20080527

Beers in space

This is a case of "This town isn't big enough for both of us" taken to the extreme.

A Japanese visionary is working on what promises to be the first outer space beer, aimed at the small niche known as "astronauts."

The brewer Sapporo announced in Tokyo this week that it is planning the beer, using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station. The project makes use of the third generation of barley grains that had spent five months on the space station in 2006.

"We want to finish the beer by November. It will be the first space beer," Sapporo executive Junichi Ichikawa told reporters.

The company will have enough space grain to produce about 100 bottles of beer but has no immediate plan to make it a commercial venture, Sapporo officials said.

Managu Sugimoto, a biologist at Okayama University, is the lead scientist on the project. He also has been part of a Russian venture looking into ways to grow edible plants in space.

Barley can grow in relatively tough environments, such as high and low temperatures, and is rich in fibre and nutrients, making it ideal for space agriculture, Sugimoto said.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

20080525

Anheuser-Busch news updates

• From The Times of London:

The beer giant Anheuser-Busch may fend off any unsolicited bid from rival InBev by snapping up 50% of the Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, maker of Corona.

Last week it emerged that InBev, the Belgian maker of Becks and Stella Artois, was considering a $50 billion offer for Anheuser, Budweiser’s parent company. Snapping up the 50% of Modelo that Anheuser does not already own would cost the company between $10 billion and $15 billion and could make Anheuser too expensive for InBev to afford, analysts say.

InBev is the world’s largest brewer by sales volume. Anheuser-Busch, the long-time giant of American brewers, holds more than 50% of the domestic market. A tie-up would create one of the world’s top five consumer-goods groups and would be the largest deal ever in the beverages industry.

InBev faces tough opposition. August Busch IV, who took over as chief executive in late 2006, is believed to have rebuffed an informal overture from Inbev last October. In April he told beer distributors that the company started by his great-great grandfather, Adolphus Busch, would not be taken over “on my watch.”

The Busch family controls only 4% of the shares, but it has tight control over the business with a board of loyal and long-serving executives. However, a $50 billion takeover offer might win over shareholders.

• From Reuters news service:

Anheuser Busch Inc. and a local distributor have agreed to pay $21 million to victims of a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed more than 100 people, the latest in a string of settlements that total more than $120 million.

Court papers filed on Friday showed the brewer of Budweiser and Bud Light agreed to pay $5 million, while its Rhode Island-based distributor, McLaughlin & Moran, would pay $16 million. The companies did not admit wrongdoing but were named in the lawsuits because plaintiffs representing those killed and injured in one of the deadliest blazes in U.S. history said the two companies promoted the concert.

The blaze, sparked by fireworks that accompanied a show by the rock band Great White on Feb. 20, 2003, at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, RI, also injured more than 200 people. The settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, must be approved by a judge.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

20080524

Anheuser-Busch a takeover target

Will brewing giant Anheuser-Busch be the subject of a takeover by InBev NV of Belgium?

When that possibility was reported by both The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times' Aplhaville blog on Friday, the potential $46 billion acquisition caused A-B's stock to soar to a record in New York trading.

If such a takeover occurs, it would result in creation of a company that distributes one-fourth of the world's beer. Reduction of overlaps caused by such a venture also would result in many lost jobs en route to saving such an expanded company an estimated $450 million a year.

Alphaville's reported $65 per-share offer would be 24% higher than the St. Louis-based company's closing price on Friday.

What gives credence to the reported takeover is that competitors SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co. are combining their U.S. units. Officials from both A-B, which controls about half the U.S. beer market, and InBev, the world's largest brewer perhaps best known for making Stella Artois, refused to publicly comment on the report.

InBev passed Anheuser-Busch in 2006 as the world's largest brewer ranked by sales. Revenue in 2007 was $19.7 billion, while A-Busch had $16.7 billion. The two companies have had a business relationship for several years, with A-B acting as the exclusive U.S. importer of some of InBev's products.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

20080518

Another Irish brewery shutdown planned

Three hundred years of history will come to an end when Kilkenny, Ireland's landmark St. Francis Abbey Brewery ceases operations in 2013.

Diageo, the parent company of the Guinness and Smithwicks brewing teams that utilize the brewery (seen here), said the phase-out is part of centralizing Irish operations at a new site in Clondalkin, Dublin.

Under the restructuring program, Diageo's Kilkenny and Dundalk breweries will close down in 2013 and operations at the Waterford brewery will be "streamlined," the company said.

St. James's Gate, home of Guinness in Dublin, will remain a key part of the company's brewing operations in Ireland. Howeverm it will see a significant reduction in scope because of the new Clondalkin facility.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

20080505

Top spots to try before you die

Did your favorite beer place make the list?

All About Beer Magazine has come up with a list of "125 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die."

Here's the top 10 from the global tally:

1. Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO
2. Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
3. U Fleku, Prague, Czech Republic
4. Great British Beer Festival, Earls Court, London, England
5. Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
6. Augustiner Keller, Munich, Germany
7. Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval, Orval, Belgium
8. The Gravity Bar, Guinness St. James Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland
9. Monk’s CafĂ©, Philadelphia, PA
10. The Great Canadian Beer Festival, Vancouver, BC

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

This could be a dream job

From the Times of London:
Scores applied for the position and after a series of interviews, two men were found to be up to the job of having a pint with Jack Hammond, a genial elderly gentleman in need of a regular drinking partner.

A retired doctor and a former military man have stepped into the breach and will now accompany Mr. Hammond, 88, to the Compass Inn several nights a week, to discuss current affairs and military history.

It never appeared that there would be any difficulty filling the vacancy, after Mr Hammond’s son Mike advertised in a local post office in Hampshire for a man to take his father to the pub. He offered £7 an hour, plus expenses.
Here's the rest of the story.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.

20080502

VT’s Magic Hat buying West Coast group

The Magic Hat Brewing Co. and Performing Arts Center Inc. of South Burlington, VT, is expanding, in several ways.

In addition to an expansion of its facility that is to be unveiled to the public after Memorial Day, the company is purchasing Seattle's Pyramid Brewers. The new, single company will maintain the two brand names and distribute both lines of beer coast-to-coast. Both will maintain their separate brand names.

The two companies already signed a letter of intent, the first step in the acquisition process. The $25 million deal should be finalized by the end of August, following financial and legal review, said Pyramid CEO Scott Barnum.

Magic Hat, which is a private company, will purchase all of Pyramid's stocks. Privatizing Pyramid an estimated $1 million annually in costs associated with being a publicly traded company, Barnum said, noting, "You improve the company's profitablity overnight."

The Vermont company, founded in 1994, is one of the largest craft brewers on the East Coast and sells its beers from Maine to Georgia and as far west as Illinois. 

Pyramid owns two alehouse restaurants adjacent to its production breweries under the Pyramid Alehouse and MacTarnahan's Taproom brand names in Berkeley, CA, and Portland, OR, respectively, and three alehouse restaurants in Walnut Creek and Sacramento, CA, and Seattle. 

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Brews Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Non-Alcohol Drinks Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Tasting Notes latest entry.
Back to Dowd On Drinks home page.