20100130

SF Beer Week promises big stuff

The annual San Francisco Beer Week is scheduled to begin next Friday, February 5, and run through Valetine's Day, Sunday the 14th.

An estimated 60 rare, limited-release beers will be popping up, along with a host of activities at multiple venues. Herewith, a small sampling:

• A music concert, live comedy, and a dozen breweries at a "Beer-In for Charity" at Cobb's Comedy Club.

• A dinner with barrel-aged beer pairings by Beer & Nosh's Jesse Friedman, with celebrity chef Jen Biesty, at Scala's Bistro.

• Nightly food pairings with Drake's Brewing Co. new Belgian Trippel at The Front Porch.

• "Beer to Breakers" bike ride with breaks at breweries in San Francisco.


• Such new beer releases as Triple Rock's Keyser Soze Imperial Stout, Gordon Biersch's Rauchbier, Special Bock and Barrel-aged Dunkles, Russian River's Pliny the Younger, Schmaltz's Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah, and Speakeasy's new collaborative beer with Whole Foods.

• "Meet the Brewers Nights" with Black Diamond, Sudwerk, Trumer, Allagash, Marin, Ballast Point, Moylan's, Triple Rock, Bear Republic, and the San Francisco Brewers Guild.

• A Peninsula pub crawl on CalTRain with Wet Your Whistles.

You can get the full rundown on the interactive events map on the website, along with details on ticketsm lodging and the like.

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20100129

German beer sales hit 20-year low

Germany has long been regarded as a beer country, but that image is slipping badly.

Domestic sales last year dropped to their lowest level since 1989, according to official statistics published Thursday.

Sales of German beer dropped to just under 2.2 billion gallons in 2009, a fall of 2.8% from the prior year.

Overall, the German economy, regarded as Europe's strongest, contracted by 5% in 2009, its worst since the end of World War II.

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20100125

F.X. Matt may buy struggling microbrewery

From The Buffalo, NY, News:

Almost 10 years after rolling out its first kegs, a beloved Buffalo brewery is working to save itself from extinction.

Tucked into Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood on Ontario Street, the tiny Flying Bison Brewing Co. has been struggling lately to stay in business. ...

Flying Bison, ... hatched in 1995 by a small group of friends, has grown into a beloved local brand that flows through more than 100 bar and restaurant taps and has seen wide distribution to grocery and convenience stores. ... But, two years ago, the price of ingredients brewers rely on started to spike. Malt prices quickly doubled. Hops tripled, then quadrupled in cost. And a marketplace of newly cost-conscious consumers meant Flying Bison couldn’t raise its own price tags to make up the difference.

Three months ago, the brewery stopped bottling the beer it had widely sold through Try-It Distributing and since then has only shipped kegs. In the meantime, [Utica's F.X.] Matt Brewing Co. has made an offer to buy Flying Bison for $100,000 plus a partial assumption of the company’s debts.

[Go here for the full story.]

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Beer, whisky and survival

From The Guardian, London:

On Tuesday 12 January, Wismond Exantus was at work in the ground-floor shop of the four-storey Napoli Inn in Port-au-Prince. At 4.53pm, when the magnitude 7.0 quake hit, the 24-year-old cashier had the presence of mind to squirrel himself under a desk as the building tumbled down around him.

By Saturday, 11 days later and hours after the government declared search and rescue operations to be officially over, he was pulled alive from the ­rubble. The story of Exantus – the last known survivor to emerge from Haiti's shattered ruins – is a remarkable tale of crisps, beer, whisky, Twitter, a riot and a diminutive Scottish woman rescuer.

[For the rest of the remarkable story of survival, go here.]

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20100124

Have a cold one your way

Burger King likes to refer to itself these days as BK. Now, the B can stand for beer with your burger.

If you're in Miami, that is. That's where the fast-food chain has opened its first "burger bar" where it is selling beer to drinking-age patrons.

The Whopper Bar South Beach is offering Whopper sandwich with Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors brews. With fries, the combo costs $7.99. A beer alone, served in special aluminum cans made for BK, costs $4.25.

This restaurant is the company's pilot project. If successful, it plans to introduce the concept in other tourist markets such as Las Vegas, ,New York and Los Angeles, according to Chuck Fallon, president of Burger King North America.

Can a wine list be far behind?

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Belgian beer blockade lifted

Let the Stella flow!

Disgruntled union workers have lifted their two-week-long blockade at the Anheuser-Busch InBev brewery in Leuven, Belgium.

The stoppage, in retaliation for the corporation's announcement that it plans to lay off 10% of its workforce in Europe, affected the distribution of Stella Artois and other premium beers.

"After the blockade is lifted, the unions and management will start from scratch with meetings of the works council that will deal with problems site by site," union representative Tangui Cornu told Agence France Presse.

[Go here for the earlier explainer.]

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20100118

He'Brew broadens its market for 2 brews

One of the difficulties of discovering a fine craft beer is that too often you can't find it after sampling it at a competition or other special event.

One such is Coney Island Human Blockhead, from the whimsical and marketing-savvy folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company in New York where they turn out what they call "He'Brew, The Chosen Beer."

Human Blockhead was awarded the grand prize in the "Loose Lager" category at the U.S. Tasting Championship last July 2009, and it took second place in the "Strong Lager" category at the 2009 Manitou Springs Craft Lager Festival in Manitou Springs, CO, in August.

After that, demand grew for the beer, but supply wasn't yet there to meet it. However, it will be made available nationwide from this month through May 2010.

Schmaltz brewers use eight specialty malts of barley, wheat, rye, and oats to create Human Blockhead, along with six hop varieties from European Noble roots to American Pacific Northwest new school flavors, and a proprietary lager yeast. The finished product comes in at 10% alcohol.

Schmaltz also likes to name some of its products for prominent Jewish personalities, such as satirical comic Lenny Bruce. To commemorating the 40th anniversary of the caustic-tongued icon's death, the company is re-issuing Lenny's R.I.P.A. "brewed with an obscene amount of malts and hops." It is being offered in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles as a new year-round product beginning this month.

For those not up on their amusement park history, Coney Island has been part of Brooklyn legend as a vacation spot and then amusement center since the 1830s. One of its most enduring attractions for generations was the carnival area with its sideshows and rides.

Schmaltz Brewing uses some of the more bizarre sideshow personalities that have appeared there over the years as the title characters in its lineup of brews: Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager, Albino Python white lager with spices, and so on.

The Human Blockhead was a performer who pounded nails into his head -- or at least appeared to do so -- to the horrified amusement of all who paid to see him. The first to have the role was magician Melvin Burkhardt, who had it for 25 years, and the act continues to this day as performed by the quaintly named Donny Vomit.

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20100115

A new drama is brewing: Stella!

If you're headed for Europe and plan to quaff a Stella Artois or two, think again. Supplies of the premium Belgian beer are running dangerously low and, one might project, the problem may hit the U.S. market as well.

A labor dispute over planned layoffs by Stella's manufacturer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has resulted in workers blockading the brewery in Leuven, Belgium, for the past week to prevent beer from being shipped out.

The unions are protesting the company's plans to cut more than 250 of 2,700 jobs in Belgium.

Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this week a plan to cut 800 jobs across western Europe, 10% of its 8,000 workforce in the region. Stella Artois lager is one of the firm's biggest-selling brands

The company said its decision was a result of declining beer sales, with the layoffs spread across Belgium, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, was formed in 2008 when Belgium-based InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Budweiser, and the largest brewer in the U.S. InBev itself was formed in 2004 when Belgian Interbrew merged with Brazil's AmBev.

[See the preceding post for an update on the global beer market.]

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20100108

What happens when the bubbles burst

Here are a few excerpts from this week's news stories about the latest trials and tribulations in the global beer market:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Dow Jones) -- Anheuser-Busch InBev said Thursday it may lay off 263 workers in Belgium because Belgians are drinking less and less beer. The world's largest brewer, based in Leuven, Belgium, said the changes were necessary to ...

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- U.S. wine and spirits maker Constellation Brands Inc. reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as it cut costs, but investors remained concerned by the disappointing results of a joint venture with Mexico's leading brewer. The company, whose wine brands include Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois and Ravenswood, said sales of its branded wines and the beers it imports had fallen in North America. The company's sales and profit margins have suffered as many consumers seek out lower-priced drinks in the economic downturn.

LONDON (The Telegraph) -- As the recession continues, many of the country's biggest brewers have unveiled a fresh round of increases in the cost of popular beers, reports suggested. Guinness producer Diageo warned that the recommended retail price of a pint would rise 10 pence to £3.03 on February 1.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (The Telegraph) -- Brewing giant InBev has announced it will increase the wholesale price of all its drinks products by an average of 4 pence a pint from February 1. The company, whose brands include Stella Artois, Beck's, Budweiser, Staropramen and Leffe, said that the rises were "within the context of continuing difficult market conditions and a challenging economic climate."

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20100106

Long Island to be flooded by beer

The 4th annual Spring Craft Beer Festival, a highlight of the beer events calendar for Long Island, NY, has been scheduled for March 27.

The event, held at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Nassau County, will draw more than 50 craft brewers from around the country, pouring samples of more than 100 brews.

The 60,000 square foot exhibit hall once again will include a beer garden with a great menu of craft beer-infused fare.

The pay-one-price admission includes a 6-ounce souvenir tasting glass. Further details and reservations are available online.

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