scotland, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa, India and Japan.

20110823

Ommegang weighs in on hydro-fracking

Brewery Ommegang facility.
COOPERSTOWN, NY -- The controversy over "hydro-fracking" has moved into the recreational drinking arena.

The procedure, which involves hydraulically fracturing underground shale beds to release natural gas, has become a bitterly controversial topic in New York, which is criss-crossed by at least two major shale beds. The possibility of despoiling farmland and drinking water sources is the biggest worry among anti-hydro-fracking forces,

Now, Brewery Ommegang, maker of such beers as Aphrodite Ale and Hennepin Farmhouse Saison, says the water it draws from aquifers beneath this Central New York village is at risk of pollution.

"Even our strongest beer is 90% water, and all of our water comes off the property," Larry Bennett, a spokesman for the brewery, said in an interview with the Bloomberg News Service. "If you contaminate an aquifer, it’s done. There’s nothing you can do about it."

The brewery is a unit of Duvel Moortgat NV of Belgium. It contends it would face a "material threat" from a leak of fluid used in fracking.

[You can read the entire Bloomberg story here.]

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20110818

Hefty pre-release discount on my whiskey book

My new book, "Barrels & Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y In Jiggers and Shots," is coming out in September.

The retail price then will be $18.95, but you can get a hefty 32% pre-release discount from Amazon.com by going here ASAP.

I selected and edited all the pieces in the anthology, contributing several pieces of my own as well. Many of the original illustrations done for the book are based on photos I took during my whiskey-related travels.

The book covers the giants of the whiskey industry (such as George Smith, Jim Beam and Jack Daniel), scenes from Prohibition, whiskey-making in such diverse spots as Scotland, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa, India and Japan, stories on the effects whiskey-making had on the development of several nations, and much more.

Among the other authors are the likes of Tom Wolfe, F. Paul Paccult, David Wondrich and Jim Murray.

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20110815

Molson Coors' new beer sounds flat

Marketing alcoholic beverages to women usually contains elements of fun, glamor and even sophistication.

Molson Coors has come up with a different angle: bloating.

Animée, described as a "bloat-resistant” beer aimed at women, will be released this fall in the United Kingdom.

Prediction? It will quickly lose its fizz among women who don't like being condescended to.

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20110813

'Trends' that make you say 'Huh?'

OK, so what are the "experts" telling you that you'll be drinking for at least the next year?

The Food Channel, CultureWaves and the Mintel research firm teamed up to create the TV channel's annual "Top 10 Beverage Trends" list released this week.

Kay Logsdon, editor-in-chief of The Food Channel, said the list confirmed what the network has seen in the marketplace.

"It indicated we're drinking more water these days, although we like to dress it up a little. And, it told us that coupons have little or no influence on whether we purchase a beverage at a fast-food restaurant."

Here are the "trends," in the words of the great seers.

1. D.I.Y. Flavor: Many of us are taking flavor matters into our own hands.

2. Parental Discretion Advised: We're still seeing lots of buzz around beverages and kids.

3. Iced Coffee Is Scalding Hot: Consumption of this cold caffeinated beverage has heated up.

4. For Medicinal Purposes Only: There's certainly no shortage of ways to "drink to your health."

5. Sipping Seasonally and Simply: In much the same way we're eating local and choosing foods when they're in season, we're making a more conscious effort to drink that way, too.

6. Fast Food Beyond the Fizz: There are changes happening here, too, with specialty drinks getting as much play as burgers and fries.

7. Craft Beers: The Buzz Is Back: While overall beer sales are flat these days, sales of craft brews are seeing double-digit increases.

8. Bourbon Booming: The retro revival of the classic cocktail has hip, young consumers bellying up to the bar for whiskey.

9. Show Biz: While the food generally takes center stage in restaurant exhibitionism, beverages are being offered more starring roles.

10. Drinking Ourselves Thin: We want to enjoy our drinks without drinking in the extra calories."

If most of these 10 "trends" leave you saying "Huh?," you're not alone.

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Louisville brewer teams with four Roses

The new loft space. (WHAS11 photo)
LOUISVILLE, KY -- Many a local and visitor has spent time at the Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge downtown. Now, Four Roses is getting in on the branding act.

Bluegrass Brewing Company this week held a grand opening for its new Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft. It is located on the third floor of BBC's downtown location at 3rd and Main streets, opposite KFC Yum! Center.

Jim Rutledge, Four Roses' master distiller, said "We supply [Bluegrass Brewing] with a number of barrels, a minimum of 14 a month, to age their beers. And they'll age them up to a couple of months. It gives them really nice flavorful beers. And that was the beginning of the relationship."

The loft can accommodate up to 150 for a seated dinner or 175 for a cocktail or beer tasting event.

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20110808

MA craft brewers: We're being treatened

From The Boston Globe

A rule change at the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission could hurt 25 craft breweries in Massachusetts, and some smaller beer makers say it could even put them out of business.

Brewers such as Samuel Adams beer maker Boston Beer Co., Mayflower Brewing Co., Ipswich Ale Brewery, and others that operate under what is called a farmer-brewery license would be affected by the change, which has caused a buzz in the industry since it (recently) was disclosed in a commission advisory. The change still has to be finalized, state officials said.

The new rule would require brewers under that license to grow at least half the hops and grains they use, or get them from a domestic source -- which many said would be difficult in Massachusetts. Without that license, breweries could not operate on-site tastings, and, beer makers fear, would be forced to pay distributors to deliver their beer to retail outlets rather than save money by doing it themselves.

At Cape Ann Brewing Co. in Gloucester, owner Jeremy Goldberg said that the loss of his farmer-brewer status would likely put his entire operation out of business. At the least, he said, he’d be forced to close his new brew pub, in which he invested about $1 million, and lay off 30 employees.

"We would have a brewery that couldn’t serve [beer] on the premises," said Goldberg, who said it could be very hard to get the local liquor license he would need to operate in Gloucester without his farmer-brewery license. "It is going to kill my business."

State officials say the change is meant to clarify regulations defining a farmer-brewer, or someone who grows cereal grains or hops to produce a malt beverage. The law is designed to promote farming in Massachusetts.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20110729

Miller drops MGD 64 lemonade beer

You know that lemonade version of MGD 64 Light Beer that MillerCoors introduced a few months ago?

No? You're not alone. The brewer has discontinued the product due to consumer apathy.

"Winning in beer requires testing the bounds of the market with innovation," a company official wrote earlier this week in an e-mail to MillerCoors distributors. "With that commitment, however, comes a recognition that not every innovation will succeed. That is the case with MGD 64 Lemonade, so we have decided to discontinue this line extension."

Miller plans to buy back whatever existing retail stock it can.

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20110723

'Craft Beer Exchange' at convenience stores

Fill 'er up, please.
From Convenience Store News

BUFFALO, NY -- Sunoco Inc. has tapped 12 of its APlus convenience stores in western New York State to test its pilot program, the Craft Beer Exchange.

Under the new program, "beer-filling stations" were installed at convenience stores that are allowed to sell draft beer in growlers (glass jugs that are typically 64 ounces), according to a report on CNBC.com.

"Buffalo is a good testing location because there is a critical mass of Sunoco retail locations," spokesman Thomas Golembeski explained. "There is a large beer-loving community and a strong group of microbreweries in the area."

Now in the second month of a three-month test phase, Sunoco is working with area beer distributors to choose the beers on tap and will seek customer feedback through suggestion boxes and customer service representatives. In addition, Sunoco APlus employees visited a local distributor to train on safety and sanitation, and also went to Plying Bison Brewery to practice filling jugs, the news outlet reported.

"The feedback has been very positive," Golembeski said. "During the first month, it has been a success just by word-of-mouth alone. It's very clear there is an interest in it."

Sunoco operates more than 600 APlus convenience stores in 24 states along the East Coast and as far west as Ohio.

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20110719

NYC beer bar cultivating its hops

NEW YORK -- The Stag’s Head, voted one of the "30 Best Beer Bars in America" by Paste magazine, isn't resting on its laurels. In fact, the gastropub is cultivating an entirely different plant -- its own hops.

The tavern, located at 252 East 51st Street in Midtown East, has planted Sunbeam hops in its rooftop garden. Sunbeam is a 21-year-old variety derived from the Saaz hop, a traditional pilsner hop. The plants already have hit the 15-foot mark and may get even higher since some examples of the variety reach as much as 30 feet in height.

These hops are females, so they will start to flower any time from late July to September. The tavern will be adding a fresh-hopped beer, also known as wet-hopped, to its rotation of craft beer in late August to September. The staff also will use the hops as garnishes for IPAs, and hoppy pale ales and pilsners.

In addition, Chef Bruce Dillon plans to experiment with the hops on his summer menu.

[Go here for the state-by-state selections for the "30 Best" list.]

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20110630

Study: Binge drinking harms young brains

New research says young binge drinkers may be seriously damaging their brains.

Researcher Tim McQueeny, a doctoral student in the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychology, will present his findings in Atlanta this week at the 34th annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

In his study, high-resolution brain scans on a sample of 29 weekend binge drinkers aged 18 to 25 found that binge-drinking –- defined as consuming four or more drinks in one incident for females and five or more drinks for males -– was linked to cortical-thinning of the pre-frontal cortex, the section of the brain related to such "executive functions" as paying attention, planning and making decisions, processing emotions and controlling impulses leading to irrational behavior. McQueeny examined the gray matter -- parts of brain cells that do the thinking, receiving and transmitting of messages.

“We have seen evidence that binge drinking is associated with reduced integrity in the white matter, the brain’s highways that communicate neuron messaging, but alcohol may affect the gray matter differently than the white matter,” he says.

Researchers could see a relationship between gray matter thickness and binge drinking among college-aged young adults. They found that greater number of drinks per binge is associated with cortical thinning. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says 42% of young Americans ages 18 to 25 have engaged in binge drinking.

“Alcohol might be neurotoxic to the neuron cells, or, since the brain is developing in one’s 20s, it could be interacting with developmental factors and possibly altering the ways in which the brain is still growing,” he says.

The research was supported by a $300,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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