Archive for January 14th, 2008

Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch has reportedly approached Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) about helping it wrest control of Baltic Beverage Holdings (BBH) from Carlsberg.

How kind of them. Only there to help.

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More from Italy

While I am trying to fit in some hours in Bologna on my next trip to Italy, I read an interesting post from the Beer Nut, who has visited Venice. He omits the bridges and gondolas to focus on the beers he has encountered, and he managed to find some interesting craft beers there as well. As I’ve told you before, there are splendid beers to be found in Italy, but it takes time and stubbornness to get them!

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If you look carefully among the stories about beer prices going through the roof  and the Asheville Citizen-Times coverage of Man’s ear bitten off in fight over beer, there are some good signs, too.

I have been making snide remarks about the Guardian’s coverage of beers and brewers, so I have to give credit to their sister publication the Observer when they have decent articles, too.

The good news is that the sales of ale in British supermarkets are increasing, while the sales of lagers are going down. New figures show that last year sales of ale in UK supermarkets grew by 6.6 per cent while sales of lager slipped by 0.2 per cent. 

Tesco has increased its selection of ales from 50 to 200 while Marks & Spencer recently launched a range of conditioned beers. ‘The growth in popularity of real ale in the last few years has been absolutely spectacular, with the greatest accolade being that it has finally started to achieve its holy grail of winning over a younger audience,’ said Ian Targett, Tesco’s beer and lager buyer.

But there is more. With all the reports of the pubs and brewers having a steep decline in business, you would thing this is a sector where everything is declining. It turns out that the smaller actors are doing fine:

A decision by the government to introduce a ‘progressive beer duty’ policy that allows small breweries to pay less duty has led to the creation of 84 new UK micro-breweries that might otherwise have struggled to remain in business, according to Camra.

‘A taste for ale is something we’ve also started to see on trade sales,’ said Owen Morris, spokesman for Camra. ‘Although overall sales of beer are in decline, sales of independent brewers are up 7.5 per cent. People are finding real ale is an artisan product and are starting to care more about taste, not value. They’re not so interested in supermarkets selling two crates of lager for the price of one.’

There is not much of an consistent ideology in this blog, if there is one, it would be small is beautiful. So I salute the Observer on a dreary rainy winter morning for bringing a ray of light!

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