20090427

Nice cans


Attention, men.

Beer good.

Women very good.

Beer that remind men of women, REALLY good!

These beer can designs by Ramm ND, a Russian packaging designer, are part of a large portfolio of can designs aimed at making an everyday product really stand out in the crowded marketplace.

Go here for a look at a lot more Ramm ND can designs.

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20090426

Caybrew finally hitting U.S. shores

Anyone who has traveled in the Caribbean and enjoyed Caybrew beer may have been disappointed they couldn't buy it in the U.S.

That problem now has been taken care of. The Cayman Islands Brewery (CIB), the only commercial brewery in the Caymans, has reached export and distribution agreements with a Florida company.

“We have had very positive feedback from initial test marketing ... and we expect the brand to do very well in selected niche markets,” says CEO Allen Chu Fook.

Caybrew has only been on the market since 2007. The first shipment to Tampa is expected to be on store shelves next month.

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20090413

Boston, A-B top Brewers Association lists

The Brewers Association has released its annual list of the top 50 craft brewing companies and the top 50 overall brewing companies.

The organization represents the majority of brewing companies in the U.S. Rankings are based on 2008 sales volume.

The Boston Beer Co., known for its Samuel Adams brews, topped the craft brewers list and was fourth overall. Anheuser-Busch/InBev topped th eoverall list.

"In 2007, 35 of the top 50 brewing companies were small and independent craft brewers. In 2008 there were 37," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. "Craft brewers continue to have success and generate excitement behind the flavorful beer movement, but not without recent challenges including price increases for raw materials and supplies, as well as access to market issues."

A more detailed statistical analysis of the craft beer segment in 2008 will be released April 22 during the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston. The full industry analysis will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer on May 19.

Top 50 Craft Brewers

1. Boston Beer Co., Boston
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
3. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
4. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
5. Pyramid Breweries Inc., Seattle
6. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
7. Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY
8. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
9. Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR
10. Magic Hat Brewing Co., Burlington, VT
11. Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
12. Harpoon Brewery, Boston
13. Bell's Brewery Inc., Galesburg, MI
14. Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI
15. Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco
16. Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME
17. Summit Brewing Co., Saint Paul, MN
18. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
19. Abita Brewing Co., Abita Springs, LA
20. The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
21. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
22. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
23. Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, VT
24. Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
25. Rogue Ales/Oregon Brewing Co., Newport, OR
26. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland
27. The Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA
28. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
29. SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta
30. Flying Dog Brewing Co., Frederick, MD
31. BJ's Restaurant & Brewery, Huntington Beach, CA
32. Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants, Louisville, CO
33. BridgePort Brewing Co., Portland, OR
34. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
35. Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA
36. Mac and Jack's Brewery, Redmond, WA
37. Big Sky Brewing Co., Missoula, MT
38. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Chattanooga, TN
39. Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
40. Breckenridge Brewery, Denver
41. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe, Eureka, CA
42. Otter Creek Brewing Co., Middlebury, VT
43. Utah Brewers Cooperative, Salt Lake City, UT
44. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, CA
45. Blue Point Brewing Co., Patchogue, NY
46. Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO
47. Pete's Brewing Co., San Antonio, TX
48. McMenamins Breweries, Portland, OR
49. Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Boonville, CA
50. The Saint Louis Brewery Inc., St Louis, MO

• Top 50 Overall Brewers

1. Anheuser-Busch/InBev, St. Louis, MO
2. MillerCoors Brewing Co., Chicago, IL
3. Pabst Brewing Co., Woodridge, IL
4. Boston Beer Co., Boston
5. D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc., Pottsville, PA
6. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
7. Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., Woodinville, WA
8. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
9. High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY
10. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
11. Pyramid Breweries Inc., Seattle, WA
12. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
13. Iron City Brewing Co., Pittsburgh, PA
14. Minhas Craft Brewery, Monroe, WI
15. Matt Brewing Co., Utica, NY
16. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
17. Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR
18. Magic Hat Brewing Co., Burlington, VT
19. Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
20. Harpoon Brewery, Boston
21. Bell's Brewery Inc., Galesburg, MI
22. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago
23. Kona Brewery LLC, Kailua-Kona, HI
24. Anchor Brewing Co., San Francisco
25. August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN
26. Shipyard Brewing, Portland, ME
27. Summit Brewing Co., Saint Paul, MN
28. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
29. Mendocino Brewing Co., Ukiah, CA
30. Abita Brewing Co. LLC, Abita Springs, LA
31. The Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
32. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
33. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
34. Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, VT
35. Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA
36. Rogue Ales/Oregon Brewing Co., Newport, OR
37. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland
38. The Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, CA
39. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
40. SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta
41. Flying Dog Brewing Co., Frederick, MD
42. BJ's Restaurant & Brewery, Huntington Beach, CA
43. Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants, Louisville, CO
44. BridgePort Brewing Co., Portland, OR
45. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
46. Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA
47. Straub Brewery, Saint Marys, PA
48. Cold Spring Brewing Co., Cold Spring, MN
49. Mac and Jack's Brewery, Redmond, WA
50. Big Sky Brewing Co., Missoula, MT

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20090411

'Save the pubs' cry grows in UK

Beer sales at pubs are way down, and several of the traditional drinking spots close each day in the United Kingdom.

There have been sporadic "Save the Pubs" meetings and calls for help in the national press, but they haven't created quite the groundswell Bob Russell wants to see.

The Liberal Democrat member of Parliament has made a parliamentary motion calling on the government to adopt a five-point plan to save the institution of the British pub.

Traditional public houses are being "unfairly priced out of the market while supermarkets offer cheap deals without the level of restrictions and responsibilities required" by licencees of pubs, Russell said in a statement.

He's not alone in the move. A total of 202 Members of Parliament (MPs) backed the motion which came at the start of National Cask Ale Week.

Also, TV news readers Melanie Sykes and Oz Clarke have suppported a call by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB) for a declaration of a National Beer Day.

Russell noted in his statement that five pubs close down in the UK every day, and beer sales in pubs at their lowest level for nearly 40 years. He said further tax increases are planned that "will place traditional public houses at even greater risk of closing down".

The five-point plan by the British Beer and Pub Association is:

• Cut plans to increase beer tax.

• Enforce existing laws, rather than creating new ones, to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises.

• End irresponsible promotion of alcohol in supermarkets, pubs and elsewhere.

• Trust responsible adults to make informed choices about what they drink rather than punishing them for the actions of an irresponsible minority.

• Support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities.

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20090408

Guinness anniversary stout release April 24

Guinness is a company that relies on tradition. That's only to be expected from a brewer that is only 250 years into a 9,000-year-lease of its flagship brewery at St. James's Gate in Dublin.

However, in honor of that 250 years, the maker of the world's top-selling stout has come up with a new stout beer for the U.S. market, a maltier, fizzier version of its older, creamier beer that also has 5% alcohol compared to the 4.2% level in Guinness Draught.

"This is more about refreshment and zing," said Fergal Murray, the Guinness master brewer who created the new carbonated brew.

The limited-edition Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout is scheduled to be available in U.S. bars and selected stores on Friday, April 24, the first new stout Guinness has exported to the U.S. since it began selling Guinness Draught here in the mid 1960s.

More than 1.8 billion pints of Guinness Draught are consumed each year in 150 countries.
The anniversary stout will be available only in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, according to Diageo PLC, owner of Guinness and the world's largest liquor producer. It is expected to be on sale for about six months.

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Canned Red Stripe bound for U.S.

Many of us have experienced a balmy Caribbean day, relaxing in the shade of a palm tree and sipping a frosty Red Stripe beer.

The Jamaican brewer is hoping to extend that experience to a lot more North Americans through its plan to begin shipping canned beer to the U.S. and Canada on May 1. The 12-ounce cans will be available as a four-pack offering at a suggested retail price of $6.99. Red Stripe already is available in 12- and 24-ounce bottles.

Red Stripe is hoping to better the 27% growth in volumes exported to the U.S. during the last six months of 2008 and improve its market share of U.S.-imported beer.

It will use the Canadian company Moosehead Brewery to brew and package the cans through licensing agreements similar to those it already has in the United Kingdom and Antigua. Moosehead will ship the beer to Diageo USA, a red Stripe affiliate.

Grace Silvera, Red Stripe's international marketing director, said in a statement, "This new can format will better enable Red Stripe to appeal to its core consumer base as the popularity of cans has significantly increased as well as captured new consumers and drinking occasions."

According to the brewer, part of the rationale for offering its flagship brand in a 12-ounce can to the U.S. market is the faster pace of growth of imported canned beer there.

"Currently, the small import-beer sector is growing at 4.6% with import cans growing at 13%," Silvera said. "Despite the state of the U.S. economy, Red Stripe beer continues to show a fair degree of resilience registering a 30% increase in volume sales" in February.

For the six months ending December 31, 2008, Red Stripe reported gross profit after marketing costs of $72 million for its export segment, up from a loss of $203 million.
Revenue from exports represented 25% of the company's overall sales up to the end of 2008, up from 20% in 2007. Domestic sale volume in Jamaica has been declining, which the company attributes to "the economic climate and its adverse effect on consumer's disposable income."

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20090405

The bar, the beer and the boar

William M. Dowd photos

IN THE RAIN FOREST, St. Croix -- As rain forests go, this isn't much of one.

We're bumping along a rutted one-lane road, or what passes for one on an island with no particularly good roads of any kind and a lot of deserted shells of buildings. Typical of the other face of the Caribbean, the one the tourists aren't meant to see. The rundown homes, peeling paint, piles of rusted-out barrels and other metal debris; the scrawny goats and chickens that meander about, poking into corners for something to eat, and competing for walking space along the roads with uniformed school children looking bright-eyed despite the obvious poverty.

We'd been put on the trail of a particular drink called a "Mama Juana," apparently something very special on this American Virgin Island. Go into the rain forest, we'd been told. Look for The Domino Club. That's where you'll find it. And look for the beer-swilling pigs while you're at it.

The 15-acre western part of the island is dotted with all sorts of trees -- kapok, mahogany, turpentine -- as well as scraggly vines and ferns. The occasional banana quit, hummingbird or yellow warbler darts through the thick vegetation.

This spot north of the capital city of Frederiksted is privately owned, although no one stops the public from wandering through it, especially on a variety of narrow trails that snake through the underbrush.

Just when it seems we might have taken a wrong turn, suddenly we are there.

Our driver pulls off the tight road and our little group scrambles out, anxious for a Mama Juana or two. But first, we have to visit the wild, beer-swilling pigs.

A couple of accuracy alerts. For one, according to the strictest botanical definition, this isn't technically a rain forest, we're told, although no one seems to be able to supply that definition. For another, the pigs we were there to visit actually are boars. And for a third, we are told these particular boars are domesticated and have inherited their jobs from a previous generation of once-wild ones that drank real beer. The current creatures drink only O'Doul's non-alcoholic brew, a nod to animal rights groups.

Jacqueline, a stout, blonde-haired woman of indeterminate age, lines us up in front of the high-walled enclosure where she says the pigs live.

"Here's the drill," she says, mustering up all the charm of a Marine drill instructor. "Three dollars each for admission, a dollar a can for the beer, an extra five dollars if you want to shoot any video. Now, how many of you are coming in?"

We dutifully pay our money, then walk through the doorway, immediately spotting a pair of boars behind cement pen walls. They'd just stepped in from their larger outside pen. They are thirsty and bang against the walls.

"Don't let their tusks scare you," Jacqueline says. "Their teeth don't start till way back in their mouth, so you can place a can of beer in their mouth and they'll bite down on it without hurting you."

Several timid feints and the first of our group successfully "feeds" a beer to a boar. It clamps its powerful jaws on the can, crushing it and releasing the foaming brew. He guzzles the beer, spits out the can and looks around for more. His penmate does the same.

The process goes smoothly through most of two six-packs, until one of our group gets a little sloppy, or one of the boars does. A crushed can explodes its contents onto our companion's shirt front, soaking him to the skin. That's the end of the boar fest, and we head across a small clearing to the Mount Pellier Hut of The Domino Club.

We commandeer a rickety table in the thatched three-room hut. The place is dominated by a long bar in a dark part of the structure peopled by a couple who look as if they've been seated there for a very long time. Jacqueline, it turns out, also is the head bartender and in charge of the only other obvious employee.

The Domino Club is a structure that looks as if, in case a shot is fired and the authorities are called, it can be packed away and disappear in seven minutes flat.

We order Mama Juanas, then think to ask what is in the drink. Rum, honey and herbs, we're told. What kind of rum? What kinds of herbs? Just herbs, is the answer. Special herbs. And, don't chug the shots, Jacqueline warns.

We hoist, toast and -- despite the instructions -- chug. God almighty. This is vile stuff, is my first thought. I'll never need cough medicine again, is my second. The potion should be called Mama-don't-wanna.

Our driver is getting impatient. We don't mind, clambering back into the van and rattling off into what's left of this not-quite-a-rainforest, curiosity quenched, even if our thirst isn't. But, there is a nice bar back at the hotel that serves any kind of cocktail you can think of.

Aah, civilization.

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