20060131

Germans say nein to stein


It may be difficult to believe, but Germans are deserting their beers.

Sales for 2005 fell to their lowest point since records began being kept in 1991, according to the Deutscher Brauer-Bund, the national brewer's federation.

The organization said sales fell by 0.5% in 2005 to 105.3 million hectolitres. (A hectolitre is a metric unit of volume or capacity equal to 100 liters.) However, sales of beer-based beverages mixed with cola or lemonade rose 15.3%.

Earlier this month, German brewer Bitburger said domestic sales had dipped 2% last year due to the country’s sluggish economy. Fellow brewer Krombacher, meanwhile, reported a slight rise in sales, which were up 0.8%.

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20060125

Juju had its mojo working in Berlin


There's joy in Ghana, thanks to news from the Green Festival trade fair in Berlin.

A non-alcoholic beer called "juju" from the African nation racked up rave reviews from most judges, including some delegates from the European Union and the German Ministry of Agriculture.

The beer is made with palm kernels, passion fruit and banana flavoring. David Tagoe, an exhibitor who is of mixed Ghanaian (dad) and German (mom) heritage, played off a long family tradition of brewing in Africa during which the juju formula was devised for a beverage to serve at celebrations and other events, reports the Ghanian Chronicle.

The 80-year old fair, officially titled International Green Week Berlin 2006, was marked by 1,639 exhibitors from 53 countries. It has become a prime international trade fair for the food industry, agriculture and horticulture, and attracts several hundred thousand consumers, creating crowds such as the one shown here.

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20060116

Beer with a bourbon bite


Some Scottish distillers are aging their whisky in second-hand bourbon barrels. So, it should come as no surprise that some enterprising Kentucky brewers are using the same sort of casks to enhance their stout.

The Bluegrass Brewing Co. has partnered with the McLain & Kyne Distillery to produce a new dark beer with a strong Kentucky accent. They're calling it a "bourbon barrel stout" because it is aged for two to three months in former bourbon barrels.

About 900 gallons of the stout have been pumped into barrels that once held Jefferson's Reserve, McLain & Kyne's premium bourbon. Because of the aging, the beer's alcohol content should be 10 to 11%, roughly double the usual potency of domestic beers.

"We want to get into some larger markets such as Boston, Chicago, San Francisco -- the Northeast in particular," Roussell said. "That will allow us to bring our other products ... into more of a national arena." Plus, "the Japanese and Asian markets are very high on bourbon and anything with Kentucky on it." Roussell said. The beer also has potential in Europe, he said.

A distribution schedule for the stout has not yet been determined.



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20060113

If a tree falls in your beer ...


"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Ol' Ben was quite a fellow. He founded the nation's (well, the colonies', then the nation's) first newspaper, first fire department, first post office ... along with inventing the Franklin stove, bifocal eyeglassess, the lightning rod, and helping create ... what was that other thing? ...oh yeah, the United States of America.

He also liked the ladies and a good mug of beer.

Franklin's 300th birthday was this week. Ladies and gentlemen in and around Ben's hometown of Philadelphia hoisted mugs and glasses in his honor, and a few local brewers came up with various concoctions for Ben's party.

One that should be noted for posterity was whipped up by Philadelphia's Yards Brewing Co. It's called Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce, which recognizes that Franklin particularly liked "spruce beer," a dark, spicy beer brewed with molasses and pieces of spruce tree. Yards Brewing went whole hog, using -- we kid you not -- a whole dwarf Alberta Spruce tree in the vat.

The beer is on tap at a variety of places in Philadelphia.



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So, set 'em up, Joe


Two guys walk in and order a beer in Westerville, OH.

It's not the start of a joke. It's news.

The central Ohio city, once known as "The Dry Capital of the World," now allows beer sales for the first time since 1875.

The first legal beer was sold at Michael's Pizza, to local jeweler Bill Morgan (seen here).

Back in 1875, the town saloon was blown up during what were called the Whiskey Wars. The saloon owner tried to open another place in 1879, but someone dynamited it, too. Fast forward to 1909, and the Anti-Saloon League moved its headquarters to Westerville. No way anyone was going to be peddling beer after that.

But, time marches on and so does the need for consumer dollars. Restaurants and bars at two new suburban retail developments near this Columbus suburb threatened to pull even more people away from downtown eateries. Thus, voters on Nov. 8, 2005, approved a beer and wine license for the pizza parlor. In the new year, beer was back. On Feb. 1, Pasquale's Pizza & Pasta also will be selling beer.

Incidentally, the jeweler who bought the first legal beer earned the right to do so by being the top bidder -- at $150 -- for the chance.



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