20080127

Brazilian beer now comes in a kit

If you think American beermakers are bigtime slaves to gimmicks, pay attention to this.

The Brazilian brewer Dado Bier has launched a beer with the herb yerba maté, packaged in long neck bottles as part of a special kit to be sold in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Each kit contains a cup in the form of a drinking gourd, known as a chimarrão cuia, designed by the Ruvolo Crystal Works. It comes in a leather base created by Gueto EcoDesign, a firm specialized in developing sustainable products.

The "kit" price is the equivalent of $20 U.S.

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Beers all around!

I have an older cousin who has a particularly unusual collection: every 78 rpm recording every made by the 1940s/'50s novelty band Spike Jones & His City Slickers.

That runs to dozens of the old-style discs with the group's goofy sound-effects-laden songs that were all the rage in films, personal appearances and even early television shows back then.

Here, in a 1942 musical short called "Clink! Clink! Another Drink," Spike is the bartender and Mel Blanc -- the vocal genius who created the original voices of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Barney Rubble and more -- has a short solo.



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20080126

Carlsberg's new beer $400 a bottle

Wine and spirits have long had the upper hand when it comes to shockingly expensive products. Now, Scandinavia's largest brewer is getting into the act.

Carlsberg A/S has just introduced Vintage No. 1 priced at $396.47 or so per bottle -- depending on the daily rate of exchange -- to be sold at three upscale restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Vintage No. 1, which costs more than 350 times Carlsberg's main Danish lager brand, was developed to take advantage of the rising income of many Danes, the company says.

"We can feel that there's an increasing market for this type of product, as some of our customers order extremely expensive wines without blinking an eye," Lau Richter, restaurant chief at Noma, told the Bloomberg New Service.

Carlsberg has produced 600 bottles of the beer, each four-fifths of a pint. Another version costing more will be introduced next year and again in 2010, the company said.

Carlsberg, which sells more than 150 different beer brands in as many countries around the world, has no plans yet to export Vintage No. 1. Some bottles will be offered for sale next week on the brewer's Web site.

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20080123

Talk about specializing

The Thirsty Monk, a pub that will serve only Belgian or Belgian-style beers, has opened in Asheville, NC.

Owner Barry Bialik's pub, located at 50 Commerce Street in what had been Hookah Joe’s, is starting with 13 drafts and 130 or so bottled beers.

Bialik also is offering Belgian cheeses and chocolates and plans to add crepes to the possibilities.

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20080122

How to open a beer bottle with paper/money

No, you don't pay someone to do it for you. There actually is a way to do this, and perhaps make some money in the process.

Want to learn the trick to amaze and amuse your friends? Just click here to go to the WikiHow online site for all the details -- including a few safety tips you really should read.

If you don't have any money, you can open your beer with a napkin, too. The details are here.

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20080121

1,550% tax hike on malt beverages

From The Heartland Institute's "Budget & Tax News":
In a move that has roused constitutional and legal concerns in California, the State Board of Equalization has voted to uphold a ruling that amounts to a huge stealth tax increase on certain alcoholic beverages.

With a vote of 3 to 2, the board raised the tax on flavored malt beverages, such as Smirnoff Ice, from 20 cents to $3.30 a gallon. They did so by changing the classification of the beverages from beer to distilled spirits.

The reclassification must be approved by the Governor's Office of Administrative Law. Should it stick, the reclassification would amount to a tax increase of 1,550%.
You can read the full story here.

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20080114

Scottish brewer crosses the whisky line

Harviestoun Brewery may not go for smooth brand names, but the Scottish company certainly doesn't shy away from innovation.

Its latest product is called Ola Dubh, gaelic for "Black Oil." It's small-batch ale matured in casks once used for aging whisky -- Highland Park 12, 16 and 30 Year Old, to be specific.

The brew itself is based on Harviestoun's award-winning Old Engine Oil. It's styled like 19th century imperial porters and stouts, but claims a specific newness -- "the first ale to be aged in malt whisky casks from a named distillery and, with traceable casks and numbered bottles, the first with genuine provenance."

Ola Dubh will be launched in the U.S. this month, initially on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

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Barbados beer headed for NY

Banks, the top beer of Barbados, will be breaking into the U.S. market later this month when it makes its first shipment to selected vendors in New York.

This is a switch from the company's original plan, that of finding a U.S. brewery to make Banks from the company's recipe. Instead, what is shipped here will be brewed and packaged at the company's Caribbean facility.

Richard Crozier, managing director of parent company Banks Holdings Ltd., said in an announcement, "This option ... gives authenticity to the product and allows us a better price at retail. Banks plans to follow this up with additional shipments to Florida and Canada, and they expect to accomplish this within the first half of this year."

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20080110

Heineken keg-refrigerator coming to America

Gimmicks and beer team up in more than TV commercials.

Guinness, the Irish brewing icon, recently came up with an automated device to create the "perfect pour" and has made it available to bars in the U.S. Now, Dutch brewer Heineken and Krups, the German appliance maker, are preparing to sell their LCD-equipped keg-refrigerator in the U.S. as well.

The unit (seen here) can hold a 5-liter Heineken keg and keep it tasting fresh and cold for about 30 days. The LCD displays temperature and beer supply.

The unit has been sold for some time in Europe. Here, it will be sold through Williams-Sonoma beginning in March and other outlets beginning in April at a suggested retail price of $400.

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20080106

Belgian gluten-free brew shows up

Brewers from the giants such as Anheuser-Busch to micro-operations have been fooling around with gluten-free beers. Now, a true Belgian beer has joined the chase for consumer acceptance.

Three different gluten-free Green's Belgian Ales, imported from Belgium by Merchant du Vin of Washington state, have been making their way onto store shelves over the past several months.

They are made at the DeProef Brewery in Lochristi, Belgium, using millet, rice, buckwheat and sorghum. They are bottle-conditioned with an authentic Belgian yeast strain, and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

The styles are Green's Discovery Amber Ale, Green's Endeavour Dubbel Ale and Green's Quest Tripel.The options are Green's Discovery Amber Ale, Green's Endeavour Dubbel Ale and Green's Quest Tripel.

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20080102

Vineyard area won't be dry much longer

Aquinnah, MA, more commonly known as the Martha's Vineyard community of Gay Head despite its 1998 name change, has been known for more than a century as a tourist haven that allows no alcoholic beverages to be sold.

That should change now that Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a home rule petition submitted by town selectmen to grant beer and wine licenses to restaurants that seat 15 or more people. Unless a whole lot of people change their minds.

A 132-79 vote at the town meeting held in May supported the plan, and it then was passed by the state legislature. Now a required second vote will be held to put the new law into effect.

Only two establishments, the Outermost Inn and the Aquinnah Restaurant, are large enough to quality for the exemption.

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