20071128

Pawtucket Patriot Ale becomes non-fiction

Yes, it's for real.

The gross-but-popular "Family Guy" cartoon series is being immortalized, at least for a while, by a Rhode Island micro-brewery with its own brew: Pawtucket Patriot Ale.

Peter Griffin, the head cartoon character currently guest-starring in Subway TV commercials as well as the Fox show, loves his ale by that name so the show's owners have licenses the brewery to make it real for market distribution in 2008.

No word yet on what the advertising campaign will be like, but in episode 15 of the show ("I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar") a TV spot for the ale promises, "If you buy it, hot women will have sex in your backyard." In some episodes a large Pawtucket Patriot Beer sign can be seen on the wall of the Drunken Clam, Peter's favorite tavern.

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Removing threat of separation anxiety

It was just a matter of time.

In our gadget-dominated society simply having a beer helmet wasn't enough. Someone had to combined laziness and technology to create the beer remote (purchasing information here). It allows the beer fan to keep track of his or her (probably just his if we're honest about it) can of beer up to 60 feet away.

The beer cozy, with removable coaster, lights up and, heaven help us, belches to help the lost soul locate it quickly. If you're the type who has trouble not only finding your beer but locating the remote control, thus one clips to your belt to save you anxious moments.

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20071119

Automating the Guinness 'perfect pour'

Guinness is an old brewery in a very old town and both have an interesting dual reputation: historic, yet with an eye toward the latest technology.

The city has become the technological center of Europe while the beer has been ... . Well, let's just say it has been going through a few internal tremors as it tries to keep up with the ever-changing, and ever-fickle, international beer market.

Guinness's latest move is a gimmick called the Surger, a unit that uses small sound vibrations to release the nitrogen gas in the beer and cause a cascading effect, also referred to as “the surge and settle.”

A Guinness Surger can, which contains the same Guinness beer found in kegs and brewed at the company's St. James’s Gate facility in Dublin, is poured into a glass and placed on a small plate. Similar to the draught tap system, the Surger unit releases the gas in the beer, creating the surge and settle that forms the signature creamy head.

Based on the UK price of £16.99, Surger units should sell for about $35 in the U.S., and every can of Guinness Surger beer -- the only kind recommended for such use -- is about $2.50. However, presently the Surger setup is available only in bars.

Curious to learn more?

This You Tube video will show you how easy it is to use the Surger.

This You Tube video will show you what happens when you try using it on another brand.

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SABMiller swallows Grolsch

And the consolidation goes on.

In the global economy, it's rare that a week goes by without one company swallowing up another. The latest is a deal valued at $1.2 billion in which SABMiller has agreed to buy the ancient Dutch brewer Royal Grolsch NV.

"SABMiller sees significant potential across Africa and Latin America, where the premium segment is still in its infancy, and in the more developed markets of Central and Eastern Europe. South Africa represents a key opportunity and with the addition of Grolsch, SABMiller will have a particularly strong portfolio of highly differentiated premium brands in that market," the company said in a statement.

No changes to existing distribution arrangements in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States are anticipated at this time. Anheuser-Busch last year acquired distribution rights for Grolsch in the U.S.

Graham Mackay, chief executive of SABMiller, said: “Grolsch will provide SABMiller with a powerful addition to its international brand portfolio. Within the SABMiller family Grolsch will continue to build on almost 400 years of brewing heritage, and together we will establish new positions in the most important emerging beer markets around the world."

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Beer, Plymouth Rock and Pilgrims: The real story

Bob Skilnik, beer historian and author whose latest book, "Beer & Food: An American History," was reviewed on this site, has come up with a timely Thanksgiving tale on his own site.

Says Skilnik (right):

"Since the release of my seventh book, I’ve posted a few ... cutting room floor stories that have rubbed against the grain ... .

"So, I was a bit hesitant to write about another popular bit of U.S. beer folklore, beginning with the silly notion that the 'Pilgrims' chose to land at Plymouth Rock because they had run out of beer. But, after reading another blog that noted with solemn pride that the first structure the Pilgrims built when they arrived in the New World was a brewery, the glove of historical accuracy was thrown down. ...

"The Pilgrims put to shore at Plymouth on December 19, 1620. It was winter, their supplies were low, they were dying and in need of shelter. Who in their right mind would believe that the first building the Pilgrims put up would be a brewery? People were already beginning to die because of cold weather, disease and poor nutrition. By the time spring arrived, more than half of the 102 settlers would perish ... and we're to believe that a new brewery had top priority on the Pilgrims' 'Things To Do Today' list?"

His essay makes for interesting and perhaps enlightening reading.

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20071116

Cheers to Walt Disney World Resorts

It was a Disney world when the editors of Cheers, the beverage industry magazine, released its 2008 Cheers Awards for Beverage Excellence.

The awards are widely considered the adult beverage industry's highest honor for beverage program operators in chain and multi-concept restaurant companies.

They are divided into 12 categories, two of which were won by Walt Disney World Resorts. Each award is given based on the innovation and creativity of an establishment's beverage program and its impact on the sales and profitability of the establishment. Additional consideration is given to the level of operator support of the program, such as a high level of staff training or unique marketing efforts.

The winners:

Best Overall Chain Beverage Program: Walt Disney World Resorts
• Best Signature Drink: Walt Disney World Resorts
• Best Chain Hotel Beverage Program: Hilton Hotels
• Best Chain Wine Program: Carrabba's
• Best Chain Beer Program: Buffalo Wild Wings
• Best Chain Spirits Program: Bennigan's
• Best Beverage Merchandising Program: Hard Rock Cafe
• Best Beverage Menu: Outback Steakhouse
• Best Drink Program: Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
• Best Adult Non-Alcohol Drink Program: ESPN Zone
• Best Responsible Alcohol Service Training Program: Applebee's
• Best Multi-Concept Beverage Program: Back Bay Restaurant Group

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20071114

Widmer, Redhook breweries merging

Two Pacific Northwest breweries have agreed to merge into something called Craft Brewers Alliance.

Redhook Ale Brewery Inc. of Woodinville, WA, and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. of Portland, OR, will merge to create the combined company publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol HOOK. Management offices will be in both Portland and Woodinville. Its breweries will be in both cities as well as in Portsmouth, N.H.

“I believe that the merger will allow us even greater opportunity to deliver unique and great-tasting beers for our customers,” Kurt Widmer, president and brewmaster of Widmer Brothers, said in a press statement. “The two companies have a common goal — we both strive to brew the best possible beer for our customers.”

The companies already have partnerships in brewing, sales and marketing. Following the merger, the Redhook and Widmer
beers will remain separate brands in the marketplace. The merger is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

Widmer Brothers was ranked 11th largest U.S. brewery in 2006. Its brews are distributed in 48 states. Widmer also was named mid-sized brewery of the year at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002 and 2004.

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20071110

One fuehrer the road

The resemblance is uncanny in some photos, but the intent was purely unintentional.

The pub sign in a soon-to-open UK watering hole in a place called Rock Ferry, Wirral, is supposed to be an homage to poet John Masefield, according to the pub chain JD Wetherspoon.

Unfortunately, the image of Masefield (right) looks a lot like one A. Hitler, late of Berlin, Germany. A lot of customers and neighbors have begun calling the pub The Adolf. They are asking the chain management to change the sign before the pub opens for business.

Says manager Seanie Walsh, 55: ''We must admit he does look a bit like Hitler on the sign, but that didn't occur to us until after we put it up. We've got lots of pictures of John Masefield inside from different stages of his life and we hope people come down and learn more about him while having a drink.''

Masefield, who died in 1967, is perhaps best known for his poem "Sea Fever," which begins: "I must go down to the seas again ... ."

At least this faux pas wasn't on purpose, unlike one in India in which a restaurateur decided to post a swastika over the store and call it Hitler's Cross. As the headline on my blog entry said about that one, "Perhaps the Hitler Youth menu was over the top."

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20071105

Latest Utopias a beer with many differences

Non-carbonated. Resealable bottle. Aged in used sherry or bourbon barrels.

Is this stuff still beer, or is it somewhere in the cognac universe?

There is more to Samuel Adams' newest product than the container.

Yes, Utopias is bottled in a replica of one of the Boston brewery's brew kettles, and its makers are suggesting it be served at room temperature as an after-dinner drink in a glass specifically designed for it by Riedel. But what is causing the biggest stir is that Utopias has five times the alcoholic strength of the average beer.

At 27% alcohol by volume, or 54 proof, Utopias is a powerful brew. However, it can be saved because of its resealable bottle, so consumers used to lower-proof beers can pace themselves when drinking this non-carbonated brew.

This is just the latest version of Utopias, which was introduced to the market in 2002, then released again in 2003 and 2005. This release is blended with some batches that have been aged 13 years in different wood barrels. Some of the Utopias have been aged in Portuguese Madeira barrels and sherry casks. Some is aged in used bourbon casks. It is brewed with a variety of malts and hops and several yeasts, including champagne yeast.

The company has limited production to 12,000 bottles. The holiday gift box package of Utopias and a Riedel glass will retail for a suggested price of $150.

Which continues the question, when is a beer not a beer? Your thoughts?

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20071103

After workout, hydrate with ... beer?

Maybe all those sandlot softball players who flock to a tavern after games have the right idea.

A Spanish study suggests drinking a beer after exercise could do more good than drinking water.

The study was run by Granada University and tested 25 college students who were asked to perform strenuous exercises in 104-degree temperatures. Half of them were given beer afterward, the other half water. The test were conducted over several months.

The hydration effect in those who drank beer was "slightly better" than those who drank water, said Manuel Garzon, the study leader. He noted that beer can help someone who has sweat regain liquid better than water, the bubbles help quench thirst, and the carbohydrate in beer help replace lost calories.

This study contradicts others that said most alcoholic drinks increase the amount of liquid lost through urination.

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20071101

Bad market hikes Japanese beer prices

Prices of major Japanese beers are on the rise, part of a national trend toward increasing prices of numerous drinks and foods in a market with decreasing demand.

Japan's beer production in the first six months of the year fell to the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1992.

Close on the heels of price-hike announcements by Sapporo Holdings Ltd. and Asahi Breweries Ltd., Japan's No. 1 brewer Kirin Holdings Co. said it will raise beer prices for the first time in 17 years to cover the higher cost of brewing malt and aluminum cans.

Prices will rise for regular, low-malt and other beer products on Feb. 1, the company said in a statement without specifying the increase.

The price of malt has more than doubled and aluminum has risen about 30% in the past year, Kirin officials said. Japan's producers of food and beverages have been passing rising energy and materials costs to consumers as falling wages and an aging of the population cut demand.

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