Decanting with Delkin
© 2008 Oregon Magazine
Beer Through Acquisitions
By Fred Delkin
Budweiser is far and away the biggest-selling beer in the USA, despite its lack of quality, which earns it avoidance by craft beer lovers. Anheuser-Busch, Bud's brewer, does not hang its stein solely on the Bud hook, however. The brewing giant's tentacles reach worldwide and its product lineup includes 60 varieties including popular imports Lowenbrau from Germany, Stella Artois and Leffe from Belgium, Hoegaarden and Grolsch from Holland, Kirin from Japan, Czechvar from the Czech Republic, Bass, Boddingtons and Tennents from the UK and Tiger from Singapore. Just in time for the Olympic Games, A-B has invested in major Chinese breweries Tsingtao and Harbin.
A-B domestic brands distributed across the U.S.are produced in 12 breweries, with the latest acquisition being Rolling Rock of Pennsylvania. Regional labels serving Colorado, Texas, Missouri and New England include Ascent 54, Ziegenbock, Mule Kick, Stone Mill and Demon's Hop Yard. A-B duplicates its Budweiser choices with the Michelob line and goes after the low cost trade with the Busch and Natural labels. The sales success of craft beers which were pioneered in the Pacific Northwest generated A-B equity investments in Seattle's Redhook and Portland's Widmer, with both retaining their original recipes. A-B also is the major player in malt beverages on the domestic market with Hurricane, King Cobra and a broad line of Bacardi flavors.
Craft Brewer Sales Soar
While mass producers such as A-B, Millers & Coors dominate U.S. sales, the craft beer industry continues to grow as a tribute to those who prefer bold tasting brews, with retail sales for this industry segment up 16% in 2007, according to a report by the Brewers Association. A 'craft' brewer is defined as "small, independent and traditional" and with an annual production of less than 2 million barrels. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer in this definition.
There's a new challenger in the alcoholic beverage field, Sake2me, an infused rice wine drink tested in the Bay Area last year and now launched on the West Coast. This new potable was spotlighted in hospitality suites during the 2008 Oscar Academy Awards event. Infused Asian flavors include Ginger-Mango, Yuzu Citrus, Asian Pear and Green Tea. The retail package is a singe serve 6 oz. bottle. Details at www.sake2me.com
Glassware innovation simplifies wine service
Stemware has graced all proper wine serving for centuries. However, stemmed glasses have a high rate of breakage and fine crystal is always a washing risk. Now you can find the bowl-like shape of a proper wine glass without the stem and this innovation has now been adapted by an elite producer, Riedel of Austria. No need to go the Riedel expense, however. Local stores sell the stemless wine sipper for as low as 99 cents per each. This style does eliminate the traditional tasting exercise of grasping the stem and swirling the contents, but the wide-mouthed bowl still encourages sticking your nose in to absorb the wine's aromatic nuances.