20070831

Top beer writer dead at 65

Michael Jackson, England's renowned beer historian and writer, has died at his home in London. He was 65.

His longtime partner, Paddy Gunningham, said Jackson died from a heart attack. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease for years. She said he had planned to write a book about his ailment.

"He was simply the best beer writer we've ever known," Tim Hampson, chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers, told the Associated Press. "He told wonderful stories about beer, breweries and far away places. He told the story of beer through people, and he was humorous and erudite at the same time."

Among Jackson's books are two dealing with his favorites, Belgian brews: "The Great Beers of Belgium" and "World Guide to Beer." In his work, he wrote for magazines, did television appearances in the UK and the United States, and wrote a series of books about beer and whiskeys that were published in 18 languages.

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20070823

3-person brewery joins the big boys

Sometimes it's best not to be one of the big boys. An ale produced by a small Northern Ireland brewery has been named one of the best 50 beers in the world at the International Beer Challenge 2007.

Brewer Bernard Sloan produced Clotworthy Dobbin Ale at the Whitewater Brewing Co. at Kilkeel, County Down. It now will be in the running for the International Beer Challenge's Supreme Champion award which will be announced in London in October.

Whitewater, a mere 3-person operation, recently earned a gold medal in the UK Guild of Fine Food's Great Taste Awards for its Belfast Ale. Its overall sales have grown by 30% over the past year and the brewery now has the capacity to bottle up to 1,000 bottles an hour.

Whitewater was created by Sloan and his wife, Kerry, in 1997. Said Sloan after winning the award, "We set out to produce an ale that was different, that offered a fresh, crisp taste and we've succeeded by using only the best quality ingredients and traditional brewing techniques."

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20070813

1st Canadian International debuts

The annual Barrie Brews & BBQ Festival in northern Ontario was the site of the debut Canadian International Beer Championship.

The event was a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned competition overseen by Paul Dickey, a brewer and a BJCP Master Judge.

Medal winners in each of the ribbon categories:

North American Lager, Pilsner, European Amber Lager: Gold, Castle European Amber Lager, South African Breweries, and King Pilsner, King Brewery; Silver, Tyskie European Amber Lager, Kompania Piwowarska S.A.; Bronze, Peroni European Amber Lager, s.p.a. Birra Peroni.

Light Hybrid Beer, Dark Lager, Bock: Gold, Lug Tread Lagered Ale Light Hybrid, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.; Silver, Stock Ale Light Hybrid, Mill Street Brewery; Bronze, King Dark Lager, King Brewery.

Belgian & French Ale: Gold, Blanche de Chambly Belgian & French Ale, Unibroue.

• English Brown Ale, Porter & Stout: Gold, County Ale English Brown, Wellington Brewery; Silver, Coffee Porter, Mill Street Brewery; Bronze, John Sleeman Porter, Sleeman Breweries.

Bitter & English Pale Ale: Gold, Tankhouse Pale Ale, Mill Street Brewery; Silver, Arkel Best Bitter, Wellington Brewery; Bronze, Special Pale Ale, Wellington Brewery.

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Great British Beer Festival has a mild finish

Hobsons Mild from Hobsons Brewery in Shropshire was named best beer in Britain by a panel of brewers, beer writers and journalists at the Great British Beer Festival.

The beer is described in the 2007 edition of "CAMRA's Good Beer Guide" as "a classic mild; complex layers of taste come from roasted malts that predominate and give lots of flavour.”

The Shropshire beer was chosen as the overall winner from more than 50 finalists in eight categories, including beers from tiny micros to major regional brewers. Roger Protz, one of the finalist judges and editor of the "Good Beer Guide," said, “It's a great victory for a traditional British beer. It's bursting with flavor and, unusually for a Mild, it's got plenty of hop character. It's great to see a classic copper-colored beer take the top award.”

The overall silver award went to Mighty Oak brewery of Essex for its Maldon Gold, and the overall bronze to Green Jack Brewery of Suffolk for Ripper.

Category Winners: (The winner of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain -- Ripper from Green Jack -- already was in the final after being entered in February at the National Winter Ales Festival)

Milds: Gold, Hobsons Mild; Silver, Nottingham Rock Mild; Bronze, Brain's Dark.

Bitters: Gold, Castle Rock Harvest Pale; Silver, Twickenham Crane Sundancer; Bronze (tie), Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale and Fyne Piper's Gold.

Best Bitters: Gold, Purple Moose Glaslyn Ale; Silver, George Wright Pipe Dream; Bronze (tie), Fuller's London Pride and ethergate Suffolk County & Station House Buzzin'.

Strong Bitters: Gold, York Centurion's Ghost; Silver, Inveralmond Lia Fail; Bronze, Brain's SA Gold.

Speciality Beers: Gold, Nethergate Umbel Magna; Silver, Little Valley Hebden Wheat; Bronze, St. Peter's Grapefruit.

Golden Ales: Gold, Mighty Oak Maldon Gold; Silver, Oak Leaf Hole Hearted; Bronze, Otley 01.

CAMRA Bottle-conditioned Beers: Gold, O'Hanlon's Port Stout; Silver (tie), Titanic Stout and Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout; Bronze, Wapping Baltic Gold.

Blind judging was done by panel of tasters drawn from CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)-trained tasters, brewers, licensees, beer writers, and guest tasters.

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20070804

Japanese beer demand fizzling

Demand for beer in Japan is in such a decline that all three of the nation's top brewers are forecasting decreased profits.

This week Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo each forecast reductions in the 3% range, blaming a declining population and a consumer shift to other beverages.

Also, a major push by beermakers to launch new products to reverse the decline may have backfired.

"There were as many as 20 or so new products introduced in the beer market, and that may have confused some consumers," Kazuyasu Kato, Kirin president and CEO, told a news conference.

Perhaps some of the problems lie in the marketing. Here's one example of a TV commercial that wouldn't entice me to buy the beer.

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