20070429

Michelob serving fruit this summer

If you want to feel righteous about your beer drinking, Anheuser-Busch has a spring-summer offering for you: fruit infused beers.

The St. Louis brewing giant has created a lineup of 12-bottle variety packs or single-flavor six-packs in pomegranate raspberry, lime cactus and orange grapefruit flavors.

The Michelob ULTRA Fruit Infused beers will be available nationally through Labor Day.

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20070423

Lake Placid Craft Brewing gets help


The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Co. of Plattsburgh and The Matt Brewing Co. of Utica are joining forces to make and distribute more of the Lake Placid lineup of brews.

Lake Placid's flagship brews are Ubu Ale and Lake Placid IPA (formerly Frostbite Ale).

"This is much more than a simple contract brewing deal where they help brew our beer for us," Christopher Ericson, owner and brewmaster of Lake Placid, said in a statement. "We will be working closely with Nick and Fred Matt and their team to develop our company in every facet, not just the brewing, but also with increased public events at the brewery, philanthropic events in the community, and local event sponsorships. ...

"Our beers have been so well received that we have had trouble keeping up with the demand. This new agreement will allow us to brew more beer in Plattsburgh as well as augmenting our production with beer brewed at the Matt Brewery."

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20070422

Did your hangout make the top 100?

Of all the gin joints in all the world, or at least in the country, which did the editors of Nightclub & Bar Magazine choose for this year's top 100?

Nightclubs and bars from all over the U.S. were chosen based on a number of criteria, say the editors, "including annual revenues, marketing and advertising effectiveness, promotional expertise, uniqueness to market, food and beverage programs and much more. This list is not a ranking of just the most high-end, of-the-moment nightclubs. Instead, it is a dynamic mixture of clubs, neighborhood bars, sports bars, family-oriented venues and more that for one reason or another deserve notice."

The following bars and clubs, listed in alphabetical order, made the Editors' Choice Top 100 for 2007. The city designated for each is the city in which it is located, or, if the concept has multiple locations, the city of its first location.

230 Fifth - New York, NY
40 Watt - Athens, GA
8150 - Vail, CO.
The Abbey - Hollywood, CA
AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar - Destin, FL.
Aria - Boston, MA
Avalon/Spider Club - Hollywood, CA.
Beach Bar at the W - San Diego, CA
B.E.D. - Miami, FL
Billy Bob's Texas - Fort Worth, TX
Blue Martini - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
the bosco - Ferndale, MI
Body English - Las Vegas, NV
Bombay Club - New Orleans, LA
Broken Spoke Saloon - Sturgis, SD
Brother's Bar & Grill - Lacross, WI
Butter - San Francisco, CA
Cabo Wabo - Lake Tahoe, NV
Casbah - Atlantic City, NJ
Cherry - Las Vegas, NV
Chilkoot Charlie's - Anchorage, AK
Coyote Cantina - Santa Fe, NM
Coyote Ugly - New York, NY
Crobar - Chicago, IL
The Crocodile Café - Seattle, WA
Diablo's Downtown Lounge - Eugene, OR
e4 - Scottsdale, AZ
Eight 75 - Biloxi, MS
El Gaucho - Seattle, WA
Elements the Lounge - Seabright, NJ
ESPN Zone - Baltimore, MD
Excalibur - Chicago, IL
Fadó Irish Pub - Atlanta, GA
Flatiron Lounge - New York, NY
The Flying Saucer - Memphis, TN
Fox Sports Grill - Scottsdale, AZ
Galapagos Art Space - Brooklyn, NY
ghostbar - Las Vegas, NV
Good Hurt - Los Angeles, CA
The Green Parrot - Key West, FL
The Greene Turtle - Ocean City, MD
Ground Zero Blues Club - Clarksdale, MS
The Helix - Washington, DC
House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
Iguana's Cantina - New York, NY
Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce - Hollywood, CA
JET - Las Vegas, NV
Kahunaville - Las Vegas, NV
Key Club - Hollywood, CA
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - New Orleans, LA
The Library Bar & Grill - Tempe, AZ
Light - Las Vegas, NV
Lotus - New York, NY
Louie's Backyard - South Padre Island, TX
Mango's Tropical Café - Miami, FL
Mantra - Milwaukee, WI
Marquee - New York, NY
McGillin's Olde Ale House - Philadelphia, PA
Mercy Wine Bar - Addison, TX
Midnight Rodeo - San Antonio, TX
Mie N Yu - Washington, DC
MIXX - Atlantic City, NJ
mur.mur - Atlantic City, NJ
The New Crown & Anchor - Providencetown, MA
The New Sheridan - Telluride, CO
Ocean Club - Honolulu, HI
Pangaea - Hollywood, FL
Pat O' Brien's - New Orleans, LA
Pavilion Bar & Café - Charleston, SC
Pin-Up Bowl - St. Louis, MO
Pink Elephant - New York, NY
The Playboy Club - Las Vegas, NV
Pure - Las Vegas, NV
Purple Moon - Flint, MI
Rockit Bar & Grill - Chicago, IL
Ruby Skye - San Francisco, CA
rumjungle - Las Vegas, NV
Sharkeez - Huntington Beach, CA
Sherlock's Baker Street Pub - Houston, TX
Sloppy Joe's - Key West, FL
Snatch/Suite - Miami, FL
Stingaree - San Diego, CA
Stubb's Bar-B-Q - Austin, TX
Studio 54 - Las Vegas, NV
Tabú Ultra Lounge - Las Vegas, NV
Tangerine - Las Vegas, NV
TAO - Las Vegas, NV
Therapy - New York, NY
Tini Bigs - Seattle, WA
Tipitina's - New Orleans, LA
Tongue & Groove - Atlanta, GA
Tryst - Las Vegas, NV
VICCI - Austin, TX
Vine Street Lounge - Hollywood, CA
The Viper Room - Los Angeles, CA
Walnut Room - Philadelphia, PA
Whiskey Blue - Los Angeles, CA
Worship - Atlantic City, NJ
Yard House - Long Beach, CA
Zinc Lounge - Manhattan Beach, CA

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German brewer tops field in Aussie competition

Odds were that most competitors in the 2007 Australian International Beer Awards were going to come away disappointed.

After all, more than 900 beers were entered in the event, held by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RAS), that finished up Thursday night in Melbourne. The competition is regarded as one of the top handful of such events in the world.

The grand champion trophy this year went to Weihenstephan Kristall from the Weihenstephan Brewery of Germany, which won the wheat beer category. The brew is a crystal-clear one, filtered and with somewhat fruity notes.

The brewery, whose entry won the best specialty beer award in Melbourne in 2003, is the oldest operating brewery in the world. It was founded in 1040 by Benedictine monks in their monastary overlooking the town of Freising.

The awards were established in 1987 to reward excellence in the field of brewing and to assist in the promotion of the brewing industry. There are 14 trophies awarded. Judging of the packaged entries were held from March 13 to 21, and for draft entries from March 27 to 29. The other major winners:

• Premier's Trophy: (for best Victorian beer) Stella Artois, Belgium
Champion Australasian Brewery: Colonial Brewing Co., Australia
Champion Large International Brewery: Deschutes Brewery, Oregon
Champion Small International Brewery: Colonial Brewing Co., Australia
Champion Specialty Beer: Feral White, Feral Brewing Co., Australia
Champion Lager: Timisoreana, Ursus Breweries, Romania
Champion Ale: Little Creatures Pale Ale, Little Creatures Brewing, Australia
• Champion Stout: Obsidian Stout, Deschutes Brewery, Oregon
Champion Porter: Redoak Old Baltic Porter, Redoak Pty Ltd., Australia
• Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer: Mr. Natural, Wig & Pen Brewery & Tavern, Australia

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20070416

Craft brewers continue catching on

Sales of large domestic brewers continued to lag behind their 2004 peak level last year, but the craft beer segment continued its boom, according to the latest figures just released by The Brewers Association.

The Association, which tabulates industry growth data, reports that in 2006 77.7% of the craft beer produced was made from the top 50 craft brewing companies. Additionally, 34 of the top 50 brewing companies in the U.S meet the Association’s definition of a craft brewer.

With nearly 1,400 small breweries, the segment topped 6.7 million barrels in 2006. The fastest growing craft beer sector in 2006 was microbreweries (those under 15,000 barrels a year). Sales were up 16%.

“If you Google craft beer you’ll see more press coverage than ever before. This is because beers from craft
breweries provide diversity and flavor and that’s what people want,” stated Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the
Brewers Association.

No surprise in the leaders among overall brewing sales, with Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors ranking 1-3. In the craft beer area, nine of the top 10 in sales were California breweries, all following top-ranked Alaskan Brewing Co. of Juneau, AK.

Twenty-two states are represented in the top 50 brewing companies list, according to the Brewers Association. California hosts (7) top breweries. Colorado has (5) and Oregon and Wisconsin each host (4) top producers. The remainder of the top 50 operate from New York (3), Pennsylvania (3), Vermont (3), Washington (3), Illinois (2), Massachusetts (2), Minnesota (2), Missouri (2), Alaska (1) , Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Michigan (1), Montana (1), Ohio (1) and Texas (1), Complete listings of the top 50 craft brewing companies by state and top 50 overall brewing companies are included below.

OVERALL 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 & Son Inc., Pottsville, PA
7. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
8. Gambrinus, San Antonio, TX
9. New Belgium Brewing Co., 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

CRAFT BREWERS

1. Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
3. Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA
4. Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
5. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
6. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
7. The Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA
8. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe, Eureka, CA
9. BJ's Restaurants Inc., Huntington Beach, CA
10. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, CA
11. Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Boonville, CA
12. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
13. Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants Inc., Louisville, CO
14. Flying Dog Brewery, Denver, CO
15. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
16. Breckenridge Brewery, Denver, CO
17. Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO
18. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Lewes, DE
19. Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA
20. Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI

The Brewers Association defines "craft brewer" as small, independent and traditional. "Craft beer" comes only from a craft brewer. "Small" means an annual beer production of less than 2 million barrels. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.

An "independent" is defined as less than 25% of the craft brewery being owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not a craft brewer. "Traditional" is defined as a brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

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20070414

Taking 'a cold one' to an extreme

The folks at Coors Light take "Draw me a cold one" seriously.

The Colorado brewer has launched Coors Light Super Cold Draft. The company has developed a special "glacier tap" to replace the traditional device. As Coors explains it, the handle on the glacier tap forms a layer of ice as the beer is poured, resulting in the beer being an average of 5 to 10 degrees cooler than a typical draft beer.

Coors Light has also developed a cold-activation bottle on which part of the label turns blue when the "ideal" serving temperature has been reached.

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20070403

Alcoholic drinks sales keep on climbing

"The minute you walked in the joint, I could tell you were a real big spender ... " (*)

In an age in which stronger DWI/DUI laws threatened to put a damper on alcoholic beverage sales, all three segments -- spirits, beer and wine -- posted domestic gains in case volume and retail sales, according to the just-released 2007 edition of the Adams Handbook Advance published by Adams Beverage Group.

"The industry is continuing to create and market products that are finding great resonance with American consumers today, and their willingness to pay more in every category proves it," Charles Forman, vice president and group publisher of Adams, said in a statement.

As I've noted over the past several years, while consumers may be purchasing less in volume in some categories, overall they're spending more money for premium labels. At cocktail lounges, patrons tend to order one or two drinks but ignore the less expensive well drinks in favor of the premium brands.

According to Adams, a leading industry analyst, the U.S. distilled spirits industry was up for the ninth consecutive year in 2006.

Total spirits consumption climbed 3.7% to 176.6 million 9-liter cases. Wine sales continued to rise for the 13th year in a row, increasing 3.4% and reaching 283.1 million 9-liter cases. And beer, the largest beverage alcohol segment, rebounded from last year's slight decline, increasing 1.3% to 2.86 billion 2.25-gallon cases.

Says the Adams report:

"High-end products, and imports in particular, across all categories continued to outperform the business as a whole. For example, in 2005 imported spirits accounted for 38.9% of consumption. By 2006, that figure reached 39.7%.

"Flavored spirits also continued to grow, reaching beyond vodka and rum and emerging in tequila, whiskey and even the cognac segments. Of the 12 segments of distilled spirits, only blended whiskies, Canadian whiskies and prepared cocktails lost volume in 2006.

"Meanwhile, vodka continued to boom, fueled by the cocktail craze, up 6.7%, with imports leading the way (up 13.9% versus 3.6% for domestics). Vodka now accounts for a stunning 27.9% of the spirits business. Rum, the second largest category, grew for the 12th straight year, up 3.5%.

"Among table wines, which account for more than 91% of U.S. wine consumption, imports and "critter" wines, those wines with fanciful packages and named for penguins, kangaroos and other animals, were the leading gainers. Imported table wines grew at a considerably faster rate last year (+5.6%) versus domestics (+3.7%). Overall imported wine -- including champagne, sparkling, dessert, fortified, vermouth and aperitif -- grew 5.6% among imports and 2.7% among domestic wines.

"On the beer front, crafts, lights and imports advanced, while premium, popular, malt liquor, ice and flavored malt beverages sagged. Total beer consumption rose 1.3% or 31.4 million cases to 2.86 billion 2.25 gallon cases. Light beers grew 2.4% and now represent 51.1% of the whole beer market.

"Retail dollar sales for the beverage alcohol market climbed last year as well, with on-premise sales up 9.2%, or $8 billion, to $93.9 billion. Off-premise sales were up 5.6% or $4.3 billion to $82.3 billion. Total sales for 2006 reached $176.2 billion in 2006."

(* - from the 1966 Broadway musical production of "Sweet Charity.")

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Big brewers elbow into organics

If you're into organic beers, the names Wild Hops, Stone Mill and Henry Weinhard may pique your interest.

As most people know, if there is a beverage niche to be found, the major brewers will make or import a product to fill it.

In this case, the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has gotten into organic brewing with two of the three aforementioned products that are about to show up in various test markets around the country priced at about $7.99 a six-pack for Lager Wild Hops and $8.49 for Stone Mill Pale Ale.

Rather than using the familiar A-B name, the strategy is to call the project Green Valley Brewing Co., with an unspecified percentage of the profits to be donated to the Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, CA.

Another major player, Miller Brewing Co., already has launched Henry Weinhard's Organic Amber Premium Ale in the Pacific Northwest, but plans to expand distribution to San Francisco on May 1, at first only in draft.

Organic beers are a tiny part of the domestic beer market, but it is growing. North American sales of organic beers grew from $9 million in 2003 to $19 million in 2005, according to the Organic Trade Association. And, sales continue to grow at a double-digit pace, according to figures from the Mintel International Group research company.

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Boston Beer, made in Pennsylvania

Samuel Adams beer, made in Pennsylvania.

It may sound unlikely, but The Boston Beer Co. has entered into an agreement with a subsidiary of City Brewing Co. to brew some of its beer in Latrobe, near Pittsburgh.

The companies, in a joint announcement, said they will "will immediately begin work to upgrade the brewery by purchasing equipment to allow for Samuel Adams' traditional brewing process, use of proprietary yeasts and extended aging time, and beer bottling and kegging. Brewing of Boston Beer products is expected to begin during the second quarter."

Boston Beer needed the additional manufacturing capacity to keep up with increasing demand for the Samuel Adams brand which grew by 17% last year.

"We chose the Latrobe site because it has a classic brewhouse and because of our solid partnership with City Brewing at their brewery in La Crosse, Wis., dating back to 2002," said Martin Roper, President & CEO of The Boston Beer Co.

"We continue to evaluate all our long-term brewing options," he said, "including building or buying capacity or entering further partnerships. We have retained engineering consultants to assess the feasibility, design and costs for a brewery on a site in Freetown, MA, and are in the process of obtaining preliminary bids. We remain in the due diligence phase to determine whether building a brewery on that site is feasible and will be the company's best long-term brewing option. We currently expect to complete this assessment this summer."

Samuel Adams is an independent brewery and has slightly more than 0.5% of the domestic beer market with its line of 21 flavors.

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