20080630

A-B backs off alcoholic energy drinks

Anheuser-Busch, under pressure from various governmental units, says it will stop selling alcoholic energy drinks.

Several state attorneys general as well as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have threatened to sue A-B and Miller Brewing Co., contending that their alcoholic energy drinks are marketed to underage drinkers and also pose health risks.

A-B, while rebutting the allegations, nevertheless notified CSPI that it would agree to stop marketing alcoholic drinks with energy supplements such as caffeine. It said in a statement that it is reformulating Tilt and Bud Extra.

Initially, A-B had responded to the charges by noting that it unfairly targeted brewers even though distilled spirits makers have long marketed caffeinated cocktails such as Red Bull and vodka.

"Although Bud Extra and Tilt met all regulatory requirements, had much less caffeine than a Starbuck's coffee, and had received all necessary federal and state agency approvals, we are reformulating these products (without the caffeine, guarana and similar supplements) in response to the AGs' concerns," A-B said in a statement.

New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo said the attorneys general were "conducting ongoing investigations into other producers of alcoholic energy drinks."

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.

20080625

Sam Adams bubbling in ex-Stroh's brewery

The ghosts of brewers past may be smiling now that a former iconic brewery has reopened in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.

The Boston Beer Co. has begun producing Samuel Adams beer at former Stroh's brewery in Upper Macungie, PA, near Allentown seven years after the facility was closed. It will produce 1.6 million barrels of Sam Adams annually.

Stroh's began brewing in Detroit in 1850, spread nationally by swallowing up such competitors as F&M Schaefer, Schlitz and Piel's, and lasted 149 years until it sold off its assets to a variety of other competitors in 1999.

Ten months ago, the Pennsylvania facility was purchased for $55 million from Miller Brewing Co. by Boston Beer. It still is being renovated, with bottle production expected to begin in July.

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.

Miller has high hopes for lower-calorie beer

Back in March, I wrote about Miller Brewing Co.'s test marketing of a new beer called MGD 64 ("MGD 64 is not a spray lubricant'). That testing has worked so well that the Milwaukee company says it is planning a national rollout of the 64-calorie version of its Miller Genuine Draft Light brand.

MGD 64 was initially launched last summer in Madison, WI, and now is available throughout the Midwest and West.

Miller CEO Tom Long said in a message to distributors that MGD 64 will replace the 110-calorie MGD Light brand around the country by mid-September.

Long said conversion from trial to repeat purchase has been nearly twice that of Michelob Ultra after its first two months in the market. He said MGD 64 has led a "dramatic turnaround" in sales. Midwest sales, for example, are on the rise after a double-digit decline a year ago, he 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.

20080611

Czechs' pilsner slip is showing

"CZECHS NO LONGER BREW
TOP PILSNER"

That headline in the English-language Prague Post must have been a bitter one to publish, let alone admit to in the beer-centric Czech Republic.

Nevertheless, here's how the story begins:

"If you want to taste the world’s best Bohemian-style pilsner beer, you’re going to have to go a long way from Bohemia.

"At this year’s World Beer Cup in San Diego, CA, the largest competition of its kind, the gold medal for 'Bohemian-style lager' did not go to a Czech brewery for the first time since 2000, when the competition was smaller by nearly half and dominated by North American brewers.

"Rather, the world’s best pilsner beers can be found in two unlikely places: Portland and Sydney.

"Australia’s James Squire Pilsner and Oregon’s Hopworks Urban Brewery Lager won the gold and silver awards, respectively, for their pilsner beers at the competition, which was held in late April. Coming in third was Gambrinus Premium, brewed by Plzeňský Prazdroj, the legendary Czech brewery that first invented the pilsner style of beer in 1842."

Here's the full 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.

20080608

New winery opens new brewery

The Three Brothers Winery and Estates in Geneva, NY, opened last fall. Now it has opened a brewery on the property as well.

“The brothers got together to see who could produce the best wine,” David Mansfield, one of three brothers who collectively own the microbrewery, told MPnow.com. “We don’t agree on much, but the one thing we do agree upon is great handcrafted beer."

The Finger Lakes brewery, called Barley Yards, actually is the fourth enterprise that is part of the 36-acre family collective on Seneca Lake encompassing a restaurant, a pavilion and a wedding barn along with separate wineries/labels for its high-end, semi-sweet and sweet wines: Stony Lonesome, Passion Feet Vineyards and Wine Barn and Rouge’s Hollow.

Barley Yards is located in a barn with World War II airport-hangar decor. Beer is served out of miniature airplane wings that holds six tasting glasses.

“We serve the world’s first Riesling ale, and it’s our best seller so far,” Mansfield said, explaining that the ale is a lighter type of beer made with Riesling grape juice. The brewing company also offers a dark American larger, India pale ale, raspberry wheat and amber beer.

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.

20080604

F.X. Matt back in operation

The historic F.X. Matt brewery in Utica, NY, is back in operation after an accidental fire that caused an estimated $10 million in damage.

Production resumed yesterday with a test batch of beer just five days after the fire investigators say was caused when two employees were welding equipment and inadvertently melted a plastic conveyor belt on the second floor. No one was injured in the blaze.

Matt will need to outsource bottling and canning for an unspecified period. Its canning operation was destroyed and its bottling operation damaged. Brewery President Nick Matt said he hopes bottling can be resumed on-premises within a few weeks.

Although at one time Matt brewed its own brand of beer, it now brews numerous beers and soft drinks under contract. Perhaps the best-known brand it creates is Saranac. It is run by the third- and fourth-generations of the Matt family, following the history that began in 1885 when the original F.X. Matt left the Duke of Baden Brewery in Germany's Black Forest region to emigrate to the U.S. to start his own brewery.

He worked for several years at the financially wobbly Bierbaur Brewery, then in 1888 reorganized it into The West End Brewing Co. It became one of the largest of the dozen or so breweries then in operation in the upstate city.

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.

20080601

Big Apple's big pricey beer

The Gothamist is one handy Web site when it comes to keeping tabs on the many, many trends, fads and foibles in the Big Apple. Considering the size and activity level of the place, I can use all the help I can get in keeping up.

The latest drinking-related item it reports puts beer right up there with those ridiculously priced spirits and wines that crop up with great regularity. It's a $95 beer. Not for the keg or the case or the six-pack, but for "a" beer.

It's a 17-ounce Baladine Xyauyù being served at the Beer Table, an establishment in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Reports The Gothamist:

"The beer ... cannot be found anywhere else in New York, and takes three years to brew; something that Paul Kermizian, beer connoisseur and co-owner of Barcade and The Gutter, tells us factors in to what may seem like an inflated price tag.

"Iy is an extremely rare beer from a tiny artisanal brewery in Italy. Many craft breweries brew small batch beers such as this that are extremely time consuming and labor intensive. That, plus the skyrocketing costs of ingredients, puts the brewery in a position to have to charge a good deal more than they would for a typical pale ale. Often, breweries brew these beers for enjoyment and will likely only break even once all of it is sold.

"One thing to consider is that if a brewery makes a beer that takes three years to age, the beer is probably taking up precious tank space in a brewery already working in too small of a facility. Of the 22 bottles made available at the bar, four have been purchased so far.

"And if you want a taste of the top shelf for slightly less, there's also a rotating collection of about 100 obscure and artisanal beers (that) also includes a $64 Danish beer that changes its ingredients with each new batch and a handful of $50 brews."

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.