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NEWS ARCHIVES                                        Back to NEWS

Pernod lifts whisky production

Whisky Plan Pays Off 

Whisky Group Back in the Black

Scotched Laws

Fire on West 4th hits popular Kitsilano pub

Blind Ambition

Cheese and wine are in worst possible taste

Wine through a straw?!

Michael Jackson Obituary

There’s a Gin Revival Going Down :: So Take That, James Bond!

Cheers! Your petrol tank could soon be smelling like a distillery

2007 Canada Cup of Beer Awards

Black to the future for Famous Grouse as Edrington challenges Islay malts

What is the Most Expensive Whisky

Eco-friendly Vodka from Florida

Quattro on 4th hires new pastry chef

Decanter.com Releases Power List

Drinks Americas to Launch Trump Super Premium Vodka Flavors in Coming Quarter

Whisky of the Year Awards, 2007

Vodka Tasting - the Oxymoron of the definition of Vodka

A Six Pack to Kick off Summer

The History of Vin & Spirit AB (Absolut Vodka company)

The Great Vodka Tasting

You can do a lot with Apples

Allergies and Hops

Guardians of the Glenlivet

Seeking the Connections: Alcoholism and Our Genes

Green Whisky Better by Half

Blackwood Losses up, but turnover rises

Island Brewery Gets Ready for Summer

Favourite curry venues chosen to help retain Glasgow's title

Old island distillery to be recreated using 'all-green' concepts

European drinks firms keen on India, seek tax cuts

They Just won't let it go.....


Slainte! Scotch whisky cheered by Indian plans to slash import tax


Canada's  first Sake winery opens in Vancouver

Nova Scotia whisky distiller can keep Glen Breton label

Chardonnay & Sauvignon allowed in Rioja

Asia Pacific Breweries Invests In Fifth Brewery In Vietnam

Put a Stop in it - Screw caps vs. Corks

Rising Barley Costs Could Mean Higher Prices for Beer

Strong Dark Brews add new meaning to "coffee bar"

Think & Drink

Change a Brewin

Canada Says Yes To Genetically Modified Yeast With Reduced Cancer Causing Compounds

Sleep-Lulling Grapes (or "I thought it was called passing out!")

Not for Profit Beer?

Some Beers Really do Get Getter with Age

Globalization - Who owns What (this will shock you.....)

Alcohol sharpens your brain, say researchers

Booze: Health Helper or Hindrance?

CAMRA Vancouver Awards 2008

Brewery cashes in on Whistler's high profile

Richmond's Kingswood Arms Burns

West gets a new Executive Chef

Raise a glass to an old gin palace

Beer prices set to fizz up because of high-cost ingredients

Bluecoat American Dry Gin

Tree Wins Three Canadian Brewing Awards

Raising The Bar: The 7 Best Alcohol-Related World Records

Trappist Command: Thou Shalt Not Buy Too Much of Our Beer

Ban Lifted, Spirits go on the Block

Strong suds for the holidays

Beer lovers face higher prices as hops shortage looms

Vijay Mallya of United Breweries, considering listing his international spirits business in the London Stock Exchange.

Business Profile: Vijay Mallya



Title: Pernod lifts whisky production

Source: The Herald

Date: October 31, 2007

Pernod Ricard said yesterday it is planning to expand its whisky production and storage facilities after announcing sales results that showed burgeoning demand for the Scottish product from emerging markets and less established markets such as France.

Sales of its 15 key brands rose an average of 16% in value between July 1 and September 30 but within that, its whiskies did particularly well. Sales of Ballantine's were up 22% while Chivas Regal rose 19% and The Glenlivet gained 13%. Overall, net sales rose 6.9% to 1.6bn (£1.1bn) In Asia, imported whisky brands led the way. The company reported that sales were up 30% driven by Ballantine's and Martell brandy. Ballantine's and Chivas Regal did particularly well in India.

In North America, The Glenlivet expanded strongly while Chivas Regal sales increased slightly. The latter also did well in Venezuela. Pernod Ricard reported sales rose by 34.1% across central and South America as a whole. The French, too, appear to be developing a taste for whisky. Overall sales in the country were up 5% to 157m, but while aniseed product sales actually declined because of bad weather during the summer. Chivas Regal, Aberlour and The Glenlivet soared, in part due to heavy promotion of the products.

Pernod also announced that it would increase its stocks of whisky products such as Chivas and Ballantine's this year to keep up with strong sales growth and said it plans to increase ints production and storage capacities for its whiskies as well as Martell and champagne. As a result, its debt reduction will be limited in its 2007-08 financial year.

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Title: Whisky plan pays off

Source: Press & Journal

Date: October 19, 2007

Scottish Development International's 2007 direct marketing campaign aimed at securing meetings with potential investors in Canada and the US has been recognised.

It won a silver award at the Direct Marketing Associations International Echo Awards held in Chicago.

An empty whisky decanter and documents outlining Scotland's key sales messages, was delivered to a prospect's address along with a note explaining that, if the recipient would agree to meet with an SDI manager, they would receive a bottle of rare malt whisky to accompany the decanter.

SDI's Americas president, Lorna Jack, said: "From the mailing in January to 217 targets we've secured 62 meetings so far. "That's nearly a 30% response rate which far exceeded the industry average and everyone's expectations."

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Title: Whisky group back in the black

Source: Press & Journal

Date: October 17, 2007

Whisky company Glenmorangie - which distills whisky at Glenmorangie Distillery, Tain; Glen Moray, at Elgin and Ardbeg, in Islay - continued to pay compensation in 2006 for terminating distribution agreements after integrating distribution channels with those of the much larger Moet Hennessy Group.

This followed the acquisition of Broxburn-based Glenmorangie in early 2005 by Moet Hennessy Invetissements, part of the giant French luxury products group LVMH.

Compensation in 2006 was just £170,000, however, compared with almost £17million the year before, according to the whisky company's latest report and accounts just released by Companies House.

This helped Glenmorangie to return to profit last year after posting losses in 2005.

The accounts show that Glenmorangie made pre-tax profits of £7.31million against pre-tax losses of £3.94million in the nine months previously.

Turnover for 2006 was £68.44million, up from £58.21million in the nine months to the end of 2005.

The accounts also show the company's unnamed highest-paid director, thought to be chief executive Paul Neep, received £435,000 in basic salary, performance-related pay and benefits during the year, against £334,000 in the nine months to the end of 2005.

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Scotched Laws

Source: Mark Reynier, Managing Director Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of  Islay, Argyll, Scotland, PA49 7UN

Date: October 11, 2007


New anti-counterfeiting laws  announced by the Scotch Whisky Association this week may have more sinister implications. Critics claim a fait accompli by the SWA,  which wants to define whisky as ‘single malt’, ‘blended whisky’, ‘blended malt’,  ‘single grain’, and ‘blended grain’. Most distillers disapprove of ‘blended malt’ title which replaces the existing term ‘vatted malt’  in use for over a century for a bottling of several single malts together.


Bruichladdich Distillery MD Mark Reynier: “We welcome most of the new  proposals but experience tells us that changes usually reflect a vested interested of the Big Boys. The new term, ‘blended malt’, deliberately  confuses two older titles, the widely accepted ‘blended whisky’, and the emotive but highly misleading term ‘pure malt’. This new suitably bland and innocuous looking term  will be a charter for deception. Overseas consumers are less likely to differentiate between the two similar terms. But that appears to be  precisely what the SWA’s members want to achieve following  the Cardhu debacle. Ambiguity in front of the consumer”


Then, Cardhu, a  single malt,  was to become a vatted malt (whisky from several distilleries – not one) so that the limited supply could be increased at will. But highly misleadingly, the vatted malt was to look  almost the same  as the prestigious single malt presentation -  the general consumer would be none the wiser. This led to fierce accusations by the rest of the  industry of bully boy tactics by Diageo, and the SWA  risking  the credibility of  the whole single malt  sector.


“They were mighty annoyed when they couldn’t  get away with it  then - so here they are  changing the laws instead to suit their marketing  needs instead."


The proposed law is to supersede the Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and the Scotch Whisky Order 1990


Diageo/Cardhu story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3546321.stm


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Fire on West 4th hits popular Kitsilano pub

Source: CBC.ca (including all photos)

Date: October 1, 2007

Firefighters battled a large blaze at Bimini's Tap House at 2010 West 4th Avenue near Maple Street on Monday morning. Ken Hogg, a garbage truck driver, was driving through the alley when he saw workers running from the building. He then called 911.

Bimini's Tap House on West 4th Ave in Vancouver was hit by a fire Monday morning.

"Right as I pulled into the lane, I saw flames starting to shoot out the side of the building and the guys came running from inside," said Hogg. Firefighters were first called at 7:30 a.m. PT. By 8 a.m., the fire was burning out of control at the back of the building and smoke could be seen from across the city. Half an hour later, crews had the fire under control. The fire did not appear to have spread to neighbouring buildings.

The fire at Bimini's Tap House on West 4th Avenue was brought under control by 8:30 a.m. PT on Monday.

There are no reports of any injuries. Renovations were being done to the building overnight, said the owner, Pete Uram. The large wooden structure was built in 1910. There were no reports yet on what may have caused the fire. Uram said it's too soon to say when Bimini's, one of B.C.'s first neighbourhood pubs, will reopen.

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Blind Ambition

Source: Mark Reynier, Managing Director Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of  Islay, Argyll, Scotland, PA49 7UN

Date: September 21, 2007


Two totally blind men have been let loose in Hebridean distillery  for a week to make whisky. The ultimate test in sensory perception – sound, smell and touch – took place this week at the Bruichladdich Distillery on the Island of Islay. Martin Roberts from Ipswich – a self-confessed “bolshy, abrasive, blind bastard” – and David Williams from Worcester, both blind since birth, donned overalls to distil. The two men, whose interest in single malt started at university, had long dreamed of  work experience roles but had continually been denied by their perceived disability.

 “I don’t have much time for the  patronising and the politically correct”,  says Martin, “the catch-all term “disabled” means society actually prevents you from taking part in it. “We’re all bracketed together regardless. I’m blind, it’s as good an Anglo Saxon word as any,  and I work in computing but can do pretty much anything if only  given a chance”.


Martin heard on the web about Bruichladdich’s whisky Academy where  the public get a full hands-on experience in  all aspects of distilling and  making single malt whisky. But he feared the three day event – more work experience than scholastic  - would be out of bounds to him once he announced he was disabled. But he was to be surprised: 


Bruichladdich MD Mark Reynier: “When Martin said he wanted to do our Whisky Academy despite being blind as a bat I thought it was some PC discrimination test. I  had long thought it would be an amazing  sensory experience to  follow the distilling process -  blindfolded  - relying on smells and sounds of this  Victorian machinery. It’s compelling when you stop and listen, really listen, which we so rarely do, and the barley smells are delicious too. BBC Radio 4   recorded it  for the Sounds of Britain.”


“We employ other registered ‘disabled’ people. One is as  deaf as a plank but what a worker! I’d employ him over most  “able-bodied” folk. He’s a regular dynamo. I was more than happy for Martin and  David to give it a go. They’re no shrinking violets these guys, expecting special cotton wool treatment…they just get on with it.”


The two blind men took part in the whole of the  distilling process from barley to bottle culminating in filling  their own  cask of  Bruichladdich that they had helped make. Their heightened sense of smell was an advantage in blind tasting. And their extra sensitive hearing  won them  the record for being the  fastest at bottling.


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Cheese and wine are in worst possible taste

Source: The Scotsman

Date: January 19, 2006


EATING cheese ruins the flavours of wine and makes fine vintages indistinguishable from cheap plonk, research has revealed. While the two are often served together in the belief they make a sophisticated combination, scientists have discovered even expert tasters could not distinguish between wines after eating cheese.


Scientists in California asked trained wine tasters to try eight different cheeses before presenting them with four different varieties of cheap and expensive wines.


The tasters evaluated the strength of various flavours and aromas in each wine both alone and when preceded by the cheeses. Cheese was found to curb just about everything including berry and oak flavours, sourness and astringency, making it virtually impossible to distinguish them.


Strong cheeses overpowered the flavours more than milder varieties, but flavours of all the wines were smothered, meaning there was no magical wine and cheese pairing.


Professor Hildegarde Heymann and Bernice Madrigal-Galan of the University of California in Davis, who conducted the research, found cheese only enhanced wines with a butter aroma. They suggested this was probably because cheese itself contains the molecule responsible for the buttery wine smell. Another theory from the research, published in New Scientist magazine today, is that fat from the cheese could coat the mouth, deadening the taster's perception of the drink's flavours.


The findings come as no surprise to both wine tasters and cheese experts who said that wine and cheese was never a natural combination.


Graham Holter, wine expert and editor of Wine and Spirit, said the trend for cheese and wine being consumed together took off in the 1970s when people copied their contemporaries in an attempt to appear cosmopolitan.


"People were trying to be chic but really it has become clear that red wine and cheese is a pretty ghastly combination which most people in the wine trade are well aware of. It is a bit like the terrible fashion for pairing chocolate with champagne.


"Some strong cheese flavours and white wines harmonise such as Jacob's Creek and cheddar. But cheese is particularly pungent and will overpower almost everything." Mr Holter said that experts in the wine trade taste everything in isolation. "The film Sideways set in the Napa Valley in California showed how popular wine tasting and New World wines have become. You will have noticed no food was involved."


Paul Thomas, of Iain J Mellis cheesemongers in Edinburgh, said: "This research comes as absolutely no surprise. It is actually difficult to find a wine to suit the majority of cheeses. The combinations I would suggest are those such as Montgomery mature cheddar and cider and Lanark Blue with Laphroaig malt whisky. Basically what you're looking for is something crisp like a white wine from the Loire to go with the saltiness of the cheese."


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Suck it and see: French launch carton of wine with a straw

Source: The Guardian

Date: September 13, 2007


To the traditionalists, the idea of drinking wine through a straw may indeed be the last straw.

Yet after wine in glass bottles (seen as "lame and fusty" by the youth of today, according to one expert), wine in plastic bottles, wine in cartons, and even wine in cans, the junk-food approach could become France's latest attempt to conquer a declining youth market.


Tandem wine is already being tried out in Belgian supermarkets, where the 25cl cartons are selling at more than 1,000 a week. At €1.25 a container (85p), the red, white and rosé Bordeaux wines can be found amid the snacks and salads, aimed at customers popping in for a sandwich and eating "on the go".


Drinking from the special straws is said to recreate the sensation of tasting wine from a glass. "Bringing small wine containers with straws to a party is more amusing than arriving with a bottle," was the verdict of one 21-year-old Parisian.


There is some evidence that increasing numbers of young people are indeed enticed by "alternative" packaging, designed to boost a gloomy market. The company hoping to launch the wine is not a multinational out to impose the latest American-inspired gimmick. Cordier Mestrezat describes itself as a long-established expert in marketing Bordeaux Grands Crus and other top-quality wines.


"We are aware that the idea may seem controversial," said Pierre-Eric Sabatier, Cordier's director of exports. "It's neither going to interest nor please everyone." But he is convinced that new methods need to be tried to encourage young people to drink wine sensibly - and perhaps turn them away from the potentially more damaging alternative - alcopops.


"Young people want something different from the traditional lunchtime bottle on the table that their parents and grandparents put out," he said.


If all that sounds like a slightly desperate ploy, sales of "bag in box" wine cartons almost quadrupled between 2001 and 2005, and a company selling wine in little aluminium designer bottles is hoping to double its sales this year.


Cordier Mestrezat is in discussions to market the wine from next year. However it might do well to heed two studies carried out this year by Vinexpo, the bi-annual international wine salon based in Bordeaux, and the wine merchants Castel Frères. They found many young people wanted wine made more accessible, but not trivialised. Wine was a symbol of maturity, they concluded.


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Michael Jackson's Obituary

Source: Whisky News (The Guardian)

Date: September 5, 2007


The enduring legacy of Michael Jackson, who has died aged 65, will be that he elevated beer from the belief that it is a simple refresher to its true status as one of the world's great alcoholic drinks, with a long tradition and deep roots in the history and culture of many societies. Jackson was a tireless writer and lecturer. He showed to the millions who read his books, heard his talks or watched his television programmes and videos that beer comes in many styles and is often made with the addition of fruit, herbs and spices alongside malt and hops. He broke beer free from the narrow concepts of ale and lager and revealed the myri ad varieties available, some - such as the lambic beers of Belgium or the sati beers of Finland - so obscure they might have disappeared but for his enthusiastic support.


Jackson was born in Wetherby, Yorkshire, and he remained proud of his Yorkshire stock, though it was a stock that had a major input from the Jewish community of Lithuania. His grandfather, Chaim Jakowitz, had emigrated to Yorkshire from Kaunas. His son, Isaac, married a gentile, Margaret, from Redcar, and they had twin sons - Michael's brother died shortly after birth - and a daughter, Heather. Isaac Jakowitz anglicised his name to Jack Jackson, unaware that a popular band leader and radio disc jockey shared the same name.


Isaac/Jack continued the musical connection by naming his son Michael Jackson, which was to cause amusement in later life with the arrival of the American singer. Jackson used it to good effect: he started his TV series, The Beer Hunter, with a piece to camera in which, wearing one white glove, he said he was called Michael Jackson but he didn't sing, didn't drink Pepsi but wrote about beer.


The Jackson family moved to Leeds in the hard postwar years. They lived briefly above a fish and chip shop, but moved first to a council house and then, with Jack, working as a truck driver, bought their own home.


The young Michael quickly developed a taste for rich home cooking, inspired by Jewish and eastern European traditions. He was to put this love of food to good use in later years when his books matched beer with food and recommended beers to use in the preparation of a range of dishes. He went to King James grammar school in Almondbury and from there became a trainee reporter on the Huddersfield Examiner.


Jackson's writing style was deeply influenced by his early journalism - short sentences shorn of adornment. Newspaper work at that time was a heady mix of hard graft and hard drinking, and Jackson's devotion to good beer stemmed from that period. However far he travelled, he always waxed lyrical about the pleasures of a pint of Taylor's Landlord or other good Yorkshire brews.

He went to London, where he worked on the Daily Herald, the then TUC-owned newspaper. He moved to a small and unimpressive journal called World's Press News, which he transformed into Campaign, a weekly paper that covered the developing sectors of advertising and marketing and which stood out from the crowd as a result of its fresh and scintillating design. In 1976, when another writer failed to deliver a promised manuscript, Jackson stepped in and wrote The English Pub. The bug had bitten. A year later he produced the book that made his reputation, the World Guide to Beer.


Those of us who naively thought that Britain brewed ale, the Irish made stout, while the rest of the world produced lager were forced to rethink our ideas. Beers brewed by Trappist monks, sour red beers, spiced wheat beers and lambic and gueuze beers made by spontaneous fermentation put Belgium on the map.

It was a theme Jackson was never to abandon. His book The Great Beers of Belgium ran to five editions, the last published in 2006. The success of the World Guide turned Jackson into a full-time beer writer. He launched what proved to be the first of seven editions of his Pocket Beer Book, which divided the world into beer-producing countries and then gave detailed tasting notes of the best brews within each country.

Readers were regaled by descriptions that lifted beer from the mundane and informed them that malt could be biscuity, juicy and roasty and have hints of toffee and butterscotch, while hops added citrus, perfumy, spicy and peppery notes as well as bitterness.

Jackson's reputation led to many invitations to visit the United States, where he discovered a new world of beer. He became a champion of the new wave of American beers and made many tours of the country to conduct beer tastings. In 1990 he reached a new audience with his TV series The Beer Hunter, six programmes that described the beers of the world's great brewing countries. Shown first on Channel 4 in Britain and the Discovery Channel in the US, it has been endlessly repeated worldwide.

Having conquered beer, Jackson turned his attention to malt whisky, inspired by the fact that whisky is a distillation of ale without hops. He rapidly achieved even greater recognition as a whisky writer. His Malt Whisky Companion (1989) is the bestselling book on the subject and has been accompanied by the Guide to Single Malt Scotch and Scotland and its Whiskies (2001). His last book, called simply Whisky, was published in 2005 and has already won five international awards.

Jackson was garlanded by many honours. They include the Glenfiddich trophy and five Glenfiddich awards, the André Simon award, the literary medal of the German Academy of Gastronomy and in 1994 the Belgian Mercurius award for service to Belgian breweries, presented by Crown Prince Philippe.

Jackson remained a prolific journalist. His articles appeared in a vast range of magazines and newspapers, including Playboy, the Washington Post, All About Beer, Whisky Magazine, Slow Food and Zymurgy - the last named being the final word in most dictionaries and is the scientific name for fermentation.

As a beer writer, his aim was to encourage people to treat it as being as worthy of attention as wine. In arguably his greatest book, the Beer Companion (1991), he wrote: "No one goes into a restaurant and requests 'a plate of food, please'. People do not simply ask for 'a glass of wine', without specifying, at the very least, whether they fancy red or white, dry or sweet, perhaps sparkling or still ... when their mood switches from the grape to the grain, these same discerning people folk often ask simply for 'a beer', or perhaps name a brand, without thinking of its suitability for the mood or the moment ... beer is by far the more extensively consumed, but less adequately honoured. In a small way, I want to help put right that injustice." He succeeded, in no small way.

Michael Jackson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for 10 years. He died at his home in Hammersmith, west London. His first wife, Maggie O'Connor, died in 1980 after 13 years of marriage.

He is survived by Paddy Gunningham, his partner for 26 years, his stepdaughter Sam, her children Ben and Emily, and his sister Heather.

Article Courtesy of The Guardian

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There’s a Gin Revival Going Down :: So Take That, James Bond!

Source: Vagablond.com

Date: September 4, 2007

Dipsophilia Note: Interesting Article - too bad they don't give us more details on the tasting notes and which gins were tasted!!

Sure, we all like a good Vodka… what’s not to like? But I really think the envelope has been pushed to the ultra-max, with the almost daily offering of yet anther infused flavor. (Most recently a Green-tea Vodka!)

The NKOTB (new kid on the block) Gin is really an old one making a major comeback. Gin, a much more complex spirit than vodka, is distilled from grains and flavored with several with a variety of different botanicals, although the juniper berry is considered the main ingredient.

Since I missed its first go-round in popularity, I was eager to take part in a private Gin tasting event, conducted by Master Distiller, Sean Harrison of Plymouth’s English Gin. Sean provided a fascinating overview of gin’s history and distillation process, and guided us through our tasting: swirl, sniff, taste with no spitting involved. Gotta tell you… this is one fascinating spirit, and would make a great Jeopardy category.

For example, did you know that:

1. There are only 22 gin master distillers in the world.

2. The secret recipes are guarded like the Holy Grail. For example, there are only 2 people in the whole world who know the 214-year-old recipe for making Plymouth Gin. (And Sean’s wife is not the second one.) I did manage to find out that Sean searches the world over for his seven magic botanicals: Juniper Berries, Angelica Root, Sweet Orange Peel, Cardamom Pods, Orris Root, and Coriander Seeds

3. In 1743, Gin was so popular that London was producing nearly 20 gallons per adult!

4. In the old days, Plymouth Gin was the official gin of the British Royal Navy; the sailors would blend it with their lime juice they took daily to prevent scurvy to “help the medicine go down.”

5. Plymouth Gin was the favorite of such famous martini aficionados as, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and IAN FLEMING! (And just for the record, the perfect gin martini should always be “Stirred and not Shaken,” since otherwise the flavor becomes diluted.)

We blindly tasted four of the top-selling gins and our favorite for flavor, bouquet, balance, and complexity I’m happy to report, really was Plymouth’s English Gin. Gin is rapidly becoming bartenders’ spirit of choice for it’s distinctive and yet refined flavor allowing them to create remarkable cocktails utilizing surprising ingredients such as lavender, rose petals, cucumber and turmeric

Note: Our tasting was held at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco, which had top mixologist and author, Bartender Jeff Hollinger, providing us with a variety of fantastic martinis. If you stop in, ask him to create you something special.

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Cheers! Your petrol tank could soon be smelling like a distillery

Source: The Scotsman

Date: August 24, 2007

SCOTLAND's whisky industry could become the source of eco-friendly biofuels for cars, with motorists powering their engines from the by-products of distilling. The concept of turning the husks from the malted barley and other cereals used in the manufacture of whisky and other distilling and brewing processes into a source of fuel is being explored by researchers at Abertay University's School of Contemporary Sciences.

They have been awarded a grant from the Carnegie Trust to investigate the feasibility of developing new methods to turn spent grain into bioethanol, a more environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. The main advantages of bioethanol over traditional fuels are that it is neutral - it produces 65 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions - and it also burns at a higher temperature. Professor Graeme Walker, who is leading the one-year study, said: "Scientists all over the world are trying to find a simple and cost-effective way to produce more biofuels from waste or low value products.

"The supply of fossil fuels is finite - some estimates suggest that around half of the world's oil reserves have been used up in the last 200 years - and the race is on to find more environmentally-friendly alternatives." He explained: "At the moment, a lot of spent grain goes towards animal feed, but quite lot of this material up and down the country ends up being composted or going to landfill.  We want to look at possible alternatives - using biotechnology to convert this material into biofuels. And the biofuel that we are interested in is fuel alcohol - bioethanol."

Professor Walker said: "We are not alone in looking at converting such material. Brazil and the US have been very successful in creating bioethanol from sugarcane and maize starch, respectively. Between them, these countries produce over 70 per cent of global supplies. However, the methods used in these countries are open to criticism since they create an increased demand for land for growing energy crops. In countries like Brazil, this may also threaten tropical forests and perhaps cancel out any benefits from using biofuels."

Professor Walker said: "We are looking at ways to break down the husk material which, you could say, is a rather tough nut to crack. We are looking at a combination of physical, chemical and biological breakdown technologies to release the sugars which in turn can be turned into alcohol. But there are technical problems with all of this."

Asked if the new biofuel would smell of whisky, Prof Walker replied: "It certainly would be pure alcohol, once it was distilled. Whisky doesn't smell like whisky until it's been matured in oak barrels for a number of years. But it would certainly smell like strong alcohol." He added: "Although there is interest from industry in such a project, the whisky industry are quite conservative and are conscious that they don't want to tarnish the image of Scotch whisky in the eye of the consumer."


The use of alcohol as a fuel for internal combustion engines has been given much attention because it is greener and cheaper than fossil fuels. But there have been plenty of other ideas over the years for alternative biofuels for vehicles. Denny Klein, president of American company Hydrogen Technology Applications, created his water-powered car last year. And in 1994, a team of Royal Engineers stripped down the engine of a Land Rover and converted it to run on vegetable oil. Wood and paper are another two materials that can be converted into eco-friendly fuel. As well as being used to heat homes, generate electricity and operate communications systems, solar energy can also be used as a source of "fuel".



2007 Canada Cup of Beer - Award Winners!

Source: justhereforthebeer.com

Date: August 20, 2007

The 2007 Canada Cup of Beer awards were very highly contested with hundreds of ballot sheets filled out.  Thank you to everyone who voted - these awards are very important to the venders at the festival and to justhereforthebeer.com!  If you haven't checked out the website yet (www.canadacupofbeer.com) here are the award winners, as voted on by the 2007 Canada Cup of Beer Patrons:

Favourite Canadian Lager - Red Truck Lager - Red Truck Beer Company (North Vancouver)
Favourite Canadian Ale - St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale - McAuslan Brewing (Montreal)
Favourite Import Lager - Obolon Lager - Obolon Brewing (Ukraine)
Favourite Import Ale - Innis & Gunn Oak-Aged Beer - Innis & Gunn (Scotland)
Favourite Microbrew - Dead Frog Brewing (Aldergrove, B.C.)
Favourite Booth - Rickard's (Vancouver, B.C.)
Best Booth Display - Rickard's (Vancouver, B.C.)
Friendliest Servers - Tree Brewing (Kelowna, B.C.)
Favourite Beer Name - DUDE - Pacific Western Brewing (Prince George, B.C.)
Favourite Beer T-shirt - 2007 Canada Cup of Beer Souvenir T-shirt ("Great Days Always Start With A Little Bit Of Head")


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Black to the future for Famous Grouse as Edrington challenges Islay malts

Source: The Scotsman

Date: August 18, 2007

EDRINGTON, the privately owned Scotch whisky group, is trialling a new version of its iconic Famous Grouse brand in a bid to take on the popularity of the Islay malts.

Famous Grouse Black, a heavily peated blend, aims to tap into the new breed of younger Scotch whisky consumers who prefer the strong, iodine flavour of Islay malts but cannot afford their hefty price. The move, which comes just months after the group cancelled its 17-year sponsorship deal with the Scottish Rugby Union, is evidence that the Perth-based group is repositioning Scotland's most popular whisky brand. Famous Grouse director Gerry O'Donnell plans to roll out the Black variant across the Scandinavian market and then introduce it into the UK.

He said: "We're aiming to bring more innovation to the marketplace through expanding the Grouse portfolio. Black Grouse was designed primarily for the Nordic market, where we were quick to spot there was a group of consumers that were a little bit younger than the usual Scotch consumers and who were interested in a fuller flavoured delivery of Scotch whisky. The traditional Islay malt whiskies are probably out of reach in terms of price. Black Grouse delivers an Islay flavour in a format most consumers can afford as well as carrying the benchmark of Famous Grouse."

Famous Grouse is the top-selling blended whisky in Scotland and number two in the UK behind Diageo's Bell's brand. Last year it saw volume sales rise 5% and is now selling more than three million cases for the first time. But the success of its range extensions - such as the blended malt that was introduced into Taiwan and is now the number one bestseller - has encouraged Edrington to extend the range. One industry observer said: "The problem is you can dilute the main brand. People can get bored with their brand and every new marketing director wants to do something different.

"Grouse users are getting older and they recruit new people by constantly reinventing the brand. But they have to be careful not to take it so far away from the core values that it becomes no longer Grouse."

The news comes on the back of Glenmorangie unveiling its first major branding exercise in a bid to tap into emerging markets such as China and India. Last month Bacardi announced plans to invest £120m to expand the production of Dewar's Scotch and in February, Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker, said it would build a £100m distillery. O'Donnell added: "One of the great phases for Scotch whisky is now on our doorstep. The trick is to withstand some of the pressures to promote and discount in the more mature markets while opening up new, interesting fronts for Scotch."

Edrington, which employs around 800 staff, is one of Scotland's largest private companies. Including the Macallan, Highland Park and Cutty Sark sales, the company puts itself at number four in size terms in the global Scotch whisky market, with a 9% share.

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What is The Most Expensive Whisky?

Source: Dalmore official website

Date Posted: August 17, 2007


The Dalmore collection boasts the most precious malt whisky ever sold at auction with the 62 Years old going under the hammer at £25,877.50.   Although this whisky is labelled as a 62 year old, that is of course the youngest of the whiskies, it includes whiskies from 1868, 1878, 1926 and 1939 - see this link for details.


In 2005, the last remaining bottle from the Nun's Island Distillery in Ireland went up for auction - the starting bid was £100,000.....as far as we know, this bottle is still for sale : see link


In April 2005, a bottle of Dalmore was bought and consumed in a London bar for £30,000.......next time, can we be invited??!!


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Eco-Friendly Vodka Debuts in US

Source: RedOrbit.com

Date: July 18, 2007

The launch of the world’s first eco-friendly vodka was announced by McCormick Distilling Co. and Premier Beverage Co., one of Florida’s largest wine and spirits distributors. The 360 vodka applies advanced eco-friendly production and packing processes, in an effort to protect Earth’s resources. Each bottle features a recyclable flip-flop closure that can be mailed back for reuse via a postage paid envelop. “We are proud to introduce a 100 percent American vodka produced and distributed in an environmentally friendly manner,” said Bill Sullivan, regional vice-president southeast division, McCormick Distilling Co. For complete article, please click here.


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Quattro on Fourth introduces new Pastry Chef

Source: Quattro email

Date: July 26, 2007


Quattro are pleased to announce that Merri Schwartz has joined the Quattro family as Pastry Chef at Quattro on Fourth. Merri brings loads of talent and experience to Quattro including an apprenticeship at  Cocoa West Chocolatier on Bowen Island, and workshops at the Valrhona Chocolate Institute in Lyon, France.  She was also the Pastry Chef at C.   Outside the restaurant, Merri is the founder and director of Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children's Urban Agriculture. 


You'll love Merri's new dessert menu which includes caramelized white chocolate mousse with ricotta strudel and roasted apples; warm almond and pear cake with almond brittle fruit crisps and lemon creme fraiche; organic vanilla bean panna cotta with rhubarb and vanilla shortbread; and for chocolate lovers, chocolate pate tart with whipped milk chocolate and candied cocoa nibs.


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Decanter.com Releases Power List

Source: www.decanter.com

Date posted on Dipsophilia: July 15, 2007

The most influential people in the wine world have been voted for by decanter's readers, and the reader's choice top 20 have been compiled into this list. Also present is the official power rating by decanter on the reader's top 20 choices, mentioned in brackets.

1) Robert Parker (1)
2) Jancis Robinson MW (9)
3) Michel Rolland (8)
4) Hugh Johnson (17)
5) Piero Antinori (21)
6) Richard Sands, Constellation (3)
7) Steven Spurrier (16)
8) Oz Clarke (46)
9) Bernard Arnault (11)
10) Angelo Gaja (47)
11) Christian Mouiex (43)
12) Marcel Guigal (31)
13) Joseph Gallo (7)
14) Miguel Torres (19)
15) Dan Jago, Tesco (12)
16) Mel Dick, Southern Wines & Spirits (2)
17) Eric de Rothschild (28)
18) Patrick Ricard, Pernod Ricard (6)
19) Simon Berry, Berry Bros & Rudd (26)
20) Georges Duboeuf (44)
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Drinks Americas to Launch Trump Super Premium Vodka Flavors in Coming Quarter

Source: Yahoo Finance

Date: July 12, 2007


Drinks Americas Holdings, Ltd., a leading developer and marketer of premium beverages associated with renowned icons, today announced it will launch Trump Super Premium Vodka flavors in the Company's second fiscal quarter. The selections will include up to five flavors to be unveiled next month.  The line extension adds to Drinks Americas' remarkably successful Trump Super Premium Vodka. Launched in October 2006, Trump Super Premium Vodka is on track to sell approximately 100,000 cases in its first 12 months, the largest introduction of a new spirit product in the industry's recent history. Similar to the original, the line extension will be created by third generation distiller and craftsman Jacques du Lat and produced by A.H. Wanders, B.V. in Holland, master distillers since 1658. For the full article, click here.


Whisky of the Year Awards

Source: Whisky Magazine Forum

Date: July 13, 2007


Winners for the World Whiskies Awards 2007:

World's Best Single Malt Whisky
Talisker 18 Year Old

World's Best Blended Malt Whisky
Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old

World's Best Blended Whisky
Suntory Whisky Hibiki 30 Year Old

World's Best American Whiskey
Baker's 7 Year Old

World's Best New Release
The Balvenie Vintage 1972

World's Best Whisky Liqueur
Arran Gold


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Vodka Tasting - the Oxymoron of the definition of Vodka (Hit me with your Best Shot).

Source: http://slate.com/id/2106004/

Date Posted: July 12, 2007 (article Dates to 2004)


According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—which sets the rules for spirits sold in the United States—vodka is defined as a neutral spirit "without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color." In theory, then, one brand of vodka should taste like every other, and the phrase "premium vodka" would be something of an oxymoron. In fact, vodka's neutral taste does account for much of its appeal: It mixes equally well with tonic water and tomato juice, and it can be as crisp and corporate as James Bond's vodka martinis or as trashy as the "swamp waters" my local bartender mixes (made of vodka and Mountain Dew). Vodka suits any occasion, goes with any food, and (if you believe certain advertisements) gives you less of a hangover than any other liquor. It's no wonder that in America, vodka outsells gin, rum, and tequila, as well as scotch, bourbon, and Canadian whiskey.

But if all vodkas tasted alike, there'd be no reason to favor a $30 bottle of Armadale over a $12 magnum of Fleischmann's. In fact, all vodkas are not alike. Vodka can be distilled in a good many ways, from a great many substances, including wheat, rye, beets, corn, potatoes, and sugar cane. (In Russia, the Yukos oil conglomerate recently made headlines for marketing a vodka distilled from hemp seeds.) As a result, each brand has a distinct smell, flavor, aftertaste, and burn (i.e., the burning sensation vodka creates as it goes down your gullet). The grain-based vodkas, which are the most popular, tend to be smooth and can even taste fruity. Vegetable-based vodkas are often (and often unfairly) dismissed as being harsh and medicinal.

So, your basic bottle of Smirnoff is fine for mixed drinks, but you wouldn't want to drink shots of it. Conversely, top-shelf brands such as Armadale and Jewel of Russia are too good—and too expensive—to mix with anything but ice and/or tonic water and are best drunk straight and straight from the freezer. Because most people mix their vodka with tonic, soda, vermouth, or juice, few drinkers I polled could tell me why exactly they preferred Grey Goose over Chopin or Stoli over Absolut. Does it really matter which brand you buy? I recently invited 11 friends over to find out.


For the author's full review please check out the web site: http://slate.com/id/2106004/


Vodka's reviewed and score given:

Ciroc (France) - zero

Turi (Estonia) - one shot glass

Absolut (Sweden) - two shot glasses

Belvedere (Poland) - two shots and a chaser

Stolichnaya (Russia) - three shots glasses

Grey Goose (France) - three shots glasses

Ketel One (Holland) - three shots glasses and a chaser

Zyr (Russia) - three shots glasses and a chaser

Jewel of Russia Classic - four shot glasses

Armadale (Scotland) - four shot glasses and a chaser

Chopin (Poland) - five shot glasses


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A Six Pack to Kick off Summer

Source: Vancouver Sun

Date: June 28, 2007

An article about BC's craft breweries. Not much detail was given, but it did summarize who is selling what craft beers:


Crannog Ales - available in Draft at "bars such as the Raven in Deep Cove or O'Doul's at the Listel Hotel"

Dead Frog Brewery - "Widely available on tap at establishments ranging from the Italian Cultural Centre to Chambar and Raincity Grill".

Mt. Begbie Brewing Company - Widely available on tap in the interior, as well as by the bottle at BCLDB stores.

Russell Brewing Co. - Available at numerous pubs, clubs and restaurants around the lower mainland.

Storm Brewing - Only available in Draft, and are "especially popular among beer connoisseurs and foodies. (they are available on tap at Vij's for example)"

Vancouver Island Brewery - Widely available in Victoria bars and restaurants as well as by the bottle from BCDLB stores


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The History of Vin & Spirit AB (Absolut Vodka company)

Source: Fundinguniverse.com

Date posted: June 29, 2007


An interesting article on the history of Vin & Spirit AB (a state-owned Swedish company incorporated in 1917. Includes a discussion of Swedish prohibition, and a description of how the company became a global player in the vodka industry.  Link to full article.


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The Great Vodka Tasting

Source: Vanity Fair

Date: Dec 12, 2006


This article reviews a number of Russian Vodkas - Putinka Limited Edition, Etalon, Veda Black Ice, G8, Imperia, Flagman Night Landing.  The author has a drunken night, and there are a number of vodkas that don't get reviewed. An entertaining read. Link to full article.


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You Can do a Lot with Apples

Source: Vancouver Sun

Date: June 21, 2007


A new cidery opens on Canada Day weekend - Vancouver Island's Sea Cider (Saanich) will open it's doors for the long weekend and will be open through the summer from 11 am to 7 pm Wednesdays through Sundays, as well as holiday Mondays.  The 10-acre property boasts views on the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Georgia.  In addition to the half acre apple trees already on the property, the new owners (the Jordans) have planted an additional three acres of apple trees, all organically grown.  Cider apples are different from eating apples - they are more acidic and have more tannins, giving them the structure and depth of flavour when they are pressed and fermented.  They are currently producing two ciders: a light, fruity Italian style cider called Kings & Spies and a robust ultra-dry amber cider called Wild English.  In the future they plan to offer eight different ciders, some still, some sparkling, some sweet and some dry. Alcohol content varies from 7.5 % to 16 %.


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Title: Allergies & Hops

Source: CAMRA (Rick Green)

Date: April 18, 2007

Ale Therapy for Hay Fever - No wonder my hay fever has gotten better since my beer consumption has increased!  A new preliminary study released by the Japanese Red Cross Society’s medical center in Wakayama Prefecture appears to show marked relief in alleviating sneezing and running noses for hay fever sufferers from a flavonol compound in hops. Sapporo Breweries, who co-sponsored the research, filed for a patent on the process of extracting the hay fever-fighting flavonol, which involves pulverizing the hops and then soaking them in water (sounds very technically challenging). Of course, Sapporo plans on coming out with a hay fever beer. But considering the size of their study was only 20 people, it's hardly a scientific sample. I think they need some more volunteers. Gesundheit!


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Title: Guardians of Glenlivet

Source: theglenlivet.com

Date: March 30, 2007

As a Guardian of The Glenlivet, you will receive advance news about product offers and all new bottlings.
There will be on-line tastings and a range of other activities and events to enjoy. Guardians visiting The Glenlivet Distillery or attending specified events for The Glenlivet elsewhere in the world will receive special membership privileges.As custodians of The Glenlivet's remarkable heritage, Guardians are uniquely placed to share the priceless legacy of the Original Single Malt. Sign up on the web site http://www.theglenlivet.com/guardians/index.php


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Title: Seeking the Connections: Alcoholism and Our Genes

Source: ScientificAmercian.com

Date: March 30, 2007

Identifying genetic influences on vulnerability to alcohol addiction can lead to more targeted treatments and help those at risk to make informed choices about their own lives .....for the full article, please click here

By John I. Nurnberger, Jr., and Laura Jean Bierut


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Title: Green Whisky Better by Half

Source: Glasgow Daily Record

Date: March 27, 2007

A WHISKY distillery is aiming to make the world's greenest tipple. Bruichladdich bosses on Islay hope to use biomass, hydro-electric and woodchips to meet their energy needs. The scheme will be used at a new site not far from their current base at Port Charlotte. Managing director Mark Reynier said: "Without a doubt, this would be the greenest whisky in the world. "Our new plans will focus on our energy requirements for steam, heat and electricity.

"Steam is needed to heat the stills and is our biggest need. For this, we are looking at either burning woodchip or using bio-gas, not unlike a giant compost facility. Heat will come from heat pumps and electricity from a hydro-electric system."

The project is being backed with £400,000 from an Executive scheme to promote green biomass energy. Bruichladdich hit the headlines in 2003 after a mix-up led US spies to suspect the distillery of having weapons of mass destruction.

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Title: Blackwood losses up, but turnover rises

Source: The Herald

Date: March 20, 2007

Blackwood Distillers has said its planned distillery on Shetland "would be built by now" if it had stuck with its original site at Catfirth near Lerwick, a plan to which it is returning to following an aborted attempt to build on the island of Unst. Blackwood was forced earlier this month to abandon plans, announced last May, to redevelop an RAF site on Unst, though founder Caroline Whitfield said yesterday that the plan had been "the right thing" to try, given island economics. The original site had been due to start construction two years ago. She said: "It is frustrating not getting a distillery built but we are now back at Catfirth. The regulatory environment in which we work is one of the toughest, not only (HM) Customs but environmental practice ... (where) there has never been a distillery before."

She added: "We have got to go to our contracting suppliers and get everything recosted ... 10% either way on £2.5m would be a lot of money for us." The company has published results for 2006 which show a loss widening from £2.16m to £2.44m, though turnover rose 11% to £1.28m and gross profits were up 35% to £319,000. Blackwood has been developing white spirit brands to bridge the gap to whisky production, originally due to start next year. Joanna Dennis, finance director, said: "We have been focusing this year on building long-term profitable business and have stopped activities such as consumer shows, which brought in revenue but on which we were making a loss.

"Our growth in underlying sales of key customers has been improving and these provide better margin sales." Whitfield added: "People think nothing is happening but getting planning permission and full consent to operate on Catfirth has, in total, cost us over £400,000 hard cash. We have received no public money, no loans, no grants - this has been entirely financed by private shareholders."

Blackwood also launched its Diva vodka in test markets in Edinburgh and Singapore with an investment of £90,000, and continued to invest in Blackwood's Gin, which has added Majestic Wine Warehouse and Oddbins to its UK-wide listings, which also include J Sainsbury. "This has been funded by ongoing private investment in the business including an additional £750,000 of further investment since the accounts were approved," Whitfield said.

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Title: Island Brewery Gets Ready for Summer

Source: Victoria Times Columnist

Date: March 2, 2007

Vancouver Island Brewery was getting ahead of the summer beer rush yesterday, taking delivery of three massive aging tanks that will allow the company to increase production in the busy months ahead. The privately held brewery is also adding a new filtering system from Switzerland and a draft keg filling machine from Germany as part of a $2.5-million investment in equipment to meet a growing demand for its line of beers.

"We were brewing to full capacity last summer and we were still having problems meeting the demands of our customers," said Vancouver Island Brewery operations manager Brent Pottage. "We couldn't go through another summer without planning this expansion and making room to produce more beer." Part of the expenditure plan also included a German bottle filler and a Sympak canning line from Italy, both installed last year. The brewery also added a new truck to service areas on the north Island.

The canning line has increased demand for the brewery's products as more consumers prefer aluminum to glass during the spring and summer months, said Pottage. That pushed the company to make room for the three new tanks, which will allow Pottage the capacity he needs to "properly age" best-selling beers Pipers Pale Ale and Island Lager. The stainless steel vessels, manufactured by Specific Mechanical in Central Saanich and trucked down the Pat Bay Highway yesterday morning, will collectively hold the equivalent of 241,920 bottles of beer. The cost of designing and manufacturing the trio was $188,000.

A wall inside the brewery was knocked down to fit the tanks. Workers maneuvered them into place within inches of beams and pillars. Pottage said filter installation and plumbing will take the better part of a month. Extra canning and bottling line shifts were added in February to stockpile beer while the tanks are installed. Vancouver Island Brewery, founded in 1984, is the largest craft brewer on Vancouver Island and the oldest of the big craft operations in British Columbia, opening just before Okanagan Spring, now owned by Sapporo, and Vancouver-based Granville Island.

Although the company does not disclose volume or sales figures, it is a minor player compared to the national brewers which have a 90 per cent share of the beer market in Canada and about 85 per cent of the sales in B.C. Vancouver Island Brewery is considered the best-seller on the Island, but has been facing increasing competition, particularly at the bar taps, from smaller operations such as Phillips Brewing Co. and Lighthouse Brewing in Esquimalt and brew pubs like Swans, Canoe and Spinnakers.

About 60 per cent of Vancouver Island Brewery sales are retail in government and private stores with the remainder flowing from kegs in restaurants and bars. Company president Barry Fisher, a former dairy farmer and major player in building Island Farms, owns about 60 per cent of Vancouver Island Brewery while the remaining shares are spread among 35 shareholder groups. Fisher said the brewery sells only about 10 per cent of its volume outside the Island, and the intention is to keep the focus on a local market. "We are all Islanders and we make beer for the people here," he said. The same philosophy is in place for suppliers such as Specific Mechanical, the company that designed the newest tanks and about 12 others in the facility.

"They have been our business partners since we started to produce beer and have met our stainless-steel requirements since 1984," said Fisher, 69. "It is important to support the local community, which has given us so much support. This type of thinking has been the common thread in all my business practices, and has been a big contributor to our success." The brewery, which employs 40, produces five lines of beer. Last year, it released a Pod Pack, a dozen that contains three different lines. This spring, the brewery will start selling a 15-pack of Island Lager cans.


Title: Favourite curry venues chosen to help retain Glasgow's title

Source:City of Glasgow web site (http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/)

Date:March 15, 2007


The city’s curry-loving public voted for India Quay, Ashoka Flame, Panjea, Ashoka Ashton Lane and Mother India as their favourite winning restaurants.  Lord Provost Liz Cameron said: “I’m delighted that our five winning restaurants will now go forward and represent the city in what will be a very close competition indeed. “I’m sure the people of Glasgow will show their support and vote for their city to win”



The competition, now in its seventh year, sees sixteen cities going head to head to win the prestigious title of Curry Capital of Britain 2007. Glasgow is the current Curry Capital of Britain after winning the title for the third time last year. It was also awarded in 2002 and 2003. The city council is again backing the bid to support the Glasgow restaurants in its quest to be crowned Britain’s curry capital for a fourth year. Each participating city will now be judged on its five nominated restaurants.  Each venue will be visited secretly by a team of 13 independent judges before the winning city is announced in May.



Curry enthusiasts have until 13 April to vote Glasgow to win.  To vote, go to www.ethnicityshowcase.com before Friday 13 April.


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Title: Old island distillery to be recreated using 'all-green' concepts

Source: http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

Date: March 9, 2007

An Old island distillery is to be reborn in a multimillion-pound initiative which aims to create 10 jobs while using the latest environmentally-friendly concepts for whisky production.

Bruichladdich, which already runs a successful distillery on Islay, also owns the site of the old Port Charlotte stillhouse, which closed in 1929 and was demolished to house a garage and parking area. Now the company is to apply for planning permission to recreate Port Charlotte Distillery, at a cost of £3-4million, inside the shell of the original warehouse buildings, which are still intact.

Bruichladdich managing director Mark Reynier is excited at the prospect of creating an environmentally-sustainable distillery from scratch. He said: "We have the chance to create an entirely 'green' distillery, with a genuinely zero carbon footprint, by using all the latest environmentally-sustainable concepts. "The environmental movement is strong on the theory but weak in the practice. It will be quite an engineering challenge to see what really is possible."

The first turf for the project, which is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2008, will be cut during the Islay Whisky Festival on Sunday, May 27. The new full-sized distillery, which will benefit from a separate visitor centre, will have a maximum capacity of 1.2million litres and will be producing Port Charlotte brand whisky.

A heavily-peated whisky called Port Charlotte has been distilled at the Bruichladdich depot since 2001, so when distilling gets under way at the new distillery it will be in the unusual situation of having an eight-year-old stock on its first day of production. The distilling equipment for the Port Charlotte project has already been acquired from the now closed Inverleven Distillery, Dumbarton, having been saved from demolition by Bruichladdich in 2003.

The entire single malt plant was dismantled by a team from Bruichladdich and the machinery was then shipped to the island on barges where it has been in storage, with some parts used for spares. Bruichladdich is a private Scottish company controlling 0.5% of single malt capacity and was itself reborn as a distillery in 2001.

The company returned its first profits in 2004, doubled them in 2005, exceeded forecast levels in 2006, and has vowed to reinvest all profits in the whisky business. Mr Reynier said: "As progressive Hebridean distillers, we believe strongly in the Islay appellation and artisanal distilling. One set of stills was never going to be enough for us.

"This new distillery will allow us to diversify our skills, provide new options and allow further scope for our new ideas." He said that, although there is spare capacity at Bruichladdich, which employs 40 people, the company wants a separate distillery to specialise in the production of heavily-peated whisky.

Built in 1829, the original Port Charlotte Distillery changed its name to Lochindaal shortly afterwards, but closed in 1929 at the time of Prohibition. Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

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Title: European drinks firms keen on India, seek tax cuts

Source: http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

Date: March 11, 2007

European drinks makers are keen to increase their presence in India’s fast-growing $1.8 billion alcoholic drinks market, but want better trademark protection and lower tariffs on imported wines and spirits. The European Union is pressing for lower duties on wines and spirits, which it says are as high as 550 percent on spirits and 264 percent on wines due to federal and state levies.

‘India also has an interest in solving this problem because it affects how we do trade,’ EU Farm Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel told reporters. ‘The taxes put our wines and spirits at a huge disadvantage. If we do not see a clear sign from India, we are considering raising a panel for dispute settlement,’ she said.

If the World Trade Organisation forms a dispute settlement panel and rules against India, the EU could impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from India. Diageo Plc., Pernod Ricard and LVMH’s Moet Hennessey are among European firms setting up operations in India. Moet Hennessey’s local unit imports about 50,000 cases of champagne, cognac and wine annually, and the firm plans to double sales in three years.

‘We believe India will be among the top 10 champagne markets for us,’ said Yves Benard, director of Moet Hennessey’s champagne activities and wine resources. ‘Maybe not No.2 or No.3, but in the top 10.’ Moet Hennessey has a minor stake in Indian wine maker Grover Vineyards, and may consider making wine in India, he added. ‘India is a wine producing country and it could be an interesting proposition for us,’ Benard said.

India’s spirits and beer market is dominated by the UB group, which is close to acquiring Scottish spirits maker Whyte & Mackay to bolster its portfolio of premium brands.

But the head of the Scottish Whisky Association, which has Whyte & Mackay among its 53 members, cautioned that if UB became a member, it would also have to take up the association’s fight to protect trademarks and intellectual property rights worldwide. ‘We look forward to having (UB’s) Vijay Mallya join us. It will give us a different perspective,’ SWA Chief Executive Gavin Hewitt said. ‘But, along with the privileges, are responsibilities and obligations, and we have a zero tolerance policy.’ The SWA has opposed the registration of UB’s popular McDowell’s whisky brand, and pursued other local Indian brands for using names that suggest a Scottish lineage. It recently won a case against an Indian brand called Red Scot, Hewitt said.

‘It took us 20 years to win that, but we are very clear: no Scottish names, no tartan, no stag’s head,’ he said. UB, whose United Spirits Ltd. is the world’s third-largest spirits maker by sales, wants the EU to relax the description of whisky to permit Indian whisky, made from molasses, to be labelled as whisky in Europe. But Hewitt is firm. ‘We have no difficulty with Indian whisky coming in, but it must be labelled as that.’ ‘Just as we are providing you with market access, we want you to be able to go to a shop here and be able to buy a Scotch whisky at the same price as your local whisky.’
Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

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Title: They Just Won't Let it Go.....

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2007/03/09/breton-malt.html

Date: March 9, 2007


Scotland's whisky makers are going to have another legal shot at Glenora Distillers International Ltd., the Cape Breton distillery that makes a single-malt tipple. The Scotch Whisky Association is following up on an earlier threat to appeal a Canadian regulatory decision that allowed Glenora to call its whisky Glen Breton.

The Scottish distillers argued that the word "glen," based on a Celtic word meaning deep valley, should only be applied to whisky made in Scotland. The name Glen in the Canadian whisky might confuse drinkers into thinking they're sipping Scotch whisky, they claim.

Glenora, based in Glenville, Cape Breton, next to the community of Glenora Falls in a province named New Scotland (in Latin), said that the name incorporated the local names. In January, the Trade-marks Opposition Board in Ottawa sided with Glenora, ruling that lots of international whisky makers use the word glen and Canadians aren't going to think that Glen Breton is Scottish simply because of its name. It's that decision that the association is appealing, claiming that Glenora is "unfairly trading on Scotch whisky's international reputation." The association's website says there are strict legal rules governing the use of the term Scotch Whisky, necessary to protect Scottish producers.

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Title: Bilk!

Source: Japan Today http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=1059

Date: January 31, 2007


NAKASHIBETSU, Hokkaido — A brewery here has succeeded in producing a low-malt beer with milk, after the drink was suggested as a product that would help use up surplus milk. The drink, called “Bilk” will go on sale on Feb. 1. It reportedly has a fruity flavor that its brewers hope will be popular among women. The idea for the drink was conceived after dairy firms threw out a huge amount of surplus milk in March last year. The son of the manager of a liquor store in Nakashibetsu, whose main industry is dairy farming, suggested the idea of producing the milk beer to local brewery Abashiri Beer. Since one-third of the drink is milk, the drink has been viewed as a good way to use up milk in the town. The drink got the thumbs-up from 30-year-old resident Kaori Takahashi, who took part in a tasting session. “It’s got a fruity taste, so it will probably go well with sweets as well,” she said. Each 330 ml bottle costs 380 yen. For the time being sales will be restricted to Nakashibetsu, with six liquor stores selling the drink.

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Title: Slainte! Scotch whisky cheered by Indian plans to slash import tax (WILLIAM LYONS)

Source: The Scotsman http://business.scotsman.com/agriculture.cfm?id=144592007

Date: January 28, 2007

The Scotch whisky industry is poised for a surge in sales to India following indications that the country will reduce its punitive import duties. Industry sources expect the Indian government to announce a cut in next month's budget to comply with World Trade Organisation rules. India is under international pressure to reform the system which subjects all imported spirits to an additional duty of between 25% and 550%. Recently both the US and Australia have added their weight to the WTO consultations.

Publicly, the industry is still adopting a wait-and-see approach but privately many are now preparing for reductions in February's budget with a view towards complete access by 2012. One industry executive who has just returned from a visit to India said: "The signs are very good. The Indian government realise that with the recent economic growth they need to adhere to the WTO regulations. I think we will see the first evidence of a reduction in the tariffs next month and I expect a totally level playing field within five years."

In recent weeks the Scotch Whisky Association has been making pre-Budget representations to the Indian government and both the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the Trade Secretary, Alistair Darling, have raised the issue during their recent visits to India. The pressure will be upped at this weekend's World Economic Forum in Davos when Peter Mandelson, the European Commissioner for Trade, will lock horns with India's commerce minister Kamal Nath. Many analysts predict it will be a lively meeting. Effectively India is in the last chance saloon as the EU has made it clear that if no steps are taken to reform the discriminatory regime the matter will be referred to a WTO panel for decision.

India is keen to protect its domestic business, and fears that Scotch's cachet as a drink for the rapidly expanding middle class will quickly erode its market share. Analysts believe domestic interests are using traditional Indian protectionist instincts for "agricultural" or grain-based products to keep Scotch out.

John Wakely, a former managing director of investment bank Lehman Brothers, who has been analysing the drinks market for more than 20 years and is now a strategic consultant, suggested that the potential takeover of Whyte & Mackay by Vijay Mallya's UB Group could force the government's hand. The two companies are still negotiating over a possible takeover. The major stumbling block appears to be Whyte and Mackay's £500m price tag.

Wakely said: "If Mallya gets Whyte & Mackay he has an obvious incentive to promote lower excise taxes so that he can utilise his distribution channels against the threat of foreign owned vodka companies establishing their own channels." Despite all the hype surrounding potentially enormous emerging markets in South America and the Far East, they still pale into insignificance compared with that of India. And a snapshot of emerging markets across the world shows that, even with India's exorbitant tariff barriers, the country still buys more Scotch whisky than either Russia, China, Poland or Turkey. The latest export figures from the SWA show that in 2004 only 700,000 cases were shipped to China, 600,000 to Russia and Turkey and just 200,000 to Poland. This is compared with one million cases sent to India.

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Source: CAMRA

Date: January 27, 2007


The Vancouver chapter of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale Society) BC is pleased to announce the results of our second annual Vancouver Beer Awards. Designed to recognize excellence in both local and regional brewing and beer service in B.C., this year's recipients exemplify the "Best of the Best" in British Columbia's thriving beer culture.

The 2007 Vancouver Beer Award recipients are:

Best Local Brewpub 2007

1. Mission Springs Brewing, Mission

2. Dix BBQ & Brewery, Vancouver

3. Steamworks Brewing Co., Vancouver


Best BC Brewery 2007

1. Phillips Brewing Co., Victoria

2. Storm Brewing Ltd., Vancouver

3. Crannog Ales, Sorrento


Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub or Restaurant 2007

1. The Whip Gallery Restaurant, Vancouver

2. The Railway Club, Vancouver

3. The Raven Neighbourhood Pub, North Vancouver

CAMRA Vancouver congratulates this year's winners for their dedication to showcasing the best of the brewing arts in this province. Through the innovation and craftsmanship of B.C.'s brewers, there has never been a better time to enjoy the ales, lagers and specialty beers of Western Canada. Comprised of beer lovers, home brewers and brewing professionals, CAMRA BC is a membership organization that is dedicated to the promotion and responsible consumption of better quality beer.  With groups in Victoria, Vancouver, and throughout the province, B.C. beer lovers are invited to join CAMRA BC and to participate in the many brewing-related events held each year throughout our region. You can find out more about joining CAMRA BC on our web site at www.camravancouver.com, where you can learn about upcoming meetings, beer festivals, promotions & events.

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Title: Canada's first Sake Winery Opens in Vancouver

Source: Vancouver Courier,

Date: January 26, 2007


Quoted from the courier "After months of jumping through bureaucratic hoops (mainly to satisfy the city of Vancouver), Osake, the country's first premium sake winery has opened on Granville Island (1339 Railspur Alley, 604-685-7253)".  Some points made by Tim Pawsey, Courier reporter, include: They work in small batches only, using an imported special sake press, hand stirring Junmai rice, yeast and water mixture in a blanket cooled vat that ferments the mixture very gently at around 7oC. The mixture is placed in tube shaped bags and gently pressed. The resulting liquid is transferred to glycol-cooled storage tanks where it settles before bottling. The license allows them to sell retail as well as to restaurants, and Tojo's has already signed up.  The price is $24.95 for 750 ml.


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Title: Nova Scotia whisky distiller can keep Glen Breton label

Source: CBC News

Date: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 | 3:38 PM AT


The only single malt whisky distiller in Canada has won a trademark battle over its product's Glen Breton name.  Nova Scotia's Glenora Distillery said Wednesday that the Canadian Trademarks Opposition Board has rejected the arguments of the Scotch Whisky Association.


A Glen Breton Rare whisky bottle and packaging.

The distillery is based in Glenville, Cape Breton, next to the community of Glenora Falls. The company decided to call its product Glen Breton Whisky as a way of incorporating these place names. However, the Scotch Whisky Association took issue several years ago with the label and argued that the name Glen might confuse whisky drinkers into thinking they're sipping Scotch whisky.

The group argued that "glen" is a Scottish term, and only whisky produced in Scotland should be called Scotch whisky. The Scotch Whisky Association said the ruling goes against international case law and it plans to file an appeal.








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In good news for those who dislike tussling with corkscrews, screw-tops have been hailed as the answer to sealing off wine - cheap, hassle-free and a safe alternative to corks. They unscrewed a world of wine buying and storing snobbery. But, amid a whiff of sulphur, the all-stopping properties of screw top wine bottles have been called into question.

Tasters at the International Wine Challenge, testing thousands of bottles of wine, found a small proportion - 2.2% of 9,000 bottles - smelt not of a pleasant bouquet of fruit and grasses, but of sulphur.

How to keep it?

The problem comes because the sulphides, used in wine as a preservative, are kept in by airtight screw tops as they break down into thiol - which gives the eggy smell. Corks, however, allow a certain amount of oxygen in to the bottle to neutralise them.

More than half of wine bottles sold in the UK each year now come with a screw cap. Many producers have switched in the past decade because of concerns about the reliability, and relative inconvenience, of cork.

It is the latest twist in the unpredictable science of storing wine - a science that is especially important in a multi-billion industry, where investment in bottles to store is key alongside consumer sales.

So does the newly-sniffed out problem spell the end for screw caps and a search for something new? Certainly not, says wine expert Malcolm Gluck, the future is still screw cap. Like the straight banana, anti-Europe brigade, there is a cork lobby in the wine industry keen to seize on any hiccup, he says.

"It's rubbish," he says. "Any bottle can suffer from sulphidisation." Sulphur is added to wine as a preservative - without it, open wine would turn brown just as a cut apple does. "Even organic wines have to have sulphur."

The problem lies, he says, with a minority of producers who have not yet got the level of sulphur right, when wine is sealed with a screw top, rather than a cork, which allows a small amount of air in over time.

Say what you smell

And the argument that corks are better for storing wine over a long period? That valuable bottle of fine red you want to lay down?

"I would say the opposite is true," says Gluck. Screw top wines can be kept for longer before they mature. The effects of stopping the end of an ageing bottle with a cork can differ from bottle to bottle - "and it's not always a congenial difference". It's more important to store the wine at the right temperature and away from light - hence cellars. And to decant it before drinking.

But humble quaffers should also have the confidence to speak up when the wine is off, even if the waiter is removing a modern screw cap with a flourish, says Guy Woodward, editor of Decanter Magazine.

"It's important that consumers are aware of the possible problems and they shouldn't be afraid to question a bottle that they've bought - especially if it's in a restaurant where they're probably being overcharged anyway." But, as he points out, at 2.2% of the bottles tested, the problem affects about half the number that tend to be corked, 5%. And that proportion was picked up at the wine fair, by buffs who "could smell a rotten egg at 50 yards".

As for the future answer to fault-proof packaging and storing wine, for those who baulk at a screw top, there is more to come. Tetrapaks for wine were tried 10 years ago and didn't catch on, but the market may be ready to accept them now, says Gluck. And why not? They are a food approved container and if it is good enough for milk...

And, nobody tell the mother-in-law, the solution may also lie in super-sized wine boxes that will in future come in five-litre sized containers. So where would that leave the wine festival buffs?

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Title: Rising barley costs could mean higher prices for beer, analysts say
Source: The Associated Press
Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Before making a beer run, lager-lovers may soon need to start searching suds-soaked sofas for a few more dollars and cents thanks, in part, to the rising cost of barley.

Production numbers are down and costs are up for the grain, one of several used to make beer. Combined with soaring energy costs and the high cost of other raw materials, like aluminum, analysts caution those extra dollars and cents may soon be passed along to consumers.

In fact, several breweries are already raising their prices due partially to raw material costs. Anheuser-Busch Cos. of St. Louis is planning a price increase for early this year, and earlier this month, Mexican brewing and bottling firm Femsa said it will raise beer prices to recover the higher costs of aluminum, glass bottles and barley and to keep up with inflation.

Those price increases are not always felt in consumers' pocketbooks. Distributors and retailers frequently eat the costs themselves. But with prices shooting up quickly, that could soon change.  "Raw material costs have gone up so much in such a short period of time, it's unavoidable that you will see some price increases eventually," said Morningstar analyst Matthew Reilly.

Barley prices have steadily inched up each month, ending 2006 averaging $3.19 per bushel in December — an increase of about 24 percent from December's average price of $2.57 in 2005. Meanwhile, production has fallen 15 percent to 180 million bushels, down from 211.9 million in 2005, mainly due to droughts in Australia and the Midwest and more farmers choosing to grow different crops like corn and soybeans.

Bernstein Research analyst Robert van Brugge forecast that this year's barley price increases will impact brewers' cost of goods sold — or the cost of the raw materials used in production — by 1 to 2 percent in 2007.

The analyst said he believes brewers will be forced to pass along some of that increase this year to consumers.
And, not surprisingly, consumers are not always happy to shell out more cash. A 1 percent increase in the cost of goods sold typically translates to 0.5 percent reduction in volume, meaning consumers typically buy less, van Brugge said.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. may be in more danger than competitor Anheuser-Busch since Molson will be faced with spiking aluminum costs. The Golden, Colo. company's aluminum price cap expires this year. Aluminum prices for Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, are capped. Aluminum accounts for about 20 percent of brewers' cost of goods sold while barley makes up 8 to 12 percent typically.

The situation may improve later in the year — a prospect smaller breweries are counting on to help with costs. Mark Stutrud, president and founder of Summit Brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota, said he was hoping prices fall somewhat in July and August. "If there's an increase in the amount that cultivated, that would be good news," Stutrud said.

Summit Brewery is the third largest brewery in Minnesota and makes more than 60,000 barrels of beer a year, including an extra pale ale popular in the Twin Cities area. Its beers are available from distributors in 13 states in the Midwest and Great Plains.

Stutrud has had to increase costs modestly each year since early 2000 to keep up with price increases and inflation.
He said his customers have not reacted too harshly to paying more for their brew. But Reilly said both small and large breweries know that rising prices do not typically make for happy customers.

"They are all very aware of the price pressures they're under," he said.


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Title: Beer: Strong, dark brews add new meaning to 'coffee bar'
Source: By Bob Batz Jr., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 14, 2007

What's hot in beer? Coffee.  Brews -- technically, ales -- brewed with coffee are hot sellers hereabouts right now. "All of our flavor-infused beers have been picking up, particularly chocolate and coffee," says Eric Heinauer, specialty brand manager at A.M. Lutheran Distributors.

Pours are percolating with two new coffee brews: Atwater Block Brewery's Vanilla Java Porter and Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s Cappuccino Stout.  Those two are "on fire" at 3 Sons Dogs & Suds beer store in Pine, says owner Bill Sukitch. He's also selling a lot of another dark seasonal, Bell's Java Stout. All three beers are made with actual coffee, which might sound weird until you think about how coffee is one of the flavors of the dark-roasted malts with which these porters and stouts are made.

A related malt flavor is chocolate. Another brew 3 Sons is selling a lot of these days, Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, doesn't even contain chocolate; those flavors come only from the blend of malts. That's also the case with August Schell Brewing Co.'s 2006 Snow Storm, described by the New Ulm, Minn., brewer as "a style rarely seen in the United States, a London-style sweet stout. If you love coffee and chocolate, you'll love our sweet stout."

Actual cocoa or chocolate or chocolate flavor is added to many other brews, such as Newport, Ore.'s Rogue Chocolate Stout. From 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, you can sample all six of these coffeeish and chocolatey brews, and maybe more, during the complimentary tasting at 3 Sons (724-940-7667 or www.3sonsdogsandsuds.com).

The tasting is titled "If Starbucks made beer." In fact, Starbucks coffee was right on the label and in the Double Black Stout that Redhook (another Seattle company) concocted in the mid-1990s but no longer offers. That brew was flavored with Starbucks coffee extract. Lagunitas, in Petaluma, Calif., actually made a coffee beer before Redhook, in 1995, but federal authorities denied its application for a label. "They said coffee is not an approved beer additive," says Lagunitas' "beer weasel," Ron Lindenbusch. They apply organic ground Hardcore Coffee over the mash using a (bought new) Scott's fertilizer spreader.

It's amazing the different ways and different times craft brewers add flavorings. At Bell's, production manager John Mallett notes, the brewery now pour pounds of ground Sumatra and Italian roast coffee -- from the Water Street Coffee Joint across the street -- into the hot wort as it whirlpool cools, then lets it steep for 15 to 20 minutes. He says they figure that's "about a half cup of coffee per bottle" of the stout, which is one of many they make. Caffeine?  "We assume so."

Atwater Block Brewery in Detroit also adds the ground Colombian coffee -- in cheesecloth -- to the whirlpool, pre-fermentation. Other brewers add brewed coffee or espresso.  At Greensburg's Red Star Brewery, brewer Jeff Guidos has tried various methods to put the coffee in his Coffee Porter. Alas, the batch he put on around Thanksgiving just kicked. But then, between the caffeine and the 6 percent alcohol, it kicked when sipped, too.

"You needed to drink about three to get the full effect," Mr. Guidos says. "You wanted to get up and run around the room, but you couldn't."  If you missed it, you might want to try the Espresso Stout that brewer Brant Dubovick plans to debut at the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville in two weeks. (He notes he originally planned to add oats and lactose, too, to make it a "breakfast stout.")

Ray Daniels, director of publications and (until recently) craft beer marketing for the Brewers Association trade group, says he's seen an "uptick" in coffee beer (along with more beers aged in barrels and on wood).

They're not as rare as you might think: A search of www.ratebeer.com returns 97 beers with "coffee" in the name and 46 with "java." At this year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Mr. Heinauer says, he noticed that "the big brewers are recognizing this [flavored beers] as a category on the move." This holiday season, Michelob released Celebrate Vanilla Oak, aged on bourbon barrel oak and red vanilla beans, and Celebrate Chocolate, aged on cocoa beans. The festival's competition actually has had since 2002 a separate category for "Coffee Flavored Beer."

Last year, there were 28 entries, up from 26 in 2005 and 18 in 2004. Competition manager Chris Swersey says that with the public appetite having grown in recent years for all bigger, more flavorful, often darker beers, "I would see the growth trend of coffee beers as going hand-in-hand with that general theme." The World Beer Cup competition (that Swersey also manages) also has a coffee-flavored category. The 2006 gold medal went to Meantime Coffee from Greenwich, England, brewed with fair-trade Arabica Bourbon beans from the Abuhuzamugambi Bakawa co-operative in Rwanda, no less. Last year's GABF coffee beer gold medal was taken by Capitol City Brewing Co. of Arlington, Va., for its Sumatra-infused Imperial stout called "Fuel." Good name, but not as good as "Buzz Beer," the mythical caffeinated coffee brew from the Drew Carey Show.

The idea of stimulating beer is still comical to people such as Mr. Daniels, who quips, "I always thought that's why smoking was popular in bars." The coffee beers we're considering shouldn't be confused with the "energy drinks" that also are popular now. As noted in this space this summer, there's an unusual lager beer in this market that contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee -- 69 milligrams -- called Moonshot, made by New Century Brewing Co. of Hingham, Mass. No, the coffee beers we're talking about here are about flavor and are to savor. Mr. Heinauer offers that the Atwater Vanilla Java Porter is well-balanced, with the vanilla in the finish. "There's certain creaminess on draft that I find even more appealing than coming out of the bottle." As for the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, "I find it a little more subtle. ... It's definitely more toward the roast side than the sweet side." It's sold in 22-ounce bottles.

Vecenie Distributing's Tony Knipling says the java flavor is at the forefront with the Bell's Java Stout. "I tell people, if they like coffee, they'll like this beer." But even if you don't like coffee, you might like it, as well as the Lagunitas, as they're both fine, rich, nearly black stouts.  For more about the subject of coffee beers, listen to the guys at Craft Beer Radio tasting four of them at www.craftbeerradio.com.

If you have trouble getting your hands on a coffee beer, you could always make your own. That's what they do at the Backstage Bar at Theater Square, Downtown. They serve a drink called the Dark Star by pouring about an ounce of Starbucks espresso liqueur into a beer glass and topping that off with 12 ounces of Penn Dark beer.

Theater Square Cabaret manager Randy Kirk says it's popular and delicious. "The two go together so well." Other bartenders make chocolate-covered cherry or raspberry drinks by mixing Brooklyn Chocolate Stout with cherry or raspberry Belgian lambics. Even on its own, a stout like this pairs well with chocolate and other desserts. A stout like Bell's Cherry Stout can be dessert.


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Title:  Think and Drink

Source: Globe & Mail, Jan 5, 2007

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 7, 2007


Books and booze have always made cozy -- if slightly tipsy -- bedfellows. Authors such as Fitzgerald, Lowry, Hemingway and Poe were famous not only for their poetry and prose, but also for their blind imbibition. So what better place to start a book club than at one of Vancouver's favourite watering holes?


"I've always thought that bookstores are a real neighbourhood thing, and the Railway Club just sort of feels like home," says Jason Queck, a manager at the Book Warehouse on Seymour and co-organizer of the monthly event. "So it just seemed like a natural fit for a book club." At the inaugural meeting in December, patrons discussed Blindness by Jose Saramago. And earlier this week, they chatted about John Vaillant's Governor-General award-winning book, The Golden Spruce.


Queck -- who used to be a sword swallower and human pin cushion -- says he's selecting books that are already out in more budget-friendly paperback, and that lean toward the literary. As he puts it: "With the Railway crowd, you can be a bit adventurous."


The Book Warehouse Book Club is held the first Tuesday of every month from 6:30 p.m. Free. The Railway Club, 579 Dunsmuir St. For next meeting's featured title, contact the Book Warehouse, 552 Seymour St., 604-683-5711


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Title: Change a Brewin'

Source: Vancouver Magazine http://www.vanmag.com/_foodanddrink/06oct/drink.shtml

Date: October 2006


One of the pleasures of a B.C. road trip is small breweries in small towns, home to many of our best brews. Kamloops Brewery, Mt. Begbie in Revelstoke, Crannóg Ales in Sorrento, Nelson Brewing, Fernie Brewing, Tree Brewing in Kelowna and Cannery Brewing in Penticton make for a good Interior trip. Howe Sound Brewing Co. is a worthy stop on the way to Whistler, while Fat Cat and Longwood in Nanaimo, the Craig Street Brew Pub in Duncan and the Gulf Islands Brewery on Salt Spring preview the ferment of activity in Victoria—the brewing capital of B.C. Increasingly, though, you don't have to go on the road to sample at least some of these beers. Small breweries can't survive on local sales alone and more and more are bottling—usually in the big bottle 650-mL format but sometimes, like the Phillips Brewing Phoenix Gold Lager, "exported from Esquimalt," in six packs of stubbies.


Bart and Tracey Larson left their Vancouver jobs as nuclear physicist and veterinary assistant for a small town life of hiking, mountain-biking and skiing in Revelstoke. To make a living, they turned to Bart's home brewing hobby, and started "making beer not war," opening Mt. Begbie Brewing Company 10 years ago. This year they were a strong contender for the Canadian Brewing Awards brewery of the year.

Innovative from the start, they make a Cologne-influenced kölsch, a pale ale, a brown ale and a stout, adding a new Attila the Honey ale to celebrate their anniversary. Now they need a bigger brewhouse. Tracey Larson reckons that they've benefited from the growing interest in small producers of all kinds of food and beverages—coffee, chocolates, wine, fruit and vegetables. "We don't have a stereotypical customer," she says."Older, younger, male, female—anyone looking for better quality likes our beers."


Closer to Vancouver, Larry Caza—another onetime home brewer—founded Old Yale Brewing Co. in Chilliwack six years ago with the ambition of making beer that's as good as California's legendary Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Twenty years ago, as a jet pilot with the Canadian Forces in Goose Bay, Labrador, he started drinking the original Budweiser brought in from Czechoslovakia by German air crews. He's been on a quest to make authentic beer ever since, deploring the travesties from mainstream beer companies, and aiming for a sharp hoppiness that's much more familiar in the rest of the Pacific Northwest than in B.C.

Mt. Begbie and Old Yale are at the micro end of micro brewing. Vancouver Island Brewery, one of the original 1980s pioneers, is much bigger, but is now one of the only major independent craft brewers left. It's a brewery that's gotten much better at what it does—a built-to-order facility with lots of high-tech quality control helps—as well as one that's successfully combined its Island roots with contemporary German experience. Brewmaster Ralf Pittroff marries the best brews of original brewmaster Hermann Hoerterer with a solid range of new ones, making for strong local appeal. Island people support Island food and drink.

Craft brewing in B.C. isn't quite the success that it is south of the border, but we're still doing a decent job of making beers that put passion and place into the glass and the bottle. Forget Corona and Coors Light. Have your own Oktoberfest and try some of our own.

Top of the Hops

Three of B.C.'s Gold Medal winners from the 2006 Canadian Brewing Awards:

Tall Timber was the first of Mt. Begbie's brews and is still their best seller. A brown ale, reddish and coppery like weak coffee, with a slim head but a delicious, Christmas-y smell, all nuts, fruit cake and oranges. Made for red meat and hearty, robust dishes—goes with just about anything except fish. Specialty listing, $4.25/650 mL.

Consistently one of the best B.C. India Pale Ales, it's based on the beers shipped to slake the thirst of the British troops in India, boosted with hops and alcohol to survive the journey. Reddish-brown, hoppy, aromatic, almost winey; sausages, burgers, steaks, salmon—cook with it, marinate with it, or just drink it. Specialty listing, $4.61/650 mL.

Lager isn't just a golden summer brew but any beer in which the yeasts ferment at the bottom of the container rather than the top. Europeans love dunkel or dark lager. Hermann's looks like a dark espresso, sweet as treacle but with a nice sharp fruitiness that makes it great with a steak or anything on the grill. Specialty listing, $10.86/six-pack.


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Title: Chardonnay & Sauvignon allowed in Rioja

Source: www.decanter.com

Date: January 23, 2007


Rioja winemakers can now use Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo in their white wines, the region’s wine body has decreed.

The OIPVR (Organización Interprofesional del Vino de Rioja) said the grapes will be allowed from the 2007 vintage onwards, although none of them may be made as varietals, or in as a major part of a blend.

Apart from the stipulation that the three noble varieties may not, together or individually, make up more than 49 percent of the wine, there are no other limits on the use of other permitted grapes.

The decision follows nearly two years of debate since the foundation of the OIPVR, which was created to oversee marketing and regulation, absorbing in the process the Consejo Regulador (CRDOCa), which remains a policing authority.

One of the major sore points for winemakers in the region was the paucity of grape varieties available for making white wines. There were only three: Viura (Macabeo), Malvasía Riojana and the rare Garnacha Blanc.


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Title: Asia Pacific Breweries Invests In Fifth Brewery In Vietnam

Source: www.apb.com.sg

Date: January 22, 2007


Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) is acquiring the assets of Quang Nam Brewery (QNB) in Vietnam as part of the ongoing expansion in one of its best performing markets. This acquisition will be carried through via Vietnam Brewery Limited (VBL) in which APB owns a 60 percent stake.

To extend its presence and further tap on the beer market in central Vietnam, VBL entered into an agreement with Quang Nam Electric Construction Company (QNEC) to establish a joint venture company, VBL (Quang Nam) Ltd (VBLQN). VBLQN will acquire the existing assets and business of QNB.

Koh Poh Tiong, chief executive officer, APB, commented, "Central Vietnam provides a strategic launch pad for the continuing enlargement of the mainstream brands of QNB and the Da Nang brewery, namely, the Larger and Biere Larue brands respectively.

"We will continue to enhance the brand equity of these mainstream brands and complement them with our popular premium brews - Tiger and Heineken, to achieve a broader brand portfolio to better satisfy the varied tastes of the Vietnamese drinkers in the long run and extend further market coverage in that region."

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Title: Put a Stop in it - Screw caps vs. Corks

Source: BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6267079.stm

Date: January 17, 2007


Screw tops have been called into question as wine buffs found some bottles that smell of rotten eggs. From demijohns in rustic garages to the finest cellars, storing wine remains an unpredictable science - so what's the solution?


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Title: Canada Says Yes To Genetically Modified Yeast With Reduced Cancer Causing Compounds

Source: Food Navigator

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 4, 2007

Environment Canada has approved the import and  manufacture of a genetically modified yeast variety that is designed to reduce the levels of the carcinogen ethyl carbamate, a compound that can naturally occur in fermented foods and beverages, such as wine, beer and bread. Developed by biotech firm First Venture Technologies, the propriety yeast claims to be able to reduce ethyl carbamate levels in red wine by up to 89 percent, and in bread by up to 54 percent.

The global market for wine, brandy and sake yeasts is estimated to be in excess of 12,000 metric tons of yeast, which is estimated to produce 30 billion liters of wine, brandy and sake. Current prices, depending on the specific strain of yeast, are in the range of US$20 to US$140 per kilogram. First Venture Technologies said its pricing for wine yeast strains targets the high end of this price scale.

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Title: Sleep-Lulling Grapes (or "I thought it was called passing out!")

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 5, 2007

A recent study in Italy has suggested that grapes have sleep-lulling effects. According to the study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Italian scientists have reported that certain grape varieties contain high levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns. These findings might help to explain why drinking a glass of red wine lulls some people to sleep. Lead researcher Marcello Iriti from the University of Milan was quoted as saying: "The melatonin content in wine could help regulate the sleep-and-wake patterns, just like the melatonin produced by the pineal gland in mammals", as reported by Channel News Asia.

Traces of the sleep hormone were found in extracts of eight types of grapes: Nebbiolo, Croatina, Sangiovese, Merlot, Marzemino, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera. Test results revealed that Nebbiolo grapes contained the highest level of melatonin, with other grape varieties showing some, but varying amounts of melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by a small gland in our brain, telling the body when it is time to sleep. Melatonin levels rise in the mid- to late evening and drop in the early morning hours, thus helping to regulate our sleep and wake cycles.

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Title: Not for Profit Beer?

Source: Dipsophilia Archives

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 2006

Friday, January 6, 2006 marked the launch of Uberbru in Vancouver. What is heralded as the first “not for profit” beer in the world was first introduced in Montreal in the fall of 2005. The beer is a fund raiser for Uberculture, who promote an alternative approach to the overbearing corporate culture which has enveloped our society, and who encourage students to become politically active to combat the growing apathy and resignation of the younger generation. 

It is a well chosen vehicle as nothing characterizes the corporate appetite for globalization more than the brewing industry.

In keeping with their anti-global philosophy each beer is indeed brewed “locally”. The Montreal beer is brewed by Le Chaudron.  The BC variety is a Hemp Amber Ale brewed by west coast microbrewery partner Backwoods Brewing.

For more information visit http://www.uberbru.com/. The West Coast brew is available at: 

• The Foundation (2301 Main St.)
• Rime
(1130 Commercial Dr.)
• Railway Club (
579 Dunsmuir St
• WaaZooBee Cafe (1622 Commercial Dr.)

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Title: Some Beers Really do Get Better With Age

Source: Jeff Boda, International Herald Tribune

Date: Dec 12, 2006

This year's vintage was good. The bottle from 1997 was even better, with the flavors coalescing into something special. But it was the 1970 edition that really opened eyes to what aging a bottle can do.

Not a bottle of wine, but a bottle of beer, in this case Chimay Grand Reserve. Gone were the telltale signs of beer: the bitterness, the carbonation and the foamy head. In their wake was a thick brew that tasted solely of chocolate with a little dried fruit, something to be savored with only the best of friends.

"It's an alternative to cognac after meals, with a cigar or chocolate," said Dominique Denis, the brewmaster for Chimay, nestled inside a Trappist monastery a few kilometers from the French border in southern Belgium.

For a select group of beers, their ideal place is in the cellar, alongside red wines, ports and whiskeys, where their rough edges can mellow and their flavors evolve. Kept in cool conditions and away from light — the same conditions for storing wine — any yeast left in the bottle will continue to ferment in the bottle for a few years. As the beers gently oxidize, the tastes will evolve from brash to refined, as the alcohol flavor fades away. The beer's aroma changes and the bitterness melts away, replaced by drier, sweeter flavors.

"At first you taste this and this and this flavor, but later you get a marriage of flavors and a certain smoothness," said Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery in New York and author of "The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food." He added, "The fruit and earthy flavors step forward, the bitterness steps back."

Most beers shouldn't be aged. The most common, the mass-market lagers such as Heineken, Stella Artois and Carlsberg, are designed to be drunk as soon as they leave the brewery. So are Belgian wheat beers (Hoegaarden) German weisses (Schneider or Hacker-Pschorr) and American pale ales (Sierra Nevada).

"It's a relatively small group of beer that are robust enough to age," Oliver said.

But beers that have alcohol levels of 8 percent or higher and are full-bodied can cellar. More alcohol means there's more sugars and flavors that can evolve.

Look for beers that have big malty flavors; that's a sign they will sweeten over time. Avoid those with lots of hops flavors, which break down over time, leaving an unpleasant tealike flavor, Oliver said. Skip beers that are pasteurized, which stops the brewing process altogether. If there is yeast in the bottle, that's good. The yeast will continue its fermentation for a few years, changing the existing flavors and adding new ones, before it dies out and adds its own taste, a biscuity flavor found in old Champagnes, Oliver said.

"The rules for aging beer are very similar for whether or not a wine is suitable to age," he said. "You want enough residual sugar, or enough fruit or body, to carry through over time, but at the same time enough bitterness to hold up too."

How long beer should age depends on ingredients and how it is brewed. Magnums can age for longer periods than 33- centiliter, or 11-ounce, bottles, while a British barley wine can age for years, even decades, longer than an Orval from southeast Belgium, which usually peaks after a few years. Age a beer too long and the flavors will eventually fade.

"All beers don't age the same," said Nasser Eftekhari, owner of Beer Mania in Brussels, a specialty beer store that ships Belgian beers suitable for aging to customers around the world. "Usually, brown beers age better than light beers, and the big beers twice as long as small bottles." He added, "Alcohol and aging have a direct relationship. More alcohol is usually better for aging."

One exception is a special type of Belgian beer, called lambic, Eftekhari said. Dry and sour, it usually contains between five and six percent alcohol, but is made for aging. "The older, the better," he said.

Eftekhari recommends aging beer in a dark room, at no more than 20 degrees Celsius, or about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Oliver recommends 10 to 13 degrees Celsius. If the bottle is corked, keep it on its side, Oliver said, and watch out for temperature fluctuations and light, which can ruin the beer. Like wine, beer can spoil during aging if air enters the bottle or if the cork or cap is infected.

After a year, open a bottle and compare it to a fresh bottle, and you'll start to see the difference age makes. "Beer isn't better after a few years, but different," Eftekhari said. "It's not the same as wine, in one vintage is better than the other," Denis said. "Here the evolution will remain. The product will evolve, these aromas with time evolve."

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Title: Globalization & Alcohol

Source: Dipsophilia Archives

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: June200 6


In this age of globalization, the Booze industry has suffered (or benefited, if you're on that side of the fence), more than most. 

Although thankfully there will always be small micro brewers producing high quality local beers, the brewing giants have been gobbling up competitors faster than you can knock back a pint of ESB. This is happening at all different levels; locally, nationally and globally.


In Canada, we have gone from the “big three” Canadian brewers, (Labatt, Molson and Carling O’Keefe) to an industry totally dominated by foreign owned companies in less than a decade.  The boundary between the hard liquor industry and the brewing giants is blurring.


The more capital intensive distilleries are steadily being consolidated in two large companies, Diageo and Pernot-Ricard who recently took over Allied Domecq.  Here are the brands owned by each of the major distillers:




In Progress - please check back later




“Allied Domecq produces, markets and sells a portfolio of around 220 brands of spirits and wine. We also sell a further 130 brands in partnership with third party agencies through our strong distribution network around the world. ”


“Allied Domecq produces, markets and sells a portfolio of around 220 brands of spirits and wine”










Canadian Club














Hiram Walker Liqueurs


Tia Maria


Don Pedro

Azteca do Oro

Anejo los Reyes






Balbi, Graffigna


Mumm, Perrier Jouet

New Zealand

Montana, Brancott, Church Road, Corbans, Deutz Marlborough Cuvée, Lindauer and Stoneleigh





Clos du Bois, Gary Farrell, Buena Vista Carneros, Haywood Estate, Wattle Creek and J.Garcia wines from Sonoma County; Jakes Fault and Callaway Coastal from the California Coastal regions; and William Hill Winery, Atlas Peak Vineyards and Mumm Napa fom the Napa Valley.


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Title: Alcohol sharpens your brain, say researchers

Source: Daily Telegraph (for full article)

Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 5, 2007

It is news guaranteed to raise a cheer among those who enjoy a glass or two: drinking half a bottle of wine a day can make your brain work better, especially if you are a woman. Research to be published tomorrow by academics at University College London has found that those who even drink only one glass of wine a week have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotallers.

The benefits of alcohol, which are thought to be linked to its effect on the flow of blood to the brain, can be detected when a person drinks up to 30 units of alcohol - about four to five bottles of wine - per week. The researchers were unable to test the effect of higher levels of alcohol consumption, although drunkenness probably negates any positive effects on the brain.

The findings have surprised health officials, who issued yet another warning last week about the dangers of overdrinking.

In the latest research, a team led by Sir Michael Marmot, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, gave psychometric tests to more than 6,000 civil servants. The questions ranged from verbal and mathematical reasoning problems to tests of short-term memory. The civil servants' performance was then matched against their drinking habits.

The study took into account all alcohol consumption and was not specific to wine. However, the results showed that those having even a single glass of wine a week scored significantly higher in the tests than more abstemious drinkers. Teetotallers were twice as likely as occasional drinkers to achieve the lowest scores.

The benefits were most marked among women drinkers and, to the researchers' surprise, showed no sign of flattening out with increasing consumption. Those who downed the equivalent of half a bottle of wine or two pints of beer a day scored best of all. The effects were apparent even after the results had been adjusted to take into account factors such as physical and mental health.

"Our results appear to suggest some specificity in the association between alcohol consumption and cognitive ability," said the team. "Frequent drinking may be more beneficial than drinking only on special occasions."

The team, whose findings are being reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that the results may reflect the fact that alcohol can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase blood flow to the brain - factors linked to improved mental function.

The researchers also speculate that women might benefit more because of the different way in which they metabolise alcohol. However, they acknowledge that the benefits of alcohol can be outweighed by the increased risks of getting diseases such as cancer and cirrhosis, and that the findings should not be used as an excuse for heavier drinking.

Dr Guy Ratcliffe, the medical director of the Medical Council on Alcohol, said that the study would add to earlier evidence that moderate drinking could be beneficial - offering advantages such as a reduced risk of heart disease and strokes. "This is a well-researched study, and it's important that information such as this is available so that people can make informed decisions about alcohol consumption," he said.

Kate Winstanley, the policy director of the Portman Group, set up by the industry to promote responsible drinking, welcomed the findings. "There is a lot of concern about trends in women's drinking, especially young women, but the concern is chiefly about women who drink to get drunk. This study does seem to support the view that moderate drinking is better than none at all," she said.

The University College team is now hoping to continue the study to investigate whether alcohol can help slow the decline of mental function as people grow older. A recent American study suggested that drinkers suffered significantly less cognitive decline with age than teetotallers, with women again showing the greatest benefit.

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Title:  Booze: Health Helper or Hindrance?

Source: CBS News


Date Posted on Dipsophilia: January 7, 2007


Alcohol is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the medical world: Drinking too much causes serious problems, while drinking a little may help many people's health.

How many drinks provide just the benefits and not the harm? It depends on whether a person is most at risk of heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer. But there is one bottom line: Five or six drinks only on Saturday night will provide no benefits, while a drink or two a night might.


For full article, please use the link above.

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CAMRA Vancouver Awards

Source: Rick Green, CAMRA Vancouver

Date: January 29, 2008


The results of the 2008 CAMRA Vancouver Awards are:


Best Local Brewpub

Gold: Steamworks

Silver: Central City

Bronze: DIX BBQ & Brewing


Best Local Beer Cafe, Pub, or Restaurant

Gold: The Whip Restaurant Gallery

Silver: The Alibi Room

Bronze: The Railway Club


Best Local Liquor Store

Gold: Brewery Creek Cold Beer & Wine Store

Silver: BCLS Signature Store (39th & Cambie)

Bronze: Firefly Fine Wines and Ales


Best Local Beer Event

Gold: The Whip Real Ale Sundays

Silver: DIX Cask Thursdays

Bronze: CAMRA On a Mission to Mission


Best BC Brewery

Gold: Phillips

Silver: Crannóg

Bronze: Storm

Best BC Beer
Gold: Central City Imperial IPA
Silver: Storm Black Plague Stout
Bronze: Crannóg Back Hand of God Stout

Best BC Seasonal Beer
Gold: Steamworks Grand Espresso Stout
Silver: R & B Auld Nick
Bronze: Granville Island Merry Monks Doppelbock


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Title: Brewery cashes in on Whistler's high profile

Source: Vancouver Sun

Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What's in a name? Try "Whistler" and watch the dollars roll in.

Bruce Dean seized on that idea when Alberta's Big Rock Brewery hired him to find a business strategy for its languishing assets in British Columbia -- Bear Brewing Co., Bowen Island Brewing Co., and Whistler Brewing Co.

The former Gillette marketing executive reasoned that Whistler is a global brand. Why not turn Whistler beer into a premium product with a global reach?

When the Big Rock board decided to sell the B.C. business instead of taking his advice, Dean rounded up a bunch of local investors and bought the company.

The result is Vancouver's NorthAm Group, the fastest growing beer supplier to the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch in fiscal 2007 with ninefold sales growth.

Bear Brewing has been shelved for the time being and reinvented as the Kamloops Brewing Co. with a mandate to promote KB Beer as a local craft beer for the Interior.

Bowen Island was relaunched as an authentic craft beer at an affordable price -- less than $10 for a six-pack -- while Whistler Brewing was positioned as the flagship brand.

There are only two Whistler products -- Whistler Premium Export Lager and Whistler Classic Pale Ale -- but the growth focus is on the lager, Dean said in an interview.

First Whistler beer is positioned like an import. It's one of the few Canadian beers in an open six-pack, like a basket carrier. Most domestic brews come in a closed box.

It is bottled in clear glass, rather than amber, and labelled with high resolution metal foil rather than paper, with a distinctive image of Whistler mountain.

And then, even though the company's brewery is in Kamloops, it is made with 100-per-cent Whistler glacier water.

"That what underpins its authenticity," Dean said. "We literally get Bert's Trucking to fill a 400-hectolitre truck with glacier water from the Whistler Water Company, and they truck it to the brewery."

He said water distinguishes beer "and in our case the water fell before there was industry or carbons floating around. We like to say it is water as nature intended it."

Whistler Premium Lager fetches a premium price -- about $11.50 a six-pack -- but it helped to drive NorthAm's $3.36 million in sales to the LCB for the year ending March 31, 2007, up from $335,000 during the company's first five months of life in fiscal 2006.

While different time frames make 903 per cent growth is misleading, Dean said NorthAm retains the "fastest growing" crown for fiscal 2007 by growing close to 160 per cent over an annualized 2006.

Now NorthAm is branching out to Alberta and will start shipping Whistler beer to Japan in February. The same Japanese distributor who handles Corona and Carlsberg has chosen the Whistler brand because Whistler means something in Japan, Dean said.

"That's great for us but it's also great for B.C.," he said. "When we export the Whistler name we actually think we're doing a great thing for British Columbia and for the Whistler community, because it is an invitation to come and visit us."

Australian-born Dean is also delighted the Japanese will pay more for a premium beer -- about $10 a glass -- than they will for a glass of wine.

Admits the 50-year-old who fell in love with B.C. when he was hired in 2001 to promote such brands as Mike's Hard Lemonade and Mission Hill wines: "Frankly, I'm not a wine guy and I never really got used to swirl and spit. Gulp and swallow has more appeal to an Australian than swirl and spit."


Fastest-growing beer sales to B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch for the year ended March 31, 2007:

1. NorthAm $3,365,520 Up 903% over 2006

2. Avalon $342,836 Up 121%

3. Phillips $1,610,826 Up 57%

4. R&B $853,105 Up 32%

5. Vancouver Island $6,412,698 Up 20%

Source: NorthAm

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Title: Richmond's Kingswood Arms Burns

Source: Vancouver Sun

Date: January 22, 2008


RICHMOND - One of the city's oldest watering holes -- the Kingswood Arms Pub -- went up in flames early Monday.

"It looks like an electrical fire," said pub owner Randy Craig.

About 24 firefighters battled the 3 a.m. blaze, and the freezing temperatures caused the water they used to turn to ice, posing an additional hazard to firefighters.

"We had three or four firefighters fall," said deputy fire chief Ron Beaman. One firefighter was taken to hospital.

Adjacent buildings were evacuated due to heavy smoke.

The Kingswood Arms, which opened in 1976, was Richmond's first stand-alone pub. Prior to that, the only bars in town were in hotels. Although Kingswood Arms regulars will have to find another spot for now, Craig vows to rebuild.


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Title: West gets a new Executive Chef

Date: January 9, 2008

Source: West

Warren Geraghty, one of London’s celebrated chefs, will make his Vancouver debut as the Executive Chef of South Granville’s internationally-acclaimed West restaurant.

Following an extensive search to replace departing chef David Hawksworth, proprietor Jack Evrensel is pleased to welcome Geraghty to Vancouver. "Warren is passionate and very talented," says Evrensel. "I have rarely experienced his level of complexity and harmony on a plate with such clear and vibrant flavors."


Geraghty joins West with a distinguished resume spanning one, two and three star Michelin establishments, including his most recent appointment as Executive Chef at Marco Pierre White’s illustrious L’Escargot restaurant in Soho.


Prior to L’Escargot, Geraghty manned the stoves at other prestigious spots in London including Aurora, The Orrery, Chez Nico and Pied à Terre. In Cannes, he worked alongside master chef Richard Neat as Head Chef of Restaurant Neat, where during his tenure, the London Evening Standard noted that he was "instrumental in obtaining the Michelin star."


At West, Geraghty will collaborate with Restaurant Director Brian Hopkins to lead the all-star team, including Pastry Chef Rhonda Viani and Executive Sous Chef Stéphanie Noël in the kitchen, along with Wine Director Owen Knowlton and Bar Manager David Wolowidnyk in the front of house.


Geraghty’s highly anticipated arrival is scheduled for early February. In the meantime, West’s talented Executive Sous Chef Stéphanie Noël will act as Executive Chef, leading the brigade to maintain the exceptional standards that the restaurant is renowned for.


Superb dishes showcasing modern interpretations of classic combinations are offered at Vancouver’s perennial ‘Restaurant of the Year’. Martinis and cocktails are pressed to order by ‘Canada’s best mixologist’ David Wolowidnyk, and the highly awarded wine collection is housed in a magnificent, temperature-controlled wall of wine. 2881 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC. 604.738.8938. Valet nightly. westrestaurant.com


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Title: Raise a glass to an old gin palace

Source: Food and Beverage News.com

Date: 05 January 2008

London boasts 4,500 pubs and bars and the ones I like best are brimful with history - though at the thought of the more gory stuff I may well need a stiff drink… and then possibly another.

One of my favourite watering holes is also pretty much my local. It's the Viaduct Tavern, a wonderfully well-preserved gin palace built at the same time as the Holborn Viaduct alongside, a spectacular span opened by Queen Victoria in 1869.

Designed by City surveyor William Heywood, the 1,400ft viaduct bridging the valley of the long-covered River Fleet, and connecting Holborn and Newgate Street, is a marvellous marriage of Victorian art and engineering. It took six years to construct and cost the truly royal sum of £2.5m.

The bridge crossing Farringdon Street - from which the painted cast-iron supports rise up like the vaulting of a medieval cathedral - is decorated with noble bronze statues representing Commerce, Agriculture, Science and Fine Arts. Four Italian Gothic cum Scots Baronial turret houses stood at the corners of the span, two and a half of them still surviving - though the losses must be returned as a preservation/restoration priority.

In remaining turret niches there are statues of Henry Fitzailwyn, the first lord mayor; Norfolk's Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange and Gresham College; Sir William Walworth, the lord mayor who stabbed Wat Tyler; and Sir Hugh Myddleton, pioneer of the New River Estate which developed Islington.

Pity the queen - breaking into an eight-year-and-still-going-strong mourning period for her beloved Albert with a rare public engagement - couldn't have had a refresher at the Viaduct Tavern's bar.  She might have admired all the mahogany and the mirrors and the gilt, though an interior design deemed palatial by the brewers also had an air of the grand bordello. The sober monarch would certainly have been surprised to find that a state-of-the-art public house had become the first public building in London with electric lighting.

Then again, she couldn't stop long. For she was opening Blackfriars Bridge on the same day - before diving back into the successive seclusion of Osborne and Balmoral.

But it's back to the Viaduct Tavern for me…

Gin palaces first appeared around 1830, and by the 1850s London had about 5,000 of the glamorous, gaudy and bawdy pubs where the more louche members of the upper classes could mix with the low-life.  Charles Dickens lived nearby as a bachelor and newlywed, and who wrote Pickwick Papers in a High Holborn house now occupied by the majestically Gothic offices built for the Prudential Assurance Company. He could have been thinking of the Viaduct when, in Sketches by Boz, he wrote of a gin palace being “perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left”.

Now Grade II listed, the Viaduct Tavern remains perfectly dazzling, while most of its rivals are long since bombed, bulldozed or wrecked by wretched brewery-wrought refits. Oil paintings of four alluring maidens echo the symbolic figures on Holborn Viaduct - though Miss Science is more than slightly the worse for wear, with a wound to one buttock caused by a soldier's bayonet or bullet during the heady party celebrating the end of the first world war.

At the rear of the bar there is a mahogany and etched glass pay booth where a dragon of a landlady would sell tokens which could be exchanged for gin via waitresses attending at the tables.  This procedure kept the cash away from possibly light-fingered staff and also carefully limited the gin so that customers didn't become too light-headed.

This splendid establishment had a reputation to maintain, after all. Surviving mirrors look worthy of the Moulin Rouge - though in fact they are superior to Paris, given their edging decoration of 24 carat gold and silver.  Gleaming with crimson paint, the ceiling is made of beaten copper secured in place by a gold-topped iron column like the tent of a desert sheikh.

Such an extravagant display of good taste was a fabulous façade, for in a room upstairs there was a thriving opium den.  The upstairs rooms could also be rented out by the hour - and not just for the reason you might think, but also for the outlook.

For the Viaduct Tavern had an unrivalled view of Newgate Prison across the street, a historic hellhole in which Norfolk's Elizabeth Fry had lately been a ministering angel. It would finally be demolished in 1902 to make way for the Old Bailey.

But in a sense the inn missed its moment, for just when it was opening the public executions on the crossroads outside - which had drawn huge crowds of baying, drunken spectators - were being ended, with Dickens among the revolted protesters.  Henceforward the killings were to take place inside the prison, where many other inmates were quietly succumbing to 'gaol fever' and other diseases.

But then neither was the Viaduct a mere observatory on the hideous nature of historic British justice. For it occupied part of the site of the Giltspur Street Comptor - a sheriff's office with a debtors' prison attached.  Designed by George Dance in 1791 and demolished in 1853, the underground prison held up to 20 detainees - sometimes entire families - to a 12ft by 6ft cell.

The only ventilation and light came from a hole in the ceiling to the street level, where friends and relatives might drop in food and money, and where those without connections would beg for alms from passers-by, even grabbing at their ankles. (But those free souls who liked to see felons hanging would also tip unmentionable substances down that tiny chute.)  One jailer described the opening of cells in the morning with “the stench being enough to turn the stomach of a horse”.  Amazingly, five of these cells remain, as they were perfect for pub cellars. When they're not too busy, bar staff are happy to give customers guided tours.

Some are still used for storage. But one damp, cold and darkened dungeon (the vent to the street now blocked) is eerily empty. Around the edges there are shelves which seem to have been designed for crates of beer or cases of wine but which were in fact ledges for human beings. No wonder the place is said to be haunted.

And now I definitely need a drink - though not, for me, the amazing variety of gins available in this old gin palace (not even the Victorian Hot Toddy with tanqueray, cloves, cinnamon and citrus).

This is a Fuller's pub, so I'm here for the beer.


  • The Viaduct Tavern (020 7600 1863) is at 126 Newgate Street, London EC1. Tube: Chancery Lane or Barbican, then a five-minute walk. Open weekdays and evenings, with good pub lunches served between noon and 3pm. The Viaduct can also be booked for private functions at weekends, with no hire charge and a minimum £1,000 spend on drink and catered food.

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    Title: Beer prices set to fizz up because of high-cost ingredients

    Source: Vancouver Sun

    Date:Wednesday, January 02, 2008


    Make the most of a few pennies off the price of your favourite beer, thanks to the Jan. 1 cut in the GST. That little break could look pretty flat in the months to come as breweries struggle to contain their costs in the face of a global shortage of hops and soaring prices for barley.


    B.C. microbreweries are particularly vulnerable because they are less likely to have long-term supply contracts for key ingredients, and they make greater use of hops to produce distinctive flavours.


    "We're really hoping we will be able to keep our prices the same, but we're struggling with it," said Matt Phillips, brewer at Victoria's award-winning Phillips Brewing Co. "Our hop prices have gone up astronomically - somewhere in the order of three-fold. And we've got some beers that are pretty high hop content, so that's a bit of a challenge for us."


    The hop deficit has been variously blamed on poor harvests worldwide, farmers who converted to more lucrative crops, growing demand from China, and a 2006 warehouse fire in Washington State that wiped out a significant amount of U.S. specialty hops.


    Some craft breweries and brewpubs are dropping hop-laden India Pale Ale from their product line this year, or changing their recipes, said Rick Green, secretary of the Vancouver chapter of the Campaign for Real Ale.

    "I think you will see some familiar brands change," said Ralph Olson, owner of Hopunion in Yakima, Wash., the region's biggest supplier of hops. "Not only is there a shortage of hops, but there's a shortage of a lot of varieties. That makes it even more complex unless [brewers] have an open mind and are willing to use something different."

    Olson expects hop shortages to persist for the next two years, until new plantings come on stream.

    Stefan Buhl, brewmaster at Kelowna's Tree Brewing, expects higher costs to push up beer prices, although he has a secure supply of hops for 2008. Consumers could pay 20 to 30 cents more for a six-pack of speciality beers like India Pale Ale. That compares to a 10-cent reduction in the price of Tree Brewing's Hophead IPA as a result of Tuesday's one-percentage-point cut in the GST. Price increases can be expected this year for Kamloops Brewing, Whistler Brewing and Bowen Island Brewing brands, although president Bruce Dean said they will be driven more by the doubling of barley costs and higher packaging expenses than by the price of hops.


    "We're not planning on raising prices in response to the increase of our inputs, but we might have to. We can only deal with it for so long," said Mike Kelly, brewmaster at Nelson Brewing Co. In addition to higher prices for malt and hops, he said costs for shipping, gas, bottles, cans and packaging have risen anywhere from five per cent to 15 per cent.  Major brewers are less impacted than the industry's smaller players because they have long-term contracts with hops and barley suppliers, said Marie-Helene Legace, public relations manager with Molson Canada. Craft brewers say the hop shortage has driven many of the bigger companies to buy up the hops usually sought by the smaller players for their flavour. [The big brewers are] using them in really benign ways that basically boil all of the flavour out of them. It's kind of heartbreaking," Phillips said.


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    Title: Bluecoat American Dry Gin

    Source: SeriousEats.com

    20071226bluecoat.jpgGin is typically thought of as a British tipple, and no wonder—take a stroll through your local liquor emporium, and you’ll see the gin labels are full of derby hats, regal symbols, uniformed Beefeaters, and the face of Queen Victoria. But while “London Dry” still has a near monopoly on the market, gins from the New World are freshening up the venerable category.

    One of the newest and most acclaimed gins to arrive is the Philadelphia-distilled Bluecoat. Described as an “American Dry” gin, Bluecoat uses organic juniper, citrus peels and other botanicals to create a crisp, bright spirit. More herbal and citrusy than more juniper-heavy gins such as Tanqueray, the pot-distilled Bluecoat is an addition to the growing category of “New Generation” gins, a group that includes other highly acclaimed spirits such as Hendrick’s and Aviation.

    When I first sampled Bluecoat neat, I was taken aback by the pronounced citrus note. But returning to the spirit, both neat and mixed in a Martini, I’ve come around to its charms: Bluecoat is certainly different from the typical dry gin, but its distinctive mix of citrus, juniper and spice finds a great partner in a decent vermouth; while I haven’t tried Bluecoat in a Vesper yet, I imagine the mix would work quite well.


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    Tree wins 3 Canadian Brewing Awards!

    Source: Tree Beer

    Date: December 19, 2007


    At the 5th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards in November, Tree Brewing took home the GOLD for Cutthroat Pale Ale in the English Style Pale Ale (Bitter) category, SILVER for Kelowna Pilsner in the European Style Lager (Pilsner) category, and BRONZE for Hophead in the India Pale Ale category.  Judging was based on flavour, aroma, overall impression, mouth-feel, and appearance.

    With 45 breweries and over 200 beers submitted, we are extremely excited by our wins at the Canadian Brewing Awards.  This shows us that our hard work and dedication to crafting great beers is not only making beer drinkers happy, but our peers are noticing us too. 


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    Title: Raising The Bar: The 7 Best Alcohol-Related World Records

    Source: Doubleviking.com

    Date Posted: December 6, 2007

    My original plan was to just write about alcohol-related world records, not to do it in list form… but I got a bit excited, had a couple of beers… and now it's about 4 AM and I'm pretty smashed. So you get an awesometastic list instead. (BURP) .......click here for full article


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    Title: Trappist Command: Thou Shalt Not Buy Too Much of Our Beer

    Source: Wall Street Journal

    Date: November 29, 2007

    WESTVLETEREN, Belgium -- The Trappist monks at St. Sixtus monastery have taken vows against riches, sex and eating red meat. They speak only when necessary. But you can call them on their beer phone.

    Monks have been brewing Westvleteren beer at this remote spot near the French border since 1839. Their brew, offered in strengths up to 10.2% alcohol by volume, is among the most highly prized in the world. In bars from Brussels to Boston, and online, it sells for more than $15 for an 11-ounce bottle -- 10 times what the monks ask -- if you can get it.

    For the 26 monks at St. Sixtus, however, success has brought a spiritual hangover as they fight to keep an insatiable market in tune with their life of contemplation.

    The monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don't advertise and don't put labels on their bottles. They haven't increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there's a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

    "We sell beer to live, and not vice versa," says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. Beer lovers, however, seem to live for Westvleteren.

    When Jill Nachtman, an American living in Zurich, wanted a taste recently, she called the hot line everybody calls the beer phone. After an hour of busy signals, she finally got through and booked a time. She drove 16 hours to pick up her beer. "If you factor in gas, hotel -- and the beer -- I spent $20 a bottle," she says.

    Until the monks installed a new switchboard and set up a system for appointments two years ago, the local phone network would sometimes crash under the weight of calls for Westvleteren. Cars lined up for miles along the flat one-lane country road that leads to the red brick monastery, as people waited to pick up their beer.

    "This beer is addictive, like chocolate," said Luc Lannoo, an unemployed, 36-year-old Belgian from Ghent, about an hour away, as he loaded two cases of Westvleteren into his car at the St. Sixtus gate one morning. "I have to come every month."

    Two American Web sites, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, rank the strongest of Westvleteren's three products, a dark creamy beer known as "the 12," best in the world, ahead of beers including Sweden's Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter and Minnesota's Surly Darkness. "No question, it is the holy grail of beers," says Remi Johnson, manager of the Publick House, a Boston bar that has Westvleteren on its menu but rarely in stock.

    Some beer lovers say the excitement over Westvleteren is hype born of scarcity. "It's a very good beer," says Jef van den Steen, a brewer and author of a book on Trappist monks and their beer published in French and Dutch. "But it reminds me of the movie star you want to sleep with because she's inaccessible, even if your wife looks just as good."

    Thanks to the beer phone, there are no more lines of cars outside the monastery now. But production remains just 60,000 cases per year, while demand is as high as ever. Westvleteren has become almost impossible to find, even in the specialist beer bars of Brussels and local joints around the monastery.

    "I keep on asking for beer," says Christophe Colpaert, manager of "Café De Sportsfriend," a bar down the road from the monks. "They barely want to talk to me." On a recent day, a recorded message on the beer phone said St. Sixtus wasn't currently making appointments; the monks were fresh out of beer.

    Increasing production is not an option, according to the 47-year-old Brother Joris, who says he abandoned a stressful career in Brussels for St. Sixtus 14 years ago. "It would interfere with our job of being a monk," he says.

    Belgian monasteries like St. Sixtus started making beer in the aftermath of the French Revolution, which ended in 1799. The revolt's anti-Catholic purge had destroyed churches and abbeys in France and Belgium. The monks needed cash to rebuild, and beer was lucrative.

    Trappist is a nickname for the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, who set up their own order in La Trappe, France, in the 1660s because they thought Cistercian monasteries were becoming too lax. The monks at St. Sixtus sleep in a dormitory and stay silent in the cloisters, though they speak if they need to. Today, though, Trappists are increasingly famous for making good beer.

    Seven monasteries (six are Belgian, one, La Trappe, is Dutch) are allowed to label their beer as Trappist. In 1996, they set up an alliance to protect their brand. They retain lawyers in Washington and Brussels ready to sue brewers who try use the word Trappist. Every few months, Brother Joris puts on street clothes and takes the train to Brussels to meet with fellow monks to share sales and business data, and plot strategy.

    The monks know their beer has become big business. That's fine with the brothers at Scourmont, the monastery in southern Belgium that makes the Chimay brand found in stores and bars in Europe and the U.S. They've endorsed advertising and exports, and have sales exceeding $50 million a year. They say the jobs they create locally make the business worthy. Other monasteries, which brew names familiar to beer lovers such as Orval, Westmalle and Rochefort, also are happy their businesses are growing to meet demand.

    Not so at St. Sixtus. Brother Joris and his fellow monks brew only a few days a month, using a recipe they've kept to themselves for around 170 years.

    Two monks handle the brewing. After morning prayer, they mix hot water with malt. They add hops and sugar at noon. After boiling, the mix, sufficient to fill roughly 21,000 bottles, is fermented for up to seven days in a sterilized room. From there the beer is pumped to closed tanks in the basement where it rests for between five weeks and three months. Finally, it is bottled and moved along a conveyor belt into waiting cases. Monks at St. Sixtus used to brew by hand, but nothing in the rules of the order discourages technology, so they've plowed profits into productivity-enhancing equipment. St. Sixtus built its current brewhouse in 1989 with expert advice from the company then known as Artois Breweries.

    In the 1980s, the monks even debated whether they should continue making something from which people can get drunk. "There is no dishonor in brewing beer for a living. We are monks of the West: moderation is a key word in our asceticism," says Brother Joris in a separate, email interview. "We decided to stick to our traditional skills instead of breeding rabbits."

    The result is a brew with a slightly sweet, heavily alcoholic, fruity aftertaste.

    One day recently, the wiry, sandy-haired Brother Joris returned to his office in the monastery after evening prayers. He flipped on his computer and went online to hunt for resellers and ask them to desist. "Most of the time, they agree to withdraw their offer," he says. Last year, St. Sixtus filed a complaint with the government against two companies that refused -- BelgianFood.com, a Web site that sells beer, cheese, chocolate and other niche products, and Beermania, a Brussels beer shop that also sells online. Both offer Westvleteren at around $18 a bottle.

    "I'm not making a lot of money and I pay my taxes," says BelgianFood.com owner Bruno Dourcy. "You can only buy two cases at once, you know." Mr. Dourcy makes monthly two-hour car trips from his home in eastern Belgium.

    "Seek the Kingdom of God first, and all these things will be given to you," counters Brother Joris, quoting from the Bible, adding that it refers only to things you really need. "So if you can't have it, possibly you do not really need it."

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    Title: Stocking the bar for Christmas bashes

    Source: Vancouver Sun

    Date: Thursday, November 29, 2007


    Hosting a holiday bash always seems like a good idea -- right up until the moment you realize just how much work it is.


    Take the bar. You probably want to serve your guests something a bit more festive than a cooler full of Labatt Blue, but you probably don't want to spend the entire night mixing fancy cocktails.

    Unless you can afford to hire a bartender for the night, you'll need to take some shortcuts.

    Luckily, there are plenty of products out there to make this part of the party a breeze.

    Here are some simple drink ideas.



    The kitchen retailer Williams-Sonoma is known for many things -- fabulous cookware, awesome recipe collections and great kitchen linens -- but one of its very best offerings is its seasonal drink mixes.

    This holiday, one must-have is Williams-Sonoma's Mulling Spices ($12.75 for a six-ounce tin). This blend of cinnamon, orange zest, cloves and allspice makes a fragrant punch when you simmer it with tea, cider or red wine.

    Or try the gourmet hot chocolate mix ($26), which is perfectly delish when stirred with chocolate-dipped candy Peppermint North Poles ($20) or scattered with the candy-cane bits known as Peppermint Snow ($11.25).

    Vancouver's first, long-awaited Williams-Sonoma location opens Saturday at 2903 Granville St. For more information, visit www.williams-sonoma.ca.


    Sparkling wine is always festive, but to make it even more special, drop a Wild Hibiscus Flower into the bottom of the glass before you fill it with bubbles.

    These edible candied flowers from Australia taste like raspberries and rhubarb and add a beautiful exoticism to any drink.

    Wild Hibiscus Flowers are available for $12 to $15 at retailers including Whole Food, Gourmet Warehouse and Urban Fare. For more info, visit the Garnish Girls' website at www.garnishgirls.com.


    Nothings says "festive" like a mug of traditional egg nog, especially if it's spiked with a good slug of brandy.

    The problem is judging how much of this delicate dairy product you need to stock up on: too much, and your fridge is overloaded; too little, and you'll be making a mid-party dash to the grocery store.

    Not any more. President's Choice has just introduced a long-lasting version that's sold in a plastic bottle and sits in the cupboard until you're ready to use it.

    PC Rich and Creamy Egg Nog is $2.99 at Real Canadian Superstore and Extra Foods.


    If you really want to serve a selection of fancy cocktails, you can make things deliciously easy with Stirrings premium Cocktail Mixers and Drink Rimmers.

    The nine available flavours -- including pomegranate, green apple, lemon drop and peach bellini --give you unlimited options for innovative cocktails

    Stirrings rimmers sell for $6.99 to $8.99, and mixers from $12.59 to $14.99, at retailers including the Market Gourmet Foods, Gourmet Warehouse, Cookworks, Famous Foods and select Mac's locations.

    For more information and great recipe ideas, go to www.stirrings.com.


    Here's one festive recipe to try:


    1 oz. Stirrings Pomegranate

    Martini Mixer

    1 oz. blueberry vodka

    3/4 oz. vanilla vodka

    Handful of blueberries

    In a cocktail shaker, muddle blueberries with ice. Add vodkas and pomegranate mixer. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with three blueberries on a skewer. Serves 1.


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    Title: Ban lifted, spirits go on the block

    Source:  Globe and Mail

    NEW YORK — Across the United States, tipplers with a sense of history will have an extra reason to raise a glass today: Known as Repeal Day, it's the anniversary of the end of Prohibition.

    But among those who know the federal ban on alcohol consumption was struck down on Dec. 5, 1933, few may realize that the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution didn't exactly legalize drinking; it merely handed control of alcohol to the states. And each one took a different route: Mississippi didn't permit alcohol consumption until 1966; Kansans couldn't use credit cards at liquor stores until 1995.

    Last August, New York became only the eighth state to strike down a ban on spirits auctions. But it is wasting no time exercising the new freedom: This Saturday, Christie's will sell off more than 100 lots, officially marking the first auction of spirits in the state since before Prohibition was enacted in 1920.

    The auction house is including bottles of single malt Scotch, Cognac, Calvados, rye whisky, Chartreuse and Armagnac as part of its regular end-of-year wine sale.

    The initiative by Christie's, known as a purveyor of some of the world's finest and rarest art, is a badge of honour for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which lobbied the state legislature in Albany for the change. "Spirits and the arts, they go together," said Frank Coleman, the council's senior vice-president of public affairs, who neglected to note that sometimes they go together to fabulous effect (see: absinthe and Picasso, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec) and sometimes to tragic effect (see: Jackson Pollock, booze and an Oldsmobile convertible).

    To underline the refined nature of the booze sale, and perhaps to put bidders at its Rockefeller Center flagship galleries in the paddle-raising mood, waiters will be circulating at Christie's with hors d'oeuvres and glasses of Champagne. (As with every auction, members of the public are invited to attend free of charge; the catered treats, however, are only for registered bidders.)

    But since those in attendance usually have some very firm taste preferences, Christie's wine and spirits auctions are also BYOB affairs. "People bring their own bottles of wine, they sit and chat and share a glass of wine and spend some time together," says Richard Brierley, the Christie's specialist who conducts the wine and spirits auctions. "It can be a rather social occasion."

    They may need the nourishment for endurance: With more than 1,000 lots up for sale, Christie's expects the auction to last five or six hours.

    Mr. Brierley will be refraining from sampling too many of the goods before the sale. "A fuzzy head and lots of numbers is not a good combination," he chuckled this week.

    Still, the scene will be a far cry from the early days of wine auctions at Christie's, which began after a Prohibition-era ban on those sales was struck down in 1994 in New York. Back then, Mr. Brierley recalls, some bidders brought packed lunches.

    Saturday's auction has attracted so much attention that rubberneckers are inevitable; but unlike many of Christie's auctions (where random Warhols can sell for $20-million-plus U.S.), the price of participation is within the reach of most people. Plenty of bottles should go for only a few hundred dollars.

    But there are also prizes for big-game hunters, such as a 1926 Macallan aged 60 years in a wood barrel that carries an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, a 2003 bottle of rye made from George Washington's recipe ($10,000 to $20,000), and a so-called superlot of 729 bottles of Scotch ranging in quality from middling to extraordinary ($70,000 to $100,000). Mr. Brierley anticipates the superlot being bid on by a hotel or casino.

    The sale is projected to take in about $250,000 - a drop in the bucket, as it were, compared with its wine sales. Last year, Sotheby's sold about $130-million of wine and spirits worldwide; Christie's sold $58.6-million.

    But Mr. Brierley says demand for the fine spirits is increasing, just as the market in wine has expanded in recent years from the stalwart of Bordeaux to include more Burgundies. And spirits, with a higher alcohol content than wine, may actually make better collectibles because they stand less chance of degrading over time.

    Mr. Coleman from the Distilled Spirits Council says he knows who will be buying. "It's Christmas bonus time on Wall Street and, as any New Yorker knows, it's the Wall Street bonuses that drive the economy," at least in luxury goods.

    "This is right up the alley of your best friend who's a bond trader or hedge-fund manager or other Wall Street bigwig."

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    Strong suds for the holidays

    Source: Vancouver Sun

    Date: November 19, 2007

    Legend suggests strong beer was originally brewed by monks to keep them warm on cold winter nights. Today there's a more hard-headed reason for brewing head-banger ales in time for Christmas. "It's the feast before the famine," said award-winning craft brewer Matt Phillips. "After this, we're in trouble." Phillips, of Victoria's Phillips Brewing Co., is referring to the traditional slowdown that afflicts restaurants and brewpubs alike in January as customers recover from both the holiday spending binge and a surfeit of eating, drinking and merrymaking.

    December is often the strongest sales month for microbreweries after July, the height of the summer suds season, Phillips said, but the festive season is also an opportunity to brew some special "winter warmer" beers packed with flavour as well as punch. On Friday, Vancouver's Granville Island Brewing Co. rolled out a limited release doppelbock which boasts rich dark malt flavours and an 8.7 per cent alcohol content.

    Doppelbock means double strong beer and was first brewed by monks to sustain them through Lent, but the men of the cloth will be out of luck if they wait until the fasting season. "It is brewed here on Granville Island and available while supplies last," said marketing manager Caroline Roussy. "Hopefully it will last until Christmas but it often sells out here just prior."

    This week Phillips is rolling out a dopplebock - the "Instigator," weighing in at 8.5 per cent - at private liquor stores in Vancouver and Victoria. In early December he'll add a 12 per cent barley wine named The Grand to celebrate the brewery's 1,000th batch of beer. "Christmas is a great excuse to roll out the bigger beers, and this is the second year in a row we're bringing out two beers to celebrate the season," he said. "There is an appetite for those winter warmers at this time of the year."

    The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch agrees and is running in-store promotions for B.C. craft brews like Faceplant Winter Ale, Fat Cat Honey and Tin Whistle Killer Bee. At six per cent alcohol, Faceplant can be described as a strong porter and, like all the beer from the Nelson Brewing Co., it is certified organic, brewmaster Mike Kelly said.

    LDB figures show that B.C. craft brewers - excluding the majors Labatt, Molson, Sleeman's (Okanagan Spring) and Pacific Brewing - account for three per cent of packaged beer sales over the year, rising to 3.5 per cent over the holiday season.

    More than 20 B.C. microbreweries currently list with the LDB and many also sell to private liquor stores or wholesale directly to licensed outlets, like Surrey's Russell Brewing, which is offering a full-bodied 7.3 per cent winter porter for the season, available only at restaurants and pubs. Kelowna's Tree Brewing is offering a winter duo pack exclusively through Liquor Depot in B.C. and Alberta and a combination eight-pack through liquor stores and cold beer and wine stores.

    Brewpubs also offer seasonal beers which are available only on the premises such as brewmaster Conrad Gmoser's nine per cent Blitzen Christmas Ale currently on tap at Steamworks in Gastown. One Vancouver event where consumers can sample a range of seasonal winter beers from local craft brewers is the CAMRA Christmas Caskival on Dec. 15 at Dix Barbecue and Brewing on Beattie Street.

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    Title: Beer lovers face higher prices as hops shortage looms

    Source: CBC News

    Date: November 1, 2007

    A worldwide shortage of hops — a key beer-making ingredient — could have a big effect on the taste of specialty brews and force smaller microbreweries to hike the price of their products. The shortage can be blamed on a perfect storm of events — bad weather in hop-growing areas of the United States, Europe and Australia and a depressed U.S. dollar.

    Brian Titus, president of Halifax's Garrison Brewing Company, said his brewmaster isn't sure he'll be able to make some of his beers in the new year because he hasn't been able to find some varieties of hops at all. "It's bordering on disastrous actually. If you don't have hops then you don't have beer," said Titus.

    A decade-long oversupply of hops that had forced farmers to abandon the crop is finally gone and harvests were down this year. In the United States, where one-fourth of the world's hops are grown, acreage fell 30 per cent between 1995 and 2006.

    Australia endured its worst drought on record. Hail storms across Europe damaged crops. Extreme heat in the western U.S. hurt both yields and quality.

    Prices for the remaining supply of hops have doubled in recent weeks. With the low American dollar, European and Asian brewers are snapping up the remaining worldwide supply of hops.

    The shortage has some breweries rethinking their brews and possibly changing beer recipes to cut down on the use of hops. "So maybe you find something that smells similar but doesn't have the same taste profile and it doesn't have the same bitterness," said Titus.

    Industry analysts speculate the shortage could force smaller breweries to hike the price of some beers by as much as 10 per cent. Larger breweries are less likely to have to raise prices because they buy in bulk with long-term contracts. Craft brewers don't have the means to hedge against rising prices, like their industrial rivals.

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    Title: Vijay Mallya of United Breweries, considering listing his international spirits business in the London Stock Exchange.

    Source: NRIinternet.com

    Date: October 17, 2007


    Vijay Mallya, chairman of United Breweries in India, owner of Kingfisher Airlines, 50 pct strategic stake in US aircraft maker Epic Aircraft (Oregon) for US $120 million and after buying up Scotch maker Whyte & Mackay (W&M) for more than half a billion dollars is considering listing his international spirits business in the London Stock Exchange. He said that a London listing would make it easier to raise capital to fund international deals. He wants to import W&M's brands into India as well as to China. There is strong demand worldwide and strong growing demand within India.


    W&M is fourth largest producer of Scotch whisky in the world after William Grant, Pernod Ricard and Diageo.

    UK news paper, The Daily Telegraph said the London listing is unlikely to take place until next year once W&M's operations have been more closely integrated into the United Spirits' business. It is also unclear what valuation Mallya would seek for the company.

    Mallya’s United Spirits Ltd (USL) has decided to come in with single malts, Dalmore and Jura, besides Whyte & Mackay blended Scotch whisky. USL, India’s biggest and the world’s third largest spirits marketer. The government of India waived countervailing duties on imported liquor to avoid a dispute at the World Trade Organization. Each state was expected to come up with its own tax structure

    Mumbai is the city that accounts for the most whisky consumption in the country. All the international liquor companies in Mumbay, have cut their imports drastically since the state introduced this new duty structure. In the existing duty regime, the retail prices of premium whiskies have gone up by more than 22% in the state that increase translates into an average retail price of Rs3,600 for a 750ml bottle of premium whisky.


    The International Spirits and Wines Association of India has requested the state government to reinstate the earlier duty of Rs200 per litre for imported spirits. “Putting the duty back to the old form will result in a price reduction of Rs400-Rs500 per bottle.

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    Title: Business Profile : Vijay Mallya

    Source: The Telegraph

    Date Posted on Dipsophilia: October 31, 2007

    Vijay Mallya, buyer of Whyte & Mackay, is fasting so he celebrated with a marketing meeting. Rory Ross profiles the man dubbed the Branson of Bangalore.

    Dr Vijay Mallya, India’s most charismatic billionaire hailed the King of Good Times, celebrated the success of his £595m bid for Whyte & Mackay Scotch whisky group in uncharacteristically low-key fashion: a review of the company’s branding, followed by a head-to-head with the Scotch Whisky Association.

    “I would have celebrated with a grand party,” said Mallya, as he headed back to India, “but I am on my annual fast, so am 'on the wagon’. I’ve not touched alcohol for six weeks.”

    This evening in southern India, however, the wagon will screech to a halt. Mallya – who finds solace in the teachings of Sri Ravi Shankar – will be in Sabarimala in Kerala, where he will join thousands of pilgrims to walk barefoot six miles and climb 18 golden steps to pray to the deity. Then the partying will begin. “I am carrying sufficient stocks of Dalmore single malt and Jura single malt to celebrate adequately tonight,” says Mallya. “Jura was my father’s favourite whisky.” In Mumbai, the stock market couldn’t wait. This week, shares in Mallya’s United Spirits group jumped 33pc .

    Hailed the Branson of Bangalore for his high-profile, impressive sweep of interests and soaraway Kingfisher Airlines, the world’s fastest growing carrier, Mallya comes on as a warm, friendly, entertaining soul with a brilliant memory. He always cuts a dash: his broad-shouldered frame is topped with grizzled leonine hair, while he is perennially blinged up with gold and diamonds, like a maharaja caricature. Mallya made his first unsolicited offer for Whyte & Mackay last May. Why did the haggling take so long? “They [previous owners Vivian Imerman and Robert Tchenguiz] needed to make up their minds whether to sell,” says Mallya. “That took a few months. Then the price of whisky went up. Given Whyte & Mackay’s huge stocks [independently valued at £350m-£400m], it was like trying to hit a moving target. We had to figure out when to freeze the price. That took another few months. We then did due diligence. And then the whisky price rose. Again.” An informal accord was reached whereby Imerman and Tchenguiz would not conduct an auction for Whyte & Mackay unless Mallya’s bid lapsed. “Ravi Nedungadi, my CFO, and I conducted the price negotiations ourselves.”

    Whyte & Mackay, the fourth largest producer of premium Scotch, is “the last whisky company big enough to be worth bothering to acquire”, and accounts for 9pc of the market. Pre-Whyte & Mackay, Mallya’s Bangalore-based United Spirits arm was the world’s third-biggest spirits company on the strength of distribution in India and the Middle East. Post-Whyte & Mackay, his aggregated spirits portfolios vie with Pernod-Ricard for the No 2 spot behind Diageo. Mallya reckons he’ll overtake Pernod-Ricard “in a few months”. “Our premium whisky portfolio is growing in excess of 20pc a year.”

    Until now, almost all of Mallya’s whiskies have been molasses-based spirits distilled in India. Whyte & Mackay, however, is the real thing. “Scotch is Scotch,” beams Mallya. “For whisky drinkers, it is the ultimate. Within Whyte & Mackay, we have several brands at different price points. I was amazed to see them. They were in India 20 years ago. I am very excited about relaunching them. Whyte & Mackay is running well, and with our vast distribution in India, we can accelerate that momentum. I’ve spent today redesigning the brands for immediate export.”

    The Whyte & Mackay deal puts Mallya in an interesting position. Scotch is “liquid gold” in India, but heftily tariffed. To protect his Indian whisky portfolio, Mallya has staunchly opposed efforts by the Scotch Whisky Association to abolish the tariffs. Now, he finds himself in both camps.  For full article click here.

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