20051226

Brahma bucks world market


In the U.S., "brahma" is a name associated more with rodeos than anything else. In Brazil, it's the top-selling beer, one its brewers hope to make a worldwide hit.

In Sao Paulo, Bar Brahma (seen here) has been a city staple since 1948. It is the place that Brahma beer, brewed since 1888, became popular with city dwellers and tourists. Now that the brewery is owned by big thinkers, it may become even more of a cult favorite.

Brahma, after a series of mergers and acquisitions, now is owned by Inbev of Belgium, the world's biggest brewer by volume. It also manufactures Stella Artois and Beck's. Inbev is making Brahma available in 15 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. Company officials say they expect Brahma sales outside Brazil to exceed $35 million by the end of 2007.

In an interview with the BBC, Inbev global brands vice president Devin Kelly said the company saw Brahma as a product that captured the essence of Brazil.

"First and foremost, it was the emotional context. The culture was more important in terms of filling a positioning that we had identified on a global basis. The emotional context of Brahma, at the heart and soul of this incredible country called Brazil, was the single most important factor," he said, obviously not sparing the florid prose.

Travelers who have tried Brahma in Brazil will find the export version slightly different.

"It's a slightly different liquid," Kell said. "It has a slightly more fruity nose to it and that characteristic carries through. It still has a great beer taste. But across the globe outside Brazil, it's exactly the same beer."



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20051223

A New Year makeover


Fans of Bass ale should be forewarned: Your drink hasn't changed, but its look has, so don't be confused when you go shopping.

The English import's red triangle logo will be edged in gold and be seen in advertising, packaging, merchandise and so on in the new year. It also will be referred to as Bass Pale Ale rather than just plain Bass.

Bass has been brewed since 1777. In 1875, brewers were granted England's first trademark. The company claims its red triangle logo is the world's first registered trademark.

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20051208

Iron City rusting out


For the second times in 10 years, the maker of Iron City beer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Pittsburgh Brewing Co. faces charges by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority that it owes more than $2 million in unpaid water bills dating back a few years. Its initial filing in federal court in Pittsburgh shows the company has estimated assets of less than $10 million and debts of less than $10 million.

Pittsburgh Brewing, one of the last regional brewers -- an industry category marked by a production capacity of less than one million barrels annually -- has had strong sales locally, but nationally has faced an ever-growing number of competitors.

For the past several years, it has created some market buzz by reviving its 1950s company logo and received several design awards for converting to modern aluminum bottles.

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20051205

Mighty mites make best Welsh brews


If you like your beers imported and exclusive, try getting your favorite enabler to order you some of the winners from the recent Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival competition.

Three of the smallest breweries in Wales carried off top honors in the contest run by the Campaign for Real Ale. Son of a Bitch, an ale as strong as its name, was No. 1. It's produced by the Bullmastiff Brewery in Leckwith, Cardiff, Wales. No. 2 was Merlin Stout, brewed by Tomos Watkin of Swansea, and No. 3 was Oh Boy, from the Bryncelyn Brewery at Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley.

Bullmastiff (seen here) is owned and operated by brothers Bob and Paul Jenkins, who established the brewery in 1987 and have won numerous competitions since then.

"It feels marvellous to have won again," Bob Jenkins told IC Wales, the national Website of Wales. "We just carry on doing what we're doing, doing our best to produce decent beer with natural ingredients. We feel what we can offer is much better than the heavily marketed designer lagers that are expensive and contain chemicals and artificial flavorings."

The "Good Beer Guide 2006" (Camra Books) describes the top three beers as follows:

Bullmastiff Brewery, Son of a Bitch: 6% alcohol by volume. A warming amber ale, easy drinking for its strength. An aroma of hops, fruit and malt and a similar blend of flavors with a warming alcohol presence; the finish fades.

Tomos Watkin Brewery, Merlin Stout: 4.2% alcohol by volume. A satisfying blend of roast, malt, caramel and hop flavors. A malty, roast aroma and moderate bitterness in the finish. Dark brown in color.

Bryncelyn Brewery, Oh Boy: 4.5% alcohol by volume. An enticing hop and fruit aroma, a golden color and a taste full of hops and fruit. Good bitterness and underlying malt add to the flavor, with a long, hoppily-bitter finish.

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20051201

Aluminum bottles get crafty


Craft beers don't usually come in cans, but the High Falls Brewing Co. in Rochester, NY, hopes to increase its customer base with "Cold Pint" 16-ounce aluminum bottles.

High Falls is packaging two of its craft brands — JW Dundee's Honey Brown lager and American Pale Ale — as single-serve products for bars, restaurants, groceries and convenience stores.

The bottles are lined to prevent a metallic taste, and the recyclable aluminum is a thicker gauge than cans, thus offering a sturdier bottle feel. High Falls claims this is the first craft/specialty beer to be offered in aluminum bottles, although Anheuser-Busch has been selling some of its popular brands, including Michelob Light and Bud Light, in aluminum bottles for several months.

"We're looking at this as a way for people to sample the product," High Falls CEO Tom Hubbard told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper. "These are just more ways for us to gain the momentum of the craft line of products that we are offering."

High Falls also produces Genesee beer and 12 Horse ale, but they will not be available in the aluminum bottles.

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Drew Carey Was Right


On his late, lamented TV series, comedian Drew Carey and his buddies made money on the side by brewing Buzz brand beer in Drew's garage. The secret to its popularity? It combined beer and caffeine.

Now, reality is catching up with art. Anheuser-Busch is preparing to test market a beverage called Natty Up, a caffeinated version of its Budweiser Natural Light beer.

The market: young adults who now plunk down money for various vodkas and such energy drinks as Red Bull. The test markets selected are in Florida, Texas, Missouri and North Carolina. This latest twist isn't particularly new for A-B which already introduced caffeinated malt beverages B-to-the-E (Budweiser to the extreme) and Tilt.


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