20060731

Sunday beer sooner in New York


New Yorkers can get a jump on their Sunday picnic or beach beer supply shopping, thanks to a new law just signed by Gov. George Pataki.

For generations, as a lingering reminder of the so-called Blue Laws based on religious preferences that controlled public commerce on the Christian sabbath, beer could not be sold on Sundays until noon.

Now, sales may commence at 8 a.m., although individual counties retain the power to regulate Sunday sales before noon. It still is illegal to sell beer between 3 and 8 a.m. on Sundays.

The change follows one last year that lifted the ban on Sunday liquor sales in New York. Unlike some other states, however, liquor and wine sales remain restricted to licensed stores rather than being available in grocery and convenience stores alongside beer.

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20060727

Beer ain't dead yet


We've been hearing dire reports on the popularity of beer worldwide since sales took a nosedive last summer and expressions of consumer preference fell behind wine.

A new Gallup Organization poll, however, has some good news for brewers: Beer is back.

Last year the pollsters said more American preferred wine (39%) to beer (36%) as a regular drink. Similar polls around the globe supported the beer-is-dying speculation, even in such traditional beer havens as Germany, Austria and Australia.

Now, Gallup says beer preference has bounced back to 41% with wine dropping to 33%.

"We think this is a real sign that things are starting to turn," said Bob Lachky, VP-global industry development at No. 1 brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos. "This is a reflection that, in terms of real sales, people still look to beer more often."

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20060726

Rolling Rock shuts down


The curtain came down Wednesday on Rolling Rock -- at least as an independent boutique brewer.

The 67-year-old Latrobe, PA, brewery recently purchased by industry giant Annheuser-Busch is in the process of being closed. A-B plans to move manufacturing to another site.

Union workers on Sunday approved a contract offered to them by City Brewing of Wisconsin, which plans to begin brewing beer and sports drinks at the plant by January.

The iconic brewery, which was known for its green-bottled beer, also produced a commemorative bottle to be given to employees.

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Anything for a brewski


Forget about that cup of orange juice you get when you make a donation at the blood bank.

In Harrisburg, PA, the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank has come up with what it thinks is a better gimmick: Handing out vouchers for a free pint of beer at Molly Brannigan's or The Pep Grill from July 31 through Aug. 3.

In case you're in the area, feeling both thirsty and in a giving mood, drop in on the Blood Bank at 223 Walnut St.

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20060711

Rheingold marches on


Today's glitzy beer commercials on TV may have high production values and scads of people behind the scenes creating them. However, there's something about the old commercials that really defined the market.

Take Rheingold, for example. The onetime hugely popular New York beer ran Miss Rheingold contests, had snappy theme songs, and what for its day was some smart animation.

Here's an example, posted on the AdJab.com site by someone who found it interesting but obviously didn't know anything about the Rheingold brand that took early TV viewers on a tour of New York's boroughs and neighborhoods.

For a quick education in things Rheingold, go here and here.

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20060702

No more bottles of Pabst on the roof



Seventy-five years after it was hoisted atop the Newark, NJ, brewery as a symbol of what was made inside, the 60-foot high beer bottle is gone from the skyline.

The rusty 25-ton landmark, which inside was a 55,000-gallon water tank, was taken down by the company demolishing the old brewery. It's in a half-dozen pieces, awaiting its fate.

The tank originally was built for the Hoffman Pale Dry Ginger Ale company in the early 1930s. When the beer company bought the plant in 1945, it changed the label and painted the bottle blue. Later it turned reddish from weathering.

Local preservation groups have waged a losing battle for two years to save the icon.

"It's kind of a sad day," Matthew Gosser, an adjunct professor of architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, told The New York Times.

Gosser said he had grown so attached to the bottle that he had climbed halfway up the side last year before the police intervened. He had wandered among several of the abandoned buildings on the complex and salvaged remains for an art show, he said. On a recent Friday night he camped on the roof.

Not everyone was averse to the bottle's removal.

"This is terrific," Mamie Bridgeforth, the councilwoman for the West Ward, said. "I want to sit on that bottle and have my picture taken like Marilyn Monroe."

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